Welcome C.S. Ratliff to my virtual café. It is so good to have you here. In eastern North Carolina summer has arrived with a combination of extreme heat and tropical rain but occasionally we will get the breeze from the ocean trickle down the river and it is lovely, until the mosquitos try to take us off to their lair to feed. But here in my virtual café the weather is perfect, the breeze is wafting, and the mosquitos have been banished to another universe.
C.S. Thank you so much for having me. I live in Ohio so the weather is sporadic right now.
Sherri: You and I met through the Shameless Self-Promo Twitter group. I have to say I am pleasantly surprised at the camaraderie I have experienced through this group. It has been a wonderful experience meeting everyone. I am so glad to have this chance to get to you better.
C.S. Absolutely. I originally created the Shameless Self Promo group as a pay-it-forward system. At first, it was simply retweeting other’s work. It’s grown over the months and evolved into a very nice support system of around 40 authors.
Sherri: You are an artist as well as an author? You’ve shared some of your artwork in our message group and I have to admit, I was impressed. Do you design your own book covers? They are fantastic.
C.S. Thank you. Yes, I am an artist. I studied fine arts for years, and as I’ve gotten into writing, I knew I wanted to design book covers. I have created over 50 book covers, and that does include my own covers.
Sherri: Tell us a little about your books, you write fantasy, is that correct? I know there are different subgenres within the fantasy genre, where do your books fit on the shelf? Do they crossover to other genres as well? I’ve started reading The Lighting Rod, you bring the reader into the world in the very first scene.
C.S. Yes, I write Fantasy. I’ve had trouble really pinpointing where my books fall within the genre, but I think Epic Fantasy fits best. There are definitely across different sub genres. A nice blend of High Fantasy and Coming of Age. I try to break the mold of texture in the genre but creating my own magic system and highly detailing the world, Gnariam. My action sequences are quite different from other authors as well.
Sherri: I listen to a lot of YouTube videos and even though I don’t write fantasy, I find the writing videos insightful, especially on world building. Do you plan your world and magic system before you write? Are you someone who plots a book before writing it or are you like me and write by the seat of your pants? I have to admit, I have started doing a bit of planning especially as my series has become larger.
C.S. I knew going into my first book, The Lightning Rod, that I wanted an extensive magic system. So I really created two systems, Elemental Magic, and Elemental Power, which is rare in Gnariam. I had a good idea of how I wanted the first book to go but I didn’t plan much. I planned out a lot more of book 2, The Thunder King. Now, I am writing book 3, The Tempest Fate and I’ve grown into a full on plotter. I spent a month of just planning the entire book.
Sherri: How long have you been a writer? A published author? How did you get started writing?
C.S. I’ve been writing for myself on and off for about a decade, little short stories here and there. I really ramped-up my focus to write professionally at the beginning of 2019. I published my first book in July, 2019.
Sherri: Who has inspired your writing? Do you have authors that you admire and emulate, or did your stories come from somewhere else entirely? I write suspense thrillers with a bit of romance. For me, I base my setting, my imaginary town on my real hometown. My characters are a combination of family and friends, but my plots come from a variety of places from local stories, news and questions of “what if.” How about you? Can you pinpoint where your ideas began? Did you start with a character, a plot or a setting?
C.S. Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle was my first big love for Fantasy. I’ve been a big fantasy fan and nerd since I was young. In 2012, I was deployed to Afghanistan in the Army and we were stationed in an area where the Kunduz Mountain surrounded us. Everyday, I would visualize the mountain with dragons, swords and sorcery. I’ve also always had a tremendous love and awe for Lightning. So I think the idea just grew out of a combination of all of that.
Sherri: What has been the most difficult for you since becoming a published author? Are you traditionally or indie published?
C.S. I think the most difficult part for me, in the beginning, was finding readers. The Fantasy genre is vast, and easy to get buried in the masses. I chose to self publish through KDP.
Sherri: With each book I’ve written and published I’ve learned something new. What have you learned with each book or since becoming published?
C.S. I’ve learned a lot about the actual writing part of being an author. My prose has gotten tighter and cleaner. My descriptions are not only better, but vary much more. Over all, I think everything I do has consistently gotten better.
Sherri: You have three books out now, is that correct? What are you working on? Will it be a part of the same world?
C.S. So far I have two books, and I am working on the third. They are all part of the Gnariam’s Fate Saga. I have six books planned for this series.
Sherri: What, besides entertainment, do you hope your stories bring to readers?
C.S. I hope that, being in the YA Fantasy genre, my stories may inspire young adults, or even younger. I hope that the idea of perseverance can inspire people to push on, take on challenges and fight for what’s right.
Sherri: Is there anything else you’d like to share? What would you tell a young writer with dreams of becoming a published author?
C.S. I always like to tell anyone that wishes to become an author to simply try. Write the book you want. If you hit barriers along the way, find a way through it, or around it. Never give up on your dreams. You are never too young or old to become an author.
Sherri: Thank you for stopping by my virtual café. I hope you’ve enjoyed your visit. If you enjoyed this interview then follow C.S. Ratliff on social media and check out his books, the links are listed below.
Thank you C.S. for sharing your story.