Member Spotlight: John Van Stry

1. Tell us about your most recent project (written or published). What inspired it?

The ‘Portals of Infinity’ series is my most recent project. It’s about a guy who discovers these portals that link all of these different realities together and his adventures as he deals with different realities, gods, goddesses, and champions. Book six just came out in October.

I can’t point to any one thing that inspired it, as it was actually inspired by a lot of different things. Mainly I was looking for a story that could be serialized and this was what I came up with after a lot of thought. I’ve been rather surprised by how well it has been received.

2. What’s your writing process like? Are you a “pantser,” an outliner, or something in between?

I guess something in between; when I start a story I usually have the beginning, the end, and a scene or two written down. But somewhere around the second or third chapter, once I have a feeling for the story, I’ll sit down and write a full outline. However, I do update the outline if necessary. Only the original plot points I started with don’t change.

3. What’s your favorite kind of story to write?

I actually prefer to write first person singular (and yes, that probably wasn’t what you meant when you asked that, right?) I guess I prefer stories with action and adventure, but it’s really hard for me to narrow it down, because many of my stories rarely have a single ‘kind’ to them, I tend to mix it up. I write SciFi or Fantasy predominately, but I’ve written Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, and even a few odder things.

4. Which character from your work do you most identify with, and why?

This is actually a tough question, partially because I’ve got a lot of stuff out there now, as I have a few pen names. I guess I identify a little with Raj, from my book Children of Steel, because we’re both pilots, and we’re both martial artists (though I don’t teach or fight anymore), but I also identify a bit with Mark from The Hammer Commission as that story did come from a dream I had many years ago.

5. Which authors or books have most influenced your work?

That’s a very long list. Roger Zelazny definitely influenced my writing style; Robert Heinlein influenced my love of science fiction and the idea of capable heroes. But also Tolkien, Asimov, Roger Sterling, Lackey, Webber, Dickson, Capote, Zahn, Norman (Lisanne, not the Gor guy), McCaffrey, Correia, and the list goes on. I used to read a lot and I had a lot of authors who I really liked.

6. What’s the last book you read that you really loved?

I guess the last one I read that I really loved was Off Leash by Daniel Potter. It was a ‘Rollicking good yarn’ (sorry, but how often do you get to use the word ‘rollicking’ these days? Couldn’t pass it up). I write full time now, so I don’t get to read as much as I used to, but I came across this book via the board here after talking to Daniel, and I really had a great time reading it.

7. Besides writing, how do you like to spend your free time?

Right now? Fallout 4. Though I do wrench on my motorcycles and ride them whenever I can. I also play bass guitar, pretty much every day. I keep a couple set up next to my writing desk with a practice amp for when I take breaks.

8. Advice for other writers?

STORY! Always put the story first. People want to read a good story; they don’t want to be preached at. This isn’t to say you can’t have a viewpoint, or a ‘message’ you want to convey, but the story must always come first. If you don’t have a good story, you won’t sell any copies. The next piece of advice? GET PAID. As Larry Correia says, make that the first line in your business plan.

Another thing I would say is don’t overprice your work. No one is going to pay bookstore prices for an unknown ebook author, especially a self-published or micro-press one. 5.99 is too much, you should all be looking at 2.99 to start. Yes, you make more money on a 5.99 book, but 70 percent of 1 or 2 sales is a lot less at 5.99 than 70 percent of a thousand sales at 2.99.

Last of all, SciFi is not a big market; it’s actually a tiny market. Fantasy is bigger, but Romance is the biggest. If you like writing Romance, then you should write in that market, as you’ll find success a lot easier than in the other markets, and you can charge higher prices for your work. Furry is a very tiny, microscopic market, so it’s no wonder that the only authors doing well in it are writing Romance. There is also a huge prejudice against anything remotely furry in mainstream fiction, except for Paranormal Romance, which if it isn’t vampires, it’s pretty furry.

9. Where can readers find your work?

Amazon. I went exclusive with Amazon last year, because being in the Kindle Unlimited program was a good financial decision for me. I may start going ‘wide’ in 2016, depending on what Amazon does with that program going forward, but right now Amazon is THE place to buy and sell books. The other booksellers out there on line don’t understand the business, and are failing at it.

10. What’s your favorite thing about the furry fandom?

The friendships mainly. Back when I first got started in the fandom and was more active I made a lot of friends with a lot of the other creative folks. I still know quite a few writers and artists and talk to them occasionally. These days I’m not very active in the fandom anymore, I show up at a con or two, maybe log into a muck for a few minutes to check my mail, and that’s about it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.