Where Readers & Writers Connect
Should have decided back in high school. I wrote a Shakespearean comedy 4-act play for an English class project. Unfortunately, I don’t still have that, but it was fun and I got an A+ on it. I also wrote a few short stories, one of them a spoof on Little Red Riding Hood. And I had drawn and created comic book stories from age 12. But as life had it, I ended up really getting into fiction writing in 2005, at 45 years of age. Thanks to my wife reading “The City of Ember” in the car to my family, it created a story idea in my head. When I wrote the first chapter back in October 2005, my wife and daughter read it and wanted the next chapter. So the next evening, I wrote the next one. It went on that way all month until by the end of October, I had a 94K novel written. I’d never written anything think like a book before that. The writing bug bit me, and I’ve been going ever since.
How many books have you written, and how many of them have been published?
To date I’ve written nine novels. Of those, so far, five are published. One will come out this summer to make it six. And if you count the anthology of my short stories and flash fictions, that actually will make seven.
How do you prepare to write a book? Did you do any special research?
I write primarily fantasy and science fiction. First, I have to have an idea, a concept. Usually before I write a book, I’ll use the “Snowflake” method that Randy Ingermanson developed, to get my outline to the level of major plot points. I don’t usually outline to the chapter and scene level, which is why I like that method. You start with a core, one sentence story idea, and expand that level upon level until you have developed a storyline. You can go all the way to a full outline, or stop where you are comfortable. For me, I like to have the sign post set where the story is going, but find I work best filling in the details as I write. So once I have the major plot points and the list of characters, their motivations and goals down, then I can write the book.
And often it requires some research. Even fantasy can require it, depending whether it is set in a real world, or even if an alternate world, you want to give it the feel of a certain time period, that means making it real enough that the fantasy elements feel real as well. For my science fiction, that means knowing enough about the physics and what can and can’t happen in a given instance, and that sometime takes research. One such topic is whether I wanted my ships to go faster than light, and if so, should they abide by the Special Theory of Relativity as far as time shifting. Hint, much space opera ignores that theory, like Star Trek.
How long have you been writing?
Since October of 2005. Currently six and a half years.
Why do you write in your genre?
Mainly because I grew up reading fantasy and science fiction. When I graduated from high school, I had read every science fiction book on their shelves. And I had read most of the fantasy books too, including Lord of the Rings. I loved visiting those worlds, so naturally I love writing and creating them as well. They’ve always held my imagination hostage.
Can you tell us a little about your latest book?
The last book I had published is Hero Game. It is the second book of my “The Virtual Chronicles,” the first being Mind Game. Hero Game, like Mind Game, is an YA space opera adventure. Aliens that lived a virtual existence that interacts with reality, have given Jeremy, Mickey, and Bridget virtual superhero powers. But another planet, also using the virtual power, plans on attacking Earth and getting revenge on Jeremy. All that stands between Earth and an invading alien army of virtual space ships are two teens and a kid playing superheroes.
How do you get an idea for a book?
Mostly I brainstorm. But often the idea for one will come from either a series I’m doing, so I already have an idea of where it is going to go, or sometimes a short story. I have one such book plotted out but not yet written that originated with my first published short story, Dragon Stew. And the first book in the fantasy series, “The Reality Chronicles,” started with a short story called Steamy Realities. After more stories being added to it, both in 2007 and later in 2010, it is currently a full braided-novel titled Reality’s Dawn published by Splashdown Books.
What one piece of advice would you give to a beginning writer?
Write, get input, learn, then write some more, get input, learn, write some more…
Repeat until you write a great story that people love to read.
Where did your encouragement for reading and/or writing come from?
It started with my fifth grade teacher. She read Charlotte’s Web to our class one day and the story captivated me so much that when she was finished, I went to the library and checked it out so I could read it again. Until that point, I’d not been interested in reading anything other than what was required. After that, I was always reading something.
How did you study the craft of writing?
Part of it was simply writing, and learning from others input what worked and what didn’t. But I also read books that helped me understand the basics of a good story, how to edit effectively, and tips picked up from other writers and critique group members who knew what they were talking about. And I still try to keep learning. You never really “arrive,” but you always want to be improving your writing.
Do you read books on the craft of writing? If so, what are your favorites and why?
Yes I do. My two favorites are Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell, and Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King.
How did you get your first book published? How long did it take? Was this the first book you had written?
My first book took an unusual journey. As mentioned previously, it started as a short story titled Steamy Realities. A now defunct online magazine called The Sword Review (now Mindflights), picked up the story. I wrote three more short stories in that world with the themes faith, hope, and love. The same magazine picked up those stories. The owner of the magazine liked them enough he suggested putting them into a novella. So I wrote another story for a total of five, and the novella was published by Double-Edged Publishing as Infinite Realities in November 2007. He also published a sequel to that, a full novel, in March 2009 titled Transforming Realities. I generally received good reviews, but the one complaint I had was the book was too short. Everyone wanted more. And my publisher asked if I had plans to write more.
By the time 2010 rolled around, I mapped out the additional stories I wanted in that volume and added another ten stories to make a total fifteen. Thus, it is a braided novel, in that they are individual short stories, but as a whole they tell an overarching tale of Sikso’s journey in using his gift. The only problem was my publisher had gone out of business. I received the rights back for the first two books and found a new publisher, Splashdown Books. So they published the new and improved first book as Reality’s Dawn, and republished the second as Reality’s Ascent. The final book in that series is scheduled to come out, as of this writing, in June 2012.
Why do you write?
I write both because I enjoy telling a good tale that people will enjoy, and I also feel called to be another voice in the literary landscape writing from a Christian worldview
Thanks! Also add a link to your website/blog and which book you’d like us to point readers to on Amazon.
Web site: http://www.rlcopple.com
List of published stories: http://www.rlcopple.com/published.php
Author store: http://store.rlcopple.com
R.L. Copple has generously offered to provide one lucky person who leaves a comment with a copy of Reality’s Dawn (The Reality Chronicles) in e-book format (or paperback if the winner chooses and is within the United States). The winner will be chosen randomly on Saturday, May 5.