In this edition of 5 Questions With… we interviewed local author Aaron Volner. Aaron is a writer of fantasy fiction and just published his first book Chronicles of the Roc Rider. Aaron is also the author of Behind Stone Masks, a two-act stage play first first performed by the Actors’ Mission in 2013.
For those who are unfamiliar with your work, what genre of books do you write?
I write fantasy, primarily but not exclusively epic fantasy. Some may remember that back in 2013 I had a play produced by the Actors’ Mission, “Behind Stone Masks”, which was a historical fiction with no fantasy elements that took place in WWII Germany. I also have one completed book which is an urban fantasy set in a Wyoming town very much like Rock Springs. That one is unpublished but someday (after some needed rewrites) I do intend to release it as the first of a new series.
Most of my books, including the recently published “Chronicles of the Roc Rider”, are written with an adult audience in mind but also have strong young adult (YA) appeal. In fact my first unpublished novel would be considered YA as the trio of protagonists were all teens. I don’t know if that one will see the light of day or not, but I definitely like to write my books so they can be enjoyed by a range of people.
I also occasionally experiment with other genres in short form. For example, earlier this year I published a short story to my website entitled “Truth, Justice, and Relevant Work Experience (Or Equivalent Education)” about a city manager interviewing some less than stellar candidates to serve as the city’s new superhero.
Who are your favorite authors?
That’s a tough question only because there are so many it can be difficult to choose! One book I’m something of an evangelist for is “A Taste for Rabbit” by Linda Zuckerman. The book shines a harsh light on the gray areas in our definition of humanity and will get anyone thinking. A few years back I got hooked on the books of Lindsay Schopfer, who writes his own unique blend of fantasy with elements of steampunk. He’s one of the few authors I’ve read as an adult whose books I finished cover to cover in one sitting because I didn’t want to put them down. Kat Richardson’s Greywalker novels are brilliantly entertaining. I also love many of the big names in fantasy, Brandon Sanderson, Terry Brooks, Jim Butcher. Although he no longer writes fantasy I would absolutely recommend James Clemens (he now writes thrillers as James Rollins). Brandon Mull’s Fablehaven series is an all-time favorite. However, above all I have to say Robert Jordan, author of the Wheel of Time series, takes the cake as my number one because it was his books that inspired me to begin writing my own fantasy.
Is there one book that you wish you had written?
Not really, because if I had written the books I love I wouldn’t have had the joy of reading them. A writer is always a reader first and the power of loving a good story is what fuels our craft. Appreciating the work of others is just as important as any other part of a writer’s process.
Where do you get your ideas?
After following this month’s directions for how to enter the secret headquarters, I descend into the great Inspiration Vault and perform the ritual handshake with the hallowed Keeper of Ideas. This wise old sage doles out my ration of ideas to mold into new characters and story scenes and on the way out I burn a written promise to never reveal the hidden location to any non-writer.
Actually, I wish it worked that way cause it would be a heck of a lot easier. The truth is far less glamorous. Great rushes of inspiration are awesome when they happen, but they’re few and far between. Ideas usually come to me as a result of something I see, read, hear about, experience etc. and gestate for anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks or more. After gestating for a while my brain finally makes the connection to a current work in progress, or realizes how the idea can be used for a future project, and that’s when I write it down somewhere. I used to keep a notepad with me at all times, thinking I needed to always write down ideas the instant I had them or I would lose some great, world-shattering thought forever. As I’ve matured as a storyteller I’ve come to realize that ideas aren’t that hard to come up with, and most of them seem great when you first have them but later turn out to be duds. Nowadays if an idea doesn’t stick with me for a least a day or so I can safely say that idea wasn’t worth holding onto anyway.
If you could have one superpower what would it be?
Just one? Aw, man! I’m torn between telekinesis and the ability to experience any book as though I had read it thoroughly by touching its cover. Probably the first one, though, because the second one might not be as fun as actually reading them!
Aaron, thank you so much for the interview! And if you’d like to find out more about Aaron’s work, writings or any future updates check out his website here.