Kindle Author Interview: David J. Pedersen

David J. Pedersen, author of Angst, discusses his book, his journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.

DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about Angst?

DAVID J. PEDERSEN: Angst is a story about midlife crisis, about a good guy with amazing potential that is held back by everything; work, friends, family, and more often than not, himself. Angst is a 40 year old, out of shape, grass-has-got-to-be-greener, magic wielder. He is stuck in a crappy job because he can wield magic, which is mostly illegal. His marriage is a mess, he can't seek solace in his friends because they have drifted apart. His best friend is the teenage princess Victoria, which doesn't make things any easier with his wife, and makes things worse with his boss, the Queen. If Angst were to become a knight, however, he’s sure everything would be better.

In spite of being hunted to extinction, magic creatures have begun to appear. They are dangerous, hungry, and seem invulnerable to traditional weapons. While being attacked Angst discovers he can use magic to kill the monsters. After pulling the proverbial "sword from the stone," an ancient sword so large people thought it was a statue, Angst believes that all of his problems could be solved. In a ploy to rid herself of Angst, the Queen offers him a title, possibly even knighthood, in exchange for finding the source of magical creatures. Angst uses this mission as a means to force his friends to accompany him, in hopes that it will pull them close together again. Unfortunately they don't know how much danger they will be facing. They are old and out of shape to be fighting monsters, but Angst is headstrong and driven to succeed so he can become a knight.

I think one of the things that sets this novel apart from others is that many fantasy novels are really geared towards a younger audience. The "young could-be hero in need of a path or mentor" has generated some great stories; I love them. But what if that person never found the path, never got their mentor, until it was almost too late? I believe a lot of people can relate to being that frustrated person who knows they can be something more.

DAVID WISEHART: How do you do your world-building?

DAVID J. PEDERSEN: One of the things I enjoy most about Angst is the world building. The history of everything magic is 2,000 years old and covered in dust. Magic creatures are just starting to reappear, people are learning how to wield magic and cast spells again. All of this allows me to do just about anything I want, so I create the world around the story.

DAVID WISEHART: What is the system of magic in your book?

DAVID J. PEDERSEN: Magic in Ehrde is a work in progress. Since magic is mostly illegal, a lot of the art and knowledge has been lost. The fun aspect is that it seems new once again. There are hints about the existence of spells that nobody knows how to cast. Some people seem imbued with magic, like Dallow who can read and memorize a book by touching it. Angst, on the other hand, can move earth and minerals, though he doesn't have complete control over his abilities. I believe it is part of the fun, finding out how magic fits into the world after all the years of repression. Readers will find that it is based heavily on the use and combination of elements.

DAVID WISEHART: How do you create and maintain dramatic tension?

DAVID J. PEDERSEN: Angst is dramatic tension. He's co-dependant, suffering from midlife crisis, and is making his friends go on an adventure they don't want to join. His path is rarely clear, there is always a cost for every decision made, there is a lot of sacrifice, and most of the characters are older so they are often sore and grouchy. Even though most of his group are friends, they don't always get along. I also included someone nobody likes, and that makes a mess of things. Finally, I also try to include an overall theme, in this case the grass is always greener, but everyone will quickly realize it isn't.

DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

DAVID J. PEDERSEN: Some are more traditional archetypes, while others don't fit into any singular role you would expect. A few characters are loosely based on real people, who I felt would fit into the story well. They all have different motivations, and those motivations drive who they are and who they become throughout the story.

DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?

DAVID J. PEDERSEN: My primary target are fantasy fans between the ages of 35-40 who are broaching midlife crisis. I have also found that anyone frustrated with their life and feeling like they have missed the chance to become something more can relate to Angst.

DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?

DAVID J. PEDERSEN: My senior year High School English teacher hated me because she thought I was immature. Being in High School, and not at a funeral, I was immature, and I reveled in it. She slapped me around with C's until we had a lesson about "writing for your audience." The assignment was to write an essay that got graded by other students, and the papers with the best marks was to be read, by the teacher, to all of the other classes. I got an A on the paper, and she had to read it to everyone. Not to be petty, but it was pretty sweet.

I've always wanted to write more, but could never calm myself enough to do so. For some reason, or I should say lots of reasons, it was time to write Angst. I'm really glad, and now it's time to write another book because I enjoy it more than I thought I would.

DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?

DAVID J. PEDERSEN: I throw up words. I wish it was more poetic, and less gross, but it's true... to the point that I make up words if I have to. (Hey, Shakespeare got to, so why can't I?) I have a general idea of how the story begins, and I know, in great detail, the climax and ending, so I write scenes like you would film for a movie that could fit in the middle. When I've written about half of the book I'll throw together a very thin outline so I have an idea of how much is left (I'm a lazy writer). I fit my puzzle pieces together, then wrap it up. Anytime I get lost, I refer to something like The Writer's Journey by Christopher Volger to stay on track.

I also try very hard, throughout the book, to include "easter eggs." If you re-read Angst, they you’ll pick up things in early chapters that aren't revealed until the end. I think it's fun and hope everyone will geek out a bit like some of my beta readers did.

DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?

DAVID J. PEDERSEN: I've always been a fan of David Eddings, Robert Jordan, Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov, and Tom Wolfe. I saved all of my favorite books growing up to give to my own kids, and they have been reading them. In grade school, my son wrote a letter to Piers Anthony for school project, and Mr. Anthony wrote him back, which really impressed me. Isaac Asmiov wrote so many good books it boggles my mind, and I have enjoyed every one of them. I've probably read Eddings' Belgariad and Mallorean more times than any other book. I always enjoyed that Eddings and Anthony aren't hard to read, and still so very entertaining. Robert Jordan, on the other hand, created an incredibly complex and believable world that held my attention. Tom Wolfe cheats when he writes he tends to use the English language any way he wants. I love his voice.

DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?

DAVID J. PEDERSEN: I can't say there is a single book out there that makes me say, "That should have been mine." I will say that I wouldn't mind walking in Neil Gaiman's shoes. I'm so incredibly impressed with his breadth of writing: books, movies, and comics...I've found them to be thoroughly entertaining and I would love to follow his path.

DAVID WISEHART: How did you create your cover?

DAVID J. PEDERSEN: I actually don't love my cover right now, lol. My original intent was to print a bunch of copies through CreateSpace to give to my beta readers as a thank you for critiquing the book. When I was done, more people asked for copies to read, so I made it look nice enough to share, but one of these days I intend a book cover do-over. Maybe the current version will become a collector's edition.

That said, right now the background is a map I drew by hand, scanned, then tweaked with Paint.Net. The sword is my own, and I added lightning effects using Gimp. My wife put the pieces together with her amazing Photoshop skills.

DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?

DAVID J. PEDERSEN: Mostly through social networking, word of mouth, and nice people with sites like yours. I absolutely love the feedback I've gotten through Twitter. People have been very gracious about letting me know what they like, even going so far as to quote lines they like from the book—it's been very reassuring to say the least.

DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?

DAVID J. PEDERSEN: Since the Kindle is Amazon's bestselling item, ever, it was an obvious choice for me. It's an amazing method of distributing one’s writing.

DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?

DAVID J. PEDERSEN: Double check your formatting with the free PC version or on a Kindle device. I made a mistake my first release and I was a little embarrassed that I missed a few obvious formatting errors. Also, have realistic expectations about sales. It takes time to generate interest in what you have written.

DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.


David J. Pedersen is a native of Racine, WI who resides in his home town Kansas City, MO. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. He has worked in sales, management, retail, video and film production, and IT. David has run 2 marathons, climbed several 14,000 foot mountains and marched in Thee University of Wisconsin Marching Band. He is a geek and a fanboy that enjoys carousing, picking on his wife and teenage kids, playing WoW, and slowly muddling through his next novel.

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