Friday, May 18, 2012

J.R. Wagner, Author of Exiled, the Never Chronicles

I am quite excited to introduce you to J.R. Wagner, author of Exiled, due to be released on June 5th and highly awaited by many. Come get a sneak peek before it's release.

First of all I’d like to welcome you and thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer a few questions. I love your blog and although I had been anxiously awaiting the release of your novel…I received an advanced copy to review. So I will be able to share my comments with you as well as my readers.

Could you share a little about yourself and what led you to become a writer?

First and foremost, I am the husband of a wonderful wife and the father of two amazing daughters.  I’ve been writing as long as I can remember.  I began writing short stories then transitioned to screenplays –usually sequels to movies I enjoyed at the time –Ghostbusters, Star Wars, Batman, Jaws.  I also enjoyed filming movies when I was younger. My friend Nick and I would create stop-motion films using Star Wars figures –it would take hours to get a few minutes of film but was always enjoyable.  As I grew older, I went through intermittent stages of writing –again trying my luck at screenplays for a while and then I wrote my first novel –I’m afraid to even look at it now.  On the plus side, writing that train-wreck of a novel was also a learning process that thought me the importance of discipline and consistency when writing.

Would you take us on a brief tour of your novel and the world you’ve created?

Exiled follows the main character, James through the trials and tribulations he encounters through his life.  It opens with James on trial for murdering his mentor, Akil who, for all intents and purposes has played the role of James’s father in the latter part of his life.  James is convicted and banished to ‘The Never’ –where the worst criminals are sent. James is different for many reasons.  James is a sorcerer –a very powerful sorcerer who some believe will be the one to stop the event foretold to be the end of his kind, the Epoch Terminus.  When James wakes in The Never, he is powerless and alone. In order to get home he must brave the hostile environment that is The Never and unwrap the mysteries surrounding escape from the place thought inescapable.

The unique chapter layout takes you through time and place to gain a better understanding of James’s beginnings. You’ll journey with James’s parents as they find out a world of sorcerery and magic is not only real, but within all of our grasps.  You’ll follow James through important events during his youth.  You’ll even get a glimpse into the life of James’s mentor,  the enigma otherwise known as Akil Karanis. Every other chapter follows James’s journey through The Never while in between are the chapters providing the crucial back-story.

Exiled is a thinking person’s book.  Everything I’ve done in Exiled –every character name, the chapter layout, the subtle hints here and there, the unanswered questions, all have been intentional and are part of a much larger story. If you liked the show Lost, I believe you will enjoy Exiled.     If things don’t make sense, there is a reason for it.  There are no coincidences in this book. If you need a book to tie up all the loose ends when you reach the conclusion, Exiled will probably drive you insane.

Where does the inspiration for you main character and his story come from?

James is a combination of many people –as are all fictitious characters, I believe.  Every person has a desire to be special –to be ‘the one’.  I tried to show the readers that the challenges of being looked upon as someone special can be repressive.  It isn’t easy being a leader.  Much must be sacrificed.  For James, a normal childhood, people close to him and eventually his freedom are a result of being the Anointed One.

What is the message behind the story? Was it something you specifically wrote a story around or did it develop as your characters came to life?

I think I have several messages twisted in the plot –some of which won’t come to life until later books (and I’m not ready to divulge at the moment)   Sacrifice is a major theme in Exiled.  James’s parents must sacrifice their normal lives to see that their child is raised properly.  James must sacrifice, as I said, his childhood in order to prepare himself to become the Anointed One. The others James meets in The Never all have sacrificed something as a result of their exile.

Do you work from an outline or just go with the flow? If you use an outline, how detailed is it?

Outlines and I are like oil and water.  The story tells itself, I’m just a conduit between the keyboard and the storytelling part of my brain.

How long have you been awaiting the release of your novel? How much time has elapsed between having typed the last word through the editing phase to print?

I began Exiled in September 2009.  I finished in October 2011.  Since then I’ve gone through more revisions than I can count on both hands.  The editorial process is still going on.  I sent my final revisions in last week and am waiting for the publisher to come back with the interior for my approval, then it will go to the printer.

Could you tell us what you’re working on now?

At the moment, I am totally engrossed on seeing Exiled released and making that as successful as possible.  Everyone has a dream in life, this is my dream.  Seeing it through is just as important as writing the last paragraph.  My family has sacrificed (speaking of sacrifice) much of their time with me in order to facilitate my dream-fulfillment quest and I owe it to them to give it my best shot.  The sprint to the finish, some call it.

But, in the back of my mind, I am revising book 2 with hopes that the success of Exiled justifies the release of the next book, which is already written.

How much did you know about life as an author before getting yourself into this crazy world? How much time do you spend writing and marketing?

I knew very little when I started down this path.  I’ve learned enough to fill a book or two but things in writing and publishing are changing so rapidly, what I’ve learned will probably be obsolete in a year or two. My writing to marketing ratio right now is probably 1:3 (every hour of writing I spend 3 hours marketing). Hopefully, after the release, it will reverse.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Write. A lot. Read your genre every day. is a great resource. Start a blog, build a following –even if you not considering trying to publish yet.  The sooner the better.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule for us. I’m sure my readers have enjoyed your answers as much as I have.

Here is J.R.'s book:

To add to this wonderful experience and glimpse into Jame's world, J.R. was kind enough to provide us with a special interview with Akil Kranis. My simple request took him on quite a journey, and you won't be disappointed by what you learn...
Please, Mr. Wagner, share your amazing experience.

Interviewing Akil Karanis

When I set out to interview the great Akil Karanis, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  It took me well over a month to get in touch with a known contact and a further three months to actually meet in person.
On the day of our meeting; meeting place unknown of course, I was blindfolded in the mountains south of Geneva and taken –first by horse and then on foot over miles of terrain until eventually, I could tell by the cobbles beneath my feet and the noises in the air, that we had reached a more urban location. Finally, after what had been over half a day’s travel, we came to a stop.
The streets had gone quiet making me certain that sunset had long passed. An old door creaked open and I was shoved (rather rudely) into a room.  I called out. There was no reply.  I called out once more and once more there was no reply.  Growing impatient, I removed my blindfold.
The room was dark save the glowing embers from an unfed fire.  On the rug in front of the hearth a large bloodhound snored quietly.  I smiled, unable to hide my affection for dogs of all kind. 
As my eyes adjusted, I noticed several small tables positioned around the fireplace.  Two large windows stood abreast the door I had been shoved through just a moment ago.  Outside was completely black.
“I suppose you’d like to get started,” a voice said. So startled was I that I jumped back, let out a scream and nearly moistened my underpants as I fell into a chair barely able to keep myself from falling to the ground.
In the corner between the window and the fireplace sat Akil Karanis.  He was puffing on a long pipe and looked otherwise relaxed.
“Indeed, sir.” I said, digging in my bag for my papers. 
“Have a seat,” he said, pointing to the far end of the table at which he sat.
I sat, my hands shaking as I spread out my papers and tried to remove the top to my inkwell without making a mess and looking like a complete fool.
“If I may, I would like to start off by asking you a question,” said Akil.
“Of course, sir,” I replied. 
“What is it that makes you so nervous?”
“Nervous?” I asked, making a rather pathetic attempt to wipe the fear from my face as I set my pen just so on the table and folded my hands together.
He looked at me with a smirk as my foot tapped neurotically on the floor. After a moment it became clear we were not moving on until I answered his question. (By which point my restless leg was literally bouncing off the wood plank floor, causing my knee to hit the underside of the table.)
I cleared my throat, unclasped my hands to allow my fingers to regain circulation and looked up at the most powerful man in the world.
“I –er…well, you’re Akil. Akil Karanis, that is and I’ve been studying you for qu- qu- quite some time. I know you rarely g- g- grant interviews b- b- because you’re su- su- such a busy man,” I get out sounding a complete fool.
Akil’s eyebrows rose as he watched me stammer through my reply.  His expression was not impatient or unkind.  When I was finished, he drew deeply on his pipe and exhaled a puff of smoke, which rather than dissipate, drifted over the table until it struck me in the face. I held my breath as it approached having never liked the smell of smoke –pipe smoke in particular, which made me sick to my stomach, and waited for it to pass on.  Unfortunately, it hovered there, just in front of my face and it seemed as if I could either keep holding my breath until I passed out and fell to the floor or, I could breathe in and try not to vomit all over the table. 
Finally, I let out my breath, hoping he hadn’t noticed that I’d been holding it at all and slowly inhaled.  At first, my head began to spin but after a moment, it was clear –surprisingly clear.  My leg had stopped shaking and I felt relaxed for the first time since my journey began.
“Better?” Akil asked.
“Much,” I replied.
“Let us begin,” he said, glancing down at the notes on the table in front of me.
“Very well,” I replied, looking at my list of questions.  “If there are any you’d rather not answer, simply let me know as we move along.”
Akil nodded, a smile still on his face as he studied me.
“What is your full name?” I asked.
“Akil Karanis.”
“You haven’t a middle name?”
“Had I a middle name, I would have given it to you when you asked for my full name, wouldn’t I?”
“Where do you reside?”
“Wherever I wish.”
“When did you first meet James Lochlan Stuart IV?” I asked, deciding to get to the heart of the matter.
“I met James when he was just a boy.”
“So you believed he was the Anointed One at that point?”
“I did,” he replied.
“What of the other? The one before James who you also believ…”
“Pass,” Akil interrupted. A stern look in his eyes.
“When did you meet James’s parents?”
“Son, if you came all this way to ask me when I met someone or where I live I’m afraid you’ll quickly lose your readers’ interest and my patience. Now, ask me something relevant before I decide my time is best used elsewhere.”
I scanned my notes; passing over the questions I already had the answers to until I reached the bottom.
“Do you believe Master Alvero had anything to do with James’s exile?”
“As you can see, I’ve not been murdered as the council claims,” said Akil.
“So you believe Master Alvero manipulated the memory that showed your murder?”
“No?” I said, shocked.
“Alvero is not a gifted sorcerer when it comes to manipulation of the mind.  His gifts sway the opinions of the people.  He is a master at convincing a group his way is right but lacks the technical skill to alter a memory orb.  There are few alive who could,” Akil said, his voice trailing off; his eyes growing distant.
“If not Master Alvero, who? Who changed the memory?” I asked.
Akil continued to sit, staring off into space.  He drew on his pipe and slowly exhaled.  The bloodhound on the hearthrug suddenly lifted its head and looked around nervously.  The room seemed to chill and I shivered as a result.  Akil removed an ornate pocket watch from inside his burgundy vest, flipped open the lid with a click and looked at the face for a long moment.  His face danced with blue light as if the watch face was glowing.  He quickly snapped it shut and stowed it in his pocket and then looked up at me.
“I’ll allow one final question,” he said.
This was it.  I had a big question. Every good reporter does –the one that will either anger the interviewee and send them marching from the room or make headlines the next day. 
“It is rumored by various sources that you played a hand in the death of James’s father.  Is this true?” I asked in my most calm and even voice.
Akil closed his eyes and took a deep breath.  The bloodhound stood and lumbered to his side where it set its massive head on Akil’s lap. After a moment, Akil opened his eyes. 
“Mr. Stuart’s death was a tragedy.  He and I had grown close since our first meeting and I can assure you, had I been there, the events that took place that night in the Arenberg forest would have been much different.”
“And what did take place that night in the Arenberg forest?”
“Something…” Akil whispered more to himself than to me. “Something even I am unable to explain.”
“So you deny any involvement?” I asked.
The wooden floor of the room began to tremor ever so slightly. The hound instantly began pacing nervously as the fire rekindled itself, brightening the room. Akil stood and despite his lean build, when he stood over me, with that look in his eyes –as if he were looking through me and into my mind, I was afraid.
“There are many paths in life, my boy.  Each decision takes you a new direction. Some paths lead to right and others lead to wrong.  Where we find ourselves in our latter years is a result of our decisions and nothing more. There is no blame to assign, for they are your decisions; your paths.  We are all accountable for the choices we have made.  Do not be a coward and blame others when you find yourself astray. Even at the end, a path to redemption may be found.”
Before I could say another word, Akil disappeared in a swirl of purple smoke and light.  Our interview had concluded.  The hound and I looked at each other for a moment. I gathered my things and left.

Here is a little more about this amazing author;

J. R. Wagner was born on January 20th, 1978 in West Chester, Pennsylvania during a blizzard. The snow made travel by car impossible so his father, Robert (Bob) called an ambulance when his mother, Dianne went into labor. The ambulance became stuck at the bottom of Wagner’s driveway prompting the dispatch of a fire truck, which towed the ambulance, Dianne, still with child, and Bob to the hospital where Joshua was born. (see the actual newspaper article here)Joshua’s mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1997. She died less than a year later. Joshua was 19.Joshua’s father was a small business owner in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.With nothing more than an idea, tenacity and the love of a great woman, he rose from poverty and grew his business into a multi-million dollar flooring company still in business today. Bob died in 2009 leaving his company and his legacy to his children.Wagner attended Pickering Valley Elementary School then Lionville Junior High School before graduating from Downingtown High School (now known as Downingtown West). He began writing at a young age. When he was ten, he wrote a sequel to Return of The Jedi and had lofty aspirations of working with George Lucas on filming the project. Other writing and film projects followed. In 1990 Wagner began filming his version of The Lord of The Rings in his parent’s basement but the plug was pulled after he nearly burned down the house with the torches he’d created. Since then he’s written a full-length science fiction screenplay, a thriller Novel and a second screenplay (which Wagner is still determined to film himself). None have been published. Taking a 180 degree turn in his career path, Wagner went to college and earned his bachelor of science in Kinesiology from Arizona State University.During that time, Wagner’s creative endeavors were supplanted by studying, sports and girls.
In 2001, Wagner returned to Downingtown, where his creative fires were re-stoked.He married and fathered two beautiful daughters, Iris and Sydney.Wagner divorced shortly after Sydney’s birth.
Not long after meeting Lisa Stojowski, Wagner fell in love. During a trip to Maine together, Wagner began writing Exiled. He completed the first draft in the fall of 2010. Lisa and Joshua married in June of 2011. Wagner endearingly considers his wife, his muse, his facilitator, his solid ground. Exiled is currently in the ‘editorial washer’ and is scheduled to release June 5, 2012.

Here is a link to J.R.'s website:

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations, Joshua, on your marriage and upcoming success! It's funny how people can somehow travel the same paths, yet end up in almost the same direction. I too am an avid SW and LOTR fan,and a lover of the show LOST. Writing a fanfic of the show is what got me started writing. My current story began being written in 2009 as well as completed in the fall of 2011. I plan to have it published this year. The story sounds intriguing and I look forward to reading your story.