Author Spotlight – Evan W. Deal
Evan W. Deal is the author and publisher of Lionheart, Book One of The Roots of Stone. By day, he develops consumer experience and marketing strategy for a Fortune 500 biotech company, but by night he delves into the world of Talamh to bring wondrous tales of adventure to his readers. He is literally an award-winning marketer and hopefully a soon-to-be award-winning fantasy author. Evan holds a bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife and one-year-old daughter.
Welcome to the Hive, Evan W. Deal. Let’s start small: tell us about a great book you’ve read recently!
I finished Darth Bane: Rule of Two within the past couple of months, and I really dig the development of the modern Sith order. “Two there should be; no more, no less. One to embody the power, the other to crave it.” I am a devoted Star Wars fan and always seem to find myself siding with Sith ideals over the Jedi. The “dark side” masters are very careful planners, and they use the abilities at their disposal to shape the galaxy, whereas the “light side” is more laissez-faire in their approach to global politics.
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?
If I am the leader of the party, I suppose I would be a Ranger or Fighter, because I want to lead by example and slay some monsters. This dungeon is not going to clear itself. Just for fun, give me a giant buster sword like Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy VII.
I guess with the size on that thing it would class as a ranged weapon too…
When you’re not trawling through dungeons, 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 write the exact same way I work during my day job: at my desk, with headphones on, and in the zone. I love writing to music, especially epic movie soundtracks like any of Howard Shore’s scores for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, Junkie XL’s score for 300: Rise of an Empire, and Hans Zimmer’s score for The Last Samurai.
I am a relentless planner. When I first started writing, I thought that everything would just flow from me in a perfect stream of consciousness to page, but I soon discovered that creating an entire world from scratch works better when you list everything out: peoples, nations, cities, flora, fauna, etc. When my framework came together, I found that I was able to develop a cohesive narrative structure that was much richer because of the groundwork I had already laid.
What (or who) are your most significant fantasy influences? Are there any creators whom you dream of working with someday?
It’s probably a cliché, but my foremost fantasy influence is JRR Tolkien. The film adaptations for The Lord of the Rings released just as I was entering my teenage years, and they absolutely blew me away. When I later dove into The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, The Children of Húrin, Beren and Lúthien, and The Fall of Gondolin, I truly began to understand the enormity, complexity, and depth of the world he created. His work inspires me to endeavour to make the world of Talamh as amazing and wonder-inducing as Middle-Earth and Beleriand.
I also am a fan of Patrick Rothfuss (Release The Doors of Stone, man!), Christopher Paolini (Eldest is my jam), and George RR Martin (Is Winter really coming?).
I do not envision myself working alongside any of my fantasy influences, but I would love to partner with a top-tier manga artist like Nobuhiro Watsuki or Yoshihiro Togashi to develop either a manga version of my series – The Roots of Stone – or an original story.
What was the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it? Alternatively, what games have you enjoyed recently?
Cautious Hero: The Hero is Overpowered, but Overly Cautious was a fun watch for me recently. I am always game for an OP main character, as I also love Dragon Ball Z, One Punch Man, and Link with the Fierce Deity Mask in the final boss fight of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. The concept of applying RPG logic to “real world” adventuring was the hook that drew me in.
I wish I could say I have been gaming much lately, but alas, between parenting, a full-time job, and writing/publishing, games have been the media most neglected in my life. I did recently grab Star Wars: Episode I Racer on a Steam sale and have been reliving my childhood when I need a few minutes of decompression. I am a Mars Guo guy all the way.
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?
Am I allowed to catch up on all the Assassin’s Creeds I have missed over the past few years? Ubisoft just announced the incredible-looking Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, and I am woefully three games behind.
Can you tell us a little something about your current work(s) in progress?
My debut fantasy novel, Lionheart: Book One of The Roots of Stone, launches on June 1, 2020. It is a truly epic, world-spanning adventure in the vein of The Lord of the Rings. The Roots of Stone is a classic tale of good-versus-evil, with fearsome monsters, wondrous magic, mysterious happenings, and pitched combat throughout.
The story focuses on Prince Arjen of Carth: a young, adamant warrior who traverses the leagues of Talamh to seek and destroy the fearsome King of All Beasts: a legendary foe of centuries past who has risen from the dead to unleash his bestial revenge on all the world. But even as Arjen sets out upon his noble quest to defeat this growing evil, a new enemy emerges from afar: Cystenian the Hunter, the deadliest assassin in Talamh. No beast or man has ever escaped his blade, and his sights are set obsessively on the prince of Carth.
The ramifications of the Beast King’s return are felt far and wide throughout Talamh, and new champions and villains alike are formed by his coming. Mighty goblin clans mass in the south, plotting their ascension to dominance. An elven remnant lies adrift of its people, forever cut off by sins of the past. Nations prepare for war, and nothing will ever be the same again.
What’s the most (and/or least) helpful piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
In all honesty, the best writing advice I have received came from watching Shia LaBeouf on a green screen yell, “JUST DO IT! Don’t let your dreams be dreams. Yesterday you said tomorrow, so just do it!” His speech always pumps me up to go create something new!
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?
When I find myself at a creative impasse, I dive into the types of stories that inspired me in the first place to center myself on my influences. It may be reading some The Legend of Zelda manga, watching The Empire Strikes Back, or something else. I always feel recharged after re-experiencing the characters and narratives that speak to my fantastical impulses.
If you could visit any country at any point in history, where/when would you go, and why?
Israel, ~27-29 A.D. to follow Jesus and witness his ministry
Tell us about a book that’s excellent, but underappreciated or obscure.
The Curse of Capistrano by Johnston McCulley is a fantastic read, if you are a Batman fan like myself. The character of Zorro lays out the blueprint for the Caped Crusader, and the entire narrative drips with style, vibrant characters, and fun.
Finally, would you be so kind as to dazzle us with an elevator pitch? Why should readers check out your work?
Lionheart is absolutely metal. It is packed with elements like undead, monstrous beasts with exposed bone-and-sinew, insanely powerful mages with backgrounds of dubious nature, fools getting wrecked by an assassin with the skills of a medieval John Wick, and an entire chapter inspired by my absolutely hellish experience trying to beat the demon dog boss in the first The Witcher game.
If you a fantasy fan (and I am guessing you are), Lionheart should be the next book on your reading list. The world of Talamh brims with fun characters, rich history, new lands to explore, and an epic adventure that will determine the dawning of a new age of good or evil.
Check out original artwork and learn more about the origins of The Roots of Stone at the series’ website: https://www.therootsofstone.com/.