Today I am interviewing Stephen Zimmer, author of the new sword and sorcery/dark fantasy novella, Depths of Night, first book of a new novella series of stand-alone tales following the adventures of Ragnar Stormbringer.
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DJ: Hi Stephen! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Stephen Zimmer: Great to be back with you and your readers! For those that don’t know me or what I do just yet, I am a writer/filmmaker based in the heart of Kentucky. I write primarily speculative fiction, with published works in fantasy, epic fantasy, sword and sorcery, cross-genre fiction, steampunk, horror, and, very soon, young adult!
Among other things, I enjoy broadcasting and am a regular podcast host on the Star Chamber Show on Blog Talk Radio. I also founded the Imaginarium Convention, an annual convention that takes place in Louisville, KY themed on all-genres of creative writing.
My interests are wide and varied, ranging from martial arts, to good Kentucky bourbons, to film, reading, travel, music, and cats such as the wonderful Dubious, who is a member of my immediate family (he even has his own Facebook and Instagram pages!).
Above all, I’m a laid-back guy who puts 150% into my work and gets up each day with the goal of taking another step forward, no matter if that step might be large or small.
DJ: What is Depths of Night about?
Stephen: Depths of Night is the first published Ragnar Stormbringer Tale. It is about Ragnar going on a sea raid to the lands of the Petranni, who are inspired by ancient Celtic cultures. When Ragnar goes ashore, they find that the tribal people have abandoned their homes and taken refuge in a large fortress. The story is about Ragnar’s discovery of the reason for the tribe’s abandonment of their homes, and his response to it, which brings him up against fearsome adversaries. This is a tale that involves lots of action, supernatural elements, and plot twists.
DJ: What were some of your influences Depths of Night and the series?
Stephen: Depths of Night and the other Ragnar Stormbringer tales bring out influences of mine such as Robert E. Howard and David Gemmell, both of whom are masters of heroic fantasy fiction. I have a lot of influences as a writer, but these tales are definitely centered around an iconic, heroic figure, and as such they reflect my love of Howard, Gemmell, and perhaps even a little R.A. Salvatore too!
I should also mention that my readers were another influence for the decision to go forward with this series, as I wanted to be able to bring more stories to them in between my larger novel releases.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?
Stephen: In Depths of Night, and the other Ragnar Stormbringer tales, Ragnar Stormbringer is the main character. Other characters feature prominently in individual stories, and some will be making more than one appearance, but they are definitely a supporting cast.l Ragnar is a primal force of nature. He is a warrior whose great physical presence is matched by the tremendous willpower within.
Ragnar has an introspective side too, which is brought out in Depths of Night, and he does follow a basic code. I think readers will love the way he stands his ground, is unapologetic about who he is, and how he is willing to confront powerful adversaries where others might fail in courage or resolve.
DJ: What is the world and setting of the series like?
Stephen: The Ragnar Stormbringer and Rayden Valkyrie Tales are both set in the same world. It is an ancient world that has some comparison in terms of its technology, religions, etc. to ancient Greece and Rome in our world (and other lands of the same time period, whether ancient Persia, Japan, or other places). The lands within this world are very diverse, just like our world, with some lands more developed than others, a wide range of beliefs, and a range of ethnicities. It does have the presence of sorcery, supernatural beings and entities, and monsters to spice things up too! Both Ragnar and Rayden are travelers, so the tales take them far beyond the borders of their homelands as they explore and confront the world they inhabit.
DJ: This may have skipped some reader’s attentions, but Depths of Night is actually a novella. It seems to me that novella is gaining a rise in popularity again: what is it about the novella format that you like? Do you feel there is a particular advantage to telling your story that way over the novel?
Stephen: The novella is well suited to the eBook format. It is a shorter, quicker read than a full-length novel, which has some added appeal to readers who have greater time constraints. I also find that it is not all that different from the pulp days and the Conan stories that Robert E. Howard wrote, in that readers could really immerse into a stand-alone tale that also serves as an installment for the telling of a much larger story.
As a writer, a novella gives me much more space than a 5-10,000 word short story to develop plotlines and characters. They can also be written on a much shorter schedule than a novel without any sacrifice of quality.
For my purposes, the novella’s shorter length gives me an avenue to bring out more new tales and content for the readers who enjoy my work. Instead of having readers wait many months between my larger novel releases, they can avail themselves of many exciting tales in between featuring some of their favorite characters. In my eyes, it really is a win-win all around for both the reader and writer.
I aim to write novellas that are engaging, fast-paced reads that deliver what readers enjoy!
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Depths of Night?
Stephen: Finally getting to explore the Ragnar Stormrbringer character in more depth and have a chance to show him on his own, apart from Rayden Valkyrie (as she is a main character in the TV Pilot).
Having a story that has action on both sea and land appeals too, as Ragnar’s homelands are Norse-inspired, so I wanted to show that aspect of his background. Not often when you can kick off a tale with your hero facing an attack by killer whales!
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Stephen: I think readers will appreciate that Ragnar is not just some big, brutish, warrior putting axes in skulls. I am confident that they will find much to like about Ragnar and the way he goes about things.
Those that are on the receiving things of his violence are the kinds of get what is coming to them. In that area, he offers a lot of catharsis in a very uncertain, complex world like we have today where powerful figures who cause harm to others often seem untouchable.
For many Ragnar will represent justice. For others, he will serve as a powerful inspiration for the hero that dwells in all of us.
DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began the series? Depths of Night is only the first book, but is there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?
Stephen: Depths of Night is a stand-alone tale, like the forthcoming When the Cold Breaths. They tell different life stories of Ragnar, from various points in his journey.
In terms of a specific message, the character of Ragnar calls for others to find the heroic inside of them. To be willing to stand their ground in the face of wrongdoing or wickedness. To be the kind of person who takes action. To have a free and open mind. To never seek power over others, but to strive to empower oneself. These are a few of the things that are embodied in heroes such as Ragnar (and Rayden Valkyrie).
DJ: How many novellas are you planning to write?
Stephen: I suppose as many as I am able! I have really enjoyed writing both the Ragnar and Rayden novellas, have several more already written, and can envision many more in the future. Who knows? Maybe another character from that world will emerge in time!
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from Depths of Night that you can share with us?
Stephen: “And know that strength can be measured in many ways. Many who are strong of limb are riddled with weaknesses of all kinds.” – Grianna, in Depths of Night
DJ: Now that Depths of Night is released, what is next for you?
Stephen: When the Cold Breathes is the next Ragnar tale that is up, and then in July, I will have two releases, my YA Novel Dream of the Navigator, and a Rayden Valkyrie novella, Winds of War. On the TV side of things, the TV Pilot is almost done and we are holding a test screening on June 2nd in Vevay, Indiana. Keep your fingers crossed!
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Stephen-Zimmer/e/B003NEH9EA
Author Newsletter: http://www.stephenzimmer.com/email-list-signup/
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about Depths of Night the series that we haven’t talked about yet?
Stephen: Depths of Night delivers the goods all around if you are into heroic fantasy or sword and sorcery!
DJ: Is there anything else you would like add?
Stephen: Not at all, I think we’ve covered the new novella very well in this visit! 🙂
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
Stephen: You are most welcome! Thank you for letting me visit with you and your readers!
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*** Depths of Night is published by Seventh Star Press and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
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After a harrowing end to a long sea journey, the famed northern warrior Ragnar Stormbringer and a force of warriors step ashore in the lands of the Petranni, a tribal people known for their workings in silver and gold. The search for plunder takes a sharp turn when homesteads, villages, and temple sites show signs of being recently abandoned.
When it is discovered that the Petranni have all taken refuge within a massive stronghold, Ragnar and the others soon fall under the shadow of an ancient, deadly adversary. Wielding his legendary war axe Raven Caller, Ragnar finds his strength tested like never before.
About the Author:
Stephen Zimmer is an award-winning author and filmmaker based out of Lexington Kentucky. His works include the Rayden Valkyrie novels (Sword and Sorcery), the Rising Dawn Saga (Cross Genre), the Fires in Eden Series (Epic Fantasy), the Hellscapes short story collections (Horror), the Chronicles of Ave short story collections (Fantasy), the Harvey and Solomon Tales (Steampunk), and the forthcoming Faraway Saga (YA Dystopian/Cross-Genre).
Stephen’s visual work includes the feature film Shadows Light, shorts films such as The Sirens and Swordbearer, and the forthcoming Rayden Valkyrie: Saga of a Lionheart TV Pilot.
Stephen is a proud Kentucky Colonel who also enjoys the realms of music, martial arts, good bourbons, and spending time with family.
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