Author Spotlight: A.C. Cobble
Joining us for today’s Author Spotlight is AC Cobble!
AC Cobble is the author of the soon to be popular Benjamin Ashwood series. The fifth book of a six-book arc JUST released on June 5th – you can find it HERE. The story follows a young fellow named Ben who leaves his village with mysterious strangers on an epic adventure. Before he knows it, Ben is in way over his head. He’s thrust into an epic quest to defend the people of Alcott from an army of rampaging demons and from themselves. The Benjamin Ashwood series is perfect for fans of Robert Jordan or David Eddings. You can connect with AC on Facebook HERE or sign up for his non-spammy newsletter for FREE Benjamin Ashwood short stories and a bunch of other awesome monthly content HERE. Happy reading!
Let’s start small: tell us about a great book you’ve read recently!
My favorite recent fantasy book is Nicholas Eames’ “Kings of the Wyld”. I love the concept, the execution is incredible, and the book is just pure fun. I read that late last year and recommend it to everyone. This year, I’m spending my time with a lot of non-fiction to improve my craft (there is hope for me!) and research into my next series. Until I get the next series settled in my head, I’m limiting my fantasy reads to authors I know.
Okay, time to escalate things: reality warps and you suddenly find yourself leading a D&D-style party through a monster-infested dungeon. What character class are you, and what’s your weapon of choice?
A ranger, but I’m more of a sword and dagger guy than bow and arrow. The idea of the lone wolf out in the wilderness really tickles my pleasure points. Love the idea of the woodsman, surviving on their own, battling monsters, knowing the secrets of the land.
When you’re not trawling through dungeons, do you prefer to type or to hand-write? Why?
Type. Hand writing more than a page gives me a cramp. Plus, there is the problem that no one – including me – can read what I’ve hand written.
And how do you like to work – in silence, with music, or serenaded by the damned souls of a thousand dead shrimps?
Serenaded by the high-pitched, unholy shrieks of my children… It’s really thematic for writing about armies of demons like I do. There are 3 of them, 5 and under. They have very little respect for my creative process. I’ve tried going to coffee shops and things like that to avoid them, but it’s just not as comfortable as my home office (I would have to get dressed, for example). So, most of my writing is done in the home office. It’s nice and comfortable, I can make my own coffee, and the booze is cheap.
Are you an architect or a gardener? A plotter or a pantser? D’you write in your underwear, or in a deep-sea diver’s suit? Tell us something unusual about your writing method!
Speaking of pants… True story, up until about a year after my first book came out, I didn’t know what any of this stuff was. I’d never studied creative writing, read any of the books, joined a writer’s group, paid any attention to when people spoke about this stuff. At one point, I thought I was a plotter. I start with an outline, 2-3 pages or so, and I write based on that. But, several chapters in I typically deviate and the story flows organically from there. It always does get back to my planned end point though, so that’s something. I realized recently that “deviate and flow organically” is pantsing. Hmm. That’s not the writer I picture myself being. In the future, I’m going to be strict with myself and do a real outline. One other thing I do a bit different from most authors I meet is that after I write the first draft, I read through and edit it about 7 or 8 times. Everyone tells you not to do that, and it’s inefficient, but whatever. It works for me.
What are your most significant non-book fantasy influences?
I live in Texas, and there is this incredible Renaissance Festival here every fall. I really like to go and soak in the atmosphere, see the costumes, watch the shows, and so on. We bring the kids now and they really love it. Being in an immersive environment inspires me. I also get inspired by travel. Going to castles and the older parts of cities in Europe sends my imagination into overdrive. I’m really jealous of the authors who get to live in there. My area of town has no buildings over 25 years old – literally. I’m a sucker for any good forest too. Most of the cities and wilderness areas in Benjamin Ashwood are directly inspired by somewhere I’ve been.
What was the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it?
The “go to” in my house is Dateline – a true crime / murder mystery show. By now, the wife and I almost always guess who did it (spoiler, it’s the spouse), but for some reason we can’t stop watching these things. We also watch a lot of house searching shows, Game of Thrones, Homeland, and documentaries. We’re really picky, and usually don’t like most of the shows on prime-time US network TV.
The world shifts, and you find yourself with an extra day on your hands during which you’re not allowed to write or otherwise do any work. How do you choose to spend the day?
Travel with my wife. Before anyone says, “what about those kids you mentioned earlier?” – I see them all day every day. I’m not sure MORE time with them is physically possible. I’m a pretty voracious traveller and feel withdrawal if there isn’t a trip booked on my calendar every month, but it’s rare I get a non-work trip alone with the wife. Even if it’s just one day, that’s what I’d do.
If you could choose one punctuation mark to be made illegal, which would it be and why?
Semi-colon. I don’t get it. What’s the point of the thing? Every time I see one in fiction, I wonder if it’s used correctly or not. I wonder because I really don’t know. Does anyone?
In no more than three sentences, tell us a little something about your current work in progress!
I’m editing the 5th book in my Benjamin Ashwood series. I wrote this as an homage to the greats I grew up reading; Jordan, Eddings, Tolkien. I twist the expectations though, and this farm boy with a sword tale doesn’t end up like you expect it to.
P.S. Yeah, I just used a semi-colon. Was that correct usage? Hell if I know.
If you could co-write or co-create a series (like The Expanse, or the Malazan Book of the Fallen), who would you choose to work with and why?
No one. Is it rude to say that? Don’t get me wrong, I love collaborating with people, and both in book publishing and previous careers, I’ve found my best work happens when I can bounce ideas off someone else, but when it comes to world building, that’s not something I want to share.
What’s the most (and/or least) helpful piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
Most helpful advice is that if you want to be a full-time writer, then treat it like a business. Worst advice, write for you – screw what the readers think! That is terrible advice… You can write what you want, but you should always keep the reader in mind. The hard truth: art is pointless if it is never experienced.
If you could visit any country at any point in history, where/when would you go, and why?
Oh man, I bet all of these fantasy authors have really cool answers about seeing great battles or huge events in history. Fuck that. They didn’t have air-conditioning, guys! There was no ice for the cocktails (it’s scary to me too). The beer wasn’t chilled, and while I’d certainly give it an honest try, man cannot live on wine alone. So, let me cop out. The best place I have ever lived is the Pacific Northwest (Portland, Seattle) in the US. My favorite place to visit has been Italy, and the place I want to go next is Iceland. All in our current time. The past is too uncomfortable, and the future is far too scary.
Every writer encounters stumbling blocks, be it a difficult chapter, challenging subject matter or just starting a new project. How do you motivate yourself on days when you don’t want to write?
I force myself to put words down on paper, even if they are shit. I tell myself I’ll change them later, which I will. I do numerous rounds of editing, so any messy parts have ample opportunity to get cleaned up. That allows me to proceed guilt free, and once the final page is written, I find it’s much easier to fill in a missing piece from earlier.
Tell us about a book that’s excellent, but underappreciated or obscure.
Dyrk Ashton’s “Paternus”. It’s not in my genre, it’s full of info dumps, and it’s weird. I couldn’t put it down. It’s pure creativity. As you go, it turns into this incredibly fun story packed full of exceptionally vivid detail and history. The story itself is great, but the real joy of this one is following Dyrk on a twisted journey through his boundless imagination.
Finally, would you be so kind as to dazzle us with what we like to call a ‘shark elevator pitch’? (It’s exactly the same as an elevator pitch, but with sharks.) (Well, one shark. Which, by the way, is currently picking between its rows of teeth to try and dislodge the remains of the last author who stepped onto its elevator.)
Ahem. So: why should readers check out your work? A shark elevator pitch of your own book(s) in no more than three sentences – go!
My Benjamin Ashwood series is an old-school, farm boy with a sword fantasy, and I lean heavily on the shoulders of the giants who I grew up reading – Tolkien, Jordan, Eddings. My open is an homage to the way they started their stories, but I twist expectations as you go and it turns into something completely different. My farm boy isn’t a chosen one, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a hero.
Brilliant. Thanks so much for joining us today, AC!
AC Cobble is the author of the Benjamin Ashwood series, the first five books of which are available now.