Back to the author interviews! Today we have Iffix Santaph, indie author, on his new middle-grade novel, Impulse, which is book 1 of 6 in the Forgotten Princess series. Here’s my interview with Iffix.
S: Give us the inside scoop on Jendra’s relationship with Toby and Leon, her “just friends” friend.
I: Jendra is the doctor’s adopted daughter, and Leon is destined to be the next town doctor, so they see a lot of each other. Jendra has been searching the underground city for her father since he disappeared ten years earlier, and since Jendra is nearly expert at parkour and “not the sort to fall and bruise her ego”, Leon has been there to rescue her on many occasions. Beside this, the two “just friends” are more than close. There are some interesting secrets regarding Toby, though Jendra and he haven’t met before the ride on the ferry where Leon took Jendra to escape the “angry city dwellers” whose glares may or may not be all in her head. Toby is Leon’s cousin and a criminally-minded youth who dreams of being a pirate someday. In truth, though, Toby just knows that his father’s river ferry is getting old and will eventually be decommissioned. Toby might have been the perfect best friend for Jendra had he been six years older, but they cultivate a relationship closer to siblings, and Toby loves to drive Jendra nuts.
S: What was the inspiration for Tranoudor?
I: Actually, this stems to the top secret origin of the story itself. The story is loosely based on a fairy tale which featured characters who spent an abundance of time in caves, and as I endeavored to incorporate some of these details, I thought it would be fun to build an entire underground city which is slowly falling apart.
There were events in Tranoudor that I based on my own life. For example, I there were more than a few trips in my early life when I had the opportunity to explore caves, particularly in Minnesota and in the black hills. My love of waterfalls is based on the number of family trips we took to Niagara falls, though the waterfall in Tranoudor has slightly smaller. I once was traveling through northern Missouri where the bridge had been out and I needed to cross aboard a ferry. There was also a rickety old bridge in central Honduras that felt about to cave in, which proved to be the inspiration for another scene.
S: When I saw the Je’Raxs, I kept thinking Jurassic Park, especially with the timing of the movie. Will we see dinosaurs?
I: The Je’rax was more like a super-sized scorpion. Before I began to write the story, I approached a number of artists on the popular web-based community DeviantArt. I told them I would love to use their artwork as an inspiration for a roleplaying game; I was taking a break from my then 18 years as a sci-fi writer and attempting to learn to write tabletop games. And the response was incredible. I gathered a large collection of concepts. From these things, I learned who the arch-villain really was, I learned what my gwalfling characters looked like, I learned about the galaxy as a whole, enough to immerse myself in a really incredible world which I am very happy to share. There are a few dinosaur-like creatures in my bestiary. Impulse opens on Gavyn, the shadowman, who is essentially a sentient dinosaur.
S: Did you show this to anyone before publishing it? What was the response to your novel?
I: I actually had a number of beta readers who considered the project and were eager to read more. I showed it to a wide variety of potential agents, on the other hand, who sent the usual response. “This is a great story… for someone else.” So I decided that the someone else would be me. After all, if I had a group of betas who said “I’d buy this.” So I took a risk. I knew I had to start somewhere. If you ever take a real look at the publishing industry, it’s one gigantic circle that will make your head spin. You can’t be published without drawing and audience, and you can’t draw an audience without getting published. So now, when I pitch to agents, I can tell them “I have published Impulse, a middle grade novel, and this is my next project.” That means something. It’s an opening I wouldn’t have had if I didn’t jump into the publishing arena. Of course, I am always looking for a sincere agent. But one of the best things about being an Indie is knowing who I am and not having it taken away because the publisher wants a different story with flirtatious vampires I’m not willing to tell.
S: Which character was your favorite to write about, and why? Least favorite?
I: I loved so many characters when I was writing Impulse. Of course, Toby speaks to who I was at his age. I wasn’t criminal minded, but I was devious and to this day, I’m most content goofing off. It’s easier to write in his mindset. I am also really enjoying the evil queen. Part of enjoying the unlikeable characters is understanding what they’re so determined to accomplish. I know why she is who she is, and when the story reaches that point, I will be happy to fill in those details.
S: What’s next for you?
I: Impulse marked the first in a series of six books in the Forgotten Princess series. Deception is the second book, released in July of this year. I am nearing completion in the writing stages of Conspiracy, the third book, then I will be editing, sending to betas, editing, more betas, etc, etc, until October-ish, when the book will be released and I continue with Retrospect, Stratagem, and Nemesis to complete the base series. Also, as was evidenced last week when Teddy Bear Junction was released (a markedly different story for me), I hope to release an occasional children’s story or short story here or there as the opportunity arises. If those stories relate to Forgotten Princess, I will likely be releasing them on my website: iffixysantaph.com