Interview with Joe Lyon
Tellest: Hi there Joe. Thanks for carving out some time to talk with me. You’ve got a lot of skills and talents, and I’m sure that keeps your days busy. We’re going to use this opportunity to find out more about your work on Astar’s Blade, but we’re also looking to see what goes on in the mind of Joe Lyon!
Joe Lyon: Thanks for having me Mike, oh boy! What goes on inside the mind of Joe Lyon? Now, there’s a twisted topic to talk about.
T: One of the first things that I always like to ask the authors I interview is how they ended up on the path that led them writing their stories. You’ve led a rich and complex life, but along the way, what inspired you to create monsters and extraordinary characters?
JL: The short answer is my morbid fascination with death. It’s a coping mechanism, based on my fear of being scared to death of the thought of death. Probably because I was the youngest in an older family, so at a very young age I had to deal with a loved one’s passing on. I used to think death was something accidental that happened only to the unlucky, it wasn’t until I learned that everybody will die eventually, I guess my mind got a little twisted there. So, I started an obsession with creating freaky monsters and people with superpowers, characters that were either already dead, or had the power to never be. In the Afterward of my first book, I write briefly about it, fearing death makes me live a better life to the fullest. So, it’s not all bad.
T: Prior to the release of Astar’s Blade, you had a pretty extensive account of songs and poetry that you put out into the world. How do you think that helped with things like pacing and prose?
JL: That’s a great question. Songs and poetry lent some texture to the characters, as they sing and celebrate in music and poems, sort of remind me of J.R.R Tolkien’s elves and other characters. But it is not meant to be a rip-off of Tolkien. I actually was a musician first, then writer second. And I just found I had so much material in the forms of music and song lyrics, turned into poetry, that I thought it would give my characters more life to use what I had on hand. So I did that. And as far as timing and pacing, I really did not feel like it did help much. As Stephen King once said, writing is “organized thoughts”, and song lyrics and poetry I think are “organized emotions.” So, although the Sunday School answer would be, “Yes absolutely it made my prose better,” I just don’t think I would be genuine if I said it did. Or maybe I just haven’t learned how to span that bridge yet.
T: Astar’s Blade doesn’t seem like it comes from the work of a “pantser”, though I could be wrong. It feels like a world that you’ve been working on for decades and that there’s so much of the world that we’ve barely scratched the surface. How did you come up with the world, and how do you make it feel so lived-in and multi-faceted?
JL: Yes and No. Astar’s Blade was a story that kept me awake for 10 years. And I had plenty of false starts and half-written outlines. The tipping point came when I finally had a Eureka moment in the middle of the night where the story outline kind of fell into place in my mind, it only took 10 years to do so. Then from that rather rigid idea I had down cold in my mind, I started writing but allowed my characters to drive the plot, as long as they drove it in the direction I needed them to. Once again, I would love to say I’m a strict outline writer, but I still allow quite a bit of myself to be a “punster” to give my characters some agility.
T: The Kingdom of Odessa is the stage of Astar’s Blade, and you’ve put together a beautiful map of the place. Did you always have it in mind like that, or has it changed over time? Will we be seeing other kingdoms as the series goes on?
JL: Yes everything revolved around the Mid-Run Valley in my sandbox. With the giant Gray Mountains in the East, and the sprawling range in the West of the Blue Mountains, reminiscent of my take on New York and Los Angeles. To the north sets a vast forest called the Great Mapes, which is home to the witch, and if you look closely, the Great Mapes have no northern border. This is so in future editions of Astar’s Blade we could push further and explore beyond that forest and see what’s on the other side. It’s exciting to think about. Just like thinking about what might be found on the far shores of the Endless Sea. Is it really Endless? Probably not.
T: We’re less than three months away from the release of your sequel, Kilmer’s Ghost. Am I right in guessing that your book is already done, and you’re just giving The Provenance time to breathe and make the rounds among all your new fans?
JL: Kilmer’s Ghost builds upon the world established in the first book. As the name implies, the second book has a more ghostly element, paranormal and more. The story focuses on several cases of demonic possession and the birth of a group of demons called the Demonic, a race of unique ghoulish demons that take offense to being called vampiric. They want to emphasize, they are not blood drinkers, they are flesh eaters. In the meantime, it is also a love story, actually, there are a couple of love stories, because nothing says love is like a good demonic possession. I am glad the release of Kilmer’s Ghost will be on Halloween. This was not planned but it was a wonderful accident of scheduling. It will be released just a short few months after the release of the first book. Yes. both books are finished, each over 100K words, and let me say this: never again will I do this to myself. I never want to have two book releases so close together. Incidentally, the audiobook of The Provenance will also be coming out in October as well. It has been just a really crazy time for me.
I’m not expecting the third and final third book, The Temple of Valor, until May 2022. So, I’m looking forward to just working on one project at a time.