Saturday, February 19, 2011

Interview #3 B. Throwsnaill

Our next interview is with B Throwsnaill author of Hemlock and the Wizard Tower

Hemlock and the Wizard Tower

When did you decide to become a writer?

I have had a passion for writing since the fifth grade, when a teacher inspired and encouraged me to write a simple story about a feisty Martian in one of those old blue essay books.  I also enjoyed creative writing in middle school, high school, and college.
I had started a novel many years ago while still in school, but it was during a transitional period in my life, and at the time being a full-time writer did not feel like a viable option to me.
I decided to (finally) write a novel about four years ago after purchasing a fantasy audio book that had received many excellent reviews.  After listening to the first third of it, I was astonished at how much I disliked it.  I felt like I could do better, so I just sort of started writing.

If you are not a full time writer what do you do to pay the bills?

I am in the technology field.

Any tips for your fellow Indie authors?

Make multiple edit passes and seek out beta readers.  Impose on friends and family--their feedback will be invaluable.  Also make sure that someone who is a writer reads and critiques your story--you'll likely need thorough, technical feedback.  Remember that your first impression can be difficult to overcome.  If you rush out your manuscript and get a bad review, that will be very difficult.

What served as your inspiration for Hemlock and the Wizard Tower?

I've clearly been inspired by my favorite authors:  Frank Herbert, Tolkien, and Michael Moorcock.  I also aspire to write "smart" like William Gibson.  I was also inspired to some degree by current events.  Finally, I've been inspired by history: specifically some memoirs from Ancient Greece and the Napoleonic era.

What other work do you have available?

I also have a free short available called "Economicon: The Destruction of Jeremy Cornwald".  It's an esoteric story of "economic horror", which describes what happens when an investment banker discovers that the economic crisis was engineered by  the human adepts of malevolent, old Gods.

What sites is your work available on?

Amazon, and many others via Smashwords.
Hemlock and the Wizard Tower

Are you currently working on anything new and if so when can we expect to see it?

I am working on the sequel to Hemlock and the Wizard Tower, at the moment.  I also have portions of three short stories written that may be completed and published at some point.  I take a while to plan and write, so I don't expect the Hemlock sequel to be completed until 2012.

Are there any authors that you really look up to?

As I mentioned above: Tolkien, Herbert, Moorcock and Gibson are my idols.

What do you see the biggest challenge in being an Indie author as?

It's a sequence of challenges, but right now marketing and exposure seem like the biggest challenges.  There are so many books published and so much competition for reader's attention.  It's a challenge.  But like any challenge, there are resources to be used and advice to be taken.  I've gotten a lot of invaluable advice from other authors at

Have you ever been published in any magazines or any national publication?

No, I haven't really sought out any traditional publishing at this point.

Do you have a homepage/blog/twitter/facebook etc... that fans can follow your progress or contact you at?

I have a blog at  The domain will soon point there as well (currently pointing to an older site of mine).

What is your favorite book/series?

I would have to give the edge, at the moment, to the Dune series.  I may have burned out a bit on Lord of the Rings over the years, so it may not be a fair comparison.  The thing about the Dune series is that the books get more strange, complex and subtle as the series goes on.  I've found that I appreciate the later books more and more as I get older.  Moorcock has to get an honorable mention for having so many great series that collectively comprise the saga of the Eternal Champion:  Elric, Hawkmoon, Corum, etc.

Are there any specific sites that you visit for advice or inspiration?

I visit for inspiration from other authors.  I am a member of for streaming music, which inspires a lot of my writing.  I love video games, so I visit for the latest news and for classic arcade information.

Why did you name your main character after a poisonous plant? 

Hemlock is a character that can be described as poisonous--certainly to the Wizards!  The name is primarily archetypal in origin.  In terms of the universe, she was named by her deceased father.  Her mother never spoke of the origins of the name, and always told Hemlock that he was a fool for insisting on naming her something so outlandish.

Where did the inspiration come from to form a 7 circle magic system?

The magic system mirrors a central theme of the novel:  hierarchies of power.  The potions exist to regulate magic use amongst the ordinary citizens. The circles of magic, along with the political entity that is attached to them (the Wizard Council), serve to regulate and control magic within the Guild itself. 
Most of the circles are also devoted to very specific uses of magic that are related to harnessing and controlling power or enabling industry.  As usual, the martial element of the organization is on the lowest rung, with the First Circle being scarcely more than a military arm.  The other circles are centered around mana storage, spell cataloging, physical transformation via magic, etc.  They are not organized around the taxonomy of magic, but rather around the uses of magic.  That itself says something about the nature of the Wizard Guild.  Finally, you have the Seventh Circle, who are the secretive guys doing things with no accountability, and wielding power outside of the legislative façade of the Wizard Council.

If you lived in the world you created which magic circle would you dedicate yourself to?  Why?

I think I'd probably be attracted to the Fourth Circle, which specializes in illusion.  Since I'm interested in virtual reality, video games and fantasy, it seems like a good fit.

Is there a story behind your pseudonym?

It's a near anagram of my real name.  The idea for it was given to me by an old friend who walked the path of art with more devotion than anyone else that I've ever met.  He spent a year living in a camper in the quasi-wilderness, with no money or electricity, in order to write.  Since being an indie author represents stepping outside of my normal boundaries toward the path that my friend travelled, it seems fitting to use this name while on this journey.

Which character do you personally relate to the best?  Why?

I think Safreon is the person that I aspire to be.  I think that in many ways Hemlock is the person that I was when I was younger (or maybe still am).  I think that I can relate very strongly to both of them.  It's almost like a (super) ego vs. id thing.  Parts of me are baked into both of those characters.

Is writing a dream job, a hobby, or a way for you to earn extra money?

It's both a hobby and a dream job for me.  And I think it is best for me if it remains a dream job (vs. a real job).  I have the utmost respect for professional writers, especially fantasy writers.  It takes a lot of time and energy to immerse one's self in a fantasy world.  It can be very rewarding, but it can also be a little lonely.  When you have a "normal" job, there are people that you can discuss your work with.  I've done some computer programming, and that is a solitary activity, but within that you can still interact with other programmers, compare techniques, troubleshoot together, etc.  Writing fantasy is astonishingly solitary.  You are literally inventing your own world, names, history, etc.  You create a new context and you have to direct your focus inward.  I wouldn't want to spend 40+ hours per week doing that at this stage in my life.  I've become a little more extroverted.  I look at my writing as a wonderful part-time escape.

You stated earlier that we still have a pretty long wait on the sequel to Hemlock.  Are there any details you are able to share at this point?  Will Merit be there? (lol)

The creative process takes me a while, and as I stated in the last question, I don't work full-time on writing.  I also pride myself (whether this is misplaced pride is debatable) on not outlining and letting the story develop organically.  I think I need to do this in order to avoid producing cliché results.  There's nothing I hate more than reading a book and feeling like the author is just writing in around an outline.  Sometimes an entire book can begin to feel forced and mechanical.  

I like to take time to let ideas simmer in my subconscious, and to make sure that I'm being true to the characters and the universe.  Usually I'll think about something for a while, move on to something else unrelated to writing, and then the right song will often trigger a floodgate of ideas.

The sequel to Hemlock and the Wizard Tower may be something of a departure from the first story.  After all, Hemlock changes quite a lot through the first book, so her evolution and story have some inertia.  This is another challenging aspect of writing a sequel: you have to continue the prior story threads while weaving in new ones.  It's still going to be a swords and sorcery adventure, of course--but it's going to be different thematically.

I will give you an update about Merit.  He's trying to decide whether he wants to risk a magical procedure to transfer to a new man-sized body.  He's not sure just yet.

Thanks very much for taking the time to do this interview.  I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors. 

Thank you for conducting the interview.