Author interview 130 – Sean Valiente


Sean P. Valiente

USA

Age 32

Raised in Maine, Sean Valiente grew up loving all things geek. He now spends his days as a financial professional for a tech company, and his nights dreaming up fantasy worlds.

Magic isn’t real. Not anymore and not like it used to be. Or so I thought…

16-year-old Oliver Quartermain doesn’t believe in magic anymore. But who cares? He has it all: he comes from a rich and noble family and doesn’t have a care in the world. But how quickly that can all change.

In the space of a few moments, Oliver’s life is turned upside down when he is tasked with protecting and saving the very magic he never believed in. But that’s not even the half of it. The only way to save magic is by training a young boy named Po Pondarion, who is destined to save the world.

Not only does Oliver have to train the young and totally clueless Po, but he also has to battle an evil secret organization bent on destroying them, all while deciphering the secrets of a Magical Codex. Oliver enlists the help of his unlikely best friends, Roc and Yokel, as well as the Knight Angels, secretive vigilantes he’s only recently met, to help him train Po and save the world. That should be simple, right?

Will this merry band of misfits be able to train the young Po in time for him to learn the secrets of magic and save its very existence forever?

The Lightning Knight is a gripping epic fantasy that will have you on the edge of your seat, eagerly flipping to the next page. Let yourself become emersed in this rich and magical world and join Oliver and Po on the adventure of a lifetime.

Romelia:    WHAT IS A SIGNIFICANT WAY YOUR BOOK HAS CHANGED SINCE THE FIRST DRAFT?

Sean Valiente:   My first draft has changed significantly between the first draft and the final draft. I’ve probably re-written it three times in total. For me, it was a bit of changing things on the fly as I wrote, and also finishing a draft in full and then going back and changing things again from scratch. The biggest changes came with adding two characters and also changing the death of another. Pretty significant but in the end it added to the story in a deeper way.

Romelia:    WHAT PERSPECTIVES OR BELIEFS HAVE YOU CHALLENGED WITH THIS WORK?

Sean Valiente:   I think I’ve challenged the perspective of how we think a hero (in this case a teenage hero) is supposed to act. I know for me, when I read I’m doing so from the perspective of a 30-something adult, but the characters in my story are all 16/17 years old which means they are immature, they make decisions that don’t make sense, and they act very unheroic at times. I’ve found that a lot of people will question the motivations and the acts of the characters but when I ask them, “Well, how did you act when you were a teenager?” that’s when they understand the story better!

Romelia:    WHAT INSPIRED THE IDEA FOR YOUR BOOK?

Sean Valiente:   The idea for the book is an amalgamation of all the stories I loved growing up as well as my own life experiences. There’s no one to one match of what’s in the story and what’s happened in my life or what I’ve seen, but there are nuggets in there. I wanted to tell a story I would love to read, and I think I achieved that.

Romelia:    HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR BOOK’S IDEAL READER?

Sean Valiente:   Someone who loves classic fantasy stories. That’s what it is at its core. But it’s also a bit of coming of age, of teenage romance, of that time in your life when you have big thoughts but aren’t necessarily ready to do big things, and then doing them anyway and living with the consequences, good or bad. If you like to dive deep into a world, this book is for you. If you like to just go along with a fun story, this book is for you too!

Romelia:    HOW MUCH RESEARCH DID YOU NEED TO DO FOR YOUR BOOK?

Sean Valiente:   A lot! Especially with things I knew a little about but needed to have a deeper understanding about. I have a background in Karate, but even those aspects I had to research more to make sure that the mechanics of my world made sense.

Romelia:   HOW IMPORTANT WAS PROFESSIONAL EDITING TO YOUR BOOK’S DEVELOPMENT?

Sean Valiente:   This part was crucial! I had probably edited it myself a few dozen times, but once I got a professional editor to really help me with the developmental part, she was integral in helping me understand what didn’t make sense and what did. When you’re writing, it all makes sense in your own head, but that doesn’t always translate to someone who doesn’t have the answer sheet like you do.

Romelia:    WHAT WAS YOUR HARDEST SCENE TO WRITE, AND WHY?

Sean Valiente:   The ending was always the hardest part for me because given the genre and the type of story I was telling (epic fantasy as part of a multi-book story), I had to try and find a way to close this story’s arc while also setting up the future.

Romelia:    WHAT CHARACTERS IN YOUR BOOK ARE MOST SIMILAR TO YOU OR TO PEOPLE YOU KNOW?

Sean Valiente:   I think the main character, Oliver has a lot of my sayings and mannerisms, and a few other characters are similar to people I know, but only in the simplest of senses. The characters are really their own people, and while they might have some similar traits as people I know, there’s no one character who is an avatar of someone real.

Romelia:    HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE THIS BOOK?

Sean Valiente:   I spent the better part of a decade putting notes in my head to paper, but the physical act of writing took about 2.5 years in total. In that time, there were many drafts, and a lot of time spent away from the story so I could let it sit in my mind and also come back to it with fresh eyes.

Romelia:    HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE TITLE FOR YOUR BOOK?

Sean Valiente:   The title was the hardest part! It came from the name of a character, but not the one most people think.

Romelia:    WOULD YOU AND YOUR MAIN CHARACTER GET ALONG?

Sean Valiente:   I would hope so, though Oliver is definitely prone to making really dumb mistakes.

Romelia:    IF YOU COULD MEET YOUR CHARACTERS, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO THEM?

Sean Valiente:   I would tell them that their story only gets better. But before it gets better, it’s going to get worse. Sorry!

Romelia:    WHAT IS YOUR WRITING PROCESS LIKE? ARE YOU MORE OF A PLOTTER OR A PANTSER?

Sean Valiente:   I’m actually a bit of both. I like to have a very rough outline of what the themes of each chapter are. I often have points I want my characters to get to, but I have no idea how they will get there. And that’s where the pansting part comes into play. I will write and just see where the characters take me, and often times it’s a placed I never would have imagined.

Romelia:    WHAT DO YOU NEED IN YOUR WRITING SPACE TO HELP YOU STAY FOCUSED?

Sean Valiente:   I love some fun background music but also, I’m a big fan of a huge monitor. Having space on the screen is really essential for me to get into a good writing flow.

Romelia:    IF YOU WERE TO WRITE A SPIN-OFF ABOUT A SIDE CHARACTER, WHICH WOULD YOU PICK?

Sean Valiente:   I think I would pick Yokel, one of the main Character’s best friends. He’s so interesting and quirky, and I just know he has a lot to say and a lot to do.

Romelia:    IF YOU COULD SPEND A DAY WITH ANOTHER POPULAR AUTHOR, WHOM WOULD YOU CHOOSE?

Sean Valiente:   I’d choose Brent Weeks and ask him every question about worldbuilding and magic systems I could.

Romelia:    WHAT IS YOUR SCHEDULE LIKE WHEN YOU’RE WRITING A BOOK?

Sean Valiente:   I tend to write at night, but I’m always at all times thinking about my book and story lines and scenes.

Romelia:    HAVE YOU EVER TRAVELED AS RESEARCH FOR YOUR BOOK?

Sean Valiente:   I have not. Luckily for me, my world is in my head.

Romelia:    WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE WRITING SNACK OR DRINK?

Sean Valiente:   I was a big fan of Mountain Dew but I gave up soda for the new year, so now it’s just Gatorade Zero. I’m not much of a coffee or tea drinker.

Romelia:    HOW DO YOU CELEBRATE WHEN YOU FINISH YOUR BOOK?

Sean Valiente:   Is a book ever really finished? Haha, I don’t think I’ve ever celebrated but I do tell a few family and friends that I’ve finished a draft!

Romelia:    WHAT RISKS HAVE YOU TAKEN WITH YOUR WRITING THAT HAVE PAID OFF?

Sean Valiente:   I’ve let reader feedback help drive some changes to the story. Writing is a very intimate thing and it can be hard as an author to take feedback and not get defensive. For me, I’ve really tried to take to heart suggestions and make changes that seem to be better in the end.

Romelia:    WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU GOOGLED YOURSELF AND WHAT DID YOU FIND?

Sean Valiente:   I think I googled myself a few years ago and it was just a company interview from my first job out of college. Nothing crazy, but hey, who knows what the future holds.

Romelia:    WHAT IS YOUR KRYPTONITE AS A WRITER?

Sean Valiente:   Writing in a way that describes every single stage direction and emotion. I had to really work on leaving something to the readers imagination.

Romelia:    TELL US SOMETHING FUNNY FROM YOUR ADULT LIFE.

Sean Valiente:   I have a cat named Anakin but he’s named after Anakin Solo from the now non-cannon Star Wars extended Universe. And my wife is allergic to him -_-

Romelia:   DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN A FEW SENTENCES. TELL US SOMETHING WE DO NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU AND SOMETHING YOU HATE ABOUT THE WORLD.

Sean Valiente:   By day I work for a tech company in the finance and accounting department, and by night I can be found doing a million different things (reading, video games, movies, tv, playing sports, house remodeling projects).  Something that I would hate the world to know about is that I like a very weird snack: peanut butter and cheese. You take a cheese cube and you smear some peanut butter on it and its delicious!

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