Today we sit down with author of fantasy and real world action dystopia, Charles Yallowitz. Charles will tell us about his inspiration, his writing and a bit about himself.
Please enjoy this edition of A Perfect 10.
- Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Yes. I do get a big rush from writing, especially when I start or am doing some of the initial prep work like character creation. I’ve found that I come out of the gate sprinting with energy and racking up the word count. Then I start slowing down after 3 or 4 hours. Lunch can leave me groggy and I end up being exhausted by mid-afternoon. My second wind comes at night to get 2-3 more hours in, but it isn’t the same speed. This is just physical though because the mind is always trying to go full speed. Needless to say, I have moments where my brain is yelling at my fingers for not keeping up.
- Do you ever write under a pseudonym? If not have you considered it? Why or why not?
Charles E. Yallowitz is my real name. I considered pseudonym at first, but I couldn’t come up with a good one. My real name can be rather memorable too. That and if Schwarzenegger can keep his name then Yallowitz shouldn’t pose a problem. Besides, social media makes it a lot harder to keep your real identity a secret. It’s possible, but takes a lot of work and energy that I’d rather put towards writing. There’s also the issue of me being unable to maintain such an identity for long. I’d put my real name on a blog post or email by accident at some point.
- Does a big ego help or hurt writers? Why or why not?
I don’t think it’s the size of the ego, but how you use it. You can have a big ego that comes off as confidence while still accepting help and advice. You can also have one that blinds you to flaws in your own work. Personally, I think every author needs some humility to survive the edit stage and reviews. An ego can harm you in that way if you take things too personally, but it can also shield you from some of it. Ego helps you shrug off the arrows when you need to.
- What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Tough call here. I would have to go with cover art here. My books wouldn’t get nearly as much traction without the beautiful covers. People see that first and some don’t even bother with the blurb. It’s putting my best, most eye-catching foot forward. So the money spent on great cover art definitely tops the list. Followed closely by rewarding myself with pizza when I finish writing a book.
- What does writing success look like to you? Have you achieved it?
I have no idea. This has evolved over time and I keep having other people try to push their definitions on me. Most people try to define writing success as how much money you get or how high your book gets on a Top 100 list. Those are certainly victories, but I don’t think they’re the long-term success or that good of a definition. Some terribly written books have made a fortune or topped lists because of promoting. I’m spending all this time saying what it could be while I think about an answer. Longevity and entertainment is what I wanted at the beginning and I’m trying to get back to that. I want my books to last long and continue to entertain people who read them. The biggest smiles I’ve had on this trip were caused by people telling me which characters they loved or simply saying they enjoyed the story.
- What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? What sources do you use?
This is a tough one since I work in multiple genres:
Fantasy– I work with a world that is not Earth, so I don’t do a lot of research beyond my own imagination. With fantasy, you really have to make sure you stay within your own rules and avoid inconsistencies. The areas that I do research are names and monsters. I have books and various sites for both of them. There are times where I run into something I need to look up like what an animal can do, weather effects, poisons, food, or any random question that comes up when writing a scene.
Real World Action Dystopia– This one requires a lot more research because it takes place on Earth. With the Bedlam Series, I usually start by planning a route for my heroes that goes by state and then I use Google Earth to find a road. After that, I look at towns along the way and research them to find one that has something unique I can use. The setting is a collapsed United States of America that has been cut off from the world, so the odd quirks of a town can influence what I decide on. This typically takes 1-2 weeks since I research guns, explosives, anatomy, vehicles, and other things as I move along.
- How do you select the names of your characters? Have you ever regretted choosing a particular name? Why?
Some come to me and others are chosen after I search a book or site. I might pick an aspect of the character’s personality or life that will be integrated into the name. Every name has a meaning, so that helps me with choosing. A lot of my main characters came from college when I played Dungeons & Dragons, so those just come off the top of my head. Never regretted a name before, but a friend of mine does get on my case about a villain whose real name is revealed to be Tyler. It isn’t like parents name their children thinking they’ll be evil. Not normally any way.
- What is the hardest type of scene to write?
Sex scenes are definitely high on the list because I can never bring myself to go any further than the initial making out stage. Thankfully, they aren’t a necessity when you’re writing anything other than erotica. Beyond that, I find scenes where a character is being emotional injured hard to do. Even if I know they’re going to come out of it and grow stronger, it’s really tough to put them through it in the first place. There’s this temptation to coddle my heroes and I always fear that I overcompensate by being meaner than I should. This might be why I’m having some doubts and worries about the next release for my Legends of Windemere series. I do a lot of hero breaking in that one.
- If you could have dinner with four people, living or dead, who would they be and what would you want to ask them?
Wow. One is difficult, but four are really a challenge. I had this idea to pick a person from each of my influences like comedy, novels, television, and life in general. Yet, I keep going back to a group from the first category. I would want to have dinner with Grouch, Chico, Harpo, and Zeppo Marx. I grew up watching the Marx Brothers, so just to talk to them about comedy and their lives would be amazing. Not even a specific question, but to get an idea of the people behind the laughs.
- What platform has brought you the most success in marketing your books?
I’ve found that every author has their own system, so I always put a disclaimer that this is simply what worked for me. I use a handful of promotional sites when my book first comes out to give it an initial boost. The big ones are Goodkindles, AskDavid, and the Independent Author Network, which require some money. When I started, I eased into these kinds of sites because I could only use them when I had royalty or birthday money. These do help with starting off with a bang, but long term is something else.
For long term, you can’t do anything better than have a blog. This is where I get a lot of my traffic and can show stuff from behind the curtain. Think about how people like the behind the scenes stuff on DVD’s. That is what your blog is as well as a vehicle for interacting with your audience. You also meet other authors through your blog and get to talk shop while supporting each other. Word of mouth is important and the blog-o-sphere is where you can be the one to give and receive. It is very important to reciprocate and never be afraid to ask for help in promoting something. Indie authors are all in this together, which means we have to back each other up when it comes to marketing. So WordPress has been the keystone to my promotional work.
Find Charles’ Work:
Legends of Windemere: The Spirit Well- https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N2RQMA9/
Born from the light and darkness, Dariana can no longer avoid her fate.
The final corrupted temple stands between the champions and Baron Kernaghan having their great battle. Only one problem: the Compass Key refuses to work with Dariana, who long ago wiped all memories of the Spirit Well from her mind. Now, they are forced to follow a trail of clues that Dariana’s former self left behind centuries ago. It is a path that will lead the champions into a part of their friend’s past that could tear them all apart.
Will the bonds of friendship be stronger than the call of blood?
Connect with Charles: