Interview With Author Zathyn Priest
On Top Down Under is thrilled to welcome author Zathyn Priest. Most know that Cindi’s first book in the M/M genre was one of Zathyn’s so it’s only appropriate to invite him to pop in, don’t you think? So give him a huge welcome and check out his brand new release, Amara: The Rebirth, that was published on April 17, 2014, by MLR Press.
You can find Cindi’s 5 star review of Amara: The Rebirth here.
Zathyn Priest is an Australian writer with severe vampiric tendencies. Absolutely convinced the sun could turn him to a pile of ash, Zathyn prefers to write under the cover of darkness. This serves two purposes, with the first being the afore mentioned sunlight danger, and the second being the fact that nighttime means no annoying phones ringing or people knocking at the door.
Zathyn has written three published novels using this strange moonlight technique. The Curtis Reincarnation, The Slayer’s Apprentice and Liquid Glass. He has also written three short fiction works. The Statue, Left of Centre, and One of Those Days.
Zathyn lives with two greyhounds called Chrissy and Eldon, a cat called Fran, and a duck called Charlie.
Cindi: Welcome to On Top Down Under Book Reviews, Zathyn. Kazza K and I are happy that you will be spending some time with us.
ZP: Thank you for inviting me! The pleasure is all mine.
Cindi: Because you were warned in advance, I’m going to start off with your first published novel, The Curtis Reincarnation. I’m a good stalker, um, fan, so I know there may be more to Alec and Jordan’s story at some point. How much angst will these poor guys have to go through before they finally get their true happily-ever-after? Break it to me gently. I adore these guys.
ZP: There will be a marriage break-up.
Oh… you said gently? Sorry.
If the sequel sees the light of day then there are going to be problems for them. Their relationship was very rushed in the first book and they married fast. It makes sense to me there would be major issues considering Alec’s rockstar/celebrity status. They’ll get a HEA, but not until a dose of reality.
The reason I say if with the sequel is I won’t let it leave my hands unless I’m 110% happy with it. The Curtis Reincarnation has its own kind of cult following and, to be honest, I feel writing a sequel could be a detrimental move. The story I want to write may not be the story readers want. I’ve always been asked to write a sequel, and I always said no. I didn’t have a solid enough plot to go with. Then an idea struck me, sub-plots wound into that idea, and I thought perhaps there was a sequel in it after all.
Bottom line is, it’s all very up in the air at the moment. I have started writing it, and I’m not happy with it. It’s nowhere near completion, and nowhere near satisfying me as good enough. At the moment I’m working on another novel and the Curtis sequel has been shelved.
Cindi: On top of your books, there is also your art, a lot of which makes it on your (and other) book covers. A lot of folks don’t know that you are Scarlet Tie Designs. What would you like to tell the readers about it? I have scrolled through your covers on the site, and read your books with the art in them, and have been blown away.
ZP: Thank you!
I rediscovered my love of art when I took a break from writing. I knew nothing about digital art, but I saw beautiful images on the internet and I wanted to do the same. So I taught myself how to use DAZ 3D and Photoshop over the last three years. The magical thing for me in regards to 3D programs such as DAZ and Poser is that I can model the characters from my books exactly the way I imagine them. Being able to do this gave me back the desire to write again, which I’d lost.
From there it was kind of a natural progression into designing book covers. Mainly I stick to designing pre-made covers, and this is due to custom cover art being so time consuming. There are a plethora of pre-made cover art websites out there, but Scarlet Tie Designs is one of the few offering original artworks rather than stock-photo manipulation. All the original artwork on the Scarlet Tie Designs website has been done by me.
Cindi: One thing I have always respected about your work is how you integrate real topics into your stories that some authors shy away from. In The Statue and Left of Centre, mental illness is a very important part of each story. In The Curtis Reincarnation there are Alec’s seizures and other issues. These are very serious topics, but you bring them out in each story without sounding preachy to the reader. Why is this so important to you?
ZP: Because none of us are perfect. There can be amazing beauty in imperfection, but sometimes people can be fearful of the unknown. I don’t want to write about perfect people and, possibly, risk making anyone feel inferior while in their presence. I want a reader to connect with my characters, to relate to them, to empathise with them, and to learn from them as well. I don’t ever want to sound preachy, and I’m thrilled it doesn’t come across that way. Truthfully, though, there is an intention for these stories to enlighten as well as entertain.
Most of the things I’ve written about, I’ve experienced in one way or another. Either personally, through someone I know, or it’s something I’ve witnessed. I draw a lot from real life events when I write.
Cindi: I was truly touched by your dedication in The Statue. By the time I got involved in the story, I was in tears. You tend to have the reader giggling one minute and crying ugly tears the next. Amara made me laugh more than once, but yet the story is quite serious. The same applies to your other books (and yes, I’ve read them all). Between Bec in The Curtis Reincarnation, Emrys in Amara and Alex and Ric in One of Those Days, you have to either have a good sense of humor in the real world or appreciate those who do. Am I right?
ZP: I’m quirky and my sense of humour reflects that. Writing comedy is not easy, and naturally what I think is funny won’t please everyone. I’ve been writing MM fiction for… ooh… five or six years, and I have to admit – coyly – that I like the fact I’m recognised equally for the humour aspects of my stories as I am for the drama.
I worked with a mentor for two and a half years prior to writing anything for publication, and one of her great pieces of advice was, ‘Never exhaust a reader with negative emotion or they’ll close the book’. It’s great advice, and I’ve always remembered it. No matter how angst ridden, depressing, or downright horrible a fictional situation is, give the reader a break from it. Give them a laugh, let them breathe, recover, and give them time to prepare for the next emotional upheaval. Because in real life no one is ever entirely consumed by one event, and fictional characters should (in my opinion) replicate that.
Cindi: Now we get to Amara: The Rebirth, the long-awaited novel that was just released by MLR Press. I was one of the many who followed the story when it was on your website so I was already familiar with the characters and the story long before it was completed and published.
(I promise I didn’t curse the author too bad when it was taken down….. )
Emrys Amara is the only survivor of the Amara vampire clan. A teenager when he was turned, he still has the teenage mentality in some ways, yet he is over two-hundred years old and is a very powerful vampire. Tell us about Emrys and his story.
ZP: Don’t judge me too harshly for taking the story down. I can’t remember how many chapters I published on my blog – maybe nine or ten? – and then I was alerted to the fact it had been plagiarised over on another website. Each time I uploaded chapter, it was stolen and used on a fanfic site. This was the second time I’d been plagiarised, with the first being The Curtis Reincarnation, also on a fanfic website. Unfortunately, due to this, I no longer trust putting any lengthy WIPs or snippets online.
Emrys had an interesting beginning, and it wasn’t in Amara: The Rebirth. He was originally the main character in another WIP called Dystopia. During the first (and now discarded) first draft of Dystopia, the character of Ambrose was a five feet one pale skinned, dark-haired young man who transformed into a scarlet-haired vampire named Emrys by night. His love interest was a Catholic priest, Father Nathan Sterling. About halfway through the first draft of Dystopia, I wrote a diary entry for Vampire Emrys, set in the 1700s.
The character of Ambrose in Dystopia was replaced with raven haired, coffee-skinned, six feet tall, androgynous beauty. The diary entry I wrote is now the beginning of Amara: The Rebirth, Emrys got his own story, and Dystopia was rewritten completely.
Another thing I’ve always respected about you as an author is that you are more about quality than quantity. Before Amara: The Rebirth, The Statue was released in May of 2012 and before that, Liquid Glass in February of 2010. While I know quite a few damn good authors who publish more frequently, I find the time between your stories has me that much more eager to jump into one when it is released. Anything you want to say about your writing process?
ZP: I wrote The Curtis Reincarnation, The Slayer’s Apprentice, Liquid Glass, Left of Centre, and One of Those Days all fairly close together. They may have been published at a later date, but they were written one after the other. I didn’t take a breath from the time I started writing ‘Curtis’. Then I burned out.
There were health problems and I took time away to recover. I had to do serious soul searching and figure out if I’d return to writing for publication. The decision I made was no, and for over three years I didn’t write a thing. The joy was gone and I didn’t think I’d ever get it back. But then I wrote The Statue and dipped my toe back into the writing world again. It’s been very slow going, though.
I’ll never be a prolific writer and that’s okay with me now. I’ve learned to accept it and not pitch myself against other authors who are prolific.
ZP: WIPs? There are a few, and Amara: The Rebirth is intended to be more than one book. I already have ideas for the next one, which has a working title of Amara: Retribution. I don’t give estimations on when a WIP will be finished. They’re done when they’re done. And, if they don’t get finished, or they don’t meet my standards when they are finished, then they won’t leave my hands.
Actually, The Curtis Reincarnation sequel was written and finished about eighteen months ago. A novella, rather than a novel, called Fight or Flight. A week prior to self-publishing it, I pulled the plug on it.
Cindi: Again, thank you so much, Zathyn, for stopping by On Top Down Under. It has been a true pleasure having you visit with us. I will continue to
stalk follow you to find out when your next book will be released.
ZP: Thank YOU!