Welcome to the next interview in our Author Spotlight Series. Today we want to introduce Deston Munden. We hope you enjoy learning more about Deston and his writing journey while inspiring writers that might be at a similar point in their writing careers!
1) Tell us a bit about yourself- Name, Location, Favorite Genres to Write and Read
Hello, I’m Deston J. Munden, author of the Dargath Chronicles and Dusk Orbit Blues. I’m an African American science fiction and high fantasy author from North Carolina in the United States. I’m a huge fan of epic fantasies in the veins of Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, and George RR Martin, but I also enjoy good science fiction, historical fiction, mythology, or a classic.
2) When did you first start writing and was there a specific moment that made you realize you wanted to be an author?
I’ve always been writing, ever since I was in the fourth grade. But, if I had to choose, I started writing seriously a year after college. A few health reasons sent me back on my original college plan and job dreams of being a video game designer—which I have a Bachelor’s Degree for. In the wake of that, I started to write. A few practice books and a few good feedbacks from everyone from those books, I began to realize this is something that I wanted to do every day for the rest of my life. I noticed there wasn’t a lot of people within my genre that loved and was so passionate that looked like me, so I began wanting to be the change that I wanted to see. I’m glad that I made this choice.
3) Where are you in your author journey? Traditionally Published, Self-Published, Writing your First book?
I am self-published. Tavern, Book 1 of the Dargath Chronicles, was released on March 26, 2019. It has been a huge success with over 400 books sold in the first month and well over 20,000 pages read on Kindle Unlimited.
I did attempt the traditionally published route first and ultimately found that it wasn’t my cup of tea at this very moment. I was rejected time and time again, not for the quality of my work but the taste of the agents. It wasn’t what they were looking for at the time. 75 rejections of varying degrees later, I figured that my best option was to attempt at self-publishing. I had plenty of experience with the knowledge of fellow authors in the self-publishing genre (thank you Dyrk Ashton, Michael J. Sullivan, Jonathan French, Jenna Moreci, and Garrett B. Robinson) so it was the logical next step for me.
4) How would you describe your writing are there any comparable writers that potential readers would know?
The best blend of comparative authors that I have used for my writing style is Brandon Sanderson and Michael J. Sullivan. They are some of the people that influenced me a lot when I started writing seriously. I read a lot of their books and noticed that their style was the most like how I told stories, but with my own blend. The settings, the world building, the character banters, the action, those are my main strengths and those are arguably what makes these two a powerhouse in the industry right now.
5) When you set out to write a story what is your ultimate goal?
When I set up a story, I have the goal first and foremost to entertain the readers. I want them to have a good time, no matter who they are. The goal here is to make a fantasy that isn’t always trying to be grim and dark (though I enjoy those). I want to tell a story that someone could crack open, have a good time, and leave them wanting more. Secondly, I want to express themes that I care about. I try not to beat people over the heads with them, but I do have specific social problems such as the stigma of mental health, disabilities, social prejudice, etc. Everyone deserves a good story and to see themselves within a work of fiction.
6) Can you describe your complete writing process?
In simplest terms, here’s the flow chart of my writing process. 1st Draft > Outline > Alpha Readers > 2nd Draft > Beta Readers > 3rd Draft (mostly minor edits) > Professional Edit > Publishing Process
Yes, you read that correctly. I write the entire story out first. The hardest part of a story is the first draft. I write down everything that I want in the story in the roughest way possible, drafting out the story from start to finish. From there, I make an outline for myself, logging down the details that I put within the story and then continue through the drafting process until it’s polished and ready to go. During any times where I’m waiting for feedback, I’m writing and another first draft for the next book.
7) What has been your biggest challenge as a writer?
Marketing. You don’t realize how much time and energy goes into marketing until you start the publishing process. A good thing to keep in mind, however, is to start marketing before you even started writing the book. Develop the author platform and identity well before you start writing the draft. It will save you a lot of trouble.
8) What is something you wish you knew when you started writing that you know now?
That you aren’t going to get it perfect in your first draft. Perfectionism is a dangerous trait. The purpose of the first draft is to get your story out of your head and onto the paper. There’s going to be a lot of mistakes and it’s going to be a mess to fix, but you can’t edit a blank page. Have fun in this first draft, throw yourself some curveballs and enjoy the writing process.
9) What would be your number one tip for other aspiring writers?
Read, write, consume some media every day. People underestimate the power of enjoying a good book or watching a good show when it comes to writing. Take a little time out of your day to consume some quality media whether it’s reading or watching a movie or television show. You’ll be shocked how much it will affect your daily writing. Write every day if you can, but don’t beat yourself if you miss a day. Keep a schedule but also remember that you’re human and need time off too.
10) Where can readers find your work? List books, formats, and where they can find them?
You can find my work on Amazon in paperback and ebook. The link is below: https://www.amazon.com/Tavern-Dargath-Chronicles-Deston-Munden/dp/1795562587
11) Out of all your stories, who is the favorite character you’ve ever created? why?
Ooh, that’s a tough one. I’m going to go with Lord von Gomol from the Dargath Chronicles. You never quite know how he’s going to mess with you. He can help you, but it comes with a cost. He can also very much screw you over at any time that he feels like. He’s a true politician who happens to also be a thousand of years old demon.
12) Can you share a couple of your favorite passages from one works?
Excerpt from Chapter 7 of Tavern
Xelnath began filling the next bucket with water. His thin arms quivered from the weight as he picked up the last bucket. He attached the last of four on the long wooden rod and pulled it over his shoulder. Today, he was going to do it in one trip. Two or three trips delayed dinner. His mom was patient no matter how long it took; his father and brother, despite coming home from a long a day at the docks, waited too. That wasn’t fair to them. The least he could do was to bring water for the stew and maybe even make something nice. Taking a deep breath, he steadied himself, he took his first steps away from the lake only to hear paws against the dirt path. Fear took over. He froze.
Quercon was as young as he was. In moments of fear or sickness, he lost control of it. Through the sleep, he felt the fear, smelled the all too familiar smell of rot roots and dirt. The grass and flowers on the side of the road wilted into brown stalks and red ash, leaving nothing but black soil in his wake. Against his back, the wood of the rod and the buckets themselves warped against his spine, snapping inch by inch until the water came crashing down. Still he stayed. Frozen, unable to move. Run fool. Run.
Loathing filled both his young and dreaming self. Neither could do anything about what was going to happen next.
Alight in the yellow of the noonday sun, the hunters rode over the hill of dirt and back into the Shroud, returning from a long morning. They rode mounted on a large pack of tigerwolves with impressive speed and power. A single gang of riders branched off from the main group and headed to the Throat for some water.
They approached him and for a single, stupid second, Xelnath hoped they would keep on their way. A blossom of fear rose into his chest as he saw the leader of this gang on his giant red-brown beast slowed to a canter. The massive animal shook its head, dirt and slobber spewing in different directions as it opened its large jaws. It—she rather—chomped at the little orc, looking at him with large red eyes. The runt orc didn’t stare back. He was too busy swallowing down his fear of the rider.
The rider frowned, staring at the small area of desolation on the field. Xelnath felt his body quake all over again, worse than the cold of the water. He stepped from his saddle, plucking one of the dead flowers from the road and crushing it between his fingers. He sniffed the air, taking deep breaths of what smelled of worms and disease. His eyes met Xelnath’s and focused, knowing all too well this was his doing. A death rune—what every orc in the Shroud assumed Xel had—was death for the tribe. Some, like this man, resented that he was even alive.
“Rolem.” It was a while since he used and heard true orken outside of this dream. The bridge tongue didn’t have a direct translation for the word. The closer, albeit nicer, translation was runt. In truth, it was something deeper. Orcs died from the liberal slippage of the word from their lips. It was a challenge, a threat, and an insult. These boys—no men, he was the boy who hadn’t earned his sword or coat—knew that he was no threat. They used it freely around him. Likely, his tormentors didn’t know his name. “The little sick one’s out of his hut now, away from the guard of his big brother.”
Gharak, the largest of the new hunters, circled around with thunderous footsteps. He was everything the little Xelnath wasn’t. His body filled out into large, thick, dark-green muscles with vines of brown discoloration around his biceps and shoulders. Rough black curly hair covered his head, scalp, chin, and body, dripping with sweat and anger. His height, by far, surpassed everyone in the village. Only two summers on the little runt, he was already slotted to be the champion of the Gnarled Root.
In his first hunt, he brought home more than six mammoth tusks and several pounds of meat. Everyone loved him. Gharak the God’s Blood. Gharak the Great Tusk. Gharak the Tower. He could do nothing wrong, even when that was all he did. A rarity he was in their fair and peaceful tribe. The Bloodroars, the Forestseers, the Earthwalkers. They had their champions, their pride and joy. The shadowy and quiet Gnarled Root needed their own.
Gharak knew he fit that mold. He reveled in it; it gave him power. Arrogance was an armor that no one wore quite right. It made a man invincible when they only had blood and bone like the rest. This wasn’t a lesson that the young champion learned. He wouldn’t learn that until years later. Until then, everyone was weaker than him. Xelnath was not only weaker than him, he was a plague waiting to be unleashed on the Shroud. As the champion, it was his duty to stop all threats and weed out the weak.
No one would stop him.
13) Anything else you’d like to share?
Thanks for your time and if you want to contact me, you can follow me on my website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Reddit in the following links. Thanks again!