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Finding the Balance with Andy Peloquin

“I’ve overcome many blocks and storytelling obstacles out of sheer stubbornness alone. So that discipline is probably my #1 strength as an author…”

Finding the Balance with Andy Peloquin!

Andy and I first crossed paths late 2023 as we took up a buddy read of Divinity’s Twilight Rebirth by Christopher Russell. I was immediately captivated by his outgoing, passionate personality and his ability to pick apart a story to find all the awesome little intricacies hidden inside the words. Andy puts so much love into celebrating not only his own writing but also the people around him. His passion for story telling is second to none! This generous soul is known to share tips and tricks with a smile and has made something of a name for himself when it comes to self-marketing. After all, not many of us are brave enough to Tik the Tok. Personally, I can’t wait to dive into Andy’s works as a long-time fan of the man himself, welcome to the Before we go Blog mate!

Q. First of all, I would like to thank you for taking the time to chat with me today! Can you give us an introduction to you, your work and where people can find you?

A. Wow, that intro made me sound way cooler than I really am, so thank you. And thank you for having me! Long-time BWG review fan here, so it’s an honour to be on the blog.

I am a dark, epic fantasy writer. Most of my series fall within epic fantasy, but on the darker side. I play around with assassins, thieves, shadow warriors, rebels, and those who move among the seedy underbelly of my fantasy world. I currently have six series published—five fantasy, and one sci-fi—but am currently steaming full speed ahead into Series #7. Unsurprisingly, another dark, epic fantasy.

You can find out about all my books on my website, andypeloquin.com. I also love hanging out on TikTok and Instagram (username: andypeloquinauthor), being part of the online book community and raving about the books I read and love.

Q. Andy, you have a smorgasbord of interrelated series, and these books just keep getting bigger and bigger! Where do you suggest people start and what has been your favorite series to write thus far?

A. I’ve written all my series to be their own entry points into my world, with different flavors that appeal to a wide variety of readers.

For example, if you love military action and big, bloody battles, The Silent Champions is the best starting point. It’s also the first story in chronological order for those who prefer to follow a timeline.

Queen of Thieves is the very grimdarkest story I could write, and is an ideal jumping-in point for anyone who wants strong female characters.

Darkblade is the one that got me started, the one that first introduced me to this world, so it’s the best from a worldbuilding and culture-understanding perspective. It’s also the most epic and action-packed. It’s also the glue that ties the world together—you get to meet all the characters from the other series through the main character (the assassin known only as the Hunter of Voramis) as he goes on his many bloody adventures.

Asking which series has been the most fun to write is a little bit like asking which of my kids is a favorite. I have one but I could never admit it aloud, hah!

The series I think I had the most fun with is Cerberus. It’s a wild sci-fi romp that was an absolute treat. But there’s a character in it, Bex, who can get away with doing and saying quite literally anything. The more irreverent, the better with her. She was the character I’ve had the most fun writing.

Most emotionally satisfying, however, would be Darkblade. His first story arc (from Assassin to Savior) mirrored my journey as a new stepfather utterly out of my depth. His later story arcs (from Deceiver and beyond) mirrors my journey as a stepfather to adult children and utterly out of my depth.

All the violent, action-packed, gut-wrenching adventures are really just window dressing for the real story of the man beneath trying to figure out what role he serves in the lives of the growing-up-too-fast young adults and adults he’s gathered in his life.

That emotional journey is what really keeps me invested in him, which is why the series has gone from six average-length books (totalling around 800,000 words) to fifteen epic-sized chonkers (totalling around 5 million words when all is said and done).

Q. Can we get a little insight into what your day to day looks like as a full-time author? How did you come up with a routine that works for you and what is your number one piece of advice for someone looking to set up a daily routine for writing?

A. My day is pretty well-structured:

  • Wake Up at 6
  • Write from 7-8:30
  • Breakfast from 8:30-9:30
  • Write from 9:45 to 11:30ish
  • Social Media and Business Tasks from 11:30ish until 12:30
  • Lunch from 12:30 to 1
  • Read from 1-2
  • Write from 2:30 to 4ish

After my last writing shift, the rest of the evening is spent at the gym, kickboxing, hanging with my wife and kids, reading a bit more, and trying to relax. I’m typically in bed by 9 PM and asleep by 11.

This routine has kind of developed itself over time. I was accustomed to getting up early (I taught English in Mexico City and had to get up at 5 AM to avoid traffic on my way to class), so getting up at 6 felt like luxury. The rest of the schedule kind of shifts and flows with new changes in my life—from kids graduating school and leaving home to changing my workout time from noon(ish) to the PM.

I suppose that dovetails neatly into my #1 piece of advice for anyone looking to get into writing: be disciplined.

There are WAY too many days when I’m just not feeling it, or uncertain or anxious about the chapter/s I’m writing that day. But because I’ve developed the habit of sitting down and starting work at the same time every day, rain or shine, in sickness and in health, I don’t leave an “out” and have no choice but to start writing.

I’ve overcome many blocks and storytelling obstacles out of sheer stubbornness alone. So that discipline is probably my #1 strength as an author (on the profession side of things, not the art side).

Q. Something I have always been curious about is co-authoring. How have you found the experience with your Dragonblood assassin series? What has been the best part of writing with another author? Have there been any frustrations when it comes to sharing a world?

A. I loved the co-authoring experience. I had an absolute blast with it because, and this is all true, I only had to write the stuff I wanted to.

I actually felt bad because I’d rip my way through an action scene or character moment, then leave all the “boring” worldbuilding stuff to Jaime. I’d leave a note saying, “DESCRIBE FANCY ASS CASTLE” or “BIG MAGIC GO BOOM” and he’d have to conjure up awesome descriptions out of thin air.

But because we crafted these worlds and characters together from the beginning—based on an idea he had—it ended up being a delight. The total was very much greater than the sum of its parts because he’d have an idea and I’d step it up and make it bigger, then he’d do the same to me, and things would just snowball into this great big epic story.

I can’t think of a single frustration—except maybe readers like his creative curses more than mine. But that’s it!

I love the co-writing process and have plans to do more, both with Jaime and other authors whose writing style is compatible with my own, in the future.

Q. Now, my guy, you seem to really LOVE assassin stories. Writing, reading, talking about them, you name it. Where did this love of the assassin originate from? Were there any works of fiction that made you go “oh yeah .. that’s the story for me”?

A. I think my origin story was a long, slow descent into darkness.

I started off with Sherlock Holmes, which kind of has a dark flavor to it (especially stories like The Valley of Fear). Then jumped into the action of Tarzan and John Carter of Mars, and from there, the blood and violence of Conan the Barbarian. Following that up with Lies of Locke Lamora, I was pretty much guaranteed to fall in love with the darker, more violent flavor of fiction. Of course, being a die-hard fan of Wolverine, the Punisher, and Deadpool didn’t help.

From the earliest days as a reader, I always thought assassins were “cool” (which, let’s be honest, they really are). They show up, drop a badass one-liner, stab the king or prince or wizard, and vanish Batman-style into the night. How could you not love that?

But it was Night Angel that really cemented in my mind the story I wanted to write.

A lot of classic fantasy features a YA character discovering their abilities, which usually involves training montages and, gasp, learning things. Fascinating but often slower-paced.

But when I found Durzo Blint, this cool-as-a-cucumber mature badass at the peak of his powers, that’s when I realized just how much I wanted more characters like that. Give me all the emotional and intellectual growth, but save me from the ineptitude and bumbling of a character discovering some new magical ability or just learning their way around the sword. Competence is one of my favorite tropes of all time, it turned out.

Durzo Blint inspired me to write the Hunter of Voramis, and stories like Waylander, Druss, Shadowdance, Riyria, Red Rising, and Icewind Dale just cemented my love of those darker flavors and emotionally complex badasses.

Q. Let’s jump into marketing, you have taken the Instagram reels and TikTok by storm, with recommendations, insights into your writing life and much more. How did you start to build your brand on these huge platforms?

A. Through a great deal of fumbling and stumbling. I spent a couple of months just lurking and seeing what others are doing, then trying to figure out what I liked and what I didn’t. Then I started making a bunch of (admittedly rubbish) reels and posts and videos and seeing what worked.

Much of which didn’t. Most, in fact, but that’s okay.

Every time I saw a post do marginally better than others, I tried to analyze what people might have liked or why they resonated with it. And then I leaned into that.

Over time, I came to realize that my brand is basically just “Guy raves about books and makes people laugh”, and that’s something I can do all day long.

Will it be ultimately successful? Who can say? But will I have fun doing it? Absolutely!

Q. When it comes to self-marketing, how do you harness the fun side of content creation and couple that with the need to hit those algorithm sweet spots to grow your audience?

A. I try to keep the “algorithmic” side of things from interfering with the fun. Like if I film a video that I think is funny, I don’t waste effort thinking about getting the hashtags just right or doing all the fancy behind-the-scenes tricks to make it 1.5% more likely to go viral. My earlier days on TT and IG were spent obsessing over why one reel went viral and another didn’t. I can’t live my life that way—it takes the fun out of it—and the truth is that there’s no way to predict it.

My philosophy now is that if I have fun making a reel with an idea that makes me laugh, people are going to have fun and laugh with it, too. If I go high-energy raving about a book I love, people are going to resonate with that review or rave and want to read the book. What will go viral will go viral independent of anything I do or don’t do.

At the end of the day, I may be getting fewer views than I would if I went full-ham on hitting those algorithms and trying for maximum effect. But the enjoyment I’m getting out of it from the time I’m putting into it makes it far more sustainable in the long-run. And that longevity on social media is what ultimately matters.

Q. Ok, I must ask. What was the reason behind the Sarah J Mass read? Yes, I followed all of it and had a great time with the commentary! What was your takeaway at the end of the … experiment? Any plans to continue with the series?

A. Since being more active on TikTok and Instagram, I see SJM EVERYWHERE. I listened to Throne of Glass a few years back and it just didn’t work for me, but I’ve since come to understand that I’m a very picky audiobook listener. Reading books I didn’t engage with on audio is a totally different experience and often I end up enjoying it. So I figured I had to give it a try and find out for myself.

And I’ll be honest: I’m into it.

As you saw from my commentary, there were a lot of issues with A Court of Thorns and Roses, but none of them made me stop enjoying the book. By the end, I was engaged enough that I wanted to know more. She got me. She got me good.

I fully intend to dive back into the Maas-verse one of these days. When, I have no idea, as I have many other ‘verses to travel—including Warhammer 40K, which is my next read, followed by Sun Eater. But when the hankering for some steamy, spicy romantic fantasy hits (which it does, more often than you might think), then I’ll dive back into SJM’s worlds and see what comes next.

Q. Not only do you churn out books at the speed of light, but you are also a big advocate of indie and self-pub stories. Can you name 5 that have knocked your socks off in the last 12 months?

A. Oh, HELL YEAH! Easiest question to answer:

  • Mushroom Blues by Adrian M. Gibson – Detective noir in a futuristic fungal-inspired world, with Altered Carbon vibes.
  • Reign and Ruin by JD Evans – A SMART romantic fantasy that combines clever characters, solid action, and a beautifully crafted romance that feels absolutely real.
  • The Great Souls series by Phil Tucker – Bastion got me hooked on the progression fantasy genre and every book since has been spectacular. Some of the best characters in the genre, hands down.
  • Divinity’s Twilight: Remnant by Christopher Russell – The first Divinity’s Twilight book nearly lost me, but the second was a masterpiece to rival David Weber’s Safehold series.
  • Blood Over Bright Haven by ML Wang – Richer and more complex than Sword of Kaigen, with some jaw-dropping twists and a deliciously dark flavor.
  • HONORABLE MENTION: Majordomo by Tim Carter – A fun, funny, but surprisingly emotional novella about a kobold serving the world’s most evil necromancer. One of my favorite indie reads of the year!

I could go on forever, but you asked for 5, so I’ll stop there.

Q. Alright, Andy, thank you so much for your time today. To finish off, can you please let us all know what you are working on and what is coming out next?

A. The next official book release is VOYAGER: Darkblade #9, which is scheduled to drop sometime in Q3 2024 (date TBD by editor’s schedule).

What I’m working on right now…I can’t yet say. I’ve been roped into a VERY exciting project, but until it’s made public, my lips are sealed.

But suffice it to say, I am having a great deal of fun playing around in a brand new (to me) and brilliantly crafted world.

Don’t forget to check out Andy on Tik Tok!

Don’t forget to check out Andy on Tik Tok!

Don’t forget to check out Andy on Tik Tok!

Don’t forget to check out Andy on Tik Tok!

Don’t forget to check out Andy on Tik Tok!

Don’t forget to check out Andy on Tik Tok!

Don’t forget to check out Andy on Tik Tok!

Don’t forget to check out Andy on Tik Tok!

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