I recently had the privilege of interviewing Brett Salter, author of The Talisman Series. I have read and reviewed the first two books in the series so far. You can read my reviews here and here. You can also read my interview with one of the main characters from this book series if you click back to the post just before this one.
Me: How long have you been writing stories?
Brett: Gosh! Since I was probably about 9 or 10. On and off, of course. Never a full-time gig. I used to read a lot of fantasy and science fiction when I was younger, so I took inspiration from those and enjoyed crafting my own stories.
Me: Did you go to college? If so, did you know, then, that you wanted to be a writer, and if so, what
courses did you take to achieve that goal?
Brett: I did attend the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!) until I ran out of money. I studied English there and wanted to go on to be either an editor or a teacher. So, luckily, I took a lot of literature classes where I studied the classics and English classes where I studied different literary forms and structure. I never really considered writing as a career. It has always been more of an impassioned hobby. Unfortunately, until I get traditionally published, it will have to remain one.
Me: What made you decide to write books for middle grade readers?
Brett: So, I am a huge anime and comic book fan. It goes without saying that I love the action and characters in those mediums, so when I sat down to write something I would enjoy reading, it just fit right in with the YA/MG category. I pull from everything from kung fu epics and action-packed comic books to Shakespeare and Dr. Seuss. I get my ideas from pretty much every source you can think of; and just mix them together in my old noggin. Also, I am TERRIBLE at writing romance. Like, I just can’t do it at all, so there you go…Most middle grade doesn’t have much romance. Bullet dodged!
Me: Is either Rome or Julian anything like you when you were a boy? If so, in what ways?
Brett: Oh man! Rome and Julian, huh? Yeah. Those two are crazy! So, this can all be learned on the Fandom.com wiki I created (link below). In the beginning, I based my characters off me. Just me. I’ve known myself for a long time, and it was a small cast, so it was easy. I made Rome and Julian to represent the two different sides of my personality. Rome represents the levelheaded and introspective portion of me that wants to do the right thing, but rarely jumps at the chance to be a leader. Despite his uneasiness about assuming a leadership role, he always has the best interests of his friends and family in mind. Rome’s internal dialogue and hesitant decision making reflect how I feel about myself specifically during my teenage years. Julian, on the other hand, is brash and braggadocios. Not to mention loud, and most times, his mouth operates without properly consulting his brain first. These characteristics are also like me. Even the idea of him rebelling against his family ideals is indicative of my own brazen and defiant nature during my teenage years. He also uses informal language with everyone other than his father to emphasize the fact that he tries to be “cool” with a “devil-may-care” attitude. Whereas Rome is more the internal example of how I felt as a teen, Julian more closely resembles my physical appearance during those years. Finally, the spatial linking that the two share as Synergist Knight and Master Dragon is a metaphor for how my two personalities differ and interact inside my head. LOL. Seems funny to really say it out loud, but the idea of splitting the sides of my personality into two characters was an idea I wanted to explore since the earliest days of my writing.
Me: How long did it take you to write each book in the series?
Brett: I wrote the first three books within a year. Then, slowly released them about one per year. I worked on books 4-6 for a couple years before taking a small break. Then, in 2019-2021, I hit it hard and wrote the barebones drafts of 7-11. Recently, I’ve been focused on promoting rather than writing, so 7-11 are taking much longer. It’s the editing that takes forever. I need an editor, man!
Me: How many hours a day do you spend writing and is writing your only job? If you have another job, what is it?
Brett: I get about an hour a day to work on writing. After everyone is asleep and it’s just me and the dog watching TV. My current career does not allow for a ton of downtime like my previous job where I wrote the first 3 books and most of 4 and 5. I work a classic 9-5 like most everyone else. It’s nothing spectacular, like saving the world from Darkbrands, but it allows for me to spend ample amount of time with my kids and to pursue my passionate love of writing. For those things I am ever thankful.
Me: Were you a reader as a boy?
Brett: Oh yes! I read all the fantasy and science fiction novels I could get ahold of. Back then, it wasn’t really pigeonholed into genres like today, but I would say most of what I read would be considered YA nowadays. You know, C.S. Lewis, Piers Anthony, Madeline L’Engle, Tolkien, Robin McKinley, Douglas Adams, and ALL the comic books you could imagine.
Me: What inspired you to write about dragons?
Brett: Honestly, a couple things. I am intrigued by the lore of dragons and other mythological creatures. Like, did they exist or not? What if they are out there somewhere? There’s something cool about them too. Especially for kids (and me). Dragons embody what I dreamt about as a kid. I mean how rad would it be to spit fire or fly with huge leathery wings? I dig ‘em, man!
Me: The latest book in “The Talisman Series”, Desperate Tides, Desperate Measures — Book 5 just released in February, 2022. Do you have plans for a new book or new series after The Talisman Series?
Brett: I plan to release the twelve books I have planned in The Talisman Series about one per year or so. If I get picked up traditionally, that would be great, and I could start focusing on other projects. As an indie author, I have to spend my time doing the writing, the editing, the promoting, etc. Traditional publishing would alleviate most of that from my plate. That being said, I currently DO have another series that I have the plot and all the characters for the first book ready to go. I think I want to do like 3 books on that one. I want to make it a little edgier and more mature than my current series. You know, more of an R rating than the PG-13 of the Talisman Series. I think after I release book #6, I will start working that into a complete rough draft.
Me: What advice would you give to young people who think they would like to be authors someday?
Brett: I know it’s cliché, but I would say I am a strong proponent of using your influences. That way what you love will come out in your writing. If you like stories about ghosts, write stories about ghosts. If you watch TV shows about unsolved crimes, make your series about unsolved mysteries. If the coolest thing you can imagine is a boy that can secretly transform into a dragon and go on quests with a knight-in-training…..um. Read my books!!! And THEN go write about them. The point is that writing can be daunting. And if you want to make the challenge more enjoyable, then you should dabble into what you like. It makes the climb much more agreeable and all the more rewarding once you get to the top.
Follow Brett Salter on Social Media:
Authorsden: (other works like poetry) https://www.authorsden.com/members/default.asp
Fandom Wiki Page: https://the-talisman-series-by-brett-salter.fandom.com/wiki/The_Talisman_Series_by_Brett_Salter_Wiki
Instagram Interview with BookishWeebOlivia (come check me out): https://www.instagram.com/tv/CSx3Pa7JRW_/?utm_medium=copy_link