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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Hobbit Meets Heavy Metal...Who Among You Can Resist That?

In honor of the publication of their first novel, Cycle of Ages Saga:  Finders Keepers, I’m happy to welcome Jeremy Hicks and Barry Hayes back to Confessions of a Bookworm to talk about inspiration, fantasy adventure at its finest and the novel Barry Hayes describes as “heavy metal meets The Hobbit”. The guys also flirt with other topics—including, firsts for the blog: The Kama Sutra and 50 Shades of Grey.  Corset up and hold on to your battle axes, ladies!

Jeremy Hicks

Barry Hayes

COBW: What inspired you to become a writer?

BH: I always loved reading, and at an early age I had a very active and wild imagination. My family was amazed at some of the stories I could come up with, and they always told me that I should write them down. So my inspiration came primarily from my family who encouraged me to spin my worlds into novels. I got into role playing games and that is when I got urged on by fellow gamers to put the games I ran into novel format. I think the combination of my overactive imagination and my introduction to RPGs were both contributors.

JH: For as long as I can remember, I too have had a natural love of stories. Whether it was watching them, reading them, telling them, or writing them. I embraced my love of writing as a child but grew to believe that it’d never be a realistic pursuit, mainly because of what naysayers told me. But after finding myself without a viable career due to the terrible economy, I had to make a change. And I chose to follow another dream, so I went from archaeology to writing. I’d rather fail at a dream than succeed in a nightmarish scenario where I am not happy with what I’m doing, who I’m doing it for, or where I’m doing it.  You could say that I’m writing my own destiny, one story at a time.

COBW: Can you tell us a little about both the advantages and challenges of completing a novel as co-authors?

BH: Writing with another author, especially one as talented as Jeremy, made assembling the story easy. His background as an archaeologist helped to enhance the cultures and various races and societies of Faltyr. We helped one another become better writers by offering brutally honest critiques of each other’s work. Knowing him for over a decade helped ease my pain. The biggest challenges were agreeing on how certain scenes should work, how a character should look, what we should and shouldn’t put in or where we should put it, etc. We usually resolved this by presenting to one another the better defense for why something should be a certain way. We worked well as a team, and I am looking forward to working with him on more projects as our writing career progresses.

JH: Ideally, as a team, you have more resources, more manpower, and more ideas to pull from to create stories. However, it’s a major challenge to utilize those effectively and efficiently. It’s tough realizing that you cannot manage someone else’s time for them and must trust them to deliver on their end of the writing partnership. And with writing you have the added challenge of meshing ideas, styles of writing, and even approaches to characters and situations. If you treat it like a learning experience, then you have the advantage of educating each other based on the successes and failures of your team and crafting a better product together than you would have on your own.

COBW: Do you write as you go or do you have the book all planned out from page 1?

BH: I do both. It really depends on what I am writing. I sometimes put a lot of thought into a subject, will write an outline of the story, and construct characters, settings and history. Then there are times I turn on the creative faucet and attempt to catch the ideas as they spill out.

JH: With Cycle of Ages Saga: Finders Keepers, we planned pretty heavily. We created a world, characters, and an outline, and then wrote a screenplay version. We planned the novelization out later and then developed it rather rigidly from there. We went so far with it to have a novel subsection and chapter breakdown to manage our chapters, word counts, and character POVs.

COBW: What drew you to this genre?

BH: A friend gave me a copy of The Hobbit. I read it and was drawn to the realms of fantasy instantly. He told me it would give me a feel for the role playing game we were involved in at that moment.

JH: It started as a child. I had a genuine love of fantasy fiction like Alice in Wonderland and The Hobbit and horror fiction by anyone from Poe to Lovecraft to King. But my love of all things speculative fiction blossomed as I moved into playing RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons and realized that I could not just create my own stories but my own world as a setting for them.

COBW: Who is your favorite character in Finders Keepers? Why?

BH: Kaladimus Dor, the young wizard from Moor’Dru who, at the most inopportune of moments or when stressed, gets disastrous results with the magic he is weaving. He is as smart as he is na├»ve. He is as cowardly as he is brave. He is innocent as he is dangerous. I am anxious to watch him grow in character as the series progresses.

JH: Hmmm…now that’s a good question. There are so many good candidates. I’d have to say it is Yax’Kaqix (pronounced Yahsh-kah-keesh) as he was based on a character that I used to play ages ago fused with my love of magic and Mesoamerican culture. He’s an ancient elf war-mage full of angst, complexity, and a moral nebulousness that is found in a lot of people. His entire life is a gray area, other than his adherence to a rather rigid code of conduct when it comes to loyalty and the taking and breaking of oaths.

COBW: What’s been your most rewarding experience since being published?

BH: Being presented the chance to start a career doing something I really enjoy, writing.

JH: Honestly, having the thing done, so we can move onto the next project. Until the book was published, everything wasn’t really real, if that makes sense. The people around us were supportive for the most part, but I don’t think anyone really expected to see actual results from us until the book manifested itself before their very eyes. Now, we’re legitimate. Now we can write, pitch, or publish any project in our imagination and we’re seen as professionals, instead of daydreamers fronting as pros. At an average of 40 years of age, we’re finally real writers in the eyes of our families, friends, loved ones, and community, even though we’ve both considered ourselves writers since childhood.

COBW: What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?

BH: Edit. Edit. Edit. My mistake, you asked for one piece of advice. Edit.

JH: Go to school, get a good technical degree in a solid career field, and pay your bills on time. Spend your nights writing, editing, and then try to get published. Trying to get published is difficult enough. Trying to get published while fighting poverty and trying to keep the light bill paid in Roosterpoot, Alabama is damn difficult.

COBW: If you could jump into a book and live in that world, which would it be?

BH: Anything by H.P. Lovecraft. I love his world!

JH: The Kama Sutra…albeit a modern version with hot showers and flush toilets.

COBW: What’s the one book you wish you’d written?

BH: That would be Terry Pratchett’s Discworld.

JH: 50 Shades of Grey…with 95 million dollars, we could produce our own film version of The Cycle of Ages Saga:  Finders Keepers. Although if we did, sex-starved housewives might expect Channing Tatum to play a wizard called Magic Wand so they could read about him in badly written, badly edited scenes of badly disguised Twilight fanfiction.

Many thanks to Barry and Jeremy for stopping by Through the Wormhole:  Confessions of a Bookworm! Following is the COAS:  Finders Keepers cover image and copy.

Kaladimus Dor, both dopey and dangerous, finds himself racing home across the sea aboard the mighty caravel, Nightsfall. He must return with the secretive contents of the chest in his possession to his home on the island of Moor’Dru. Unfortunately, his disastrous nature shipwrecks him and the survivors on an island full of ravenous inhabitants, both living and undead. Dor allies himself with members of the Finders Keepers mercenary guild and others to search for the Hallowed Vessel, their only means of escape from the nightmare.

You can find more on the duo of Hicks and Hayes, including ways to purchase their debut novel, at their website Their publisher, Dark Oak Press & Media, can be found at