Author Interview With Zoltan Posfai

Monday, 18 January 2016

Ladies and gentlemen make yourself comfortable and read on to find out what makes indie author Zoltan Posfai write:

Why do you write?
I have a rather creative kind of mind in all parts of life and like to combine ideas from different areas. It's also a nice thing to see people entertained by something I created.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I'm not a full time writer, but I created stories and worlds since childhood. Around the age of seven I already experimented with improvising stories with an MC recorder and wrote stories a few pages long. I was actually never satisfied with the results. I was never able to put into words what I had in my mind. The push that sent me back toward writing came from the books of Frank Herbert. I was amazed how much he was able to tell indirectly and how well those thoughts could stick. I started to experiment with writing again, but of course it took years to get any result worth keeping. Still, I only wrote short stories and 'quotes' for several more years to come. Then, about two years ago I decided that it was time to take it seriously and started writing my currently only published book, which I consider part of my learning series before starting to work on some of my long planned books.
What genre are your books?

My current book is urban/contemporary fantasy, but I consider my main genre to be science fiction. I never stick to pre-defined genres and boundaries though, if the new mixture serves my purpose.

What draws you to this genre?

I mostly like to play around with questions of ethics, psychology, history, sociology, politics and all types of evolution. For me, every story is a kind of mind experiment and these genres give the most freedom to change the usual and set up something worth of observation. Many things in life take a different shape once you put them in some kind of extremity. You get the chance to bump into new discoveries about how those things work by these extremities.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
It was actually a 'now is the time to start it' feeling. In a way, I'll never be ready for it, but I reached a point where I took a big breath and started writing more seriously. Life is short. If you never start to do it, all those thoughts and ideas will go into the grave with you. Whether it was a good idea to shape them into words or not, will be decided by the readers...
Do you write full-time or part-time?
Part-time only. Right now I only consider it an advanced hobby and one of the main goals is to gather experience with a few books. On the long term? Time will tell...
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
As bad as it sounds, I wrote about 75% of my book on public transportation. I had to travel an average of three hours a day to my office and about an hour of that had given me the chance to sit down and write on my laptop. This caused changes of style within chapters I was not able to iron out completely. I will avoid this problem in the future. Nonetheless, this was my chance to start at all.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I'm able to express my thoughts better as I progress with writings, but quite often I have a one-shot creative moment. If I fail to write it down in time, it will be lost. I’d love to have one of those though recording gadgets Leto the Godemperor had!
In life, I come from scientific and technical background. These teach you how to put information in a short and concise form and make is as dry and unambiguous as possible. While that's still my main goal in most things, I am now able to use other forms and convey secondary, tertiary meanings as well. It was like teaching Walz to a bear, but was worth it. I'm planning to keep both styles and use a mixture within books.
What have you written?

I wrote short stories and novels mostly, but only a few were ever shown to the public in any form. My first public short story (not in English) was the Thirty-six righteous ones, a science fiction about humanity in a frenzied state of non-stop all-out war. 
The book 'The Witchhunter: Red Shadow' is the first with full publicity. Since I had to write two poems that had to fit the two different characters that wrote them, I started to practice poetry as well. The ones in the book are the first two I've ever written and as such I'm satisfied with them, but there is plenty of room to improve. Some of my writings can be found on Writerscafe.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you?

I prefer to work out the main ideas, the general plot and what I want to reach within one writing, but I like improvisation and if I get an impulse and momentum along a new idea, I will grab it unless it conflicts with the main idea.

How do you market your books?

Badly for now I'm afraid. Because of real life issues, I haven't done anything to market it since it was published. I started working on that only recently. I'm yet to see how well I'm going to manage it with limited resources.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

First of all, start writing! It is like walking or learning to ride a bike. You start out full of concerns and you will fall a couple of times, but you need to get up, handle your bruises and start over. Without those you will never find out how good it is to roar the roads.
My second advice is, that you need to decide what your real goal is! You have time to pass? Plan to have fun with it, within a limited group of people? Send it out into the world and enjoy if you get some good feedback? Want to be a famous writer? Earn money? All of these are valid reasons to write, just be sincere with yourself about what you want.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special?

My main character does not seemingly age and has an almost perfect memory. This means that he hoards a tremendous amount of knowledge, but he uses his chance to dedicate everything to single purpose. While he constantly suffers from 'what could be', hundreds of years of tension builds up. When such a single purpose topples, it will crash down on you. If you also fight for survival during this, your perception of the world will change completely. He is the ultimate survival type and that gives him a chance, but all of his 'inner tools' were honed for his big purpose.
He has multiple extremities within. A killer who hunted down witches for centuries with deadly efficiency. A good soul who helps the weak and peaceful ones. Likes solitude, but ventures into the overload of senses as well. A walking library of experiences and someone who has never really lived.
When he finally gets the chance to share, he has problems doing it.
The witch named Scarlet appears during the book and gradually gains her weight in the story and becomes a main character only toward the end. She is a black sheep and a rebel among the witches, but still undeniably a witch.

Where do your ideas come from?

I improvise a lot. Half of my ideas are triggered by something I see or read, but I can do huge leaps from there ending up with something completely different. The rest mostly comes from a lot of thinking, meditation and listening various kinds of music.

What is the hardest thing about writing?
For me: Showing it to others.
This is increasingly true for poetry. I needed poetry in Red Shadow. The two you can find there are actually my first two poems. My goal was not simply to write two, possibly good, poems. The main point was to make them the way the two related characters would have written it. I’m still eager to see the reader reactions.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
I had to do almost everything alone. Part of the cover art was done by an artist in the UK, but everything else was my work. The main reason I hope to achieve a level of sales is to be able to hand out most of the non-writing tasks in the future, allowing me to concentrate on the writing itself. I'm always time-limited.
Which writers inspire you?
The one giving me most inspiration is without any doubts Frank Herbert. I love the way he can express many things at once, while quite often not even mentioning it explicitly. He raises problems and shows possibly solutions as well, but he is not forcing his own ones on the reader. I also like characters that are in one or more fields 'more' than other people, but they face the drawbacks as well and carry the burden without becoming some kind of superhero. I borrowed the style of starting each chapter with a related in-story quote from him.
Just as in music I like to draw from multiple genres and creators. I read classic science fiction and fantasy, and of course general classic literature as well. I could start to list bits and pieces I liked in different writers, but that would be quite a list.
I also read a lot about history, sciences, psychology, philosophy, and politics. They are tools I need in many of my works.

How successful has your quest for reviews been so far?
Since I started to work on the promotion, I found and been contacted by multiple interviewers. I have multiple interviews booked up to September. Yours is probably the one to go public first.
What is the current book you are promoting?

My only published book is The Witchhunter: Red Shadow. It's planned to be a trilogy. As part of the promotion, I’m finalizing a free short story ‘Fading futures’ which is a prequel. Should be published as soon as I finish the cover that I’m drawing and finalize two short texts that need to be translated from English.

Who is your favorite character in your book and why?

Probably the main Character, Conley. While there are many differences, we also have many things in common. He is the learner and survival type and I like that approach in real life as well.
If we take away this obvious affinity, I also like the secondary character. She is a full fetched witch, but also a rebel soul.

Who is your least favorite character and why?

There is an ancient witch named Molekh, who is so obsessed to rule and live long that she is willing to sacrifice anyone to keep going. I don't like unhealthy selfishness.

If your book were made into a movie, who would you cast?

For the main character I would probably cast Viggo Mortensen. He is one of my favourite actors and perfect for the role both as a personality and by physical resemblance.
For Scarlet, the other main protagonist, I had a flash some day and I could hardly think about someone else around then. I would have definitely cast Uma Thurman for her role at the time. The problem is that she started to morph into someone else since. I'm at a loss right now as I still have her from a few years ago in my mind.
For Segmet I’d choose Saorise Ronan. The character is harsher, but Ronan is a good actress and well capable to play it. Segmet only appears in the last chapters of the book, but is going to show up again in the sequel and needs a good actress.
These are the three characters that I would definitely supervise while casting.
I also imagined the story as an animation. My choice for such an adaptation would probably be Manglobe and Shuko Murase.

What is your next project? 

Apart from the Witchhunter trilogy, there is one more book I want to write before starting a book I planned for fifteen years. It’s going to be a pure science-fiction one. The base idea will probably ring a bell nowadays, but it has nothing to do with the movie or with the book that is the base of the screenplay. It is about a Mars mission and part of the book is about the main protagonist getting stuck alone on the red planet. It’s about personal struggles and survival as he gets no help at all. I’ve been nurturing this story for several years and I think the time has arrived to put it on paper.
Related, but not writing itself: I plan to learn to draw better and do some artwork for my books. As a minimum, I want to be able to do good and detailed sketches, black&white drawings.

Who is your favorite fictional character and why?

Hard to say as I read different genres and it’s nigh impossible to compare them. If I really have to select, I’d probably choose between Duncan Idaho and Miles Teg from the Dune chronicles.

What one person from history would you like to meet and why?

This is a tough one. I read tons of history material and know a lot of people I would gladly meet. Written history tends to distort reality and fit it to the writer and the victors. I would probably choose someone whose history is most probably very distorted to be able to find out what really happened. (At least hear his/her version as well.)

If there was one thing you could do to change the world, what would it be?

A recurring problem. In general, I would make a change that would improve humanity on the long term. One of the possible solutions to this is to have an alien contact that could be hostile. Many of our contemporary problems stem from the fact that we have hundreds of nations, ethnic groups, religions and political views that tend to fight each other. We are fragmented. If we would get an ‘outside player’ in the mixture, we would start to look at each other more as part of the same group and inner skirmishes would diminish by some degree.

How do you write your books? 

Not the way I’d like to do it. When I get a short and peaceful time I write the things I gathered in my head during the days. I seldom get the chance to allocate time for the sake of book writing. 

Who or what inspires your writing? 

I have a very short answer for that! Life.

Where do you come up with your stories?

The main portions of my stories come when I get into certain moods or attune to characters. Let’s me take over their feelings and I start to think the way they would.

Who is your favorite author?

Undeniably Frank Herbert.

What is one great lesson you have learned as a writer?

How much work there is with a book. Doing it totally alone, I spent months working on the tasks needed for the publishing of the book. I actually wrote most of the book in 2014, but it only appeared on 2015-03-31. I’m still behind on some decent marketing and also toying around with some loosely related projects like audiobooks.

What is one thing you hate about being a writer?

Not being able to spend enough time doing it.

Tell us something unique about you

One of the questions almost always popping up after a short period of knowing each other is: “Is there anything you haven’t done yet?” Of course there is and the main rule of “the more you know, the more you are aware of how much you don’t know” applies, but it sums up a lot of things about me. I’m a survivalist just as many of my characters.

How can readers discover more about you and you work?
I created a homepage for the Witchhunter series. I plan to put news there with expected publish dates. I expect to have a trilogy with two or three free short stories. After getting questions about the hidden references in the book, I’m thinking about writing a short book with the knowledge Conley gathered about witchcraft and the worlds.

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