Carpinello's Writing Pages welcomes Charles W. Yallowitz. a YA author that I ran across on the Internet. Yes, I do troll looking for new and interesting authors to introduce to my readers.
First, a bit about Charles:
Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. Legends of Windemere is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
Why did you pick to write books for YA?
To be honest, I wasn’t aware of the age-based genres when I started writing Legends of Windemere. I had already set my sights on being an author, and my previous stories were written when I was a teenager. This led to many of the themes coming from my own experiences, thoughts, and goals. When I got into college, I began to designing my series, and this carried over with my heroes being in the 18-20 age range. I figured it was only natural that they would act like teenagers to some extent, which is why there’s a lot of attention toward finding one’s path, and my heroes make plenty of mistakes. It wasn’t until a few years before I began self-publishing that I heard about YA, which people told me I had already been writing in.
I prefer writing these types of books because I think a lot of people can relate to the common YA theme of carving out an identity and discovering your place in the world. Our real life adventures aren’t as grandiose as the ones in fantasy books, but they can hit the same milestones and setbacks. So there’s a connection that most people can make with characters that find themselves in a transition mindset.
What types of books do you like to read?
When I do get time to read, I go for fantasy and science fiction. Most of my library falls into these two categories. That and manga, which is what I read when I don’t have a lot of free time, but want to take a break from reality. I’m drawn into stories that have great characters both in the primary and secondary roles. A fun hero or sidekick can get me to follow a series for a lot longer than a roller coaster plot or most anything else.
When you are not writing, what do you like to do?
This is a harder question than I expected. It’s funny because writing was designated to a hobby for well over a decade, so I’m used to it taking over all of my free time. I used to play a lot of Dungeons & Dragons and videogames, but I haven’t indulged in those for a while. Mostly, I’m doing whatever my son wants to do. Could be watching movies, playing with Legos, playing whatever game he’s made up outside, or just goofing off. One of my favorite things to do is go to the zoo, which I try to do whenever I have the time and my son has off.
Tell us about Legends of Windemere: The Spirit Well and how the story came to be.
This is the 12th book of my big series, which probably has everybody running for the exit door now. I came up with Legends of Windemere when I was playing a Dungeons & Dragons game in college. It was my first time doing one that was more plot than ‘see monster/kill monster/loot ruins’, so I made a character named Luke Callindor. He had a personality similar to my own, and I wanted to use him beyond the game. Even more importantly, I saw a lot of potential for him to grow as a hero and character. This resulted in me asking the guy who ran the game and the other players if I could base a book off what we were doing. Everything rolled ahead after that with me using my weekends to create the world of Windemere. The series quickly deviated from the game, which ended before it could finish. This forced me to redesign a lot of what happened, and other stories that weren’t in the original medium turned up. Basically, everything after Book 7 (Sleeper of the Wildwood Fugue) has no inspiration other than what the book characters were evolving into.
As for The Spirit Well, it is the end of the Champion Temple part of the series. This kicks off the push for the finale with only 3 more books to be published. I treat it as a mood shift from the more positive, upbeat adventures to a slightly darker tone because the villains are going to increase their aggression. This volume also focuses on Dariana, who has managed to avoid the spotlight for a while. There’s a theme of her being forced to face her destiny and the consequences of her previous actions, which has always been in the series, but not to this extent.
Here's a peek at Legends of Windemere: The Spirit Well:
Born from the light and darkness, Dariana can no longer avoid her fate.
The final corrupted temple stands between the champions and Baron Kernaghan having their great battle. Only one problem: the Compass Key refuses to work with Dariana, who long ago wiped all memories of the Spirit Well from her mind. Now, they are forced to follow a trail of clues that Dariana’s former self left behind centuries ago. It is a path that will lead the champions into a part of their friend’s past that could tear them all apart.
Will the bonds of friendship be stronger than the call of blood?
Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.
I’ve written another series and just published a short story fantasy collection The Life and Times of Ichabod Brooks. It follows a man named Ichabod Brooks. He’s a seasoned adventurer, who simply wants to put food on the table for his wife and son. So, every story has him taking on a new job or challenge. It takes place in Windemere too, so I had fun putting in a few connections to the main books.
The other books are Crossing Bedlam and Chasing Bedlam, which are violent and curse-filled dystopian adventures that aren’t for kids. It takes place in a United States that has been cut off from the world and lost the government to a nuclear strike, so anarchy has taken over. The heroes are a young girl who has lost her mother and the serial killer she breaks out of prison to help her cross the country. Her goal in the first book is to honor her mother’s final wish and throw her ashes off the Golden Gate Bridge. Only problem is that she’s in New York City and there are gangs, cannibals, escaped zoo animals, and other dangers in the way. This was a series I started just for kicks and to simply let myself cut loose with ‘heroes’ that don’t really live up to the term.
What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?
I’m aiming to release the last 3 Legends of Windemere books by the end of the year. I already have them written, and Book 13 (Ritual of the Lost Lamb) will be out as soon as I receive the cover art. The last two only need to be edited. After that, I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do. I’ve been working on this series since 1999, and I have 30+ other ideas in a shelf full of notebooks. So, I have a lot of thinking to do on where I go next. Right now, I’m leaning toward a series that follows the rise of the Dawn Fangs, which are the incredibly powerful vampires of Windemere. They’ve garnered some curiosity from readers when they appear in the series, especially since they appear as characters instead of monsters. The Dawn Fangs live among the other species and have strict rules, so this series would reveal how such dangerous creatures came to be so civilized.
What advice do you have for other authors?
Always remember to have fun with what you’re doing. If you enjoy what you’re writing, then it will show in your words. This goes for promoting your books too. Be excited and have fun with all the interviews, tweets, posts, and whatever else you do to get people to give your books a chance. Positive energy brings people in. It’s also one of the hardest things to maintain because you will get negative reviews and criticism, so make sure you have a solid support system to pick you up if you stumble. This is where social media can really come in handy because the helpful hands don’t always come from family and pre-author friends.
Anything else you want readers to know?
My goal in writing is to bring people into the world and feel like they’re traveling with the characters. If I can get a reader to forget their worries for a bit and lose track of time with one of my adventures then I feel like I’ve done my job. To this end, I try to make a collection of flawed and human characters as well as a lush world that can be pictured as one reads along. This has also led to me writing in present tense because I wanted to make the stories read like they are happening in real time. Well, that’s what I say now. The truth is that I used to switch tenses in high school, and a teacher finally got me to stop. She told me to choose one and stick with it, so I went with present tense because it made sense to me. The adventures were happening in my head as I wrote, so that’s how they came out. It wasn’t until I published my first book that I learned it wasn’t a common, or even respected, writing style. Yet, it’s where I feel most comfortable, and it makes my stories come alive. That’s another piece of advisor for authors: Do what feels right for you. What works for one author, might be a disaster for another.
Where can readers find you and your books?
I’m most active on my blog, Twitter, and Facebook:
Legends of Windemere Blog
All of my books can be found listed on my Amazon Author Page.
Amazon US: Legends of Windemere: The Spirit Well