Author Interview with Barend Nieuwstraten III

Dragon Soul Press presents an interview with Barend Nieuwstraten III. He is featured in the following DSP anthologies: All Dark Places 2, All Dark Places 3, Lethal Impact, Wolf Night, Imperial Devices, Spirit, Valiance, Space Bound, Extinct Worlds, Timeless 2.


1. What inspired you to start writing?

I always wanted to write, flirting with it over the years between other creative pursuits. I suppose it came in waves. But the first big push came from reading the Silmarillion by Tolkien. I didn’t realise that stories could be so colossal in scope until I took that epic tale in. That was when I really knew I wanted to build my own word.

2. How do you come up with the titles to your books?

Hard to break down to a process but I like to keep them short, simple, and inviting. Matter of fact but seasoned with intrigue. Usually dangling more information than they might appear to. It’s not a rule as such, but I seem to have an aversion to using in-world pronouns in them for mostly intangible reasons. I suppose I just feel they belong strictly inside the book. They have no context until you start reading. But then neither do the titles I choose, so a proper explanation is probably buried somewhere in my subconscious.

3. What comes first, the plot or characters?

Characters. Typically, I have no idea where I’m going or what’s going to happen when I start writing. I’m as much on the adventure as anyone who reads it, so I at least need to know who I’m travelling with before I take a step into the unknown.

4. What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

The sitting: I’m a terrible slouch. I seem to subtly slip into it without noticing as I work and don’t realise until I’m in terrible pain.

Also, a wandering mind. As I’m always working on multiple things, cross-inspiration can spark at inconvenient moments.

5. How much ‘world building’ takes place before you start writing?

So much and often during. The more stories I write, the more of my world exists. I once worked out that for one specific scene, I created and utilized support documents on various categories that together totalled enough words to create a 260-page paperback. There are so many other files and they keep growing in number and content. Before writing ‘Sackcloth and Silver’ for the Wolf Night anthology, I ended up creating an 800-word document on lycanthropy, just so I’d know what the rules were. I find it strange that the part of me that wanted to write the story refused to budge until the word building part of me quickly made up the rules, as if they already solidly existed in my subconscious and needed to be extracted so that I could read and religiously follow them.

6. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

Four. I’ve written the first two books of a seven-book series and two stand-alone novels. I’m still working on them, but the series is my first love. It’s a project I’ve put on hold to focus on shorter stories for now and I’m very anxious to get back to it. The scale of it is quite large and has multiple perspectives (where my other novels have one). In my mind the series is just one long story, so even though its only two sevenths complete, that’s the one my heart’s tied to.

7. Who is your favorite character?

There’s a monk in my series named Adbry, who always makes me laugh. I hadn’t intended him to be the comic relief, but he just seemed to naturally find his way there. Even though I’m writing it, I’m just surprised by what he says. I’ve even had to censor him a couple times, because he was in danger of undermining the tone of certain scenes.

8. How many plot ideas are just waiting to be written? Can you tell us about one?

For someone who makes it up as he goes along, a surprisingly large pile of ideas haunts my ‘to do’ list.

One I’m excited about is the humorous misadventures of a man who’s dragged out to the woods to be murdered by a gang for unpaid debts but reasons his way out of it, only to end up getting arrested elsewhere, then pressganged onto a pirate ship. I’m curious to see what happens to him.

9. Who is your favorite author and why?

I think I have to go with Douglas Adams. I admire the rare intelligence and insight that went into his work. Though used primarily for comedic purposes, he skilfully deconstructed societal norms to expose them for the absurdities they truly were. I think so much of the great philosophy of our age is hidden in humour.

10. Where can readers learn more about you?

On Facebook, Twitter, or at my blog.


Bonus questions:

a. What famous author do you wish would be your mentor?

Terry Pratchett. Every beat a story should have is in every story he ever wrote. I think those who work primarily in comedy have the best understanding of what’s most important. Like seeing a little more of the spectrum. While the Discworld books are very satirical, the characters, their relationships, the balance of how everything in the world works, are rich and deep and somehow believable, no matter how absurd things get. How someone could be so wilfully ridiculous and well grounded at the same time is precisely the essence of what every fantasy author needs to possess. Even in the darkest corners of the genre.

b. What do you like to do when you are not writing?

Adding to my future workload by creating cover art for books I haven’t written yet. I sometimes storyboard films. I’m also a musician, working under fourteen different projects. I’m obsessed with Belgian and German beers, though I hardly drink now, and adore old and new British comedy as well old (especially Italian) horror films. I also squeeze in a bit of gaming when sufficient peer pressure is applied.

c. If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

Humorous, Verbose, Distracted.

Author Interview with E.A. Robins

Dragon Soul Press interviews E.A. Robins, one of the authors featured in Spirit.


1. When did you start writing?

I’ve always written. Not always well, obviously, but it’s something I’ve always done. When I was a child, I’d write stories and illustrate them, staple them together and show my parents. When I was a teenager I wrote/created an excess of personal journals. And, when I went to university, I majored in a writing field.

2. How do you handle writer’s block?

Honestly, I just keep writing. Eventually, you find a way through the problem. The answer is there, you’ve just got to keep working until it becomes evident. I’ve often likened writing to painting, which is also something I enjoy. In painting, the first layer is never the final picture. The more you paint (write) the more detail is added, the more precise and lovely the work becomes and more often than not, there are things discovered in the process that were never part of the original concept.

3. What comes first, the plot or characters?

It’s always been characters. A story is a path, but the character is the one that walks it and if there isn’t something that draws you to that person/creature than it’s hard to be interested in where they are or where they are going.

4. What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

Creating the everyday habit. Not giving up. My background is actually in poetry, which is lightning and flash floods compared to the farming process of prose. For me, short stories and novel length works have been a lesson in patience and perseverance.

5. What famous author do you wish would be your mentor?

If the stars had aligned, Ursula K. Le Guin.
There are so many authors I admire, but Le Guin really embodies everything I would like to be become as an author. Her work is genuinely entertaining and transportive while addressing real world political and social issues. It’s story telling with a message without distraction from narrative or style. It’s poetry, and it’s powerful and important.

6. How do you handle literary criticism?

I welcome criticism. The constructive and the deconstructive both allow me to access how others perceive what I create and I find that very useful for growth. It is a process of sifting through what they’ve offered and retaining what might be useful for current or future projects.

7. How much ‘world building’ takes place before you start writing?

This varies, depending on the project and how long it’s been fermenting in my head. Though, in general, I think ‘world building’ is a trap because there is a never ending amount of detail to be created and endless paths down which one might get lost, often willingly. The exercise here is to build only as much as is needed to further narrative.

8. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I’ve only written one novel so far, Scion of the Oracle, due to be published sometime this fall (2021). It was written for Of Metal and Magic Publishing’s CORE fantasy world of Soria and was an interesting first project. There were structural constraints, as well as a good bit of in-house research. Meaning, there were a lot of details and history of the established story-verse that I needed to locate and include in my manuscript. It was geeky and fun and I think great practice for my DSP short story, “The Berlin Assignment”, which has a real world historical setting. 

9. What do you like to do when you are not writing?

Well, I have a full time job, so that tends to keep me pretty busy. I love to travel, but haven’t had the opportunity in about a year due to Covid. I read voraciously. I paint from time to time and sketch when the mood strikes. I like jig-saw puzzles and playing poker. I enjoy adult beverages and Netflix binges. I’m almost always listening to music and I love to drive.

10. Where can readers learn more about you?

Facebook, Instagram, and my website.

Planning a Whole Month of Social Media Posts

Being a professional writer in any capacity comes with a side of marketing, whether we like it or not. Whether we are traditionally published or self-published, all authors will be expected to do their own marketing. Social media has become almost essential for writers. If you don’t have a following, how will you reach potential readers? While it seems like a scary concept – putting yourself out there on social media, especially if you’re more introverted – it can really have a great pay off for your writing career. But being on social media means you have to come up with interesting and varied content to share with your followers. And I have some tips for how to plan out a whole month of social media content. 

Use a Content Calendar

The best way to start planning content is to get organized. And you can get organized by using a spreadsheet or Google Calendar to list out your entire publishing schedule. That way you can see when you have a book launch or promo event coming up, and from there you can begin planning out your content for the month. 

Pick Your Social Networks

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be on every single social media network that there is. However, whichever ones you do chose to promote yourself on, you should be frequently active and engaging with your readers. And if you are using more than one social network, it is advised that you make a space on your calendar for each social media profile that you’re planning to post on, that way you can keep track of your content. 

Posting Frequency

It is entirely up to you if you’re going to be posting once a day, twice a week, or several times a month. Either way, try to be consistent in your posting schedule. Also, don’t be afraid to repurpose your content across different platforms in order to save yourself time and energy. Granted, you will want to use an organizational tool to help you plan out your strategy.

Content Pillars

Content pillars are basically the subcategories for your social media posts. These can be such things as behind the scenes, book promotions, writer memes, etc. Once you’ve come up with what these content pillars, you can go about planning out your calendar for the month. Usually it’s a good idea to have at least 3 to 5 different ones that you share across different social media platforms according to your publishing schedule. 

Tips for Outlining

When it comes to writing a manuscript, there is one practice that is essential: outlining. The process of outlining helps us to stay focused and on track with our WIP. If we outline our story, it can also help keep us going whenever we experience the inevitable writer’s block in the middle of our work. 

Outlining All at Once versus Outlining as You Go

There are pros and cons to both outlining all at once or outlining as you go. When it’s all at once, you have a very clear idea of how the entire story will pan out. Granted, this doesn’t leave your plot a whole lot of flexibility. When you outline as you go, you gain a bit more plot flexibility. But planning out the next chapter or scene as you write it means that you might end up with more plot holes appearing in your work that you will then have to fix later on. 

Separate Docs

When it comes to outlining, some of us might be tempted to make our outlines in the same document as our WIP. But it can sometimes be helpful to have an entirely different document for your outline, particularly if it’s going to be very detailed. This helps to keep your actual work from getting jumbled up. 

Apps and Programs

There are various different apps and other programs that you can use to organize your work into an outline. Of course, you should do your research on the different apps and programs available, so you can pick the right one with the features that you work for you.

Questions to Ask When Pairing Characters

Let’s be honest, even when the main plot of a story isn’t romance, it still will often be included as a subplot to the story. Similar to the questions you’d ask when world building or developing individual characters, asking certain things of your character pairings is a good way to further develop your couples and make them realistic and believable to the reader. These are the types of questions that can be helpful to figure out how good a match your characters are. Of course, not all these questions need to be answered in the story itself, but it’s good information to have in order to better understand your characters. 


Questions to ask about your character pairings:

What do they like about each other?
What do they not like about each other?

How did they meet?

How long have they known one another?

How open are they about their love?

Is their attraction superficial or very deep?

What do they share in common?

Who initiated the relationship?

How do other characters view their relationship?

How much does their relationship affect he story?

Are they casual or serious in their relationship? 

Are they happy in their relationship?

How much time do they spend together?