The Writing Life of: Trever Bierschbach
This week I am thrilled to be interviewing author Trever Bierschbach. Trever will be sharing with us details of his writing life, telling us all about his book ‘Embers of Liberty‘, which was released on 20th October 2018 and answering a few fun questions too. This post contains affiliate links.
I’ve been a storyteller since I was a kid, starting with simple stories that I wrote on my Grandpa’s notepads and shared with Grandma, and then as a Dungeon Master for various tabletop gaming groups.
I published my first novel in 2018 and have been working diligently on my next couple of series. I’m a father and husband, full time software analyst, and I have too many hobbies. I love all things geek, fantasy, comics, movies, and video games, and a lot of those things work their way into my work and life.
1) Did you enjoy writing when you were a child?
I think so. I remember one thing I wrote, using one of those small notepads my Grandpa had in his den and an old golf pencil. He was a golfer. I took the pages, glued to the cardboard back, and cut them in half. It was a story about Santa Claus, and I remember I drew some illustrations too, and then I cut the cardboard in half and stapled it all together. I was probably 9 or 10 at the time.
2) Which author shaped your childhood?
I got started on books kind of late in life. The first book I read was when I was grounded, ironically enough, for failing English. I couldn’t watch TV so I got a book. The Schemes of Dragons by David Smeds. That book, while not a huge influence itself, set me on a path to those books who would. Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman have had a huge influence on me.
Terry Brooks and David Eddings were also fundamental as I discovered the worlds of Dragonlance, Shannara, and The Elenium early in my reading life.
3) What motivated you to begin your first novel?
My mom was a big motivator, but I had a teacher in high school who kind of gave me the final push. We had a creative writing assignment in Ms. Gaye’s class, so I wrote a fantasy short I’d been thinking about. I got an A and I’ll never forget her words. She wrote on the paper that she never gave 100% on an assignment like that before because she didn’t believe in a perfect story, but she felt like mine was so good it deserved it.
4) Do you plot your book, or are you a pantser?
Pantser all the way. I usually plan a chapter, and I know kind of how the book will go, but I hate outlines. I may think I know how a chapter will go, and get halfway into it to realize my plan has gone all out the window.
5) What is your average writing day?
Since I work full time, write for gaming and comic sites, stream on YouTube, and have a house to take care of my writing day is a little hectic. I write when and where I can. Kitchen table with breakfast before work, lunch breaks at the office, and when I go to the German American Society a couple times a month.
I write in the evenings while we watch TV. My writing space is really a piece of paper and a pen, wherever I can find it. Oh, I also write almost every first draft by hand.
6) What is the best thing about being an author?
Seeing people enjoy my stories. It’s great to tell them, and so gratifying when people buy them, but when someone comes back and tells me that they really enjoyed it, that’s what it’s all about.
Pages – 376
Release Date – 20th October 2018
ISBN 13 – 978-1726636186
Format – ebook, paperback, audio
John Evermann’s world never changes. He goes to the same assigned job every day. He lives in the same house his family was placed in years ago. He picks up their weekly rations on Friday, and watches the same federally approved news broadcasts every night after dinner. Everything is as it is dictated to be, from the number on the back of his work jacket to the permanent curfew that keeps everyone safely in doors. Everyone has what they need to survive, and everyone contributes. It’s a perfect life, for some.
It’s not enough for John and his friends. America is torn apart from civil war after the rise of a tyrannical President. The Republic of Texas lies to the west, a shining beacon of freedom. When the most radical authoritarian policies are passed some states followed Texas into secession, clinging to the legacy of the Founders. That is where John looked for the future of his family and the friends who came to rely on him. A land of choice and liberty. A place where his children can grow up to be who they want, not who they’re told. They just have to get there.
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7) How did you go about researching the content for your book?
Unintentionally. I watched a lot of cable news years ago, and there’s a lot of people with a lot of strange and awful ideas out there. I always comforted myself by thinking, at least there’s not enough of those people to make any of it real. But what if there were? That’s what led to Embers of Liberty.
I took real world ideas, things people actually thought were good ideas, and took them a step further. And, how would people react? What would people do if the President took total control? How would they react if he ordered the military to subdue the populace? What would happen if we lost many of our freedoms? I looked at real examples of soldiers being told to turn their guns on their own, or how Americans react to losing liberties. A lot of American History, contemporary talking head shows, and military history books went into the making of Embers.
8) How long did it take to go from the ideas stage to writing the last word?
I think it took me three years to write Embers, from start to finish. Another couple of years submitting to agents and then finally putting it out myself.
9) What made you choose the genre you write in?
Embers was meant to be an experiment. I normally write fantasy; elves, dragons, magic and all that but this idea just wouldn’t get out of my head. I wanted to know what an America like that would look like and how her people would behave. I never thought I’d write dystopia, but really it’s not that far from fantasy. I’m still writing a world that’s improbable (though the longer we go on the less improbable it seems), and trying to make it relatable to people who don’t live in a world like that. It isn’t really science fiction, but even so I think once I finish the now trilogy – it was meant to be one book but so many have asked me “what’s next” – I’m not sure I’ll go back to dystopia.
Dystopia tends to be a genre of hopelessness. I like the idea of fantasy looking at the world as it can be. Hope and imagination, not despair and cynicism.
10) How did you come up with the name(s) for your lead character(s)?
With John Evermann, I wanted a character that anyone can relate to. It’s a little on the nose, but the character is meant to be you, not me, or anyone else. Amanda, his wife, is named after a friend of mine, as is one of his friends, Todd. His daughter is named after my mom, though I use a name she never liked, Suzie. It was kind of my tongue-in-cheek jab which my brother and I were always giving our mom. We were a family of jokers.
11) Can you give us an insight into your characters?
I wanted a family who was like almost anyone’s family. Parents who share the load of raising kids, and working. A work ethic and family responsibility that many people have known, or maybe wish they had more of. John is someone who does what has to be done because it’s the right thing to do.
Amanda is a mother and wife who puts her family first, but not at her own expense. John is a leader who doesn’t want it, and was inspired by what I read about George Washington, who could have been King but said no. Who became president out of a sense of duty, not chasing power. He’s reluctant, but his principles mean he shoulders the mantle of leadership. He does it because he wants to see all his family and friends safe and free, not because he wants to have power over people.
12) How did you feel when you had completed your book?
Elated, and accomplished, and a little empty. I’d written another book before that but it was bad and took me forever. To finish this one in a fraction of the time felt like an accomplishment in itself, but I was truly proud of it. It felt good. But it was gone. The story was over. I didn’t intend it to be any more than one book so I was kind of prepared for that, but a little part of me was excited when I got the first “What’s next?”
1) Do you have a favourite quote you live by?
If someone deserves your hate, they don’t deserve the effort or stress to hate them. Or, Live Fast and Make Lots of Noise.
2) Do you have any pets?
We have a beagle/rat terrier mix named Astinus, named after the chronicler of Palanthas from the Dragonlance series. When we adopted him it was the first name he perked up to so that’s what stuck.
3) What’s on your current reading list?
As I write this, and probably when this interview comes out, I’ll be working my way through the Companions’ stories in the Dragonlance Saga. Weis and Hickman are releasing three final books to finish up the stories. I’m currently on Dragons of Autumn Twilight.
4) Your book has been made into a feature film, you’ve been offered a cameo role, what would you be doing?
There’s an old man, older than me but makeup makes magic, who points John and some of his group to a boat so they can cross the Missouri river and escape the federal authorities. I’d play him.
5) If you could travel to the fictional world of any book for the day, which would you choose?
Krynn, yah, Dragonlance is by far my favorite fantasy series.
6) There’s a penguin sitting in your writing chair, what is the first thing he says to you?
‘Get off Twitter’