Dylan J Silver Author Bio:
Dylan J Silver is creative by nature, and curious to a fault. He was born in Columbia, South Carolina in march of 1991. He spends his days working on creative projects with his husband, logan, and their cat, Zero.
About (Who, why, when, where, what)
Dylan J Silver, avid dreamer, curious to a fault, I enjoy playing and working on video games, reading and now writing books and poetry.
Tell us something about your books, including your genre and your characters and/or themes.
I have to admit that I am fresh when it comes to writing, but I am a lifelong reader, and fantasy has always been my book of choice. The characters I write about tend to have a focus on their personal flaws, and how hardship and turmoil has influenced them, and made them into who they are. Examining the tangled and complex nature of relationships is another strong focus of my writing.
Where are you based?
Columbia, S.C., only about three hours from Myrtle beach.
Latest releases and upcoming titles?
My debut novel, The curse breaker: beyond Blackwall is debuted Dec 1st 2021, and is going to be part of a series!
“In this ancient land of magic and beast, a forgotten battle rages between the gods themselves, and their children seek to destroy one another.
Iro finds himself caught in the midst of this struggle, and must overcome loss, war, and hardship, as he pieces together a legacy left behind by his forefathers.
The Curse Breaker: Beyond Blackwall tells the story of a world where forgotten gods and ancient magic reign, of a struggle where otherworldly creatures fight for survival, and of one ordinary boy’s incredible journey to become something extraordinary.
He must answer the call, and become the curse breaker.
This book is a dark fantasy about mythical creatures, and their struggles in a world with forgotten gods and ancient magic.”
What are you currently working on?
I tend to jump around a lot, getting the fine details for beyond Blackwall’s publishing date, and working on game projects in tandem. I have also been helping a close friend write and format her book in my spare time.
What inspires you to write?
As long as I can remember, I have always concepted stories in my head, in my spare moments, and struggling to get those stories out into the world motivates me more than anything else. I feel like everyone has a deep, intense story to tell inside them, and it is important to have that told.
When and why did you get into writing fantasy?
About June or July 2021, I had come out of working on a video game, the whole project had gone south as a result of my trying to do everything by myself, combined with a lack of funding, and I went through a stage of extreme burnout and depression in that time, and, out of sheer boredom, I went to researching the process of writing a novel, and wanting to try something different, I started writing a book!
Who are your favourite fantasy writers/ fantasy authors?
Lewis Carroll’s work has had a profound effect on my life over the years. I grew up reading classic books, and I enjoy that world of infinite possibilities, particularly in ‘Through the looking glass’.
What is your favourite fantasy series and why?
I tend to enjoy more stand-alone books, but I think my all-time favorite fantasy series would have to be the underland chronicles, by Suzanne collins.
What are your favourite fantasy genres?
Anything that has an undertone of dark depths and intensity to it, I will read.
Who are some of your all-time favourite fantasy characters? And why do you think they became your favourites?
Pangloss from Candide, is one of my favorite characters, a man would have to be terribly complex and intelligent, or dumb and simple, to be so convinced that everything is as it should be, and we live in the best possible world. The ambiguity of understanding and logic there has always really entranced me, and often when I am dealing with personal strife, I think about him, and what he would have to say.
Do you follow any fantasy entertainment outside of books? (Video Games, Boardgames, Comics etc.)
Yes, I am very much into video games, I play a ton of them, less now than I used to though! I could talk for hours about my favorites.
What’s going on in the next few months? Anything on the Horizon?
After the first curse breaker book is published, I am planning to shift gears back to game development, and I plan to write the next entry in the series either in the middle or at the end of next year.
What kind of books did you read that contributed to your upbringing, as far as fantasy and science-fiction?
My mother used to read to me when I was little, and one of the books she read to me completely was called ‘Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher,’ and that book seemed to spark a lot of my imaginings in the first years of my life. Then I had discovered Jack London’s ‘Call of the wild’ and ‘White fang’ and these two books predominately cemented the thematics of my fantasy worlds, especially the curse breaker universe.
Was your upbringing pretty geeky?
Yes, my mother was a reader, a lot of fantasy and horror books, and my grandmother was a cinefile. They both rubbed off on me quite a bit. Between Doris day’s pillow talk, and Tolkien’s return of the king, my childhood was somewhat unusual!
Why should anyone read your book?
There’s a lot of hurt out there in the world. With the curse breaker series, I wanted readers to be able to connect with my characters on that level, and find some sort of solitude, not in false positivity, but in shared and open difficulties.
The writing process ( Inspiration, discipline, planning, software, editing)
I am often inspired by visual media, and music. I watch a lot of movies and listen to a lot of music, especially when my creative energy feels low. Discipline, at least for me, is a fool’s errand, I make an effort to be productive every day. Some days that looks like 50 pages of a novel, others it’s just 30 minutes doing research on YouTube. I don’t struggle with creative work, but what I find incredibly hard is consistency. I try to plan anything creative as little as possible, to leave room for organic improvisation. For writing, I just use Google Docs, a few add-ons for editing, and google.
Do you have a process, do you plan or do you fly by the seat of your pants?
If I find that I am inspired by something, it is important to get an initial stage of that done as quickly as possible, while you still have that energy. Something I will say I have learned is that working iteratively is critical, nothing is ever truly finished or perfect, it just comes to a point where you think it is acceptable.
How has your writing process changed since you first started writing?
When I was going back through the novel, I noticed that the first chapters were terrible compared to the last. I had read a very well written self-help book titled ‘On writing: memoirs of the craft’ by Stephen King, and I found that book immensely helpful, and it had a noticeable impact on my writing. I highly recommend it.
How long does it normally take you to write a fantasy novel, and what proportion of the time is spent doing what?
I spent about three or four months writing beyond Blackwall, it took me about two weeks to do a second and then third draft, and I spent about 10 days afterwards formatting it, doing drop caps, coming up with chapter art, font, etc.
What is your favourite part of the writing process?
It feels surreal to put your work down for a long while and then return to it. Like you’re a visitor in this strange land, and you have this incredible story in front of you, but you feel like whoever wrote it wasn’t you.
Have your previous vocations influenced your writing?
I definitely think that my penchant for art and game design leaked into my book, especially in the sections with descriptive prose. Video games always try to make things appealing and exciting in the moment, as you see it, and I tried to translate that to the book as best as I could.
Do you involve other people in your writing, as collaborators or editors? How do you make this work?
My spouse has been immensely supportive of my creative work for years, a lot longer than any sane person would have been. It takes a healthy amount of insanity to go down the road less traveled, and while a familial support network would have been nice, all the help I have really needed I have gotten from him, and a few close friends.
As far as writing goes, what do you use? Software, Apps, Hardware etc.?
Google Docs is incredible, I have always hated dealing with word and office, I haven’t found any missing functionality between the two, and the add-ons(I use text cleaner and LanguageTool constantly) are super useful, and the premium ones are low cost.
Do you do a lot of research for each book? If so, how do you conduct your research?
I actually do a lot of my research on YouTube, I have learned a lot of different skills from there, and the visual aspect of it helps me understand and memorize things.
How do you overcome blank writing spells?
With creative burnout, the worst thing you can do is think about it. Find a distraction, movies, games, a niche hobby, and dig into that for a while, if it’s distracting you from your lack of productivity, then it’s working.
A number of fantasy/sci-fi authors have been known to use art, music, exercise, alcohol and even drugs as a way to find inspiration to enter the zone! Do you use any tools to enter into your creative headspace?
Caffeine and nicotine are my drugs of choice. I drink on occasion, but find it hard to work on anything productive while toasted. In the past, I have taken pharmaceuticals and other substances, all for the sake of creativity and productivity, but all it leads to is burn out, or withdrawal, or addiction. The best advice that I can give is if you have, and can maintain control over something that influences you, then go for it. Otherwise, it’s a risky proposition. People tend to greatly overestimate the willpower they have. I can’t even leave ice cream in the fridge for more than a week without eating it, and I know that. Knowing your weaknesses can be an asset itself.
Do you prefer to write in silence and or have some sort of sound in the background?
I listen to a ton of music while working, mostly ambient music, video game ost’s, movie soundtracks, some nonvocal music artists, like equip, blank banshee, slugabed, etc. I was listening to alot of music to fit the mood when I was writing beyond Blackwall, dark norse folk music, like heilung, wardruna, myrkur, and danheim, to name a few.
Publishing (formatting, cover design, formats, marketing)
From cover to cover, I had done everything involved with this project myself. Probably not the best idea, but I think there is something to be said for DIY, and cost is always a consideration. I had genuinely wanted to hire a professional publisher, but doing research, I saw way too many errors in the samples of ‘professionally edited’ books on Amazon to trust one enough. If you’re going to pay someone to edit or format your book for you, please for the love of god, do your research.
Describe the road you took to publishing your first novel? And how that has changed.
I have been concepting the story for the cursebreaker series since i was maybe 13 or 14 years old. When I was broken down having my game project fail, I started looking into writing a book, and when I learned that it takes a lot less time to write a book than i initially thought, I decided to take the plunge. It was always on my mind that I would save the story for a rainy day, or when I had the money or agency to make it into a big game or something, but several groundbreaking games and movies have started life as books. The Witcher, American McGee’s Alice, Game of Thrones, and making that realization just clicked for me, and really inspired me to get this book written.
Will your next book be traditional or indie published?
I can’t imagine a traditional publisher would ever touch a book as outlandish as beyond Blackwall, I feel like it would be difficult to convince them of its value. It’s indie publishing for me, unless something drastically changes.
Would you recommend self-publishing to aspiring authors, or would you suggest a more traditional path?
I have heard horror stories of authors spending years trying to get their manuscripts published. Harry Potter, one of the best selling books of all time, was rejected by 12 different publishers, I am not sure why anyone would put themselves through that. Wasted time is just terrible, it’s a non-renewable, finite resource, and it should be protected at all costs.
What sort of input do you give to formatting, cover design, marketing?
With covers, make it bold, eye-catching, it literally has to have something that will make someone physically look at it twice.
What do you do pre and post-release to help get your books noticed?
I am planning an intensive 10 days of marketing leading up to the release of the book, and I think editions are a powerful tool for authors as well. You should keep a bit back from the initial release, and save it for re-release at a later time.
Marketing is so important nowadays, what’s your best advice to fellow authors?
Do everything short of what is illegal to spread word about your book. Cater to hard core fans of your work. Treat them like they’re special, because honestly, where would you be without them?
How did you decide the pricing of your material; how did you go about promotion/advertising and distribution of your work?
Pricing is important, too high and no one will buy, too low, and people will think what you are trying to sell is just junk. I was in sales for years, and something that really stuck with me was someone will always buy something, if they think they are getting a steal, the key is urgency. Can’t sell your ten dollar book? For this weekend only, my twenty dollar book is on sale for 50% off! Some shady things happen in the world of sales, but if a customer gets genuine value out of something they buy, that’s all that really matters.
Advice on making an impact in today’s busy Scifi and Fantasy markets.
Your story has to be original. It needs to be big, and bold, and it must carry all of you, wrapped up inside of it. If it feels like a piece of you, then you wrote a good book, and what else can you do?
Must Read Fantasy novels?
The underland chronicles
The master and margarita
Must read non-fantasy novels?
Call of the wild
The plague dogs
Most prized fantasy book in your collection?
I have a copy of the Two Towers that I ‘borrowed’ from my fourth grade library. I always tell myself I am going to return it one day.
Do you read digital, paperback or hardback or do you listen to audiobooks?
Probably going to catch a lot of flack for this, but 80-90% of what I read these days is in audiobook form. It’s less strain on my eyes, faster than reading, and I love to listen to them while driving.
What are some difficulties you’ve experienced in your writing career; how do you handle book critiques/criticism?
Criticism should be divided into two schools, people that genuinely are trying to help you, and the others who are just trolling you. The latter shouldn’t even be considered, and always be wary of the advice/experience ratio of someone who is giving said advice, it may be that they are giving you solid gold bits of wisdom, the hard part is filtering through all of that. With that in mind, you should be open to criticism in any form, it’s not a personal attack, unless it is, in which case it’s not valid to begin with.
What are the best experiences in your writing career?
Finishing my first book felt like something out of a movie. Everyone always jokes about the writer that never finishes a book, but to actually have done it, is empowering.
What are some encouraging words you’d give to another author/writer?
Always know and understand that your work can improve, and everyone has different levels of experience, and that’s with anything. There are no bad writers, only inexperienced ones, and the more you write, the better you will get. If you are resilient, strive to elevate your craft, and keep pushing regardless of what happens, your success is guaranteed. It’s only a matter of time.
Get in touch
Any final words for the readers? (Anything, open platform)
I wrote beyond Blackwall with a touch of everything in it. I know that there may be people out there who just don’t enjoy it, and I am okay with that. If just a small handful of people love it, that will be enough for me. To all aspiring writers out there, please write that book, sometimes the hardest part is just getting started!