Charles E. Yallowitz is the author of the Legends of Windemere novels (fifteen books already!) as well as various other novels. The covers of his Windemere books attracted me as I retweeted them on Twitter, but, being a vampire-lover, his new WIP War of Nytefall – Loyalty made me contact him for an interview.
Charles Edward Yallowitz
Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn’t working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. Legends of Windemere is his first series, but it certainly won’t be his last.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
If I want to be technical, it was in 2nd grade and I wrote a picture story called Hunt for the Ruby Monkey. This was heavily based on King Kong, but I was trying to show characters and build tension without knowing it. This was a gift for a friend, so I don’t have it anymore. Prior to this I was writing little books that involved jokes, my week, or animals.
Since I didn’t really know what I was doing during this attempt, I would say the real first story of mine would be Immortal Wars: The Summoning. I was in high school and decided that I was going to be an author. One of my favorite things to do was read comic books, so I went with superheroes. It was about four teenagers who discover they are immortals and need to protect the universe from a band of evil immortals who are about to return. Each character had a magical weapon built on one of the nine planets. This was in the 1990’s, so Pluto hadn’t been downgraded at this point. I had an entire series planned out with the weapons switching hands, deaths, births, and any twist that came to mind. I only wrote the first book, which was ‘The Summoning’, but then I moved on to fantasy.
Is being a writer a gift or a curse?
It’s the cursed gift that keeps on giving. The curse part is that authors can find it hard to explain things to other people. You become very aware of spoilers, so you have to explain stories without going into the details. This can lead to confusion and the sense that nobody understands you. The gift side is that you develop this drive to create and explore worlds that you’re helping to nurture with your words. There’s a thrill to the building of a story from nothing to an intricate world that can draw others into it.
What is your writing Kryptonite? Have you ever gotten writer’s block?
My mood can be my personal Kryptonite. Once I’m annoyed or flustered, I lose the ability to focus on my creative thoughts. It isn’t that I have to be in a good mood to begin with, but I need to have a clear mind. Otherwise, the issues of the real world will get in the way of fiction and that doesn’t always match up. This is really hard for me because I don’t have an office or anywhere private to write. So, I’m constantly running the risk of being distracted. As far as writer’s block goes, I’m lucky that I’ve never really hit a creativity wall. If I have a problem, I walk away to work on another project and it comes to me the next time I sit down.
What is/are your book(s) about? Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?
All of my books are exciting action adventures that can take the reader out of reality. They’re pure escapism, especially since I write in third person present tense. It’s not a common style, but it means my books read like tv shows and movies where you see things unfolding in real time instead of them being past events.
My most recent book is Quest of the Brokenhearted, which is on sale for 99 cents until the end of July. This is a spinoff of my series, Legends of Windemere, and it shows the fate of a supporting character named Kira Grasdon. Over the course of the previous adventure, this merchant house heiress lost everything and now she is struggling to survive on the streets. She learns about warriors going to Lacarsis, the City of Evil, which has begun to move. Deciding that she will either find a new reason to live or meet her death, Kira heads into the monster-filled city. This is an exciting, action-packed adventure, but it also looks into the psychology of a hero who has already been broken. Mentally, Kira is hanging on by a thread and I think this is a state that many people can understand.
Do you have any difficulty writing characters of the opposite sex?
I don’t feel like I have any difficulty writing female characters. I only use their gender to designate clothing to some extent, pronouns, relationships, and physical appearance. Beyond that, the abilities and personalities for a man can still be used for a woman. Both can be brave warriors, cunning thieves, or sadistic villains.
Do you want each book to stand on its own or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
I’m trying to find a middle ground for most of my books. Each book and series tells a self-contained story, but they take place in the same world. Every entry adds to the depth of Windemere and builds it into a playground for future heroes. This would be similar to Middle Earth or the various comic book universes.
What do your plans for future projects include?
I’m currently working on a fantasy vampire series that takes place in the world of Windemere. It’s called War of Nytefall and it’s my current ‘core project’ for the next 3 years. After that I have about 30 other series and one-shot stories that I’ve been outlining over the last 15 years.
What did you find most useful in learning to write? What was least useful or most destructive?
The most useful thing I learned when it came to writing was that I had to write what I loved. If I enjoyed the story that I was working on then that would come through and the readers will have a better experience. The most destructive lesson that I learned nearly cost me the first book of my Legends of Windemere series. I let a lot of people read it over the course of ten years and I tried to implement every suggestion that was given. This made a mess out of the entire story and even caused trouble for future volumes. It required a lot of rethinking and rewriting before I felt comfortable publishing it.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
There are a lot of common traps, but there are two that come to mind. First, there is always the temptation to respond to negative reviews. Not everyone gets the warning that you have to take the lumps in silence. This means a new author can build up the reputation of being a ‘spoiled and combative’ person. The other is the ‘Pursuit of Perfection’. I’ve known many aspiring authors who refuse to publish until their work has met this ideal of flawlessness. They will read every book they can find on the art of writing and tear their work down at the slightest mistake. In the end, they enter a cycle that they can’t get out of that seems to stop at the first draft stage at best and they eventually give up. The truth is that every story will have a flaw of some kind because it’s a human writing it.
How do author friends help you become a better writer?
Discovering the large community of authors online was like wandering into a place that feels like home. You get a level of support and insight that people who never considered being an author can’t give you. Criticism is given in a more palpable method and discussions are allowed instead of the blunt tearing apart that non-authors think are necessary. There’s also a lot of sharing of experience and tools, which helps new authors avoid some of the pitfalls. Honestly, the whole community functions better as a support structure than a pit where everyone is out for themselves.
Where can we find you online?
Anywhere else where your book(s) is/are for sale:
Thanks so much for you time and chatting with us, Charles. I’ll be looking forward to reading your vampire stories!
All Charles E. Yallowitz’s books are available on Amazon. Take your pick!