Interview with fantasy author Jesper Schmidt
I love meeting other authors. And I feel so lucky because I meet many, getting to know so much more than their awesome books but also a bit about their lives.
The most efficient way to share that with you are author interviews!
First up here on my new blog is fantasy author Jesper Schmidt. I met Jesper over the summer with the release of his first book, Fantasy Map Making. Now he has more big news to share, but I’m not going to give it away. You’ll have to read the interview to find out. 😉
Welcome, Jesper Schmidt, to the blog!
First, some ice breaker questions to get to know Jesper:
If there was one place in the world you’d love to visit, where would it be?
Our family is going to New Zealand early next year. That is a place I have wanted to visit for more than a decade. We have to check out all the Lord of the Rings stuff when we are there.
Are you a cat or dog person?
I used to be a dog person, but now a day’s I prefer no pets in our house. I don’t mind guests bringing theirs, but on a daily basis… I will pass.
Trains, planes, automobiles, or boats?
Planes. My father was an airline pilot and before I could walk I sat on his lap in the cockpit.
What’s your favorite comfort food?
I love burgers, but I’m gluten intolerant so it’s not always possible to get one.
What are the most important traits you look for in a friend?
Honesty and trust. If those to ingredients are not present then the friendship will suffer sooner or later.
If you are a TV watcher, would you share the names of your favorite shows with us?
Oh, I love Game of Thrones. I have also recently watched Westworld. That was awesome too.
That was the warm up. Now on to the tough questions!
What is your latest book?
My latest book is Desolation, which is the first volume in the Keystone Bone Trilogy.
I hear you have some very exciting news! Can you share it with us?
Well, yes, I just released Desolation recently and it has been 18 months of very hard work but, also, a great experience. I don’t think anyone can truly understand how difficult writing your first novel really is before one have tried it.
What are the special challenges in writing a series?
You have to think really far ahead and have a very solid idea of where things are going and it takes a lot of upfront work.
When I first started writing, I got to 50,000 words and had to dump the whole thing and start over. It felt awful. I have been working in project management for decades and if I have learned anything it is to plan ahead. Despite this knowledge I didn’t do that.
I learned the lesson the hard way, but should have seen it coming.
Anyway, I started over after a thorough outlining phase and then it was much better.
If you were to advertise your book on a bumper sticker, what would it say?
Run and hide.
What else have you written?
I have written a non-fiction book on Fantasy Map Making. That is a topic very close to my heart. I just love maps.
At the same time I hate researching the same topic twice, so when I created the map for the Keystone Bone Trilogy I documented my entire process step by step and turned it into a book on the subject.
I now use this book myself whenever I design maps for my worlds and its working out wonderfully well.
What do you think some of the greatest misconceptions about indie authors are?
I guess, even in this day and age, we still have to fight against the general impression that being indie is somehow less valuable than being a traditionally published author.
However, I think the tables are turning. Traditional publishing houses are finding it harder and harder to compete with the agile community of indies.
As long as we take our work as seriously as publishers do, then I think we will be fine.
How often do your characters surprise you by doing or saying something totally unexpected?
I have to say not a lot. Nowadays I pretty much know exactly where each scene, every chapter, and the plot is going before I write the first word.
There are almost no detours or plot holes. I guess it makes writing the first draft somewhat hard labor as there are no surprises, but on the other hand I find that my first draft often requires very little developmental editing.
Before I start the next trilogy, I have a secret plan to document my entire process in how-to book format, much like I did with map making.
What part of writing a novel do you enjoy the most? The least?
For me getting through the first draft is the hardest part but once that is done I quite enjoy editing the work and making it better. To be honest that surprised me. When I first started out I had expected it to be the exact opposite, but there you go.
Some authors, like me, always write scenes in order. But I know some people write scenes out of order. How about you?
Always in order. It goes with my planning nature. I think my brain cannot function in any other way.
Is it important for you to know the ending of a book before you write it? The title?
With the Keystone Bone Trilogy I knew the title of all three books before I began writing, but I think it was more of a “coincidence” because I knew what I wanted to call them already.
I would not say that it’s important to me and I don’t see why I couldn’t start writing without knowing the title.
The ending however is a different matter… as I said, I know everything that is going to happen before I commit pen to paper, or hand to keyboard in this case.
Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?
When something is done, I like it to be done, so what I try to do is to edit a bit as I go. The result is that the first draft reads like a novel. It’s consistent, the plot flows, and the character arcs are all there.
Some sentences might be a bit rough, but compared to some, I guess my editing is very minor.
The downside is that it takes me longer to write. I probably do 500 words an hour.
Over the years, many well-known authors have stated that they wished they’d written their characters or their plots differently. Have you ever had similar regrets?
To me this is kind of the nature of the beast. I mean the more we write the better we became. As our skill increases, past mistakes becomes more visible to ourselves. We should probably just accept that this is part of the game and move on.
Authors, especially Indies, are constantly trying to understand why some authors sell very while their talented fellow authors have a hard time of it. It’s an ongoing conundrum. What do you make of it all?
Especially as indie authors, we have to embrace the fact that we are running a business and it has to be treated as such. All the marketing aspects needs just as much focus as the writing.
The days where you could write a book, stick it on Amazon, and readers would come are long gone. You need to be on the ball every day and promote your work. Writing talent alone doesn’t cut it.
I believe that is why we are seeing differences.
Do you have any advice for first-time authors?
I do, and I talk about it in this YouTube video:
Can you tell us about your road to publication? What do you find most challenging about being a self-published author?
I have worked in corporate for so long that the business side of being self-published comes quite natural to me and I think I drive that part pretty well. The writing itself is where I put my focus and energy towards development.
Writing a novel is not the same as creating power points. That much is certain.
Please, tell us about your experiences with social media. What are your favorite and least-favorite parts of it?
I don’t know if I have any least favorite parts. I accept that it’s something you have to active and consistent with. To some that is a challenge and I could presume that is part why some dislike it. I don’t.
How much research was involved in writing your book? How did you go about it?
It was more worldbuilding than actual research. I did a lot of worldbuilding and caught “worldbuilders disease” once or twice in the process.
I just love the worldbuilding so much that I have to restrain myself to not keep going. In creating Erisdün, the setting for the Keystone Bone Trilogy, I definitely went too far. I have so much backstory that will never be used.
Oh well, I had fun creating it.
Thank you so much, Jesper, for answering all my questions. It was great getting to know you even better and congratulations on your new release!
Say “Hi!” to Jesper yourself at the links below and tell him you found him on my blog! 😉
Jesper has always loved creating. Yet, the art of writing was something that lived a quiet life, in the back of his mind, for many years. And there he left it. Half-forgotten. For a long time.
Check out Jesper’s new fantasy release, Desolation, at http://www.jesperschmidt.com/books/
Find Jesper on
And discover free behind the scenes of the Keystone Bone Trilogy at: