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Saturday, 4 December 2010

Interview with Terry W Ervin II, Author.

A husband of eighteen years and father to two beautiful daughters, Terry Ervin is a graduate of St. Francis de Sales High School. He has a BSc degree from Bowling Green State University and a Master's Degree in Education from Urbana University.
In early 2000 he decided to follow through on something he promised himself years earlier: Someday I'd write a novel.
Since then he's completed two novels (one published and one currently under submission), quite a few short stories (about a half dozen published) and a parcel of articles on writing and related topics (over a dozen published and counting).

Tell us about your current novel.

Flank Hawk is a post apocalyptic epic fantasy novel set in the distant future where magic exists. It’s the story of Krish, a farmhand turned mercenary after his home and homeland are overrun by the forces of the Necromancer King.

I think urban fantasy author Erica Hayes described it pretty well: “A curious blend of epic fantasy, modern techno-thriller and non-stop action-adventure, Flank Hawk is a compelling and original tale of a brave young mercenary pitched in deadly magical combat against the undead techno-armies of the Necromancer King. Whether you like swashbuckling wizardry, fierce dragon battles, modern military hardware or sword-slashing zombie mayhem, Flank Hawk has it all.

In the end, Flank Hawk is a story of friendship, loyalty and sacrifice.

How did you come to write this particular book?

The initial thought that sparked the novel’s writing occurred while I was driving home from work in my 1990 Ford Ranger. I was thinking about a few of the books I’d recently reread: Roger Zelazny’s The Guns of Avalon and Harry Turtledove’s World War: In the Balance. One of the main turning points in Guns of Avalon occurs when Prince Corwin discovers a way to get gunpowder to function in the magical city of Amber. In the Balance is about an alien invasion during the height of World War II. The disparity in technology between the invaders and humanity is a major element in the novel’s conflict.

Then I began to ponder, what would happen if a dragon encountered a World War II aircraft? Maybe one can see how the line of thought formed. From there I began to devise a world where such an encounter could take place. Then came the peoples and creatures that would inhabit the world, how it came to be, and the long-running, multilayered power struggle that would come to influence events in the plot that I was devising. Finally, came Krish and Lilly, Roos and Road Toad—the main characters in the novel.

If you have a favorite character in your novel, why that particular one?

I don’t really have a favorite character in Flank Hawk. What I can say is that I really enjoyed writing the relationship that developed between Lilly and Roos. Beginning with wary distrust of each other, mutual respect formed, leading to a steadfast friendship between the young lycanthrope and aging Crusader. The vehicle for readers to witnesses this is through Krish’s eyes as the trio faces both adventure and danger.

How do you know where to begin any given story?

Flank Hawk is my first novel. In addition to it, I’ve had almost a dozen short stories published. Knowing exactly where to begin a story is a part of the planning process. Usually I get an idea—an interesting thought or situation. From there I devise and organize the story, knowing where it should start, how it should end, and some of the main points along the way to get from the beginning to the end.

When deciding where a story should start, I look at it from a reader’s perspective. I try to focus on a point in the story that is interesting, relevant, and allows the reader to hit the first page running—or at least at a decent trot. The beginning scene should orient the reader as to the situation or setting even as the first plot element kicks in.

Certainly the structure and pacing of a novel differs from a short story. But with either, avoiding initial paragraphs (or pages) of backstory and instead starting with a bit of action, an intriguing turn of events, or where a tough decision is at hand, is key. It’s what I hope for as a reader, so I strive to provide it to readers who give my stories a try.

Is there any aspect of writing that you really enjoy?

This may sound odd, but I really enjoy editing and revising my work. For me it’s a lot harder to get that first draft completed. Maybe it’s the English teacher in me, but I find it to be a challenge getting the wording and dialogue just right, cutting irrelevant lines and paragraphs, filling in any plot holes and trimming loose plot threads, and keeping the story’s cadence and pace on track.

Do you have support, either from family and friends or a writing group?

I am fortunate. I have great support from family, friends and a crit group. If I ask, my wife will read my works in progress, and occasionally she makes sure the house is quiet when I really need to focus. My daughters understand and find it pretty neat to see my novel on library shelves, in stores and online.

I have a solid group of well-read and supportive readers ranging from co-workers to friends from my college days. Finally, I’m a member of Elysian Fields, a crit group filled with insightful and supportive writers. Both groups are invaluable in helping me to improve my works.

If you could give a new writer advice, what would it be?

Finish that project! Get the first draft hammered out. Review, revise and edit and then go over it again and again to be sure. Then, research and find appropriate markets. Make a list and begin submitting. If it comes back rejected, look the piece over and then send it out again. Repeat until successful. And while that piece is out on submission, write another.

So many writers I’ve met online or in person never quite get that first manuscript finished. The reasons are numerous and varied (sufficient to fill a half dozen blog posts, minimum). A manuscript will never be perfect, ever. There comes a point of severely diminished returns—time and effort for true improvement of the piece.

Rejection isn’t fun. It’s part of the process, part of the business. But it’s impossible to succeed if a writer doesn’t complete a work and actually send it out there to find an editor willing to publish it. Success, even a minor one can snuff out the downer from all those previous rejections.

What are you writing now?

At the moment I am writing Blood Sword, working title for the sequel to Flank Hawk. It took me longer than I anticipated to get started on the project. My goal is to write Blood Sword as a continuation of Krish’s adventures, but also as a standalone novel that doesn’t require the reader to have read Flank Hawk. I want readers of Flank Hawk to fully enjoy the next novel and not become frustrated or annoyed with references to Krish’s experiences and events that occurred in the first novel.

To accomplish this, I spent part of the spring and summer reading and studying several authors who’ve written a series where each novel in the series stands alone yet compliments and builds upon what has come before.  For those who are curious, the authors I focused on are Steven Brust (the Vlad Taltos series) and Laurell K. Hamilton (early novels in the Anita Blake series).

In any case, I’ve organized the plot’s structure to accommodate new readers as well as those who’ve read and enjoyed Flank Hawk, and I am busy writing whenever I get the chance. Sales of Flank Hawk have been strong enough that the managing editor at Gryphonwood Press is looking for the completed work. Certainly positive, if you ask me.

Where are your books available?

Flank Hawk is available online (in both print and ebook versions) and through bookstores. Readers interested can visit my website for bookstores and online information ( Visitors to my website can also find links to online versions of many of my published short stories and articles.

Other than that, there are all kinds of other things visitors can find through visiting my website, from an online quiz that tells what character you are in Flank Hawk and my blog, Up Around the Corner, to market information and much more.

I’d like to close by thanking you, Stuart Aken, for the interview and allowing me to share a bit of my story and writing with everyone out there.

Some relevant links:
My Book trailer for Flank Hawk: 
Links for online sales:

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