BookView Interview with Author R.J. Passer

Welcome to BookView Interview, a conversation series where BookView talks to authors.

Recently, we interviewed R.J. Passer, the author of The King of Minear’s Son, a medieval fantasy novel published with Touchpoint Press. (Read the review here.) She has served as Editor-in-Chief for Arizona State University’s online literary and art magazine, Canyon Voices.

Rachel “R. J.” Passer is originally from London and now lives in Arizona. She graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Arts in English/ Literature and served as Editor-in-Chief for their online literary and art magazine, Canyon Voices. Along with writing, she also really loves visual art and paints abstracts. Her favorite author and biggest influence is J. R. R. Tolkien. The King of Minear’s Son, published with Touchpoint Press,is her debut novel.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Writing definitely energizes me – it’s great to feel inspired and experience the flow of words. It’s extremely rewarding, especially when writer’s block can be so bad.

Who and what ultimately inspired you to become a writer?

Falling in love with J. R. R. Tolkien’s catalogue was definitely a major component in making me want to be a writer. So was being an English/Literature major. I was inspired by many authors and works, including Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde.

What’s more important: characters or plot?

Both are very important, of course, but I’m a strong believer that characters are significantly more important – because, at the end of the day, no matter how great the plot, if the characters are dull, one-dimensional, and not relatable or human enough, how many people are really going to stick with the book? We want to be able to see ourselves, or at least human beings, when we read a book or watch a movie or TV show. We want characters who have quirks, flaws, and fears. Also, stories read better when they’re character-driven rather than plot-driven – when characters push the plot rather than the plot pushing the characters (the latter of which feels a lot less believable and authentic). I love the following quote by George R. R. Martin: “I try to make the readers feel they’ve lived the events of the book. Just as you grieve if a friend is killed, you should grieve if a fictional character is killed. You should care. If somebody dies and you just go get more popcorn, it’s a superficial experience isn’t it?”

How did you decide on the title The King of Minear’s Son?

I played around with a few working titles before happening upon a book from 1924 called The King of Elfland’s Daughter – I knew I had to frame my book’s title just like that because it worked so well for my story! Anyone who’s read the book from beginning to end would realize that “the king of Minear’s son” not only refers to my protagonist, Taelor, but also two other characters, and relates to the crucial prophecy the witches chant in Chapter 6. I was so pleased when I came up with such a perfect title for my book! Also, I read somewhere that the best book titles are the ones that have a different meaning before and after you’ve read the book, or only really make sense after you’ve finished the book, and I believe my title does just that!

How crucial is it to have a working title before you begin a project?

It’s by no means necessary, but I think it’s nice (for yourself, as the writer). We care more about things when they have names, and it feels good to know you’re working on a project with a name, even if you don’t think the current title is that great, and you know you’d like to come up with something better. The two working titles I had for The King of Minear’s Son were “The Exiled Prince” (which sounded generic and turned out to already be the name of an installment of the video game Dark Parables and a chapter in the video game Dragon Age), and “The Tale of Taelor” which I thought was alright because at least it was unique (plus it had nice alliteration). I didn’t feel fantastic about either of those titles though, and when I finally came up with “The King of Minear’s Son,” I knew that was the one!

What was your writing process like for The King of Minear’s Son? Are you an

avid outliner?

I’m not much of an outliner. I would pretty much just outline one chapter at a time, get it written, think about where I wanted to take my novel next, and then write another chapter. Something happens in the middle of The King of Minear’s Son that told me how my story would end — but I only knew what would happen; I didn’t know how it would happen. Basically, I had things I wanted to include and directions I wanted to take my story, but a lot of things also just came to me when I was writing (in my opinion, that’s the best part of being a fiction writer — I love it

when the characters come to life and begin to think for themselves and act on their own). Sometimes, the writing process surprises me.

What makes your book unique and why should people want to read it?

It’s unique because it follows the Greek Tragedy format, for one, and also because, unlike many fantasy novels out there, mine is a very short, easy, quick read. There’s a lot of plot and a diverse cast of characters who are complex and colorful. Also, I consider it gothic-fantasy because it contains a lot of gothic elements, such as supernatural occurrences, and it’s pretty dark and gloomy.

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