Another author interview! We asked Jonathan Smidt some questions about writing and what he’s been working on lately. He’s been writing Dungeon Core Online over at Royal Road in his spare time and working on other good stuff. Enjoy his responses and insights into writing below.
When did you first start writing fiction?
The first time I started writing fiction of any sorts was back in the 9th grade, when I started a short story titled Glyax’s Tale (which is where my online username comes from). From there, I moved on to writing little stories here or there for friends I met online through various video games, until writing my first 100k+ word novels in Afghanistan in 2011-2012.
What kind of books do you enjoy reading? Paper or eBook?
I generally enjoy reading fantasy stories from a variety of authors, as well as litrpg and dungeon core novels. When I can, I prefer stories to be in paper format over eBook, but sometimes you can’t argue with the convenience of eBooks.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
Under-appreciated novel eh? That’s a touchy one… I’m not really sure what some would consider under-appreciated, but a novel I feel I haven’t seen many people mention is the Magician by Raymond E. Feist. I picked it up as a kid from a used book sale at my local library, and fell in love with it.
Of your stories, which is your personal favorite? Why?
I would have to say the one I am most proud of, is Bone Dungeon, which will be coming out in March. DCO, my web novel on Royal Road is definitely coming in at second, as I’m having a blast writing it. My older works, I really dislike…mainly because I feel my writing has really evolved over the years, and I just cannot feel too proud of my past works, compared to my most recent ones. Perhaps that’s just me being hard on myself, I mean hey, we all start somewhere, right?
You can make one LitRPG book (not your own) a movie. Which is it and why?
I’m sure others have said this, but Everybody Loves Large Chests (minus the whole ridiculous sex scene portions) I feel would be a hilarious movie. Who wouldn’t enjoy watching a mimic running around wielding swords with its tongues, casting random cubes of darkness, and all in all just having a tasty time doing what it wants?
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I believe in it within my mind and my own viewpoint on it. There have definitely been days where I just haven’t felt able to really progress in a story. I sit down, but the characters just aren’t speaking to me, and nothing is coming forth. Sometimes it is because I may be torn on how the story should progress, other’s, such as for DCO, I have found I occasionally let some of the comments from people get to me, and it knocks me off of my groove per say, and I just find myself unable to progress in the story until I deal with the block in my mind.
Are you an outliner or pantser?
Can I be a little bit of both? I usually start a story with a rough idea of a concept, or a world. From there, I have in my mind kind of how I think the story should start/end. Once I start writing though, my characters and the world I am writing tends to evolve on its own, so from there it is a seat of my pants ride to see what happens.
What is your writing process like?
Generally, if I feel the mood to write, and I can access my computer, I will turn on some music, and just lose myself to writing. My preferred playlist is one I have on youtube of Lindsey Stirling, and I’ll make use of my duel monitors to pull up notes that I have for my story on one screen, while I write on the other.
How many hours a day do you write?
If I am writing (life got a bit busy recently, so haven’t written as much as I would like) a session usually lasts between 1-3 hours for me.
Share a photo of your workspace and tell us about it?
I recently moved to South Carolina, so the wife could be closer to her family. Currently, we are staying in one of the rooms at her parents house, while I work to line up a form of income etc, before we can start building a house of our own. As such, my workspace is currently in the bedroom, and we are using a desk lent to us by her dad. Like I said, I am a huge fan of my dual monitors, which help not only in writing, but also for gaming…and random research missions or youtube video sprees….
Who are some of your favorite authors of all time?
Favorite authors of all time….. Well, R.A. Salvatore is definitely one, I have read so many of his books over time. I also really enjoyed Eoin Colfer’s work with the Artemis Fowl series. I found them enjoyable reads, going through them multiple times…and even at one point learned how to read the language he had on the bottom of the pages (also learned how to read Tolkeins various languages at one time too….. symbols are fun haha).
Where do you get your ideas?
Dreams? Both daydreaming and actual dreams. One of my stories actually started based off of a dream I had involving a game being played. I created the whole world, characters, etc, just so I could end up making that game come to life in my mind. Other times my ideas will come from random chats I will be having with people, or from conversations I may hear/see occurring irl or on things like discord.
What are your thoughts on how VR will affect the future of humanity?
I am a huge fan of VR, got a Rift and PlayStation VR personally. I really feel it can help move humanity forward, both in forms of knowledge and experiences, as well as entertainment. Currently there are efforts to actually create 3d Virtual experiences of a lot of monuments/relics/wonders that may be lost to time otherwise, and I feel this will enable the masses to see such things they may not have otherwise been able to. Also through VR and AR I feel not only will gaming experiences become a whole lot more entertaining and epic, but the tools can be used for business practices, educational settings, etc. I feel as the world moves more towards such technologies, online currencies will grow as well, allowing virtual reality a place in the world’s economy.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Honestly, I think I am almost constantly in research mode. I love watching documentaries, and can lose myself for hours on youtube video binges of strange and random things. On top of that, I am always trying to learn new skills irl, because I need to constantly keep my mind engaged and moving forward. Because of this, I generally feel I have a good amount of baseline knowledge as I write a lot of my stories, and if I need additional research, well the knowledge is just a few clicks away.
First video game memory?
Well, my first memories of video games include playing the original super Mario bro’s on NES, as well as Duck Hunt. We had the orange blaster adapter for our NES, so I spent a lot of time pointing that thing at a screen and trying to take care of all those annoying ducks. That blasted dog always taunting me definitely made me want to keep going and getting better.
What can fans expect from you next?
Well, like I said, Bone Dungeon is coming out in March. That will be my first actual step I feel into the writing world, as none of my other attempts have really counted in my opinion. Portal Books has really done a great job helping me craft probably the best story I can at this moment. From there, I will be working on the next book to follow Bone Dungeon, as well as continuing to write DCO on Royal Road. I’ll probably also do my best to do additional stories here and there….. so many ideas, never enough time, bwahahaha.