Okay, I met Stephen Zimmer at Con Nooga. He was hella nice and sitting next to him at panels I was struck by his well spoken manner or answering questions. I wandered by his booth to say hello and discovered he wrote for Seventh Star Press which is a small publisher I had heard of and had been impressed with.
Stephen and I have never had a lot of time to sit and talk with each other, which is sad because I think he would be a blast to hang out with.
He has a new book out SPIRIT OF FIRE so now was the perfect opportunity to have a chit and a chat with him. So here it is folks:
James Ray Tuck Jr: give me just one sec. alrighty ready to rock
Stephen Zimmer: I’m ready here.
James Ray Tuck Jr: Okay, so it’s been a minute since Fandom Fest, tell everyone what you have been up to, specifically about the new book you have out, also all the other things that keep you one of the busiest men in showbiz.
Stephen Zimmer: Definitely glad that the Fandom Fest project was completed, that was a big one, as it coincided with the full blog tour and release of my newest book, Spirit of Fire, which is the third in my Fires in Eden series. For those that haven’t read this series, they are epic fantasy with ensemble casts, and this particular installment is a very fast paced one with loads of action and some big revelations for the series as a whole.
I have been busy with doing PR work for the other Seventh Star Press authors, as well as working on developing a couple independent film projects, and keeping a full writing schedule that includes, at the moment, the 4th book of the Rising Dawn Saga, and some short stories from the Chronicles of Ave collection, the Annals of the Rising Dawn collection, and a new horror collection that I am really excited about unveiling.
James Ray Tuck Jr: Very cool. Now what drew you into wanting to write epic fantasy?
Stephen Zimmer: Seriously, it goes back to when my mother read me Lord of the Rings, the fully trilogy, when I was about seven. That started the roots, but what I love about epic fantasy is the ease with which it can be intimate at one moment or zoom up to a cosmic level during the course of a story. Of course, that kind of range can cause things to go spinning out of control if you are not careful, but if you balance it right, like writers like Tolkien and George R.R. Martin do, the results are magical. The layers and richness of good epic fantasy can deliver you into a truly immersive reading experience, and I hope that my series has given that to readers.
James Ray Tuck Jr: So you lean more to the Tolkien side of the road rather than the Robert E. Howard side? More Heavy layered and textured world with large casts of characters rather than the man versus the unnatural with only his sword and the strength of his thews?
Stephen Zimmer: I do lean more towards the Tolkien side in my writing, but I love Robert E. Howard and some of the characters in the ensembles I have could easily step into one of Howard’s environments. The supernatural does make its presence felt in my series, so it is not entirely on the Tolkien end of the spectrum. But Ave is a thoroughly developed world that serves as fertile ground for the characters that make the main ensemble.
James Ray Tuck Jr: So there is magic in your world, how does it work?
Stephen Zimmer The magic in my world is a little more present than you would see in a series like A Song of Ice and Fire. There is a cosmic clash going on underneath the events of the Fires in Eden series, so there are supernatural beings that take the stage at times. The Wizards in my series are an actual immortal race that predates humans, and they wield supernatural powers as well. As far as humans go, most magic is concentrated in the Sorcerers that serve The Unifier, who have been given revelations directly from Jebaalos, who is a dark entity who presides over the abyssal realms.
James Ray Tuck Jr: Sounds very awesome, and there’s more in the series to come?
Stephen Zimmer: There is a lot more to come, about 4 books remaining in the main series, as well as many more short stories in the Chronicles of Ave, a the collection which is set in the same world, and I have not ruled out doing another series based in Ave. Readers are going to see much more of Ave over the course of the next books, far beyond what is shown on the map included in Spirit of Fire. It helps when Ave features races of flying steeds, which also makes for some exciting aerial combat sequences.
James Ray Tuck Jr: Flying aerial combat sounds pretty kickass. Okay, now lets shift gears a second and talk about somme of the other hats you are wearing…..Tell me a bit about Seventh Star Publishing and what you do.
Stephen Zimmer: Seventh Star Press is a small press publisher based in Lexington, Kentucky, and I was the first author to come aboard. I do represent the press officially and am a part of it, with my main capacity being PR and outreach, but there are several other individuals involved. Currently, we have eight authors, two artists, and work with 4 editors. It is not the largest small press out there, but it is one where everyone works together really well.
James Ray Tuck Jr: I really like the way you guys run. Your books look top notch. What’s the best thing about being with Seventh Star as an author and the best thing about working with them as an employee?
Stephen Zimmer: Thank you very much, we really try to make every book and author succeed rather than fling twenty titles a month against a wall to see what sticks. One thing I like best about Seventh Star in terms of being an author is that everyone works to make each release the best end product it can be. The editors and artists are very passionate about the work they put their names with and they strive to do their part, and then in the PR phase, where I am one of the individuals involved, we do everything we can to get the word out. The authors are very connected to the editors and artists, in a way that you don’t see at every publisher out there.
In terms of working with Seventh Star in an official capacity, it is the fact that I know we work to do everything to make each author’s series or franchise successful that makes me feel very good about what we do. No author is left behind, and if a title does not get off to a fast start, the focus is on how to find the right avenues for that title rather than shifting priorities elsewhere in the catalog. Sometimes finding the audience for a book or series takes time, or a series needs to be cultivated. I find that sometimes publishers can be impatient with titles that could eventually turn out to be very successful if given the right chance.
James Ray Tuck Jr: Now You guys are pretty heavy in the fantasy genre, is that the main focus? And when are y’all going to do a kick ass Sword and Sorcery anthology? lol
Stephen Zimmer: Interesting you mention that! Our next release is a paranormal thriller called Haunting Obsession by R.J. Sullivan, and our newest author is J.L. Mulvihill with her steampunk series Steel Roots.
Following that comes Michael West’s next novel in his Harmony, Indiana franchise, which is horror, and then David Blalock’s next one in the Angelkiller Triad, which is urban fantasy.
Yes, we did have a run of fantasy this spring with Jackie Gamber’s new Leland Dragon series novel Sela, and my new one, Spirit of Fire,and the reissues just before of D.A. Adams’ first two Brotherhood of Dwarves books, but don’t forget Steven Shrewsbury’s Overkill is Sword and Sorcery! Also, my other series, The Rising Dawn Saga, is urban fantasy on an epic scale, and Michael West has another series with us, the Legacy of the Gods, which is urban fantasy.
As far as anthologies go, The End Was Not the End, which is post-apocalyptic tales set in ancient world to medieval settings, it is highly likely that there will be several Sword and Sorcery pieces in it. All of that is up to the editor, Joshua Leet, but I’m sure he’s gotten several submissions in that area. A full-focused Sword and Sorcery anthology is definitely something we’d be interested in doing in the future.
James Ray Tuck Jr: I’d be in to submit for that! You guys have a ton going on then….it’s great to see good folks doing vital stuff. So you said you were doing some indie filmmaking. Anything you can talk about?
Stephen Zimmer: I have a very action heavy screenplay, that features a Conan-esque lead character who goes on an Odyssey-style adventure set in the Viking Age, featuring lots of supernatural baddies. I would love to see this be made as a feature, but only if it is done right in terms of production value. That is the foremost project I’m working to develop. We’ll have to see what happens, but it is dark fantasy/sword and sorcery in style all the way.
James Ray Tuck Jr: Awesome. So anything you want to do in the future? You are so busy doing a ton of kick ass stuff is there anything you just want to do that’s not already in the works?
Stephen Zimmer: On an artistic level, I would just like to be in a rhythm where I could do a feature film production each year and keep on schedule with my two series and releasing short fiction. I do want to do a space opera series at some point for sure, and I do have some ideas for a YA series sketched out. Possibly something novella length with the Harvey and Solomon steampunk tales I’ve been doing, the first two of which are in the Dreams of Steam I and II anthologies. (from Kerlak Publishing)
James Ray Tuck Jr: So how do you like writing in the Steampunk genre? Do you feel like it is still growing or becoming saturated?
Stephen Zimmer: I really enjoy it, and I feel that as long as you have a compelling plot and good characters you are not limited to any particular genre. I believe it is still growing and also experiencing a big bandwagon effect. Whatever is hot at a given moment goes through this kind of phase, and it will eventually shake out.
I have come to love writing the Harvey and Solomon characters, which all came about as a kind of challenge from Kimberly Richardson at Kerlak Publishing before Dreams of Steam I. I took it on to see how I would fare outside of my comfort zone of fantasy/urban fantasy, and ended up enjoying it a great deal. The stories are very different from my other work.
James Ray Tuck Jr: I ‘m working on a steampunk novel and enjoying it quite a bit. What’s your favorite part of the world? Do you do a stiffer, Victorian spin? The gadgetry?
Stephen Zimmer: I don’t want to be too stuck on the gadgetry, nor did I want to get too formal, so Harvey and Solomon’s first adventures have taken place in a Smoky Mountains-style setting, an Alaskan one, and a southwestern one in a third story that has been submitted for consideration at the present moment. All three stories involve tribal people, and mystical elements, which I feel helps me offer some dimensions that go beyond the standard elements. It is definitely a late 1800’s type setting, there are airships, ironclad vessels, things of that nature, but my favorite part is the friendship between Harvey and Solomon and their journeys across this kind of landscape.
James Ray Tuck Jr: So like a Jeremiah Johnson/ Lewis and Clark kind of story but with steampunk?
Stephen Zimmer: Yes, only Harvey is a cat, which makes for some interesting twists! LOL
James Ray Tuck Jr: It sounds like it.
Alright, so that is a good bit of info…now tell everyone where to get your newest and how to keep up with you.
Stephen Zimmer: As far as my newest, you can still get a limited edition hardcover direct from Seventh Star Press at: http://www.seventhstarpress.com/documents/pre_orders.html
Amazon Kindle version is available, as is the softcover from most online vendors like Amazon, B&N, etc. It is in the Ingram catalog, so any store or library should be able to get it in. .
as far as me, here are my main connecting points:
James Ray Tuck Jr: Awesome. Any final words to the readers out there?
Stephen Zimmer: Thank you for your time and reading this interview! I appreciate the chance to introduce myself and I love to hear from readers so do not hesitate to reach out to me in the future if you want to ask questions or talk with me about the stories.
James Ray Tuck Jr: Excellent… thanks a bunch mang