Fear Knocks: Your new book to be released early next year is called Adventurers Wanted Book 1: Slathbog's Gold, although an early Internet search revealed a number of sites already advertising your book with varying titles.. Amazon.com also has a really nice description . Aside from that, tell us the real title and a little bit about the book.
M.L. Forman: Wow! I didn't know it was online already. I'll have to take a look and see what's out there. The"real" title is Slathbog's Gold. Adventurers Wanted Book One is to identify the series. Slathbog's Gold is a story about fifteen-year-old Alexander Taylor. Like a lot of teenagers, he's not happy with his life, but unlike others, he gets a chance to change it. Alex finds himself on a great quest, a quest to kill the evil Dragon, Slathbog the Red, and claim his horde. Of course, making his way to the dragon includes a lot of adventure as well. Alex will run into a three-legged troll, bandits, an oracle, and a lot of other people as he travels. He will learn about true friendship, honor, and that some things are worth risking everything you have for, even your life.
FK: So, what made you want to become a writer?
MLF: That's a tough question to answer because it kind of just happened. I've been making up stories since I was a kid, and even writing some of them down from time to time. Slathbog's Gold happened because I was unemployed and needed something to do. At the time, I thought I could write a book and make enough money to live on. I didn't realize how long it would take to get the book finished and ready for publication, or how long it often takes to find a publisher who is willing to take a chance on a first time writer.
FK: This new book is Fantasy, obviously - Why Fantasy?
MLF: I think most people can relate to fantasy. It's not just for kids anymore, though obviously the book was written with youth readers in mind. There's also the fact that I read a lot of fantasy and really enjoy the freeness (if that's a word) that the genre offers. After all, anything can happen in a fantasy.
FK: Having read the early draft, it seems this book is somewhere between Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter as far as audience is concerned - in other words, my opinion is it isn't as difficult to read as Tolkien, but it isn't an easy one day read as Rowling either. How important is your audience, and did you choose your audience for this book, or did the story choose the audience?
MLF: Audience is important to any story. Having said that, I didn't sit down and try to write a story for ages 12 and up or any other age group. I guess the story choose the audience, at least at first. As time and work continued on the story, I think I tried harder to make it a young adult book.
FK: Many people want to write a book, most never finish. What motivates you to write, and more importantly, what motivates you to finish a novel?
MLF: It's not easy finishing a novel, its a lot of work. Even when you think you're done you're not. There are always re-writes, editing, and changes that your publisher would like to see. In this case I was motivated by the story. Maybe I'm weird, but I honestly didn't know how the story was going to end until I only had a chapter or two to go. On being motivated to write, well, I'm not sure I can answer that so people will understand. I just have a creative need to write, and that's normally motivation enough. Some days I can't write at all, other days I can't seem to stop.
FK: What is the hardest thing for you to do in the writing process?
MLF: Editing and re-reading my own work. I'm not a very good editor because I know what I meant when I wrote the story. I have a hard time breaking out of the story and looking for errors; I normally just read and make sure everything in the story goes together. Fortunately, I've had a lot of help with the nuts and bolts part.
FK: What are your strengths and weaknesses as a writer?
MLF: I think one of my strengths is being able to visualize the story. I can sometimes see what's happening in my mind like it was a movie, or a story I already know and just have to write down. Weaknesses? Well, I have a lot. My spelling isn't great, punctuation is often a problem, and a lot of the time I mix words up and put in something close but not right... since and sence, wonder and wander, are a couple that I have to be careful with.
FK: Tell us a little about your experiences finding a publisher, getting your draft accepted for publication, etc.
MLF: The hunt for a publisher is a hard one. I'd submitted the story to a couple of places and received the polite "no thank you" letters in return. Each time I went back to the story and re-wrote parts of it. This took a lot of time, and after each rejection I had to wonder if the story would ever be more than a file on my computer. Then I was lucky enough to send it to Shadow Mountain Press. They've helped to make it a better story, and have been willing to take a risk on a first time writer.
FK: What writers do you look to for inspiration and are they your favorite writers?
MLF: Inspiration comes from a lot of different places, not all of it published works either. As far as writers go, you mentioned two of my favorites earlier. Also, Robert R. McCammon is a big favorite of mine, even if his genre is completely different. There are too many great writers out there and I wouldn't want to miss anyone. I think my writing has been inspired by all the things I've read, from horror to sci-fi, from history to comic books; all of it has blended together to help me write. Yes, I read comics... so what. I guess you want me to start saying Graphic Novels and Speculative Fiction, right?
FK: I understand a sequel is already in the works - how many volumes do you think you can get out of this one storyline?
MLF: Yes, a sequel is being worked on, but there's still a lot of work to do. How many volumes? Hard to say. I have ideas for a lot of stories, though they may not all fit in the Adventurers Wanted series. I think as long as I have fun writing the stories there will be more. Hopefully, there will be an audience willing to read them.
FK: When do you find you get your best ideas?
MLF: I'm not sure. I can be watching TV, listening to the radio, driving, or just sitting at the computer. The important thing is writing them down then they come. Some of them turn out to be not so good, but you don't want to miss one of the good ones, so I have notepads and pens all over the place, just in case.
FK: When do you find or make time to write?
MLF: It's more of a "make time" than "find" time. You have to be willing to make the time to sit down and write. I don't have a set time when I say, "this is writing time," but I do try to make some time every day to write something.
FK: How does a story develop for you? Do you have the story already worked out in your mind before you start writing, or just the bare bones? How does your idea transform itself into a novel?
MLF: Normally I just have the basic idea. Details slip in as I work on the story, and to be honest, I don't always know where a story is going until it gets there. Once I have a good bit of the story finished I'll go back and see if it's really going where I want it to go. Sometimes I have to re-write a few things, sometimes I've had to drop a chapter or two. I know some writers have story boards and outlines all worked out, they know where the story is going from beginning to end. There's nothing wrong with that, but I can't work that way. I like the freedom of not being sure where the story will take me.
FK: Do you have any advice for new writers, or old writers still trying to get published?
MLF: The best advice I can give is not to give up. The second best advice I can give is that nothing you write is carved in stone. Be willing to change stories, or drop them if they just won't do what you want them to do. Whatever you do, don't give up. Keep writing. Wait, one other bit of advice that might be the best. Write for yourself.
FK: Aside from Book 2, are you working on any other projects?
MLF: I do have a couple of other stories in the works, also fantasy stories. I've done a bit of a sci-fi short story, but I'm not very happy with it at this point.
FK: Thanx very much for the interview, Mark, and good luck on the success of your new book!
M. L. Forman, who appeared in Issue One of Fear Knocks, has recently had a novel-length work picked up for publishing - Slathbog's Gold. We stopped for a minute - in the ether - to chat with him about the novel, and writing in general.