Author Interview: Ray Zdan



Q: What inspires you? 
A: At that time, I was living in London and had a lengthy daily commute to my work in Kent. It began as a mere attempt to improve my language skills and to kill some time. Then, a dozen of pages later, it got a spark which I couldn’t ignore – the text began a life of its own, and I found myself as an amused observer, keen to find out what was waiting behind the corner. I wasn’t a novice in writing, but my latest attempts were in high school (now I am over 50) and in my native Lithuanian. This adventure took me like a blaze. In a matter of a few months, the story grew into length over 600 pages, and I realised that I had to stop or place a comma, at least. This is how it happened. There was no plotting, no creating of the world – it just got out as it is, and I am still wondering what exactly inspired the first book of the Sleeper Chronicles.

In fact, the book can’t be labelled as pure fantasy. The story is a hybrid of modern adventure and fantasy, and I think I need to make it, even more, intertwining in subsequent books of the series. I have partially explored only one of the eleven kingdoms in the fantasy world in the first book. And I will need an in-depth study of religion and history of the world, which has much more to offer than only the medieval society, magic and struggles for power. I hope it will be amazing.


Q: What was the hardest part of writing your book?  
A: The story came out as the inner monologue, written in the first-person narrative. While it serves well its purpose to gradually introduce the world to the reader by making small discoveries along the text rather than flat statements of facts about the geography or customs, the inner monologue, on the other hand, makes very hard to introduce or characterise the main protagonist adequately. For example, the main character’s name in London was first mentioned on page 23, and it took 153 pages to find out how he is called in the fantasy world. That may sound ridiculous, but how often you are calling yourself by name in your inner monologue? I have a massive debt to Kyleb – I forced him from his secure self-alienating shell into a vast world (he was able to explore a minuscule part of it, in fact), making him an observer more than an actuator. I will have to pay it back, I guess.

Q: Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two? 
A: Of course, intuition is the dominating force in my writing. That doesn’t mean there is no logic, but it is secondary only, filling the gaps left by intuition. The writing process may seem chaotic from the outside, as ideas, sentences, situations and expressions may find me anywhere, most frequently at my job, when I could permit myself a few moments only to write them down. That is how the intuition works. Things are simpler with logic – I need a long walk in my free time to kick-start it working, and I am able to sort the connections, to refine the plots or think about interactions. I found that my desk at home is the least suitable place for creative writing. This is my paradox, but every person functions differently.

Q: What are some ways in which you promote your work? Do you find that these add to or detract from your writing time?
A: There are none at the moment. I am a shy person and don’t like to shout from the roofs. I clearly understand, that without promotion my book feels orphaned and lost somewhere in the depths of Amazon distribution network, but I still feel quite uncomfortable in speaking about it. I made a few unsuccessful attempts to find professionals who could help me with promotion but ended with endless newsletters, tutorials and guides for strategies which I have no time to read and not going to implement. The experience was frustrating, confusing, took considerable time and, of course, distracted me from writing.

Q: What projects are you working on at present?
A: I am working on five separate stories in the Sleeper Chronicles series simultaneously, which feels quite amusing and entertaining. Only one of them is a direct sequel to the Sparkles of Blue and Kyleb’s adventures. The other one is exploring the history of the fantasy world, while three others introduce several new exciting characters from kingdoms other than Chadrack.

Q: What do you like to read in your free time?
A: My all-time favourite author is Roger Zelazny. I gladly read and re-read his books when I have some free time and find it both interesting and entertaining. With the same passion, I am enjoying works of Ursula LeGuin, Ray Bradbury and Thornton Wilder. I have tried several well-known contemporary authors, but sadly they haven’t made it to my all-time favourite list.

Q: Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?
A: I am a medical professional. I am feeling lucky about this since I would be starving if to rely solely on writing without book promotion. Despite paying my bills, there are some more advantages in my profession which give me an understanding of human anatomy, physiology and psychology. There are disadvantages as well – sometimes I catch myself getting too graphic and insufficiently emotional.  

About the Author

Ray Zdan is a pen name, a fictional personality, therefore has no bio or photos.