When he was eleven, Mitchell Hogan was given the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to read, and a love of fantasy novels was born. He spent the next ten years reading, rolling dice, and playing computer games, with some school and university thrown in. Along the way he accumulated numerous bookcases filled with fantasy and sci-fi novels and doesn’t look to stop anytime soon.
His first attempt at writing fantasy was an abysmal failure and abandoned after only one page. But ideas for characters and scenes continued to come to him and he kept detailed notes of his thoughts, on the off chance that one day he might have time to write a novel. For ten years he put off his dream of writing until he couldn’t stand it anymore. He knew he would regret not having tried to write the novel percolating inside his head for the rest of his life. Mitchell quit his job and lived off dwindling savings, and the support of his fiancé, until he finished the first draft of A Crucible of Souls.
He now writes full time and is eternally grateful to the readers who took a chance on an unknown author.
What was the motivating factor behind your decision to become an author?
In a nutshell, I didn’t want to be an old man who regrets not finishing the book he’d always wanted to write. One day I decided if I didn’t attempt it now, I probably never would. I didn’t want to regret not following my dream.
What about the sci-fi and fantasy genres interest you?
I started reading fantasy at an early age and I love the sense of wonder they evoke. It isn’t bound by modern conventions and can be as otherworldly or familiar as the author wants it to be. I love sci-fi and fantasy as I want to be entertained and enthralled—and there is a bit of escapism.
You initially self-published the first two books in your Sorcery Ascendant Sequence, what were your experiences with the self-publishing process?
Self publishing is nowhere near as hard as some people make out. You’re in control and all decisions fall to you, but you can outsource many of the tasks. The biggest problems are navigating all the conflicting advice out there, and gaining visibility and exposure (which is actually a competition problem).
Congratulations on your recent 3 book global deal with Harper Voyager to publish the Sorcery Ascendant Sequence. Tell us a little bit about the Sorcery Ascendant Sequence.
Thank you! It’s an epic fantasy series featuring a young man raised by monks, who is searching for his parents’ killer. Along the way he finds a brutal world filled with peril and adventure, and is plunged into an age-old conflict that brings the world to the edge of destruction.
You describe yourself as a full-time writer, what does a typical day look like?
A lot less writing time (and free time…) than you’d think! I’m up early (usually 6:30AM), housework/tidying up/food preparation for my almost-two year old daughter, then I look after her until childcare starts (usually 8-9AM), then writing and non-writing work for the rest of the day until 4:30PM when I’m back to looking after my daughter. It’s not too bad, I have a word count goal of 2,000/day and I usually have no problem reaching it.
Do you have a specific writing space? If so, what does it look like?
Yes, I have a dedicated “study” which has many bookcases filled with books, and boxes also filled with books! It also has a comfortable leather lounge where I get most of my reading done. Windows look out onto our front yard so I get the illusion I’m still part of the world rather than a hermit.
Do you see yourself continuing to be a sci-fi/fantasy author into the future or will you dip your toes elsewhere?
For me it’ll be sci-fi and fantasy for quite a few more years. I have plenty of ideas, both for stand alones and series, and while readers are willing to buy my books it would be crazy not to give them what they want. After all, the dream is to make a living doing what you love! Branching out into another genre has its own hurdles, and while it can be done successfully it’s not something I’ve considered.
Do you have any advice for budding writers – whether it be writing advice or self-publishing advice?
I have plenty of advice, though whether it’s good or not is another matter… First and foremost, be professional. There’s writing, and the business of writing—you need to be good at both to succeed. Write for yourself, or your partner, or for no reason at all other than you enjoy it, but look at publishing as a business.
Author? I’ll go out on a limb and say R Scott Bakker. He’s not everyone’s cup of tea but his world building is exquisite.
Book? The Hobbit. Nothing more needs to be said!
Time of day? Morning and late evening.
Music? None. I find it’s either distracting, or if I’m in a writing ‘zone’ I don’t notice it.
Location? Anywhere in my house, as long as I’m home alone (which hardly ever happens!)
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Excerpt from A Crucible of Souls:
A trickle of blood oozed down the cold steel of Aldrich’s sword. Drops splattered onto dry leaves, staining them red. He pressed his back against the old tree’s gnarled trunk, rough bark scratching his skin through his shirt. Thirty yards away lay the still-warm corpse of the man he’d put down, one arm outstretched, reaching for a knife discarded in the undergrowth. There was a smell of wrongness about the body, and something odd about its appearance; it looked . . . denser, somehow.
Eyes closed and barely breathing, Aldrich waited, listening. All was silent.
A faint breeze blew over him, carrying the scent of apple blossoms from a nearby orchard and the cool dampness of an approaching storm. Leaves rustled in the wind.
He ducked his head around the tree trunk, saw no one else had followed the man he’d killed, and breathed a sigh of relief. Either stupid or overconfident, and he didn’t think they were stupid. He wiped his sword clean on the man’s cloak, keeping an eye on the forest, then sheathed the blade and hurried off to where he’d left his wife and child.
Aldrich saw them before they noticed him. He whistled softly and Iselle turned and gave him a relieved wave. They rushed to greet him.
“They’re still coming,” Iselle said, “and my crafting won’t last much longer. If it rains, it’s done for.”
Nerissa clung to her arm, body slumped in fatigue. She rested her head on her mother’s stomach, and Iselle reached down to stroke her hair.
It pained Aldrich to see they weren’t bearing up well under the strain, not having his advantages. But he’d had to push them hard the last few days. Dust from the road covered their boots and leggings, and hollow eyes peered out from grime-covered faces. Three days on foot’ll do that to you.