Author name: John D. Payne
- Please tell us about your publications.
Well, in this bundle https://bundlerabbit.com/b/here-be-dragons#cbp=/products/detail/crown-dragon, you will find my debut novel. The Crown and the Dragon is an epic fantasy about an uncrowned princess and an outlaw with a price on his head. Thrown together on the road by fate, they are pursued by a blood-soaked sorceror, an occupying army, a demon monster made of crows, and a dragon of mass destruction. They have nothing in common, but somehow they end up saving the kingdom and falling in love.
Also in this bundle is Dragon Writers: An Anthology, which happens to feature one of my stories. “Lullaby” is about a mommy dragon (and a daddy dragon) trying to get noisy little ones to pipe down and go to sleep. I wrote it in my head while rocking my own kiddos to sleep. In fact, I was rocking our second child when my phone informed me that this story had been accepted to the anthology. I said “Awesome!” which woke my little boy just enough to barf all down my shirt. Lots of other great stories in this book, but I don’t know that any of the others have received this particular mark of quality.
- What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey?
Write what you love, but also try new things. You never know when you’re going to find something new that you love doing.
- What’s the worst piece of advice you’ve received about writing/publishing?
I heard: “Don’t try it. It’s impossible to make a living as a writer, and you’ll waste years of your life trying and failing.” And for a while, I believed this.
But! Anything worth doing takes years to learn. And while you’re learning, you won’t be making much money. And there’s going to be a lot of failures along the way. This is normal in any field of study, in any trade, in any new venture. But are any of those as much fun as playing make-believe? If your answer is an emphatic NO, then write.
And don’t worry if you can’t spend eight hours a day at this. Take twenty or thirty minutes every day and write one page. In 365 days, you’ll have a 365 page novel. Then move on to the next one, and the next. So what if they’re not perfect? You’re learning. And having fun!
- Tell us about your latest piece?
Just finishing a short story for D.J. Butler’s anthology of Mormon Steampunk. It’s about two stowaways on a giant steam-powered land ship heading out west with the pioneers. One is a Danish house-gnome following one of his household, and the other is a labor automaton who decided the Emancipation Proclamation applied to him. It was my first ever steampunk story, and I had a blast writing it. Not every day I get to talk about Elizabeth Barrett Browning, salty black licorice, and the alchemist Paracelsus in the same story!
- If you could be any fantasy/mythical or legendary person/creature what would you be and why?
As a stay-at-home dad with a kindergartener, a preschooler, and a toddler (so far), the mythical person I most envy is Sleeping Beauty. To conk out for a hundred years? Man, that is the life. Tell you what, if I ever see a spinning wheel I am going to be stabbing my finger with that spindle. You never know, right?
- What is your writing space like?
When we were house-hunting for our current place, I was so excited to see that it had a room that would work as an office. Good natural light, out of the way but close to the bathroom. Perfect! I lined the walls with bookshelves and set up the world’s best futon, so I could write sitting or lying down. (I don’t like to stay in the same position too long when I write.) I put a mini-fridge in the closet and filled it with my very favorite Brazilian soda pop (Guaraná Antarctica), and made sure to stock some snacks so I could stay in there for hours and just write.
Naturally, the kids have decided this is the funnest room in the house, and absolutely will not leave me alone when I’m in there. So I do a lot of my daytime writing at our church, sitting on a couch in the foyer with pillows I steal from the mothers’ lounge. It’s not nearly as comfy as my office at home, but there’s usually nobody else there so it’s nice and quiet. Which is really all I need.
- What is the last book you’ve read?
Most of my reading is actually listening. It’s a habit I picked up back when I had a long commute. So the last audiobook I listened to was Food: A Cultural Culinary History by Ken Albala. The first three-quarters of the book (everything up to about 1800 AD or so) was full of great new information. And it made me want to try the recipes!
If we’re just talking about fiction, my most recent read was Obstacles, Volume 1 of the Acts of Androkles, by Ryan English, which I read as an ebook. Set in a world much like our own ancient Greece, it’s the tale of a hardened warrior who sets out on a quest for vengeance and along the way finds a family. It’s like 300 meets Payback, plus The Bad News Bears. Or maybe Horsin’ Around.
- What are your views on authors commenting on reviews?
I think the wisest course (and the happiest) is to avoid reading reviews, much less commenting on them. But if I was going to comment, it would probably be to thank a fan for leaving the review. Or to let someone know I was glad they noticed something I worked hard on.
- How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at?
I mostly do research as I go, when I bump into something I need to know to write the scene. For example, the novel I’m working on now is a superhero book that takes place in a city built on the old Roanoke Colony. So I’ve been learning a lot about the Outer Banks in North Carolina. But lots of other stuff, too. For scenes in the last few chapters, I’ve researched all of the following: garbage trucks, supermodels, barbecue, electromagnets, she-crab soup, secret societies, mary jane pumps, tax fraud, dark energy, good pistols for women to concealed-carry, missing planets, and the demon wife Adam had before Eve.
- If you could have dinner with any literary character who would you choose, and what would you eat.
Bilbo Baggins. That little dude knows how to lay out a spread. And I think I’d want to drop in for Elevensies, so we could do breakfast food, brunch food, and lunch food. All of which will feature bacon. Yum!
- Is this the age of the e-book? Are bricks and mortar bookshops in decline?
People love stories, and they get them in a lot of different ways. Leaving out movies, comic books, TV, games, etc., and just thinking about written fiction, there are so many ways to deliver it these days. Hardcovers, mass-markets, trade paperbacks, ebooks, audiobooks, etc. People might buy your novel online, or in their local bookstore. They might borrow it from a friend, or from a library. You can chop it up into chapters and serialize it in magazines (print or electronic), a newsletter, on blogs, podcasts, or Patreon.
Ebooks are great, but they’re not the only way to experience a story (or to reach an audience). This is the age of innovation, of creativity. I think this is the best time in the history of the world to be sharing your stories. There are just so many options! And it’s only going to get better.
- What’s your next writing adventure?
As soon as I finish my superhero book, I’m finishing (and revising) a novel that follows on from a story I wrote for One Horn to Rule Them All: A Purple Unicorn Anthology. In the story, an awkward grad student (Lem) finally gets the courage to ask out the cute hipster girl (Pris) who’s always reading at his stop. But what he doesn’t know (that the reader does) is that she’s really a secret watcher from another dimension.
The book is set a few months after their disastrous first date. Pris shows up out of nowhere on Lem’s doorstep, reveals her true identity, and asks him to help her unravel a sinister conspiracy that spans the multiverse. They have 48 hours to clear her name, save earth from extradimensional spies, and win the film competition at the local Con. And maybe . . . have a second date?
Meet the author: John D. Payne grew up in the American midwest watching the lightning flash outside his window and imagining himself as everything from a leaf on the wind to the god of thunder. Today, he lives with his wife and family at the foot of the Organ Mountains in New Mexico, where he focuses his weather-god powers on rustling up enough cloud cover for a little shade.
His debut novel, The Crown and the Dragon, is a thrilling epic fantasy published by WordFire Press. His short fiction has been published in anthologies like Tales of Ruma and magazines like Leading Edge.