Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Please Meet Vaughn Roycroft!

If you are looking for the Query Corral Blog Hop entry, please go here.  Otherwise, read on!

Who is Vaughn Roycroft, you may be wondering?  Well, he is a talented writer, new-ish to blogging blogger, and embodiment of kindness on the internet.

Vaughn has guest posted on Writer Unboxed's blog a time or two, and written book reviews for the sister site Reader Unboxed.  It was through these posts that I became aware of the fine writing skills Vaughn has, and in my comments, I selfishly encouraged him to get his own blog so I could read more of his writing.  Thankfully, that did happen, and his blog, Seeking the Inner Ancient, went live (along with his cool website) this year.  My only complaint is that I wish he'd post more often! (And I mean that with all kindness, Vaughn!)

We finally bonded a little over my post The Magic of Star Wars and Writing.  Through Facebook I learned that Vaughn is a kind, interesting person -- just the kind of person I would love use as my guinea pig for my first blog interview.  So, without any more talking from me, I would like to present Vaughn Roycroft, the first ever interview at Motivation for Creation!

Welcome, Vaughn! Could you please introduce yourself to us, and share with us some of your favorite things? 

I’m a husband, a writer of historical fantasy, a carpenter, and a former businessman. I love spending time with my wife, my black lab, music, reading, a good laugh, walks on the beach, cooking, the spooky feeling that accompanies being imbued by the muse.

Would you care to share a little about your current work? Where are you in the process of publication?

I completed the first draft of a trilogy a few years ago, and have subsequently written a ‘prequel’ manuscript, examining the trilogy’s backstory (kind of like Star Wars, eh, Lara?).

Short version of all four, starting with the prequel: A Goth chieftain sets out to restore his father’s honor, and is told by a mystic that he and his progeny are destined to greatness. He begins a disastrous war of conquest with the Roman Empire. In seeking to ensure his foretold legacy, he marries two prominent women who each bear him a son. One son goes on to be raised within the fold of empire, and the other is raised in his tribe’s homeland among his mother’s royal clan. The trilogy examines the rise of the sons, and how each responds to his so-called destiny, against the backdrop of the their two peoples’ epic culture clash. Oh, and there’s an all-female warrior sect entangled in there. Can’t go wrong throwing in some kickass warrior chicks, right?

I’ve gone through two rounds of submissions with book one of the trilogy without a sale. This last time I was fortunate enough to receive several wonderful rejections (that’s a funny phrase, but it’s true—anything you get beyond a form letter, be thankful and listen up). I’ve worked on ideas to streamline the opening with my fabulous critique editor (Cathy Yardley, of Rock Your Writing) and some wonderful writing friends who’ve been kind enough to beta read. Round three coming up! 

Name the three things that are most important to you.

My wife is clearly numero uno. I’d be lost without her. She’s my first reader, my biggest supporter, my best friend and my soul mate. 

 Next, my cottage in the woods and the life we’ve built here in our little beach community (including daily walks along the shore). 

 The third would have to be my writing journey. It began a bit late in life, but it has been hugely rewarding. I’ve learned so much and have met so many wonderful people (like you, Lara). My relationships and insight into my life and the world around me have been greatly enhanced. I am blessed, whatever comes of my quest for publication. 

What/Who are your writing influences?

I’ve often mentioned the importance of Tolkien in my life, but reading the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings affected my literary life more than any other single thing. It demonstrated the possibilities for being immersed in another world and yet inspired to emotions that are definitely of this world. I didn’t want it to end. Turning the last page, and being satisfied and yet left with that longing for it to go on, was what led me to imagine the possibility of trying to create such a world and to inspire such feelings in others.

Currently I’m working hard to adapt my work, and my future method, to utilizing the elements of story structure. This is largely in response to the positive influence of my online writing tribe—most prominently in the person of my aforementioned editor, Cathy (plotter extraordinaire). I was a dyed-in-the-wool pantser during the writing of the trilogy. Now I’m going back through and adapting/honing my work to fit the elements of structure. It’s a big job, but I was fortunate to have had either the instinct or dumb luck to have crafted fairly good bones in my early drafts. And I can see what a positive effect it’s having on my work. 

Do you believe in everyday magic? If so, give an example of why.

In a recent discussion about the mystical versus the scientific in regard to writers having a muse, I weighed in on the side of the mystical. I believe there is so much more going on than can be easily explained. Those on the other side claim that those amazing story elements that occur are just a byproduct of our brain’s complexity—the result of accessing our cognitive subconscious. Even if science proponents are right, it’s still pretty damn magical to me. Even if I’m self-deluding, why would I want to live in a world without magic?

A new-to-writing Writer comes up to you and asks for your advice. What would you tell them?

I would tell them not to wait around. Start! Today! 

I always knew I’d write, but I wasted a lot of years saying, “someday, when there’s more time, I’ll start.” Just begin, anyhow, anyway, even if you only spend fifteen minutes a day on a rambling outline. Don’t muse, write! Get something on paper.

Another thing I would advise might sound controversial. I’d tell them to avoid seeking online writing advice or publishing information—at least during the writing of the first draft. Read a craft book or two (I’d recommend On Writing, by Stephen King and The Art of War, by Steven Pressfield), but then stay off the internet and just write! 

Your head will be swimming in the ocean of the online writerly world soon enough. Get out a draft without any of that influence. Do it for the love of it. Do it for you and no one else. All future work will belong to others (editors, agents, readers, etc.). During that first draft of that first manuscript, just rejoice in the exhilaration of freeform expression—rules, advice, gatekeepers, readers, et al be damned.

Optimist, pessimist, or realist?

I said earlier I’d be lost without my wife. This is part of it. I’m a realist with pessimistic overtones. All too easily, I get caught up in a woe-is-me mind-frame. My wife is the eternal optimist. She believes in me more than I believe in myself.

What motivates you to be creative? (i.e. Write, but any other type of creativity is fine, too!)

Hardest question, by far. When I was in business, most of my creativity was devoted to problem-solving. For example, designing a system or a new piece of equipment to overcome an obstacle to production. This creativity had the simplest motivation: profit. I also developed a love of cooking over those years, mostly as a way to relax. Over time a secondary motivation crept in for both: I was being praised for doing them well. It felt good.

Writing, at first, was a completely different beast. For a long time I kept it secret, and honestly never planned to show it to anyone. It took me several months to even tell my wife about it. Even after she knew, I told few others. It’s still a huge, difficult leap for me just to hit the send button, every time (and will be even for this interview). I do feel quite gratified by praise, but it wasn’t what I sought in starting, and I’ve come to see there’s more at work here.

I’m taking a long road to get there, but bear with me. I think I started writing in a quest to answer some big questions about life. It was ’03. My old feelings from Tolkien were reawakened by the release of the LOTR movies and a rereading of the trilogy. 9/11 was a fresh memory. We’d suffered some tough losses. In hindsight I see myself grappling with the meaning of love, honor, choice, destiny, and legacy (we have no children). I was also coming to grips with death (my own mortality, the loss of loved ones, and my fear of losing others dear to me).

When I finally started allowing a select few to read, the first outside of family was a dear friend. After he finished, he and I literally spent an entire day talking. The fact that he was moved, that he was able to apply the work to his own life, and that it left him grappling with the same issues as I had in writing it, threw a whole new light on my journey. I knew then this was my life’s work, that it could really matter. It’s the greatest motivation there is.

Thanks so much for having me on your wonderful blog, Lara!

Now that you've had an introduction, head over to Vaughn's blog and read all the great posts he has there, such as Originality Isn't Everything, What Building my House Taught Me About Writing (and it's a beautiful house - there's pictures!), and of course, because you can't have too many warrior chicks, Regarding Kickass Warrior Chicks.

Please come back on Friday to help me celebrate my Life List Club Milestone party.  I'm going to try and incorporate Funny Photo Friday into the celebration, and I'll be giving away an Amazon gift card to a random commentor.  Also, between now and then, I've got some awards to pass on, as well.  It's going to be a busy week!

60 comments:

  1. Lovely interview. Vaughn and I are friends and it was nice to learn more about his thoughts and journey.

    I love the look of your blog. Good work!

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    1. Ah, here's one of the writer friends I mentioned, whose input has helped so much. Thanks for reading, and for all your aid and support, Valerie!

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    2. Thanks, Valerie! And thanks, Vaughn, for agreeing to be my guinea pig! You were a great interview! Oops - there's one of those words Porter warned us about ;)

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  2. Great first interview. Vaughn is a great person and a great writer. I'm happy that I'll be able to say, "I knew him when..." When I first got into this writing quagmire, I did read everything I could get my hands on - and often found advice that did not agree with what I read last week, last month... I think we need to read a lot about writing, then do what works for us. Good job, Lara and Vaughn.

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    1. Thanks, Karen! I agree so wholeheartedly, read alot, then keep what works for you. I just felt like I started questioning every sentence at some point. I would wish for other newbies the freedom I felt before 'I knew.' I really appreciate your praise!

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    2. I'll echo Vaughn - "Thanks, Karen!" :)

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  3. Fab!! Must-read!! (Hee-hee!) Vaughn is the calm, kind, voice o' reason in this whirling web of writers, though I never had him pegged as a pessimist. (Hey, that's my job!) Vaughn, just know, you have a built-in fan base of readers who can't wait for your books, and, at risk of offending Porter, XOXO!

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    1. Porter would go nuts, reading this love-fest, wouldn't he? Well, we've gone this far, so I'll tell you how fab I think you are. And I'm so glad my pessimism isn't showing. Thanks for reading and for being one of my favorite, and funniest, supporters, Dee!

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  4. Vaughn sounds like a stand-up guy, loving husband, and a devoted writer. Excellent interview all around!

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    1. Thanks so much, Emily. If you knew my wife, you'd understand there is not choice. ;-)

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    2. I agree, Emily. I hope you visited his blog (or do) because Vaughn's writing carries those qualities. Very thoughtful and still funny!

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  5. Very thoughtful interview. Vaughn, I appreciate and respect your priorities. You are a pleasure to know.

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    1. Back atcha, my friend! It ain't so easy being thoughtful, ya know? Being interviewed is hard work. Lara did a fabulous job making me use my noodle. Thanks, Liz!

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  6. Lara, great interview and you know I hold Vaughn in high regard. He's the type of person it would be hard not to. Great interview- candid and heartfelt. It is a pleasure to be here.

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    1. Ah, my muse-music friend stopped by. :-) Thanks, Tonia, for reading and for all your support!

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    2. Thanks so much, Tonia! I know a lot of people hold Vaughn in high-regard, and for good reason! Thanks for stopping by and supporting us both :D

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  7. Fantastic interview, Lara, and it confirms for me (yet again) what a fantastic guy Vaughn is. I've gotten to know him quite well since he and I are both members of the Mod Squad at Writer Unboxed (Facebook). I greatly look forward to meeting him in person someday. He's hands-down one of the nicest people I've "met" on-line.

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    1. Hurray for the Mod Squad! You guys are like my online family. Still hoping for this year on the meeting in person. Thanks so much, Kim.(And didn't Lara do a great job?!)

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    2. Thanks, Kim AND Vaughn! You're making me think maybe I should do another interview sometime. :)

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  8. Great interview, Vaughn! (And thank you for the shout-outs.) What I've read and worked with you on has been amazing -- you've got a talent for world building, and a good, solid sense of character -- and I have no doubts that it will connect with a lot of readers. And frankly, it couldn't happen to a nicer fella!

    Now, where's your next book? ;)

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    1. Ah, high praise from my mentor. You've made my day! If you're right, and I connect well with my Right Readers, it'll be in no small part due to you. I've told you before that you're such a big part of this journey. And there's no going back, so you're stuck with me. ;-) (And sorry, book three's coming! Working on the run-through today, between replies to gracious comments like yours. :-)

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  9. Jeannine ThibodeauJune 26, 2012 at 9:02 AM

    Hi, Lara, I'm new to your blog, but this won't be my last visit! I stopped by to read about my friend Vaughn, and I've come away with even more respect and good feelings toward him. I, too, am amazed to find out that you're a pessimist, Vaughn, because you're certainly one of the most gracious, encouraging writing-friends ever.

    Thanks to Lara for posing such great questions, and thanks to Vaughn for going all-out in answering them!

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    1. Jeannine, you are the coolest. Again, happy I hide my pessimism well. It's very easy for me to be encouraging, with such a talented tribe with great friends like you in it. Lara did have me digging. This being interviewed stuff's a tough gig! Thanks for reading and for such a lovely comment!

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    2. I'm so happy you found something here to like, Jeannine! Yes, although Vaughn says it was tough, he really did an awesome job with being an interview subject!

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  10. Great interview! Looking forward to reading your work.

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    1. Thanks so much, Selena! Can't wait to share it!

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  11. Great interview! But then with two fabulous people what could it have been except great? *grin* Vaughn, I have to agree with you that your wife's optimism is a great balance to your realism and pessimism. I find that all the time with my husband's eternal optimism. I have to admit that he's usually right, things do come around and right themselves. I agree with Cathy Yardley - where's your next book?

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    1. I'm glad to hear you also have 'the great balancing force' of an optimistic spouse. Works wonders, doesn't it? And, I'm working, I'm working... ;-)

      Thanks for reading, for the great comment, and for being such a great tribe mate, Jessica!

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  12. Aw, I really enjoyed learning more about your book, Vaughn! Because we are friends, I already knew you are a fine writer and a good man. It was nice to read this thoughtfully presented article and I hope you print it up and save it, because one day, when your novels are selling like hotcakes, you're going to want to look back and remember how it all felt beforehand.

    I'm also going to check out The Art of War. Is it like the one associated with Sun Tzu? I really enjoyed what I could glean from that. :)

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    1. Oh good, Denise came by. For those who love epic fantasy like I do, the name on the comment above is one to remember. Can't wait for your work to be pubbed, D!

      War of Art is more of a clever take on the famous title, but Pressfield does often equate the warrior ethos to the writer's life. It's one of those books you can read in one or two sittings, but that you'll dog-ear and skip around in, rereading for years. Let me know what you think if you read it.

      Thanks so much for your ongoing support, my friend!

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  13. Great interview, Vaughn! And I loved this, "Can’t go wrong throwing in some kickass warrior chicks, right?" There's a bumper sticker in there somewhere. ;-) I enjoyed learning more about your story and look forward to reading it one day soon.

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    1. Thanks for the bumper-sticker idea, T! :-D I think it could catch on. I'm honored by the thought of your reading. I can only hope that my work moves and inspires certain readers as much as Last Will moved and inspired me.

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  14. Good interview--got me thinking about my writing life and beta readers and being pessirealitic.

    Anyway...I "met" Vaughn on WU, I think. Must have been. And he is definitely supportive and generous with other writers. I hope his trilogy and all of his writing career is a huge success.

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    1. Me, too, Marta! He is definitely the kind of person who deserves success! And I love pessirealitic!

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    2. Count me in on loving pessirealism. :-) Marta, I've said it before, but it warrants repeating--it's easy to be supportive of my tribe mates when they are so talented and reciprocal. Loving watching you lift into flight right now. Keep stretching your wings!

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  15. I loved the chance to learn more about Vaughn--a true generous spirit on WU, Facebook, Twitter, and EVERYWHERE (I'm guessing).

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  16. I agree with Nina. Vaughn's a true generous spirit. I enjoy learning more about him and his writing (he's always worried about our writing). Thanks Lara!

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    1. Thanks for coming by! I think that's partly why I thought of Vaughn for the interview. He's kind of an enigma, because he's always so focused on helping others!

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  17. Fantastic interview, Laura! Vaughn, you make a great guinea pig. :) Thank you for being you and for being such a wonderful support to everyone in the writing community. I can't wait to see your books on the shelf. It will happen. :) And you're a pessimist? You hide it well!

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  18. Also would help if I spelled your name right, Lara! That's what happens when I start working before I've had my cup of tea in the morning. :(

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    1. No problem - it's a tricky one! And thanks for enjoying the interview! :)

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  19. Lara, I can't get the 'reply' buttons to work this morning. Huh.

    Just wanted to thank Nina and Stacy for their kind words. I'm so happy to have such great tribe mates. I count on Stacy to find the really good writerly posts. You really have a nose for them Stacy! And Nina is our tribe's go-to authority on all things Twitter. And I'm starting to see you more on fb, Nina (sorry, it's my social media wheelhouse).

    As for Heather, thanks for being one of my writing besties. Your support of me and my work is unfailing and very appreciated! You know I'll be one of the first in line to get my copy of Pretty Dark Nothing!

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    1. Weird - sometimes blogger is like that, I'm sad to say... Sometimes it won't even let me leave comments!

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  20. What a terrific interview, Lara and Vaughn! Vaughn, I love your advice about just writing the first draft without getting online and looking for a bunch of advice. We tend to lose that joy of writing by getting sucked into the "do's and don't's" associated with it, and it seems like we are always trying to get that joy back.

    As an aside, I went to Chadron State College for my undergraduate degree, and I'm from Bridgeport! Small world. :-)

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    1. What a terrific comment, Melissa! ;-) Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Isn't it the truth, that we're always chasing that initial joy? It comes to me now and again, but sadly it's fleeting in comparison to what I felt in those heady days of the first draft. Thanks too, Melissa, for your support and friendship!

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    2. You're welcome! Yeah, that joy is fleeting for me, too, and it really stinks. But I think it's totally a head game. We can rediscover it if we get rid of that inner editor.

      Oh, and the whole Chadron/Bridgeport comment was for Lara, just in case there was any confusion. LOL

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    3. It is a small world! Chadron is definitely a unique little place. When did you go there? We might have shared the campus!

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    4. I was there from 1993-1997. I worked at the bookstore, too!

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  21. I loved the cramped little bookstore - although I think they moved it... Were you in the basement? I think I might have missed you. I was there in 1989, and then went back for a year, but I think it might have been 1992-1993. Hard to remember so far back! I feel so old!

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    1. The bookstore was in the new student center, so I'm glad I didn't have to work in the basement. ;-) I haven't been back to Chadron in years.

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    2. Oh, yeah! I forgot about the new student center!

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  22. This is a great interview Lara; it’s wonderful to get to know fellow writers thru little interviews. Vaughn, I wish you great luck and success with the third round. I’ll stop in your site as soon as I find some time. :)

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    1. Thanks so much, Veronica. In this case, for me, the guy I got to know a little better was myself. And I get to 'meet' fine folks like you through Lara's blog. Very win-win! :-)

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    2. Thanks, Veronica! I find people's stories interesting, too. Writing social histories is one of my favorite parts about being a social worker. :)

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  23. I'm coming late, but I wonderful interview, guys. Lara goes for the juicy stuff, doesn't she?

    Vaughn, I so agree with you about the necessity to learn through trial and error before going to the experts. You were speaking of delay? IMHO, this is another way to remain passive. That's not to say one shouldn't always be learning and striving, but there's a need to balance formal education with active experimentation. Don't ask me how I know. ;)

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    1. Late - Schmate, so glad you came by, Jan! I think if knew then what I know now, the trilogy wouldn't exist. Or it certainly would've been a much different tale--I'm guessing shorter, safer, less complex.

      Praise from my all-time favorite online writerly reviewer means the world to me! :-)

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    2. I try, Jan! Thanks for coming by. I really like in your comment about delay being a way to remain passive. It's one way fear keeps us from reaching our dreams, I think. Sooner or later, if we want to go anywhere, we have to be ready to risk a little bit!

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