Inkshares Interview - Stephen Carignan & THE SLEEPING MAN

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The last of the dreamwalkers seeks for answers in the long lost Compendium, but the greatest mystery lies within his own past.

Who is Stephen Carignan  and what's THE SLEEPING MAN all about?

Well, at least we didn’t waste any time with simple questions, as not only what one uses to define themselves indicates quite a lot, but how they prioritize what they use to create said definition. In essence, I’m just a man. Most of my choices center around my daughter and my ability to provide for her and my ex-wife. I was doing stand-up and acting in Chicago when we split and had no way to move to LA, provide, and be there for those all important moments, so I joined the Navy. My test scores were very good, and I became an IT Technician. The Sleeping Man is the confluence of inspiration and discipline. I have always been writing something, it was something my mother taught me to combat severe dyslexia. I was in second grade and unable to read because of what they wanted to call ADHD and my mom called just being a kid. She sat with me and read and reread Stuart Little  until I could read. Then I was doing homework before class ended because everyone was moving just so damn slow. The idea for this work came to me when I was sixteen, among many others, but I couldn’t flush it out. Well, years later the Navy is paying for me to get my Masters degree in writing and the discipline provided allowed me to revisit some ideas, and in this case, finish this actual book.

The book itself is about the last of the Dreamwalkers known only as The Sleeping Man, a nomadic people characterized by their striking violet eyes, and his quest to find any means of stopping the Volto Empire. He is capable of seeing and entering the Dreamscape, a collection of projected dreams from the conscious world around him, and uses this ability to read a person’s intentions, emotions, and secret desires. Along the way he discovers secrets about his own past, abilities, and finds the long lost Compendium. The lattermost is said to be the seat of all knowledge and guarding by ferocious creatures, but The Sleeping Man has one thing the Volto Empire does not, a clue.

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

This idea, like all great ideas, didn’t come from anywhere, but rather a piece of a lot of different things gets locked in my brain and I don’t know if it was in the shower or waking from a dream, but the first sentence popped into my head. A featureless desert, grey and devoid of landmarks. I knew this guy was crossing it, which is supposed to be impossible, and I knew he would do anything to accomplish this.

The reason I’m pursuing this, is simply because I believe in it. When I was acting and doing stand-up, there are times when you have to audition. In these times, you are physically putting yourself out there, and whether or not you are feeling confident, you have to project confidence. As I was writing The Sleeping Man, I kept plodding through because I had a word goal and now the Naval discipline and Masters training to keep going rather than let the idea die off and wait for inspiration. Now that it’s done, I don’t remember which parts frustrated me, I just see parts I need to fix.

Why Inkshares?

I chose Inkshares initially because of a contest hosted by The Nerdist. I felt that I would be able to finish the first draft and if it sold and published I would have to finish. If it didn’t, then I would move on to another idea because people weren’t having it. Well, I didn’t win the contest. Afterwards the CEO called me and talked about my project. He said there was definitely something there and he felt there were some things I could have done marketing-wise to help myself. That was what kept The Sleeping Man alive, because I wasn’t going to try again. Instead, I took what he said and felt if I focused more on a few keys elements: larger reader base, more social networking, etc, I would be able to publish. Then the Quill goal was introduced and I thought to myself, if I have enough readers to hit the Quill goal, I will be published. I can do that. Once I hit enough readers, I opened up the pre-orders again, and in just over a month, I’m sitting at 202 pre-orders and there’s still just under three months left. I’m confident The Sleeping Man will be published. In essence, writers oftentimes don’t know if they’re heading in the right direction, and you can ask people you know, but it’s better to have support in the form of constructive criticism, recommendations, and commenting on excerpts.

What books have captured your attention lately?

Most recently I’ve read Sapiens, Trekonomics (An Inkshares success!), On Basilisk Station, and An Unattractive Vampire (Inkshares again!). Things like The Martian, Ready Player One, The Time of Discontent, and others were all within the past three months or so. I alternate between audiobooks and physical/digital copies.

As far as Inkshares is concerned, one of the ways I’ve increased my reader base is by reviewing every single book that is recommended to me. Perhaps my ADHD and overcoming my dyslexia have somehow combined into my ability to read exceptionally fast. I also sometimes use speed reading apps to flash text in a more efficient way then reading left to right. It’s hard to pick out, but I’m fairly excited about Too Many Controllers which is an anthology of some of Inkshares best, Deus Hex Machina because of the amazingly imaginative world, and These Are My Friends on Politics makes me laugh.

Who are your greatest influences?

Aside from the obvious influence my mother had on my ability to read, once that gate was unlocked I devoured books. The Redwall  series as a kid, then later Wheel of Time, Sword of Truth, and Lord of the Rings. These are all amazing series, but once I deviated off the beaten path there H.P. Lovecraft blew my tiny mind out of my head. When Stephen King deviated off his won beaten path with the Dark Tower series, I was equally amazed. Paulo Cohelo also was an influence, and then I began to gravitate to these works that are set in no where worlds, complete with their own rules and laws. Most recently I’ve been finding self-published authors like Hugh Howey, and then now finding Inkshares writers.

What's next for you as a writer?

Since I have no doubt The Sleeping Man will be published because this go round I’ve had blog posts like this one and interviews which have brought in so many readers, my next step will be to finish the second draft of The Sleeping Man. The third pass should be faster, and then it’s off to editing (knock on wood). I don’t have the idea for a sequel at this exact moment, but one idea I made as a joke which might come to fruition is Zombie Pirates v. Vampire Ninjas. This is a tongue in cheek poke at cashing in on genres popularity that is partly inspired by Lesbian Zombies from Outer Space, an independent comic written by Jave Galt-Miller.

I don’t know what will be next for me as a writer. I just know I started writing at a very young age and just have never managed to stop.

You can read a sample & pre-order THE SLEEPING MAN on Inkshares.

Inkshares Interview - Rick Heinz & The Seventh Age: Dawn

As part of the campaign for WRESTLETOWN I'm featuring weekly interviews with other Inkshares authors whose work I think you might enjoy. First up - Rick Heinz & THE SEVENTH AGE: DAWN.

Before the age of reason and science, magic ruled the world. Now, it’s coming back and if most of humanity gets wiped out in the process....well, sometimes you have to break a few eggs.

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THE SEVENTH AGE: DAWN has already been successfully funded through Inkshares (though you can still pre-order), hitting the stands this November. It also received a great mention from Publishers Weekly yesterday.

Who is Rick Heinz and what's THE SEVENTH AGE: DAWN all about?

Rick Heinz is just some bloke with an overactive imagination who sleeps a lot despite drinking copious amounts of coffee. By day, I’m a electrician who crawls around in the bowels of Chicago, but by night: I’m a hardcore storyteller and gamer. Constantly with my nose in some book or running an event.

The Seventh Age is my first novel. Set in the modern age, it follows a global conspiracy as heretics work in the shadows to tear down the barrier that keeps humanity ignorant of demons, forgotten myths, and magic.

Inspired by works such as Neverwhere and American Gods. This tale explores the ramifications of ancient creatures waging war in the shadows - and specifically, what happens when that war spreads into public view.

A world of moral grey areas, ancient myths, and Illuminati-style conspiracy with powerful beings who blithely step into the most mundane circumstances of everyday life. Where your favorite street-taco vendor could at any moment have his sales interrupted by a scuttling imp, and where being a multi-century-old warlock with a grand agenda doesn’t help you file building permits.

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

Ever crawl through hidden railways under Chicago? Since I work in construction I’ve come to learn that all cities have - hidden just out of sight - an amazing labyrinth of architecture that has a story. For a decade I’ve been crafting the setting of The Seventh Age by studying secret societies and urban legends. The more time I spent wandering around near-empty buildings at 4 A.M. the more inspired I got.

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Why Inkshares?

So… it’s 9 A.M. and I’m trying to avoid the giant flaming ball of death that sits in our sky by hiding within my air-conditioned sanctuary. My wife sends me a text message telling me I should enter this contest with The Nerdist that’s hosted on Inkshares. She found out about it by listening to the podcast. So, I entered. Out of 300+ entries I ended up in the top 5 after a grueling contest. Since that time the platform has grown on me, but my entry into picking Inkshares was really random.

What books have captured your attention lately?

I’ve got two actually. One is Scorch: A graphic novel by Ashley Witter. It’s about a demon living an immortal life as a young teen in suburban America. To keep this, she’s gotta cough up 10,000 souls as payment. Plus interest. It comes to print in July and I backed the kickstarter for it.

The other is Scott Kenemore’s zombie collection. I mean collection as well. I just found out about all these things: The code of the Zombie Pirate, Zombies vs Nazis, the Zen of Zombie (Even) better living through the undead. So on and so forth.

Akira

Who are your greatest influences?

In the writing world, Chuck Wendig, Neil Gaiman, and Robert Jordan. Writers who have influenced many, for we all stand on the shoulders of giants. In life however, there are countless historical figures that I draw inspiration from. I’m extremely politically active and particular time periods in history like the Chicago riots or the Pullman Strike are things I draw a lot from. For the past decade, I’ve been engrossed into biographies of Nikola Tesla vs Thomas Edison.

What's next for you as a writer?

Seventh Age: Dystopia the sequel is what’s next. I’ll be sticking with Inkshares as a platform. They have a lot of fantastic ideas and a great direction planned ahead. All I need to do is tackle a few taco-vendors, stock up on some crappy coffee, and then chain myself to a desk next month to start writing.

Which probably won’t happen because The Seventh Age: Dawn comes out on November 1st and I’m going to end up pacing in circles as reviews come in. But after that for sure. Start the next book. Always. Keep. Writing.

You can read a sample & pre-order THE SEVENTH AGE: DAWN on Inkshares.