Congratulations upon the publication of your first novel, Left Horse Black! Ive read the excerpt on your publishers site (ArcheBooks). I think Left Horse Black will launch readers into such a fascinating yet realistic world
of magic and adventure, theyll hate to leave it!
I find the title very intriguing. Would you explain its meaning,
or would it spoil things?
Thank you! Basically, the title has to do with a myth in the story
that the characters find parallel to their situation. Its a play
on words really. Its a combination of Left Hand Path philosophy
(worship of the self), and the color black being representative
of hidden mysteries and the unknown. As for horses, they are well
known (like most animals) for their keen instinct to recognize
hidden danger. The choice of a horse goes back to an incident
from my childhood where I was spared a rattlesnake bite because
of a horses instinct. This explains the title without really
giving anything away.
I also find the names of your charactersTnasha and Aragel, for exampleintriguing. They seem to fit perfectly. How did
you come up with them?
When Im world building I usually sit down and just write lists
of nonsensical names, or foreign names, or names I like. Then
I play with them. A vowel moved here, a consonant added there.
If I know who the character is before hand and have a good idea
of his/her personality I will fit a name to a character. But in
the case of Left Horse Black, I started with names and built the characters around them.
You dedicated your novel to your sister Connie, who encouraged
you to follow your dreams. On your site you say you wrote a 100-page book when you were only seven. Thats
amazing! Did you try other professions before you followed your
Actually, I started writing short stories when I was about seven.
I wrote the 100-page novel when I was eleven. I started out in
college as a journalism major and ended up with an English degree.
I thought I would go into teaching, but decided against it because
I didnt think I had enough patience. I ended up being an administrative
assistant, webmaster, IT person, and accounting clerk for the
family business. My sister was there for me through all the rejection
and moments of self-doubt. Shes been one of my biggest fans and
toughest critics throughout my writing career. Its hard to find
someone who knows your work so well and who will always be there
for you. No one else I know would have read the novel three times
like she did. Im lucky and grateful to have her.
In the acknowledgements section, you thank Karen K., who helped
me tremendously during the ugly stages. Were there many ugly
stages? Would you describe any of them?
There were three ugly stages. See, Left Horse Black was originally three separate novels that became the current
novel. My first novel was called The Kings Nephew and ran approximately
50K in length. Two years later, at age twenty-one, I wrote my
second novel, Traveling on the Left Horse Black. That novel only weighed in at 40K. So there I was with two very
short novels in first draft form. The problem was neither of the
novels worked. They were ugly. The stories were simple, the characters
lifeless, and nothing about either book felt right.
Then, one day, when I was about twenty-five, I had an epiphany
over my morning bowl of cereal. Both books were an attempt to
tell the same story from different character points of view. It
was then I decided I could just cut and paste both books together,
alternating point of view every other chapter. So I began my third
novel and decided to call it The Black Blade Asunder.
Much like Frankensteins monster, the third novel was an abomination.
One could tell it had been haphazardly sewn together from pieces
and parts written at different stages. Yet I still had hope and
decided the bones of the novel were good. With that in mind, I
started over from square one, changed the title back to Traveling on the Left Horse Black, and rewrote the novel from beginning to end. It was re-titled
Left Horse Black during the final stages of editing.
You will be a member of at least two panels at the RMFW Colorado Gold Writers Conference starting September 9. What are your feelings about being on the
Im uneasy about public speaking because Im kind of shy, but
Im also excited because being on the panels will give me a chance
to pay forward and share what Ive learned with other writers.
Hopefully the information they receive will help them make educated
choices about their own writing careers. Im not sure what to
expect. Luckily Ive had a chance to converse with the other panelists
via e-mail and have found some comfort in the fact that many of
them have done this numerous times before. Its definitely going
to be a learning experience.
I see that you will have your first book signing soon, either
at the Gold Writers Conference or the Black Canyon Writers Conference in October. Have you ever been to a signing? What are your hopes
and concerns regarding the signing?
I have never been to a book signing so I do have a lot of concerns.
Everything from what to wear, what type of pen to use, do I just
sign my name unless they ask for an inscription? I need to stop
biting my nails. Is my handwriting terrible? Should I practice?
How should I set up my table? Where should I sign? These are the
some of the crazy things going through my mind. Im also concerned
about having to pitch my novel in a sentence to a potential reader
without tripping over my tongue. My hope is that someone will
actually want me to sign their copy of my novel, and that I wont
embarrass anyone (myself included).
I read on your website that you crawled through the dank remains
of medieval English castles and crossed the towering battlement
walls of Warwick, despite your fear of heights. You performed
these feats in order to get a feel for Left Horse Black. You are obviously very dedicated. Where else have you traveled?
What else have you done for the purpose of getting a feel for
I love that you asked this question. Im someone who believes
Write what you know is not bad advice. If you dont know, then
you have an opportunity to learn something new. I have taken various
types of swordsmanship lessons (Fencing, Kendo, Elizabethan),
I collect edged weapons so I handle replicas and the real thing
often, and Ive practiced archery among other things. One of the
trips I took was a tour of Western Ireland on horseback. We rode
from town to town from the Mt. Shannon region, through the Burren
and down to the Cliffs of Moher. We spent 5-8 hours a day on horseback,
cared for our own horses, and ate on the trail. The only thing
the trip didnt include was camping out. We stayed in B&Bs at
night. I did it because I wanted to know what it was like to actually
travel a long distance on horseback. Im glad I did, too. For
a character who rides, but who isnt accustomed to riding for
long hoursit can be a physically demanding experience.
I know that Left Horse Black is only the first in the Sorcerers Twilight series. Do you feel pressured by this fact? Or reassured?
I feel reassured because the story couldnt be told in one novel.
The second novel is written and undergoing the final edit, and
the third book is half written at this point. The only pressure
I feel is to make the next book better than the one before it.
I dont want to fall into that pattern of the first novel being
good, the second so-so, and the third lousy. I want to continually
improve and make each book the best one Ive written.
Is there anything else youd care to tell us?
Id like to encourage readers to consider supporting small press
and independent booksellers. A lot of wonderful authors are debuting
in the small press these days and independent booksellers are
usually the only place youll find a lot of small press books
in stock. And, of course, for shameless self-promotion of Left Horse Black and The Sorcerers Twilight Series readers can visit my website at http://www.sjreisner.com/ or my publishers site at http://www.archebooks.com/.
Thank you very much for talking to us. We are all looking forward
to reading Left Horse Black and more of your gripping works!
I enjoyed this interview very much. Thank you!
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