Welcome everyone. I’m Ramon Mejia from the LitRPG Podcast.
Today I’ll be talking to G. Akella, the author of the Realm of Arkon series (http://amzn.to/2kSYG44 ). The series is widely popular in Russia. It has also been translated into English and has had great success here, with both e-book and audiobook editions of the first two novels. Book 4, Shadows of the Great Forest, will be available on March 17th on Amazon. Book 1 in the series is currently free.
His friend and fellow LitRPG writer Andrey Vasilyev will have his novel available in English on Feb. 14th. The series is called Fayroll, the first book More Than a Game.
G. Akella only speaks Russian so translation is being done by the amazing, Nikita Samylin
- Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I have liked games since childhood. I used to play on primitive computers way back in 1985. Then there were Dandy, Sega, and Sony Playstation, until I bought a PC. My MMORPG playing started with Ultima Online in 1997. I have participated almost in all significant MMORPGs, but most of all I played WOW. Starting from the games release in the U.S. until the King Lich death. I have participated in about 90% of all relevant raid killings as a Guild master and a Main tank (MT). I got a Grand Marshal title in classic WoW. Last year, I started playing Black Desert Online.
I have liked this genre since the 90s, after I read Robert Howard. Conan is probably my favorite character in this genre. I have read a lot, no fewer than 10 books per month, until I started writing myself.
- What are your ambitions for your writing career?
When I started writing, I told myself:
My book should be the best in its genre. What does it mean? It’s simple – if at least one person thinks so, then it is really the best, and I have succeeded.
Already more than 1000 readers think so in Russia, those who have personally written to me. However, the series is not finished yet, and I want them to think the same after they read the whole series.
- Which writers inspire you?
Robert Howard and Joe Abercrombie
- So, what have you written?
Currently, I’m writing the seventh book of the series, it’s called Grey Fogs of Eranthia. Besides, I have written two short stories The Last Battle Mag and Ayaka. The Last Battle Mage will be translated into English, published and available for readers for free.
- Give us an insight into your main character, Roman/Krian. What does he do that is so special?
I think it is better to read a book =) Or listen to the audiobooks.
- What are you working on at the minute?
The fourth book Shadows of the Great Forest will be available on Mar 17 (exactly three years ago at that day I took my computer and started writing my first book).
The translation will be ready within 10 days, but there should be at least one-month waiting period according to the Audible agreement.
- What’s it about?
Briefly, without spoilers the world is really in danger and might be totally screwed. Compare to this some issues in the Cursed Kingdom will look like children games.
- What genre are your books?
Epic fantasy, LitRPG.
- What draws you to this genre?
Read the answers about my background.
- How much research do you do?
I am not sure if I understand the question correctly, but I will answer it as I understood it. I write only about things that I know or certain about. If I don’t have enough knowledge on some matters, I use reference literature. For instance, in the end of the third book there is a legion moving. I knew only few things about how Roman legions moved in antique times. I had to use some references to find out more.
- When did you decide to become a writer?
March 17 2014
- Why do you write?
Usually, people write if it is impossible not to write. I don’t know… Probably I simply want to tell my story, because I find it interesting.
- What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
When I realized, that the majority of the authors in this genre have very little understanding of games. For example: block or dodge chances. How could they exist in the full immersion? Will the system twist your body? Or will the system use the shield instead of you? Will the sword go through your body without touching it? I think the gamers will understand this.
- Do you write full-time or part-time?
Part-time. I also work as an editor-in-chief at LitWorld publishing house.
- Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
It’s spontaneous. I get to my computer, open the new page and I might write nothing for an hour, but I also might get up in the middle of the night and be writing until the sunrise.
- Do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when?
Actually every day, I try to write at least a paragraph a day.
Usually I aim for at least 4000 signs (in English it becomes approximately 30% more).
- Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?
Usually I write on my computer, but I also write when I am on the way somewhere. I have written around 30% of my books like this probably. It is not hard for me to write when I am traveling on the Moscow metro.
- Where do your ideas come from?
I have read a lot and I have played a lot. I have good memory. The books I have read might inspire some things, but mostly it is my imagination combined with gaming experience.
- Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I know how my series will end. I thought the plot over long time ago. Now I just need to describe it properly to deliver to the readers.
- What is the hardest thing about writing?
To sit at a computer every day and make myself write the first sentence.
- What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
The hardest thing is to find the time. Writing a book requires lots of time.
- What is the easiest thing about writing?
To sit and answer readers’ questions =)
- How long on average does it take you to write a book?
The first book was written in two months, Mar 17 – May 17.
- Do you ever get writer’s Block?
Writer’s Block is an expression made up by laziness. Believe me, if a person could come up with one good plot, it won’t be hard to make another one.
- Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
Work, work, work.
- What are your thoughts on writing a book series.
It is known that the series are very popular nowadays. Obviously if the quality of a series is good. Nevertheless, I ended up writing a series probably only because I couldn’t make my story short. Something like that.
- Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors.
Robert Howard, Joe Abercrombie, Andre Norton, Roger Zelazny. Actually, it would take the whole day to continue the list. Nowadays I don’t read much, because I have only two options: reading or writing.
- For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
Mostly ebooks during past years.
- What book/s are you reading at present?
My own. Many times…
- How are you publishing this book and why?
Like the previous ones.
- What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
Thanks to Amazon it’s not hard to publish independently. Of course, every author dreams of printed books. My fifth book will be published like this in Russia.
- How do you market your books?
I try to write well. I understand that good marketing means a lot, but still consider the quality of writing to be the most important thing.
- Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?
Write so, that people want to read you. Amazon provides you with several promotion options. Create your own page, answer readers’ questions.
- What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?
Not much. First, I need to finish the series.
- What do you do to get book reviews?
The thing is that the readers (even if they like a book a lot) are not so eager to write reviews. I am pretty sure that there are hundreds of people who are reading this interview right now, who have read my books and who haven’t written reviews. I really hope that some of them will realize that it is much harder to write a book series, than to leave a review.
- How successful has your quest for reviews been so far?
Let’s see after this interview.
Questions from the Readers
Ihab Laachir- When will steel wolves of craedia come out in audiobook?
I sent the book cover to Audible in December. Unfortunately, I don’t have the exact information on when it will be released.
Sebastian Nielsen- I'm curious to know what he thinks about western LitRPG books, if he has read any.
Unfortunately, I don’t know English well enough. I can tell only about the books from the East. I liked the Legendary Moonlight Sculptor much less than Sword Art Online (I read it until the moment when Kirito liberated the girl).
Binh Nguyen- I’ll be that guy......... When is book 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10+
Eight books are planned, but it turned out that I am not fully capable of estimating the volume. At least eight and then who knows. However, it is certain that the book will end when the plot ends.
Erik Anderson- I'm not sure I have any questions, but I find his world-building, characters, and storytelling to be top notch!
Thank you =) I hope it will continue like this.
Brandon Housley- I do enjoy the duel stories, but are we gonna learn anything more about the executive area? Or the controlling AI.
I didn’t quite get the question, but if you mean the story with Max, then yes, both stories got connected, so Krian’s story is impossible without Max’ story.
Nicolas Lagrand- What was the inspiration to write a LitRPG where unlike all the others the MC is completely isolated from other players and has to interact only with NPCS? It's honestly one of my favorite aspects of the series.
Thank you! =) Yes, exactly this. The main character is in unbearable conditions from the start. And he needs to get out of it with logical game methods. He hasn’t won in a lottery a castle with thousand warriors, has he? Krian possesses what he has deserved and achieved.
Jay Taylor- As the books become more popular is he looking into methods to improve translation time in order to get the books out into the us market quicker?
Yes, there are some problems, but Mark and I are working on it. I hope the translation of the fifth book will take only three months.
Anonymous - I guess I'd like to know how many books does he think will be in the complete series and how long does he think it will take to write them/get then translated.
At least eight books. Currently I have been working on the seventh. The more you write, the more slowly it goes. The plot and the logic demand more attention. However, I think that half a year per book is the maximum. The translation takes approximately from three to five months.
Ardel Richardson - Does he plan to continue writing litrpg or branch out into other genres?
First, I want to finish this series, and then I will think of what to write next. There are lots of ideas, but first I need to finish what I have started.
Micah Rutledge - The only question that I can think of that isn't an out and out spoiler is who is "the nameless" ai and what does he control. I Knut he hides things and that's a big plot point, but what was his original purpose. ? I'm incredibly curious to find out what happens. It's been such an interesting journey so far i just hate waiting
Thank you =) The book is narrated from the point of view of the main character, and the reader knows only what the character knows. Krian suggested that the Nameless is the Iskin (Great Essense) who was sent by the developers for more influence on the game and to hide some things from the controlling Iskin RP-17. That’s it, no more information. The board of the corporation has hardly given any reports to their designers.
Nancy Young- Does he worry that Roman is getting too OP? Is the goddess going to become a main character? Does he have advice for others trying to break into the english-language market? (Obviously, i speak english, but I'm curious about the challenges)
In comparison to the characters of some authors, Roman is like a child. Certainly not. Every player can get what he has. He doesn’t have any skills that go beyond the game balance. The attention of the Great Essences doesn’t give him any benefits. Setara Shield? 20 seconds of immunity – it’s not serious, isn’t it? And yes, if you are concerned about Roman going beyond the balance line and it won’t be interesting to read, I assure you that even in the seventh book Roman has to use the game methods. I wouldn’t be interested writing about an OP character.
Jakob Frey- Could you ask him if he plans to make an author’s blog, monthly updates would always be awesome.
Nikita Samylin, who will translate this text for you, has offered this to me. I am very thankful to him for the opportunity to answer your questions.
Ihab Laachir- Yeah or if he plans to make a facebook page or something else with news updates on his books
Yes, the publishing house I work for is going to make a page where Russian speaking authors, who are translated into English, will be able to answer readers’ questions.
(End of Audience Questions)
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
You will be able to ask the questions on LitWorld page (soon) and the website litworld.info (already)
I would also like to answer a question that wasn’t asked. Some readers, who consider themselves games experts, often ask me the following question: why has Roman chosen melee damage, and hasn’t stayed as a pure mage. Some of these “experienced” readers call the author a noob. So, in the first book, I mentioned the “concentration” skill (being able to cast while getting damage). I would like to ask these experts, if they really think that the mage who can be “shut” in five different ways and interrupt the cast with a melee attack is better than what Roman has? Seriously?
Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
In the end, I would like to share excellent news with you. Soon on Amazon will be released the first book of my friend Andrey Vasilyev. Andrey’s book are in top 5 of Russian LitRPG. He is the only one out of top five who hasn’t been on Amazon yet. There are already 11 (!!!) books in the series, and all of them are incredibly popular in Russia.
The series is called Fayroll, the first book More Than a Game, it tells about a journalist who got an assignment to write about a popular game with full immersion. He absolutely did not expect to play until he found such a quest…
I am sure that Andrey’s book will find an appropriate place in your e-shelves.
I would like to thank all of you and wish you nice, hopefully, reading!
End of Interview
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/G.-Akella/e/B01BJ7HJVK/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
Patch 17 (Realm of Arkon, Book 1)
The Cursed Princedom (Realm of Arkon, Book 2)
Steel Wolves of Craedia (Realm of Arkon, Book 3) http://amzn.to/2k37ZPA
Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.
Pictures and illustrations: