It is lovely to get to talk to you! We’d love to hear a bit about Inside His Reflection. What can you tell us about the process of creating this book?
It went through three major plot changes before it became what it is. When I sat down to write this book, the story I planned to tell was something different. Elijah still had a shattered past, but for other reasons. Version one wasn’t cutting it, and definitely wouldn’t cut it as novel length. Elijah and Harry’s personalities were well developed by that stage, so I went back and rewrote it as version two. (I’m not going to say what version two happened to be. I plan to still write that story one day.) However, characters like to derail authors, and that’s what happened. I did an artwork of Elijah with his brother when they were children, and it changed everything. Version two was scraped and suddenly everything fell into place because of that artwork. It inspired version three. The book was retitled to Inside His Reflection.
Elijah has had trauma in his past which caused his mind to nearly break. Was this difficult for you to write?
At times, yes it was. Elijah suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and it’s something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. There were times, during my personal battle with PTSD, where the mental pain and grief went beyond the point where I believed it was humanly possible to deal with. To write Elijah successfully, I needed to take everything I’d experienced with PTSD and put it into his character. By far the most difficult scene for me to write is in chapter two. It’s a scene where Elijah is hugging an old, bedraggled toy rabbit, grieving, consumed by the reflection in the mirror. His loss and my loss merged when I wrote that scene. It was a tough one.
Are you a planner or a wing-it type of writer?
Oh, I wing it. Absolutely. I don’t plan anything. I don’t write character notes, I don’t write chapter notes… I just don’t write notes! Except research notes. I’m fastidious with research. I’ll do a ton of it because I love that aspect of writing a book.
Do you write straight through and go back to edit or are you changing things as you go?
I go back and edit. It’s detrimental because I obsess over it and this slows down my already very slow writing process. This is also due to the fact that I’m also such a haphazard writer. I change the plot, add in sub-plots, take out sub-plots, add in supporting characters, etc. Thankfully it all works out in the end. I don’t think anyone can tell, when they read the finished product, how erratic and unorganized the process was. Before I send a manuscript to a publisher, I’ve gone over it again, and again, and again. Several drafts are done and polished before I’ll part with it.
What do you think of social media – help, hindrance, invasion – when it comes to being an author?
Certainly it can be a hindrance when I’m supposed to be writing, or doing cover art, and I get sucked into the black hole of Facebook instead. Social media is a fantastic procrastination tool. Especially when there are so many photos and videos of cute puppies, kittens, and baby elephants. Then there are those addictive quizzes that tell me my hazel eyes mean I was – (and I dare say so were fifty million other people) – once related to the asp that killed Cleopatra.
I’ve been around for a while now. Social media can be an author’s best friend, or it can be a demon that bites you in the arse when you least expect it. Sometimes the latter happens due to rumours and gossip with no substance, hurting the author/s it’s aimed at. Sometimes it happens due to mistakes and bad decisions made by the author/s. That’s the social media beast, though. In my opinion, if it’s related to your job, everyone should utilise it carefully.
Do you have a favorite character from your books? Who was the most difficult character to write?
My favourites are the ones I’m co-existing with at the time. They’re the ones who are living with me inside my mind and my heart. The creation process of them is like a love affair. It would be difficult to find any author who doesn’t feel this strong connection with their characters. If we didn’t feel it, we’d write without emotion. If we wrote without emotion, we’d have nothing worthwhile say to a reader.
The most challenging character was the serial killer in The Slayer’s Apprentice. To get inside that mindset, think like a serial killer, and plot moves like a serial killer… yeah, that was a real challenge. There were times I had to step away from that story, take a breather, and shake the character out of my psyche. On the upside, when the book was released, the best compliment I received was when a friend’s partner didn’t want her to spend a week visiting me. Apparently, The Slayer’s Apprentice got to her so much that she couldn’t quite accept the author wasn’t a complete sociopath. (lol)
What do you read?
I rarely read fiction. I have dyscalculia with co-morbid dyslexia. I can write without too many problems, except for a habit of missing out complete words in sentences. My brain is visual, and I think in pictures not words. When I write a book, I imagine the movie scenes first and then write a detailed script. I can read instructions twenty times and still not understand them. I can watch an instructions tutorial once and understand it immediately. Visual stimulation keeps my attention far longer than a page of text. Text will blur and my brain goes, ‘Let’s go dance with unicorns instead!’
And yet, having said all that, there are fiction books I’ve loved. They’re the books with rich description, where my brain can’t help but burst with imagery. Books that make movies in my mind. They’re the ones I relish. They stay with me forever in bright, beautiful, colourful pictures. Also, any non-fiction topic I’m interested in, I’ll devour that information, too. However, if given the option to read it or watch it, my natural instinct is to choose the visual.
What do you do when you aren’t writing?
I’ve recently gone back to dance classes. I’m taking classical ballet lessons, which is something I did as a child and quit due to terrible instructors who made me feel like shit. When the jazz/burlesque classes start up, I’ll be taking those again, too. I’ve loved dancing all my life, but it was one of those things I kept confined to within my own four walls. Back when I was a child, dyslexia wasn’t as understood as it is now, and certainly no one had ever heard of dyscalculia. I was just the dumb kid in ballet class who mixed up left/right, couldn’t co-ordinate arms/legs, and took forever to learn a dance sequence. Rather than be patient with me and understand I needed more time to sequence things together, I was yelled at and degraded.
Thankfully, I now go to a fantastic dance academy, Firebird Dance in Adelaide, with a wonderful instructor, Amy Handley. If I stuff up my left and right foot, it’s not the end of the world, and Amy makes sure I know it isn’t. A part-time career in boylesque/burlesque is what I’m aiming for. The brief, impromptu routine at GRL as one of the Spice Girls performing ‘Wannabe’ was fun. Completely unplanned, we had no idea what we were doing and we winged it, but at least I found out I could work it on stage in front of 400+ people and not freeze.
Tell us about your pets?
Fran will be fifteen years old at the end of this year. I always warn guests to never trust the cute kitty face, or what may appear to be a friendly invitation for attention. It’s a scam!
Eldon is a gentle giant and the sweetest boy. As soon as Eldon joined our family, Chrissy found her inner-puppy. His temperament is rock solid docile. He loves squeaky toys, cuddles, and food!
If you could sit down and chat with anyone, who would it be? What would you discuss?
My late partner, who committed suicide. I’d want to discuss everything we never had the chance to say.
Dressing as a Spice Girl for GRL – most challenging aspect of rocking the skirt?
Fitting into that Union Jack dress! Dressing up as the Spice Girls was my stupid idea. I had no one else to blame but myself. I suggested the idea shortly after GRL 2014, and there’s nothing like the thought of wearing a dress in front of 400 people to motivate someone to get fit and shed extra weight that I’d put on over the past years. That sequined flag dress was available in only one size. Small. Challenge? Hell yeah – lol!
(Erica Pike as Baby Spice, Katie Beach as Scary Spice, and just sneaking out of shot is Cherie Noel as Sporty Spice)
What do you have upcoming?
I’m working on a novella, titled HAI-21. Pronounced as ‘hay’, and it all stands for Human Artificial Intelligence-Model Number 21. It isn’t hardcore science fiction, but it is set in the future. The advancement of artificial human emotion/intelligence is something I’ve been interested in for many years on an ethical level. Although I love robotics, and am fascinated by android technology, the consequences of crossing the line would be shocking. This was the inspiration behind HAI-21.
When I’m done writing HAI-21, I plan to start the follow-on novella, HAI-22. Both books will also be available in graphic/illustrated versions.
Last question – what advice would you give to young people facing rejection for being themselves?
This seems like an easy question in the respect that I could simply say, ‘Who cares what anyone says? Just be you!’ It isn’t helpful advice because it isn’t practical. Rejection isn’t easy, and no one wants family, peers, workforce, or strangers in the street to make them feel like a lesser human. It’s far simpler to conform, and that’s what many of us do. And, you know what? Sometimes that’s okay, too. To ‘be yourself’ means learning who you are. Spending time with yourself, making friends with yourself, and learning to love yourself. For a lot of us black sheep, it can be impossible to do these things without conforming to a certain degree. It’s tough to find positivity about yourself when everywhere around you is charged with negativity.
Personality type plays a big part, too. Just because someone is a little left of centre and eccentric doesn’t mean they’re loud, brash, and over-confident. Ultimately, my advice is to be true to yourself in everything you do. If John Doe comes out and proud at the age of fourteen, it doesn’t mean someone else has to if they’re not comfortable yet. If someone loves wearing makeup at home, but isn’t ready to wear it in public yet, that’s fine, as well.
The most important thing is to never suppress who you are completely. One day you’ll sparkle for the whole world to see. In the meantime, sparkling just for yourself builds self-esteem and confidence.
Thanks so much for being here! Hugs, Lucy
Thank you for inviting me! *HUGS* x
A blind date leaves Harry reeling, and another date goes as badly. Scars on Elijah’s face are clues of a broken soul, yet Harry can’t walk away. Not even when he learns Elijah sees a dead man in mirror reflections.
Elijah’s sanity snaps. Blamed for crimes he didn’t commit, Elijah has already survived a brutal murder attempt and now hides under a Protection Program. Harry must have faith he is innocent and fight for Elijah’s stolen rights. Can Harry do this without losing his mind, his own rights, and the man he loves?
Publisher: Wilde City Press
Cover Art: Scarlet Tie Designs
Genre: M/M, Contemporary, Drama
Heat Rating: Mild. *Please Note* This book contains no sex scenes.
Purchase Link: Wilde City
Zathyn Priest is an award winning Australian MM fiction author and cover artist. His published novels include Inside His Reflection, Amara: The Rebirth, The Curtis Reincarnation, The Slayer’s Apprentice, and Liquid Glass. He has also written short fiction, The Statue, Left of Centre, and One of Those Days. Zathyn’s new graphic novella, HAI-21, will be available early 2016.
Zathyn discovered digital art five years ago when he wanted to create 3D models of his own fictional characters. The hobby turned into another passion, and then into pre-made cover art business, Scarlet Tie Designs. He now creates original artwork book covers, website artworks, and poster artworks.
Sitting in an office all day in front of a computer does not match Zathyn’s restless soul. Therefore, he also attends classical ballet and jazz burlesque dance classes, with the ambition to turn boylesque/burlesque into a part-time career.
Facebook ~ https://www.facebook.com/zathyn.priest1
Twitter ~ @zathynpriest
Blog ~ http://zathynpriest.com/brokenpencil/
Review by Wendy: 5 Hearts
There’s no way I can write a review that does justice to a book I found completely riveting and mesmerizing so I’ll keep this fairly simple.
The plot is very intricate and weaves together a number of different threads representing challenges and enormous injustices rained down on not only the primary characters (Elijah and Harry), but also secondary characters that were equally integral to the whole of the story. And while there’s a strong thread of romance involved here, it’s doesn’t necessarily take center stage under the spotlight.
This is a story where less is truly more – in other words, the less that I say as a reviewer and the fewer details I provide about all the things that made this book special, the more you will appreciate it (trust me on this). This book deserves to be shrouded in mystery so that each reader can experience the journey and uncover all the hidden gems that suck you in and make you lose all track of time and place.
Expect to experience a full range of emotions as you read this story. It has depth, it has characters you will become invested in who are definitely not perfect, and it has a master storyteller at its foundation who clearly labors to bring forward his best work each and every time. That … is a winning combination. Do yourself a favor. Grab this book and go find yourself a nice and cozy little corner to snuggle (hide out) in while you enjoy one of the treasures of 2015. Brilliant!