Six Elementals Author Interviews will introduce prospective readers to some of the best writers in their genre you may, or may not, have heard of, via a series of six questions. I encourage you to check out the work of these phenomenal creatives! Links to their websites and purchase links will always appear, accompanying the interview. Check them out!
A distinct pleasure for me today, to be able to interview the wonderful hopepunk-fantasy-sci-fi author, R.P. Lauer! R.P’s currently published works include: The Scars of Gaia and Stories from Gaia.
P.L.: So awesome to be able to interview you, R.P. for Six Elementals Interviews! The Scars of Gaia was an amazing book that resonated with me, and will always be in the back of my mind. I do love messed-up, very morally grey, even awful characters in novels, because I find them very intriguing. Yet, I absolutely loved The Scars of Gaia, with your wonderful main characters, James and Claire. As I said in my Goodreads review of the novel, “If you want main characters to root for, this is your book.” James and Claire are not without their faults, and those faults are very-well drawn by you in The Scars of Gaia. Yet overall, they are quite loveable people. Are you the sort of author and reader that prefers to see protagonists who are essentially noble on the pages of the book? Do you think you would ever write a book about highly flawed characters?
R.P.: Ouch! That’s kind of a tough question lol. Let me first start off by saying how much I appreciate you giving me this opportunity, P.L.! I cannot tell you just how much it means to me!
I also need to preface this entire thing by saying that it is going to be hard for me to really talk about The Scars of Gaia without flat out spoiling the entire journey. I’d love to have a full and candid discussion about it, including full spoilage, but I can’t bring myself to just yet.
As for the question, let me say that I don’t really put a line between mediums, so it’s not just about books for me; I am a consumer of stories in general, across all mediums. So in general, I think I enjoy a pretty wide range of character types, including angelic ‘saint’ like characters to batshit crazy assholes. But overall, I think the best stories for me have characters that I want to succeed, and there has to be at least *some* good in them for that to work.
This is a weird example, but two of my all time favorite video games are Final Fantasy 7 and Final Fantasy 9, which couldn’t be more different from a story perspective. The main protagonist from 7 is an emo asshole, Cloud, and 9 has the extremely optimistic (and unfortunately overly horny) Zidane. Both are great games, with amazing stories. But I think I do prefer 9, and I think it’s because of its overall spirit of hope and optimism.
I hope that that makes sense.
As for whether or not I’ll write a flawed character, maybe? That sounds tricky just because you cannot go too far with it, which I feel would be easy to do. One wrong step and you take a character that you once rooted for, hoping they’ll die very painfully.
I think it’s also different when it comes to consuming, vs. creating. It’s a lot easier to like a flawed character that you are consuming (that someone else created) than liking your own character that is flawed. The attachment to the character is very different when it’s your own. For example, when I was outlining a potential sequel to The Scars of Gaia, I really did want to test James’ resolve; I wanted to sort of break him at least once. But even in outlining, I just don’t think I can do it.
P.L.: I’ve heard you often say, “I’m not a writer.” Yet, in my estimation, you are a fantastic writer! What do you mean by that message? What made you decide to write The Scars of Gaia, if you feel you are not a writer?
R.P.: Well, in my opinion, a writer is someone who lives to write, and who can actually craft a story. I don’t really do that. This book was probably just a fluke. It’s hard to articulate, but most of the time, trying to write is a very forced affair. I can often come up with elements of a story, but what I almost always lack is a true, actual ‘plot’.
The Scars of Gaia was just a random thing, really. I had just finished playing a video game; I will not mention it because I do not want its fans to show up at my doorstep with their pitchforks and torches. But the game, I absolutely hated it.
As a game, it sucked start to finish. It was a slog to play. And at first, the story and characters were painful. But I pushed through because I paid a LOT of money for it. Anyway, a few hours in I finally started getting interested in the story, and most of the characters. The hero was naive, but also optimistic and somewhat charming.
Then, it got right into overdone cliche territory where a tragic incident occurred and the ‘hero’ quits and has to find himself again. That pissed me off because I HATE that cliche (and yes, I realize that FF9 did this too, but that was the ONLY bad part of that game and it wasn’t done this poorly).
The game also ended very stupidly; they were going for some real rug pull but it made no sense, contradicted a lot of what came before, and betrayed the very characters that had been so solid up until then.
Anyway, not too long after that, I had this thought about a world; I can’t say too much more about that, as the very concept was something I would consider a major spoiler. But I talked to my oldest son – and wife at the time – about this idea. Talking it out grew the concept.
Basically, everything that happens in chapter 18 was there from the start; well, most of it anyway. The world specific stuff. The idea started with the world, and the world gave birth to the characters. Well, the world and some research; the original concept was much larger, with WAY more characters, but I found some advice for first time authors warning against too many main characters. And the advice made sense, so I scaled everything back.
Anyway, from there, once the world was set and the characters had life, the story just sort of wrote itself; actually, the characters really wrote the story. No joke. For example, I didn’t want a romance at all in the story. I wanted to focus on platonic love, friendships, trust. Platonic love is something I find severely lacking in most storytelling.
But as the story progressed, a romance kindled between James and Claire. I fought it as long as I could, but eventually had to give in; they demanded that I surrender.
Now, as for how the video game helped in my inspiration, it was basically the foundation for what NOT to do. Though I will admit that the original concept had a different ending, which probably would have pissed some people off almost as much as that game’s ending pissed me off, just in a very different way; my original ending was meant to be ambiguous. And while I admit that a lot of people don’t like ambiguous endings, I don’t think they piss most people off on the same level as an ending that is just stupid and an actual betrayal of everything that came before.
Or, maybe I’m wrong on that lol.
P.L.: You have a great reputation for giving back, uplifting, and supporting others in the writing community whenever you can, which I so admire about you. What has your involvement in the writing community – particularly on social media platforms like Twitter – where you are a very well-liked and well-respected member, meant to you?
R.P.: Honestly, that’s almost a sore spot right now. Due to recent events, I just haven’t had time for the writing community anymore, and I feel terrible about it. I’ve fallen off of the map, so to speak, and I am almost non-existent now. I miss it so much! The writing community meant everything to me just months ago, and it still does, I just can’t keep up anymore. At least not now, with my personal life so messy.
I hope that someday I’ll find myself in a place to get back to it. Though, I have to admit that I’ll need to scale it back; I really over-extended myself, trying to uplift everyone I could. It was simply too much.
P.L.: I loved The Scars of Gaia, and your book has been extremely well received by a lot of other people, including those in the writing community. The praise of fellow creatives is high praise indeed. How do you feel about the positive reception for your awesome book?
R.P.: No offense, but I think that you over-estimate the reception lol. There are definitely a few people who truly loved the book, and that makes me feel wonderful! I cannot express just how grateful I am to hear people such as yourself and Eve Koguce gush about it. But the reality is, there have only been a small handful of people who really enjoyed it. Overall, it’s pretty much gone unnoticed; I can’t even give it away.
P.L.: Who are some of the authors that have inspired you? Who are some of your favourite authors?
R.P.: In terms of commercial authors and commercial books, those that I consumed prior to my own involvement in the writing community, I think there is only one author I can say I love; Dean Koontz. Don’t get me wrong, I love a lot of other books by other authors, but it tends to be individual books I love, and not so much the authors.
I loved Flowers in the Attic, for example, but I never got into the other books in that series, let alone anything else V.C. Andrews wrote (if she did, which now that I think about it, I can’t say if she did lol).
I do enjoy H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, but a lot of that is more admiration for pioneers of Sci Fi. Please do not take this the wrong way, I do love their work, but it is also writing from a different time.
Now, if we are talking about ALL authors, you know how much I enjoyed your book, A Drowned Kingdom! And I also loved The Wing Thief by Samantha Atkins, King of the Wicked by T.R. Hamby, Neglected Merge by the aforementioned Eve Koguce, Dawnbreak by Rebecca Mickley, and Conspiracy of Cats by B.C. Harris (just to name a few).
P.L.: What’s next for R.P. Lauer in terms of writing? Quite a few people, including myself, are clamouring for a follow-up to The Scars of Gaia. Will you write a sequel? Do you have any future projects that you can discuss on the go?
R.P: This is very tough to predict. I never predicted that I would write one novel; if anything, I assumed I never would. I had an idea for a sequel, but for personal reasons, it just isn’t in me anymore. I also had a very vague idea for a new story, possibly a trilogy actually. But it’s also proving quite difficult.
First because I don’t have time or energy right now for anything creative. Second, as I said before many times, I am not a writer. The Scars of Gaia really kind of wrote itself. When I am forced to write something, it’s just that; forced.
Like, with Gaia, the world itself came first (again, what you learn in chapter 18 – the concept itself, if you know what I mean). With the new idea I have, it’s actually centered around a couple of characters. I’m currently lacking the world itself, and that is making things very difficult.
It’s also intended to revolve around magic, and magic itself can be difficult. You don’t want it to be too overpowered. If you go that route, there should be no problems that magic can’t fix. But you don’t want it to be too weak either; if it’s that insignificant, it won’t be interesting.
I guess only time will tell.
P.L.: R.P., it has been an honour to speak to you for Six Elementals Interviews! Thank you so much!
R.P.: Thank you P.L.! The honour was all mine!!
Buy The Scars of Gaia here:
Download for freeStories From Gaiafrom R.P’s wesbite here