An interview with Charles Yallowitz

Today I have my very first author interview — I’m incredibly excited! For those who missed the opinion poll, this is the first interview of a series I’m planning, talking to writers specifically about the research they do / have done to write their books.

Charles Yallowitz is my first guest, and we discuss his new short story, Ichabod Brooks & the City of Beasts, as well as the diet of peacocks! I hope you enjoy it ๐Ÿ™‚

Hi Charles, thank you so much for being on the blog today! So first tell us a little about your new short story.ย 

rsz_fullres-_300dpi_imageMy newest release is entitled Ichabod Brooks & the City of Beasts, which is a fantasy adventure short story. The adventure focuses on Ichabod Brooks who is a man known for taking dangerous jobs to put food on the table for his family. As he says, he has to make a living and his wife doesnโ€™t want him getting lazy in his old age. He takes a job to clear out an abandoned village that has become infested by bizarre monsters. Unfortunately, things arenโ€™t what they seem and Ichabod finds himself working a job that he didnโ€™t bring the best gear for.

Haha, I had to chuckle at the line about Ichabod’s wife not wanting him to get lazy! ๐Ÿ˜‰ So tell me, what research did you do to write the story — could you share the most interesting fact that you discovered in your research?

With Ichabod Brooks, I did basic research on medieval weaponry and the effects of certain injuries on people. Since itโ€™s only 27 pages and I have several longer works under my belt, I didnโ€™t have anything really unique to delve into. At least nothing that compares to when I had to research peacocks for Legends of Windemere: Sleeper of the Wildwood Fugue. This was the last novel that I published and I had a scene where peacocks were part of the scenery. I took an hour to research what they ate and how good they were at flying. The most surprising thing is that I found out they eat snakes, which I had to put into the scene somewhere. Being a fantasy author, a lot of my more interesting research stems from spontaneous curiosities.

I had no idea peacocks ate snakes! I had to google this a bit further, I had no idea peacocks were so badass. As it turns out not only do peacocks eat snakes but they even like eating poisonous snakes. Peacocks will actually encourage a snake to strike out until it exhausts itself, and they then home in for the kill. They’re also quite happy muching poisonous plants — I mean really why eat regular food when you can challenge yourself by ingesting venom!?

So Charles, how do you weave the research you do into the fantasy world and story you’re creating?ย 

Since the biggest part of research for Ichabod was combat-related, I had to make sure I was having characters move naturally. No acrobatic leaps by dwarves or heavy lifting by the slender huntress. So I always had to stop and think about the motions of battle. This involved standing up to slowly move myself to see if I could even come close to bending center ways and sketching out a few stick figure storyboards on napkins. I wanted the fighting to seem believable even if it was against fictional creatures. An example of this is when a character is injured, which gets closer to spoiler territory here. Without going into details, I wanted this person to get hit in a certain spot. Something didnโ€™t feel right and I did a little research to find out that it was highly likely that the wound would bleed the character to death. That wasnโ€™t what I was going for, so I had to find another spot to use. That sounds a lot more meticulously malicious than I thought.

That’s awesome that you go as far as acting out certain aspects of a fight to see if they’re possible. I wonder how many other writers do that? Do you have any resources that you turn to when you need to do a little digging?

I own a baby naming book, an encyclopedia of magical creatures, and an encyclopedia of imaginary places to help with research. To be honest, Iโ€™ve yet to use that last book, but I got it for five dollars. These are what I use for a lot of the pre-writing research, but I do grab them if I need a monster or character name on the fly. For information like the peacock diet and medieval weapon usage, I look for YouTube videos and simply plug the question into a browser. Many times I start with Wikipedia, but I try to confirm what I read there because I donโ€™t entirely trust it. Mostly because I have a few friends that used to enjoy messing around with the articles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for sharing that, the Dictionary of Imaginary Places in particular sounds quite interesting!ย And lastly, what’s your research process like when you start a new series or story? Do you start with the research as a way to inform the story and worldbuilding, or does the story guide the research you’ll have to do?

Story tends to guide the research since much of what Iโ€™m doing is being made up as I go along with the planning. At first, the only things I really look up are names and weapons. These two things tend to be the more defining parts of my characters when starting out. For example, Ichabod Brooks uses a bow, Luke Callindor (from big series) uses twin sabers, and Nyx (big series) has enough magic to level a small town. The physical appearance comes next and this is just picking coloration and unique markings. Research turns up again when I choose clothing because I have no real sense of fashion. This involves a lengthy on-line search or thumbing through magazines for inspiration. After all of that, I grab information from various places as I need it such as architecture, environments, animal habits, and even going back through my own notes. One of the โ€˜benefitsโ€™ of working with a non-Earth world is that I can make up a good amount of the information as I go along. All I have to do is keep it consistent.

That’s great. Thank you so much for taking part Charles, that was great!ย 

For anyone interested, Ichabod Brooks and the City of Beasts is now out, and you can find it on Amazon, by clicking here

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In a time of heroes, a man will take any job to provide for his family.

Ichabod Brooks has earned a reputation for taking the jobs most men and women fear to challenge. This reputation has brought him to the charred remains of a small village nestled within the hills and forest of Ralian. The ruins are a source of strange monsters that terrorize the countryside and repeatedly elude the local guards and hunters. The few brave souls who have entered the creaturesโ€™ lair have yet to come out alive or dead.

The chances of survival are slim, but that generous payment is too much for Ichabod to resist. After all, a man and his family have to eat.

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50 thoughts on “An interview with Charles Yallowitz

  1. Peacocks eat snakes? I suddenly like peacocks more. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I can just imagine what it must look like if someone walked in while you were acting out a fight scene. Would make for a fun video, I’m sure. Congrats on the book release!

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    • Yeah. Makes me see them in a new light, especially since they wander the nearby zoo. Here I thought they were pretty birds that went after popcorn. I stumbled onto the encyclopedia at a Goodwill. Was really surprised to find that.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The book are interesting (as was this interview, I don’t think I said that) because I don’t think of writers having tools other than Word and a computer and notebooks. Serious writing is serious work.

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      • That’s a great quote, ‘serious writing is serious work’ ๐Ÿ™‚ – and I’m glad you found the interview interesting, I think Charles has quite a unique research process with the mix of books, youtube, magazines and acting out fight scenes! Makes for some interesting stories ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. What a fabulous start to your new series – both you and Charles!! The books he uses for research and his method for acting out realistic moves were intriguing. And I have no doubt you are inquiring about peacocks accompanying you on your early morning trail walks !!!

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    • Thanks. Definitely seeing peacocks in a new light. It’s strange too because I’m used to reading that an animal that eats poisonous food tends to be poisonous itself. Can’t find anything saying peacocks are like that. Reminds me of mongooses in a way.

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      • You’d have to fashion yourself an elaborate Cleopatra-ish headband if you are going to accompany such a magnificant bird. And I forgot it was spiders instead of snakes as I was totally creeped out by your narration of the dangers of your daily walk.

        Snakes and spiders and peacocks, oh my!

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      • Oh there are snakes too! I just don’t see as many. Saw a little bright green one the other day, and there are cobras in the bushy/jungly bits.
        I like the idea of a cleopatra like headdress. I could totally pull that off on a hike I reckon. And, if the headdress was big enough it could take care of the spiders, while the peacock took care of the snakes. sorted!!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Great interview, Celine. I’m looking forward to reading more in the series.

    I’m going to look into the books Charles recommended, especially the Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures. That one could definitely come in handy with a few of my stories. I already have a similar one that deals with faeries and spirits, so that book would be a welcome addition.

    One thing I’ve found helpful with research is Pinterest. It helps with fashion, setting, character descriptions, etc. I can find images of places that are similar to my story, in addition to significant objects, photos that look similar to characters, and fashion from a particular era.

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    • I keep meaning to pick one up about fairies and spirits. There’s a little about each in the Magical Creatures book, but nothing in real detail. I need to remember that Pinterest tip for when I need to describe character clothes again. Thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it Denise! I’ve used Pinterest before, there’s a lot of good stuff in there for settings and clothing. What’s the book you have on faeries and spirits? That sounds really interesting!

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  4. It’s always so interesting to read about how authors undertake the research for their books. I really enjoyed reading this interview (great questions too!).

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  5. Great interview, Celine! I hope you’ll do more! Charles’s careful attention to research shows. As I read Ichabod’s story, I never once doubted that if these creatures actually existed in our world, they would move and act in this way.

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    • Thanks, I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Charles obviously puts a lot of thought into his research so I really enjoyed digging into what goes on behind the scenes. Quite excited to do more now ๐Ÿ™‚

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  6. Great interview, really enjoy it.
    I have a friend who also acts out fight scenes… I just coreograph them in my head, thank you.

    I nearly missed this interview because of the changed address of the blog! I’m happy I didn’t, I really like your take at interviews, Celine ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Oh I’m so glad you enjoyed it Sarah! It’s been really fun and I have a couple more lined up that I’m really excited about.
      I tend choreograph my fight scenes in my head too, although I think actually acting them out could be quite fun, and may be a nice way to generate new ideas. I’ll have to try it out one day! ๐Ÿ˜‰
      Is everything ok for you now in terms of getting to the blog by the way?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: An Interview with Lori MacLaughlin | Celine Jeanjean's Blog: Down the Rabbit Hole

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