I was recently given the opportunity to read and provide honest feedback for any book I get through a network of book curaters called the Booktasters (on twitter as @booktasters). When I discovered the service, I was quite intrigued at the prospect of finding some interesting new indie writers that don’t normally get visibility easily.
One such author that caught my eye, especially because of the amazing book cover art, was Vance Pumphrey and his first ever book – Dragma’s Keep (I reviewed it on Goodreads) and then hurriedly went on to book two – the Library of Antiquity (reviewed on Goodreads here). On a high from that, I finished book three in quick succession (read the Goodreads review here). Now am working on my progress with Book Four.
But I gave this a lot of thought, and I reached out to the author (you can too, he is on twitter as @VancePumprey – he is really cool and responds all the time) to ask him a few questions. He obliged me with a few answers, which I edited to fit reading, but retained the essence of what he shared with me. I wrote to him immediately after Dragma’s Keep, and he responded quite quickly – I have been kinda caught up with a few different things and I got delayed posting this here.
Partha: Where did you get the inspiration to write this book – Dragma’s Keep and the series it is a part of?
Vance: Dungeon’s & Dragons. I played for many years, creating my own world. My world now exists in boxes, files, on 3×5’s and 5×8’s. And, now, in my books. I made the decision to put my world on paper many years ago BEFORE those memories faded away.
P: How long did you take to write it?
V: Dragma’s Keep? That first book took almost 25 years to write! I first decided to put pen to paper (literally) some 30 years ago. But, life intervened. Marriage, kids, sports, US Navy, then other companies after I retired from the Navy. I picked Dragma’s Keep up again about 6 years ago, rewriting that first part and continuing the story, finally completing it a few months after I started.
P: What words of advice would you give to people who want to write fantasy fiction?
V: Build your world, first. You can have stories in your mind but, without a world, they (your stories) have no place to live. While I based my books on D&D, my world is my own. People, places, gods, lands, etc. Do that first.
P: What was the one memory you have about the process that really made you laugh?
V: How naïve I was in the beginning. After finishing Dragma’s Keep, I just assumed the world would come to me. “Write it, and they will come” kind of thing. Not so much. Writing the book(s) is/are the easy part. It’s after that the real work begins.
P: Did you get scared at any point? Why and what did you do to overcome it?
V: Scared? No, not really. The process really is daunting, but there are plenty of people out there who have been through it and will help you through the process. For a fee, of course (most of them). Don’t try to go too fast.
P: You have a number of books? Is it progressively easier to get through the process?
V: Absolutely. Find what works for you and stick with it. Again, writing is easy. Get help for the rest. Understand that some of that will cost money. But, learn from your mistakes and move on. My paladin likes to say, ‘Failure is not an option’. However, failures are a way of life. You only fail if you do not try again.
P: Which book do you have the fondest memory of?
V: Dragma’s Keep. It’s the first. Other books might be better written and may have a better story, but Dragma’s Keep will always be the first. Now, Book 5 (Book 1 in the 2nd series) is probably my best work.
P: If you were one character from your own book, who would it be, and why?
V: Sordaak. Of course. My mind thinks like his. Our struggles are/were similar. (He’s also a bad-ass, who gets even more so as the stories unfold)
Thank you Vance for being prompt with your responses!! I love your books, and am PUMPED to read the all. I do love Sordaak, but Vorgath is my spirit kindred!! Looking forward to reading them all, and I wish you all kinds of success.