Is your family supportive? Do your friends support you?
I would never have published The Wings of Dragons without the support of a lot of amazing people. The team I work with in my day job especially deserve thanks. They encouraged me and helped out every step of the way. Some of them reviewed drafts, another helped with cover design and typesetting, and all of them kept my spirits up with their constant interest in what I was working on.
Do you plan to publish more books?
You bet! The Wings of Dragons is only book one of The Dragoon Saga. I plan to release two more books in that series, and there’s potential for more if it really takes off. I’m also working on a non-fiction title related to my experiences in farm and forest conservation.
What else do you do to make money, other than write? It is rare today for writers to be full time.
I work a day job at an environmental nonprofit based in the New York City water supply region. We protect farm and forestland in order to keep the rural economy of the region strong and the water that nine million New Yorkers depend on some of the best in the world.
What other jobs have you had in your life?
My first job was as a tour guide at Indian Echo Caverns just outside Hershey, Pennsylvania. That was an amazing experience! Any time you work with the public, you learn so much (too much?) about people. That job helped me become more extroverted, and its layout inspired the cavern in The Wings of Dragons. At the moment I work in the Catskills at an environmental nonprofit promoting farm and forest conservation. That’s yet another great opportunity to meet interesting folks while doing a service to planet Earth.
If you could study any subject at a university, what would you pick?
I went to school for economics and natural resources management, not writing. I’d love to go back and take a few creative writing courses. It would be great to practice and hone my craft in the presence of other excited students and a teacher who could spot my flaws better than I could.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
At my heart I’m a family guy, so I’d love to live closer to my mom and sisters. The cool thing about being a writer is the ability to live just about anywhere, so if I ever get to the point where I am a full-time author, I’d love to move back to my roots in central Pennsylvania and see my family more often.
How do you write – laptop, pen, paper, in bed, at a desk?
Being lefthanded, I’ve always hated handwriting. My author bio in The Wings of Dragons even talks about how overjoyed I am to live in a time when I can type my stories. My handwriting is terrible. Not just bad, terrible. I can’t even read it, and all the correcting teachers of my youth failed to make it better. So when I write, I always use a laptop. My favorite place to write is on my couch in the living room. It’s comfortable, and since the computer is sitting right there, it makes it easy to pick it up and just start typing. I often feel like I don’t have enough time to write, but if I can get started, suddenly I’ll find that I’ve gotten a lot more done than I thought I had time for. All that said, when I do revisions, I always print out the manuscript and make my edits in red pen. As much as I hate handwriting, I’ve never been able to edit on the computer.
Where do you get support from? Do you have friends in the industry?
Support from others is what’s gotten me through this whole publishing process. I had friends at my day job and my family at home cheering me the whole way. They saw what an incredible risk I was taking in putting my work out there, as well as all the work that went into it. They all wanted me to succeed and were willing to pitch in to help me get there. I’ve also had great support from a fellow author, Shannon Delany, who wrote the 13 to Life series and the Weather Witch series. Her advice helped me hone not only my writing style, but also my marketing efforts.
How much sleep do you need to be your best?
I’m a heavy sleeper, and I need a lot to feel well-rested. Usually I need at least 8 hours, and sometimes a little more than that is helpful. I’m impressed by those who can do fine on 6 hours of sleep. When I do that, I might as well dye my skin green and don some purple pants.
Every writer has their own idea of what a successful career in writing is. What does success in writing look like to you?
Success to me means making sure that every book I write is absolutely the best I can make it at the time it’s released. Each book should communicate my thoughts, stories, and characters as clearly as possible. Then I use the feedback I get from readers to improve, so that each book is better than the last. Success to me isn’t an end-state; it’s a continuous process of growing as an author and a communicator of ideas.
From fantasy author Josh VanBrakle comes an epic new trilogy of friendship, betrayal, and explosive magic. Lefthanded teenager Iren Saitosan must uncover a forgotten history, confront monsters inspired by Japanese mythology, and master a serpentine dragon imprisoned inside a katana to stop a revenge one thousand years in the making.
Lodian culture declares lefthanded people dangerous and devil-spawned, and for Iren, the kingdom's only known Left, that's meant a life of social isolation. To pass the time and get a little attention, he plays pranks on the residents of Haldessa Castle. It's harmless fun, until one of his stunts nearly kills Lodia's charismatic heir to the throne. Now to avoid execution for his crime, Iren must join a covert team and assassinate a bandit lord. It's a suicide mission, and Iren's chances aren't helped when he learns that his new katana contains a dragon's spirit, one with a magic so powerful it can sink continents and transform Iren into a raging beast.
Adding to his problems, someone on Iren's team is plotting treason. When a former ally launches a brutal plan to avenge the Lefts, Iren finds himself trapped between competing loyalties. He needs to figure out who - and how - to trust, and the fates of two nations depend on his choice.
"A fast-paced adventure...led by a compelling cast of characters. Josh VanBrakle keeps the mysteries going." - ForeWord Reviews
Genre – YA epic fantasy
Rating – PG-13
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