Have you always enjoyed writing?
I’ve always enjoyed telling stories, whether in written form, around the living room, or around the campfire (especially around the campfire). I grew up in a family where everyone told stories, some real, others made up. My father and his father were famous for it. They were both Lutheran pastors, and they made stories key parts of their sermons. They passed on that love of stories to me.
What motivates you to write?
I have a lot of strange ideas, and I tend to take perspectives that a lot of people don’t have. Sharing those thoughts is a big motivation for my writing. I want to help people see the world in a different way. I want to communicate with others and share my passions. I’ve always been amazed at the ability of a good writer or filmmaker to reach out to an audience they’ve never met and make them laugh, cry, or scream at all the right moments. I want to be able to do that with my writing.
My fans also motivate me. They’ve told me how much they enjoyed The Wings of Dragons and how eager they are for book two of The Dragoon Saga, so I can’t let them down.
What writing are you most proud of?
No question, the piece I’m most proud of is my debut novel, The Wings of Dragons (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FKJKJCA) published by Arboreal Press. I started forming the ideas for it over a decade ago, and its release marks the achievement of a lifelong dream for me to publish a book. I put over two years of sweat, toil, and (I’m not ashamed to admit) tears into that book, and all of that hard work has paid off.
What are you most proud of in your personal life?
It has nothing to do with my fiction writing, but I’m proud to have earned a Master’s degree in natural resource management from the State University of New York. Much like writing a novel, graduate school for me was a two-year process with a massive research project and an equally massive thesis. Looking back, I still can’t believe I crammed everything I did in grad school into two years. All that work helped when I wrote The Wings of Dragons. It wasn’t necessarily the subject matter, although I use my knowledge of the environment to make my settings more believable. Rather, it’s the skills I learned in how to plan out big projects, to take them one step at a time and to stick with them even when they seem impossible.
What books did you love growing up?
Although I write fantasy, I grew up reading more science fiction, especially the Star Wars expanded universe books. I was growing up about the time books like Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire were just coming out, and since I loved the original Star Wars trilogy, I devoured everything related to it.
Who is your favorite author?
Wow, there are so many I could pick from here. I really enjoy Michael Crichton. He told a great story and always kept me turning the page. He also had the ability to integrate science (like cloning in Jurassic Park) and take it one step further to make a thrilling novel made all the scarier by its seeming potential to really happen.
On a more personal level, though, my favorite author has to be Shannon Delany, author of the 13 to Life series and the Weather Witch series. She hosted the writing workshops in 2011 that inspired me to follow my dream and get a novel published. She’s also continued to support me and give great advice ever since. She’s a kind, wonderful person, and without her, you wouldn’t be reading these words right now.
What genre of books do you adore?
Fantasy, especially high fantasy (“swords and sorcery”) is my favorite. I love the magical places, the bizarre creatures, and the incredible spells authors come up with. Like a lot of genres, it can get overdone, like when every novel you read has Elves, Dwarves, Goblins, and Halflings in it. But the ones that do it really well, that let their imaginations run wild while at the same time telling real, human stories, those are some of the best books I’ve ever read.
What book should everybody read at least once?
The Wings of Dragons by Josh VanBrakle, naturally. Oh, you wanted me to name someone else’s book? In that case, as a fantasy nerd, I have to say The Hobbit. It’s like my book’s great-granddaddy, and you have to respect your roots.
Are there any books you really don’t enjoy?
I read a lot of genres in both fiction and non-fiction, and as long as the story’s compelling and the characters are believable, I’m pretty flexible. That said, I’ve never been able to get into the bodice-ripper kinds of romance novels. I’m also not a huge fan of horror, although I do enjoy some thriller writers like Michael Crichton.
What do you hope your obituary will say about you?
“He gave life everything he had.”
From fantasy author Josh VanBrakle comes an epic new trilogy of friendship, betrayal, and explosive magic. Lefthanded teenager Iren Saitosan must uncover a forgotten history, confront monsters inspired by Japanese mythology, and master a serpentine dragon imprisoned inside a katana to stop a revenge one thousand years in the making.
Lodian culture declares lefthanded people dangerous and devil-spawned, and for Iren, the kingdom's only known Left, that's meant a life of social isolation. To pass the time and get a little attention, he plays pranks on the residents of Haldessa Castle. It's harmless fun, until one of his stunts nearly kills Lodia's charismatic heir to the throne. Now to avoid execution for his crime, Iren must join a covert team and assassinate a bandit lord. It's a suicide mission, and Iren's chances aren't helped when he learns that his new katana contains a dragon's spirit, one with a magic so powerful it can sink continents and transform Iren into a raging beast.
Adding to his problems, someone on Iren's team is plotting treason. When a former ally launches a brutal plan to avenge the Lefts, Iren finds himself trapped between competing loyalties. He needs to figure out who - and how - to trust, and the fates of two nations depend on his choice.
"A fast-paced adventure...led by a compelling cast of characters. Josh VanBrakle keeps the mysteries going." - ForeWord Reviews
Genre – YA epic fantasy
Rating – PG-13
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