An Interview with Julian Fogel, author of Tiloran: An Abandoned Home
Julian Fogel is a writer based in Colorado and has been writing stories for over a decade with his first novel self-published at the early age of just 25 with Tiloran: An Abandoned Home. What started as a hobby quickly turned into an activity he would love to turn into a career. While his initial dream was to get into the movie business through writing screenplays, he was eventually persuaded to give writing a novel a try by friends and collogues. So, if any stories of his have a cinematic feel to them, that would be his love for visual mediums of storytelling bleeding through.
What is your favourite dragon in literature?
Hmm… good question. Does Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon count? Definitely him, if it does. I just love the dynamic between him and Hiccup. If not, the first ones to come to mind are Falkore and Smaug, which seem pretty typical of answers, but they are classics.
I’m not going to be reviewing your newest novel, but from your other published novels, is there one that is your own personal favourite?
Well, I currently only have three novels published (all on Amazon, feel free to check them out *wink wink*) and they’re all part of the same series of Tiloran. It’s hard to pick a favorite out of any of them, especially anyone’s first published book. That one will always be very special, but if I had to pick one, then I think I would choose the second installment, Rise of the Worthy. There were just some themes and moments during writing that one that I didn’t know how well they could be explored until I wrote them. Very unique. But I still love the other two as well, obviously or I wouldn’t have released them, haha.
Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?
My first novel was technically An Abandoned Home, which I released, but funny enough, my original passion for writing came in the form of screenwriting. So, all of my first writing projects are currently screenplays and even the first draft of my first novel was a screenplay. That being said, while I’ll probably redo some of those as novels, my very first one needs a lot of work (as I’m sure many writers feel, haha). I don’t necessarily know if I’ll ever get around to doing that one again. Certainly not anytime soon, anyway.
Is there a running theme in your writing you tend to create, accidental or not?
I think I tend to write stories that showcase characters dealing with some kind of mental struggle of some kind like depression and/or loneliness. My first book has heavily themes of this and the rest of the series, while exploring other human conditions, will continue that trend. I find it fascinating and I feel you don’t find many stories dealing with those things as far as epic fantasy goes. Maybe I’m wrong and just haven’t found the right pool to read from, but it’s certainly unique to me.
Over the years, what would you say has improved significantly in your writing?
Just about everything, haha. Re-reading some of my earliest stuff, I can pick out all of the bad dialogue, the poor story structure, the non-descriptive descriptions. The only thing I really feel I may have been good with from the start was character arcs. I still think I made pretty good and well-paced character arcs from the get-go. Of course, that’s improved over the years as well, but the main and biggest improvement I’ve seen in my own writing is pacing. My older stuff would really just be all over the place with its pacing because I didn’t really have the fundamentals of storytelling down and it’s taken me a long time to really figure some of that out. It’s definitely something I think I’m still learning, honestly, I certainly don’t want to claim I’m done learning about it, no one ever really is, I think. There’s too much to know.
Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?
Ooh, percolate is not a work I hear very often, good choice. I have no clue how people write so frequently. I always have something to work on, but my problem is finding time and motivation. As an author who can’t quite count on writing being my main job, it’s not something I can dedicate most of my time to. Who knows, maybe that’d change if it was more of my main job. If I think of a story idea, I definitely have to let it sit for a while before I really get the story beats down. I think some people just make a novel with whatever comes to them and that’s totally fine, sometimes it works out great, but I need to achieve a certain feeling to actually feel the novel is worth writing. What that feeling is, I’m not sure how to describe. It’s kind of like finally getting home after an extremely long road trip and all you’ve been seeing is roadblock after roadblock and there’s just this sense of the roads feeling right again and this sense of relief and peace like you know you’ve accomplished something, maybe even overcame something, if that makes any sense.
I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?
Ouch, I can’t imagine getting myself all hyped up for a good writing session and finding out the only cafe I wrote in is closed, that would be unbearably frustrating, haha. No, luckily, I’m only comfortable writing in my home, preferably in my room on my computer. That’s kind of my safe zone where I can try and think of whatever ideas might work and which ones might not. I personally can’t imagine writing anywhere else, good on anyone who can, though. Sometimes I wish I felt comfortable doing so. But I certainly don’t think I’ll ever find my home closed… I would hope not anyway (insert scared expression here).
Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?
I am lucky enough to have some good friends who will read my novels before release and thank goodness I do. It’s terrifying releasing something nobody has commented on or told you if it’s even worth reading, I would feel way more anxiety if I didn’t have those people in my life. As far as editing goes, I just mostly do that myself. Call it poor man’s editing or anything you want, but currently, I can only really let myself do it and whatever feedback I get from my friends on the books I write, I take into account, but I only really change things based on if multiple people call out the same thing. Because some story beats or moments might not work with one person, but may with another, so I need a group vote, basically, if I end up changing anything in the story.
I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?
I actually do love the smell of new books. Fresh paper should be an air freshener scent, haha. I definitely prefer physical books to ebooks, but I’m not a stickler for either. Ebooks are super convenient and physical copies are much more satisfying to get through, I’d say I read physical books more than ebooks. Though, I do enjoy a good audiobook, as well. No favorite bookshops, though, unfortunately. I just go to whichever one I can find.
I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and have your tastes changed over time?
I love almost all genres of storytelling. The only one I’m not very big on is erotica, never got into that. But I think I love fantasy/sci-fi the most. I love worlds that immerse me and take me out of this one. Escapism is very important sometimes. It can be dangerous if we get too lost in it, but staying only in this world our whole lives seems like a missed experience to me. If that’s what some people want and like, that’s their business and I can respect that, but I think they’re missing out just a little, at least, haha.
Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. What do you do?
On social media? I actually don’t get on social media very much (I know, go ahead and scald me for it). I know it’s kind of a self-published author’s necessity, but I just find it boring most of the time and the time-consuming aspect of it is very mind numbing. I will probably be getting more into it in the future as it does have it’s benefits for writers like me, but as of right now, I’m definitely in the same boat — not much of a good job going on with it from my end.
The only current profiles I have are Goodreads and Facebook. I manage them, I’m not on them very often and all I really add to them are book covers. I contact book bloggers for mentions and reviews, some websites sell advertising packages I go for (though you have to be really careful with those with all the scammers out there). I occasionally take advantage of the free book promos and ad campaigns kindle allows me to throw out there.
Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?
As I’ve not done very many interviews yet, I definitely haven’t felt the need to recycle many questions/answers, thankfully. I’m not a fan of repetition, so I’d like to try and vary my answers up as much as I can, but I can definitely see a point of being asked the same question where I run out of different responses eventually. It may take a long, long time, but I can definitely see it. All your questions have been great, though! No repetition here!
About the Book
Isaac, an average man, is thrust into a world of six war-fueled gods and must find a way home with the help of the allies he meets along the way. The world of Tiloran is vast and unfamiliar and Isaac does not belong. Along his way, he will be forced on an emotional and epic journey to accept a reality he isn’t ready to face.
More about Julian
In Julian’s spare time, he enjoys any form of story, whether it be movies, tv shows, video games, books, or even popular RPG tabletop games such as Dungeons and Dragons (Improvising stories and characters on the spot). He loves spending time with his friends and finding whatever adventurous activity he may be able to do when he can.
While he only has a couple of novels published on amazon for the time being, he plans on writing plenty more, starting with the rest of the series of Tiloran, currently awaiting the next installment of the series.
Among his fantasy series, he also loves to write for any genre including science fiction, drama, thrillers, and potentially horror, though that last one may be fairly far into the future. As for with all his stories, he sincerely hopes anyone who picks up his books thoroughly enjoys and perhaps even connects with them in any way and, while releases may be slow, he’s excited to share more for as long as he can.