Today I would like to welcome fantasy author Jeffrey Speight to the Indie Spotlight!
Jeffrey Speight’s love of fantasy goes back to an early childhood viewing of the cartoon version of The Hobbit, when he first met an unsuspecting halfling that would change Middle Earth forever. Finding his own adventuring party in middle school, Jeff became an avid Dungeons & Dragons player and found a passion for worldbuilding and character creation. While he went on to a successful career as an investor, stories grew in his mind until he could no longer keep them inside. So began his passion for writing. Today, he lives in Connecticut with his wife, three boys (his current adventuring party), three dogs, and a bearded dragon. He has a firmly held belief that elves are cool, but half-orcs are cooler. While he once preferred rangers, he nearly always plays a paladin at the gaming table. Contact Jeff by Email: email@example.com
Hi Jeff, welcome to my blog! As you know your book, Paladin Unbound is on my TBR and I am looking forward to starting it this month.
What made you decide to publish your book independently? What was your path to publication?
This is an interesting question. When I wrote Paladin Unbound, I had no intention of publishing it. I wrote it for myself as a new hobby/form of therapy. I had built Evelium for a D&D campaign I was running for my kids and just kept building out the world and characters. When they moved on to another campaign after like three sessions, I decided to keep working on it and wrote what became Paladin Unbound. The first draft was pretty much a mess, as I hadn’t flexed my creative writing muscles in a long time, but I gave it a heavy re-write and ended up pretty happy with what I had. I handed it to a good friend of mine who is a published author. He gave it a read and encouraged me to publish it. It sounded like fun, but I really had no idea where to start. I queried some agents and sent the manuscript out to a few publishers. While I was doing that (with no success), I entered SFFPit on Twitter. I was very skeptical that a pitch competition would result in anything legitimate, but Literary Wanderlust requested a manuscript. I spoke with a few of their authors and haven’t looked back since. There were definitely a few bumps along the way, but my experience with indie publishing has been very positive.
That’s great that you were successful through SFFPit – I hear so many stories of disappointed people not making it through those pitch competitions!
What made you decide to write in your specific genre rather than other genres? (What’s your inspiration?) Have you ever written in other genres?
I’m a dyed in the wool fantasy guy. I grew up loving The Hobbit/LotR, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Legends of Drizzt, Ravenloft, etc. I started playing D&D in middle school which really got me hooked. So, high fantasy that’s a little on the dark/horror side is my wheelhouse. My love of D&D was definitely an inspiration for Paladin Unbound, but I didn’t set out to write a “D&D story”. I think you can enjoy Paladin Unbound even if you’ve never rolled a D20. Having had no prior aspirations to become a published author, I never tried to write in other genres. I sat down with Umhra’s story in my mind and just started writing. I feel at home in other worlds.
Do you only read the genre that you write?
No. I’d say I mostly read fantasy, but I also enjoy Science Fiction, Horror, and broader fiction. For me, it’s about prioritizing, as I’m busy with work, family, writing, etc. My schedule doesn’t leave a lot of time for reading, so I usually have an audio book going during parts of my workday and then read for a bit before bed. There’s so much great stuff out there right now, I’d love to add a few hours to my day to get to more of it.
What are you currently reading? Watching on TV? Video Game you are playing? Is there a type of music you listen to for inspiration?
I’m enjoying Zack Argyle’s Voice of War right now. It’s a very compelling story and Zack is a great guy. I’ve met some tremendous indie fantasy authors through this process that I may never have gotten to know had I not published Paladin Unbound. It’s been a true blessing. The TBR is growing faster than I can cut through the books, though. As for TV, I’m watching Demon Slayer when I have a chance. It’s a ton of fun. I haven’t had a lot of time for video games lately. It shouldn’t surprise you that I love The Elder Scrolls games. Oblivion is my all-time favorite game. In terms of music, I listen to Of Monsters and Men a lot. Their music is so full of fantasy threads and imagery. I find it very inspirational as I gear up for writing. When I write, I often have something ambient as to not distract me.
I thoroughly enjoyed Voice of War and can’t wait to read the sequel Stones of Light (also on my TBR)
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Well, I’m new to this and haven’t spent my entire life trying to become an author. I just wrote a story I wanted to tell and wrote it for myself. I think aspiring authors often try to write what they think other people are going to want to buy/read and it can come off as forced. Your writing will be much more authentic and fulfilling if you write for yourself first and let everything else figure itself out. If it’s a good story, you’ll find the right publisher and the readers will come. If you go the indie route, prepare to do a lot of the heavy lifting to attract those readers yourself. Your publisher will help you put together the best possible version of your book, but marketing will largely fall in your lap.
What are you working on right now and what can we look forward to seeing from you next?
I’m just about ready to send the manuscript for the sequel to Paladin Unbound to my publisher. I hope that will be ready at some point next year. I’ve been working on approving the audiobook version of Paladin Unbound. I’m excited about that coming out in the near future. I’ve begun writing the third book in this trilogy. It’s outlined (which is new for me as I’m naturally kind of a pantser) and I’ve written the first 10k words. I’m excited to share the rest of this story arc with everyone.
Thanks so much for shining your spotlight on me. The book community has been so wonderfully supportive. Indie books like Paladin Unbound wouldn’t be possible without the help of awesome people like you.
Thank you – it is always amazing to hear that this little hobby is actually helping people! Thank you so much for visiting the Indie Spotlight today and good luck with your book sales – I will be on the lookout for the sequel to Paladin Unbound!
The last of a dying breed, a holy warrior must rise up against a growing darkness in Evelium.
The most unlikely of heroes, a lowly itinerant mercenary, Umhra the Peacebreaker is shunned by society for his mongrel half-Orc blood. Desperate to find work for himself and his band of fighters, Umhra agrees to help solve a rash of mysterious disappearances, but uncovers a larger, more insidious plot to overthrow the natural order of Evelium in the process.
As Umhra journeys into the depths of Telsidor’s Keep to search for the missing, he confronts an ancient evil and, after suffering a great loss, turns to the god he disavowed for help.
Compelled to save the kingdom he loves, can he defeat the enemy while protecting his true identity, or must he risk everything?
Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58022890-paladin-unbound
https://www.thebrokenbinding.co.uk/product-page/paladin-unbound-jeffrey-speight (signed bookplate paperback with a bookmark!)
Who is next on Indie Spotlight?
Born and raised in Massachusetts, Peter has spent the second half of his life in the Deep South. Despite being an unapologetic damn Yankee, that hasn’t stopped him from appreciating mild winters, Southern hospitality, or SEC football.
Peter has been an insurance professional for too many decades, which means before smart phones and the internet. Yeah, he’s THAT old, but he still enjoys all manner of science fiction and fantasy media, MMOs, reading, playing tennis, cooking, musicals, cheering his beloved New England pro sports teams, and the occasional good cry. He’s been playing tabletop RPGs since the golden age of The Keep on the Borderlands (which he still owns and has been kept in pristine condition).