Tell us a bit about you and your background.
I was born in California, raised in Alabama, I earned my bachelor’s in Virginia, lived and served in Colorado, and now I live in Arizona. I’m an avid consumer of text, video, and apples. I love writing, teaching, and making people smile.
What’s the logline that describes your writing?
A vague prophecy, an ancient war between immortal wizards, and in the middle of it all, a young apprentice named Skel just wants to save his infant brother from a dream cult more powerful than magic itself.
What are your hobbies away from the computer?
It’s scary, actually, just how much of my life involves my computer. Work, school, and play are all digitally entangled in some way or another. The biggest thing I do away from the cyber-void is talk to random people I meet in public. In the line at the grocery store, on the curb as I walk down the street… anywhere, really. The world is full of amazing stories hidden in plain sight.
Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?
I start with the milieu. The geography, the chronology, the theology, the magic systems… not until I’ve fleshed out the world a bit do I feel comfortable filling it with characters and designing good stories for them to be a part of.
Is your writing style planned or freestyle?
I plan more than Ray Bradbury, less than J.K. Rowling. My planning functions as a really basic sketch, but then I follow the characters as they fill out the details in their own way. I build the world, and then they explore it.
If you use music while writing, name your favorite types.
For action scenes I’ll often pull out tracks from Star Wars movies, or anything similarly epic that can pull me in and help me keep my pacing. For everything else I’m usually listening to EDM, especially Lindsey Stirling.
What is the starting point for research—story concept or when you get stuck while writing?
Neither, really. I’m more likely to just start over again if I get stuck. Research is something I do when questions come up. I make a lot of notes during the world-building process, and sometimes that requires some research, but more often the original idea for something comes from research I remember doing a long time ago.
Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?
The Eltar plains are loosely based on the African savannah, which I have never visited. The Blood Mountains are based on the Appalachians more than anything, and I have been there. The Mirror Desert was actually inspired by a picture I drew when I was a Boy Scout of a reflective desert under a sunset. Irontree Mountain is meant as an echo of the Old Forest in Lord of the Rings, a place many of us have been in spirit. Personally, I’d much sooner brave the Old Forest than go anywhere near Irontree Mountain, as you’ll understand when you get to the end of the book.
Can you share a tip about what you do when you get stuck in creating a story?
It’s very true that I often start over. If it’s the chapter that’s giving me trouble, I start the chapter over and use a different character’s perspective. I’ve done that three times in a row before. Whatever it takes to get the story across in the best way possible. I completely restarted Son of Dark after the first two years of working on it, and it ended up being a much better novel as a result. Sometimes I wish I’d started it over again before publishing, as it would have given me more time with it. Couldn’t have hurt, but I’m really enjoying having it published and working on the sequel.
What was your biggest surprise in the editing/revision process?
How fast everything goes! It felt like saying my goodbyes to a good friend while waiting for his plane to leave. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and it hurt to let go of a project I spent three years of my life on. I expect it will get easier as I write more novels, but a part of me kind of hopes it won’t.
Describe a normal writing day (or period, if you have other employment obligations).
I hardly ever write for longer than an hour or two. Because of other obligations, especially grad school, I snag time for writing in the evening before bed, and some writing sessions only last a half hour. I have a group of writing friends who will sit and write with me on their own projects for a couple hours each week, and lately this has been a huge help.
What’s your dream vacation destination?
Egypt. I would love to visit Egypt and see all the sights. Especially the pyramids.
In what genre do you read?
Classic literature, such as Shakespeare, Dickens, Twain, and Hawthorne. Science fiction, such as Ray Bradbury, H.G. Wells, Isaac Asimov, Jules Verne, and Orson Scott Card. My tastes for fantasy include such authors as Brandon Sanderson, Brandon Mull, Madeleine L’engle, Sean Flanagan, Patricia C. Wrede, T. S. Eliot, and Tolkein. Also, huge Bill Watterson fan.
What resources do you use for picking character names?
I develop a feel for each culture by coming up with a bunch of names that involve similar constructions and patterns, then choose from the list the names that will fall easiest on modern ears and don’t sound too similar to each other. As such, most of the names I come up with come straight out of my head, but I’ll fiddle with them a bit until they sound right. If that doesn’t work, I’ll look up obscure names to borrow. Orihah, for example. I got his name from a seldom-referenced genealogy list toward the end of the Book of Mormon.
What do you hope readers gain from your stories?
Most of all I hope they have a fun time. I can’t ask for much more. If there’s one moral I’d like them to pick up from this first book, it’s that suicide is never an answer. A second one might well be that you can find friends almost anywhere. Also, the darkness in the world is often not as strong as it seems, so long as you’re willing to stand up to it and not let it grow in your home or in your heart.
A thousand years ago, the wizards of the Nynsa were tricked. They failed to follow the prophecy of the Darksome Thorn, and now the greatest evil of their time has survived into the next age. They will do anything the fix their mistake.
The Darksome Thorn, meanwhile, has revealed a new prophecy, and the very evil they failed to kill is working to use that prophecy to his advantage.
Forces of evil run rampant in the land of Duskain. Ancient powers are stirring. A greater darkness is imminent…
…and Skel, the foster son of an elephant herder, finds himself caught in the middle of everything…
For more information on Jeremy, visit his webpage
3 thoughts on “Guest Author Interview—Jeremy Higley”
Enjoyed Jeremy’s novel and enjoyed making the trailer for it. (See it on the Class Act Books site on Youtube.)
The genius store caeldl, they’re running out of you.
Thank you for your comments, and thank you Linda for this fun interview. 🙂