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Author interview with Hugo Negron

Author interview with Hugo V. Negron

Last year I was introduced to the books of Hugo V. Negron and I was firstly drawn to his stories by the cover art of Forging of a Knight, I know a bad habit but the cover art is the first thing that you do notice. And just as the stunning cover art, Forging of a Knight proved to be quite a tale indeed! That considering that Hugo V. Negron is a self published author, the quality of his stories are just spot on and he knows what he is writing, his first book showed a lot of confidence which was nicely translated and upped in the second book. His Forging of a Knight series shows how our hero, Qualtan, is a knight in the forging. His tale of coming of age and discovering how the world stands is definitly not a story to be missed. And did I forget to mention Those That Stand in Shadow? Those infernal bad guys! It is them that you seek in a story of good vs. evil, with some blurred lines along the way.

Author Bio:
An avid fan of myths and fantasy, I have always had a passion for reading and writing. My background includes an M.A. in clinical psychology from Roosevelt University as well as an M.A. in industrial/organizational psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. I’ve also achieved PHR (Professional in Human Resources) certification. I instruct adult learners in resume development, and work as a full time recruiting manager. In addition, I am also an amateur cartoonist, having taken classes at the Art Institute of Chicago. 


Hi Hugo, welcome to The Book Plank and for taking your time to answer these few questions

BP: First off, could you give us a short introduction as to who Hugo Negron is? What are you hobbies, likes and dislikes?
HN:  Hi Jasper – thanks for the opportunity to be on The Book Plank!  I’m an author by night, recruiting manager by day, and run a small part-time resume development business on the side with my wife’ who does counseling work, in addition to somehow balancing a 17 month old son in the mix! 

My favorite hobbies include reading (LOVE H.P. Lovecraft, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but especially fantasy, sci-fi, and religious/mythological reference works – in addition, no one can beat my Marvel Comics Iron Man collection), watching British comedies (As Time Goes By, anyone?), biking, hiking, and keeping tropical fish. 

Nothing beats a Melanzana stuffed pizza – complete with fried eggplant mixed inside all that cheese and sausage. 

Dislikes? If it’s a move or TV series, it better be sci-fi, horror, documentary, nature based, or historical – try as I might, I cant get into following a show based on everyday events/places like crime, law, firefighters, hospitals, etc. Unless you have Sherlock Holmes, Godzilla, ninjas, or a Dr. Who in it, my interest threshold takes a nosedive south awfully quick…  8 )

BP: Forging of a Knight was your first book, when and where did you decide that you wanted to start writing?
HN: As a child I was pretty sick most of the time in bed  – so the quickest way to escape that existence was to read, and having my imagination and creativity stirred from all that reading, to write.  The ideas for what would eventually become the Forging of a Knight series took seed back when I was around 11-12 years old.

BP: if you would have to sell your series with a single sentence, how would it go?
HN: Forging of a Knight is a fantasy-based series that will resonate with readers as its main characters, fantastic though they may be, learn lessons of growth and change, of going out into the world on your own, and challenging early notions of self-confidence and expectation, explored within a backdrop of enchanted lands and terrible foes.

BP: The idea behind Forging of a Knight is also suitable for an older target audience, why did you decide to write for the young adult audience?
HN: You are right, the series can be enjoyed by both groups, but the story that follows the development of the main character Qualtan, really follows a path all of us take at a younger point in our lives, which can repeat and cycle as we grow and mature – having a goal or idea in mind, being afraid of failure, getting on the road to achieving that goal, taking that plunge, and then wondering will you be good enough to hold onto it once you have it.

BP: What was your biggest challenge in writing either Forging of a Knight or Rise of the Slavekeepers?
HN: This was a hobby of mine for a long time – just adding bits and ideas to the overall series when time permitted, until my wife finally told me to do something with the growing tableful pile of papers, notes, post-its, etc.  So putting together something that had been written in pieces over time, changed/morphed over time based on my moods, thoughts, and ideas, into a cohesive structured story series was challenging.  So much had to be cleaned out, updated, fleshed out and incorporated into my current mindset of how the stories should progress, that at some points I had to shake my head and say, “is THAT what I was really thinking back then?!”

BP: Both books are in print now. Would you, if given the chance, rewrite any chapter or scene? If yes, which one and why?
HN:  Originally Rise of the Slavekeepers encompassed so many additional parts it could have very well been two books.  I removed a lot of additional scenes, focusing more on the characters vs. the sequence of events.  I wonder if I would have kept the extended parts to the story, would the overall adventure have been more interesting/satisfying, or would it have become just way too repetitious and “fat”?

BP: Your books are self published, did you encounter any specific problems doing things like marketing and getting the name of your book out?
HN: I think any self-published author will share the same bane – branding, marketing, getting your name out, etc., takes more work and effort than the actual writing bit.  With a limited budget, you have to really target where to spend your dollars and experiment, and therein lays the problem; One author can suggest a ton of marketing steps they took to be successful that may fail for someone else trying the same thing.  I had a commercial on the recent episode of the Canadian web-based fantasy show Spellfury, and made an appearance boothing my books at a fantasy convention known as Gen Con in the states which were very positive experiences.  Some publication advertisements that I did showed little for the investment.  Building exposure takes time, and hopefully, with effort and some luck, as my series grows, the audience will grow along with it.

BP: There are quite a few characters that you let the reader get acquainted to. Which of them do you like to write about most?
HN: Wow – well of course we have the main character Qualtan – each book basically is bringing him to a different level of maturity.  In the first book he is anxious to become a knight and show himself worthy to his father’s legacy and his uncle’s expectations, in the second he has become a knight, but wonders if he’s really up to the task, and so forth.  I think this speaks to all of us to some degree. Future stories will bring him to a point many of us get to after going to school, getting into a career, etc. – once you feel you have gotten to the top of your goal, plateaued sort of speak, what happens next?  Do you go off on your own and do your own thing, or stick it out with what is safe and well-known?  There are consequences to both decisions which will impact Qualtan ahead…

Beyond him, there is Glaive, who I really enjoy writing.  The cynical, lifting his nose to authority, “I know the score and you can’t fool me” attitude he carries is great to explore.  He thinks everyone and everything has a scam, and it takes a lot to make him think otherwise.  He’s starting to warm up to taking things as half-full like Qualtan does, instead of half-empty which is his usual world view, but he’s not there yet…

Finally, there is Jesepha.  Initially she wasn’t a “she”, but just another nameless male knight in the background.  I realized I wanted some different angles/personalities in the story and changed the character, and suddenly she took a life of her own, taking the story into areas I hadn’t first thought of.  She was essentially writing herself, and it was a joy to see that process take place.

BP: Qualtan, our knight in forging, is a very interesting character. Compared to the first book and the second book he is making some terms in development. Learning just how tough things can be. His transformation does feel very natural, did you base his development on something or did this just come natural?
HN: With my day job, I come across and meet many people at different levels in their careers - starting, ending, or just enduring, and you see the same patterns constantly cycling in/out.  Although my series is set in a fantasy world filled with all sorts of creatures, monsters, and magical beings, I wanted something that everyone outside of that world could connect to.  Every phase Qualtan has gone through (and is going through) is something each of us has faced – prepping for a goal, being afraid of not being good enough, the fear and challenge of achieving that goal and wanting to excel, and then the inevitable step of either realizing that goal wasn’t as satisfying/good enough as we first thought, or having achieved that goal so completely we grow bored and need a new challenge/a way to expand that original goal, in ways that can sometimes rub other people (a boss, spouse, friend, etc.) the wrong way, because changing an achieved goal or branching out for a new one involves risk, which means a potential for harm or loss to what you have already earned.

BP: In the name of the series, there isn’t a mentioning of trilogy or duology. Have you already mapped out how many books the Forging of a Knight series will run?
HN: The first three stories are near and dear to my heart – although its funny, the third book coming out next year is actually out of sequence to my original plan of how they would play out.  I had another in mind before it, but the way the stories were flowing it made better sense to switch them. I have ideas for six stories set in this series that I want to completely flesh out.  There is a seventh which came about after I started to go through the stories more seriously and envisioning where it was all leading to, so we’ll see…

BP: Can you reveal a bit more of what is in store for the reader? How will the adventures go for Qualtan? And what are the plans of Those That Stand in Shadow?
HN: Book three brings together a lot of the heroes and all the Arch-Mages seen and referred to in books one and two, along with some new heroes and villains, as well as all of the surviving members of Those That Stand in Shadow in a race to free the Mah-Zakim, the fathers of the Evil Ones, from their imprisonment. Who will live and who will die?

Although it’s an epic confrontation which brings a sense of closure to the first three books, Those That Stand in Shadow aren’t done yet, and if I can publish the remaining tales, they come back in a few stories down the road after taking a brief break.  You just can’t keep life-leeching, half-demonic bad guys down for the count…and when they do return, it’s not going to be pretty…

But more importantly, there is this ongoing “curse” or fear that Qualtan has been continually dealing with ever since he encountered the Haegtes that will finally come to a head  - it will change his life – for good or for evil, and will prompt him on a new road that will alter his intended path in a big way (and here is a hint, there is a character that was alluded to in book one that was not named, but merely referenced casually in a sentence, that will play a HUGE part in what happens to Qualtan!  I may have to make a contest on that…).

BP: There was one striking thing in Rise of the Slavekeepers. The extra dimensions. It might sound a bit weird in epic fantasy but it totally works in your series. How did you came across this idea?
HN: With fantasy worlds you have all sorts of magical creatures, places, cities, etc.  I didn’t want to overpopulate the Forging of a Knight world with too many of them, or else you end up with all these different species and creatures fighting for elbow room, and soon the fantastic becomes ho-hum.  Living in a fantasy world with everyday trolls and wizards and the like, what would inspire characters in that world to be awed and impressed?  So I figured I should try to have some of these creatures come from a different dimension beyond the plane of life the stories sit upon, and by doing that, create technologies or cultures that would be out of sorts with the “normal” world Qualtan and his friends occupy and not conflict with it.  This will be revisited in book three and down the road thereafter. 

BP: Everyone enjoys fantasy in their own way. What do you like most about reading and writing fantasy?
HN: I think it’s the ability to create your world or explore a new one, creating nations, peoples, cultures – yet at the same time, the challenge which really makes it fun is to make it consistent – working within a fantasy based setting you have to be careful not to let everything get out of hand – you can end up losing a lot of suspense or interest if there is a magical answer for everything.  You have to balance the fantastical elements with some rules and structure to make the risks and dangers the characters are facing seem legitimate and real.  For example, that’s why I have the Arch-Mages – a small body of “real” wizards who seek out the FEW others who have potential and train them for a LONG time – everyone else is in a much lower category of ability, so this puts real limits on what magic can and cannot do in Forging of a Knight.

BP: Do you have any other projects that you wish to pursue besides the Forging of a Knight?
HN: I would love to write some stand alone stories of some of the supporting characters one day – Jesepha, Bartholomew, for instance – there is so much more for these characters to share, but they are supporting characters so there is only so much I can delve into currently without pulling away from the main characters like Qualtan or Glaive, for example.

Would also like to take on the challenge of getting a saltwater fish tank…one day!

BP: and just lastly, if you would have to name your top 5 favorite books, which would they be?
HN:  I’m pretty old school here.  With H.P. Lovecraft he wrote short stores and novellas vs. actual book length works – so based on that I have to stretch out my list  - in his case I would have to state favorite STORIES like The Dunwich Horror, At the Mountains of Madness, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath, and The Shadow Over Innsmouth.  All the original Sherlock Homes stores by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are constant re-reads for me.  Loren D. Estleman wrote some interesting Sherlock Holmes match-ups (Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Holmes) which I have enjoyed, and I do enjoy the Wicked series of books by Gregory Maguire.  I wont include reference works here, but a final fav of mine is The Knights of the Order, a sad history of the Knights Hospitalier by the late Ernle Dusgate Selby Bradford – an exciting and well researched read of a true-to-life order of Knights which is active in a humanitarian form and still exists today.

BP: Thank you again for your time Hugo and good luck with writing the third book!
HN: Jasper, it was a pleasure.  Thank you for your kind interest and consideration!

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