Axioms of Light

Interview With Ben Hale: Fantasy, Writing, And 50,000 Years

I recently had a great interview with Ben Hale, author of the Lumineia Chronicles. I discovered Ben’s first book, Elseerian, in 2013 and bought the audiobook. It grabbed me right from the beginning and my family has enjoyed that first series greatly.

You can buy his new book, Flesh of War, on Amazon.

JC: First off, thank you for taking some time with me. I know many of my readers are interested in YA fantasy and since 2012, you’ve had a great run. Congrats! I believe Flesh of War is your 11th book in 3 years. Perhaps we could start with a list of all your works, in order of release.

BH: My first series is titled The Second Draeken War, and contains Elseerian, The Gathering, Seven Days, and The List Unseen. The series takes place in the fantasy world of Lumineia, and details the events surrounding a tremendous war that forces every race to unite.

My second series takes place 10,000 years later, and the fantasy world has evolved into modern day Earth. At that point all the fantasy elements have gone into hiding. (Similar to Harry Potter or Percy Jackson.) Starting with Assassin’s Blade, a short story prequel, The White Maga Saga contains a total of six titles. In order they are Assassin’s Blade, The Last Oracle, The Sword of Elseerian, Descent Unto Dark, Impact of the Fallen, and The Forge of Light.

I HOPE TO SPAN 50,000 YEARS, 40 BOOKS, AND 8-10 MINISERIES.

My new series returns to the previous time and follows a character that is a fan favorite. As one of the rock trolls, Tryton is born into a culture that forges them into the very Flesh of War.

JC: That is quite a prolific list in a short period of time. Tell us a little about your new book, Flesh of War, and where it fits in with the rest of your books.

BH: The Flesh of War is a unique story that takes place before the events of The Second Draeken War. Whereas most fantasy follows a human, dwarf, or elf, the principle character is a rock troll. Although his entire people have been bred for war, he seeks a different life. Writing from a troll’s perspective was as interesting as I had hoped, and expands the world of Lumineia even further.

The cover for Flesh of War is very captivating. Really draws me in. Who does your covers?

At this point I have done most of my covers myself. I used a trusted friend for my first several covers, but when he could no longer continue I decided to learn Photoshop and do them myself. I love how they come out, but they take a great deal of time to complete.

They say you wear a lot of hats as a self-publisher, but you happen to learn a great deal from as well from all that effort. Now you have mad Photoshop skills as a result.

JC: What do you like best about your newest entry to the fantasy genre?

BH: The character. Tryton, is such an incredibly powerful character, not just as a warrior, but as a person. He is the type of character that impacts the people around him by his very presence. His actions ultimately have the power to change his people in a way that will last for thousands of years. He has such strength of character that the entire world is made better because of this trilogy.

JC: What do you feel your works contribute to the genre?

BH: As with any fantasy series, similarities are inevitable. Cliché’s exist because they are great fiction. That said, the overall concept to my series is unique. As a Timeline Fantasy, The Chronicles of Lumineia connect epic fantasy with modern in the same world and timeline. Each mini-series will detail the events of specific points in time, allowing the story and characters to feel fresh while still linking to the overall plot. When finished, I hope to span 50,000 years, 40 books, and 8-10 miniseries. I outline extensively, so there are plot threads that will connect all the books, and I already wrote clues into all of them.

JC: That’s a serious endeavor! I’d say you’re well on your way, but it’s interesting that you aren’t even halfway to your goal and you’ve still been very prolific with a good deal of success. It will be very interesting to watch the evolution of your writing career with all that you have planned.

Growing up, and currently, who inspired you? Favorite authors? What book are you reading right now?

BH: I like anything that is well written. I’ve read many of the classics, and wish I had time to read more of them. Since I have five children under the age of 9, my schedule is very tight. I usually only read a book or two a year. The last one I read was the second in the Stormlight books, by Brandon Sanderson. Very good read.

JC: I actually just reread the second Words of Radiance and I couldn’t agree more. Where does the inspiration for your books come from? Are you like me and have to get up to write at 2 AM if the muse strikes?

BH: Inspiration comes from everywhere, but I like to play video games for “research”. The plot is engaging and the action is very visual, allowing for plenty of great thoughts. Many times I will participate in a similar thing in order to write a scene better. Snowboard helped me write the flying air boards in The White Mage Saga, and rock climbing was perfect to get in the head of Taryn when he climbed the Giant’s Shelf. In reality, I use writing as an excuse to play, and my wife lets me because she likes to play too. We hit the slopes together and play co-op Diablo 3. It’s the best inspiration I could ask for.

JC: From the looks of things, you’re putting out about 3 books a year. How do you structure your writing sessions? Do you have a specific place you like to write? Average words per session?

BH: When I write, I do 2,000 words a day. When I edit, I try to average editing 75 pages a day. I do 13 drafts during the editing process in order to perfect the story as much as possible. For now, my office is in my Master Bedroom. When we bought our current house we had two kids. Three kids later, I’ve been exiled to the bedroom to write. I hope after we move I have an office again.

JC: Are you a discovery writer, detailed outliner, or somewhere in between?

BH: Detailed outliner, hands down. In order to keep my plot lines accurate across multiple series and points in time, I have to outline extensively. It does make the books feel bigger than they are, because I reference events that I haven’t written yet.

JC: Having all that planned out and seeds planted does give a feeling of “epicness.” What is success to you as an author? What makes it worthwhile?

BH: That’s a difficult question to answer because it depends on the writer. For me success is two things, inspiring readers, and making a living from my writing. I’ve been fortunate to see that one leads to the other.

JC: I’m always interested in the stats of ebooks vs. physical books. If you don’t mind sharing, what are your sales ratios like in that respect?

BH: I don’t mind sharing at all. Currently I sell 85% ebook, 10% audio, and 5% print. That may be because I push the digital much more. My audio has done well because my producer has done a great job, and the narrator is incredible. He has a British accent, which is always great with fantasy.

JC: It’s true. British narrators are some of the best for fantasy to my ears as well. To date, what has been the greatest experience as an author?

BH: That would be a tie. Working from home is incredible, but so is meeting fans of my work. Talking with avid readers is amazing, especially ones that want to read worlds they can immerse themselves into.

JC: What advice would you give those who are still trying to crank out that first manuscript? To those who have published but are struggling to find a wide readership?

BH: Writing can be fun, exhilarating, and rewarding, but it’s also work. Before I published my first book I had invested over $5,000, and thousands of hours into writing and editing. If you want to make a career in writing, be prepared to work hard at it. Keep writing, learning, and networking to give you the best shot.

JC: It’s commonly said that your first half a million words are practice for an author. To that end, do you have any manuscripts in the attic, gathering dust bunnies, that you hope no one ever sees?

BH: I don’t, actually. I spent fifteen years outlining my books and my series, and never intended on writing it. Most of the errors I could have made I corrected in that time frame. When I finally did start writing the story was complete. Grammar is still a challenge, but that’s why I chose such a great editor. As much as we might think that writing is a solitary occupation, we can’t do it alone.

JC: That is wisdom there. I have found that to be undeniably true. Editors, fans, family, fellow authors—all have made a positive impact in my writing that I could not have achieved alone.

Lastly, would Chewbacca or Iron Man fit better as a character in your next book? Why?

BH: Iron Man. I like to blend fantasy with reality, blurring the line between what is real, and what is plausible. Aside from the fantasy elements, my second series even has Navy Seals and Marines. Our lives on Earth might be grounded, but that doesn’t mean our minds have to be.

Thanks, Ben, for taking the time. May success continue to be yours.

My award-winning, #1 bestselling book, Circle of Reign, is available on Amazon and Audible.

Altar of Influence: The Orsarian War on Amazon and Audible.

My two short stories, The Red Grove and Remnants and Shadows, are also available on Amazon and Audible.

TAGGED: ALTAR OF INFLUENCE, BEN HALE, CIRCLE OF REIGN, DYING LANDS, ELSEERIEN, FANTASY, FLESH OF WAR, JACOB COOPER, LUMINEIA, WHITE MAGE, WRITING TIPS