R.J. Batla was one of the first authors I connected with when I embarked on building my own author platform. Always an encouragement, he has truly become a confidant and friend along my publishing journey. R.J. has been fascinated by fantasy novels and the worlds that authors create since he was little. R.J. admits the process of world building has been an arduous process, but proclaims it has been well worth it. He is a fantasy author, Christian, husband, and father who enjoys the outdoors and spends as much time as he can with his family. You can learn more about R.J. at his website and connect with him on Twitter, and Facebook.
1. You have two self-published books out and you’re working on your third. No doubt, you’ve grown as a writer since you began your first book draft. How would you describe your personal development as an author from then to now?
Absolutely, I’ve grown a tremendous amount since the first book draft – which I don’t even remember what it was actually. I would describe it as well worth the effort. Just like most things in life, you get out what you put in. Once I got serious about writing, I dove in headlong, reading books on the craft of writing, story structure, outlining, publishing, etc. It has been a long journey, but I’ve learned so much, and there is still so much more to learn.
2. Being able to finish one book, let alone two, is an accomplishment of itself. What hinders your progress as an author and how do you protect yourself against it?
The need for sleep! Time, actually, is the hardest thing. I have a full time job, and between that and family I don’t have as much time to write as I would like. I don’t set daily goals as far as word count, but I do try to sit down and write at least once a day. My philosophy is work hard, but stay flexible, which is essential for me. The first draft seems to come easier for me, so editing takes way more time.
3. Since you write in the science fiction and fantasy realms, how does what you see, hear, and read in the world influence your writing? Is there any main source for your inspiration?
Everything – movies, comic books, cartoons, books by other writers. For the Senturians of Terraunum series, it is a mashup of epic fantasy, superheros, and Avatar: the Last Airbender. But as far as authors, I love Jim Butcher, especially the Dresden Files, as well as Terry Brooks, with the Shannara books, and the Harry Potter books. One of the great things about being a fantasy writer is inspiration can literally come from anywhere, since you’re the creature of your world. Need orange plants to be the norm? Poof – it is!
4. It’s often heard that people don’t attempt to become an author because of negative self-doubt. What would you tell the aspiring author who thinks they’re not good enough to publish a book?
I would say “You can do it!” Becoming a writer, good or otherwise, is like anything in life – it takes practice. Every time you write something, you are growing. You have more experience today than you did yesterday. And in today’s world, help is literally at your fingertips. There are a TON of resources available, in book form, on websites, and on Facebook groups. There are lots of people more than willing to help. If you’re willing to put in a little work, you can improve your skill level (no matter what level that is). The best thing you can do is find some author mentors who will help you through the process with constructive criticism, which is delivered correctly and in a way where you learn and grow.
5. Speaking of aspiring writers, what were the circumstances of you beginning to write and how has your childhood played a role what you write now?
I’ve always loved reading, so in college I decided I wanted to write a book. It got picked up and put down several times until finally a couple years ago I decided it was something I really wanted to do, so I set out learning the craft of writing and publishing, so I could see my dream in reality! As a kid I loved cartoons, superheros, fantasy books, books in general, old westerns, sports, and the outdoors. So put all of that together, mash it up, and it comes out as… well me! So yes, my childhood definitely directed me to my genre and my style of writing.
6. Authors sometimes sneak things into their books, such as details or events that relate to something in their personal life. Is there anything you’ve sneaked into your books?
I have! There are random ‘semi’ quotes from movies, songs or books, that if you’ve seen them you might catch them. I believe the kids these days are calling them ‘Easter Eggs’? There are also a couple of scenes inspired from movies or books. From my personal life, I think it’s my style of writing/thinking, especially when writing Jayton Baird, the main character in Fire Eyes Awakened.
7. Writing is a continual education craft. What techniques do you use to improve your writing from one book to the next?
You’re right – if you’re not learning you’re going backwards! It’s not quite that bad, but there are always ways to improve. I’ve subscribed to several authors email lists, read blogs, books, and listen to podcasts. I get tips and tricks from all of these. For any beginners, or really anyone, I’d recommend Joanna Penn at The Creative Penn. She has great information and keeps up with what’s going on in the world of writing.
8. Writers have a desire and often a need to express themselves. If you could say anything at all to the entire world at once, what would it be?
Holy cow, what a question! I guess it would be to calm down, enjoy the finer things in life (like your family and friends), and let’s try to get along and understand each other.
9. Let’s close by looking towards the future. What can we expect from you in the next 1-2 years?
Hopefully, lots more books! The goal is to put out a new book at least every six months. Before 2017 closes down, I’ll be putting out “Tempus,” the next novel in the Origins of Terraunum series which outlines some of the characters from Fire Eyes Awakened. In 2018 I’ll have the second book of The Senturians of Terraunum series, another in Origins, and if I can, book three in The Senturians. In the meantime, my email list subscribers will be getting short stories well! So, really, lots of content!