Monday, March 25, 2013

Author Interview: Steven Montano

I am so I had the awesome pleasure of interviewing one of my favorite authors!! I first discovered this author through Twitter, where I quickly became a fan of his witty and hilarious tweets. And not only were his tweets funny and entertaining, he was approachable, nice and he actually responded to my tweets! Great combination. It is actually because of his tweets that I first picked up his book Blood Skies. And that was all it took, I was hooked and totally wrapped up in the dark world that Steven Montano created and I am still enjoying this series!

So enough gushing, on with the interview!!!!


1) What attracted you to writing fantasy?

I’ve always been a fan of fantasy.  The notion of the “unknowable” appeals to me: I like thinking there are things in the world that can’t be explained.  That’s very attractive to me, and that’s why I like to write in settings that can’t fully be defined.  Plus monsters are cool – you’ve got to love a genre that lets you make up monsters. ;D

2) When you sit down to write in one of your impressive writing sessions, what does it look like? Do you sit at a desk, do you need silence, and do you listen to music? Give us an insight into one of your sessions.

I actually write in spurts, because I don’t normally get long uninterrupted periods of time to myself, so I’ll squeeze some writing in during a work break or cram a session in between my son’s demands or doing chores around the house.  Sometimes I need music if there are too many distractions; sometimes I’ll have one of my favorite books open for inspiration.  Usually I write at my desk (at work or at home), but every once in a while I’ll use the Notes App on my ITouch or even write longhand.  Variety is the spice of life, as they say.

*A little birdie told me that you even write while you run on the treadmill? What???? I would totally fall flat on my face! That’s talent*

3) The Blood Skies series is a rather long series. How do you manage to keep all the facts straight?

By keeping things simple.  The story may seem convoluted at times, but honestly from my standpoint the plots are very straightforward, and most of the world building info is very simple.  I do take notes regarding some specifics (like places, supporting character names, etc.), and I tend to take excessive notes during the plotting stages, but other than that I’ve never had much trouble keeping things organized.

4) Being an accountant and all do you ever sneak accounting themes into your writing?

LOL. Not at all.  Alan Edwards did that with his novel Curse of Troius, but I try to keep accounting out of the books.  They’re an escape for me – I’d rather keep those two lives compartmentalized. ;D

*I am so glad to hear that…..*

5) I love the Blood Skies series, what else can we expect to see from you in the future?

Why thank you! Well, Blood Skies has five novels left, so we’re only halfway there.  I’m working on The Skullborn trilogy, the first of three trilogies in an epic fantasy series.  The writing style is very different in those (less fancy prose, a lot more characters, more straightforward descriptions), but hopefully people will like it.  I also have a second horror novel called Blood Angel Rising in the works, as well as a few short story ideas.  I’ve got plenty to keep me going for at least another few years.

*Sounds like you got plenty of awesome good stuff cooking! I can’t wait to see what The Skullborn trilogy is all about!*

6) When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve been making stuff up since I was in grade school, but the notion of being a “writer” didn’t start until I was almost out of high school.  I wrote my first short stories then, published a couple in college, and started writing novels.  I published some Dungeons & Dragons adventures, and when Indie Authorship took off I started in on this Blood Skies nonsense.  I’ve always been happiest when I’m exercising my imagination.  It’s my comfort zone.  Even when it drives me nuts, I just love to tell stories.

*Wow! That is quite the writing journey! Well I am glad you went the Indie route!*


1) Okay, I know that this is on more than just my mind, will Cross ever find love?

He already has.  Now, if you mean in a sort of mutual, romantic, non-spirit sort of way…he’s working on it.  But you’ve got to consider how screwed up Cross is (as anyone would be, living in these circumstance and having seen some of the things he has).  He essentially lives through his work, and through his team.  That’s not to say that’s “enough”, but it’s sufficed for him so far, and if he ever does wind up romantically involved (and you should read through the end of Book 5, BTW ;D) it’s going to have to be with someone who’s more or less in the same boat as he is.

*Ok, now I officially want to skip to the end of The Witch’s Eye! (But I won’t)

2) I know that I ask you this after every book, but seriously, do you actually like Cross? I mean you put him through so much crap, I’m afraid you might kill him. I know you say that he can take it. So tell me why? And I promise to stop asking…..maybe.

I do like Cross.  Quite a bit.  He and I have a lot in common, honestly…maybe that’s why I’m so hard on him…
But seriously, I always put my characters through Hell, and have ever since I’ve been writing and running Dungeons & Dragons games.  The sense of heroic accomplishment, to me, is always that much greater when the odds are stacked against you. 
(Plus let’s not forget the well documented fact that I’m an evil bastard. ;D)

*Bastard? No, evil, wicked and twisted….yes!*

3) Have you ever thought of giving Cross a day off?

He’s had days off, but I don’t spent a lot of time documenting them.  In his military days he and Graves got drunk and hung out with prostitutes, or, when he could, he spent time with Snow.  Nowadays he’s so focused on helping his team be safe and successful he spends most of his off days preparing for the next mission.

4) In the Blood Skies series you bring vampires back to the darkness making them something that you definitely won’t fantasize about, where did your idea for them come from?

I don’t know why I decided to go with vampires.  Originally it was just going to be a race of pale-skinned humanoids, sort of like a combination of orcs and dark elves, but at the time I started writing I think Twilight fever was at its height, and I was sick of seeing vampires de-fanged everywhere I looked.  The actual inspiration for my vampires is a combination of dark elves, the vampires from Blade 2 and the Gunmen from the 90s comic book Cyberforce, blended with the inhuman brutishness of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

*Well it was a great choice*

5) As well as your unique stance on the vampire you put a completely original spin on the witch and mage, it really is almost like having a split personality. I love it and the more I read about it the more intrigued I become. Where did this idea come from?

Thanks!  I always liked the idea of the familiar (or daemon, as explored by Phillip Pullman in His Dark Materials), but I wanted to try and shift the relationship a bit and make it more personal.  I also though the notion of having a quasi-living source of magical energy that had to be literally shaped to form magical effects was kind of cool, especially when you throw in the idea that the power source (the arcane spirits) have their own emotional states…that those states, in fact, are quite volatile, and need to be carefully managed.  I also like the idea of a power source that is actually harmful to the person using it; I explore a similar theme (though in a different way) in City of Scars (my epic fantasy that comes out this summer).

6) Why did you choose to use the term mage instead of warlock or wizard?

I use “mage” to describe the collective or “warlock” and “witch”, as a broader and more generic term.  I know that’s technically not correct, but I thought it was a nice way of saying “magic person” without having to get specific about whether it was a man or a woman.  Plus I just think the word “mage” sounds cool. ;D

7) Would you ever trade places with any of your characters? If so, who and why; if not, why?

No.  I’m good.  So far as the “why”…well… I have a thing for not being eviscerated by gun-toting vampires or dealing with crabby spirits who’ll wind up trying to destroy me…

8) Loving characters as I do, and considering my love for Cross and all his adventures, do you have a favorite Cross moment from the Blood Skies series, one moment that you think really defines Cross? This moment can be from any novel or even one from each.

Wow, good question, and I think I have to go the long route here.  I’ll try not to spoil anything.

Blood Skies: When Cross is sitting alone in the wake of the battle at Rhaine, and decides he has to carry on even though everything seems hopeless.

Black Scars: When he decides to spare Danica during their arena battle.  Again, it’s him fighting his instincts and seeing the bigger picture, and I hope I made clear how difficult it was for him to do.

Soulrazor: When he’s stranded out of time and meets the Soulweaver, and the Soulweaver judges him.  Cross doesn’t actually do much in that moment, but I like the idea of him having his soul bared to him by this strange serpentine creature.

Crown of Ash: At the very end, when he almost takes the easy way out, and doesn’t.

The Witch’s Eye: After the battle at the Black Gate, when he rushes to Shiv’s side after she falls.  I’ll say no more.

Chain of Shadows: I’m only a quarter of the way done with the rough draft, but he’s already had some good ones.  Stay tuned.

*Some of those are my favorite moments too, I will have to see if I agree with your choices for Crown of Ash and The Witch’s Eye.*


1) You are very busy and must like to have a full plate. I know there is a lot of caffeine involved, but how do you manage to balance your writing, your job, your family and keep your sanity?

I just try to be as efficient with my time as possible.  Take writing, for example: I know I’m only going to get a few short stints of time to write over the course of the day, so I make each of them count.  I set daily goals for myself, and I try to double them…that way, if I don’t succeed, I’ll likely have hit the true goal.  I try to keep my time organized, and there are quite a few parts of my day that are very routine driven (my workout, my commute, after-dinner chores, getting my son into bed so he doesn’t have a meltdown, etc.), which gives me some flexibility with the rest of my day.  No matter what’s going on, I drop everything around 9:30-10 P.M. so my wife and I can hang out for at least an hour or two before bed.  That time is vital.

*All I can say is wow!*

2) Do you have a particular place that you go for inspiration?

Not on an everyday basis.  I’ll write pretty much wherever I can, and I’ll pop in some music if I find myself getting distracted.  My family and I love to get outdoors and go on hikes, and I tend to take a lot of pictures and use the experience of being close to nature as fuel for my imagination.

3) I know that you like to play video games in all that spare time that you have, so what kind of games do you play and why? (I know that you really don’t have any spare time, but somehow you manage to sneak it in.)

I’m pretty boring when it comes to video games, since I only buy a new one once every 2-3 years.  I like 1st person shooters and RPGs; my favorite game of all-time is Fallout: New Vegas (I can play that game for days), but Rage, any of the Elder Scrolls games, and the new Wolfenstein shooters are all gun.  I’ve only recently gotten back into playing – it’s nice brainless action for someone whose brain usually won’t shut up.

*You share your choice of games with my husband, Fallout is my husband’s favorite as well.*

4) Obviously I like to call myself the devourer, with that in mind, name your top 5 Devours for each category.

Read: The Bas-Lag series by China Mieville.
Movie: Saving Private Ryan
Munchie: Peanut butter
Music: Diorama (an electro-Goth band out of Germany)

5) If you were stranded on a deserted island, with water and food provided, what 5 things (no people or transportation) would you want with you?

A bottle of wine.  A copy of The Scar.  A really fat writing notebook.  A pencil with a crapload of lead inside of it.  My fully-charged iTouch.

Thank you so much for stopping by and for answering my never ending questions!! Excuse me while I go die now!

Steven Montano author of the Blood Skies SeriesAbout the Author:

Steven Montano fell out of the sky one day and landed behind an accountant's desk. Rather than write novels about his experiences in an alternate post-apocalyptic world besieged by vampires, he decided to reconcile accounts and calculate journal entries. He still writes in his spare time. 

Stalk Him: Website | Amazon | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook

And make sure you check out his incredible series Blood Skies!!