Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Armen Pogharian. As odd as it may sound, people misspell my first name more often than my last one. I guess they just focus on what they think is the harder of the two. As for my age, I’m 52. Old enough to remember the ‘60s and young enough not to have forgotten them.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I grew up in Virginia outside of Washington DC when it was still possible to find country roads without traffic and houses for less than a king’s ransom. I served in the USAF for 5 years, with most of my time just outside of Boston. I’ve lived in eight different states and at one time moved so often that my relatives probably thought I was in some sort of witness protection program. However, for the last eleven years I’ve lived just outside of Rochester, NY.
Fiona: A little about yourself (i.e., your education, family life, etc.).
I have a BS in Electrical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (say that fast three times) and an MBA from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (another mouthful). My wife and I own five franchised hair salons and I’m an assistant swim coach at the local YMCA. We have a son and daughter in high school and another son in college. All three are avid musicians and readers – both activities are almost like vices with them.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
The Necrotic Knight, the fourth book in The Warder series was just released in paperback in mid-November. In December and January I’m doing career day presentations at several local middle schools. Also on December 12th I’ll be giving my first radio interview with Carly McCraken at Crimson Cloak Publishing. You can find the live link or if you miss it a recording of the interview will be at http://main.crimsoncloakpublishing.com/crimson-cloak-radio.html.
As far as books, I’ve created an outline and written some verse for the next book in The Warders. I expect to finish writing in a few months and release the ebook version in the summer.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always had an interest in doing something creative. First, I tried painting. I enjoyed it, but there were only so many walls in back rooms or behind doors where my wife would agree to hang my paintings. Then to encourage my children who loved reading but didn’t like writing, I tried writing. One late night I slipped down into our basement and wrote about 5,000 words based on an update to the Arthurian myth. Basically, I took the Welsh origins of the myth and underpinned them with String Theory and changed the Arthur character to a girl. When I shared it with my children, they loved it and I was hooked. To be fair, I think less than half of those words made it to the published version, but nearly half a million words later I’m still writing.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I once read a Stephen King interview where he said anyone who pays the electric bill with money from selling their work is a writer. So, while you might have to turn down the heat and dim the lights to keep under budget, the first time I received a royalty check I considered myself an author.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
As I mentioned above I always had a drive to be creative. It just took me a little time to figure out how to best express it.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I was looking for a word to describe the intersection of String Theory and the Welsh origins of Arthurian legend. Of course, there aren’t any. So, I decided to go with a compound title representing the series and the specific part of the story. The series title, Misaligned, refers to people who are misaligned with our universe – they’re able to interact with the extra dimensions required by String Theory. The second part of the title refers to a key element or theme from each story.
The Warder series, a James Bond-like adventure in a high fantasy setting, is named after the secret society of Warders that protects the Kingdom of Eridan. The Necrotic Knight’s title refers to the chief antagonist of the story. The alliteration in all of my titles started as a coincidence, but somehow evolved into a requirement. It makes titling the books harder, but what’s life without a challenge. Besides it amuses my children.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I don’t know that I really have a style. That said, each of my stories features a multi-threaded delivery, which always include scenes from all sides of the tale. It’s not particularly unique, but it does help me build tension and hold the reader’s attention. The most challenging thing for me is getting started. While I consider myself a panster, I do create a 1-2 page outline before I start writing. For whatever reason, that outline takes almost as long to write as the full story. On the plus side, I have been able to use some of the discarded outline ideas in later stories.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I write YA fantasy, so I need the reader to suspend their disbelief to enjoy the story – especially in the Misaligned series, which is in a contemporary setting. To that end everything that’s not ‘fantastic’ needs to be realistic. I like to mix my characters’ normal lives (school, swim team, social lives – sorry for the alliteration) into the story both for realism and for contrast.
I’m also a bit of a history nerd. So, there’s a lot of accurate history in the Misaligned books. As a straight-up fantasy story, the Warders, has fewer restrictions. I still do a good bit of research, especially for the naval descriptions and battles.
While I do use my own experiences to shape some of the events, such as the swimming scenes in Misaligned and the white-water scenes in the third Warders books. Nothing is specifically intended to depict real people or events.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
No, for better or worse, I can find most of what I need through the internet.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My publisher provides a cover artist, who works with me. My first three books were all done by Laura Redmond, but she was unavailable for the second Warders book, The Counterfeit Count. That cover was done by Jennifer Givner (https://acapellabookcoverdesign.weebly.com/). I liked her work so much that I asked to redo the cover for The Poisoned Princess and she’s done my covers since.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
One of my biggest pet peeves in school was when teachers asked me to describe what a book meant to me or perhaps to the author. Of course, they weren’t looking for that at all, they wanted me to regurgitate what some ‘experts’ decided the book meant. I’m not saying there isn’t a place for that, but I resented the devaluing of alternative interpretation.
Each of my books means something to me, but I don’t expect it to mean the same thing to my readers. I’m not a philosopher. I’m an author. The point of my books is to entertain. When the reader closes the book or turns off their e-reader and wants to read more, then I’ve succeeded.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I was not much of a reader as a young child, but that all changed when I read The Hobbit. From there I moved into other fantasy and science fiction books. Tolkien was a big influence on me as were many other giants of the sci-fi/fantasy genre, but I wouldn’t say that any were really mentors. That term implies a special relationship between mentor and student. I obviously didn’t enjoy any such relationship with them. If I really had to pick a mentor, I’d lean toward two of my teachers. Mrs. Windt, my fifth-grade teacher sparked my initial interest and Mr. Taylor, a high school teacher, gave me a solid foundation.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Misaligned had been rejected by dozens of agents. Fortunately, my dating life had prepared me well for rejection. Even so, I was just about to give up on it. I decided to get one more opinion before calling it a day. I searched the internet for an editor and found Rosanne Cornbrooks Catalano. She was a perfect fit, a big publishing background, a focus on YA fantasy, and a working knowledge of Welsh. With her help I edited my initial MS down from 110K words to 80K and received two small-press contract offers. Other important supporters include my current publisher Debi Staples and fellow Synergebooks (http://synergebooks.com/index.html) authors Karen Vance Hammond and Dana Davis, but without Rosanne, I might have given up.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
From the amount of time I invest in it, yes, it’s a career. However, at this point it’s not going to support my family and that’s okay. I didn’t get into this to get rich.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I think few authors, at least in fiction, are ever really satisfied with their work. I’m sure when I turn my attention to the next Warders book there will be a few things I’d like to change in the earlier stories. It’s just part of the process. Some of the little things that make me most proud are my solutions to quirks caused by earlier stories. It’s all good.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Patience. Even in today’s faster-paced internet world, writing, publishing and reaching customers takes patience.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
As much as it would flatter me to have big name actors portray characters from my books, I’d rather have new faces playing the lead roles. As a relatively “undiscovered” author, if my books ever make it to the big screen I’d like to give a break to a few other unknown talents. That said, I’d be happy for a few more well-known stars to play supporting roles or voice characters if the story is animated.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Feedback is like gold – never turn it down and always thank the giver, even if you don’t like what they have to say.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Just thank you for taking a chance on an unknown author. I’m grateful for your faith in me. If it’s not too much to ask, I would really appreciate it if you would write a review or just drop me a note.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I have trouble reading novels once I begin actively writing, but I just finished two science fiction books. Firebird by Jack McDevitt and Saturn Run by John Sandford and Ctein. I love the way McDevitt mixes science fiction and history into his stories. Sandford and Ctein basically wrote a mystery thriller on top of a hard science foundation set fifty years in the future.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
No, I’m afraid I don’t, but I do remember that I loved Curious George. I lost the one where he goes in space (Curious George Gets a Medal?) and had to buy it from the library for $1. That was a lot of money for a first-grader. On a positive note, it became the first book I bought with my own money. I guess it worked out in the end.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
If I’m in the right mood I can laugh at almost anything. I don’t cry often, and movies, songs and books rarely elicit tears. Once a scene or lyric touches me that way though, it sticks with me – even years later. I also find that smells or aromas evoke strong memories, both happy and less so.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
One’s a bit limiting. If I wanted an interesting dinner conversation, I’d lean toward Mark Twain or perhaps Benjamin Franklin. Both have a reputation for quick retorts, and while I probably couldn’t keep up, but I’d enjoy trying.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
In the past year I’ve taken up the ukulele. While I’m not what you would call a natural, I have learned a few songs. I’m most proud of being able to play a decently true arrangement of Here Comes the Sun by the Beatles. I can’t sing and play together, but perhaps that’s for the best. I also continue to swim several times a week. My goal is to swim 500K yards (a little less than 300 miles) every year. On my birthday, I do an interval set (on the 1:30 for you swimmers out there) of one 100 for every orbit I’ve completed. I do lots of other things, too, but I wouldn’t call them hobbies. To be quite honest, I’m a rather boring home-body who enjoys spending time with my family.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Other than an occasional sporting event I don’t watch much first run TV. We have an Amazon Prime account. I’m currently working my way through I Spy featuring Robert Culp and Bill Cosby. I really enjoy their banter and the general vibe of the show.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I like pizza, most Italian and barbeque. My favorite colors are green and blue. I like lots of music, especially classic rock (60s/70s), some English folk (Pentangle), and early alternative groups (e.g., REM). In the past year I’ve enjoyed seeing Martin Barre (the guitarist from Jethro Tull) with members of my family.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I’d like to believe that I’d eventually find my way to writing. If for some reason I couldn’t write, then maybe a teacher or perhaps a musician. Either way, I’d have a story to tell.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
I’ll leave that up to those I leave behind. After all, they’re the ones who will see it. As far as a legacy, my books and those I’ve encountered will have to be sufficient.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Social Media Links:
Website – http://www.armenpogharian.com/
Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/AuthorArmenPogharian/
Publisher’s Page for Misaligned – http://synergebooks.com/ebook_misaligned.html
Publisher’s Page for The Warders – http://synergebooks.com/ebook_poisonedprincess.html