Welcome to Bret James Stewart
Where are you from and where do you live now? I am from and currently live in Brevard, North Carolina, a small town near Asheville, in the western mountains of the state. It’s a great place to live with lots of hiking and other outdoor activities.
Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I am an eclectic writer and work in various genres. I particularly love fantasy and poetry, especially fantasy poetry! I write non-fiction and fiction, poetry, plays, and role-playing game material, so I have a wide spectrum of things going. Currently, I have a fantasy novel out entitled The Dragon’s Lullaby. Later this year, I will release a book entitled Codex Rosmanicus: Twelve Tales of Enchantment compiled by Jaren the Traveller. It is a mixture of short stories, poems, and a play, all of which are fantasy themed. Much of my non-fiction is hiking trail related. My company, Blue Ridge Hiker, has a website, and I write almost all the material for it.
Where do you find inspiration? Everywhere. The only thing I have not yet been able to work myself into inspiration with is poetry. If I start working with something else, I can generally write long enough to gain inspiration. Fortunately, because I write in various genres, I am usually inspired in one or more of them at any given time. Also, as I immerse myself in my work and the work of other authors and artists, I tend to be in an inspired or nearly-inspired state all the time. I live in that middle world between the real world or men and the realm of the fantastic, thank God, so I rarely feel mundane. If I do, I can work on something routine or technical such as editing until I am again inspired.
Are your characters based on real people? Yes and no. Certain characteristics of real people are incorporated into some of my characters. This is a normal procedure I would imagine most authors use. This adds an important element of realism to the descriptions and actions of the character. Other times, though, my characters are not based on anyone in particular. It just depends on what I am doing.
Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off? No. But this is an intriguing idea…
Is there a message conveyed within your writing? Do you feel this is important in a book? Sometimes. As I mentioned before, I write in various genres, and some of my works are designed to convey a message. For example, I am a Christian minister, and some of my works in this genre are written to convey some sort of spiritual and/or environmental message. Other works are created to convey an idea or what might be called a philosophical point. Others are written merely for entertainment and contain no conscious message.
Is it important? Again, sometimes. It is very important in books designed to convey one or more messages. However, I do not think it is necessary that a book contain a message as I think that simple entertainment is sufficient reason to write a work. That said, I think a work of any length is going to contain some sort of message that crept in, if only subconsciously, on the part of the author.
In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason? The Dragon’s Lullaby is available as an e-book and print. It will be available in audio form, too. I do not have it in large print, predominantly because I’ve never thought about that before. I would imagine large print will be a no-go as the e-book has adjustable font and the audio won’t need it. Only those buying a print book who would also want large print would matter, and I imagine this segment of the market would be too small to justify doing it.
Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? I do self-edit. I edit as I go and periodically thereafter, generally using a milepost of some sort such as a word count or chapter. I find this helps me focus as I am distracted by errors. This also results in a very clean manuscript. For works longer than a short story, I also use a professional editor as you skim over some errors in your own work because you know what you’re trying to say and your mind puts the pieces together. A fresh set of eyes also involves a different set of values, opinions, and ideas. Professional editing is expensive, but it is well worth the price.
Do you read work by self-published authors? Yes. Probably around one-quarter of the books I read are self-published. The ratio would be higher except I read a lot of classics, and I am in school earning my Masters of Divinity, so I read several (text)books each semester for my classwork.
When buying a book do you read the reviews? Sometimes. I read the reviews more for non-fiction than I do for fiction to get a feel for the strengths and weaknesses of the material. Fiction is much more a matter of opinion, so I am less interested in reviews that are opinions. Still, I do sometimes use them, especially if they offer comparisons to other authors or works.
Can you name your favourite traditionally published author? And your favourite indie/self-published author? My favourite traditionally published author is J.R.R. Tolkien, but he’s everybody’s favourite. I also like Poe’s stuff and Weis and Hickman’s Dragonlance Chronicles. I like the English Romantic and Victorian poets such as Tennyson, Keats, and Coleridge. My favourite self-published author is Bret James Stewart! Seriously, I like the work of Karen-Ann Stewart, who writes New Adult Romance, Kay Iscah’s Seventh Night and related books, and The Labyrinth Wall by Emilyann Girdner. I think all three of these ladies have a fine career ahead of them.
What are your views on authors offering free books? I am torn over this one. Many, many authors claim that you must give away some books to get reviews in order to get your works out there and help you sell books. Others (the minority, it seems) claim that giving away books is basically senseless. I tend to think it is a bad idea. I have not yet given away any books, running on the theory that reviews, etc. will come organically. I have not had enough time to test this theory out, so I have no idea as to its accuracy.
Do you have any pets? I currently have one feline companion, Petit-Leon le Chronicleer du Fay. We read and write, sing and dance, and hang out. We’re buds.
Book links, website/blog and author links:
My website: http://www.bretjamesstewart.com/
Blue Ridge Hiker: http://www.blueridgehiker.com/