** Author Bio **
Nicholas Rossis lives to write and does so from his cottage on the edge of a magical forest in Athens, Greece. When not composing epic fantasies or short sci-fi stories, he chats with fans and colleagues, writes blog posts, walks his dog, and enjoys the antics of his baby daughter and two silly cats, all of whom claim his lap as home. His first children’s book, Runaway Smile, has won the Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award, among other distinctions.
Many of his short stories have appeared in various collections and anthologies. He has published the collections You’re for a Ride, Honest Fibs, The Power of Six, and Infinite Waters, which was voted as one of the best 50 Indie books of 2015.
He has also written the epic fantasy series, Pearseus.
What readers are saying about Nick’s fantasies:
“Most avid readers still have books from their childhood which they read over and over again. ‘Runaway Smile’ has joined the list.”
“From the very first sentence I realized I was not reading a book, I was going on an adventure.”
** Author Interview **
Kasper: Hi Nicholas Rossis, gee the time has flown since July 2014 when we last had you on out interview couch. I’m looking forward to hearing what you’ve been up to in the past couple of years. Sit down and make yourself comfortable while I fire up the FSFNet space shuttle.
What makes your writing unique compared to other speculative fiction authors?
I think it’s my love of the classics: Herbert, Dick, Asimov, Clark… Their thought—and style—permeates my own writing. It’s no coincidence that one of the first reviewers of my short stories said, “Philip K. Dick is on a cloud laughing with glee.”
That really is the best kind of praise, to be compared to your idols.
What made you choose this genre?
I write both fantasy and science fiction, but my answer applies to both. I’d love to say something noble, like, “because it allows my imagination to soar,” but the truth of the matter is, I’m lazy in some ways—for example with details. At the same time, I’m a perfectionist. This makes for a terrible combination: were I writing in any genre that takes place in real life, I’d spend months on end researching buildings, costumes, geography, etc. With fantasy and science fiction, I can focus instead on my characters and what makes them tick.
Is there a force field in their way? I don’t need to explain the physics behind it; just make sure it doesn’t contradict the story’s internal logic.
Did they just use a Faster-Than-Light engine? Never mind whether that’s possible; that’s fine, too.
So, the honest answer would be, because it frees me to focus on the things I enjoy the most.
I notice you now have 12 books published on Amazon, congratulations. Can you tell us some more about your Pearseus series?
Pearseus, which has been described as both “ancient Greece – in space” and “Game of Thrones meets Dune,” is my epic fantasy series. It contains plenty of sci-fi elements as well, since it takes place in the future (and on another planet).
Three hundred years after humans crash land on Pearseus, Styx, the Capital’s cruel ruler, learns of a dark prophecy: Cyrus, a young boy, will one day slay her. She imprisons him, but days before his execution he escapes with the help of the First, the planet’s native inhabitants. On their way to safety, nightmarish monsters attack. Cyrus flees, scared and alone, until a pair of First warriors rescue him and spirit him away to the mysterious Old Woman.
All Cyrus wants is to reunite with his family. But the Old Woman insists Cyrus is the foretold instrument in the First’s ancient war against a shadowy enemy who will stop at nothing to prevent him from fulfilling his destiny. Heart and mind war within Cyrus as he must choose between rejoining his family and preventing humanity’s extinction.
Which is your favourite character and why?
Surprisingly enough, I enjoyed writing Teo Altman’s scenes the best. He’s a flawed character who gradually rises to power, becoming the main antagonist along the way. And yet, there’s something to his ambition and ruthlessness that makes him fun to write, and I’d like to think I understand him well. For example, a beta-reader said, “it makes no sense that he’d wear a red vest during a battle; that’s just asking for trouble.” To which I replied, “you don’t understand him; that is exactly the kind of thing Teo would do.”
The main challenge I had with him was making sure he didn’t turn into a caricature of evil as he was gradually consumed by both his personal demons, and the malevolent forces at work on Pearseus.
I like the detail and backstory you create for your characters. How do you go about developing your characters?
By listening to them. There have been times when I’ve felt stumped. Invariably, these blocks were encountered when my plans for the characters didn’t coincide with the story they were telling me.
My characters have a nasty habit of ignoring my plans for them. I had the entire second book planned, focusing on one of the heroes of the first one. Then, he goes and dies on me. I find myself typing his death scene, and I’m like, “don’t die, you silly bugger! I’ve got your entire future lined out for you.” And yet, once I read the chapter in question, I realized he needed to die for the rest of the characters to move forward. Needless to say, he stayed dead.
The voices in your head don’t agree? LOL
Have you used any real events or places as inspiration for your writing?
That depends on your definition of real. The whole story arc of Pearseus is based on Herodotus’ Cyrus the Great and Rise of Persia, which describe the fatal battle on Marathon between Greece and Persia in the 5th century BC. However, Herodotus enjoyed throwing in some tall tales within his work, so…
Still, Marathon Bay is a 20’ drive from my home, and I’d often visited the tomb where the ancient Athenians buried their dead, so I thought at the time, “wouldn’t it be great if someone did what Martin did for medieval England, only with the story of Greece vs. Persia? And in space? How cool would that be?” Then it occurred to me: so, what’s stopping me from writing it? That’s pretty much the inspiration behind the series.
Do you have another job outside of writing?
Yes, I’ve owned Istomedia, a web development company, since 1995—I now have a portfolio of almost 500 websites. One of the perks is that I love how my author blog looks! I’ve now started developing websites and blogs for my author friends, too, which is a welcome change from all the company sites. It’s also given me a publishing platform, which helps with taxes etc.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to write a book?
Just do it! Too many people are afraid of making a mistake, or of what others will think. Believe me, I understand those concerns—I once compared publishing with running naked through the town square. And yet, it’s one of the most satisfying things I’ve done in my life. Just make sure you use a professional editor that you work well with, and whose advice you’re willing to take.
What are you working on now?
I’m already working on the next, fifth, collection of short stories. In fact, I’ve already written half of the stories. At the same time, I’m editing Pearseus: Endgame, the series finale. And my illustrator friend, Dimitris Fousekis, is illustrating Valiant Smile, my third children’s book. Why do I feel like I’m forgetting something?
What’s your writing routine?
Alas, there is no such thing as a writing routine—not since our baby girl was born, a few months ago. Before that, I’d wake up early, write, then do day job stuff, then write some more in the afternoon and evening.
Congratulations! I’m impressed that you are writing at all with that lovely distraction.
How did you go about developing your cover artwork?
Since I’m quite handy with design software, I designed my first covers myself. Then, I met Alex Saskalidis of 187dezignz (http://187designz.deviantart.com) and fell in love with his work. He now designs all of my book covers, and I couldn’t be happier.
The only problem I have from time to time is that he will show me a couple of different drafts and I’ll love all of them, so it can be very hard to choose. That’s where my blog comes into play. I ask my readers to vote on the covers, and they always surprise me with their suggestions. My non-fiction book, Emotional Beats, even got retitled thanks to a reader’s feedback!
** Quick quiz **
Favourite food: Pizza
Silliest saying: Μα τις χίλιες πίπες—lit, by the thousand pipes; a surprisingly naughty quote from Popeye. At least if you’re Greek.
Best holiday spot: Corfu
Favourite song at the moment: Dansadu Vindur by Eivør Pálsdóttir ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTI2SA1HFcE )
With writing, are you a plotter or (seat-of-your) pantser? A pantser, although I do my best to have at least a rough idea of the story arc. Sadly, my characters often fail to heed me.
Star Wars or Lord of the Rings: Oh my, that’s like Sophie’s choice… Firefly?
Best superpower: Healing
Number one thing to do on your bucket list: Find a way to stop catching colds. Ever since the wee one came into our lives, I’ve forgotten what it’s like to breathe normally.
Great answers. Good luck with that last one.
Thanks so much for flying FSFNet spaceways with us today. We’ll beam you down just before your daughter is due to wake up. Congratulations on all your successes. We look forward to hearing what you write next.
Interviewed by Kasper Beaumont, author of the Hunters of Reloria fantasy series. www.huntersofreloria.weebly.com
** Nicholas Rossis’ Author Links **
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