Derrick wrote his book in between working in I.T. he actually didn’t want to write a book and it’s an extension of his Dungeons and Dragons playing. Like many authors, the book has turned into a series.
Good evening, Derek. It’s an evening interview. It’s good to see you. How are you doing today? I’m doing good.
Derrick: How are you?
Stephen: I’m great. Waiting hopefully for some snow tomorrow is cause I like snow in December.
Derrick: I’ve had snow for two months, .
Stephen: Oh, wow. Where are you located? I’m in Montana. Montana. Ah, yes. If you want some snow, that’s a good place to be. The frozen North . Derek before we start talking about your book, why don’t you tell everybody a little bit about you who you are and what you like to do besides writing?
Derrick: I am Derek Hall. I’m a fantasy author at this point. I think I can claim author, but. I’m just a normal guy. I’m a working photographer, it professional, outdoorsy fellow, like to hunt, fish, camp, all that good stuff. And I’m a massive nerd. I play d and d. I do all of that fun stuff, video games, movies, all of it.
So whenever I have time, I do that. ,
Stephen: What do you do for it?
Derrick: Mostly hardware and infrastructure Networks, new machines, servers, desktops, that sort of thing. Build machines, custom machines.
Stephen: Yeah. I’m a programmer. I’ve been struggling with an s SSL issue today, . Ooh.
Derrick: Oh yes, I’ve done that too.
And I’m a hardware guy. , I’m not a software. Got it. I was, Messing around with Python and some other crap last night going, I don’t know what I’m doing. .
Stephen: Oh, I love Python. That’s a great language I discovered this year. So yeah, if you’re gonna get into it, that’s a good one to get into nowadays.
Derrick: That’s what I heard, but it didn’t help me out much. .
Stephen: Yeah. And you like the canvas stuff. Montana’s a good state for. Oh, it’s fantastic. Yeah. Yeah. That’s I’ve not, I don’t think I’ve spent any real time in Montana. I might have driven through an edge of it somewhere. Yeah, that was love camping.
I, I’ve got a small. Wooded area with a cabin on our property, oh, awesome. Everybody tells me to run electricity to it, and I’m like, no we’re keeping it more primitive. No.
Derrick: Yeah, no. I have a stove and firewood and I go there to get away. Why do I need power? ?
Stephen: Exactly. You get it. You understand?
Derrick: Yes. I completely understand.
Stephen: We’re it guys, we do tech all day. We need some time away, .
Derrick: Yep, exactly. Exactly.
Stephen: What, with all of that going on, what made you wanna start writing? And we’re gonna get into this a bit more on the second half when we talk about select writer. So just briefly a little bit what got you into wanting to write your current book?
Derrick: I didn’t want to write the book . It’s it itself upon me. So I, like I said, I played d and at the time I was running a group. As the game master and I did a lot of home brew, basically, meaning I made up the stories and the situations and worlds and all of that stuff and I was working on an idea for a new campaign, and the idea got both too big and too small for d and d at the same time.
It was too specific to let players come in and ruin it, and I just pretty much said, screw it, I’m gonna write it down. So eight months later I ended up with a novel and. Than another. And now another, I just finished book two on Sunday, .
Stephen: Wow, great. And that’s interesting cuz that’s one of the things when I talk to parents about encouraging their kids to write and getting into writing, that’s one of the things I encourage ’em to do.
I sometimes a little nervous about it cause I’m just waiting for the parents to like, oh my gosh, D and d that’s, still that hangover. It’s, yeah, exactly.
Derrick: There’s still some of that,
Stephen: but. The story making abilities and thinking exactly, the characters and all that is a great practice.
And I even tell parents, I’m like, look, you can do d and d, you don’t have to have all the demons in it or things like that. You can leave out what you don’t like and what your kids to be a part of. Yeah, that’s fine, but you need some sort of adventure, some sort of conflict, it’s a great way of building those stories.
Derrick: Yeah, exactly. It’s a really good way to learn the fundamentals of storytelling. Yes. So you know, you need the tension, you need the buildup, you need the character arc, you need the history, the backstory, the world building, all of that. And it’s a fantastic way to get into it. And it’s a
Stephen: great practice. If later you wanna get into storytelling for video games, because of the nature d and d, it’s not linear.
So it’s another good way to absolutely. Before we start talking too much tech and d and everybody turns off, let’s talk about your books. So tell us what are the books called and tell us a little bit about them.
Derrick: I have it started with an idea for d and that turned into. What I was hoping to be a standalone novel and ended up not being a standalone novel
Now I’m hoping it’s gonna be a trilogy, but who knows? , anyone who writes knows my pain.
Stephen: My short story I was making for an event in Kent turned into a seven book series, so
yeah, I can
Derrick: relate to that.
Stephen: Yeah. So tell us about them.
Derrick: I am a very traditional fantasy reader. I like things that fall into a very traditional fantasy, vain, small party going on an adventure, fighting bad guys, saving the world, that sort of thing. Very straightforward to style fantasy. Okay? Except I don’t take 10 pages to describe a single leaf
That’s what I did. I took my I have my main character, her name is a nara, and this is a, it’s a YA fantasy young adult fantasy. So she’s in her teens and is forced out of her home and sent on this grand quest and gets tied up in all sorts of things. So that’s what I did. That is entitled Kere Odyssey.
And that is book one of what I am calling the Crimson Prophecy. . Okay, nice. And then in the process of writing that, I added a side character that outgrew his part and ended up with a prequel. So that’s out there too. That is called the Trials of Tarsis. And that’s pirates and Revenge and Lost Love and all sorts of fun things in there.
Stephen: Hey, that’s a great thing. Fantasy you can handle just about any other genres. Oh, I know.
Derrick: I love it. I love it. Yeah.
Stephen: Okay, so you mentioned talking and others , what type of, what other books out there would you say are similar to yours? Similar to your writing, similar to your style?
Derrick: Similar to my writing.
I had a friend compare it to. Oh crap, I don’t remember the guy’s name. The Dresden? No. Oh, butcher. Yeah. I had a friend compare it to Butcher very loosely. I haven’t actually read Butcher in 10 years, so I couldn’t answer to that. But I’ve a lot of people, and I would say this is probably right there’s a big influence from Christopher Paulini and his inheritance.
Okay. That’s always been a favorite of mine, so there’s an influence from that. There’s a little bit of Allison Goodman. There’s a little bit of a lot of things. Like I said, I’m a nerd. It’s packed full of references and Easter eggs and all sorts of things like that. And nice. Yeah, it’s I don’t know how to describe that.
I leave it to the readers to do that. . Okay.
Stephen: It wasn’t Paulini like a teenager when he wrote that first book. The Dragon one. Yeah. It was 15, right? That was after my time. But it’s actually, I have a copy on my shelf. I just haven’t read
Derrick: it yet. I haven’t read it in a few years. I can’t speak to how well it holds up, but I’ve enjoyed it for many.
Stephen: Okay, there’s a good recommendation, . Yeah. So what have people been saying about your books? What’s the feedback been like?
Derrick: Feedback has been limited, but good, overall good. Lots of comments on great characters, great pacing, great plot. Everything moves and flows like it should and don’t get bogged down, and the only reason I put it down is so I actually sleep before I have to go to work in the morning, that sort of thing. That means a lot to me because I didn’t set out to actually publish this. I’m more set out to get a story outta my head and proved to myself that I could. So it’s really nice to have put so much work into something and have people be enjoying it.
Stephen: Yeah, that’s great. And I think there are other writers out there similar that you just gotta get it out. So did your gaming group read the
Derrick: stories? I’ve tried to get them to read the stories and. No . I think maybe one of them has read it. .
Stephen: No, it seems to happen. I kinda, I don’t push friends and family too much because when they feel pressured
Derrick: into it.
Yeah. I try not to, I have some I have some family that have read it. I know my mom read it. My sister was talking about reading it and that sort of things. I’ve got. Long distance friends that have read it, but most of the locals are either I don’t read books or I don’t have time.
Stephen: Yeah. That’s a cop out, but whatever. I know. . So have you thought of reversing and turning the stories into back into a d and d module adventure?
Derrick: So one of my characters in the, that made it into the stories is actually. A direct ripoff of one of my d and d player characters that got twisted and rearranged and put back together Frankenstein’s style and put into a book just because I liked his, the concept of the character and I liked the name and I wanted to use it.
Okay. And then, I don’t know, probably six, eight months ago, a friend of mine started another d and d campaign and I don’t have to DM this time, so I get to play and guess who I pulled out of the fridge? . Nice. All right. So I pulled my book character out this time and am playing the book character in the d and d game, which is a fun full circle for me.
Stephen: good. Now, other than d n. What would you choose? Would you rather see your stories as a movie or a TV show? Movie. Movie. Why is that? You, ma you answered that, like you’d already thought about
Derrick: it. I have I’ve thought about it extensively. I even fantasy cast the whole thing for a critique group that I meant, but yeah.
Movie I think it’s better suited to a movie. Okay. I think a TV show would drag it out too.
Stephen: That I get a lot of people saying, oh, the new TV shows is great. You get more time to tell the story and expand. But there are just some stories that need that two hour time slot and that’s all it needs.
Derrick: , it might run a little longer than that and you’d probably have to break it up by book, but yeah, still I think a movie would be better suited.
Stephen: That’s good that you realize that and not just going for what the trend is. I like that. So where can we get the book? And do you have a website?
Derrick: I do have a website. Derek Hall, author.com is my website. There’s info there on the books. The characters, I’ve got a map up there. All sorts of fun stuff to check out. And. There’s even a link to my podcast, which I don’t know if you want me plugging that in here, but
Stephen: Yeah, go ahead. Please do. Let’s go bring that up
Okay. Yeah, so I also have a podcast. I have my own with a very good author friend of mine Christina LaFave. We do the What If South Is Up Podcast, which is a, it’s a game show version of world building. So we will randomly ask a what if question and then apply it to the worlds that we’re writing and talk about it.
So it, it’s a lot of fun. We have a great time with it. Oh, that sounds great.
Stephen: I’ll have to make sure, we’ll get links in on the show notes for any fantasy readers that wanna check out on cool podcast. Yeah, absolutely. Great. So when you’re writing these episodes, , like what are some of the what if questions?
Derrick: What if the continents were actually on the back of giant creatures? What if everyone suddenly gained the ability to fly? What if magic completely disappeared from your world? That sort of thing. And it’ll stop and make you think because your writing is, you’re creating a world and writing a story as an author from a very specific sort of, Viewpoint, you have all the information in your head, and then when you’re suddenly presented with something you didn’t plan for you, you kinda sit and scratch your head and go I don’t know.
Why don’t you answer that first ?
Stephen: Yeah. That
Derrick: that’s, yeah. It’s helped us fill out our world building and. Build on what we already had and being able to riff off of each other and talk about it with each other. Somebody will bring up a point that we didn’t think about and be like, oh yeah, actually, that kind of changes everything so I love that. It’s a really fun exercise.
Stephen: Yeah, that sounds great. For authors, have you written any short stories based on these thinkings and episodes?
Derrick: Not based on the episodes. No, I have not. I struggle to write anything short as evidenced by my one book turned into who knows how many . I managed a novella that’s about as good as it’s gonna get
Stephen: Okay, got it. Alright, so what are your plans for upcoming books?
Derrick: Upcoming? I have. What I’m hoping to be a trilogy. I just finished drafting book two. It’s gonna go through proof and edit and betas and all that fun stuff in the next couple of months. And I have a whole nother book to write. And while book two is going through betas and edits and all of that, I’m planning to do a couple more novellas or maybe a handful of short stories depending on how they turn out.
Pulling characters and expanding on them in a way that the main story won’t let me do.
Stephen: Good. Nice. So how many do you have planned right now that you’re doing
Derrick: Three main novels and probably five or six. Little side off shoots. Okay. That’s good. And that’s just in this one world, if I get beyond that, I have a spreadsheet of projects, that I’m, yeah. Who doesn’t, some point, but yeah.
Stephen: Who doesn’t have all the stuff, it’s yeah, I could be writing until Doomsday.
Yeah. . Yep. So Derek who are some of your favorite authors and books that you’ve read? You mentioned a few earlier. those your favorites or do you have.
Derrick: They’ve definitely come highly regarded. Alison Goodman’s dragon Eye Chronicles, I think it’s called. There’s two of those. Dragon Eye Chronicles, dragon Eye series.
I don’t remember exactly. It’s Dragon Eye something. There’s two of those. Aon and ay and they are amazing. I tend to read a lot of more young adult sort of stuff. Paulini is a favorite Tok. Obviously you can’t love fantasy and not like Tok on some level.
Stephen: Let me ask you, are you yay or nay on Sumerian?
Derrick: tolerate the Somalian .
Stephen: Okay. I couldn’t get past like page two. My, my son, that’s his favorite token book.
Derrick: I’ve read it. I’ve. Everything that has tol on the cover at some point, including the histories and the appendices and all of that, because I went a little nuts in high school. I tolerate the Samilian and the lasers erian and history of Newman are and all of that fun stuff, but I love, Lord.
Stephen: I’ve read the Lord of the Rings a couple times and it, yep. It just wasn’t the series really for me. I enjoyed the early stuff, but once I got to Return of the King I honestly can’t tell you what happened In Return of the King, I was more of a Dragon Lance guy growing
Derrick: up. Yep. Dragon Lance is good.
I’ve only found those a few years. A ton.
Stephen: They just, white pigman just came out with a new one. Yeah, that it was okay. But it’s the beginning of a trilogy, so I’m hoping it steps up a little bit. And also the inklings that Toki and CS Lewis and a few other. Yeah they got together, there was a book written called Bander Snatch about the inklings.
And I interviewed that author on an earlier episode. So if you’re interested you should go check it out. Cause she had a lot to say about her research. I’ve already been there, ,
Derrick: I saw that and went straight for it. Oh good. Yeah, no, that was a good one. I enjoyed that. That was a lot of interesting information and abrupt book purchase
Stephen: really cool. She printed it through Kent State University Press, which is like eight miles from me. So it was just this whole weird thing. Cause she’s from Cleveland but doesn’t live there now. So I was like, okay, this is destiny .
Derrick: I know where you live now. Yeah,
Stephen: I live by Ken.
Everybody knows that. I talk about that all the time. Alright, so do you have a favorite bookstore that you like to go to close to where you.
Derrick: I live in a tiny little town that has more inmates than normal citizens. We are home to the state prison. Well, We have more towns, . Yeah, there’s more towns.
My tiny little town has one bookstore and I don’t get in there very often, but I do love it. It’s your, definitely your small town bookstore. It’s about half used and half new and everything’s dusty and feels like you’re going. End up getting into some sort of adventure if you turn down the wrong aisle.
And I love that place. It’s great. What’s it called? Browsing bison,
Stephen: books browsing b I love that. All right. I’m gonna put a link to, that’s great too. I like to encourage people to go check out little bookstores in their travels.
Derrick: Yeah, no it’s small for sure, but it’s got that small town
Love me and my kids. When we used to go on vacation, that was always a destination. Find a local bookstore or two. Oh yeah. And go there. So yeah. I love that. Yeah. All right. So Derek to ramp up talking about your books and we’ll move on to author stuff. Let me ask you this one last question. . If someone came up to you and said, Derek, I heard you wrote some fantasy books.
Why should I get them and read them? What would you tell ’em?
Derrick: If you enjoy fantasy with an underdog, flavor and tie ins to real world problems, you’ll probably enjoy the book. Okay? If you feel like you’re being faced with something that you can’t do or don’t know how to do or think is too much for you, you’ll probably enjoy the. .
Stephen: Okay, great. I love that. Thank you.