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Interview with T. Norman


He is a self-published author of the Ascent Archives and grew up in small-town Minnesota where his passion for reading and immersing himself in the fantasy worlds of his childhood grew into creating and writing his own stories. 

T. Norman's series, the Ascent Archives, was first formed during his childhood while playing with toys with his brother, and now it is set to become a four-part series. With experience in a variety of fields, writing has become his passion. He currently lives with his wife, two children, and dog in southeast Wisconsin.


Q.1 Tell us something about yourself not many people know?
A.
When I was younger I hated reading books. I found myself being assigned readings so often for school work that any joy was completely gone and instead I found reading to be tedious work. I stopped reading for fun until almost through college when I finally picked it up again. At this point, I found myself writing and creating my own stories as well.

Q.2 What inspired you to write Ascent Archives?
A.
When I was young, my brother and I would play with toys together and we created vast storylines and plots for large casts of characters. Every year at Christmas time we would have a large battle involving the Christmas tree and all these storylines we’d created through the year would come together. Some of these plots and stories we created as children were part of the foundation for the Ascent Archives.

Q. 3 Are we going to read more from you in the near future? Any new project you’re working on?
A.
I am working on a new project right now! It is set in the same world as the Ascent Archives and has some familiar faces, but also many new ones. I can’t spoil too much yet, as it is still in the early stages of writing, but I am looking at a spring 2023 publication date.

Q.4 What is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
A.
Doing them justice. As a male author, I’ve tried to be very intentional about writing female characters as characters and not plot points. I really focused on this in my third book, Primordial Judge

There are four females that you read from their perspective. Each one goes on a very different journey and faces unique challenges, and how they overcome those differs as well. It was a lot of fun showing how uniquely strong they all were, and what they were willing to sacrifice for the good of humanity.

Q.5 Do you plan out your books before you start writing, or do you just write and see where it takes you?
A.
I am a “Plantser” when it comes to writing. I will normally have a rough outline of a starting point, ending point, and a few places I want to go along the middle. Sometimes I will also have a simple outline of the journeys the characters will take. Once I start writing though, all bets are off. I’ve changed plot lines along the way, made pretty drastic deviations, and added new stories where they came naturally. 

Most notably, there is a death at the end of book 3 that I never intended to write. When I got to that point in writing, I realized “This character needs to die.” It helped progress the story and develop the characters around them, and overall I think was the right decision, but it was never part of my original plan.

Q.6 How long on average does it take you to write a book?
A.
I am a slow writer. My first book took me about 3.5 years from when I started writing to publishing and Book 2 took about 3 years. Books 3 and 4 I wrote and published both in 4 years total, and those were the longest books in the series. Book 5 took a year and a half. So on average, I would say I write about one book every 2 years, but over time I’ve become more efficient and found ways to speed up the process.

Q.7 How many books have you written? Which one is your favorite?
A.
I have written six books, five of them are published in all major retailers and one of them, a novelette, is a freebie for joining my newsletter. I think book 5, Lost Lore of Draxos, was my favorite. This book is a collection of short stories following tons of different characters you meet in the series proper. 

It was a lot of fun to write from different perspectives than normal, and also to develop backstories of characters that we didn’t see much of before. It was definitely the easiest of all the books to write.

Q.8 Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
A.
Currently writing is my side-gig, not my full-time career. If I wasn’t writing on the side though, I would probably pick up another hobby like coaching. I’ve always been a huge basketball fan and have wanted to coach my kids' teams when they get older, so that is what I would spend my extra time doing.

Q.9 If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead role?
A.
The main character in my series is Rysh Trell, and without a doubt, I would have him be played by Ewan McGregor. I’m a big Star Wars fan, and when I started writing the series I had Ewan (from Attack of the Clones) as my vision for Rysh.

Q.10 Is it vital to get exposure and target the right readers for your writing, tell us about your marketing campaign?
A.
I am no expert in marketing, it’s one area that I am still continually working on. The big things I’ve done are some targeted Facebook campaigns, but more than that it’s been a lot of newsletter swaps and giving away my free Novelette. 

In my newsletter, I’ve always been very clear with my readers about what types of stories they are going to get, and I make it easy for them to unsubscribe. I would rather have a smaller list that is more engaged and likely to read my books, than a larger list that is unengaged and will only read one or two books.

Q.11 If you could be a member of any fantasy race, which would you choose and why?
A.
It would have to be an elf, specifically the variation from Lord of the Rings. Legolas was always one of my favorite characters growing up, so getting to be just like him would be a childhood dream come true.

Q.12 If you could invite one character to dinner from your books at home, who would it be and why?
A.
I would invite Rysh Trell, my main character. I think that I have a lot of similar characteristics as he does (which is definitely intentional), and I would love to just have a conversation with him about the parts of his story I haven’t developed. 
It is discussed in the books that he served in the military in his past, but I never wrote that story. There’s more about him I don’t have down on paper that I would love to learn.

Q.13 What three things a reader can expect from your books?
A. 1.
I write stories on a grand scale, there are always big interwoven plots and storylines pulled together. 
2. I write with a large cast of characters, I try to introduce them somewhat slowly but there are always many names to follow along with. 
3. I am not afraid to kill off a character. I want my stories to be realistic, and part of that is knowing that not everyone always survives the dangerous missions.

Q.14 Among all the supporting characters in your books, who is dear to you and why?
A.
One of my favorite supporting characters is Mic. You meet him early on the book 1, and he’s a strong stoic time that doesn’t say a lot. Over the series, some of his back stories are developed, and by book 4 his role among the group changes significantly. He was also the first short story I wrote for book 5, and it shows even more of what happened in his past to make him the man he is today.

Q.15 Who designed your book cover? How do you select them?
A.
I got all my book covers designed by Deranged Doctor Designs. When I started preparing book 1 for publishing, I started researching different cover designers. I went on Facebook groups and asked for recommendations, and eventually came up with a list of around 6. 

After that, I contacted each of them, got a feel for their business model and previous designs, and based on the price and quality of their covers I picked Deranged Doctor Designs. I’ve been absolutely thrilled with all the covers they’ve made for me, and am a happy returning customer.

Q.16 How do you select the name of your characters?
A.
Some of them are variations of names I either see while reading or hear on a TV show. Other times, it’s honestly just words that come to mind, I’ll play around with them a bit and come up with a name. That’s one of the things I enjoy about epic fantasy, there really are no rules for naming characters.

Q.17 Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with good or bad ones?
A.
Unfortunately I do read them. I’ve actually gotten some very helpful reviews and made changes in my writing, but it definitely is a trap reading review. One review I received pointed out a piece of the plot that didn’t make sense. 

After reading the review, I thought about it and decided to go back and change that piece of the story. In doing so, I actually set up a really cool point in the story that happened in book 4, so I was ultimately thankful I read that review so I could make the change. I haven’t gotten too harsh reviews so far, but I know the time will come.

Q.18 Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
A.
I think it would have been cool to meet J.R.R. Tolkien. The Lord of the Rings is such a foundation in Epic Fantasy, getting to hear his story of how he created the world and characters would be so cool. I’d definitely pick his brain for ways to make my story better as well.

Q.19 Are there any new books or authors in science fiction or fantasy (or both!) have you excited about? What are you reading right now?
A.
Right now I am reading Fatemarked by David Estes, and I really enjoying it. I’ve been trying to read all sorts of different indie authors recently, and David is top tier. He does such a good job with a really unique magic system, diverse characters, and just an engaging plot.

Q.20 Share the experience of your writing journey so far?
A.
It has been quite the journey. When I started writing, I didn’t know about self-publishing. I had a story I wanted to tell, so that’s what I focused on. Even when I published my first book, I didn’t know what I was doing. I took some time to finish writing the rest of the series and went into a re-launch of book 1 along with publishing the rest. 

The best thing I’ve learned is that no two journeys are the same. I’ve seen some authors get instant success, while others I’ve watched grind it out daily to succeed. Others have failed, and others have slowly built stable careers. Success depends on your expectations. For me, I’ve always wanted to just tell stories. If even one person reads my story and connects with it or enjoys it, I consider that a success.


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