We have another LitRPG author interview with Frank Albelo who wrote The Hall and is working on some other great projects. He writes in his bio, “I am a Civil Engineering student (almost done thankfully) with a wife, 2-yr old troublemaker and a passion for stories. I was born in Cuba, but lived in Costa Rica for a long time before coming to the United States. While living in central america I visited many of those countries at least briefly and met a ton of different people and cultures. I have been writing stories since I was young and reading them way before that. I would like to write stories that I would read myself and share them with the world. If my hopes to publish successfully and grow an audience become reality, I would love to do this for the foreseeable future. “
When did you first start writing fiction?
I have been writing since I was about 12 yrs-old. My mother was an avid reader when she was young and she always got me some kind of book to read for the holidays. When I finished devouring those (and the 200 ish available at my local library) I decided why not write some?
I wrote quite a few story premises, but as a youngling I didn’t really have the determination to finish any of them. Anyhow, I stopped writing when I entered high school simply because I did not have time. Fast forward to my senior year in college and I found myself with some free time over the summer.
Sort of on a whim I said, “Why not?” That is where I revived my oldest story, extensively developed the fiction world and wrote The Hall: Book 1 of the Muraglen Saga.
What kind of books do you enjoy reading? Paper or eBook?
I will always be a fan of the dead tree format, however the practicality of having hundreds of books in my phone made me turn to eBooks. I still get paper copies of my favorite stories when I can, but I already have three full bookshelves at home. My wife would have a fit if I got another one haha.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
Hmmm. That’s a tough one. I think I would say The Giver by Lois Lowry. Even though the series got a movie, it does not do the book justice. The entire series really is thought evoking. I am sure I am forgetting some other much more obscure fabulous novel I have read, but that is the curse of the voracious reader.
Of your books, which is your personal favorite? Why?
I would like to say The Hall is my current favorite. It will always hold a special place in my heart being the first book I ever actually finished, but I hope to improve my writing so much that its sequels take the personal favorite spot.
You can make one LitRPG book (not your own) a movie. Which is it and why?
I would definitely say Ascend Online. I think Luke Chmilenko does a fantastic job of defining his characters and the conflicts of the story (as far as fantasy is concerned) can be connected at in a real level. Plus, who would not want to see Aetherwarped creatures blasting magic all over the place.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I very much do. I feel that there are moments when your mind isn’t on the story for whatever reason and the characters/events don’t flow normally. The only way I have found to really move past this is to keep writing, write a bunch of garbage and then look back on what you actually like. Bit of a brute force approach, but without it The Hall would have remained in my brain haha.
Are you an outliner or pantser?
I am very much a hybrid. I set an outline for myself of what I want to happen in the story as a whole, but as long as I hit those points anything else is possible as I write. Bear rabbit chase scene? Awkward silence conversations? You name it. I honestly believe there are very few purist pantsers, but I am all for them since they often create fabulous stories.
What is your writing process like?
Like I mentioned before, I like to outline the story overall but then let the events fall as organically as they can with my brain. As far as writing LitRPG I always have my story open with a spreadsheet open to the side. As things happen in the story, I update the spreadsheet with the character status on the fly to try and make sure that every interaction that might affect skill progression etc is accounted for somewhat consistently.
How many hours a day do you write?
I try to write at least an hour a day. When I was writing The Hall this was more like 3 to 4, even 6 in some instances. I am a full time student with several Teaching Assistant positions so when school is in I am forced to write on my phone. On the bus. haha.
Share a photo of your workspace and tell us about it?
Well, as you can see I am a double-screen individual. It’s a bit odd since all the pictures I have seen from the other writers is with a single monitor and I feel a bit self conscious but I almost can’t live without them. There is the standard clutter from my engineering calculations (for school) and a notepad for inspiration. I spend a lot of time here, and I wish I had a slightly bigger desk but I make due.
Who are some of your favorite authors of all time?
Ah, this is a big one. Well, I would say Tolkien and Rick Riordan were my first big inspiration. When I got older this shifted to Brandon Sanderson, Luke and MSE. They all have dedication to their work and to their fans that I find extremely inspiring. It also helps that they write kick ass books that I read as soon as I get the chance.
Where do you get your ideas?
Like I said earlier, I read like a monster. I read less now that I devote time to writing, but I also am part of a writer’s group that I confer with. Most of my ideas are some kind of amalgam between what I have read, phenomena I see in nature or the engineering stuff I do as my main career.
What are your thoughts on how VR will affect the future of humanity?
I think VR is on the cusp of changing lives. If humanity is able to accommodate itself to self sustenance then living in VR worlds is not a stretch. VR is already affecting the way some phobias and mental illnesses are being addressed, so I am excited to see what is to come.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I do my research while I write. I have read a lot of random, useless facts about a ton of topics so I know just enough about a variety of topics to be dangerous in conversation. With that said, I try my best to give all of the things in my worlds a realistic root. I research the types of plants that have memory enhancement properties or help reduce bleeding overall and inject fantasy to them for example. Or (Spoilers) how the magic system of The Hall is based on atmospheric cloud formations.
I spend a lot of time on research for a book in order to make people feel it is as plausible as possible.
First video game memory?
God, it has to be Kirby on the N64. It has been so long since I played that game, but it was fabulous. I really need to get it for my son to play when he is old enough.
What can fans expect from you next?
I am currently working on a non-litRPG book called The No Names (you can see the cover for it on the picture of my computer haha) which is a sci-fi dystopian thriller. I am hoping to have it out early next year and start on book 2 of The Hall, The Tethers, soon after that.
I am also working on a LitRPG-lite light novel in conjunction with another author, but that one is just a teaser since it’s a work in progress.
Anything else you would like to add?
I hope that you all enjoyed learning more about me.
I am hoping to build a wonderful reader community where memes and laughs are used as currency and books are as common place as phones. <– This is fantasy and if you thought I was serious, then I’m a better writer than I give myself credit for (haha).
Thank you all for your time and please let me know your thoughts on my work!