Sunday Surprise

A few days ago I learned of the passing of David Farland, beloved author and writing teacher. I was honored to meet him back in 2018, although we didn’t have much time to talk – it was a class of 50 writers and he was already booked for his only lunch at that workshop – but he has been a guest on this very blog a long time ago.

In memory of a great man, here’s the interview I did with him back in 2011 (yes, in another era) – some links or news might be expired, but I copy-pasted it below “as is” for a better memento.

R.i.P David Falrand, you will be sorely missed.


Interview with… David Farland by Barb on 28/10/2011

I read on his Daily Kicks that he wanted to do a blog tour, so I immediately offered my blog. He was supposed to be here in September, but things got postponed… which worked very well for both of us! Ladies and gents, I’m honored to have interviewed a real pro today. Please welcome David Farland. Feel free to leave comments (I hope to be able to approve them in a timely manner)!

Can you do us a summary of your writing career?

That’s not easy!  I’ve written and edited about fifty-novel length works and anthologies, been a New York Times Bestseller seven times, set the Guinness record for the World’s Largest Book Signing, worked with a number of major properties such as Star Wars and the Mummy in movies, and Starcraft and Xena in videogames.  I’ve trained dozens of writers who have gone on to become New York Times Bestsellers, and I’ve won a few awards for best novel of the year, best story of the year, things like that.  I often feel that when I talk about such things, it must have been someone else.  Most of the time, my life is rather dull–I sit and write.

Where do you find your inspiration?  Do you put yourself in your stories?

Inspiration is everywhere–movies that I watch, music I listen to, news reports, dreams after eating pepperoni pizza. (Seriously, I’ve gotten two novels that way!)  You just have to keep yourself open to it.  When you think about writing a lot, soon the ideas seem to come from everywhere.
As for characters, most of my protagonists are what I’d call “twisted versions of me.”  I can imagine what they would think and do only by examining what I see as possibilities within myself.

When and where do you write? Do you have a specific routine?

I have a nice Lazy Boy that I write on most of the time.  I put my laptop on it and type away.  Sometimes I’ll lie down in bed and write, if I’m tired.   As for when–I do it all the time, from 6:30 in the morning until about midnight.  Much of my time is spent writing correspondence, taking care of business, but the point is that I don’t have a set schedule.  I like to work out in the evenings because most of the time, after working out, I’m too tired to write.  But then there are those times when you get inspired, and it drags you out of bed.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

All of the above.  I teach a course called Million Dollar Outlines, and I do outline sometimes.  But I’ve also written about half of my books just off the cuff, improvising.  As to fast or slow, people complain that I’m not writing my books fast enough, but they don’t know all that I’m doing.

Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?

Both if you can swing it.  Traditional publishing–where someone else prints, ships, edits, and markets your book–was a good deal three years ago.  It allowed an author to concentrate on his or her work.
But with the rise of electronic publishing, the deals there aren’t looking very good.  The traditional publishers are demanding too much of the author’s revenue, given what they’re providing.  Even then, a lot of publishers seem to be withholding monies due.
I think that we’re going through a transition period.  Perhaps in a couple of years, things will settle down, and the deals will get more reasonable.
But with this latest book, I just felt that I couldn’t take it through New York.
So I decided for something of a third alternative: I’m starting a new publishing company, one that will treat authors much better that what they’re used to.

For those who (still) don’t follow your Daily Kicks, what’s up at David Farland’s these days?

I’m releasing NIGHTINGALE hopefully on November 4th.  This is the beginning of a huge franchise, I suspect.  It’s the story of a young man, abandoned at birth, who is raised in the social system.  When he gets kicked out of one house as a teen and taken to another, he learns for the first time that he’s not human, but descended from a race of people that only look human.
The title NIGHTINGALE comes from the Asian Rainbird, or Asian Nightingale, which lays its eggs in other’s nests and lets birds of other species raise its young.
I think that this book will appeal to fans of TWILIGHT very strongly.  I was Stephenie Meyer’s writing teacher, and in our classes we spoke quite a bit about writing to the teen audience.  I just have never tried to bring out my own big series.
We’re excited about this because we’re doing something interesting.  We’re putting it out as an enhanced novel, with an app for the iPad, along with over 100 illustrations and animations.  We’ve got a 45-minute soundtrack with it, and of course an audiobook.  The hardcover will come  out later this fall.

Do you have any other project on the pipeline?

I’m finishing up the last book in the Runelords series, of course, and we’re getting ready to start pushing the movie in Hollywood.  (I wrote the Runelords screenplay earlier this year.)  I do have a producer who is interested in taking NIGHTINGALE to film, too, and so we’ll be pursuing that once I finish up with the Runelords.

You’re starting a writing contest, why is that?

I started writing for prize money in college on the advice of my university writing professor, Eloise Bell. I entered a story and won 3rd place in a contest. That inspired me to try harder, and within about 18 months, I won the grand prize for the Writers of the Future. That led to a three-novel contract with Bantam books.

So writing for contests launched my career, but I don’t see many of them being sponsored lately. I love writing. I think that it’s one of the most exciting and interesting jobs a person could have. So I want to help inspire other artists to create.

What kind of writing contest is it?

This is a short story contest, just ten pages. It can be set anywhere, any time, though it would be nice if it were set in the world of the Nightingale.

How is this contest different from others?

First, I’d really like to promote it to younger writers. I’d like to see teens enter the contest who may not have thought that writing can be a realistic choice for a career. I’d like to help them make their dreams come true.

What opportunities will the winner receive?

The winner will get $1000 cash, and will have his or her story published in the electronic versions of Nightingale. More importantly, East India Press will invite the top authors to submit novels for publication. East India Press will release these as enhanced books with illustrations and soundtracks, audiobooks, e-books, and as hardcover novels.
If the winner does publish with East India Press, I’ll help them push their books toward bestseller status by giving them guidance on a level that other editors aren’t trained to do.

Where can I find out about the contest?
You can learn all about it, and even find an article on how to win it at

How does one become a successful prize writer?
First, you have to be aware of the contest deadlines, and then enter before the contest ends. You’d be surprised at how many people want to win contests that they never seem to enter.
Beyond that, you need to familiarize yourself with what makes a good story, how it can be told well, and how to analyze your audience. A lot of those concerns are addressed in an article on my website at I don’t believe in just telling you that I’ve started a contest. I want to tell you how to win any writing contest.

Well, there you have it, writers. From a real pro. I was honored to have him here, and hope he stops by sometime again or consider my humble blog for his next release! Thank you, Mr Farland, for visiting my blog!

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