AI Graphics are at the very least problematical and you shouldn’t be using them. Why do you?

I don’t completely disagree that AI in general poses a vexing problem for creative people. And I agree it will probably hurt artists in general. That said, I suffer from a condition known as aphantasia. I’m unable to produce images in my mind. It was one of my greatest challenges in learning how to describe things in my work and I still consider it the weakest part of my writing game. I have to work much harder at it than I’d like to.

Because I suffer from aphantasia, I can’t actually picture my own characters. AI graphics is a tool I use to help me visual. It levels the playing field for me, because I can describe something I’m looking at. I don’t have to pretend to visualize something I can’t see. And I can’t deny having control over the process of bringing these images to life is very satisfying because it’s something I’ve never been able to do before.  I wouldn’t be paying artists to do this anyway, because I couldn’t afford it, and even if I could, I wouldn’t get the results I wanted. They’d always be someone else’s image. Here I can make hundreds of images and alter than slowly, until I get what looks like what I want. 

This doesn’t mean I’m not sympathetic to artists who suffer, and I’ve made the decision to support those artists directly. Should this book ever make money (which is hard because I’m giving it away for free), I will commission artists to do illustrations for it. Until then, I’ll enjoy the process of making these images. I don’t believe anyone is coming here to read this book just to look at the pictures. I’m promoting a book here. The images are a side benefit, since I’m already producing them for myself.

How did you do the graphics for your website?

I used an AI graphics program called Midjourney. It’s work to get what you want, but my other options were trying to create graphics myself, an area in which I have no talent, or hiring someone to do it for me, which means trying to get someone to implement my vision. This is the best decision for someone with no graphical talent, who wants to illustrate his story reasonably. It’s still not cheap, but it’s cheaper than hiring an artist for each seperate illustration.

Why do you use such modern language in a fantasy setting?

The audience I’m writing for is a modern audience. The people talking in the story are in their present. When they speak to each other, they’re speaking another language, but in the present day. It’s unlikely that mostly they’re talking to each other formally, except in the most formal settings. Sometimes in the translations, I’ll use words that are familiar to you, that you wouldn’t expect to find in a fantasy book. These characters aren’t using the same words, but they are using words that have the same flavor and the same meaning.  This is how I prefer to write, and yes, I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. That’s why there are so many authors out there. So everyone can find the ones they like.

What are your strengths and weaknesses as a writer?

World building is a weakness of mine, at least, I’ve always seen it that way. I don’t love building worlds. I love exploring and discovering a world as I write. I’m excited to see what lies around each corner, and I hope that I’m passing that excitement along to my readers. There are authors who are fantastic world builders, who have a whole world set up before they ever start writing. My method requires a whole lot more rewriting, but the thrill of discovery makes it worth it to me.

I feel that I’m pretty good at dialogue and plotting. Ultimately though, my strengths and weaknesses are best determined not by myself, but by you. Let me know how I’ve done.

Why are you giving The Book of Lost Wisdom away for free?

Because I’d prefer to spend more time writing and less time dealing with the business end of writing, which I’ve done before and didn’t enjoy. To me, having more control over my own projects is worth the limitations inherent in self-publishing. That said, if a company were going to make me an offer on it, I probably wouldn’t turn it down. For the time being, I’d rather have fun writing than spend my time dealing with publishers. Writing has always been a passion. The business of writing, not so much.