Interview with Fantasy Author Grant Goodman
It is time to meet another author. Yay!
Today I’m hosting fantasy author Grant Goodman. I think you are going to love his books, they are full of adventure with a kick! But I don’t want to give anything away, so let’s jump straight to the interview.
The Warm Up Questions!
Welcome to Autumn Books, Grant! So happy to have you stop by. To start us out, tell us what something we might be surprised to know about you?
My first job was teaching martial arts. While my friends had jobs at restaurants or videogame stores or bakeries, I was teaching elementary school kids how to block, punch, and kick. It taught me a ton about patience, friendliness, and practice.
And, I think, came in very useful for your books based on what I’ve seen! Care to brag about your family?
Definitely! My parents kept me supplied with a steady stream of books and magazines while I was growing up. Because of them, I read a ton of stories with dragons and wizards and rocket ships. My literary background is built on: the Dragonlance Legends Trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, The Martian Chronicles, and A Wizard of Earthsea.
Also, I know that my parents didn’t believe me when I said that some of the videogames they bought me had amazing stories in them, but I swear it’s true! Playing Final Fantasy VI was a life-changing experience.
My parents are the reason why imagination was always well-fed and I wouldn’t be the writer I am today without them.
My younger brother, Chad, inhabits a different part of the arts world: classical music. He lives in San Francisco and heads a music group, Elevate Ensemble, that plays forgotten gems from the masters and also works with modern composers to create stunning new music. Chad’s work ethic is unreal and sometimes, when I’m struggling to muster the motivation to open up my latest rough draft, I remind myself of all the work he puts into his ventures, and that gets me back on track.
Your family does sound amazing and talented! I love that your parents were so supportive of reading and what you read. I had to sneak my Dragonlance books to my room. lol! Speaking of sneaking, if you were stranded on a desert island, what three books would you want with you?
#1: Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. This is my absolute favorite novel of all time. I’ve read it more times than any other novel I own. The story of the fireman, Guy Montag, who goes from burning books to trying to understand them, has some of the most powerful moments I’ve ever encountered—and that includes everything I’ve seen in movies, television, and music.
#2: Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind. It is wizard school and demon hunting and world traveling and fragmented mythology all woven together. There are only a few books that changed my understanding of what fantasy literature could (and should) be. This is one of them.
#3: Darren Shan’s A Living Nightmare (Cirque du Freak, Book 1). I wouldn’t be writing for a young audience if I hadn’t read Darren Shan. His young adult vampire saga is a whirlwind tale of friendship, sacrifice, loss, and redemption.
Wow. I hadn’t heard of the last two, but I think I have to check them out now. Thank you! That was it for the warm up.
Time to hit the hard questions!
I hear you have some very exciting news! Can you share it with us?
2016 was the first time that one of my Agent Darcy and Ninja Steve novels (Tiger Trouble!) hit number one in the Kindle store! When I started the series, I knew that I wanted to write fantasy adventures that were inspired by all the cartoons and anime that I love, but I had no idea if anyone else would want to read them.
#1! Congratulations! That is such a super feeling (and worth a dozen screenshots!). I think all authors hope that readers will love our books, but when something takes off it is such an over the top and humbling experience. What have you found are the special challenges in writing a series?
For me, the hardest part is having to narrow down my ideas for each novel. I have this world full of ninjas, spies, robots, and ghosts, and each novel only allows for so much exploration before it becomes too much.
I do big brainstorming sessions about what cool, fun places my characters should explore and then I have to whittle it down to 3 or 4 in order to keep things manageable.
The rest of them get put aside for future short stories.
That sounds like a good method! Were you “born to write” or did you discover your passion for writing later in life?
My third grade teacher, Mrs. Lorenz, had us do creative writing workshops all through the school year. That was when I discovered how much I liked making my own stories.
The first one I ever wrote was called “Mr. Spider” and it was—surprise!—about a spider who could talk. The next story I wrote took Mr. Spider and gave him super powers, turning him into Super Spider. I took a lot of inspiration from the Spiderman cartoon. And by “took a lot of inspiration from,” I mean “completely copied.”
For the rest of the year, I kept writing stories about the adventure of Super Spider. I think my parents still have those old stories in a box somewhere…
Lol. I bet your parents do too. They will bring them out someday! Writing stories based on something that inspired us is a great way to start. Look where you are now. 🙂 And speaking of now, there are so many conflicting opinions out there about everything related to publishing: e-book pricing, book promotion, social media usage etc. How do you sort through it all to figure out what works best for you?
I’ve learned to try out a little bit of everything in order to see what works.
In the beginning, it was so easy to get wrapped up in day-to-day stress about my books. I’d be worrying about how many people clicked on my Goodreads ads, who signed up for my mailing list, whether or not it was worth it to put a book on SmashWords, whether to advertise with email services like FreeBooksy or The Fussy Librarian.
I was trying to do everything at once, to follow every single piece of advice from every single author blog. It’s an impossible task and it immediately dooms you to failure—or at least feeling like you’ve failed because you haven’t done it all.
Once I learned to shrug off that pressure, it was easier to have fun again. And that was the goal at the start of everything: to have fun.
Loving it and having fun is what makes being an author sustainable. I’d rather be writing than any 9-5 job, even if it paid mega-bucks. Guess we are all a little crazy about our passions. Have you received reactions/feedback to your work that has surprised you? In what way?
A few weeks ago, I got an email from a parent who said their elementary schooler decided to wear all black to school so that he could be like Ninja Steve. That was amazing!
I’ve also received some truly wonderful comments from readers who have won my Goodreads giveaways. (I try to do one giveaway every month.) Whenever a total stranger reads your work and enjoys it enough to leave a comment on Goodreads or Amazon, that’s one of the coolest feelings around.
You should run a contest with pictures. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a little album of kids that love your work and dress like the characters?? It sounds like things are going well. You mentioned that you do Goodreads giveaways. What else have you done to market your novel and what did you find the most effective? The least effective?
First, I made my e-books into Kindle exclusives, because that gave me the most advertising power on the platform that brought me the most readers.
Then, I signed up for Amazon’s advertising program and took out a “Sponsored Product” ad, which will get your cover and a short tagline displayed in a “Sponsored Products” section. It costs a few cents whenever someone clicks on your ad, so I set a budget limit of $2 per day.
Then, I went through the top 100 Kindle books for Children’s Fantasy and Magic, Children’s Spy Novels, and Children’s Humor categories. I took out pay-per-click ads for every keyword that connected with every book and author that I thought had a close connection to Agent Darcy and Ninja Steve.
Finally, I booked a promotion for the FreeBooksy email newsletter and set up a free Kindle download of Agent Darcy and Ninja Steve in…Tiger Trouble! that would run at the exact same time the email newsletter went out.
Those steps, right there, have connected me to far more readers than any other methods I’ve invested time or money in.
Good tips. How about a different form of advertising: If you were to advertise your book on a bumper sticker, what would it say?
The official Agent Darcy and Ninja Steve bumper stickers would have silhouettes of Agent Darcy and Ninja Steve throwing jump kicks. Below them, it would read:
SECRET MISSIONS. SPIN-KICKS. SINISTER VILLAINS.
Hmmmm. Maybe I should actually make those into posters.
I think you should! Well that wraps up our interview, but we aren’t done. Grant has a super secret (okay, not really, but all the ninja and spy stuff inspired me!) link to the first 50ish pages of book 1, Tiger Trouble!
Grant Goodman never stopped watching cartoons or reading about magic. He is fueled by Welcome to Night Vale podcasts, pan-fried dumplings, and Final Fantasy soundtracks.