D.M. Stoddard, author, artist, and composer.
D.M. Stoddard actively seeks to provide an interesting and enjoyable story for fantasy readers. His love for storytelling began when he was a pre-teen, writing fictitious stories that ranged from football games to modern war battles. In his twenties he wrote poetry and was introduced to fantasy role-playing games. After years of being a game master where he developed worlds and designed fantasy campaigns for players to enjoy, DM studied creative writing and Greek mythology at the University of Maryland. Later, while telling improvisational stories of whimsical forest creatures to his children at bedtime, he became hooked on storytelling.
D.M. Stoddard has been exposed to a variety of athletic experiences that he relies upon in the Kingdom of Torrence series. When he was young he rode horses, shot bows, fished, and camped with his family. In college he began studying martial arts. Through his outdoor activities, DM learned to track and is currently returning to backpacking and archery. He incorporates his knowledge of these activities into his writing to enrich his stories.
D.M. Stoddard has a Master’s degree and has studied Chinese, Spanish, and Tagalog, although English is now his only functional language. He is retired from the United States Navy and works for the State of Nevada. He and his son wrote and published Lost Kingdom of Terrace Xul, The Bard’s Song© for the song in chapter nine of The Legend of Jerrod. D.M. used watercolors to paint the Sword of Trisdale on his first book and oils to paint the dagger on his second. He did the maps in pen and ink.
As an author, the most influential quote D.M. Stoddard heard was from his creative writing professor: “Just keep writing.”
Hi D.M. Stoddard, welcome to our Fantasy Sci-Fi Network interview marquee. We’re keen to learn more about you and the Kingdom of Torrence series.
What other writing have you done?
For creative writing? The Legend of Jerrod was my debut novel. Amanda’s Quest is the second in the series.
I have written two articles printed in “What’s the story?” by LaRue Press. http://www.leruepress.com/whatsthestory.htm I also have a blog.
For non-fiction I have an unpublished field manual.
My other work-related writing includes military reports, legal research summaries, performance audits (process re-engineering), strategic planning, and business planning documents.
What made you choose the fantasy genre?
My favourite books include Lord of the Rings, Belgarath, Sword of Shannara, and Dragon Riders of Pern, which fostered my love of fantasy. I got involved in Dungeons & Dragons and began developing worlds and campaigns for players to enjoy. The joy of interacting as if they players where writing a play as they acted it out was contagious is contagious. I had always written stories and poetry, so it was a very short hop to writing my first novel.
I love all those series too. Snap!
What’s the basic plot of your Kingdom of Torrence series?
Jerrod is a miller’s son who does not want to take over the family business; he dreams of fame and fortune. After saying goodbye to his family he finds a magical sword on the road to the capital city where he meets Amanda. Along with several other friends they set out on a quest to find the Lost Treasure of Terrace Xul, but they are betrayed. Along the way, Rhonda is injured by Trolls.
In Amanda’s Quest, Amanda leaves her friends behind to fulfil a blood debt she promised to complete in order to guarantee Rhonda was treated for her injuries. Now, Amanda must steal the Horn of Valhalla and return it to Torrence within a year or the Guild of the Crimson Pommel will send their assassins to kill them all.
In The Light of Ak’ron the survivors must seek out and destroy the treachery, once and for all. Of course, that is more difficult than it sounds. I have concept notes on books four and five.
How do you develop your characters?
I developed a basic thought of the type of characters for The Legend of Jerrod. I wanted to write about an older teenager growing into manhood and how he might face some adult challenges. I gave Jerrod a burning desire for fame and fortune and sent him on his way. From there, he met friends and developed a personality through the storyline. By the end of Amanda’s Quest he also had enemies.
Jerrod’s friends include:
Amanda – his first friend who appeared to be a beautiful, female warrior, but there is much more to Amanda than she allows readers to see.
Drin – who he met with Amanda; Drin, who desires to be a holy knight, has a more righteous attitude.
Nathanial – who he also met with Amanda; Nathanial is a wizard, second only to the High Master of the Triad, an outlawed organization that studies multiple types of magic.
Fraum – who confronts them on the eve of their departure for the Lost Kingdom; Fraum is quiet sage who studies the flora and fauna of Dendür, drawing pictures in his diary as they travel through Torrence, the Black Forest, Lithlillia, and beyond, or is he?
Rhonda – who they meet on the journey; Rhonda is a half-Elven druid princess from Lithlillia, next in line to be the Priestess of E’fretté.
Imelrinn – an ancient Mountain Elve (Elf) who has been the guardian for the last three generations of the leaders of Lithlillia (i.e. Rhonda, her mother, and her grandmother).
Drok-na and Rok-lin – green dragons from the Isle of Dragons; they start as cubs and grow into adulthood.
A funny story along the lines of character development: I spent two or three days retracing the steps the group in The Legend of Jerrod from Lithlillia through the Crispten Mountain and on to Terrace Xul. I sat down to write out the scene in The Light of Ak’ron manuscript where the Heroes of Demeter Plain discuss the next step of their search. My fingers begin typing and I find Imelrinn speaking up that he has been “there” and can lead the group right to their destination…
Sounds great … and there are dragons. Woot!
What song would you choose as the theme song of your book?
In Chapter 9 of The Legend of Jerrod, Amanda, Jerrod, and their friends meet a bard in the wilderness who guesses their intended destination, the Lost Kingdom of Terrace Xul. The bard sings a ballad of the lost kings under the star lit skies. The lyrics of the song are printed in the chapter.
My son and I composed the music to go along with the lyrics; the instrumental is available on my blog for free. www.KingdomOfTorrence.com/WordPress
I love that idea of composing for your book. Well done, guys.
What are you working on now?
The Light of Ak’ron, which is book three in the Kingdom of Torrence series, and The Legend of Jerrod Second Edition. I also have a Kindle project that I hope to announce this year. Hopefully, TLOJ 2d Ed will be out before Christmas 2015 and TLOA will be out in 2017.
What’s your writing routine?
My writing routine used to be more set. I would work early on weekend mornings while my wife was at work and the kids were still sleeping, but schedules change, particularly as the kids grow up. I still tend to write when the family is sleeping, but it is harder and harder. However, my family is extremely supportive and understanding. I am very lucky.
In short, I write when I can squeeze in the time…. and counting the days til I am semi-retired.
Describe your road to publishing your books:
I am the guy that reads all of the “how to”/”what not to do” books and then does it anyway. My first book was edited by a college graduate, I went to a paid publishing service, and it was released. As soon as I got a print copy and started to read it, I contracted an on-line publishing service who wanted to completely rewrite the released manuscript; we compromised, but I am in the process of doing a second edition because I am still not happy with the novel.
I learned a lot from the author manager at the publishing service, but I have learned more from my affiliation with FSFNet and High Sierra Writers authors. Networking and author co-ops are a fantastic way to learn. I have also learned from authors that I have met at large book signing events with multiple authors.
Being an indie author has two parts: creating an interesting storyline, and being an entrepreneur. Before you are even considered “successful”, the business side of being an author begins to consume your time. I have a business background which is beneficial, but, again, networking is your biggest ally.
My successes include:
Amanda’s Quest (release 12/2015), 2016 finalist in the fantasy category, Next Generation Indie Book Awards.
The Legend of Jerrod (release 1/2013), 2014 finalist in the first novel (over 80,000 words) category, Next Generation Indie Book Awards.
How did you go about developing your eye-catching cover artwork?
I painted the Sword of Trisdale for the cover of The Legend of Jerrod. I used watercolours. My print service did the digital layout. I also painted Amanda’s dagger for the cover of Amanda’s Quest. I used oils. Streetlight Graphics did the digital layout.
Awesome! You’re multi-talented.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?
I have a broad background of experiences; sort of a jack of all trades, master of none. I believe that a wide variety of experiences enhances an author’s ability. At some point in time my hobbies have included: horseback riding, herding cattle, backpacking, camping, fly fishing, shooting, archery, sailing, scuba, trumpet, guitar, art, and martial arts. I have travelled in the United States and in Asia. I try to draw from my experience when writing scenes.
Australia, China, and Europe are in my bucket list to visit.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us today, D.M.?
I would like to share a little more about “why” I write. When I was in grade school I didn’t fit in. I started writing short stories about succeeding, such as being a football star or a fighter pilot ace. It concerned my parents, but it was strengthening for me. After graduating from high school I spent a lot of time writing poetry, channelling my emotions into my writing. It was therapeutic.
When I got into Dungeons & Dragons I heard a lot of negative opinions about the fantasy role playing game. Things like “it’s demonic” and “players lose touch with reality”. What I found was the players have creative minds and play-acting the part of their characters cultivated their creativity.
When my children were young I would tell them impromptu bedtime stories about forest creatures. Wish I had written them down. They enjoyed the stories and I enjoyed their enjoyment. I found I enjoyed telling the stories.
My message. I write for others to enjoy my stories. For parents, encourage your kids to be creative.
Favourite food: depends on my mood – stake to Chinese, Italian to sushi. Had soft, bite-size crabs in Korea. They tasted like potato chips.
Silliest saying: “It is a silly place” ~ Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Best holiday spot: Camping/packing in the Sierra Nevadas.
Favourite song at the moment: depends on my mood – country to rock. Love hearing Jazz through the fog in Monterey.
Star Wars or Lord of the Rings: Isn’t Luke Skywalker really Frodo? Think about it. He is chasing across the galaxy being pursued by Vader (a ring wraith), trying to defeat the Empire (Mordor). (chuckle)
I am definitely an LOTR fan first and foremost. So much so that I skipped a week of college to read LOTR.
Best superpower: Love. I have been down and struggled at points in my life. It is always love that supports me in my time of need.
Number one thing to do on your bucket list: Take my wife to Europe. In the meantime, a cruise to Alaska would be nice.
Thanks D.M. for a really interesting interview. Best of luck for your future goals.
Interviewed by Kasper Beaumont, author of the Hunters of Reloria fantasy series. www.huntersofreloria.weebly.com
D.M. Stoddard’s Links:
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