|Randy Blackwell with his wife, Vanassa|
This interview provides a few surprises. Got your seat belt buckled?
Good morning, Randy. Are you ready for a bunch of questions? Here's the first: What inspired Rise of the Magi?
Randy: I came up with an idea for a dice-based roleplaying game where a giant gives a quest to those playing the game. I asked my pastor if I could run it at the next youth group lock-in. My pastor looked it over and challenged me. He said that some of the parents wouldn't let their kids play because there was magic in the game. He asked me to find another way. I came up with the Magi (Greek for scientist), an order of people who used sleight of hand and advanced science in an archaic world to perform impossible feats. But the question always nagged at me, how did such advanced science get to this world. Rise of the Magi is a redemption story of how Omar, Myles, and Kasey came from earth to Soterion.
Anne: If you were to audition for the part of one of the characters in a movie, which one would it be? Why?
Randy: I would audition for Myles. I think he is the character who has the most fun.
Anne: Does anything in your life parallel any part of the book?
Randy: I learned by taking Orson Scott Card's writing class that you draw from experience and research. I drew mostly from experience in this book. All of the places Myles had been save Venice were places I had actually been. Myles was raised in the small town of Sallisaw, Oklahoma. I did Honor Guard details there when I was in the Air Force. He spent two years in Savannah GA, and so did I. I, however, was not trained by the circus... regrettably.
Anne: Non-fantasy books require a lot of research; what kind of research did you do for Rise of the Magi?
Randy: I am doing much more research writing the second book than the first, but I did have to research coma patients to see what was within the realm of possibility. I researched some of Japanese culture, which helped a little with Omar's upbringing--but I think it will help more in the second book.
Anne: What is your favorite part of writing?
Randy: I create an outline when I write and then let the characters drive the story. My favorite thing is while I am writing one my characters does something I don't expect, and I have to change my outline. It makes them feel alive to me.
Anne: I've had that experience, too. It's always such fun! Okay, so what is your least-favorite thing?
Randy: Editing... lol
Anne: Would you like to tell us a little about your next book?
Randy: Well, I have added more of the steampunk element to it. There are pirates. And I'm 15,000 words into the 120,000-word novel, and Myles has been in trouble three times already.
Anne: After reading the book, I have to say that sounds like Myles. Are there plans to expand beyond just a book?
Randy: Oh yes! I've had some Hollywood professionals helping out with a screenplay and it's almost done. I have three producers lined up to pitch the idea to and one of them requested it to be pitched. The twin brothers who run Gemini Production Group (a regional Emmy-winning production company) are looking at the possibility of helping create a short film of the intro to the three main characters.
Anne: And I also understand you have created a video game (check out Randy's website, http://soterion.com/). Thanks for filling us in, Randy. I predict an exciting future for you!