An Interview with Author Peter C.A. Olsen

Today I’m interviewing Peter C.A. Olsen. Peter is the author of the high fantasy series The Singing Sword Saga. The first installment, Talon, releases in October.

Over on his blog, Peter interviewed me about my debut novel, A View From The Mountain. To read more, click here.

Without further ado, here are the questions!

1. How long have you been writing?

Peter: Naturally, I had to write during high school and Tertiary Education. But it was about twenty years ago, when I joined a local writing group, that I began to write more often. During workshops, I started sharing short stories and tried my hand at poetry. I wasn’t good with verse, but I seemed to have a knack for writing. The group had a monthly periodical in which several of my works were published.

A few years later, the group was asked to produce a book of short war-time memoirs. Since I was one of the few computer-literate members at that time, I was designated to be the editor. After organising the interviewers, the book was well-received In the local community.

A couple of years later, we were asked to follow up with the book “School Daze”. Many locals wanted all of their interesting and varied school and life experiences in print.

However, the cover didn’t sell nearly as well as the first book. That was a life-changer for me. I realise no matter how good the story is, the cover must be equally good. With “Talon”, I am lucky to work with a great publishing company who have been able to give my book, and the rest of the series, the standout covers they deserve. 

2. Have you always wanted to be a writer?/ What was your dream job when you were younger?

Peter: No, but I have always enjoyed reading a wide variety of books. At one stage, when I was diving in Singapore Harbour, I thought that being a Marine Biologist would be wonderful. However, I was fully employed as a Rubber Planter in Malaysia. My career as a writer only took shape years later.

3. What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

Peter: For me, it would be a decent plot.

For the first 18 months of writing Talon, I was learning to correct my writing habits. The main one was swapping from the ‘telling’ found in short stories to the ‘showing’ found in full-length novels.

Once I had my plot, and started thinking sensibly about the characters involved, every little thing changed. My characters started speaking to me, telling me what to do, correcting me if I strayed.

This was fine, until my editor introduced me to the world of ‘arcs’: plot arcs; character arcs; etc.

4. What is your work schedule like when you are writing?

Peter: Chaotic, particularly when I am editing while cross-referencing my self-made dictionary of Names, Places and Heredity. When I do settle down, I can write between 300 and 1500 words in one session.

5. How much ‘world building’ or research takes place before you start writing?

Peter: Quite a bit! But I found I needed to create a map in the initial stages of my revision. I had to ensure the travel times and distances were correct for the journeys my characters take over the four books of my saga. 

I make use of great online databases of Medieval names. Also, much of my library is filled with reference books.

6. What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book(s)?

Peter: That while I’m writing, my characters seem to tell me what to write of their own accord. Including the changes I need to make. The problem is, when I introduce a certain motive or action, I have to add the response to that later on, in some other chapter. So whilst I’m adding something, I’m editing the rest of the book in my mind.

7. Who is your favourite character?

Peter: I can’t answer this question until the last book is written! As I mentioned earlier, they are all with me when I write, and I love them all, quirks included!

8. Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb) you can share with your readers?

Peter: My main character, Malik, is a very inquisitive young man. He grows up in a Manor built on the site of a rundown 400 year-old castle. Beneath the castle, he discovers old dungeons, and an ancient cave….

9. If your book was to be made into a movie, who are the celebrities that would star in it?

Peter: Here is my casting!

Malik – Chris Hemsworth

 Gam – Harrison Ford

Margrave – Denzel Washington

Duke Bayard – George Clooney

Lord Sava – Sean Connery

Seah – Cate Blanchett

Lady Kaydence – Nicole Kidman

Ozanne – Halle Berry

10. What are you reading now?

Peter: George R.R. Martin’s book—that I am slowly reading between writing—is A Storm of Swords. This is Book Three of A Song of Ice and Fire (the Game of Thrones series). I have read a few books in this series, and marvel at his fresh dialogue and descriptions. 

11. Which do you prefer? Paperback or eBook?

Peter: I like the feel of a paperback, especially for my reference books. However, the convenience of reading a large number of ebooks on Kindle, and always having them with me when traveling, is a great reassurance. 

12. Would you rather have an endless summer or an endless winter?

Peter: I suffer in the cold, so the shorter the winter the better! When I was in Malaysia, living in constant tropics was no problem for me.

13. Tell us about Talon

The official blurb:

Young lord Malik is heir to the crumbling manor of Shalor. His people have long been complacent in an era of peace. But Malik has a fractured memory, and his past is a secret to even him. When he develops a hidden ability to shift into the form of an owl, his entire world changes.
But then the peace is shattered, and his home falls under attack. He is powerless to stop the enemy. Torn away from his family, he will stop at nothing to gain vengeance on the Order of Red Priests: wielders of dark and deadly magic. To end the war, Malik must master his ability and wield the ancient Singing Sword… or die trying.

The book trailer:

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