Interview with Julian Darius, founder of Sequart and Martian Lit: an insight into success whilst operating from the fringes

Interview with a publisher

Julian Darius publisher and founder of Sequart and Martian Lit

Julian Darius publisher and founder of Sequart and Martian Lit

Julian Darius. American. Logophile.  Founder of Sequart (advancing comics as art) and Martian Lit (offbeat and smart works in all genres and media).There’s something of the English author Will Self in his ways. And he is most certainly one of the web’s more interesting and enlightened characters.  Sometimes sardonic in humour, his personality packs a punch and may leave you reeling.  But in the movie-motif of Edward Norton as “narrator” in Fight Club, you may want to rub your jaw with a slick, spittle and blood smeared chin and say: hit me again.

It was Martian Lit that snagged my interest and a desire to talk to Julian about his personal philosophy and goals (for world domination?).

He has very kindly agreed to invest some of his time to place a few words here.

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Rumors we seek your planet’s humiliation are somewhat exaggerated

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DJR: Martian Lit was founded in 2011. Described as publishing odd and aggressive literature, non-fiction, art, poetry, and other material.  Was its creation an inevitable evolution from Sequart’s much more niche (high-brow) profile? Or something else?

This is going to be a way longer and more personal answer than you want, but I don’t know how to explain it any other way.

I’ve actually been a fiction writer much longer than a comics historian and critic. I read comics in childhood, and I thought about them, but I didn’t write about them. I did, however, write fiction, even as a little boy. I wrote my first novel, which was sci-fi, as a freshman in high school. It wasn’t a bad concept, but I still cringe remembering some of the bad sentences. By the time I left for college, I’d written most of another sci-fi novel, most of a vampire novel, a screenplay about a serial killer, and lots of odds and ends.

I actually wrote a Star Trek: The Next Generation script and submitted it. They rejected it because I hadn’t followed the rules — I’d created an alien species for the plot, and only staff writers were allowed to do that. I think I figured I’d break the rules intelligently and get away with it. Didn’t work out in that case, although they were very nice and praised the writing itself. By the time I got that rejection I’d plotted out several seasons of the show, which would have slowly shifted it into something of the kind of continuing storyline you now see, in the wake of the revived Battlestar Galactica or even post-Bablylon 5. It was great stuff.

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Go from aspiration to inspiration. 10 top tips about writing from science fiction & dark fantasy author David J Rodger

Picture of scifi & dark fantasy writer David J RodgerI’m not claiming that my experience and advice is in any way special or unique; but it’s real, from the heart and is how I pushed through all the barriers to achieve my dreams.  So here’s 10 top tips that you hopefully find useful.  I’d like to think that some of them help nudge your writing  from aspiration through to inspiration.

David J Rodger, Bristol (2011)

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1: Work Hard & Prosper

Feel you need to give up your job and escape the tyranny of a relationship before you can follow your passion to write?  Maybe you do but those are quite drastic actions and typically people don’t take them – leaving them living their lives with frustrated dreams.  I have a full time job, an all consuming relationship and I still make time to write.  I wake up most days between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. and use those silent hours to be creative.  I write during my lunch break at work.  And I write every night between 7p.m. and 9 p.m., sticking to a golden rule of “no computer work after 9 p.m.” meaning I can actually get some time with my lady, and get some time to sleep.  So on average I score between 2 to 5 hours of writing time every single day.  On weekends it’s more.   My writing is a job; one that I love despite there being moments when I curse the day the Muse touched my mind.  If you put in the hours and never give up on your dreams – you can achieve anything.

2: Treat your work as a product

If there’s something wrong with a piece of writing, you need to know before you can launch it to the mass market.  Build a small group of people who you trust to give you honest, critical feedback.  Listen to their nit-picks and act on those you consider relevant, and ignore those you don’t.

3: Be consistent and persistent

Light a fire in your imagination and build up a head of steam.  If you have great ideas – even small ones – write them down and follow them through.  Always keep a notebook handy so you can jot ideas down – and review these jottings from time to time so you don’t less those ideas slip into the vast and sad pool of forgotten gems.  Set yourself goals and stick to them. Write every day. Even if it’s just half an hour.  Review your ideas regularly.  Map out a plan of action for PR and marketing, then review, adjust and respond to it – and never give up.  Writing a novel is hard – but getting people to part with their money to buy it is even harder.   Every time you falter and allow weeks or months to slide by whilst your ideas and plans stagnate, you’re wasting the most precious resource on Earth – you.

4: Create boundaries and guard them jealously

Life outside work with all its trials and tribulations, from partners and kids, to laundry and catching up on your favourite show or seeing friends, can swell to consume your time. Create boundaries by setting aside “me time”.  Slots when your first priority is to write.  Enforce a lock-down during these periods… ignoring everything and everyone that tries to interrupt you. And be rude about it: they’ll soon get the message.  It’s your life and your time and nobody has the right to intrude upon you working on your dreams.

5: Know where your character is “at” before you start each chapter

Answer these questions when you first create your character for the novel or story you’re writing; and then repeat the process in less detail before you start any difficult chapters.

WHO AM I?
EVERY OTHER DETAIL – EVEN STAR SIGN AND EYE COLOUR

WHERE AM I?
IN THE WORLD, IN MY LIFE?

WHAT TIME IS IT?
WHAT IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN

WHAT DO I WANT – to achieve?

WHY DO I WANT THIS?

HOW AM I GOING TO GET WHAT I WANT?


6: Accept that your first novel will likely never be published

But you still need to write it.  Ever had somebody say to you, “Everyone has a novel inside of them!”  Sure, but who wants to read it?   Use your first novel as the training ground and a place to expunge all your personality traits; eventually, wrap the MS up in a plastic bag and stash it in a cupboard.

7:  Be organised

Create a central repository for all facts about the world of your story and the people and characters in it.  Give it an index that makes it easy to find particular details.  Helps prevent you flicking through your MS trying to remember what colour your hero’s eyes are.

8: Be realistic about your business model

Did you forget you’re just a product?  Don’t spend money unless you’re confident of a return on that investment.  The best way to be certain of a return is to build up interest in your work – start small and work up from there.

9: Press Releases and Promotion

Consolidate and capitalise on success.  Even minor ones.  Each and every time something goes your way, you make a tiny breakthrough – or a significant one – every time you get a positive review about your work, tell the world about it.  Write a little snippet on your blog – load it with SEO friendly keywords relevant to your genre, and fire it out.  Most importantly, have somewhere you can stockpile all these snippets of goodness so that you can demonstrate it to punters, agents, publishers or even movie moguls taking an interest in your words and worlds.

10: Be honest and be humble

Shout about your work with pride but don’t ram it down everyone’s throat. And don’t blow out hot air with the pungent aroma of BS.  Just tell it how it is.  Even when things go wrong or you pick up some negative feedback, talk about it… show that you’re willing to listen and adapt your work to improve it.  Your work might be a product, but your struggles to produce it creates a very human story.

About David J Rodger

David J. Rodger (Born in Newcastle Upon Tyne) is a British science fiction & fantasy author and game designer best known for his novels set in a near-future world of corporate and political intrigue. So far he has published five novels; four set in the same world: God Seed; Dante’s Fool; Iron Man Project and Edge, and one, Dog Eat Dog, set in the post-apocalyptic world of Yellow Dawn.

Yellow Dawn is a role-playing game set in the same future world as his novels, ten years after it has been devastated by a terrible mutagenic virus. Rodger’s novels often combine high-tech intrigue and political/corporate machinations with elements of the Cthulhu Mythos, as created by H.P. Lovecraft. Rodger’s contributions to the Mythos include the creation of a new Great Old One in his novel Edge, and the use of the Outer God Nyarlathotep in the novel God Seed. In Yellow Dawn Rodger’s interpretation of the Mythos, in particular the Great Old One Hastur, is a major part of the background material. Rodger has recently published Shadows of the Quantinex, a large-scale campaign expansion for the Yellow Dawn game.

Rodger has also written Cloudy Head, a children’s story illustrated by Kenn-Ole Moen, and Murder at Sharky Point, a murder mystery game. Rodger spent 8 years working for a non-departmental government agency, developing a virtual communications service within the IT Division, before moving into commercial project management for a UK media company. In 2000 Rodger’s presence on the Internet got him a place in the BBC documentary Through The Eyes of the Young, directed by Chris Terrill.

Rodger now lives in Bristol, England, with a Braun coffee-maker, writing from a house on a hill with a view of Earth’s curve.  You can vist his official website at: DAVID J RODGER.COM

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25% discount off all my work today (25th), so grab some scifi & dark fantasy novels and post-apocalyptic RPG of David J Rodger

Buy any or all of my work today and you can score 25% discount by entering this code at checkout (DEC25).

Offer ends today (25th Dec) at 11.59 pm Pacific Standard Time (or 7.59 am Sunday 26th  for UK peeps).

 

Novels by David J Rodger

Cover of God Seed, new fiction for cyberpunk horror by David J Rodger Cover for Dante's Fool, new fiction for cyberpunk horror written by David J Rodger cover for Iron Man Project, new fiction for cyberpunk thriller written by David J Rodger Cover for Edge, new fiction for cyberpunk horror written by David J Rodger cover for Dog Eat Dog, new fiction for SSF written by David J Rodger

RPG (Yellow Dawn) Products by David J Rodger

Cover of Yellow Dawn, a post-apocalyptic RPG role-playing game for cyberpunk and Cthulhu Mythos set in post-apocalypse, by David J Rodger Cover of Shadows of the Quantinex, a Yellow Dawn scenario that gives more background to Yellow Dawn, created by David J Rodger

Wishing you the very best of dark dreams

David J Rodger

LULU offer: buy 2 books get 3rd FREE, for scifi & dark fantasy novels and post-apocalyptic RPG of David J Rodger

22nd Dec (up to 23rd Dec for UK)

This is part of LULU’s amazing “25 Days to Save” before Christmas.

Today’s offer is BUY 2 BOOKS and get 3rd FREE on all my work. Just enter this discount coupon ( DEC22 ) at checkout.  Offer ends today (22nd Dec) at 11.59 pm Pacific Standard Time (or 7.59 am Thursday 23rd  for UK peeps).

 

Novels by David J Rodger

Cover of God Seed, new fiction for cyberpunk horror by David J Rodger Cover for Dante's Fool, new fiction for cyberpunk horror written by David J Rodger cover for Iron Man Project, new fiction for cyberpunk thriller written by David J Rodger Cover for Edge, new fiction for cyberpunk horror written by David J Rodger cover for Dog Eat Dog, new fiction for SSF written by David J Rodger

RPG (Yellow Dawn) Products by David J Rodger

Cover of Yellow Dawn, a post-apocalyptic RPG role-playing game for cyberpunk and Cthulhu Mythos set in post-apocalypse, by David J Rodger Cover of Shadows of the Quantinex, a Yellow Dawn scenario that gives more background to Yellow Dawn, created by David J Rodger

Wishing you the very best of dark dreams

David J Rodger

Letters: Dog Eat Dog feedback – the end of the book and launchpad for what’s next

This is an email exchange with a compatriot in New York whose opinions I rely upon and trust.  He’s talking about reaching the end of Dog Eat Dog and this becomes a brief discussion about what’s next in regards to a sequel.    I’ve XXX out potential spoilers.

>From: xxxxxx@hotmail.com
>To: clovenfeet@hotmail.com
>Subject: RE: …
>Date: Mon, 13 Dec 2010 16:34:41 +0000
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>Hi David,
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>I finished the book.  The last section was amazing, really ramped up and already ramped up ramping.
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>At one point when I got off the subway I had to sit on the horrid wooden seats to continue reading, despite being on my way to work….
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>The ending was extremely satisfying.  The XXX – I’m glad it was XXXXX and you didn’t cop out or fall into silliness.  For a moment I thought it may have been the XXXXXXX  but the “items” where more mysterious and open to interpretation.
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>I was starting to like the XXXXXX once I knew they were aware of the Evil (XXXXX/Entity). I felt they were on side.  Their use of child soldiers was horrid (but totally in keeping with the DED atmosphere of pure desperation and animal fight for survival). Be interesting to see how the XXXXXX war pans out.
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>Great stuff m’man.
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>Floyd.


From: clovenfeet@hotmail.com
To: xxxxxx@hotmail.com
Subject: RE: …
Date: Mon, 13 Dec 2010 17:06:30 +0000

Well… there you have it. You’ve reached the end of DED and you’ve given it a positive endorsement. I really wasn’t certain how the whole XXXXXX would be received.  I had a niggling sense it was too out of left field, etc. The usual self-doubts but if you like it, then I’m happy and know it works.  *beams a smile*

TXXXXXX, yeah, they’re a hard bunch of MFkers, but there’s an inner core – much like within E-FIB, who know the secrets of things.  Removing the blight of creatures like XXXXXX fits into their purity-of-race ideology.  It also makes them prime candidates for recruitment / collaboration with FABIAN – Flesh & Blood Lobby Immediate Action Now.  And this will feature in the next instalment, where the civil war expands across that part of the landscape.  Next time we get together it would be fun / interesting to thrash out some of the fuzzy ideas I have forming for the next book.

Adam Kyle (God Seed) will be making a return. :o)  Via XXXXXXX.

Sending you best wishes

David


>From: xxxxxxxx@hotmail.com
>To: clovenfeet@hotmail.com
>Subject: RE: …
>Date: Mon, 13 Dec 2010 17:23:49 +0000

>The XXXXX thing was spot on, it’s not the mega monster, [but is] creepier, weirder than that.  It’s fecking clever too…..where else are they?  Big monsters are great but this thing really made the skin tingle.

>Would love to talk ideas with you for the next book – you kidding it would be an honor.

>In an ideal world  – a long weekend in the catskills, fires, whiskey….story telling.

>Floyd

So there you have it. Positive words and a long weekend of creative brainstorming (and whisky) for me to look forward to. :o)

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LULU publisher, offering FREE SHIPPING for scifi & dark fantasy novels and post-apocalyptic RPG of David J Rodger

This is part of LULU’s amazing “25 Days to Save” before Christmas.

Today’s offer is FREE SHIPPING on all my work. Just enter this discount coupon ( DEC15 ) at checkout.  Offer ends today (15th Dec) at 11.59 AM Pacific Standard Time (or 7.59pm tonight for UK peeps).

Novels by David J Rodger

Cover of God Seed, new fiction for cyberpunk horror by David J Rodger Cover for Dante's Fool, new fiction for cyberpunk horror written by David J Rodger cover for Iron Man Project, new fiction for cyberpunk thriller written by David J Rodger Cover for Edge, new fiction for cyberpunk horror written by David J Rodger cover for Dog Eat Dog, new fiction for SSF written by David J Rodger

RPG (Yellow Dawn) Products by David J Rodger

Cover of Yellow Dawn, a post-apocalyptic RPG role-playing game for cyberpunk and Cthulhu Mythos set in post-apocalypse, by David J Rodger Cover of Shadows of the Quantinex, a Yellow Dawn scenario that gives more background to Yellow Dawn, created by David J Rodger

Wishing you the very best of dark dreams

David J Rodger

Letters: Dog Eat Dog feedback – H.P.Lovecraft would be proud of you

More fan-mail and words I’m happy to share.


>From: XXXXXX@xxxxxxxx.com
>To: clovenfeet@hotmail.com
>Subject: DED
>Date: Fri, 10 Dec 2010 14:45:56 +0000
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>David,
>
>I’m speechless.
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>I’m at work so don’t have much time to chat, but I’m heading towards the end of DED.  The XXXX infiltration is about to go pear shaped with the activation of Beam Guns.  XXXXX has been introduced and was absolutely terrifying.  H P Lovecraft would be proud of you.
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>Just reached the part where XXXXX has managed to get himself kidnapped and XXXXXXX.  His gamble to get out has resulted in all enemies destroyed but he’s left surrounded by XXXXXX.   The subtle reveal of what is happening in the mind of Zeds is fascinating and brings the universe of Zombies into a new and terrifying realm.
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>Mate, this is really, really good stuff.  I’d go as far to say it’s the best Sci Fi horror I’ve read in ten years.  I can’t think of anything that beats it in terms of action, the innovative ideas per page quota is off the chain, the characters are deep and real.  Drobna is the best anti-hero in the genre.  A total bad ass, he makes Mad Max look like Stephen Fry.
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>The universe you’ve built is solid and full of surprises.  Your RPG background has really put you in good stead for taking the reader into the world, heart beating and sweaty palmed.
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>If this book doesn’t find a wider audience then there is no justice in the world.

Feedback like this really does put a smile on my face.  If you have thoughts you’d like to share, just send me an email or post a comment on my blog.

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