Months ago, I reviewed a book I found from NetGalley. If you haven’t read the book, let me tell you it’s one of those books that I still kinda think about once in awhile. I have the rest of the series in my queue and it’s one I will be reading once I catch up a little.
The first question I have to ask you is who designed that book cover and where did the concept come from (it gives me the willies while drawing me in at the same time.)
The cover was designed by Chris Koutroulos, a professional graphics designer. I already had an idea of what I wanted, but I got something better than what I expected. The concept comes from the book and the story of the Ouna-Mas, the priestesses of the Tribe. The picture makes the reader think “fantasy, ” but this is an almost realistic picture.
Everybody keeps telling me that this looks that woman from Star Trek or the other from Guardians of the Galaxy etc. Yet, the inspiration comes directly from history. There were many priestesses or women of status from Ancient Egypt to Hunnish tribes, European tribes, etc. with long heads. Their heads were wrapped with cloth from when they were babies and took on that shape. One can find many pictures and skulls (in museums). Just google “skull elongation” for more willies.
On your site, you mention that you started writing Drakon in 2013 and it was 400,000 words. When you started, did you plan on it being that many words or did it just grow organically? Did you always plan on breaking it into four parts? More importantly, where did you get the idea for this story?
All four books are one story, one novel, but as a debut author, I could not make a 400k debut. I preferred to release it in four parts and keep the price as close to zero for the first part. It makes it easier for the reader to try an unknown author. I never planned on four books or 400K words. This is what the story demanded as it developed. As for the size, the book kept increasing with every iteration of editing. I reread it many times, and I discovered that the story needed to be bigger.
About the idea for this story: I worked backward from a dream I had a long time ago. It was quite a powerful dream (very late dinner I guess), and it stayed with me. Then I found the motivation of the story. What would you do if you are born on the wrong side of the battle? If you are raised simply to join an army of fanatics? What does it take to overcome all the brainwashing, what is the price to pay for doing the “right” thing? There are many YA novels where a 16-year-old rebels and knows all the right things to do immediately. This book is more complicated and I would never call it YA. It follows a man through a twenty-year period. Good and evil fight within the man on every page.
You call yourself a “technology entrepreneur.” What do you mean by that and what areas of tech have you worked? How did the lessons you learn from these entrepreneurial experiences help you with the business side of writing?
I have worked in software development, technology platforms for advertising and marketing, and more recently fintech and clean energy. I was always closer to the marketing, presentation side of the business so I was in charge of crafting the story. The challenge was similar, but the mechanics of a business presentation vs. a fantasy novel are completely different.
In a post on your site dated May 3, 2017, you mention you used a lot of history books to help you develop this story, and most of it was Middle Eastern and Eastern. Which books helped you the most? Tell us a little about the research process you went through for this story.
Drakon is a story about a young man (Da-Ren) growing up in a society which comes as close as possible to purely evil. A society where most women, and men, are used by one charismatic madman; a regime driven by prejudice, religious fanaticism and hatred. I could find regimes even from the twentieth century that fit the bill yet I wanted to place it as far away as possible from common historical events. So I chose the period of the dark ages of the Eastern Roman Empire around 4th and 5th century AD and found a lot of motivation by reading about the Hunnish tribes and other barbaric tribes that invaded Europe at that time. And then I wrote the story from the side of the barbarians rather than the “good guys.” This is still fantasy though, in the sense that the tribe I describe is made up through a collage of fact and fiction. They are the Huns, they are much more fun.
In the same post, you mention your manufacturing engineering background and the Japanese school of thought (Kaizen, right? My husband works in the same field so I have listened to many hours on this topic). This is the first time I’ve seen anyone relate this to a writing career. What does this look like and what is your process?
I am referring to a continuous improvement process when one is never satisfied with the quality of the end result and keeps tweaking it to reach the best possible quality. The truth is that writing even an ok novel is an amazing accomplishment that takes a lot of time. If you want to do something better than average, you have to have the courage to edit and edit and read and edit. Not three times, closer to thirty.
What plans do you have for future books?
I am completing the Drakon series with Book IV that will be released sometime before end of 2017. I have a very good idea of the next two series I am planning to write and I will start right away in 2018.
I”ll buy lunch for you and any author or character from a book. Who’s coming with us?
Neil Gaiman is a favorite not only as an author but also as somebody that has such an amazing breadth of stories and things to discuss. And he doesn’t seem to eat much so it works budget wise.
What are you reading right now or what was the last book you read?
Bone Swans by C.S.E. Cooney. Amazing, poetic prose. Highly recommended (and I don’t know the author).
(This is just a fun crazy question). If you could wear any kind of costume for Halloween, what would it be and why?
I am not a lot into costumes so I bought a plain black Game of Thrones t-shirt with the quote “A man has no costume” paraphrasing the Faceless Man (“a man has no name”)
You can only have five books on your bookshelf. What are they?
Dune (and Dune 2), because it is the first fantasy/scifi/yet so real that I fell in love with.
The Iliad (I am Greek after all, despite my pen name, and there are many interesting characters in there.)
Love in the Time of Cholera (because every book I want to write is a love story in one way or another)
Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins (so much fun)
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (because I am predicting she is going to win the Nobel Prize tomorrow)
C.A. Caskabel started writing Drakon in 2013 and completed the 400,000-word epic fantasy novel in 2016. He split Drakon into four books which he will release within 2017, he promises. After all, he is eager to start working on the next novel. C.A. is also the founder of an indie publisher of picture books and fantasy fiction.
Before 2013, C.A. was a serial technology entrepreneur. He studied at Boston and Brown University. He calls Boston, New York, Providence, San Francisco, London, and Athens (and in general Planet Earth) home.