Interview with C.M. Carney, Author of Awakened

09 Jun 2020

What can you tell us about your new release, Awakened?

Awakened is book one of The Quintessence: Crucible, an epic cultivation LitRPG universe that I have some huge plans for. For those of you who do not know cultivation is inspired by Eastern and Asian philosophies and cultures and involves manipulating the energy of the world and the body to improve physical and mental abilities. I like to think of it as the eastern version of comic book superheroes, though that is a somewhat inadequate description.

Awakened is also a LitRPG series, which stands for literary role-playing game. In addition to the standard fantasy or sci-fi world, the author creates a ‘game system’ that shows measurable progression in power. Think of reading your favorite tabletop role-playing game like Dungeons & Dragons or a video game like The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim and you’ll get an idea.

With Awakened I created a universe that will explore the nature of life, energy, and the soul through epic battles, both martial arts, and eventually in another series I’m tentatively calling The Quintessence: Destiny, a sci-fi setting where the power of the human mind and body powers technology. I am extremely excited to see where the series takes me, and the response so far has been phenomenal.

What or who inspired you to become an author?

One of my earliest memories was telling my Dad that I wanted to make books or make spaceships. My one semester as an engineering major quickly showed me that high-level mathematics was not something I enjoyed, so I switched to writing and my first novel, Barrow King, finally came out 20+ years later.

What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

That is a tough one. So maybe I’ll list five that have influenced me during the nearly five decades of my life.

a. The Hobbit, which I read at 9 or 10 and created my love of fantasy.

b. The Xanth novels and Dragonlance were huge influences in my teens.

c. Catch-22 in my college years when I became a bit snobby against genre literature (I was an English Lit major) and temporarily stopped reading sci-fi and fantasy.

d. My thirties were dominated by comic books, and I’ll pick Warren Ellis’ Planetary as my favorite here. Though Gaiman’s Sandman and a bunch of Vertigo titles were in the mix as well.

e. I am all over the map now, but I’d have to say that discovering LitRPG in 2016 was responsible for me finally finishing and publishing a book (Barrow King) and I have not looked back since.

Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?

I’ll kinda cheat here and say that I was supposed to interview Kurt Vonnegut for my college newspaper, but after his talk, he ran out of time, so I joined the radio station crew who was interviewing him. Sadly, the radio folks asked the same questions I was going to ask, and they were embarrassingly average (including “where do you get your ideas?”), and though I’m sure Mr. Vonnegut had heard them a thousand times he was gracious and funny and kind. I got to shake his hand and thank him for his books and was happy my introverted self was able to do that.

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

Finishing a book. Plotting is also super fun. But sometimes the discipline of putting butt in chair every day and writing words is hard and I’d rather do anything else. But push through that resistance and write and you’ll soon have a book.

What is a typical day like for you?

I get up, have breakfast, get coffee, and then sit down. If I’m writing, I usually do 25-minute sprints. If I’m plotting or editing/rewriting, the days are a bit more fluid. I try and go outside each day, but sometimes fail. Ha.

What scene in Awakened was your favorite to write?

Perhaps the scene where Aryc (the main character, pronounced Air-ic, think od Eric with a bit of linguistic drift) ‘meets’ his Aspect. I don’t want to ruin anything, but those kinda scenes are always fun.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

“Be cool.” There is too much bad shit in the world these days, and I think that a lot of it would go away if people just acted cool with each other. The whole Biblical treat others as you wish to be treated thing. I’m not sure how we became so polarized and angry, but I fear that crap is gonna kill us long before nukes or disease or an alien invasion (probably not gonna happen, but I read a lot of bad sci-fi as a kid). To me, fixing this would start with people becoming more introspective. See yourself as you are, and not how you think you are. It can be painful doing so, but that is the only way you can change and I think understanding one self and one’s faults can lead to understanding others, and that leads to less anger and hatred.

C.M. Carney is the author of the new book Awakened.

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