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!
This is a distinct honour and pleasure, in that I get to interview the fantastic, up-and-coming fantasy author Troy Knowlton!
Troy’s published works thus far: “Seekers: The Winds of Change”.
P.L.: Troy, thanks so much for joining me for a Six Elementals Interviews chat!
So happy to be able to interview you! I truly enjoyed reading your debut, “Seekers: The Winds of Change!”
For me, you are part of a rising group of young breakout stars in the Indie fantasy world, including ones such as JCM Berne, Tori Tecken, K.E. Espinosa, John Palladino, A.R. Witham, NC Koussis, Thiago Abdalla, and so many more! Most of these authors have less than one book published to their credit, but everyone I know buzzes about all your books, and the promise of what’s to come from this group! What’s your impression right now of the exploding Indie SFF scene, and where do you see you fit into the rise of self-published fantasy and sci-fi?
TROY: The indie scene is absolutely incredible, and I’m honored to count myself among the talent group of individuals you’ve listed, as well as the many others I’ve come to know within this last year of my authorial journey. I really do believe we are in a sort of “indie renaissance,” given not only the sheer amount of amazing authors/titles exploding onto the scene, but the deliciously eclectic variety in the sort of novels that are out there.
Time and time again, it’s pointed out that one of indie publishing’s greatest strengths is its ability to break outside of the “guard rails” that exist within traditionally published novels which limit areas the plot, characters, and tone can explore. With that being said, simply going against the grain for the sake of it doesn’t guarantee you’ll have a compelling novel, but the ability to do so gives the author more tools in their arsenal, which can lead to some refreshingly unique tales. When done right, it can be like bottling a star, and we’ve many bright stars in this horizon.
As far as where I fit, to be quite honest, I’m still figuring that out. I published my debut back in July of 2022, and have had the pleasure to slowly immerse myself in many bookish spheres of influence in the meantime. I’m not particularly well-read or in tune with all the goings-on of the bookish world, so all the friends I’ve made along the way (booktubers, bloggers, reviewers, etc.) have been instrumental in keeping me informed with the current zeitgeist of the reading/writing communities. I’m learning new things all the time, and growing as an author, so I guess you can say that, in this sea of stars, I may be a dim light growing just a little brighter every day.
P.L.: I’d say your light is shining pretty bright right now, and only growing brighter! For those that are unfamiliar with your awesome writing, can you tell us a bit, please about your work, a bit of an elevator pitch if you will?
TROY: My writing has been labeled by many as: easy-to-read, fast-paced, character-focused, and many other hyphenated words. I write YA Epic Fantasy with strong adventure themes. I’ve always loved the “quest” trope, and I focus heavily on my character work, though my plentiful action scenes and monstrous creatures have also been highlighted as strong points by readers. I like to write my stories with a few boxes to check in mind: Fun action/adventure, multifaceted characters with emotional layers, a plot that “moves”, and a splash of humor/levity in between the more serious moments.
If I were to elevator pitch my debut, I’d say it’s a story about two artifact-hunting agents of a powerful empire who go on thrilling, world-altering quests. Think of a “high fantasy Indiana Jones” sort of adventure, with splashes of monsters, treachery, and romance. Themes include; A quest/”hunt for the macguffin”, found family, wise old mentor, enemies to lovers, reluctant hero, and many more.
P.L.: I’d definitely agree, your debut was thrilling and fast-paced! Can you speak a little bit about your writing journey please? How long have you been writing, what inspired you to write, and what made you elect to publish via self-publishing rather than seeking an agent and a book deal with a “Big Five” traditional house?
TROY: My writing journey is, at least in my opinion, a very unusual one. I was never an avid reader as a kid or even into early adulthood, but I always had a burning desire to tell stories and create fantasy maps. I remember drawing all sorts of maps of made-up realms as a kid, and really leaned into it as an adult when my friends and I got into Dungeons and Dragons. After learning how the game works, I obviously wanted to be the dungeon master as creating a world and accompanying narrative was exactly the itch I was looking to scratch. Because of increasingly busy lives, our playgroup didn’t persist for very long, which left me with a intricately detailed fantasy map and a whole list of plot threads I created, now without purpose. After pouring so much of myself into designing this world and its lore, I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to it, so I resolved to try and break into it through writing.
When I started formulating how to tackle this incredible new task, I did a lot of research. I had no formal writing experience or schooling save the basic, intro classes from high school and college, so I immersed myself in booktube, rapidly consuming all sorts of writing advice and world-building videos to try and give me an idea of how I might tackle such a monumental task as writing a novel. That continued for nearly half a year as I stumbled my way through a poorly-punctuated and very choppy first draft.
After six months or so, I received the greatest boon that I could’ve ever asked for in my young writing adventure. I regularly discussed my writing endeavors at my workplace, and one of my coworkers mentioned his sister had a master’s degree in creative writing, and was a freelance editor to boot! I was overjoyed, and quickly became friends with my most important writing mentor, Adrienne (Adi) Bracken. She helped me develop proper paragraph structure, punctuation, and even influenced my personal writing style. I owe so much to her detailed tutelage that I can’t adequately explain it within the context of this interview. With Adi’s feedback, I revised what I’d already written and completed the rough draft of my debut novel, “Seekers: The Winds of Change”. I self-edited and then sent it off to her to edit. After going through her edits, I got a proofread done, sent it to beta readers for feedback, and then ultimately published it through Amazon KDP.
As far as why I chose self-pub over trad-pub, I didn’t at first. I tried querying for a while but was unable to secure representation. Any prospective author who has dug into the trenches of the unsolicited querying warzone can probably relate to how difficult it is to find representation. That fact, coupled with my inexperience, discouraged me and turned my eyes towards the self-pub model. I came to the conclusion that, while self-pub demands much more personal cost (fiscally, as well as having to “wear a lot of different hats), the ability to have complete control over a published work is beyond enticing. That being said, I am by no means trying to downplay the responsibilities of a trad-pub author, I’m simply stating that there is a system that seems to help “guide” those authors as they tackle the monumental tasks of editing, formatting and generating a cover. For indie authors, it’s their job to manage (and audit) all of those tasks, as well as marketing, and that’s what I mean by “wearing a lot of different hats.”
All in all, though I still suffer from the potent imposter syndrome that comes with being so new to the industry and to the bookish sphere in general, I’ve absolutely loved my writing journey and all the wonderful souls I’ve met along the way.
P.L.: What a fabulous answer, Troy. Who (which authors) would you consider to be your writing influences?
TROY: As I previously stated, I was never much of a reader as a child, but a few novels that really stuck with me were “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Neverending Story” by Michael Ende, and “The Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis.
I can also trace my influences to my favorite films, as my characterizations draw heavily from the films that shaped me as a child such as: “Avatar: The Last Airbender”, “Indiana Jones”, “Blade Runner”, “Spirited Away”, “Conan The Barbarian,” and many, many more.
P.L.: Can you tell us a bit please, if possible, about what projects you are currently working on? What can we expect to see coming out from Troy Knowlton in the future?
TROY: Currently, I’m over 65,000 words into the sequel of my debut. I’ve also started outlining the other two novels in the four book series, “The Seeker Saga”. Besides the main series, I’ve got several ideas, concepts for standalone novels/novellas set within my fantasy world of Tiarna. I’m looking to build out the world well past my initial series!
P.L.: Oh that’s exciting! I mentioned a lot of emerging young stars on the scene, of which I feel you are part. Who are some of the veterans in the game of writing in Indie SFF whose work you’ve enjoyed? Who do you see as the current big names in self-published fantasy?
TROY: One of my great joys during this amazing journey has been taking the time to read some amazing novels from a lot of really talented authors. A few of my favorites that come to mind are “Thrice” by Andrew Meredith, “A Touch of Light” by Thiago Abdalla, “The Legend of Black Jack” by A.R. Witham, “Dragon Mage” by M.L. Spencer, “Gunmetal Gods” by Zamil Aktar, “Wistful Ascending” by J.C.M. Berne, “The Assassin of Grins and Secrets” by K.E. Andrews, “The Crew” by Sadir Samir, “The Sword of Mercy and Wrath” by N.C. Koussis and many more, including you, Mr. P.L. Stuart and your “Drowned Kingdom” series!
There are still a lot of other authors on my list to read, and I can think of quite a few of them which are considered cornerstones of the space with an incredible amount of buzz around their novels. Two that immediately come to mind are Ryan Cahill and Zack Argyle. The list of other authors who are on my ever-expanding TBR is too long to flesh out within this interview, but here’s a few; Karim Soliman, John Palladino, Victoria Tecken, Krystle Matar, Jim Wilbourne, and so many others.
TROY: Thanks, P.L. I enjoyed it as well, and I appreciate the opportunity!
Buy “Seekers: The Winds of Change”
Amazon page: https://a.co/d/eSshIDD