Hi everyone! Today I was lucky enough to interview Todd Sullivan, who kindly sent me physical copies of the Windshine Chronicles series in exchange for my honest reviews. Before I get into the interview, I would like to say a massive thank you to him for both his time and his kindness. He also wrote a guest post for me, which you can view here.
How old were you when you wrote your first book? What was it about?
My first completed book was called ENERGY. Right around the same time I completed that book, I finished another titled SEVEN SECONDS. Both of these manuscripts were about 60,000 words, and I wrote them between 18 and 20 years old.
ENERGY is about a future world where a percentage of the children is born with the ability to create rifles and motorcycles out of energy when they reach puberty. They form gangs that they name after celestial bodies, and they fight each other under the constant threat of special police tasked to eradicate them.
SEVEN SECONDS is about a fallen angel seeking redemption on Earth. He has twin sons who hunt him to steal his power.
Neither of these books were published, but one day I do hope to go back to them and rewrite them. My first published book is the novella HOLLOW MEN, and that was written in 2018 and released in December, 2019.
Which book from the series was your favourite to write? Why?
Probably THERE WILL BE ONE, as it was easiest and quickest to write.
With HOLLOW MEN, I had to work out the narrative universe, its rules, and create characters, plots, and subplots completely from scratch. With BLOOD STEW, my first published novel, it simply took a very long time trying to piece together all of the many parts of the narrative.
THERE WILL BE ONE, however, was written from a narrative universe that had already been fleshed out, so that made it easier. And since it’s a novella, it’s about a third of the length of BLOOD STEW, so it was the fastest of the three books to finish.
Which character in The Windshine Chronicles was most fun to write?
It’s hard to choose, as I do like all of them quite a lot. But I guess if I had to choose, it would be Windshine. She actually doesn’t show up all that much in the books, usually existing on the periphery. But often when she is there, there’s a lot of action and a lot of narrative tension as death stalks the characters. Plus, she’s powerful but a pacifist, and that makes an interesting dynamic. Having the power to destroy but deciding to follow a philosophy of peace and forgiveness is a compelling narrative paradigm.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
I have a young elementary student that I’ve been teaching writing to for the last several years. She’s my longest running student, and I always tell her the same thing.
Even though I’m teaching her writing technique that’s advanced, and literary theory on a university level, the most important lesson I can ever give her is the daily exercise I always encourage her to do. Five minutes a day, five days a week, with a two day break, she should write. Something, anything, it doesn’t matter what, but she should write.
It doesn’t matter how good you are and how much you learn about writing. If you don’t have the discipline to sit down and get the words on the page, all the skill and talent in the world won’t get you anywhere. In life, you’re always busy. Even if you have nothing to do, you can be busy every day wasting time. It’s only through self-discipline and finding time will she have stories, essays, poems, novellas, or novels finished at the end of each year.
What inspired the idea of the Dark Elves in The Windshine Chronicles?
That’s a complicated answer. I came up with the character Windshine when I was still in high school more than 30 years ago. But I guess if I had to choose a point in time to mark this newest rendition of Windshine, it was the result of a trip I took to Jeju.
For five years, I lived on an island at the southernmost tip of South Korea. When I moved to the mainland, I would visit Jeju once or twice a year. On one of my trips when I went there, I noticed these dark-skinned foreigners who didn’t seem like tourists. Eventually I found out that they were refugees from Yemen, 500 of whom had immigrated to Jeju quite unexpectedly and very suddenly.
I won’t go into how strange that was, as it would take a lot of explanation about Korea and the special governing province of Jeju, but this sudden appearance of Yemen refugees in Jeju was the inspiration for the Dark Elves in South Korea. Thus Windshine was refashioned.
What was the hardest scene to write in the whole of The Windshine Chronicles series?
All of the historical descriptive scenes. I actually painstakingly recreated the way buildings and fashion in Korea would have looked several hundred years ago. For many of those descriptions, I would only write a few sentences a day because I wanted to make sure I got them right.
To be honest, the process was pretty annoying and tedious, but Korea isn’t my homeland or my native culture, and I really wanted to get it as right as possible. So I took the time to research it, to visit cultural historical sites in Korea, and to slowly, very slowly describe them in The Windshine Chronicles.
You mentioned to me that you teach in Asia. Could you tell us a bit about what it’s like?
I’ve been teaching English as a Second Language, and all that goes under that umbrella, for 13 years now. I moved to Korea right after I graduated from my Masters program from Queens College in New York. My aim originally was to move to Tokyo, Japan, but Korea was hiring a lot of English teachers, especially in 2009 when I was seeking a position abroad. And here I still currently am.
Living and working abroad is a challenge. I know it’s commonly said that everyone should live abroad for a year, but I would modify that to everyone should work abroad for a year, as most people only study abroad for a year. Your experience with a foreign culture is completely different when you go as a student, however. When you work with foreigners, you see the country laid bare. Work is where people make their livings, it’s how they survive, and there’s a seriousness to that experience that I don’t think students who study abroad will ever see of the citizens of the host country.
Who’s your favourite character from the whole of The Windshine Chronicles series?
I think I would have to give that to Windshine, also. I always liked her, though, which is why I remember her from my teens. Granted, the character changed a lot over the decades, as she originally wasn’t an elf. She was always powerful, though, and she used to be quite the warrior, though that changed for these current books.
Do you have any plans for future books? If so, can you tell us a bit about them?
So I already know what Book 4 is going to be about, though I’ve only written the first few pages of Chapter 1, and I already know that that is going to have to change.
Honestly, I write slowly. I am not a prolific writer. I figure I’ll have Book 4 done in 2-3 years. I draw heavily from personal experiences from my real life to fuel my writing, and as of yet, the spark for the narrative hasn’t happened yet. I’m waiting for something, and I’ll know it once I see it. Until then, though, I’m writing essays, poems, and short stories.
Finally, in a sentence how would you describe The Windshine Chronicles?
The quest to become a hero is littered with the corpses of all those who failed along the way.
Have you read The Windshine Chronicles yet? Do you think you’ll be picking them up soon? Let me know in the comments!
I hope you enjoyed this interview!