Q: How did you get started writing?
I always wanted to create something, but I had never shown any artistic talent. My first attempt was painting – Bob Ross made it look so easy. I soon realized there were only so many unobtrusive places (behind doors, closets, the unused portion of our attic, etc.) where my wife was willing to hang my work. Since I couldn’t bring myself to erase the paintings, I decided to move on. I considered music but didn’t want to compete with my children for time on the piano. With two down, I turned to writing.
Q: What made you decide to write in the genre you chose?
I wanted to write something that my children would enjoy reading. At the time they were huge fantasy fans. Things like Harry Potter, Eragon, Redwall, and many others. While I read many different genres, my first love was fantasy. Since I never expected my stories would be read outside our house, it was an easy decision.
Q: What are some of the steps you take to ready yourself to write?
Before I start a new story, I go through a months-long brainstorming process. I jot things down on scraps of paper and even keep a pen and pad next to my bed. For whatever reason, the sleep/consciousness boundary is a particularly creative one. Then I gather the bits and pieces together and create a 1-2 page outline. That process might take 3 months for an existing series or longer than 6 months for a new one. Once I complete the outline I start writing. I try to write every single day, but that doesn’t always happen. I do record my word count for each day. Early in the process, I try to hit 500 words but somewhere around the halfway point I raise the target to 1,000. When I finish, I set the book aside for at least three weeks before I begin editing and soliciting reader feedback. I took a few shortcuts on the back end of my latest project, which led me to submit it to my publisher before it was ready. While the feedback stung a bit, it was a good reminder to remain humble and to work on my craft.
As far as the daily task of writing, I find a routine helps. It starts with coffee (I drank 512 cups during my latest project and obviously have more to go). Before I start, I play computer-based Mahjong until I win. Then I sit down to write. I find outside noise distracting, so I often wear headphones to block it out. Not the music kind, but the silencing ones that heavy equipment operators use.
Q: Do you have any hobbies? What do you like to do in your free time?
I have quite a few hobbies. I was a competitive swimmer through college. While I no longer compete, I do try to swim several times a week. I’m also an assistant coach for our local Y swim team. Outside the pool, I enjoy light hiking, biking, and the occasional kayak. Now that my kids are in college or beyond, I’ve also begun taking piano lessons. I’m unlikely to become a very good piano player, but it’s fun, and I’m hopeful that it will help with my ukulele playing.
Q: What is your all-time favorite book? Movie?
That’s a tough question – I like so many. My love of reading started with The Hobbit, which I recently reread and enjoyed. As for the movie adaptation, I liked the first one, but the second and third movies dragged on too much for me. I just read The Martian, which is a bit strange for me since I saw (and loved) the movie first. While it’s not a movie, I found myself binge-watching The Expanse. Now I feel a need to read the books. I guess I didn’t really answer the question – perhaps I should become a politician?
Q: When you read for yourself, what is your favorite genre?
I read quite a few different genres. Within fantasy, I’m drawn more to Tolkienesque high fantasy – things like Feist’s Midkemia books. When I read contemporary fantasy, it’s usually something my kids read. They introduced me to Jonathan Stroud’s work, which is fantastic. In science fiction, I gravitate more toward the harder science end – although I do like Jack McDevitt. I also enjoy historical fiction, from writers like Pressfield and Cornwell. Every now and then I’ll pick up one of my wife’s mystery novels. I’ve never been a fan of horror.
Q: After a difficult day what do you do to recuperate? How do you unwind?
In addition to reading or practicing music, I’ll sometimes wander on the internet or play a few computer games – I can waste quite a few hours playing Civilization. Perhaps it’s just age catching up with me, but I often find a little cat nap to be quite helpful, too.
Q: For what are you grateful?
Everything. Life has certainly had its ups and downs, but honestly, I’m a lucky guy and I know it.
Q: If you could go back in time to when you were seven years old, what wisdom or advice would you pass on to yourself?
I’d tell myself not to climb up the backstop on the baseball field at school – I fell off and broke my elbow on Homeplate. As far as serious wisdom, I’m not sure I’d share anything. As I noted above, I’m a lucky guy, so why risk mucking it up? Besides, it’s not even clear which way the wisdom should flow in such a meeting. It’s entirely possible that my seven-year-old self might have more valuable advice for me than I for him.
Q: At what age were you the happiest? What triggered such joy?
I have many fond and happy memories. My wedding, our first years together, the birth of our children, raising our family, as well as periods of time in childhood or college. It might be boring, but most of those memories center around friends and family. That said, I’d like to think that my happiest times remain ahead of me.
Q: How can our readers connect with you?
The best way to keep on top of things would be to subscribe to my newsletter (http://www.armenpogharian.com/newsletter/). It comes out roughly every month and includes news about new projects, formats, as well as giveaways or sales.
In addition to my newsletter, my website also features information about my books, and reviews and hosts my blogs including the monthly ‘Map Monday’ feature. http://www.armenpogharian.com/
If that’s too much of a commitment I also run a Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorArmenPogharian
I’d like to take a quick moment to thank the great people at MasterKoda. I’ve crossed paths with many people on my writing journey, but few have been as genuine and caring as you guys. I wish you the best of luck wherever your endeavors lead you.