Author Spotlight – Wilbur Arron (THE FOREST OF ALLUND)
Wilbur Arron is the pseudonym for a retired professional engineer who spent over thirty years in engineering and over forty years in technical management. An avid reader of fantasy and science fiction since childhood, he always wanted to take up writing. His interests also include ancient history, especially the Greco-Roman period. He has previously published stories on many fiction and fan fiction websites. His short story ‘A Decent Human Being’ was selected as one of the best short stories of the year by Story Star website and published in their anthology. This is his first novel.
Please feel free to leave comments about this book on his web page, www.wilburarron.com, or as a formal review.
Welcome to the Hive, Wilbur Arron. Let’s start with the basics: dazzle us with an elevator pitch! Why should readers check out your work?
First off, I write Greek mythology for those who hate Greek mythology. Most stories and movies about Ancient Greece usually revolve around a strong, muscular hero-type doing the following:
- Beating the crap out of monsters,
- Rescuing the beautiful princess who he later marries,
- Asking for and getting help of the Gods who look on in amusement.
These stories are formulaic and highly predicable. My stories have none of this. I write about people in crises because only in crises does the true character of anyone come out. My characters are not the hero types and they act not for some noble reason, but because external forces compel them to act. As in real life, my stories throw curve balls at the characters who must adapt under stress. Many times, that forces characters to do things they would not normally do, and causes them to question their motives and actions.
My second big complaint about fantasy is the use of magic. In some stories mages can get away with almost anything using magic. As a retired engineer, that simply does not happen. There has to be a logic to any magic system that limits the power to do what you want. In my world some people can manipulate energy in various forms. They cannot create things out of thin air.
My third thing is that most people who write about ancient Greece know little to nothing about the society of ancient Greece. I have also studied history of the ancient world and use that knowledge in my stories. My setting are as realistic as possible in the way the society functions and the expected social norms.
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?
I am the wizard in the back of the party figuring how what is going on and preparing any counter to it. I will be carrying the most powerful weapon I can manage. I do not fight unless I have to, and when I have to, I am a vicious bastard.
When you’re not trawling through dungeons, how do you like to work? (For example, in silence, with music, or serenaded by the damned souls of a thousand dead shrimps? Do you prefer to type or to hand-write? Intense planner or is your system more organic?) Tell us a little bit about your writing method!
I write alone and with as few distractions as possible. I write on my word processor. I write mostly in the morning or when I feel inspired. I plan well in advance with notes to myself on what points of ancient society, and history to remember. The actually writing I do organically. Occasionally when I write, I will take the story and go off on a tangent because it feels right at the time. Sometimes this works, and sometimes it does not.
What (or who) are your most significant fantasy influences?
J. R. R. Tolkien just because the detail he put into the work. Anyone who can create an entire language for his characters is in a class by himself. As for epic storytelling with an historical bent I look to Colleen McCullough and her Masters of Rome series. Not only does this woman understand history, she understands the forces that drive the people to make the history.
As a self-published author, you have to encompass many roles yourself: what aspect of self-publishing do you find the most difficult? Alternatively, which have you enjoyed the most?
I am fairly useless on promotion. I was never much of a salesman even in my engineering career. I mostly partnered with those with the people skills and I was the guy getting the work done so we could get paid. I was better at that than most.
My second bane is editing. I used to think I was a horrible editor because I would read my work and not be able to see the errors in it. That is why I always had my late partner read it. I only found out in my 40s that I was dyslexic. This is why everything I publish for sale is professionally proofread.
My favorite part of writing is the act of creation of the story. Then you are not just the author, you are God.
Are there any fellow self-published creators whom you’d love to collaborate with?
No, I work alone. It is easier that way.
What is your process for choosing a cover for your book? Do you have a clear idea of how you want it to look, or do you give your cover artist full creative license?
I have an idea what the cover should look like and then tell the artist what I think. We then go back and forth until we get a good cover.
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?
This is not going to sound good for me, but on days I do not feel like writing, I don’t! If I write when I do not want to, upon review I usually find that I have written mostly crap and I end up throwing it out anyway.
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?
Going outside to see things or listening to some documentary or short course to broaden my mind.
One of our favourite questions here on the Fantasy Hive: which fantastical creature would you ride into battle and why?
If I could convince him, I would ride Smaug. Why, you ask? When I go into battle I will always worship first on the Alter of Superior Firepower. Destroy your enemies before they can shoot at you is the best way to get what you want and be alive later to enjoy it.
Tell us about a book that’s excellent, but underappreciated or obscure.
I would read the books of Robert A. Heinlein. They are not as popular now as they used to be. I read his books in the 60s and 70s. The man was a master story teller. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress tells a story about machine intelligence that is NOT out to destroy mankind, but instead is only looking for a good time.
Finally, can you tell us a little something about your current work(s) in progress?
Right now I am really doing nothing. I have written three books and frankly I cannot seem to get a foothold on how to get them known. This is why I am here. Until I can get some traction on getting them out into the public, I am doing other things. One thing 40 years as an engineer taught me is never beat your head on a wall. If something works, great. If something does not work, go on to something else.
Thank you so much!