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!
I am privileged to be joined by the best-selling YA fantasy author, Sean R. Bell! Sean’s current published work is: The Secret of the Sword.
P.L.: I am so excited to be able to interview you, Sean! Thank you so much for joining Six Elementals Interviews! Your debut novel, The Secret of the Sword, has already achieved a best-seller tag, in a very short time after release, and has been met with rave reviews. It is one of my personal favourite books in the genre, and I can vouch after reading it that the success you have enjoyed to-date with your wonderful book is well-earned. For me, and I think many who read your book, the poignant themes surrounding family, is one of the main aspects that makes your work so compelling. To what degree was The Secret of the Sword based on your own family dynamics, if at all?
Sean: First off, thank you so much for this incredible opportunity to be interviewed by an author who has achieved so much with his hard work and great storytelling skills is an honour. You continue to inspire me as a writer, storyteller, and most importantly, a genuine authentic individual.
The Secret of the Sword is the first installment of my The Grandfather Chronicles fantasy trilogy book series. It follows the story of the grandson, Ian, who uncovers secrets from his grandfather’s past that link his family bloodline to that of the Pendragons; the family who is the cornerstone for the Arthurian legend of The Sword in the Stone, Excalibur.
The original story itself started as bedtime story. My imagination seems to always be active at night and I would think back to the wonderful moments that are now memories with my dear grandfather. As a youngster, Christmases and summers were always a special time to me as it meant a trip to Montreal to see my grandparents. My relationship with my grandparents on Mom’s side was something special, but I shared an even deeper bond with Grandfather. Impressions made upon me at this time stuck with me over the years and it’s from these moments, these memories, that my imagination took over. Using these incredible memories from my childhood, I started creating an epic adventure of Fantasy based off one of my favourite legends, The Sword in the Stone. I had always had this vision in my mind for a different story behind the legend of Excalibur; a darker, more sinister approach. The idea of mixing real-life elements from my childhood and using them as the foundation for this story was something I thought could help the genuine authenticity of The Grandfather Chronicles. Using Grandfather at the center of the story, our special relationship crated memorable characters for the book based on real-life family experiences. I do like to think there is a little of me in every character.
So to sum up, yes, there are a number of sequences in this story that are based on my family experiences. The grandfather/grandson relationship and the memories are based on real life moments and I grew the story from there.
P.L.: That is truly wonderful, Sean, thanks for sharing that about your lovely family. You and I share a love for Arthurian Legend! What draws you to the Legend of King Arthur, the Once and Future King?
Sean: What a great question P.L. I have always been fascinated with legends and myths. There are so many different ways to interpret them. I think the legend of King Arthur is filled with so much symbolism and lore. From, The Knights of the Round Table, to the magical spells of Merlin, to the sword Excalibur that united a fallen kingdom, Arthurian legend captures multiple elements of storytelling and leaves much to the imagination. The legend itself also has a sense of mystery surrounding it as there have been discoveries of relics and landmarks suggesting that King Arthur and his knights may have actually walked the earth. The lore of Arthurian legend makes for wonderful storytelling as many renditions have been told. This is where, my book, The Secret of the Sword comes in. I wanted to tell a very different version of the story. My ultimate goal was to seamlessly blend reality with fantasy. Furthermore, my wonderful bond with Grandfather and our great memories together, mixed with a legend that is redefined through this wonderful relationship.
P.L.: Yes, King Arthur is a timeless, compelling fixture in the fantasy landscape. You are obviously a highly talented writer! What made you decide to self-publish your work as opposed to pursuing traditional publishing avenues?
Sean: Thank you so much for the compliment P.L., it means a lot coming from an experienced writer like yourself. I still believe I have lot to learn as I set the bar very high for myself. I am always learning and trying to improve my skillset.
Becoming a partner with a professional self-publishing house like FriesenPress allowed me as an author to include all aspects of the story. FriesenPress understood the reality of the backstory of my book and professionally edited the content and made suggestions that never compromised the integrity of the work itself. Relying on FriesenPress to create a professional piece of work that could compete in a very competitive market was key in my mind.
Additionally, I do like the idea of being traditionally published, however, as a new author on the scene, I recognized that in my opinion, the chances of getting traditionally published were very slim. I made the decision to build my following from the ground up myself. As someone who has worked in the media industry, I know the value of pitching ideas and I also know, you may only get one chance if you find that opportunity. You need to be realistic in your goals and I know I would have a tough chance pitching as a first-time author with little following. I decided to build up my author platforms first.
P.L.: I believe that was a smart decision on your part, Sean! What made you decide to write a book in the first place? Has it always been one of your aspirations? Please tell us about your journey from unpublished writer to best-selling author!
Sean: It’s hard to believe it’s been over two years now since I made the decision to share my imagination with the world. In the midst of a real-world global pandemic that has altered the reality in which we live, fantasy literature allows us to, if only for a brief amount of time, escape to worlds where our imaginations roam free. Introducing the world to my fantasy adventure was a decision that was not made lightly. Creating a world and inviting people to visit and experience it is a big leap of faith. What makes a reader want to invest their money and time in your fantasy world? For me, as a self-published fantasy author, the answer was, seamlessly mix fantasy with elements of reality based on my personal experiences and wonderful memories I shared with my family growing up.
The decision to share heartfelt family memories as part of my The Grandfather Chronicles world of story was a very difficult one. These were treasured memories, P.L., that I kept close to my heart and the idea of including them as storytelling elements was a big decision for me. However, including realistic moments that were a part of who I am and where I came from would add a uniqueness to the story itself and always keep a certain aspect of The Grandfather Chronicles real. As a guy who loves storytelling, this was a story I wanted to share with the world.
Using real life memories and impressions made upon me as a child, and young man growing up, was now going to be the backstory of The Grandfather Chronicles trilogy. Furthermore, using real relationships to inspire characters that would play prominent roles in the story to come. Forever having that special connection to so many special memories I experienced would be the cornerstone of this fantasy trilogy. Once the decision was made to include these real-life moments, my imagination took over creating a powerful fantasy with characters and events based on real life experiences.
One of the many questions I am asked about the entire process of creating a book through self-publishing and then marketing that finished product is, “Sean, how do you continually drive forward not knowing what the ending outcome will be?” The simplest answer I can provide is, you need to have a unique vision of what YOU want to the outcome to be. You need to tailor your interviews, marketing strategies, personal image as an author, as well as your brand identity to your unique vision. I define this term as, your ultimate goal for your book. I myself set small goals, small steps to achieve that will contribute to my main goal, which is, creating an audience for my The Grandfather Chronicles fantasy world. Furthermore, inviting people from all around the world to be a part of this fantasy world I have created and share in my magical family adventure is the cornerstone of my unique vision. Patience is a virtue. This is something Granddad believed in. It takes time to build something and see it through. Although creating the book was a long process in itself, you must continually ask yourself how far will you go? It takes a tremendous amount of dedication as a self-published author because although creating a professional product is of the up-most importance, the overall success you experience will be based on how far you will go with the marketing aspects of your book. Building a fantasy world takes time, however, building an audience for that world can take a tremendous amount of invested time.
As I sit here at my desk continuing to work through marketing promotions, planning up-coming personal appearances that follow COVID 19 protocol, reaching out to influencers and planning the outline for book #2 in the trilogy series, I find myself now more determined than ever to continually work towards my unique vision. Having a completed product that I believe in and have invested so much in makes me want to pursue the very best possibilities. Has the road been a long and rough one so far? Yes, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Great things take time and I know Granddad would be proud of the patience and dedication I have taken as I continue down the road, equipped with the tools I need to one day reach my destination.
P.L.: I have no doubt your grandfather would be very proud of you! You seem to have an excellent handle on the self-promotion and marketing side of the Indie author business! Do you have any tips, especially for fellow Indie writers, about how to successfully advertise their work?
Sean: FriesenPress provided extensive marketing and promotions resources that were available to me through FriesenPress. Resources vary from over 180 hours of seminars led by David Chilton (author of The Wealthy Barber and The Chilton Method) to step by step modules detailing what you will need to successfully market your book to the public. I can honestly say this is an overwhelming step. My best piece of advice here is to dedicate time every day and work one module at a time. Set small realistic goals for yourself and break everything down to a day-by-day schedule. What worked best for me, as I am visual learner, was to take detailed notes of each module and start a collection of notebooks. Your notes will continue to grow and become a very valuable resource for you. I recommend reviewing them as much as you can.
Networking is key in the world of marketing. Using social media and having an online presence is key. There are some authors who pick one social media platform and focus on that as it can be overwhelming. I was lucky to have a background in Facebook advertising, so I started building my author online presence from there. Facebook and Instagram allow you to share author links, as well as a number of other resources to help you interact with your audience. Social media is always forever changing so it’s important to stay relevant as best you can. I am also very lucky as I have experience creating Media in a variety of different forms and I now get to use that creativity to help showcase my book. I really also have to give a special shout out to you P.L. for helping me start to build a foundation of followers on Twitter. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you.
P.L.: I did nothing Sean, it was you who drew the followers. You have a great personality and are someone people want to connect with. So, what’s ahead next in the writing journey for the author of The Secret and the Sword? Will there be more installments of The Grandfather Chronicles? Do you have other projects on the go?
Sean: I always had the vision for a The Grandfather Chronicles trilogy of books. The idea being, Book #1 – The Secret of the Sword would be a story that would introduce the world to the sinister plot behind Excalibur, and, the memorable characters I have created. The story of book #1 is a stand-alone story but opens up the possibility of a deeper story to come. The journey to the truth of Excalibur may come to an end, but there is still a lot more to the story I would like to tell. Book #2 and Book #3 are connected, the story is split into two books. This was always my vision. I am excited to announce that I am currently working on the manuscript for Book #2, titled – The Legend of the Black Seal. Book #1 was just an introduction of what is to come as I can promise you this P.L., the story to come is like something you have never experienced.
P.L.: Sounds fantastic! The Legend of the Black Seal will go to the top of my TRB when it’s released! It’s been a real treat speaking to you Sean! Thank you so much for being interviewed!
Sean: The pleasure was mine P.L.! I can’t thank you enough for this opportunity and your continued guidance and support. I also wish you nothing but success with The Drowned Kingdom Saga.