Interview with John Gorman

Author of The Acolyte & The Amulet

Before his words found their way into print, John snapped the Eyesore of the Week for the Queens Ledger. He is the author of the novels Shades of Luz, Disposable Heroes, and the Fantasy/Adventure The Acolyte & The Amulet, which is something of a nod to both Terry Pratchett and Ursula K. Le Guin. Book 2 of the Nebilon Series, Quest for the Hope Box, is set for a July 2020 release. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific University.

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How would you describe "The Acolyte & The Amulet" to a new reader?
  • It's definitely a throwback fantasy/adventure story, but it is also humorous, and maybe even a little bit philosophical. I'd like to think of it as what Kurt Vonnegut might have done if given a chance to write "The Lord of the Rings"
What was the inspiration behind "The Acolyte & The Amulet" ?
  • I'm a big walker. I love to takes walks and find new places, and interestingly enough, I find that many of my characters tend to enjoy their daily strolls too, but I had never written an adventure-- a quest . I really wanted to write a quest with magical and mystical creatures. So I did.
Which authors do you admire? How have they influenced your writing style?
  • My three favorite authors are: Kurt Vonnegut, Terry Pratchett, and Haruki Murakami. Each one appeals to me in a special way, and I often return to their books, to reread, and uncover precious gems. I might have soaked up a little bit of their juicy prose, hopefully at least a thimble's worth. I'm sure they'd all beg to differ. They say that reading informs writing, and I believe this is so, but each writer's style is unique. No matter how much one is willing to immerse himself in another writer's style, something new will spawn.
Can you tell us a little about the locations in your book?
  • The ancient realm of Nebilon, which has undergone more than its share of changes, but is still the center of magic. The 4 main cities are Spork, Spawn, Spore, and Fram.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
  • Write stories. For years, I honed my craft by writing stories. It is also easier to complete projects. When you write novels, you are in for the long haul, and need to be committed to it. I am not saying not to write novels, but when you are starting out, it is much easier to give the time and attention to shorter works of fiction. On the other hand, I have a friend who never writes stories. She started out writing novels, and is now on her fourteenth book. The key is to keep writing, and editing, of course.
What's your writing process?
  • I start with a germ of an idea. With the last book, I had a farm girl who had telepathy and some ability at weatherworking. She wasn't fully in control of her powers so I decided to bring in a mentor, but he turned out to be a slacker, while she remained rather precocious. I wondered if that was really the way to go. When I began writing the scenes with Luma arguing with Glanzing, it became clear to me that their contrast would drive the story forward. I usually have two characters who are at odds over something, competing for attention or some other item that they want. I use dialogue to drive my scenes. After I've knocked out a few chapters, I go back and I expand. This is when I start shaping plot.
Which character in "iThe Acolyte & The Amulet" has had the greatest impact on readers?
  • Luma really connects with my readers. She is a dynamic character who goes from farmer to mage. She has an incredible connection with animals that helps her immensely as she continues on the quest. I truly enjoyed writing her character
If "The Acolyte & The Amulet" were to be adapted for TV or film, who would you see in the lead role? Who did you have in your mind’s eye when you wrote him/her?
  • Millie Bobby Brown from "Stranger Things." She would be perfect for the part of Luma.
What types of creatures are in Nebilon?
  • Nebilon is inhabited with all kinds of mystical beasts. There are centaurs, bog monsters, shades, clouded leopards, griffins. There is even a chimera. But one of my favorite mystical creatures is the wugwump. It is my own creation, which is related to dragons, but is smaller and kind of looks a little bit like a pangolin. Luma becomes attached to one, and ends up keeping it as a pet. She names her wugwump, Wumsy. He's a real troublemaker.
Where next? What are you working on now?
  • Currently, I diligently at work on Book Two of the Nebilon Series. It is tentatively entitled, "Quest For the Hope Box." Many of the characters from Book One are in it, but it is not, strictly speaking, a continuation. A new quest comes about because of some strange happening at the Archmage Harberk's castle. Somebody sneaks a giant blue egg into his castle. Once it hatches, a baby dragon pops out. Harberk enlists Luma to help him take the dragon back to where it belongs.
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When Glanzing steals the legendary book of counterspells, the fate of Nebilon falls into his clumsy hands. He regrets the terrible burden, but must find a Master Mender to restore it. With the help of the precocious Seer, Luma and the brash dwarf, Vigo, Glanzing goes to the remote Isle of Pōg seeking advice from the oldest Order of wizards. Turns out, they have an important score to settle and the Archmage Belpatha sends the voyagers on a dangerous mission to stop the evil wizard Veldish from unleashing his dark magic onto the eastern realms and retrieve the sacred amulet. But will the voyagers have enough courage and strength to match the dark forces unfurling?