C.L. Stegall is a Dallas-based author who writes in various genres, mostly in modern fantasy. He grew up in North Carolina and entered the military two days after his high school graduation. He served ten years in the army, as an engineer and a linguist for military intelligence. He has traveled the Western Hemisphere extensively from Alaska to South America.
C.L. began writing at an early age, publishing poetry in the 80’s and early 2000’s. His short stories began winning online awards beginning in 2003. His first collection of short stories (now mostly out of print) was published in 2010. His first novel, The Weight Of Night, was published in January 2011.
In May of 2011, C.L. partnered with three other authors and founded Dark Red Press. DRP is an independent author co-op created to further the creative product and literary freedom of its members. It was formed by several authors, writing in various genres, but mostly caters to fantasy, horror, and mainstream.
He lives in the Dallas area with his lovely, irrepressible Wife and two dogs who think they own the joint.
Published Works by C.L. Stegall:
What’s the earliest memory you have in any way connected to reading/writing? I was in my freshmen year of high school and, in Spanish class, we had the assignment of writing a story using as Spanish as we could. I wrote a rather unique story about a tourist encountering a Mayan sacrifice ceremony. I was shocked when I got the paper back with an A+ on it and a note from the teacher informing me that I had a real talent for storytelling and should pursue it. That was in 1980, and I still keep the original paper in my writings stash!
If you were to describe your e-book/book (featured in the giveaway) in only one word, what would it be?Adventuresome
What would you say inspired you to write the e-books/books in this series? Well, in 2003 I was (and still am) a member of a writing forum (now called Legend Fire, then called Arcane Artistry). There was a contest which called for the entrants to write a short story based upon a predetermined title. The title was “Darkness in Avenhale.” I entered with a story about a girl who finds that she is the daughter of an ancient Greek goddess. To my great joy and surprise, I won first place. The one comment I got more than anything else on the story was that they wanted more. Thus began my attempt to turn the 3000 words into a full-length novel. To be honest, it took be almost seven years to get it to the point where I felt comfortable to publish it. I went back and forth on whether I wanted to go the traditional route or maintain full control and independently publish. I chose the latter and have been pleasantly surprised with great reviews so far! Everyone is asking about the next book in the series, Red Tome, which I hope to publish in 2012.
We all dreamed of becoming one thing or another when we were young. What was your dream? I guess I am one of the oddities in this respect. I cannot remember ever wanting to “be” anything. Not until I left home and entered the military did I even have a clue as to who I really was. It’s rather difficult to find a direction when you have no true starting point. By the time I was 28, however, I had pretty much formed into the man I was to forever be. I now had a good starting point and the life experience to better determine my path. I guess, once I won the story-writing contest with “Darkness in Avenhale,” I realized that I really, truly wanted to be a writer. It certainly helps that my Wife is my biggest cheerleader and stands behind my dreams 110%.
Have you ever been hit by the infamous “writer’s block”? If so, what did you do to escape it? I have never really run into a solid block. I have on occasion run into a situation, especially during outlining, where I get a little lost as to which direction to pursue with the story. It might take me a day or so, sometimes as much as a week, to figure that out.
What made you decide to go the e-way (e-publishing)? Truthfully, it was the creative freedom (and control) that it gives me. I’ve seen and heard too many authors complaining about the fact that once they have given over their text to the publisher, their control (and sometimes input) ends. Let’s just say that I’m not down with that! I have a vision from the beginning and I look forward to seeing that vision realized as I’ve imagined it. I’m not so much a control freak, as I am a creative freak. I do all of my own covers, as well. (Although, I defer quite often to my author/artist friend, Brian Fatah Steele, on the typography as he is much better in that department than I am.)
What would you say your all time favorite book is? Oh, no question, for pure reading enjoyment: Sten, by Allan Cole and Chris Bunch. I’m currently rereading that one for the umpteenth time. It is just such an excellent adventure and the evolution of the main character is so well done that it makes me strive even more for that level of expertise.
I have always had a love of fantasy and science fiction, but a good horror tale that pulls me in and freaks me out is always a joy. I love Raymond E. Feist’s “Faerie Tale.” And, most recently, I fell head over heels for “In Bleed Country” by Brian Fatah Steele, a fellow writer at Dark Red Press.
What made you pick that one over all others? Sten is an amazing science fiction adventure. Having spent so much time in the military, that theme in the novel drew me in, but the character development (and all of the characters, themselves) is tremendous and so well accomplished. It remains in my top three sci-fi faves of all time, along with Stranger In A Strange Land and Starship Troopers by Heinlein.
Would you say becoming a writer has changed you? In what way? I think that most any new writer these days has to maintain a “day job” in order to survive. The biggest change I’ve encountered from my fiction writing is the affect it has on my technical writing (I am a Business Systems Analyst in my day job). Additionally, that change causes a few brushes with my “instructing” folks on their own writing. I recently saw someone send out an email correspondence wherein they spelled “congratulations” as “congradulations”. You would think that they would at least use spell-check. So, I suppose the change is that I’ve become a bit of a grammar-snob. Is that a word? Perhaps we should make it so! :o)
Was there ever a time, during your work for the e-book/book, when you felt like giving up? What made you change your mind? Maybe it wasn’t a feeling of giving up as much as a giving up on a direction. I tried to complete the novel several times over the seven years it took to write it. It just never took. I couldn’t “keep the steam” so to speak. Then, a great friend of mine – and a damned fine author himself – John J. Smith, suggested I break the book down into novellas, like Stephen King did with “The Green Mile.” That was the turning point for me. I wrote the first two parts of the book as novellas. Then, when it came time to write the third one, I put them all together and completed it as a full-length novel. Breaking the book down into smaller chunks like that helped me maintain my focus and momentum much better than I had been able to in the past. From start to finish, I then completed the novel in 10 months! If only I had known John when I had first started writing the novel!
The cover of the book is eerie and striking, how did that come about? Who does your covers? I do all my own cover work, for better or worse. :o) I do get some input from my partners at Dark Red Press, but mostly it’s a lot of trial and error to get exactly what I’m imagining onto the cover. For The Weight Of Night, because I pretty much knew what was the most striking element in the story (the eyes), I knew that was what should be on the cover. As to how to incorporate it, that was another thing entirely. I believe I had created seven or eight versions of the cover before I went all *minimalist* on it and decided that was what worked best. Like I said, trial and error. Being an independent means you do it all yourself, or you pay someone to do it for you. (Maybe I am just a tiny bit of a control freak.)
I’ve been working on the cover to the follow-up novel in The Progeny series, Red Tome, and I finished it a couple of days ago. I can’t wait to unveil it. It has its own feel and is a warmer cover than the cold eyes of The Weight Of Night – and the important thing: it stands beside the first cover, able to match it in theme and impact. I’m really proud of them both!
What do you have store for us in the future? What are you working on/planning for us? I’ve got far too many plans, to be perfectly honest. I have a feeling I will be consistently busy writing for the foreseeable future. Thank goodness!
Coming up, I have my first paranormal romance/fantasy. It is called Valence Of Infinity and will be the first in another series of novels, novellas and short story tie-ins. I love the idea of writing on various tangents that lead into or come out of the content of my novels. I always admired Charles DeLint for his ability to do that. So, I suppose I’m taking a page from his book with my writing production.
After that, I have the second novel in the Progeny series (after The Weight Of Night), which is tentatively titled Red Tome. That will be in 2012.
I’m sure, along the way, you will see a few more shorts and novellas from me, as well.
Aside from my own writing, I am always working with my fellow authors at Dark Red Press to publish and publicize their own works. DRP is kind of my baby, in that it is my brainchild, but I can’t do it alone. It takes a village, right? Well, my village consists of my friends and partners, John J. Smith, Brian Fatah Steele and Jack X. McCallum.
If you could turn back in time and do things differently, would you? What would you change? As a creative mind, I’ve pondered that very thing on many an occasion and I always come back to this: if I were to go back and change something, then I would not be where I am now. I love my life as it is and would not change a thing. I have a wonderful Wife; I have finally become something I’ve dreamed of becoming, an author; and I have a great and talented circle of friends who I trust and admire. I can’t imagine things being any different for me, and not being as happy as I am today. So, no. I would not risk changing anything, even if I could.
What was the source of inspiration for your protagonist? What about your antagonist? For Alexis, my protagonist, I saw a girl who was viewed as one thing and underneath it all was something else entirely. We each have our own dualities (differing aspects of our personalities) to deal with, so I wondered how it would work when those dualities were not just internal but genetic. Alexis grew into herself by my exploring of her duality: the teen girl who felt like an outcast, and the demigoddess of incredible power. Exploring both sides of Alexis is an on-going experiment and adventure for me, as a writer. Sometimes she does things of her own accord that I don’t expect and I learn a little bit more about her. As do the readers. It is truly the very best part of being a writer!
For Pitts, my antagonist, I am somewhat fearful to admit that I came up with him as I was thinking of how much I admired Alexis and kind of wished I had such abilities. I thought to myself that I was feeling envious of a fictional character. That’s when it clicked and I began researching Phthonos, the Greek god of Envy. He turns out to be a nasty little bugger with the moral code of a rat: he does what it takes to get what he wants, everyone else be damned.
Drawing these characters out, initially, was a very objective task. Fleshing them out, watching them grow under my creativity was quite personal and led to a few surprises for me during the completion of the tale, and that which is yet to come!
Are you a day-by-day writer, or more of the “muse – hit and run” sort? What can you tell us about your writing process? For a long time, I was kind of the hit and run writer. Over the last couple of years, however, I’ve started buckling down and I write something every single day, no matter what. It keeps my edge and my creativity flowing. Such writing is a wonderful exercise and you never really know what might grow out of that practice!
As for my writing process, I have four very distinct steps:
Using those steps, I have found that I can pretty much whatever I set out to. Only once has it failed me. But, you know what? You get knocked down an awful lot in life, so the only smart thing to do is to get up, dust yourself off and get back to it. At least, it works for me.
What can we expect from the next e-books/books in the series? In Red Tome, you will get to see how Alexis’ and Keats’ relationship both grows and is strained by their situation and their own personalities. Since the both of them have known each other their entire lives, some things can be taken with a grain of salt. Yet, as young people coming into their own, growing into adults, they still have those petty sides of themselves that rear up at odd (and, sometimes, dangerous) times. Plus, I have a new gallery of characters which will allow an even greater breadth to this story, as well as more depth.
Lily, although she was a bit player in The Weight Of Night, becomes a much more important character in Red Tome. And, of course, we get to see Alexis deal with the lethal mistake she made when dealing with Greer in the first book!
The much dreaded interview question: Any long term future plans? Care to share? A lot more writing! With so much on my plate, my future is pretty much set at the moment. I look forward to doing a lot more with Dark Red Press and seeing my partners do well for themselves. We are a team and that is something that can never be taken for granted. We work for each other, and it is a great way to build a business.
What does your day-to-day life consist of? What else do you do, aside from writing? I’ll tell you what; I never get enough time to spend with my Wife, that’s for sure! She is ridiculously supportive and my best friend, to boot. I have my day job as an analyst, I have my family, our two dogs – Miso and Mochi – that never cease to entertain and torment me with their doggie breath and kisses. I wish there was more time in the day; but, alas, we do the best we can with what we are given. So any time I can spend with family and friends, I treasure. Life is a journey, so I take it one step, one day, at a time and try and appreciate all that I have as much as I can.
If you could wish for any one thing, and it would immediately come true, what would you wish for? I wish I could write all day and still have time for family and friends. Is that too much to ask for? I don’t think so. I’ll keep working at it until I get there. Wishes or not.
How do you deal with bad reviews or acid criticism? What would you advise “novice” writers to that effect? Some of the first criticism I received when I presented the first draft of my novel to a few folks was that Keats, one of my main characters, was unlikeable. Well, that was a nice slap in the face. But, I am one of those people who take criticism for what it is worth. I went back in and, sure enough, I needed to make some significant changes to the character.
Beginning writers – hell, any writer – should be thankful of “bad” reviews and criticism. It is just like life: a process of learning. Learning is just failure with practice. Every time you fail, you learn. That’s the way it is from birth to death. Don’t be so ignorant or arrogant as to think that you are infallible, that what you’ve done is without margin of error. To think that you are perfect (or your work is), is to assume that you have nowhere to go but down. And, let me tell you, there are plenty of folks out there who will be more than willing to help you in your descent.
My best advice is to look for, accept and learn from those less-than-kind words. In the end, you will be thankful you did!
After all, what can you learn, how can you better yourself when the only response you get from your work is “good job?” That’s not helpful. That’s a near worthless response, and one for which you should never wish.
In the end, you write. As best you can. You tell the story the best way you can. You learn every day how to improve in telling your story. You write. That’s what you do.
If you were stranded on an isolated island, what’s the one book you’d absolutely wish to have with you? Sten, by Allan Cole and Chris Bunch
Name your favorite fruit. Pineapple
Would you sell your soul to become a world-wide bestseller? Nah. The journey is half the fun!
Coffee or tea? Tea
Favorite ice-cream flavor? Vanilla – boring, I know.
Favorite Greek god? Nyx
Favorite mythological creature? Nemean Lion! Crazy dangerous and supremely cool. That is, until Hercules defeated him as part of his 12 Labours.
Favorite time of the year? Fall
How about fave time of 24 hours? 3A.M.
Were you a boy scout/girl scout? Nope.
Favorite food for breakfast? Hot links
Latest book you’ve bought and read? The Hunger Games (quite brutal for what I considered a novel aimed at a young adult audience!)
Do you have a passion for shoes? How about clothes? Oh, good God, no! I pretty much succumb to any fashion suggestion my Wife has, since she is a bit of a guru in that department. :o)
Favorite color? You know you want to tell us! Green
Drama or comedy? Oh, comedy, for sure. Laughter is the best drug on the planet, bar none. I don’t care what anyone else says. I will never change my position on that.
Have a fave quote or personal motto? Share it 🙂 “Words are my friends, music is my guide and the sunset is my goal. I’ll make there alive, this much I know.” – C.L. Stegall
Was the original title of your e-book/book different then the one it has now? What was it? Yes. Originally, it was “Darkness In Avenhale”.
Cats or dogs? Both. For some reason, animals love me. One several occasions, I’ve had animals – that people said hated strangers – come up to me without hesitation. It sometimes freaks people out. Even me.
Dinner by candlelight or a night out clubbing? Candlelight, definitely. But, still, I do like to *see* what I’m eating…so, bright candlelight.
More Fun Facts:
Although a little out of practice, I’ve been fluent in Spanish and I served as a linguist for Military Intelligence.
I have nearly drowned twice.
I’ve fallen 70 feet on Bridal Veil Falls in Yosemite during a climb. Thank God I had my climbing buddy, Brian J. Schmidt there to save my ass!
I’ve had torn knee ligaments, a broken collarbone, and dozens of stitches.
At the age of 14, a hot can exploded while I was cooking, giving me third degree burns over the entire right side of my face. A summer to remember!
I’ve leaped from buildings, high cliffs and helicopters; all of my own accord, and with a smile on my face!
I’m a survivor.
I’ve only been in love once. (So I married her!)
Book lover, customizations OCD-er and list-lover extraordinaire. Unrepentant coffee addict, smutty romance and sexy bad boys/villains lover of doom.
I read, I write, I spamificate -- therefore I am.
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