I’ve been compiling questions since the start of the new year. I was shooting for 50 before starting the AMA. I doubled that. So, I originally broke the AMAs into four parts with twenty-five questions each. However, I figured that I should compile them all into one, so that they are in the same place for easier reference.
So, here are those 100 questions:
How many books for the series are you planning to do?
There is no set amount in my head. I know that for the first “phase” that the numbered BotS “saga” books will probably end with #5. However, I have plans beyond that and I am also writing books between the saga books, which has been seen with the release of Eyes in All Shadows, the first anthology of probably several. My next book is also going to be the first side quest solo character book.
Will you be creating another universe for a separate series?
As of now, no. I have several ideas for stories separate from the characters on Terra. However, there is a larger plan for them to all exist in the same universe. Also, with the way I’ve structured my universe, anything is possible and could potentially crossover.
Do you plan on only doing sci-fi books or some fictional series based on reality?
I consider the Barbarians of the Storm books to be sci-fi already, as well as fantasy, adventure, horror, and just about every other genre, honestly. Reality based? Maybe. But I’m not thinking about that, at the moment.
Does the Fenrik/Dan saga have a set end, or will it be ongoing (like Drizzt from Forgotten Realms)?
Let’s just say, I know where each character’s story ends (or continues on in a very different way). However, with side quest books and short story anthologies, there could be a lot of adventures.
Has Fenrik/Dan’s relationship/banter been inspired by anything specific?
I think the banter and humor comes from all the buddy action movies I loved growing up. However, I found myself thinking about the first Lethal Weapon movie, a lot. Very different characters than Riggs & Murtaugh, but they are thrown together and there is immediate tension but ultimately, they become best friends (family, honestly) and grow together in a unique, meaningful way. They’re “ride or die” bros despite their rocky start.
Will Elizabeth's journey be told in a solo book, will we see it in the Barbarians of the Storm series, or perhaps even see Dan and Fenrik travel back in time and experience it?
I have thought about an Elizabeth book. However, I think that the story, for now, will be filled-in by Steve (her scientist companion from Earth). I want to keep some of it mysterious and legend (some of which is very much true, some of it maybe not). Granted, I’m sure that a book (or more) will be done in time. It’s not the most important thing at the moment, however. Although, I do have a really cool short story idea that I may use her for, which will delve into how she evolved from a regular Florida girl to a legit legend in a barbarous world.
Will we learn much more about the war that occurred in the past to make their world the way it is?
There is no single war or event that shaped the world into what it is. A lot of the stuff about the world’s origin and “shaping” is covered in the newest book, Swords Against Bastards.
Where did your idea of mixing fantasy with a sprinkling of modern technology come from? I see it as 80% Conan, 20% Mad Max.
I actually talk about my influences at great length in the Substack article The Genesis of the “Barbarians of the Storm” Book Series - The Full Version. The short version: the initial idea came from being really high and binging a bunch of Italian rip-offs of Conan and Mad Max and then wondering how cool it would’ve been if a filmmaker would’ve blended the two concepts. By the time I wrote Dan the Destructor, the concept had grown way beyond just that, though.
Is Dan ever going to get laid or is he holding out for Elizabeth?
Despite waking up with hot bath maidens and being a weak li’l bitch at the start of Dan the Destructor, and still thinking it was all a dream, he is strictly a one woman man. In fact, Elizabeth is his motivation to push forward. He also feels responsible for her situation.
Which character in your books would you fuck first?
Erzulyn, for sure. Although, I would love for Vasilia to punish me, and Kildr would probably scare the crap out of me in a hot way. Merith would be cool, but I’ll never live up to Frank. Valkyana would probably be better for me and provide a lot of financial security and perks (bath maidens and gold). Although, out of them all, Cynthania is probably the most chill and stable… and I need to get back to her soon.
You’ve talked about always being creative, what else have you done?
I’ve written stories as long as I can remember, as well as illustrating. I did comics when I was young and designed some basic ass video games when I was a kid. I’ve also done music in a variety of genres. Now, my real world job has me working primarily as a digital artist and designer. I’m the senior creative director for a company that has grown exponentially since I started there in 2002.
Does anything you dream about ever end up in your books?
I think so, but more visually than narratively, as my dreams rarely make sense.
For an atheist, why are there so many biblical things in your books?
Because I was raised a Christian and always found the mythology around it to be fascinating. Also, what is more evil than real devils and demons?
Is there a lot of bad language in your books?
Probably no more than a PG-13 movie in the ‘80s, the peak of pop culture.
Are your books for kids?
No. However, they’re fine for teens, in my opinion. That depends on the parent, though. Like I said, it’s on par with ‘80s PG-13 content. Although, I am working on something that will be more acceptable for younger audiences. I’m keeping that card close to my chest, though. No announcement until it’s near release.
Is Substack worth the hassle?
At first, I thought no. Then when I was about to quit for the second time but held on, a breakthrough happened. Now, I see Substack as necessary and vital for the growth of my work. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to do this AMA together. I like being closer to my readers or those wanting to learn something or find motivation in my experiences.
How have you written four books in a year?
Discipline. Point f’n blank. Make a routine, stick to it, and if you feel like you can’t, just push through it. Make an effort every single day. Also, my books aren’t long. With this series, I started writing what I wanted to read, short, quick, fast-paced pulp adventures. I have no interest in phone book fantasy. However, if you combine my four books together, I’m at roughly 800 pages. So, I’ve basically produced a fantasy phone book worth of story in a year.
You publish books so quickly, how good can they be?
I let the reviews and the fans of the series speak for them. There are enough reviews out there to see if they’re something you want to invest in. Plus, as I have stated countless times, they are pulp at their core, which are typically short, impactful, efficient, and produced rather quickly. From a creative standpoint, I make them at the pace I like, which keeps me engaged with the process. I also know that my style isn’t for everyone, but nothing is.
What do you see as the best way to stay focused when writing? Do you put on music, do something to get into the headspace beforehand? How do you get into that creative zone?
When I enter “the zone”, I’ve stuck to my routine, carved out the time I need, blast music, and just focus on getting the work done. On a perfect day, I wake up early as fuck, go to the diner and eat, drink a lot of coffee, smoke a cigar, play music that I’m feeling for whatever scene I need to write, and I just do it. When I recently had to burn through a lot of vacation time, I was in the zone for 8-10 hours per day with a quick lunch break in there. Fun fact: I wrote The Forging of Foolpuddle in a day.
Do you think your plotting, in general, is more deliberate or spontaneous?
Actually, both. I’d say it’s about 30/70 deliberate/spontaneous. I know where each story and the bigger picture is headed. However, I let the story steer itself, typically through conversations between characters. I actually talked about that in the Substack article How Conversations Shape My Stories.
Which minor characters are your favorite to write?
Most of them, actually. And they all have stories in my head already. But I know that is a shit answer, so my very favorite minor characters to explore are Raz’arok, The Seawolf, Ammordu, Kornfel & Tibrüt, Kildr, Captain Agos… basically, characters that have moved closer to the forefront by the end of Swords Against Bastards. Asmodeus will be fun to explore, considering the bigger plans I have for the character.
Would you prefer BotS to be a TV or Film series?
I think a TV series would serve the main “saga” stories better, even though they are in a quick, pulp style. However, film adaptations of the short stories in Eyes in All Shadows & Other Stories might serve those specific tales better. Or just an Eyes in All Shadows anthology film could be really cool… like a sword & sorcery Creepshow or Twilight Zone: The Movie.
What are your casting choices for your stories on TV versus the Silver Screen?
Strangely, I’ve put a lot of thought into this (regardless of live action film or television, as most actors crossover now) and I’ve debated this with friends who like my books. For Dan, I haven’t found the perfect choice. For everyone else, here’s the rough list:
Dan - don’t know yet
Fenrik - Joe Manganiello
Erzulyn - Ana de Armas
Frank Murdock - Henry Cavill (for the younger/prequel stories, age him up for the saga stories), I’ve also thought about Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Merith - Anna Diop
Killer (voice) - Joey Diaz
Xulgog - Bill Skarsgård
Shakon-Kazoth - Iggy Pop
Vasilia - Katheryn Winnick (if she’ll go brunette)
General Baël - Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson aka “The Mountain”
General Théorn - Kristofer Hivju
Captain Palus - Cameron Monaghan (who I would also consider for Xulgog)
Queen Valkyana - Anya Taylor-Joy
King Bruxor - David Dawson
Brahm Tieryr - Chris Hemsworth (but he’d have to go bald and beardless, ladies)
Ammordu (voice) - I wrote the character w/ Gilbert Gottfried in mind (R.I.P.)
Raz’arok - Michael James Shaw
The Seawolf - Matt Smith
Kildr the Coldclaw - Thea Sofie Loch Næss
Captain Agos - Winston Duke
Igarik/Eson-Dhuum - Dolph Lundgren
I know you're a cinephile. Who would you choose to produce, direct, and score a BotS film or TV production?
Produce and direct? I don’t know, but track record is damn important. There’s not a lot from the mainstream I’m in love with these days. I’d have to have some sort of control over it or no deal, anyway. As far as score/music, the soundtrack would have a lot of metal in it, but for the traditional score I’d probably be really damn fine with Ramin Djawadi just for his work on Game of Thrones alone.
Do you imagine that BotS takes place in a universe shared with other franchises, like Mad Max, Evil Dead, or even He-Man? If so, what would be your favourite crossover?
I don’t see it that way. However, I’m also not opposed to ever having a crossover like that. The way I’ve set up the universe would make it relatively easy to crossover with anything, honestly.
How many books have you written?
8, thus far. 4 are about politics and economics; 4 are fiction in the Barbarians of the Storm universe.
What is the best advice anyone ever gave you about writing?
To find a routine, be disciplined, and to execute it without fail. If you fail, push through and make something happen. Any progress is still progress. Bad writing can be fixed in editing, just get moving forward and push through. Always do something; always produce.
How do you keep yourself from making the writing process too complicated?
By doing what I outlined in the previous question. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be hard, complicated days. You just have to show up and find a way to be productive.
Do you have a kind of "thinking" process?
Similar answer to the two previous answers. If I stick to the routine, things fall into place as they should on most days. Expanding on that, a lot of people are creative, but you have to work hard. I know people these days hate hearing that, but if you aren’t putting in the work and believing in yourself and your work, no one else will except for your aunt, who will mostly just annoy her canasta friends about her talented nephew/niece.
Why the smaller sized books?
Because pulp stories typically came in thin pocket-sized paperbacks. It’s my favorite size and style of book. Emphasis on “pocket-sized”. Also, doing the standard 6x9 paperback, which seems to be the norm now, never looks formatted right to me and the spines look too narrow for that size. So, I guess it’s also an aesthetic preference for myself. In the future, my big collected editions will most likely be in the bigger format, but they will have THICC spines.
Do you plan to write any other genres, for example, sci-fi or horror?
I consider Barbarians of the Storm to be both of those things. However, I have plans for a space pirate series, which also happens in the BotS universe. I also want to do another horror anthology like Eyes in All Shadows & Other Stories. Expanding off of that, I also want to do a horror anthology that takes place in our world that has ties to the monsters, demons, etc. of the BotS universe.
Was there a specific woke movie that propelled you to write BotS or was it accumulative?
Accumulative. I’ve always been creative and thinking of stories, though. Seeing the state of modern mainstream culture, however, really pushed me much harder into finally doing this. Also, I think the state of the comic book industry is more responsible for it than films and TV. Dan the Destructor was initially meant to be a comic book miniseries or graphic novel.
If you could re-write the screenplay for any of the woke movies, which would you choose?
I already had a really, really solid concept for a Star Wars sequel trilogy, that would have also fixed some of the wonkier things in the prequels. But Kathleen Kennedy would’ve hated it.
10 years from now, what would you like to be working on?
Barbarians of the Storm books and possibly bigger projects in other mediums associated with it. Beyond that, I’d like to be working on my tan in Latin America while eating giant ribeyes with my future wife and laughing at paper-handed crypto traders crying into social media.
Which BotS character deserves more attention?
A few, actually. Merith, for sure, because of what her story is between The Life in Death’s Exhale and her later life with Frank, as shown in the “saga” books. She goes through some incredibly dark shit. Also, Bruxor, Valkyana, Cynthania, Mani, Agos, Morax, The Seawolf. I have ideas for all of them and know their general story. Over time, they will be told.
Are there any characters that got positive fan responses that surprised you?
Yes, Guierre. He’s a minor character in one short story from Eyes in All Shadows, but multiple people have asked me about my plans for him. There weren’t any, but now I’m thinking about how he could appear again. Also, Killer’s one koala raid on a subterranean goblin city got a really great response from the male readers. I was wary about that subplot and thought it was a big risk, but I felt that I needed to show to what extreme he is willing to go. It’s actually setting up something. I also did a chapter in Swords Against Bastards that is a sort of sequel to Killer’s previous goblin encounter.
How do you feel about letting other people write for your characters in fan-fic?
Same as I feel about fan art, it would make me really f’n happy. If I create something that inspires other people to create, that’s pretty damn cool. I already like discussing my stories and characters with fans and hearing their ideas and theories. And frankly, I don’t give a shit if people ship Fenrik and Dan. I still choose what the canon is in my own created universe. However, if there was a lot of really good fan fiction out there that I thought worked with the broader franchise and didn’t conflict with it or future plans, I’d consider publishing some of it in an anthology and pay those people for their work.
Who has helped you the most since you started the "Barbarians of the Storm" series?
Well, RazörFist’s initial Iron Age video helped a lot of us. Also, the times he’s retweeted my stuff has been really damn helpful, as far as getting more eyes on my book series. Also, the first legitimate review of Dan the Destructor by Katharine Frances on her Substack Ink & Quill really generated a lot of interest. Her Substack is gone now, but I hope it’s just temporary and she comes back when she’s ready to. Other reviewers like Riverotter85 and TJ Marquis helped boost my signal greatly. Additionally, being on ADrinkWithCrazy’s livestreams alongside Richard from Iron Age Media and Daniel P. Riley has always been pretty fun and gotten me in front of more people.
Apart from that, and honestly, even more importantly, the greatest help comes from those who have given the books a shot and encouraged me to keep going. Frankly, the number of people who have enjoyed my work, thus far, is pretty surprising. I’ve only been doing this for a year now and I didn’t expect to be where I’m at in such a short amount of time.
What were your biggest surprises over the last year?
Shad M. Brooks of Shadiversity and Knights Watch knowing who I am and giving me props on a few livestreams. I’ve been a fan of his channels for a long time, and often times use his content to research things when I’m writing.
Other than that, just the reception my books have gotten and how quick all of this has grown. I’ve met a lot of cool people this past year, as well as other passionate creators that are trying to build a real alternative to mainstream entertainment.
Why are you beefing with YouTubers?
I’m not beefing with anyone. Sure, I’ve been critical for a lot of YouTubers being focused on garbage IPs almost exclusively, as opposed to helping signal boost good alternatives (unless it’s something within their circle). At the same time, I’m not going to tell someone to not put food on their table. I’m critical because I think there should be more balance. I understand their argument about being there for new people who finally wake up to the mainstream’s absolute retardation, but I think we all benefit from building things and not just tearing stuff down. I also see the writing on the wall where a lot of long-time fans of these channels quit giving a shit about these mainstream IPs and truly become starved for alternatives. That’s where I’m at, and like me, many have tuned out from those channels for the most part. I think their current formula has a shelf life and eventually, most people will reach their end with it. For the most part, I have. I never need to see another Rings of Power or She-Hulk video.
Got any nuclear nerd hot takes?
Many, but I’ll just give ten.
Halo has always been lame.
Rocky V doesn’t suck.
Batman Forever is far worse than Batman & Robin.
Kevin Smith was never good.
Quentin Tarantino is to filmmaking what an early ‘10s mashup DJ was to the club scene.
Stephen King never wrote anything I cared for, and many of the movie adaptations of his work are far superior.
The Godfather, Part III is a fine film.
The Exorcist III is superior to The Exorcist, and is the best film in the series.
I prefer anime with dubbing.
Mediocre artists are severely overreacting to AI art, as they do most things that make them feel threatened.
Why don't you review books anymore? And will you ever return to the original Talking Pulp website/concept?
I don’t review books these days because I have very little time to read between writing my own book series and a full-time job that takes up a lot of my time and brain power.
As far as the Talking Pulp blog I ran for 5+ years, I’m sure I’ll go back to it at some point, but probably not as heavily as I worked on it previously. I accomplished my objectives with it. Although, I do plan to use a lot of that content for some nonfiction books I want to start putting out.
What have you learned in the last year?
To not quit. Truly. Every time that I felt like throwing in the towel, I pushed through. Each time, I came to learn that I wasn’t far from a real breakthrough. It made me realize that all the other times I quit something, I probably robbed myself of success.
What other indie creators' work catches your attention?
Well, I really liked the stuff I’ve read from Matthew Pungitore. J.R. Cason’s Valengetrix books are fun and badass. I also liked the story that Katharine Frances gave me to read. She is the one who I mentioned earlier that gave me my first legit review. I hope I can get my hands on her follow-up story. I also buy everything that DMR Books and the Bizarchives puts out. Additionally, I like Cirsova’s stuff and I have also bought every edition of Savage Realms. I know I am probably missing several, but the best way to find good shit is to follow me on Twitter and see the people I help promote on Wednesdays.
Are the Wednesday promo days for your own benefit?
However, as I have stated countless times and in the Substack article Why I Promote Others So Hard, I also do it because I’m trying to help build something that is much bigger than myself and any individual in my expanding circle of likeminded creators. A rising tide lifts all boats. Additionally, I know that my books won’t be for everyone, but if I can point a person towards something that speaks to them, that makes me happy. Ultimately, this is how we fill the giant, growing void that has been created by the mainstream’s inability to make anything worth a shit.
Why did the amount of creatives in the promo tweets shrink?
Because of a few reasons.
To start, some people didn’t want to be included or some left Twitter. Also, some people didn’t utilize it or even interact with it.
I want it to be a group of proactive creatives who are hungry and willing to work towards expanding all of our reach. Beyond that, some people were eager to be a part of it but never reciprocated for others. I’m not saying that there’s a cost involved, but I’m not going to keep pushing people that take the benefits and never give anything back. It is what it is, and that’s how I run my weekly promo pushes.
The list of names will probably shrink and expand and just keep going through cycles, as new people enter the space and others exit.
Why don't you follow back?
I do. However, I don’t usually immediately follow people back. Most of the follows I get lately seem to be people that unfollow me if I don’t follow back that same day. I’m not on Twitter for a follower count, I’m there to connect with people. If you follow me, interact. Eventually, I’ll recognize you for being active, and usually that comes with a follow from me.
If you’re a shithead, I’ll probably block you and move on. I’m not wasting time engaging with shitheads anymore.
Who is your favorite character in your stories?
Erzulyn, for now. This could always change. Fenrik is my number two. I feel like that should be pretty obvious if you’ve read as far as the second book, Atomic Beasts and Where to Kill Them. I do like all of my core characters quite a bit though. Frank is way up on my list and I have plans for a prequel book (or trilogy) about his time before Dan the Destructor.
Which character is the most powerful in your books?
Lucifer, although he hasn’t appeared yet. So, I’d say Asmodeus, right now. As far as characters on Terra, the main setting, it should be pretty damn obvious by the end of Swords Against Bastards, but even then, there’s a bit of a twist that could change that too. I guess it just depends on where you’re at in the timeline.
If you ever produced a BotS porno, what would you call it?
The series would be called Barbarians of the Schlong with films featuring such titles as Dan the Dickstructor, Atomic Balls and Where to Suck Them, Swords Against Clitori, and Browneyes in All Shadows.
Are you going to make a Barbarians of the Storm comic? Would you crowdfund it?
I would very much like to. As I’ve said, that was the original plan for Dan the Destructor. I think that if I did a comic now, it would be an original story within the BotS universe instead of an adaptation. I’d also want to work with an artist that could get really wild with the concepts for it.
And yes, it would probably have to be crowdfunded.
In addition to that, I am thinking of something else that may be a good thing to crowdfund in an effort to gauge interest. More on that when I have the project and the plan fully figured out, however.
You’ve shown your comic collection before. So, how many do you own?
*Checks database app* As of this very moment, 5670 across 1439 titles.
What’s your most prized comic book?
Not my most valuable, but my most coveted would be my copy of Daredevil #1. It’s an absolute beater but it is completely intact. I never thought I’d own an original Marvel Comics #1 from the ‘60s era. Since acquiring it, I have actually completed the entire original run of Daredevil, all 381 issues plus annuals.
Beyond that, it’s probably Detective Comics #359, the first appearance of Batgirl. Although, Fantastic Four #49 is waaay up on my list, as is Fantastic Four #15, my earliest FF comic. A lot of my marquee Jack Kirby stuff is pretty damn beloved by me, as well.
Daredevil, overall. Then for Marvel it’d be Illyana Rasputin aka Magik and Doctor Strange. For DC Comics, it’s Batman but Batgirl, Nightwing, and Deathstroke (hero?) are definitely top tier for me.
Will you ever do a superhero story?
I have done several if you count the comics I did in my adolescent and teen years. I do have a superhero story I want to tell, but I am also just exhausted by superhero shit, as of late. It might be awhile before I get that itch again.
Are you looking to publish other people?
I am looking to eventually do anthologies that feature other writers. It’s probably going to be something I look at more seriously after this year. I had a great first year, but I want to see if I can maintain this trajectory and continue to grow. It’s something I will probably seriously look at going into 2024.
Why do you write in a "pulp style"?
Because I like it. I don’t have a lot of time to devote to reading these days and pulp allows me to jump into a book, go on a fast-paced, intense journey, and then be done with it. It’s what I like most and because of that, it’s what I want to write.
Also, I want to write for those who want to read but also can’t devote the time and energy to a brick full of overly detailed and meandering nonsense. I don’t care about the fucking hand-stitched curtains in the shopkeeper’s cottage, I want to see heads roll, monsters murdered, and evil vanquished!
What's your favorite fantasy race?
Goblins! Bro, c’mon! That should be apparent by the short story in my first book. Also, they’re not simply evil in my stories. Their culture is fun to explore and many are just like humans, albeit most are less intelligent and a bit more malleable by those with power over them. Actually, that’s a lot like humans, I guess.
What are 5 fun facts about you unrelated to the books?
I’ve made a lot of music over the years.
I wrote a lot of horror scripts twentyish years ago. Some of them got retrofitted into short stories for Eyes in All Shadows.
I was a wrestling tape trader in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. A lot of those “Best of” VHS compilations of your favorite wrestlers were done by me.
I am really good at making magic happen with meat. I often dream of mastering butchery and opening a place where I can serve small groups of people that also want to indulge in whiskies and cigars.
I would like to learn carpentry and blacksmithing but I don’t know where I could even fit that in.
Are you doing an omnibus of all the books collected?
That’s the plan, once I get through the first phase of stories and they reach their conclusion. I also want to include illustrations and maps, as well as bonus content and appendices. My dream would be to have really nice leather editions, which would be pretty limited. I think most of those would be “thank yous” to those who have really helped me along the way: hardcore fans and colleagues that gave me a significant boost.
Is Killer based on Rocket Raccoon?
No. In fact, he was inspired by Dave Sim’s Cerebus. Specifically, the earliest stories before that series began to get really deep. I think there’s also some Howard the Duck in there, the comic book version. Those two anthropomorphic animal characters just always resonated with me. Side note: I do indeed love the Howard the Duck movie despite it being “bad” and not following the comic book at all.
Killer IS METAL! Who is his favorite band?
Goblins can be very different looking depending upon what you’re watching or reading. How do you visualize the look of yours in your own mind?
My goblins, at least how I see them when I write, look a lot like the goblins in the video game Dragon’s Dogma. Also, I sometimes see them as being close to the smaller, non-Uruk-hai orcs in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. Think about the smaller orcs that that came from the ceiling in Moria or the ones that wanted to eat Pippin and Merry. I know they’re orcs but my brain sees them more as goblins. The actual goblins in The Hobbit trilogy were shit. Xulgog, being albino, covered in tattoos, tall, slender, athletic and genetically modified, does not look the same as the standard BotS goblin.
Are there any characters in your head that you’re excited about but haven’t introduced yet?
Several. There are some I have only mentioned but not shown. If I name drop a character you haven’t met yet, there’s usually a reason behind it. I have many concepts for characters I want to introduce in various stories. I don’t want to give any specific details, as I don’t want to spoil things. I also don’t want to mention something I intend to do, but then might push back in favor of another idea. That happens a lot with me.
What’s next? A direct sequel to Swords Against Bastards or something else?
Something else. The next book is the first Side Quest book, which will feature Fenrik in a solo adventure that takes place between Swords Against Bastards and its direct follow-up. I don’t want to elaborate or share what the idea is yet. My close friends, who I have told, seem pretty stoked about it. It’s something I’ve talked about with them for awhile and now I have finally gotten to the point in the saga where it makes sense.
Is there a specific story you want to tell but haven’t found a way to fit it in yet?
Yes, there are a few. The biggest of which I think I’ve finally cracked. So much so, that it’s most likely going to be the title story of the next anthology book. Or it could be the short story at the end of Swords Against Bastards’ direct sequel.
What’s up with the YouTube channel? Are you still going to do something with it?
I’d like to, but honestly, I’ve been busy as hell and when I have downtime, I’m a f’n vegetable. Also, I know I want to do a weekly livestream, but two of the people I wanted to try and work with have recently noped out of the scene. As far as regular, daily content, I probably won’t do that. Maybe I do video versions of articles here. I don’t know. I’m open to feedback on it.
Why did you want to do an AMA?
Well, mainly to allow my subscribers, followers, and readers a chance to ask me anything they want. I get questions via DMs a lot. I just figured that this would be a way to cover a lot of ground and have it available to the most people. Also, it seemed fun and it has been. If there were enough questions regularly, I would do this again and again.
A secondary reason, is that I have turned down a few interviews now. The main reason for that was because the interviewer hadn’t read any of my books. While going on a livestream to hang out can be fun, I’d prefer to spend the majority of my time working on my books or talking about them with those who want to actually discuss them.
On a side tangent: one of the coolest things to me is talking to those who have read the books. I love hearing their thoughts and even their theories. I like to hear what characters resonate with them and why. I like to hear about which characters they hate or how certain scenes or revelations affected them.
What was the hardest part about developing a fantasy world?
At the risk of sounding like an egotistical prick, absolutely nothing. I’ve had stories in my head for decades and shaping the world that these characters live in was exceptionally easy. I knew what I wanted with Dan the Destructor by the time I decided to actually write it. The world was set up to be a bit of a generic Conan-type of place. However, I knew that I was going to gradually reveal things that made it much different than that and unique in its own way.
Who are your favourite sci-fi/fantasy authors and why?
This answer could be an entire article (or series of articles), honestly. So, I will try and keep it relatively short. It’s a pretty big list but just from memory it includes Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Lord Dunsany, Frank Herbert, Philip K. Dick, Arthur C. Clarke, Karl Edward Wagner, Tanith Lee, Andre Norton, Fritz Lieber, Catherine Lucille Moore, Michael Moorcock, Ramsey Campbell, Manly Wade Wellman, many, many more.
The “why” is simply because their work resonates with something deep inside of me. I would have to get into each one specifically to elaborate on that. Maybe it’s something I will do in the future.
Any big misconceptions about your books from potential readers?
Well, I think that some people assume that the stories are simple, straightforward sword & sorcery in the vein of Robert E. Howard. They’re not. Sure, that’s certainly an influence, but a big reason why I did the article The Genesis of the “Barbarians of the Storm” Book Series - The Full Version was to layout the various things that influenced what my universe became. There is certainly real dramatic, violent, and serious moments throughout the stories. However, there is also humor, campiness, and a sort of ‘80s movie charm.
Another misconception is that people think that the dude with the sword fighting the giant snake on the cover of Dan the Destructor is Dan. It isn’t. It’s actually Fenrik. The reason why I didn’t make Dan the focal point of that cover was because he was a dad bod bitch at that point. Luckily, through his three appearances, thus far, he’s gotten fit, found his balls, and become a hero in his own right.
What's your pick for best/worst upcoming movies for 2023?
I don’t really know what’s coming out and don’t care. I guess the best for me will probably be the next Mission: Impossible if that is indeed coming out this year. The worst? Who knows? There’s a lot of competition for that. As far as what I’ve seen a trailer for that actually broke my heart, that’d be the next Indiana Jones, which I’ll never watch.
You are a cigar connoisseur. What have you been enjoying recently?
Out of the newer brands: the Rocky Patel Edge 20th Anniversary and the Plascencia Alma Fuerte Eduardo I. Over Christmas break, I smoked a lot of Padrón 1926s and 1964s, along with Fuente’s Opus X, as my cousin gave me a really nice collection of his best that he’s been aging for several years. I smoked all of these while writing Swords Against Bastards.
What video games are you playing and which releases are you looking forward to?
I was most recently playing 2018’s version of God of War and just couldn’t get into it. Before that, I played the two Styx games, which I loved because goblins are cool, as are stealth games. Earlier in the year, I played Dragon’s Dogma, which became one of my all-time favorites.
As far as what I’m looking forward to? The eventual Elden Ring Game of the Year Edition, which I have been holding out for. Beyond that, I don’t really know what’s on the horizon. So, the Dragon’s Dogma sequel, which I know was announced, and the next Red Dead, whenever that comes out years from now. I’d be pretty excited for the next Elder Scrolls game too, as long as it’s not some online shit. I’m a solo gamer.
Do you have any interest in returning to writing about politics?
Absolutely not. Three years of it broke me. As bad as things were in 2010-2013, it’s much worse now. My quality of life and mental health were the worst they had ever been during that span of my life.
What is the recommended reading order for the Barbarians of the Storm books?
The order of release is probably the preferred way. That’s how I prefer to consume media that’s not mine. The reason for this and my reason for it in regards to the BotS series, is that the order of release is how details are revealed to the audience. Reading outside of the order of release would spoil some things in the various stories. So, basically, think of Eyes in All Shadows & Other Stories as Book 2.5 to be read between Atomic Beasts and Swords Against Bastards. It all takes place before the first book, Dan the Destructor, but it would spoil a lot of the reveals. I lay Easter eggs where I do and when I do for a reason. But also, I guess you can do whatever the hell you want.
Does Fenrik enjoy any food other than rambull steak?
Rambull steak is his absolute favorite thing to eat, but dude will eat just about any meat. He’s basically a carnivore that drinks alcohol. However, that doesn’t mean that he won’t eat side dishes or forage for berries and mushrooms if he needs to survive in the wild. In the books, he’s eaten crocodylian, snake (Rogorn), jerky, crab, and other stuff.
Do Fenrik and Vasilia actually have an open relationship?
No. Not at all. He loves her. Having just met Dan, he was doing what most guys do when they meet a new bro… he was simply talking shit and trying to look cool, playing up that he’s “the man”. He flirts with Cynthania in the Duplicitous Goose but he also feels guilt with her over what was essentially a rebound and a one (or multiple) night stand. There are a lot of ways that Fenrik presents himself to strangers and newcomers, but as people get to know him and earn his trust, they learn who he is, which isn’t the simple caricature that he plays up.
Will Dan run out of Hawaiian shirts? Is he wearing the same one the whole time? If so, does he wash it?
He had his shirt washed in Agamemnon before the parade in Sha-Destino. I’m sure he had it washed again before setting off from Xessex across the Isoln Channel. However, it’s doubtful that it’s been washed from that point, probably being stinky by the end of Swords Against Bastards. However, he was in the ocean with it a few times. As far as there being more Hawaiian shirts, I’m sure there’s some in one of the cargo ship containers.
Why are there all these different hells?
The different hells are essentially realms ruled over by the most powerful demons that spread out across the cosmos, space and time. Many can exist in several worlds with direct connections to them. Each is styled in the way that its ruler prefers. Each also has its own rules and purpose. However, there is also the larger, biblical Hell, which is where Lucifer resides. Several hells have direct links to Terra, the main world in the Barbarians of the Storm series.
Can we get more with the Ash Man and the Three Crows?
You can if I write it. Technically, the Ash Man is not dead. His body is destroyed and his power has been diminished significantly. He would have to build himself back up, but based off of the rules for the character, that could take a very long time. That doesn’t mean that something powerful couldn’t assist the entity. Since the Three Crows were just extensions of his will, the Ash Man would have to obtain a similar level of power to manifest them again.
Sutriel will be back? Right? Riiiiight?
Probably. Vasilia will not let him off lightly. She’s busy, right now, but she has powers that could assist her against him and she also has her connection to Whiro. Additionally, there is a little twist to the end of the short story The Hunt for Cimmoarid at the end of Swords Against Bastards that hints at what could be next for her on a more personal level.
The two linked Fenrik short stories in Eyes in All Shadows were cool. Did the idea come from anywhere specific?
Yes. It came from a side quest in Skyrim. The one where you have to raid a fortress with a cult inside that has a little girl prisoner. It’s a simple mission, but after completing it, I was thinking about Stockholm syndrome and the possibility of the girl yearning to return to her captors. Then my brain went wild, and I thought about the girl reestablishing the cult and becoming its leader.
The stories that I wrote varied greatly in the details but I thought about it also being a lesson for Fenrik in that he can be the hero but what happens when he leaves and never goes back to check in on those he has saved.
The second story also allowed me to show Fenrik as emotionally vulnerable while also showing why he and Frank’s friendship is as strong as it is.
In regards to Frank, it allowed me to show him working through his own issues by helping his good friend with his own trauma and guilt.
Any more Falconrest tales?
Yes. I have to bring Hukkrag back in. I also have to explore what he is, a Nephilim. Is Loviatar truly dead? Plus, the story of the vampire boar Orok and his original vampire master might be neat to tell at some point.
Additionally, is Hukkrag’s armory still in the cave behind the hunter’s lodge? We don’t get to see it after the second story concludes.
Any plans to tell the story of Fenrik's dad (Ahren Gaust) and Brahm Tieryr?
Probably. For now, it is being told in increments through dialogue by characters who know certain details. At some point, I will probably want to actually deep dive into what they are and what they did before they were marooned on the planet.
Are you going to do stories in other eras?
Yes, eventually. In a way, Eyes in All Shadows featured stories that are essentially origins or much earlier tales. However, I have thought about telling a story about Taenith, the king she served, the establishment of the Order of the Crimson Masque, as well as how the Wild Dog became a part of it.
Beyond that, a Tieryr and Gaust story is highly likely, as is a story featuring Elizabeth. In fact, I already have a short story planned for that.
Are there plans to visit other planets or to show more of the cosmos?
Yes, absolutely. And I actually already have with the Moon of Desmir. I’m thinking about the larger cosmos all the time, though. I’d like to show Tieryr and Gaust, as well as Morax in their heydays.
What is the eyeball entity in the mirror gate?
It’s a very ancient, very powerful deity that has a close relationship with Brahm Tieryr. That’s all I can say about it for now.
What's your favorite battle that you've written in the BotS books?
Man, that’s f’n hard to answer. As fun as the final epic battle was in Dan the Destructor, I think that the winner for me is Xulgog bringing war to Agamemnon at the end of Swords Against Bastards. Some serious, serious shit happens there, it was overly ambitious on my part (also for happening at the same time as another massive battle), but I think I pulled it off. It also has an end result that will completely change the series and the lives of all the core characters: heroes, villains, and those in-between.
Are all the surviving heroes from Swords Against Bastards always going to be a team?
No. They are certainly allies but they all have their own things to deal with. That doesn’t mean that they won’t all come together for the right reasons. As the world changes, this could be a very likely scenario.
Is Killer racist against goblins?
Racist? No. Well, I’d say that to some degree he sees them the way Kirk saw the Klingons. However, he knows Mani from Sha-Destino and is friends with him, as they have bonded over the fact that they’re sort of the species outcasts of their communities. Also, none of that has happened in the books, but they have met and are friends.
How wide is the Isoln Channel?
About as wide as the English Channel but pretty damn calm. It’s also much longer north to south, wedged between continents.
What percentage of the planet (Terra) have you shown so far?
A really small portion, honestly. The kingdoms are all rather small when compared to modern Earth countries. I’ve also started to allude to the diverse climate and topography in Swords Against Bastards. That will eventually be explained once Steve, the no longer frozen scientist, is able to elaborate on the world in the eventual Book IV.
We need maps! When do we get maps?
I have maps. But they aren’t good enough to publish. When I eventually do a collected omnibus, I plan to have them in it. I just need to find a decent cartographer or git gud, myself. I would also make the maps available on this Substack for those who want reference and who don’t want to buy books they’ve already bought, even though the omnibuses will have lots of cool extras.
If BotS was an animated show (or movie), what art style would you select?
Rotoscoping in the style of 1983’s Fire and Ice or the more recent The Spine of Night.
What do you take your notes in?
A roughly 5” x 7” Moleskine. I have two that I always keep on me and both fit in my pocket nicely. My favorite pen for them is the Pentel EnerGel RTX. They flow nice with the paper and I’m a lefty and they never smear.
You say that your first year has surprised you, what do you think has been key to your early success?
My 20+ years experience in marketing mixed with consistency. Not every marketing post I do hits, but if you come up with a unique way to market your books and you hit social media with something new and unique daily, people will see it, and over time, they’ll check it out. A lot of it has been trial and error but I have had success with what I’ve been doing almost out the gate and it just keeps building more and more with each passing week. You have to hustle, man. I know people don’t want to hear all that, but if you put the time into writing and publishing a book, the work isn’t over. Frankly, it’s just begun if you want to push for real success.
How do you reach the next level? Are you close to your goal?
I’m not close to my big goal but I am much further ahead than I thought I would be when I started a year ago. In order to keep building up, I have to push forward, work hard, get books out, market them, and just stay on course. I like my current trajectory. However, I am thinking about ways to kick it up even more.
Are you going to do BotS action figures?
I want to but I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Eventually, if I succeed and get to a place where I can feasibly do that, I’d jump on it. There also has to be a market for it. Luckily, I already have contacts that can help me with this.
Would you do a BotS video game?
Basically, the same answer as the one above. I have stated in the past that if I sell a million books (I’m nowhere close to that), that I’d love to develop a 16-bit side scrolling beat’em up like the Golden Axe games. I also said I would do arcade cabinets. If you want that too, help me get there.
…and that’s it! I’m sure that I will do more of these in the future. If any of this has sparked further questions for me, DM them to me on Twitter.
Greats questions and answers. I will try to think of questions for the next one.