It’s the first Friday in September (already?) and that means Halloween is almost here. That and it’s time to introduce September’s featured author Nicholas C. Rossis, author of the popular epic fantasy series Pearseus. He also hosts a blog on WordPress (mostly on writing, publishing and book marketing) in which he hosts guest posts and interviews and interacts with his readers. Also, he’s a friend of mine on WordPress and Twitter. Because of his strong presence on social media you might already know him, but if you don’t, you should!
Nicholas C. Rossis: was born in 1970 in Athens, Greece. He holds a doctorate in digital architecture from the University of Edinburgh, where he lived for a time before returning to Athens, where he currently lives with his wife, dog, and two very silly cats. (What author is complete without a cat?)
An avid reader and lover of books, Nicholas writes mostly fantasy, science fiction, as well as children’s books. He’s also had numerous science fiction short stories published in Greek magazines and in an anthology.
When he’s not reading or writing, you will find him working away at Istomedia, his web development company.
Be sure to check out his works, namely his epic fantasy series Pearseus and the science fiction short story collection, The Power of Six. (I’ve already purchased all three books in the Pearseus series for my Kindle, and I’m enjoying the story so far.)
On with the interview!!!
Lit Chic: What made you decide to become a writer?
Nicholas C. Rossis: Hmm… I don’t have an exact moment; it’s not like I was at a party and introduced myself to half the people as web developer, then went “oh, wait, I’d rather be a writer,” and introduced myself to the other half as writer.
In the words of Billy Crystal, “it’s a process,” and not an easy one, either. As I already have a career as web developer, I’d have to sell tens of thousands of books to make half of what I make through my books. Still, there comes a time when you realize your heart is now somewhere else. This happened to me a couple of years ago, and it meant it was time for a change.
Electra, my wife, jokes it’s just midlife crisis (I’m forty-five), and there is an element of truth in that. As you grow older, you start thinking less of exciting opportunities, and more of wasted ones. You ask yourself, “what would I rather be doing right now?” For me, the answer invariably was, “writing.” It’s the only thing that doesn’t include a little voice in the back of my head going, “this is not what you should be doing right now.”
Lit Chic: Tell me about your three book epic fantasy series Pearseus. What was the inspiration behind the series?
Nicholas C. Rossis: The concept of Pearseus came to me after reading Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, followed by Jim Lacey’s The First Clash and Herodotus’ Cyrus the Great and Rise of Persia, which describe the fatal battle on Marathon between Greece and Persia in the 5th century BC.
Marathon Bay is a 20’ drive from my home, and I’d often visited the tomb where the ancient Athenians buried their dead, so I thought at the time, “wouldn’t it be great if someone did what Martin did for medieval England, only with the story of Greece vs. Persia? And in space? How cool would that be?” Then it occurred to me: so, what’s stopping me from writing it?
Lit Chic: What are you hoping readers will get out of the series?
Nicholas C. Rossis:
If I can make people think about things and see them in a different light, I will have succeeded as an author. Pearseus has a lot of dialogue, much of it revolving around the characters’ beliefs, religions and philosophies. My heroes grow through what life throws at them. Warriors become pacifists, then they find themselves fighting again. Children lose their innocence to become tyrants. Men and women come together, then drift apart. I like to examine what makes people tick; why they do the things they do, and how their actions spring from their thoughts.
It is my deepest dream and hope that, in some small way, my characters’ stories, reflections and philosophical musings offer readers a new perspective on life, and that readers will continue to reflect upon them long after they’ve put the book down.
Lit Chic: Your series is at the top of Amazon’s sales charts. To what do you credit your success?
Nicholas C. Rossis: The charts only tell half the story, of course. My first book reached #1 on Amazon mainly due to two incredible free days last December, when over 3,000 copies were downloaded within a single weekend. I had advertised my books, but to this day have no idea why so many of them got downloaded then, compared to any other free days, when just 300 or even 30 people would download them.
So, as any writer will tell you, luck is a real thing when it comes to success. Luck, divine providence, karma; call it whatever you like. I write well enough, but I’ve seen much better writers than me sell fewer copies.
Having said that, I do put vast amounts of my time and energy in my books. This year, I have been working sixteen-hour days, splitting my time between writing and building my platform, so I’ve become a bit of a book marketing expert – you have to, when you self-publish. A platform helps, as does having friends and supporters. And, of course, you need to write a good story and to constantly hone your craft, for even the best marketer will struggle to sell a crappy book.
Lit Chic: You write children’s literature, fantasy, and sci-fi. Which genre is your favorite?
Nicholas C. Rossis: Much of the distinction between fantasy and science fiction seems arbitrary to me. I mean, both Pearseus and The Power of Six cross into epic fantasy, dark fantasy and science fiction. I love them equally, so this is like asking me to choose among my children!
Having said that, children’s books come naturally to me, probably because part of me steadfastly refuses to grow up! Also, I love the limitless imagination displayed by children, long before we lose our ability to suspend disbelief. Even fantasy and sci-fi, mistakenly considered easy on plausibility, cannot be compared to the artistic freedom a children’s book gives an author.
In fact, a children’s book is like a dream: it has its own, internal logic, but you’re free to say anything: “Then I stepped out of the train, and became a cloud. I wandered the skies for a million years, raining on crops and farmers, before heading back to the train station.”
Any adult would wrinkle their nose and go, “agriculture was only invented some ten thousand years ago, and there were definitely no train stations back then! Heck, homo sapiens only evolved a couple of hundred thousand years, at the most. And don’t even get me started on the impossibility of man turning into a cloud!”
They would then stare you down their glasses and point an accusing finger: “What’s your game here, young man? You’re lying, aren’t you?”
Kids, instead, will simply go, “so what happened next?” Throw in a naughty gag (“and, you know, raining is like peeing – on people!”) and you’ve got yourself a winner, with kids giggling uncontrollably for days!
Lit Chic: As a writer, what is one thing you cannot live without?
Nicholas C. Rossis: A cat on my lap! Or at least that’s what our cats would have you think (of course, I’m on to them!)
Seriously though, this is not a thing per se, but I wouldn’t have been able to publish my books had it not been for a number of recent changes in the industry, starting with Amazon breaking down the barriers and dispensing with the gatekeepers that prevented people from publishing. The Internet is another unprecedented accomplishment, which few appreciate enough. You’re in Australia and I’m in Greece, and yet we’ve met. Twenty years ago, that would have been next to impossible, and my books would have been gathering dust inside a drawer.
Lit Chic: When you’re not writing, you’re running Istomedia a web development company. Tell me about this.
Nicholas C. Rossis: We moved to Edinburgh in 1995, for my PhD studies (and Electra’s undergraduate ones). A couple of months later, I was slowly getting acclimatized when my supervisor asked me, “you know about computers, right?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Our undergrads just finished this project and they’d like to publish it on the Internet. You have three days to make a website.”
Then he dropped on my lap a folder full of drawings and left. So, I spent the next three days learning the basics of html and figuring out how to create a website. A couple of months later, the university gave me a couple of hundred pounds for my work, and I was hooked.
Since then, Istomedia has developed some 450 websites. Still, and proud as I am of its accomplishments, writing is where my heart’s in . . .
Lit Chic: Any news on your upcoming projects? Events we should know about?
Nicholas C. Rossis: I’ve already mentioned Runaway Smile, my children’s book. It’s due in September, unless my deadline-challenged (and good friend) illustrator misses his deadline again.
I’m also writing the fourth Pearseus book, and penning some short stories, as a sequel to The Power of Six, my collection of short science fiction stories. Hopefully, they will be ready for Christmas.
The Pearseus box set (books 1-3) includes all three books published so far, offering excellent value for money. Get your copy on Amazon!
My collection of short science fiction stories, The Power of Six, is now available on Amazon. Read for free the first story, “Simulation Over” or the third one, “The Hand of God.”
I will also be a guest on CHANGES G+ by Sally Ember G on October 1st, at 9am CDT.
Lit Chic: What is your advice to new and aspiring authors?
Nicholas C. Rossis: The thing that’s shocked me most in my life, is the realization of just how free we really are. If you think about it, there’s very few limitations on us, but the ones we place on ourselves. Of course, one has to pay the consequences of their actions, but to me that’s only fair.
What stops us from doing all sorts of crazy things, is usually fear. Now, fear can be a great thing and a useful tool. However, it can also strangle us, stifle our creativity, steal away our life. So, if someone decides, even for a second, to ignore the fear of failure, ridicule and loss, they may realise that life is far richer and filled with beauty and potential than they could possibly imagine.
In other words, go for it! Worst case scenario, you end up with egg on your face, but at least you’ll have no regrets.
In the infamous words of Porky Pig: “Th-th-th-tha-tha-tha-that’s all folks!”
Stay tuned for another featured author in October. In the meantime, check out Nicholas C. Rossis on his blog Nicholas C. Rossis ~ sci-fi, epic fantasy & children’s stories or follow him on Twitter @Nicholas_Rossis. If you are interested in his books, check them out on his blog or on Amazon. (The Power of Six is currently on sale for $.99!
Thanks again for stopping by!