This month’s Author Q&A is with indie author and cosplayer, Xander Cross. Check out Xander’s Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and see for yourself the amazing images peppering the pages. Better yet, you can dm or message him for signed copies of his books!

Xander Cross mostly lives a boring life with his spouse and cat. He holds a bachelor’s degree in History, which he uses to write his paranormal fiction. A lifelong enthusiast of Japanese culture and folklore, Xander cosplays as a kitsune yōkai on occasion, and photographic evidence can be found on Instagram and Pinterest under @ayakashi_fox. He’s also published a short novella series as an adjunct to “The Atlas Dystopia Apocalyptica,” entitled “Come by Night” on Wattpad.

Getting to Know You

What motivated you to become an indie author?
My main motivation for going indie with “The Atlas Dystopia Apocalyptica” is due to the controversial nature of its content.  I need the creative control for the main character to say and do things that I can’t imagine a mainstream publishing house being comfortable with. And I also love the control over the book’s appearance.

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
I’m always busy. If I’m not writing, editing, and publishing TADA, I’m working on a major side project, like “Come by Night” novelettes. In my spare time, I beta and review read for my fellow indie authors, make digital art, and anything else that pops up. I work from waking to sleeping.

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I adore the second edit. I adore reading the book I essentially wrote for myself, and my OCD loves tweaking it. But the best of all is publishing, holding my book in my hands, and getting my beloved characters out there. When someone tells me that they connected with what I put out there? Over the moon.

The Writing Process

What is your writing process?
It’s difficult to explain how I create what I do. I usually see an image that sparks a desperate yearning within me. It fills my heart to almost bursting, you know? So I play with it and daydream adventures/dialogue. Eventually, I write down the scenes I love most, I suppose to make them tangible. Then I start writing the rest in chronological order, more or less. I am renowned for jumping ahead as the inspiration strikes or if I get stuck. I write the first draft, give it a few weeks, edit to second draft, give it to my editor, edit again, beta test, edit again, then I read it into a microphone and give the manuscript its final polish.
Then I do all the steps required to publish. 

How do you get inspired to write?
I just sit down and make myself do it. But if you are referring to the act of creating? It is an amalgamation of images that I see with music. Sometimes the music creates the scenes, sometimes it enhances ones I have. A lot of my work is stitched perfectly to music.

What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
I would say: don’t try to get it perfect on the first draft. You’re going to have to edit it anyway, so be prepared to read your manuscript quite a lot. If you want to be a writer, write, even if it is three sentences a day. It adds up, and over time the daily word count will increase. Your endurance will improve. Never give up and keep at it — but take it seriously. Set aside time each day and make yourself do it. You are the only one who can tell your story your way, and it deserves to be told.

Reading

What are your five favorite books, and why?
I never do well at “favorites” questions because I like lots of things for a variety of different reasons. However, these five authors were the most influential to me as a writer:

Robert Greene, — “The 48 Laws of Power,” “The 33 Strategies of War,” and The Art of Seduction”  (and more!)
I read these books as research for my current WIP, but I will be applying all this to my trunked series this spring. Not only is this great for characterizations and layering your plots and making incredible villains, but they are life-transforming on their own merit. I plan to read more titles by this author in the near future.

Chris Voss (former FBI Hostage Negotiator) — “Never Split the Difference” 
I just started this one as research for TADA Book 3, and it is already a favorite. Profoundly life changing.

George R.R. Martin — “A Song of Ice & Fire”
The storytelling style of the first three books of “A Song of Ice & Fire” were influential when I wrote my trunked trilogy, because that is a multi-POV WIP involving political intrigue and war in a medieval setting. I think the third installment of Mr. Martin’s series is the best. The energy, arcs, the wind up… it was captivating. I learned a lot about putting a book together just by listening to the first three as audio books read by Roy Dotrice repeatedly during the summer of 2006. 

Jim Butcher — “The Dresden Files”
I have to admit Butcher is my literary influence for putting together a fun and thrilling action-adventure in first person. I adore “The Dresden Files.” The 14th book in this series is my favorite.

Sharon K. Penman — “Here Be Dragons”
When it comes to historical fiction done brilliant, I have to go with this author. She makes the past engaging, knows political intrigue, and really gets into the psychology of her characters, which happen to be historical figures.

How do you discover the books you read?
These days, I find everything via word of mouth, usually written by my indie friends. My TBR is a mile long.  

What books are on your reading list this year?
Right now I’m reading “Omega Rising” by Douglas Pierce. On the list: “Aspiring” by Astrid V.J., “Divided and Enhanced” by M.J. Unger, “The Burn’s Fire” by N.M. Thorn. “The Hunted Maiden” and “The Seedling’s Song” also by Douglas Pierce. And that’s just the tip of iceberg.

The Dragon Game: Book Two of The Atlas Dystopia Apocalyptica Book

It is spring 2121, and the Council of Dragons is gathering in New Tokyo for their twelve-year conference. There’s just one problem: the ancient rulers of the Far East believe Youta is a filthy usurper. They seek to destroy the younger dragon for disrupting the old order — and his defiled shrine fox with him. As chief of security for Youta Clan, Hayate cannot afford for anything to go wrong…

Except, a saboteur is on the loose and she has a vengeful spirit on her side. To discover the culprit, Hayate must ally with Konan, a cybernetic human mercenary, and hunt down the diabolical sorceress in a hotel full of enemy dragons and demons before she unleashes her legion of ghosts to destroy them all!

A Supernatural/Cyberpunk Fantasy – rated AD+ for mature content.

What inspired you to write The Dragon Game?
“The Atlas Dystopia Apocalyptica”  series was inspired by several things. The first was a post-apocalyptic nightmare and the dream that followed it back around 2004, inspired by Charles de Lint’s “Svaha.” The nightmare featured a plague that is in my series, while the dream was about a male kitsune in that same future world. I never wrote it, and I scrapped the idea because I have a red fox kin character in my trunked trilogy. But in 2016, I saw an image that led me to an anime called “Kamisama Kiss,” which has a white male kitsune leading character. I fell in love with the concept to the point that I realized I kinda wished I could be that thing. I asked myself what an immortal life would be like in the world that we are creating, and TADA was the answer.            

Is there going to be a follow up to The Dragon Game?
TADA is a twenty book series, mostly planned out already with a little room for inspiration on the fly [confirmed plantser]. The plan is to release each book every autumn. Last year it was “The Origin of the White Wind,” which introduces Hayate and his terrifying world. “The Dragon Game,” coming out on October 16th, takes place a little over a year after Book One ends. 

The Dragon Game: Book Two of The Atlas Dystopia Apocalyptica Series is available from Amazon now!

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