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Author Interview with Jakob Tanner

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Jakob Tanner is the author of the LitRPG series Arcane Kingdom Online. He likes playing video games, binging anime, and eating yummy food. To keep up to date with his shenanigans (as well as the status of his next book) consider signing up to his mailing list to keep up to date on all his latest releases and more. Let’s dive right in and see what we can learn about Tanner’s take on our beloved genre – LitRPG. 

When did you first start writing fiction?

I can’t remember exactly but definitely since elementary school. It was very bizarre stuff: Roald Dahl meets Pokemon plus whatever other crazy things I was into back then.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading? Paper or eBook?

I definitely love paper books and I try and order as many LitRPG ones that I can afford. But for shelf space reasons (basically my apartment is too small) I end up reading a lot on the kindle these days.

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

Within the LitRPG genre: I feel like people don’t talk about M.H. Johnson’s Endless Online enough. It’s so exciting! Another brilliant set of books is Anthea Sharp’s Feyland series. Also, I loved Downfall and Rise by Nathan Thompson. I’m a sucker for LitRPG written in the first person. (I also hope the above authors don’t get offended by me calling them under-appreciated because they certainly aren’t by me!).

Outside the genre: Random Acts of Senseless Violence by Jack Womack. It’s this awesome obscure cyberpunk novel from the 90s that tracks a twelve year old girl’s arc from posh private school prefect to punk and hoodlum of the streets. I read somewhere that Womack has the honor of being William Gibson’s favorite writer.

Of your books, which is your personal favorite? Why?

I only have one out at the moment so I guess Arcane Kingdom Online: The Chosen is my favorite! That said, I’m about halfway through the next book, and I think it’s going to give my first one a run for its money.

You can make one LitRPG book (not your own) a movie. Which is it and why?

Dodge Tank by Rick Scott. Not only is it one of my favorite LitRPG books out right now, it’s also so frenetic and exciting and well done. I think it would make a good TV show and anime as well.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Nope, not one bit. No other profession can claim such a magical superstition for avoiding work. There’s no such thing as “plumber’s block” or “waiter’s block.” I do agree though that some days are tougher to write than others. On those days, I try and change up my work space or go on contemplative walks. If that doesn’t work, I just sit around and hate myself.

Are you an outliner or pantser?

I’m a little bit of both. I need an outline to get started but I don’t mind deviating or tweaking that outline as I go about the manuscript writing process.

“Here’s a photo of my workspace. It’s probably the tidiest it has ever been. I have a copy of my book there for inspiration. It’s also a good check-in for continuity errors. You can see my mug has a nice cup of tea in it.”

What is your writing process like?

After years of working on my craft, I’ve developed a slightly peculiar and idiosyncratic routine. Here’s how it goes:

Wake up. Shower. Have a bowl of cereal. Make a cup of tea (English breakfast). Read a chapter of fiction. Sit down to write. Set a timer for two hours. After an hour I’m allowed my first cup of coffee (I try to make coffee my second caffeinated drink of the day otherwise I fall into a bad habit of being very cranky in the morning until I have that first cup of coffee. Also you appreciate the coffee so much more after that first cup of meek tea). From there on out, I keep writing for another three hours. After that I break for lunch for an hour (usually an oven pizza because it’s quick). Then I try and do another four hours of writing before calling it a day.

Am I slightly insane? Most likely.

How many hours a day do you write?

I’m always aiming for eight hours with a production of five thousand words a day (those are on my days off from my retail job, of course). In reality, it ends up being 4-7 hours, 2-4k. But I’m always striving!

Who are some of your favorite authors of all time?

Such a hard question! Hmm. I think my favorite authors would probably be Philip K. Dick, Raymond Chandler, Patricia Highsmith, William Gibson, and Brandon Sanderson.

Where do you get your ideas?

I get my ideas from all over. A mix of experiences, memories, and all of the culture that I’ve absorbed and loved (from books, video games, movies, and anime!). I’d say some of the first LitRPG I read was a major influence for me as well. I’m thinking about Dakota Krout’s Divine Dungeon series and Aleron Kong’s The Land.

What are your thoughts on how VR will affect the future of humanity?

I don’t care about the future of humanity so long as I can live and breathe Skyrim. I mean… I’m sure VR will be good for us?

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I don’t have a set research period before working on a book, it just comes up naturally as I’m writing. So I might look up on Wikipedia 19th century British frigates or how blacksmithing works, etc.

First video game memory?

I’d spend hours playing this one game called Tomba about a pink haired barbarian who fought evil pigs. It was nuts!

What can fans expect from you next?

The next book in my series (officially titled Arcane Kingdom Online: Dark Magic) is about 50% done. I’m hoping to have it finished, edited, and out by January 2019. Fingers crossed I stick to my schedule.

Audio for book 1 is also in production but I don’t know yet when it will be finished and released.

Anything else you would like to add?

Just that I’m eternally grateful for all the love, support, and generosity I’ve received from the LitRPG community. Everyone has been super friendly and welcoming to me as a debut author and it has been the best experience of my life.

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