Eric Smolinski: From gamer to writer and beyond
Meeting the Rising Writer No. 31
What helps you write on your hardest days?
I have the advantage of having a job that allows me plenty of quiet time to think. It allows me to plan accordingly for the future of my story and the next parts I need to write. This way I already know what needs to be done when I sit down to start writing. I don’t write every single day, however. If I am having a particularly hard day, or just don’t have the inspiration, I simply save it for another day. I feel like if I tried to force it, the quality would not be as good as it could be. Even so, that does not keep me from thinking about the details of what I need to write. So, even when I’m not writing, I’m still working on my project.
When did you start writing?
If you count online roleplaying, I started that when I was 16. Still do, it’s fun, making up stories and characters with other people and playing things out. If not, then I guess I started May 2015 when I wrote the first chapter of the book I’m currently working on.
What are you currently working on? How did you begin working on it?
I’m currently working on a fantasy novel called Accrue’s End. It’s a story that will span multiple books. I started working on it when I downloaded an RPG Maker program and wanted to make a game from it. I quickly realized I don’t really have the artistic skills for such a thing. But, I loved the story I had worked on for it and didn’t want it to go to waste. About this time, an animator named Monty Oum passed away at the age of 33. He had quite a fan base, including myself. The company he worked for asked his fans to do something creative in his memory. I couldn’t draw or make videos like many others were. I decided what I would do is turn my game story into a book. So, I got to writing.
What inspires your writing?
More than anything, video games. I’m sure many might say other books inspire theirs, but for me nothing quite beats the incredible stories, beautiful worlds, and unique characters that I see, and experience, through the video games I play. I feel like they aren’t appreciated enough for the art form they are.
What about video games is inspiring?
The video games I usually play have very deep and lengthy stories. They take place in beautiful or just impressive worlds I am free to explore. Like my writing, I primarily play fantasy-based video games. Seeing these worlds, and the way the characters live and interact inspires all sorts of ideas, some of which I can expand on and alter to fit my own worlds. A lot of people like to sit down and read a good book and become totally enveloped in the story. I feel like I can do the same with video games. They make me laugh, then make me cry and really feel for the characters and leave me thinking about it long after I am finished with the game
Give us insight to your main character. Who is he or she? What is his or her purpose?
His name is Kyo Sonata. He’s 16 years old, and like many in his world he is a mage (magic user). He lives in the town of Mistwell on Kattelink Island. He lived with his godfather, his parents having died seven years ago. His purpose is to find his godfather, get answers to the events that occurred at the beginning of the story, and hopefully, bring him back home.
What/who are your favorite or most reliable support groups?
The only one I’m a part of is An Author’s Tale on Facebook. It is extremely helpful though. In the short time I’ve belonged there, I feel as though the advice from others has helped my writing immensely, though I still feel I love a ways to go yet. Everybody is very friendly and willing to help out if I have any questions.
Have you had someone in your personal life who has served as inspiration?
My current work-in-progress is actually one of many forms this story has taken. Back in high school, I had a friend who liked to write stories and I became a fan of one of them. It inspired me to create my own story and try to write it. Before now, I never got very far with it, but I would constantly think about it and alter things in the story. As it stands, the only things that are the same between my first version and the current version is the main character, his abilities, and the name of the main villain. I later met another friend who also writes stories, though never tried to get anything published. Those two have kept me motivated in thinking about my own story over the years.
What is the biggest mistake you think you make while writing? How do you overcome it?
It’s hard to say because I honestly feel like I make plenty of mistakes while writing. From slipping away from my POV, to not describing something well enough, to possibly even not separating paragraphs properly. These and other things are problems that I’m slowly working to overcome as I read more, write more, and get advice from the people in An Author’s Tale, as well as the frequent Google search.
What do you hope to achieve with your writing?
Honestly, I just hope that some people pick it up and decide they enjoy the story I’m trying to tell. That’s kind of the whole point, like “Hey I came up with a story, I hope you like it!” Because what’s the point of a story if nobody hears it?
When do you usually write? How often? Do you have a word goal or page goal when you write?
I usually write on my days off from work, and sometimes when I get home from work as well. It used to be only once or twice a week, but going through a revision stage, as opposed to writing entire chapters has made it easier to write more often. I usually have an average chapter goal of about 3,000 words. Some chapters are more (My longest is about 4,500), and some are shorter (Shortest is 2,200). I don’t really have a goal per page or per session, though. Work does at least give me a lot of time to think about my chapters and what I want to happen in them.
Would you like to tell us more about your book?
The first book is called Accrue’s End: Pursuit. The basic rundown is, it’s a book about a young mage named Kyo, a Hybrid mage who specializes in wind magic, as well as dual wielding short swords. In the world they live in (Much like a JRPG world), there are many creatures of different shapes and sizes roaming the wilds outside of human towns and cities. Some can use magic, some cannot.
The story revolves around Kyo and his search for his godfather who flees his hometown after an event I won’t go into details about. He was accused of stealing something important from town and Kyo decides to brave the world and the creatures, collectively known as “ferals,” to find his godfather, get answers, and hopefully bring him home. Along the way, he meets new friends who, for their own reasons, join him on his mission, as well as terrifying and powerful enemies, who may or may not be involved with Kyo’s godfather somehow. There is magic abound and plenty of battle scenes within the 22 chapters of Book One.
What genre do you enjoy most, and what draws you to the genre you write?
Fantasy, hands down. The idea of things that can’t happen in real life, magic, dragons, epic battles for the fate of the world. I love all of these things, and though I’m embarrassed to admit it, I do enjoy putting myself in the place of the hero in these stories. We’re surrounded by reality every day. Like video games, other forms are fantasy are an escape from the real world we live in and a way to fuel the imagination as well.
Where do your ideas come from?
Again, mostly from video games. The games I’ve been playing since I was a little kid have been a huge inspiration for me and my writing. The online roleplays I’ve done are also a source of inspiration, thinking back to the characters I’ve come across, and the stories myself and friends have come up with together. I don’t think it’s wrong to say that anime can play a bit of a role in the way I think of ideas as well.
Where do your characters come from?
Honestly, I have no idea. Most of my characters are just characters I randomly thought up while sitting down and thinking hard on it. They aren’t really inspired by real life people or anything like that. I tend to come up with a name first, then put a face and body to that name, then a personality afterward.
Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome it?
I do sometimes yes. If I do, and I can’t overcome it after a while, I simply stop writing for the moment. I do other things. Later that day, or maybe in another day or two, something usually comes to me and I can get back into it. Taking walks usually helps with this. The ideas usually come when I’m not trying to think about them.
Are you interested in self-publishing or traditional publishing? Why?
I would say traditional publishing would be my first choice. I’ve never done anything like this before, so I feel like if a traditional publisher decided they wanted to publish my book, then I would at least be able to get professional level help with getting my book out there. I don’t really believe I’d be able to do things like design and create my own cover art, or advertise my book to a wide audience, or at least, I likely wouldn’t be able to do these things successfully. However, if after a while, no traditional publisher would pick my book up, I’d still try the self-publishing route. It’s a scary thought, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try.
What do you strive to do in your future?
I feel like I don’t want the typical path that most others follow. I can’t picture myself settling into a single career. Instead, I know there are multiple things I would like to do with my life. A sort of bucket list I suppose. The first was to make a mobile game. I succeeded, sort of. It worked, it was functional, until an Android update broke it. But I am still proud that I was able to make it happen. The second item on my list is writing a book, which I am currently working to do now. Although I can picture myself writing more than just this series in the future. Sometime after I am finished writing this series, I would like to learn to play the piano. I want to get very good at it.
Do you have any favorite books? Favorite motivational quotes?
The truth is I haven’t really been a big reader for most of my life, so the books I’ve read are much fewer compared to most writers. However, I do look to change that. For now, though, I would say my favorite books include Harry Potter, World War Z (Not the movie . . . no), and Warcraft: War of the Ancients Trilogy. I do remember liking a book called The Outsiders when I was young. I know I read that multiple times. The only motivational quote I can think of is from Walt Disney “Keep Moving Forward.”
Do you have anything else you would like to add?
I appreciate the chance to be interviewed like this and to talk about what I’m working on. I also appreciate the help I’ve gotten from An Author’s Tale, so a huge thanks to everybody in that group.