“S. Evan Townsend has been called “America’s Unique Speculative Fiction Voice” and writes novels that cause thrills and rapid page-turning. After spending four years in the U.S. Army in the Military Intelligence branch, he returned to civilian life and college to earn a B.S. in Forest Resources from the University of Washington. In his spare time he enjoys reading, driving (sometimes on a racetrack), meeting people, and talking with friends. He is in a 12-step program for Starbucks addiction. Evan lives in central Washington State with his wife and has three grown sons. He enjoys science fiction, fantasy, history, politics, cars, and travel. He currently has five published fantasy and science fiction novels” (Amazon).
Q. I was happy to win a copy of your “Hammer of Thor” earlier this year, so I was introduced to your wonderful writing that way. How many ‘book giveaways’ (via Rafflecopter, et cetera) do you participate in annually? Do you believe that they’re a must for writers nowadays?
A. I do a quarterly book giveaway on my webpage (www.sevantownsend.com). I also occasionally participate in giveaways with my publisher and for friends. I would guess I do about eight to ten a year.
I did giveaways on Goodreads for Agent of Artifice and Rock Killer and while doing so got me on a lot of “To be read” lists, I don’t know if it sold any books.
In today’s market with millions of competing authors out there, book giveaways are just one tool in the author’s box. Marketing needs to be multi-faceted with Facebook, Twitter, a good blog, a good website, and other social media including giveaways. And don’t forget to use any opportunity you can to get in front of the public to get your name out, including book signings and readings.
I don’t know if book giveaways are a “must” but they are a good way to draw attention and gain readers or followers. I do know that I have sold other copies of my books because I have given away other books and then the readers want to see my other works.
Q. Please give readers a synopsis of “Hammer of Thor,” and tell us your inspiration for writing it.
A. Hammer of Thor is set between 1932 and 1950, with the Great Depression, World War II, and the Korean War as background. Francis Kader is an “adept,” a person able to manipulate his world and other people. He becomes involved in a Nazi plot to gather the world’s strongest talismans to help the Germans win the war, including the Hammer of Thor. Kader’s problems become even worse when Thor comes back for the Hammer. Can a mere mortal defeat an immortal god?
My inspiration for writing Hammer of Thor? That’s a very good question. In the early 2000s I was thinking about war since the U.S. suddenly found itself at war in lands different and distant from our own. And I thought the last “good” war was World War II, in that we knew who the bad guys were and he had simple objectives: the destruction of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. The whole country got behind the effort and mobilized for war. And I wondered how people who had powers beyond that of normal humans would react and what if they were, somehow, drawn into the war effort. And it grew from there.
Q. Do you have fun writing the ‘baddies’ into your novels? How do you go about making them multi-dimensional? Do you set up extensive character profiles first?
A. Someone once asked me “What do your villain’s friends like about him/her?” And I had to think about that because if he doesn’t have any friends, or good qualities, then he is not “multi-dimensional” but more of a cartoon or a cardboard cutout.
The important thing to remember about baddies is that they have motivations just like your heroes. And, more often or not, they think they are on the side of good and righteousness, at least from their perspective. If you can put yourself in their mind so you can see their motivation—”Yes, protecting the Third Reich from those invading allies will help keep the glory of Germany alive”—then you can make them multidimensional and interesting.
And yes, writing baddies is fun, if you make them interesting people.
Q. Do you worry about things like your social networking sites’ growth (in numbers) or attrition (numbers-wise), or do you think what’s really important is the group of readers you’re directly connecting with? Something else?
A. Well, being a bit OCD and trained as an engineer, yes, I worry about the numbers: followers, unfollowers, likes, RTs, Klout score. But it’s not about the numbers it’s about the relationships. As a writer you want to make relations on social media for that’s how you’ll get reviews, guest blog posts, and, eventually, readers.
Q. Focusing on your book entitled “Gods of Strife” (which was just released on May 15th), what obstacles, in terms of things, must your protagonist overcome? Which antagonist is the biggest obstacle?
A. Gods of Strife is set in 1976 and my protagonist, Peter Branton, must deal with new emerging technology, including an early version of the internet called “ARPANET.” But the bigger problem is, someone wants him dead and is sending a beautiful, shape-shifting assassin to do the job. When he finds out that is a Greek god who is trying to kill him, he must team up with a mysterious warrior and his would-be assassin to overcome.
Q. Now for a fun question: Which overused phrase should all writers avoid?
A. In their writing, authors should avoid any and all overused phrases. If you can’t think of a new way to say something, you need to work on your writing skills.
One phrase that I see a lot I wish writers would avoid is “Buy My Book.” That won’t sell books. Making relationships will sell books.
Q. Great advice! So, what’s on the horizon for the remainder of 2014?
A. I just finished a science fiction novel called Treasure of the Black Hole where I take the hard-boiled detective novel of the 1940s and ’50s and move it about 3,000 years into the future. I take the tropes and language of those novels and put them in a science fiction setting with multiple species and high technology. What is the treasure of the black hole and why is it worth killing for?
I’m in edits of a fifth (!) Adept Series novel. This one is set in 1881 so it is a fantasy/western mashup. I haven’t thought of a title for it yet but Abel Lewis leaves the comforts of San Francisco to investigate reports of lithomancy and comes face-to-face with rock monsters bent on destroying him.
Q. Looking forward to reading that one, too! Where can readers go to connect with you and your work?
A. I’m all over the place.
My webpage: http://www.seventownsend.com has links to where you can buy my work and excerpts from my published works.
My blog (blog.sevantownsend.com) has my random thoughts on writing, cars, science, or whatever strikes me that day. I also nearly every Friday do a bit of flash fiction.
I’m on Twitter at: @SEvanTownsend
I’m on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SEvanTownsend
My Amazon page is http://www.amazon.com/S.-Evan-Townsend/e/B004B3DRFM/
Thank you so much for this opportunity!
My pleasure! Anytime.