Last year, you got to know a little about Author R. A. Fisher and his writing.
Robert joins me again this year to discuss his upcoming release, The Black Wall.
SJJ: What genre(s) does this book fall under?
RAF: The Black Wall is technically science fiction, but has a lot of steampunk and fantasy elements as well.
SJJ: Is this a genre you normally write in or are you trying something new?
RAF: It’s the second book in a series, so it’s what I’ve been doing for a while, though it’s evolved over time. When I wrote the now-scrapped first draft of it years ago, it was pure fantasy.
SJJ: Who is your target audience?
RAF: It’s on the mature end of YA, and anyone that’s interested in the “speculative fiction” range of storytelling. It takes place in a post-technology world, so they use cannons, swords and crossbows along with their dirigibles and steam cars, against a backdrop with advanced technology forgotten by the masses millennia before. There are even some romance elements, though that’s not the focus.
SJJ: When do you expect your new book to be released?
RAF: The Black Wall eBook will be released on Amazon July 14, with the paperback expected a few weeks before then.
SJJ: Please tell us a little about your new book.
RAF: When Syrina finds Anna and Pasha, survivors of General Mann’s assault on the valley hidden in the peaks of the Black Wall, she realizes they may be the key to discovering what she is. But after feelings she didn’t think possible well up for Pasha, things grow complicated.
With the help of Ves, pirate-turned-smuggler, they pursue Mann across the continent. However, growing tensions between factions within the Church of N’narad make the trip more perilous than they counted on.
Can Syrina find the key to herself and the voice in her head, and get revenge against her master? And what price would she be willing to pay?
SJJ: Where does the story take place?
RAF: The Tides Trilogy takes place on the world of Eris, which is an earth-sized moon circling a gas giant they call the Eye. The tidal forces from the Eye are extremely destructive, and what’s keeping them in check plays a central role in the series. Since the destruction of their technological advancements that brought them there thousands of years before, factions have formed, including a theocracy based on citizens buying into Heaven with Salvation Taxes, a nation of pirates, and the Merchant’s Syndicate, who are dedicated to controlling everyone else using long-lost technology.
SJJ: What inspired you to write this story?
RAF: The Black Wall was the first book I ever wrote, starting just after high school, and spanning 18 or so years. When I finished it was… awful, so I scrapped it, but I liked the ideas enough that I wrote a prequel, which became The Kalis Experiments. After that, I took the framework and some of the basic plot elements of The Black Wall and rewrote the whole thing. In the original version, Syrina was a one-dimensional killing machine who played a minor role in the story, and Pasha and Anna were werewolves and the central characters, which tells you something on how much it’s changed.
SJJ: What kind of research did you have to do?
RAF: For the series as a whole, the names of different airship parts and generally how steam-driven machines work. Also, which sides of ships are port and starboard, because no matter how many times I look them up, I always forget.
SJJ: I completely understand. Sometimes, information just doesn’t stick.
Was any part of this book particularly difficult to write?
RAF: There’s an escape scene where, when I first wrote it, I had no idea how the characters were going to get out, so in the first draft it was nine pages of them wandering around in the sewer not doing anything. Eventually, something happened, and later I went back and cut about 7 /12 pages of them milling around, talking about nothing like a Seinfeld episode taking place in absolute darkness.
SJJ: Did you enjoy writing any particular scene? Please tell us a little about it.
RAF: Syrina is a master of disguise, and I always enjoy writing her scenes from someone else’s point of view when she’s dressed up as different characters. There’s one where she’s going around as an old, syphilitic prostitute I had a lot of fun creating.
SJJ: Does your book have any message or is it purely entertainment?
RAF: Some themes that keep coming up throughout The Tides Trilogy are about self discovery; how we find out who we are, and what we do with that knowledge. Does there need to be a “point” to life, or is it ok to just live? Another one that comes up in the first two books is, what is love? Is it just a chemical reaction, or is it something more? Does it matter?
SJJ: How long did it take you to write? To edit?
RAF: As I mentioned, it took 18 years to write the first, terrible version. The rewrite took 8 months for the rough draft, and another few years of off and on editing. The third book is on track to be completely done in 8-10 months, so it definitely gets easier the more you write. As a comparison, The Kalis Experiments took about 5 years from concept to final draft, though I did write two novellas and had a baby in that time, too.
SJJ: During editing, did you have to delete a scene you liked but because it didn’t move the book forward, it had to be removed? Can you describe that scene?
RAF: Initially the first 80-100 pages were focused on Anna and Pasha’s lives in the valley before Mann came, which I later cut and summarized in one conversation between Pasha and Syrina. I really liked the complex society I’d come up with for the people in the valley and their beliefs, but on the first edit I was just waiting for the plot to begin for the first four chapters, so I slashed it all and began at Mann’s invasion.
SJJ: Who is your favourite character? Your least favourite character?
RAF: I guess it’s appropriate that Syrina is still my favorite character of The Tides Trilogy. I connect with both her flaws and her growth, and like I said before, her personas for every situation are a blast to write. I think my least favorite needs to be Pasha. He’s very rigid in his thinking. At first, I tried to push him to be more heroic, but it soon became evident that wasn’t his personality, and he’s often more immature than his little sister. That said, he’s central to some of my favorite scenes and events in The Black Wall.
SJJ: Please name the other published works in this series.
RAF: As I mentioned, this is Book Two of The Tides Trilogy, Book One being The Kalis Experiments, which you can buy here: http://mybook.to/kalis, or you can read the prologue first two chapters here: https://r-a-fisher.com/category/tides/the-kalis-experiments/. The third and final book of Tides, The Grace’s War, should be out within the next year or so if all goes well.
SJJ: Where can your new book be purchased when it’s released?
RAF: Book Two of Tides, The Black Wall, can be found on Amazon here: http://mybook.to/theblackwall, and you can read the prologue and first couple of chapters here: https://r-a-fisher.com/category/tides/theblackwall/.
Robert Fisher has lived in Hiroshima, Japan with his wife and five-year-old son since 2015, where he occasionally teaches English, writes, and pretends to learn Japanese. Before that he lived in Vancouver, Canada where he worked in the beer industry and mostly just cavorted about, getting into trouble and eating Thai food.
He placed fourth in The Vancouver Courier’s literary contest with his short story The Gift, which appeared in that paper on February 20, 2009. His science fiction novella The God Machine was published by Blue Cubicle Press in 2011 under the name Robert Fisher.
He has been trying to write stories since he was four years old.
Publisher’s Page: https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/ra-fisher
Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/R-A-Fisher/e/B07T8PYST9