Today I'm talking with Kayl Karadjian, author of the Tales of Ashkar series.
1.) How would you describe your work if I was a publisher and you were pitching it to me?
The simplest way to explain my work is that it all comes from my soul. The stories that I weave, regardless of its genre, are tethered by one central theme: the human struggle and the desire to transcend. In my Tales of Ashkar series, I combine high fantasy, filled with magic and monsters, and the struggles that we can all relate to: love, loss, and longing. And while it is high fantasy, it is not a good vs evil tale. Most of my characters are morally gray, and the story arcs reflect that. In fact, the protagonists introduced in the first book are actually the villains in the second.
2.) What is your Tales of Ashkar series about?
Leading from my post above, Tales of Ashkar is a high fantasy series filled with magic and monsters. Several races exist in Ashkar, including humans, a mermaid-like race, a humanoid reptilian race, a humanoid cat-like race, and an elf-like race. Each of the races have their own distinct culture and geopolitics, which augment the world-building of Ashkar and make it feel alive. While the series is set to be a 9-novel epic, the main story revolves around factions at war oblivious to a greater cosmic conflict.
3.) You wrote on your blog that you enjoyed Daredevil Season 1. Have you seen Season 2? If so, what are your thoughts?
I have seen season 2 but have yet to get to reviewing it. I thought it was much better than the first because of Jon Bernthal's Punisher, but I also thought it suffered with a poorly handled Elektra (whether it was the writing or the actress I have no idea).
4.) You've been researching writing conferences. Is this something you consider important as an author?
I have yet to attend a writing conference, so I'm still on the fence on whether or not they are integral to being an author. I want to attend one of the New York ones, and perhaps at that point I'll have a better idea. Most are a bit steep with price, so I think it depends on the connections made.
5.) Tales of Ashkar Book 3 is pushing 100,000 words. What do you think is a good length for a novel?
For me the most important aspect of book length is saying what you want to say and not trying to inflate the numbers. I think some authors feel like they have to hit a certain number to feel like they've written enough, which ends up diluting the novel instead. On the other hand, I don't believe there should be a maximum on length.
6.) Holy crap, you're going to write an erotic kaiju novel?? Tell me more about this.
The idea for it was born out of a love of kaijus (I'm a huge godzilla fan, and have been since I was five. I used to have all the movies on VHS but they got lost somewhere), and inspiration from Nic Pizzolatto (most known for being behind True Detective). I've always wanted to create something on kaijus, but I think that you can't really make a good story with them without having human characters that you care about. That's why Pizzolatto inspired me because he incorporates philosophy with human nature, things that are present in Godzilla but Pizzolatto does it in a very gritty, visceral way that I like.
Anyway, my book will take place in San Francisco and involve a rampaging monster impeding on a dysfunctional love between two characters who are caught in the middle of it. Without giving away too much detail, its going to be dark and steamy, centering around a love just about to blossom only to be twisted by the end of the world.
7.) And you're developing a digital card game via Kickstarter? Details, details!
While just barely into early early early development (meaning just me and my brother shooting ideas back and forth), its going to be based on Tales of Ashkar initially, but also include my other IPs down the road. It's going to be super complex but still easy to get into. Think of it like a game that's easy to pick up but hard to master. With the way it'll work with deckbuilding, think of it like having ten different hearthstone classes only you can advance in an RPG like system and actually combine classes. To make easy to understand, think of it like having a warrior and a mage in one deck with the option of choosing cards from either while making the deck with a ton more variability in card design and abilities.
8.) You're planning to get an agent? What advice do you have for writers looking for an agent?
For my entire writing career I've teetered on the traditional publishing vs self-publishing conflict. I've self-published three books so far, and I queried agents for two of them. The issue is if you don't get a bite, should you wait and keep trying or put it out yourself? To me, waiting can mean never, so self-published was the route I went.
My advice to agents (from someone who has been unsuccessful so far) is that you need to have 1 of 2 things: a solid social media platform and reach, already have success, or both. In such a competitive business, agents and publishers won't take a chance on an unknown.
9.) Who is Pizzolatto?
Like I mentioned above, Nic Pizzolatto is the guy behind True Detective, although he started first as a crime/thriller writer and snagged a nice TV deal. He's one of my inspirations as a writer because his stuff is very philosophical and I think that he captures the human element very well.