Author Spotlight – V.R. Cardoso
Joining us for today’s Author Spotlight is V.R. Cardoso!
“I remember writing short stories on my dad’s old Mac SE 30. He would then print a few copies at the office so I could distribute them to my class. This was in elementary school. I mostly ripped off everything that I read or watched. I remember having a hero that was suspiciously similar to Indiana Jones, except his name came from a book cover standing on the shelf behind the computer.
I grew up on a healthy diet of fantasy novels, video games and daydreaming. After graduating in business, I spent a few years cranking out headlines, scripts and silly ideas in an advertising agency in Lisbon. Having written about pretty much everything, from laxative pills to car insurance, I decided it was time to start writing about what I truly enjoy. So I’ve taken the plunge and I’m now self publishing my works of fiction.
I also eat a lot of crepes.”
Welcome to the Hive, Vasco. Let’s start small: tell us about a great book you’ve read recently!
Poor Man’s Fight. It’s military sci-fi, a genre with which I have a love/hate relationship, since it tends to flirt with fascism a bit too much for my taste (*cough Heinlein *cough) In any case, this book is not only very well written, it also has its heart in the right place. Soldiering isn’t lionized and there are no nationalist themes. Quite the opposite. Mega corporations are the villains. There’s a space pirate anti-hero, dubious political games being played by the “good guys”, and a navy crewman protagonist caught in the middle of all this, just trying to rid himself of crippling student debt. It’s a fun romp.
It sounds great! (And our reviewer Eric agrees with you!)
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?
Disclaimer: I have never played a game of D&D in my life. (Please don’t take away my geek card!) I did, however, play my fair share of videogame RPGs.
So, with that in mind, I would be a Mage, hurling fireballs and lightning bolts at the enemy from a safe distance, while the rest of my party absorbs all the real damage. And of course, I can’t heal them, because healing magic is for wimps. They should’ve stocked on health potions or bought better armour. Sucks to be a warrior, I guess.
Brutal! When you’re not trawling through dungeons, Mr Team Player, how do you like to work? (In silence, with music, or serenaded by the damned souls of a thousand dead shrimps? Do you prefer to type or to hand-write? 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 a little bit about your writing method!
I believe that the definitions of architect and gardener or plotter and pantser are not binary. I think all authors exist somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. I certainly lean more to the architect/plotter side, but there is a large degree of “let’s see where this takes me” in my writing. Basically, I plan a lot. I world build and develop characters, I outline each book and then each chapter to a very fine degree, but once I start writing, anything is possible. The planning is there to provide guidance, but the characters are making the decisions. If the plot says one thing, but the character says another, I always go with the character’s choice. This means I’m constantly going back to adjust the masterplan. My books’ outlines change almost every chapter.
I also write fully clothed, for the benefit of everyone who shares the cowork space with me.
What (or who) are your most significant fantasy influences? Are there any creators whom you dream of working with someday?
As a fantasy nerd, I was forged in the fires of the King Arthur legend. It’s probably why I’m such a fan of tragedies. As a youngling, I devoured every version of it I could find. I even had a vinyl album by Rick Wakeman called The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (catchy, right?). To me, King Arthur, in all it’s different incarnations, was far more influential than LOTR or even Harry Potter, at least at a foundational level. In fact, the first book I ever wrote was Arthurian fiction. It was never published and that is probably (definitely) for the better ?
As for creators I dream of working with, I guess I wouldn’t mind if Dennis Villeneuve decided to adapt one of my books to the big screen.
What was the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it? Alternatively, what games have you enjoyed recently?
The last thing I watched on TV was the GoT finale, but so did everyone else on the planet, so I’m going to take this chance to recommend a super underrated little show called Travelers. It’s full of great ideas and it’s probably my favourite take on time travel ever.
The world shifts, and you find yourself with an extra day on your hands during which you’re not allowed to write. How do you choose to spend the day?
I pick up my kindle, don my panama hat and head outside. If the temperature allows, I’ll go to the beach, if not, a good café with a nice view. I’ll order enough sugar to cause diabetes to anyone who dares to glance at my table, and I’ll read for hours. Sugar and books. There’s your secret for happiness. And cardiovascular disease.
Can you tell us a little something about your current work(s) in progress?
I’m currently outlining the third and final instalment of my Wounds in the Sky series. Finales are tricky. People may have loved everything you wrote beforehand, but if you can’t stick the landing, it will forever ruin the entire story. So, you know, no pressure ?
All this being said, I’m excited to bring this series to a close. Arkhemia and its characters have been living inside my head for over ten years and they deserve some closure. On the other hand, I’m already dreading the sense of loss I’ll feel once it’s all finally over.
What’s the most (and/or least) helpful piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
Always separate the beats of your outline with “but” or “therefore”, never “and then”. “And thens” stop the narrative cold. “Buts” and “therefores” create a sense of propulsion, a cascade of events leading inexorably to the conclusion. I stumbled upon this gem a few years ago and it changed my life. It’s in a short clip of a class at NYU by Matt Stone and Trey Parker (creators of South Park). It has become my golden rule for plotting.
That’s brilliant advice! Thanks for sharing. 🙂
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?
Funny thing about creative blocks is that they usually only keep you from starting. Once you somehow manage to get going, the words begin to flow from you. I guess this must be the reason people say the only cure to writer’s block is “butt on chair, hands on keyboard”. Of course, this is all easier said than done. I don’t think there is a recipe for this. It wouldn’t be such a difficult problem for so many people if it was that easy to fix. So usually I try to get a feeling for what’s stopping me. Sometimes I actually need to stop. I need a break. So, I give myself one. Other times it’s clearly just the insecurity demons playing tricks with my head. So, I force myself to ignore them and write something. Anything. Just to make sure the page doesn’t stay blank. And sometimes this works. And sometimes it doesn’t. Being a writer does get easier with experience, but it never gets easy.
If you could visit any country at any point in history, where/when would you go, and why?
Ancient Rome. Not only did the roman empire influence just about everything in the modern world, they also had the BEST holidays. My favourite is Lupercalia, a festival that took place between 13 and 15 of February, where priests (all hailing from famous noble families) would run around the streets holding whips made of goat hide, naked, whipping everyone they saw like maniacs. Why? Because it somehow made women more fertile. Obviously. Ever wondered where Valentine’s day comes from? I bet you weren’t expecting this. Ah… those romans sure knew how to have fun.
Tell us about a book that’s excellent, but underappreciated or obscure.
There’s a wonderful French author called Maurice Druon. His Accursed Kings series is one of the best things I’ve ever read, but I never see anyone recommending it, which I believe is a crime. Anyone who enjoyed the medieval political intrigue of Game of Thrones needs to read these books. And so does everyone else.
Finally, would you be so kind as to dazzle us with an elevator pitch? Why should readers check out your work?
In the Arreline empire, magic will make you invincible…
…if it doesn’t kill you first.
Follow stepbrothers Aric and Fadan in a spellbinding adventure as they face dark mages, fearsome dragons, political intrigue, and vengeful gods.
Wounds in the Sky is a coming-of-age epic fantasy series that will keep you churning through the pages. Check it out on Amazon.
Brilliant. Thanks so much for joining us, Vasco!
V.R. Cardoso is the author of the Wounds in the Sky series, currently comprised of THE DRAGON HUNTER AND THE MAGE, THE SHADOW OF FALLEN GODS, and the prequel DRAGON DODGERS.