Inkshares Interview - Tony Valdez & DAX HARRISON

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In a space-faring future, an alien war criminal seeks vengeance on humanity, and a celebrated-but-bumbling hero is forced back into action... whether he likes it or not.

Who is Tony Valdez and what's DAX HARRISON all about?

Tony Valdez is a fledgling author who has decided to write silly stories, and he also feels equally silly talking about himself in the 3rd person. :) I'm also a big nerd, a mediocre podcast host, an occasional musician, and full-time maker of funny faces in the bathroom mirror.

DAX HARRISON is a fast-paced, action/comedy novel set in a spacefaring Star Trek-like future. The story focuses on Commander Harrison, widely known as a legendary soldier and hero, a Captain America for the space age if you will. Dax made his claim to fame a decade ago, winning a key victory in an alien invasion war which threatened to wipe out humanity as we spread out into space. ...Or so we've been led to believe...

Since then, Dax's career has faded into obscurity. However, the legend of the commander has grown immensely in the public eye through pulp stories and media based on exceedingly embellished versions of his exploits. Dax has not-so-humbly allowed himself to enjoy a bit of that fame (and a few royalty checks) while coasting into retirement on cushy assignments. But as he counts the days until he can disappear on a beach somewhere, naturally, fate has other plans.

A dangerous shadow from the past puts a wrench in Dax's easygoing existence, and he is forced to finally live up to his grandiose legends, whether he likes it or not.

Where did you get this idea, and what made it worth developing for you?

Dax began as a humble idea for a low budget comedic sci-fi short film about a bumbling space captain, who drunkenly falls asleep at the wheel and nearly crashes his ship. A simple one-off scene (which remains one of the first scenes in the book) that I planned to film with friends and post online for fun. Unfortunately, I fell hopelessly in love with the characters, kept writing, and ended up with a feature film script. While proud, I quickly realized I had absolutely no budget, resources, or Hollywood contacts to possibly make the giant spectacle come to life.

Eventually, I decided this was a good thing. As much as I adore movies, I didn't want to spend years pushing, wheeling and dealing, and/or begging for my story to see the light of day. I just wanted to tell it. So I set my mind to adapt the script to a novel and self-publish via Amazon.

Why Inkshares?

Inkshares provided a number of opportunities that self-publishing didn't. Were I to secure enough pre-orders, Inkshares would fund the publishing run, including physical and ebook copies, provide full editing services, cover design, and marketing. Furthermore, I discovered the company via an announcement of a joint contest with Nerdist Industries, offering guaranteed publishing at a lower pre-order total, so long as I managed to be in the top 3 against the other competing authors.

I didn't win the competition, but I eventually secured the standard number of orders necessary for a "light publishing", which Inkshares now markets under their Quill imprint. I'll still be doing a bit of heavy lifting, but Inkshares will take care of copy edits, get physical copies into the hands of my backers, and continue offering physical and ebook copies through their site and the other major online retailers. The team is currently patiently waiting for me to finish editing the manuscript (which I aim to complete this weekend - 6/25 - 6/26) and hand it in to continue the production.

The process of campaigning on Inkshares also granted a major and unexpected benefit: Connecting with an amazing community of fellow authors. As the resident goofball who originally "just wanted to make movies", I was touched by the unbelievable support by other campaigning writers, working together to encourage, offer guidance, and help each other build reader bases. It's been incredibly humbling, and I couldn't have done it without them.

What books have captured your attention lately?

Too many. This might sound like a pandering answer (I swear it's not). I'm mostly looking forward to a few books from my fellow Inkshares authors. I just started diving into my copy of Monkey Business by Landon Crutcher (You can find my endorsement on the cover). I'm itching to start my ebook copies of The Life Engineered by JF Dubeau and Ageless by Paul Inman. She Is The End by A.C. Weston (once it publishes) is also at the top of my list. Basically, I have a massive backlog thanks to being fully engrossed in putting the final touches on Dax. ...I also have a very fancy edition of The Complete Sherlock Holmes sitting on my bookshelf. Shhh, don't tell my mother-in-law I haven't read it yet. She bought it for me several Christmases ago.

Who are your greatest influences?

For Dax in particular, it's an unusual answer. As I said, it was intended as a big Hollywood movie, so my immediate influences are more cinema-minded rather than traditional authors and books. Dax comes from my love of Indiana Jones, Star Wars, and other classic Spielberg and Lucas adventures. The hero is also a rogue and somewhat of a selfish cad. A blend of Ash Williams from Evil Dead/Army of Darkness and Zapp Brannigan from Futurama.

In general, I just love good stories in any form. Adventures in particular. Grand stories from books, movies, TV shows, comics, videogames and so on. Anything that makes me laugh, cry, cheer and/or leaves me in awestruck wonder. I eat that stuff up.

What's next for you as a writer?

DAX 2 is the obvious answer. Haha! I have the beginnings of an outline, and I'm excited where it's headed. But first I may run to the hills, live in a cave for awhile, tackle my backlog of books and videogames, and come back with my creative batteries recharged. I'll invite my wife to the cave too. She's missed her husband dearly while he's been glued to the computer over the past year. :)

You can read a sample & pre-order DAX HARRISON on Inkshares.