Good evening everyone! I am privileged to introduce to you Joe King and Mark Gelineau. They are the authors of this incredible series that I absolutely love!
1. I read on your Amazon author page that you have both been writing together for the last 25 years. What was it that inspired both of you to begin writing as a team?
M: Joe and I have been friends since high school. We started out playing role-playing games together and talking about books and movies. That shared love of stories and story-telling brought us together and we have been concocting stories ever since.
2. The Echo of the Ascended series is, by far, one of the most entertaining and unique set of novellas that I have read in a very long time. What made you both decide to venture into the high fantasy genre? Do you have plans of writing in any other genres outside of that in the future?
J: We have been fans of fantasy for as long as we could read, and we’d always talked about wanting to do something like the great fantasy writers of our generation – Brooks, Martin, Eddings, and many others had done for us. So this fantasy series has been in the making for a long, long time.
We definitely have plans to do stuff outside of Aedaron. We’ve got a YA-ish contemporary horror novel that we’re finishing up. And there’s a space opera project that we’ve both been dreaming about bringing to life one day.
3. I found the novellas to be very well-paced and have a nice flow to them. What is your process in writing your books? Has there ever been a time when it wasn’t easy to come to the same conclusion of how you both wanted certain events to proceed?
J: Thank you for the comment on pace and flow! I like to think we work really hard at making it that way. It certainly doesn’t come naturally or easily. Our process is really long and tedious, so I’ll just give the quicky quick version.
Basically, we write a lot, then cut it down to nothing but bare bones, then write a ton more on top of it only to cut that down, and so on. Sometimes when a scene or section doesn’t work, we toss it out and start the process over again. Usually what you get as the final product is only about 1/4 or 1/5 of actually what was written.
Our design concept is always to keep the story moving and anything that doesn’t directly help that goal gets cut. Btw, we both believe good character development is at the heart of any good story, so that’s an area we do spend a lot of time.
Anyway, we’re not perfect at it by any means, but it definitely gives us a warm fuzzy when people mention they like it. So thanks again!
Oh, on the second part of the question, we usually resolve all conflicts via our beta readers. We leave one version of the story we want in and see what they say. So far, it has served us well.
4. What authors, books or ideas have influenced your writing?
M: As a kid, my favorite fantasy author was David Eddings. The characters and their interactions with each other in his books drew me in. I also had a deep love for the tv show Moonlighting and the X-Men comics Chris Claremont was writing in the 80’s. As I grew older, I discovered Hammer Horror, the works of Joss Whedon, Garth Ennis’s Preacher, Neil Gaiman, Allan Moore, Guillermo Del Toro, Joe Abercrombie. All those have shaped what and how I write, for sure.
5. The Fantasy genre has been extremely popular in the last few years thanks to highly rated TV shows and bestselling books. The demands on authors have greatly increased to write books that are unique to all of the others. Have either of you ever felt the pressure to write a book that would stand out amongst all of the others?
J: Personally, I am a firm believer that a rising tide raises all boats. So the more that fantasy becomes popular, the more I’m excited about it. There’s never really pressure to be unique, for me, so much as there is a pressure to just write better, which I think is a very good kind of pressure.
Mark and I are pretty different in our philosophies toward uniqueness though. Mark really is into new, niche, and/or concept stuff. I tend to like the vanilla stuff that’s been done well. I think the right answer is somewhere in between, which is another thing that makes writing together so great.
6. Something that I particularly loved about each individual novella is that they all have an underlying message. It may be about doing what’s right despite the odds stacked against you or finding the courage to continue fighting despite the bleak outlook. When you were writing the novellas, are those reactions some of the ones that you hoped to achieve at the end of each story?
J: We talked a lot about what kind of stories we wanted to write, and in the end, at the core, we knew we wanted them to be two things: fun and hopeful. That doesn’t mean everything is happiness and sunshine. Our characters are going to be tested and hurt and betrayed. Because without all that stuff, what good is hope, right?
But, yes, we definitely hope our stories resonate in some way with our readers. Even if you walk away from one of our quick stories with a little smile, even for a second, we’ll call that a win.
7. How did you go about choosing the main characters in Echo of the Ascended? They all have very different personalities and characteristics which made them incredibly intriguing.
J: Creating our orphans was definitely one of the most fun parts of developing the series. Since they all grew up together at the orphanage, we felt, like any adolescent clique, there’s always a good representation of different personality types. The leader, the troublemaker, the one who’s always getting into fights, the heart, the one who’s “different.”
Then since we knew we’d be starting our series when they’re older, we thought about how they would change as they were forced to grow up in different parts of Aedaron. Then we thought about how much they could or would change again during the course of our stories.
Ultimately we wanted to have different types of stories to tell for each orphan, and having 4 different series really gives us an opportunity to explore them all.
8. I must admit that I love the world you have created in this series and I almost wish it really did exist. Almost, I don’t think I’d last that long in their world since I am extremely clumsy and constantly tripping and I’d probably get eaten by the Ruins. What drew your interest into including myths and legends into the novellas?
M:Joe and I have always had an interest in mythology and folklore. There is just something powerful about a grand structure of stories underlying the framework of the world. As a kid, I loved Greek Mythology, like most kids do. When I was in college, I did a lot of work on Irish and Welsh mythology and folklore, and the stories of the Plains and Northwest Coast native american tribes. Fiction-wise, I’ve definitely always had a soft spot for Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, which brings together my interest in myth structures with my fascination with giant, terrifying monsters.
9. What has been the best part of your journey in writing so far?
M: There are really two things that have been the best about this journey. The first is knowing that other people are reading your stories. It seems like an obvious thing. Of course people are going to read the stories you are telling. But that makes it no less humbling, no less awesome. It’s just so very cool, and I don’t think it will ever get old.
The other great thing is the fact that I am writing with my best friend. Joe and I have been friends for years. He was in my wedding. I officiated his. As we’ve gotten older, had jobs and wives and kids, it was harder to hang out. But now, we are creating things together. That makes every day we are doing this awesome.
10. All four novellas that I have read so far have played out like a brilliant movie in my mind. If you had the opportunity to turn this series into a movie or TV show, would you do it? If so, which one would you choose and why?
M: I totally would do it! We are both huge film and tv buffs. I think this is an amazing time for fantasy in film and especially on tv. And I’ll let you in on a little secret. Almost all the characters in the novellas are already cast in our heads.
If I had to choose one, that would be tough. I would love to see the banter between Alys and Dax from Best Left in the Shadows, and the horrible Ruins that Ferran and Mireia have to face. But I think it might have to be A Reaper of Stone. Elinor has a special place in our hearts and her story would be really cool as a movie or tv show.
11. You have both written about terrifying beasts and evil humans. Which one do you consider to be the worst and why?
M: That is tough. For me, the division comes down to comprehension. With an evil person, there is often something inside them that, if we really are honest with ourselves, we can understand. Not condone, or accept, but understand. George R.R. Martin has a great quote where he says “Nobody is a villain in their own story. We’re all the heroes of our own stories.” He is a master of human evil in his stories. But I do love the truly monstrous. The unfathomable. Horror that cannot be defined or understood.
Although, that may be because I am working on the second Rend the Dark book, Skinshaper, right now.
12. Do you have any advice to aspiring authors?
M: There is a lot of clichéd author advice that you hear repeated ad nauseum. Writers write. Show don’t tell. Writing is rewriting. There was one day when it kind of hit both of us that all those trite little clichéd bits of advice are TOTALLY VALID. Yes, they are the same ones you always hear. Turns out there is actually a reason for that.
The other piece, maybe the most honest piece of advice I heard was this. At a meeting for the California Writers Club, I heard an author say “Decide whether you are writing for a hobby or for a profession. There is pride and joy in each. But do not for a moment confuse the two. They are very different paths.” It is so very true.
I want to thank you both for taking the time to answer my questions! I loved your responses and look forward to more of your work!
I highly recommend checking out their books as they are absolutely fantastic! I am particularly excited for the latest addition to the series:
That cover is stunning!! Thank you Joe and Mark for sharing it with us! If any of you would like to look into Mark and Joe’s books, I will list the Amazon links down below: