My interview with Depths of Night author Stephen Zimmer

I had a chance to chat with my friend, author Stephen Zimmer, about writing, inspiration, and his latest release, the novella Depths of Night. You can read my review of the book here.

For me, the one place I would love to visit before I shuffle off this mortal coil is Robert E. Howard’s house in Cross Plains. Tell me, have you ever undertaken a literary pilgrimage?

Though I have traveled quite a bit over the years, I have not been able to make too many trips that I could deem as literary pilgrimages, with the exception of a trip to the United Kingdom and Ireland that I made a few years back in the company of my mother and sister.   Many of the sites and lands I had studied when writing the first few titles of my epic fantasy Fires in Eden series were finally able to be experienced in person.  Seeing those places carried with it a surreal feeling.

I soaked up everything that I possibly could, to the point I made a bus of folks wait so I could walk around the base of one of my favorite castles of all time, located in Wales,Caernarfon.   Going to the Viking museum in York, and the Viking section of the history museum in Dublin, Ireland, seeing the Book of Kells, Westminster Abbey, Edinburgh Castle in Scotland, the White Tower in London.

I could go on and on about individual highlights,but suffice it to say that it put added depth and a deeper appreciation to everything that I had studied from afar.  It was a very profound personal experience that I will never forget.

DepthsofNight_CoverArt_1200X800I think your travels are reflected in your writing. It’s obvious that worldbuilding is very important to you. In that sense, do you see each book as its own thing, or are those connections intricate to the narrative you’re creating?

In regard to the releases like Depths of Night, these novellas are intended to be stand-alone tales that build a body of work centering around the Ragnar Stormbringer character.  Some of the tales will have expansions on things referenced in others (and in future novel sets that I have in mind), but any reader can enjoy them in any order that they would like.  Eventually, I would love to see the body of work collectively tell the Ragnar Stormbringer story, in the same way that I’m building a body of work for Rayden Valkyrie.

As each of us gets a wee bit longer in the truth, a certain amount of wisdom comes with that. Are there any hard earned lessons you wish you could have imparted to your younger self?

Run … run fast, and take the broadcasting job out of college, haha!  OR, stock up on bourbon, lots of it, and take the path that I chose to take!  In all seriousness, I would definitely tell my younger self to gird for the long haul and be prepared for the seismic changes in the industry that have made it very challenging for writers to raise awareness of their work today.  It can be very frustrating at times to consider the amount of work that is put into being a writer (all aspects, including marketing/PR tasks and everything else beyond writing itself) in relation to the often painstaking progress made on one’s career path.

Some friends and I, all fellow writers, were chewing on this one the other day — what was the best money you ever spent as a writer? For me, it goes all the way back to my first word processor. What do you think?

The best money I ever spent was setting up a separate office space from where I do my writing.  Having a dedicated writing space has been invaluable to me over the years.  It has kept a host of possible distractions away from my writing sessions and has also been of great benefit in keeping me in the right mindset, or zone, when creating written works.  Sometimes I joke that I have developed my own Pavlovian response, in that when I sit down in my writing space, my brain kicks into writing mode immediately!

Whenever you ask someone what their favorite novel is, you tend to see certain books turn up over and over again, is there a book you love that you feel is maybe under-appreciated?

legendI would have to say David Gemmell’s Legend.  I think it is a heroic fantasy masterpiece that has not gotten near the recognition that it deserves.  It features a great hero at a more vulnerable stage of his life, a fantastic supporting cast, and a great “against all odds” kind of plotline.  Beyond the action, twists, and turns, there is a big heart behind it all, and the glimpses of life’s bigger picture shine through in a way that few authors are able to do.  Gemmell walks this fine line in a brilliant way and I truly would love to see this novel adapted to the big screen to gain more awareness for Gemmell’s work.

Aleister Crowley famously said, “To me a book is a message from the gods to mankind; or, if not, should never be published at all….” I have always viewed writing as a very spiritual exercise? Do you feel the same?

I definitely do.  Writing to me is an active engagement in subcreation and envisioning different possible realities.  It can also be, if you let it, be a deeply meditative and self-reflective kind of practice.  I do allow myself to immerse into those kinds of things, to the point that I feel renewed and often reinvigorated when I walk out of the room after a writing session.

Writing allows me to constantly examine and think the flaws, virtues, values, and attributes of various characters, which can be used to gain further understanding of morality.  Being a speculative fiction writer, I am also able to explore themes regarding the spirit and spiritual realms, in an abundance of forms.

Writing offers a wonderful avenue for spiritual practice, if you let it.

StephenZImmer_AuthorPhotoI have a particular fondness for Easter Eggs and liberally sprinkle them throughout my stories. Does your fiction have any tucked away fro devoted fans to ferret out?

They end up being there whether I intend for them or not, I believe.  There have been several times when those who know me well, who have read my work, will comment on a certain character’s outlook and values, their actions, or other elements that have a connection with something powerful in my own life.

Consciously, I do enjoy leaving some subtle things here and there for the keen-eyed reader, especially those who have read all of my work in a given series or franchise.

Thanks for stopping by, Stephen. It was a pleasure to get a chance to touch base with you. And for those of you who joined us, be sure to check out my review of Stephen’s Ragnar Stormbringer tale, Depths of Night, for sale now wherever ebooks are sold.

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