Premier Press Publishing Interview with Jarrod D. King, author of Pangaea: Unsettled Land
Premier Press Publishing was delighted to interview Jarrod D. King this week. Jarrod is an author of fantasy with a literary twist. His first book, Pangaea: Unsettled Land, involves an inclusive cast and stars black gay characters. This is something he aspires to continue with his future work. He currently lives in Philadelphia, works in Search Engine Optimization, and documents his transition into becoming a full-time author on his social media channels.
What is the current book you are promoting?
I’m currently promoting my first book, Pangaea: Unsettled Land. It’s available for free if you sign up at jarrodking.com/subscribe.
How about a teaser?
“The city can wait. They’ve been suffering this long, what’s another…” the coughing came again, but this time it wouldn’t stop. Wilhelm’s face colored red and the coughing became violent. He fell out of his seat in a thud. Talon watched everything from where he sat with no emotion. His mind raced trying to figure out what his next best move was. If Wilhelm died, he wouldn’t have to live with the threat of being exposed. The only problem was that his proximity to power would die along with him. He’d already had to start over after being fired from Queen Aeothesca’s entourage. He didn’t want to do that again. Still, the look of horror in Wilhelm’s eyes was so amusing, that he soaked it in a bit longer before calling for help. He got up from his seat and kneeled on the floor to get into Wilhelm’s red, tear-streaked face. “If you make it through this, it’s a deal.”
Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
My favorite character in Pangaea is Queen Aeothesca. She is so cold, calculating, and evil and the most fun to write.
Who is your least favorite character and why?
My least favorite character would be Mason, Slade’s ex-friend / ex-boyfriend. It is precisely that ambiguity in a label for their relationship that Slade comes up against in the book. I had into dig to some hurtful personal places to get this part of the story right.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special?
My main character is Slade Maxwell. He’s from a noble family who has traditionally worked for the queen. He’s expected to continue this tradition, but he’s an adventurer and explorer at heart. He’s special because he fights against what the world tells him he should be in order to do what he wants. The path to get there is treacherous, however, which causes even him pause.
If your book were made into a movie, whom would you cast?
Such a fun question!
Slade – Jussie Smollett (Empire)
Douglassaire – Trevante Rhodes (Moonlight) (Can’t think of a gay actor for this part)
Gisela – Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin)
Queen Aeothesca – Anne Hathaway (Interstellar / The Devil Wears Prada) (Just give her some red hair and I know she would rock it)
Title: Pangaea: Unsettled Land
Genre: Fantasy / LGBT
This is a conversation between the queen and her lady-in-waiting, Catherine:
“Those Southern dogs! How dare they? Accusing you of assassination? They have lost their leader and now they have lost their heads. I am just glad I was there to defend you, my lady.” Calmly the queen responded, “I am grateful for your actions, but I assure you that I did not need defending.”
Catherine bowed her head. “I know that, my queen. But…might I ask, why are you so calm? Have you not been shaken by what transpired?” Queen Aeothesca stood and slowly walked to the window, gazing out at the swiftly passing night sky. “Shaken? No. To be honest, Commander Azure’s death pleases me.” She looked at the reflection on the window and saw Catherine’s puzzled expression. “Please, dear. If I wanted to kill the man, I would have stuck that cane through his heart, not thrown it away like a mischievous child. No, that was not my doing, and I am not shaken. I am angry. You heard what the Commander said: …devilish powers and evil intent. That was directed at me! These people pretend to accept me – accept us – and when anything happens, they look at us like we’re monsters. I have been called that enough in my lifetime, but to be called a murderer! I have never been so insulted in my life! I grow tired of trying to fit in with these lesser beings. After all this time, after all of my protections and all I have done for them, I still do not have their trust. I have not told you this, Catherine, but often I wonder if Elao even exists.” Catherine gasped, “My lady! That’s blasphemy.” “I care not! It is as though God himself has left my side long ago. All I have is myself. All we have is each other.”
Why do you write?
I write because I have always loved creating stories and evoking a response from people with my words. It’s the one way where I can get my thoughts to penetrate and really hit people in the gut. I guess it’s a way of just being understood.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I’ve always loved to write ever since I was 6 or 7, but my decision to “be” a writer came in 2014 after trying some things that were more sexy such as being a recording artist or a fashion blogger. Neither of them panned out exactly how I’d hoped, and through those experiences, I always had a nagging in the back of my head to write this book which I had the idea for since I graduated college in 2009.
How long does it usually take you to complete a book?
My first book, after a few years of start-and-stops and figuring out how to go about it, took me about eight months. I’m working on my second book now and trying to lower that time-frame, but it’s slow-going. We’ll see what the average time is for me in the future.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
I always wanted to write a book, so when I got the idea for a longer story, it wasn’t hard for me to give it a try. It was hard to finish, though!
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
Because I work full time, writing time is scarce. I usually try to get some in during the evening after work, but the bulk of my work gets done on weekends when I have a full day to myself.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I used to only write short stories for creative writing classes and had no idea about how to tackle a full-length novel (let alone a longer, epic fantasy). I never had to outline my stories, but through the process of writing Pangaea, I have learned how to outline and get to know my characters a bit before writing. I also learned how to maintain tension in my story without letting it drag on for too long.
Do you listen to music or watch TV/movie while you write?
I only listen to music without lyrics and it has to set the mood of the scene. That could be classical or EDM, depending on what’s going on.
What have you written?
So far, I’ve written one book, but I’m currently working on another. I also have written a few short stories that I’ve published on my website
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you?
I outline a lot, but leave room for any ideas that take the story in a different direction. I usually have an idea of what I want to take place, but I won’t always know all the ins-and-outs of my characters. So I learn more as I go.
Do you design your own book covers or have someone else? If you use someone else would you tell us who/website?
I had someone else design my book cover. It’s important to have one that would look no different from traditionally published titles. I used the service of JHawk Graphics Inc.: http://www.jhawkgraphics.com/
Any advice for aspiring authors?
Once you’ve completed your first book, you’re no longer aspiring. So get those words down!
Where do your ideas come from?
My idea for Pangaea arose out of my own need for direction. I was urged to be a teacher after graduating college, but that’s not what I wanted. I also saw a lot that could be fixed in the fantasy genre. Many times it’s really hard to get into because of the outlandish names, lack of diversity, and cliches. I did my best to address all of this.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
The hardest thing about writing is knowing whether what you’re doing is worth the time. You’ve got to get rid of that critical voice in your head.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
The hardest thing about writing Pangaea was starting. It was my first book, so it took multiple starts and stops over the course of a few years before I got a handle on how to go about writing a long novel like this.
Which writers inspire you?
Stephen L. Carter because he feeds a need in me to see Black characters in the same high-tension situations without it being about civil rights or slavery. Sarah Waters because she makes you think you’re in for a slow observation on Victorian living, but then everything goes haywire. And Stephen King because he’s a mastermind. You have no idea where his stories will take you and sometimes that is the scariest part.
Do you have any formal education in creative writing? If not are you planning to go to school?
Not quite. I have a Bachelor’s in English from Temple University and during my time there, I did take a creative writing class (as well as in high school), but most of what I wrote as an undergrad were dissections of classics and some contemporary works. I think this makes me more of a professional observer than a writer. However, I always had the talent, so now I’m just trying to nurture that.
Do you have any “how to write” type books/instructional you’d like to recommend?
I know I’ll sound like a parrot, but Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, and On Writing by Stephen King are two of the best.
What is your next project?
My next project is a prequel of Pangaea that focuses on a group of bounty hunters that is introduced later in the book called the Auctorati.
If there was one thing you could do to change the world, what would it be?
If I could change the world, I would let everyone know that they are valued and that they matter.
What are some of your favorite books and why?
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke was one of my favorites because it was far from your traditional fantasy. It was also humongous with footnotes, so I felt like the smartest person on the face of the planet after reading it. I also loved Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell because it was study of humanity and an experiment on writing and genre all rolled into one. Both books were excellent.
What do you think of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing?
I think both are great and require close to the same amount of work in order to be successful. There is an aura of prestige around being traditionally published that is alluring, but the ability to self-publish allows you to bypass the politics if you can do it well.
Would you say there is a stigma to being self-published?
I think there is a bit of a stigma because there are a lot of unprofessional presentations out there that lower the standard. I’m not saying my book is any more perfect, but there are a lot of people who don’t know of or have access to professional cover designers and editors. The good news is that I believe the stigma is slowly evaporating.
Is there a book you love you’d like to recommend to others?
Get into any of Stephen L. Carter’s novels. They’re part mystery / part political. Start from the top with The Emperor of Ocean Park and just go from there in any order. My personal favorite of his is New England White
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Head over to jarrodking.com/subscribe and get your free copy of Pangaea right now. Learn more about my journey to becoming a full-time author on Snapchat (http://www.snapchat.com/add/jarroddking). Lastly, you can watch my live interviews of other Black LGBT authors on my show, The Read, on YouTube.
Blog: *same as above
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Jarrod-King/e/B01LWRNYCZ/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrIb-dK7M8A