Welcome everyone. I’m Ramon Mejia from the LitRPG Podcast. I recently had the opportunity to correspond with one of my favorite LitRPG authors, Justin Miller. He’s successfully published four LitRPG novels on Amazon:
The Dive: Birth of a Wordsmith (http://amzn.to/2hOwNsv)
The Dive: Birth of a Hero (http://amzn.to/2im9Iu6)
World Seed: Game Start (http://amzn.to/2hxCCHR)
World Seed: New Rules (http://amzn.to/2i18708) .
He also has several series online with his most recent being World Keeper. (https://royalroadl.com/fiction/7509)
Over the course of a week I’ve asked Justin a number of questions and he was nice enough to respond with funny and interesting responses. He’s even taken some questions from his reader.
Thank you for writing with me Justin Miller.
Q: Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
A: There’s really not much to tell. I’m a 24 year old bum that went to college for video game design. After getting a Bachelor’s Degree in that, I discovered that I had health problems that would prevent me from living alone anywhere that I could actually get a job in that field.
Q: What are your ambitions for your writing career?
A: Honestly? Paying the bills would be nice. I could care less about being famous, but bills are the demon that plague all of mankind. While it may not be my goal for writing in general, it’s my ambition for the career part of it.
Q: Which writers inspire you?
A: Warhawx and LionsDeathDealer from royalroadl.com inspired my first story on that site, World Seed. Awesome writers, and great people.
Q: So, what have you written?
A: My first actual attempt at writing anything big was The Dive, which then proceeded to sit on my google docs page for two years before seeing the light of day… I also have written the majority of the World Seed story, and am nearing the end of that one.
Q: Where can we buy or see them?
A: So far, both volumes of The Dive are available on Amazon, as well as the first two volumes of World Seed. Each book is $3.99, though The Dive is free to anyone with a Kindle Unlimited account.
Q: Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special?
A: This depends on which story you are talking about. However, all of my stories start out with the main character in generally the same situation. That is, they are completely normal. They don’t have special martial arts training, hidden magic powers, or anything like that. They are the kind of people that you could pass on the street and never spare them a glance.
With my stories, I like to think of what would happen if a completely ordinary person was thrown into an unlikely situation. While they may become overpowered over time, it is only due to fortunate encounters and clever thinking.
For instance, my main character from The Dive, Jin was simply a gamer that was taking writing lessons before becoming trapped in his latest game. Thanks to some rather intensive studies and lucky insights, he gained access to a power that set him on the way to being powerful.
On the other hand, John Hulett in World Seed was someone who actually played games for a living. He would be one of those hateful gold farmers that spends all his time grinding items and money in a game just to sell it off later. But, when the new hit game gets a little too real, he might be just crazy enough to get ahead of the competition.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: Right now, I am working on two stories. One, the aforementioned World Seed, and the other is a story called World Keeper.
Q: What’s it about?
A: World Keeper is a story about a man who killed god… by running him over with a delivery truck. Look, he was tired, it was dark out, totally not his fault. Anyways, after killing the lord and saviour, the world itself comes to an end. Dale, the unlucky driver of the truck, finds himself the only person left in existence. Due to forcefully inheriting the position of the previous Keeper after running him over, he has to recreate Earth from scratch as he sees fit.
Once the world becomes advanced enough, he will be forced to compete with other Keepers and their worlds in life or death battles. So naturally, he doesn’t want to slack off raising a powerful world. However, this story also shows the world itself as it develops from the earliest ages.
As this story is not just about a single character, but an entire world, it is hard to limit it to a single series. As such, in the future I plan to write a side-story series for it, known as Keeper’s Worlds. This series will focus on specific people that appear throughout history in Dale’s worlds, those that the readers can’t watch purely through his perspective.
Q: What genre are your books?
A: I’m sure that this probably comes as a huge shock to people, but I am a LitRPG writer. Aside from that, I like to mix in fantasy and sci-fi as well.
Q: What draws you to this genre?
A: Games are fun. Does there need to be any more reason than that? Also, the whole ‘Bachelor’s Degree in Game Design’ makes LitRPG stories much more interesting to me.
Q: How much research do you do?
A: As much as is needed to at least look like I know what I’m talking about. Google is my best friend.
Q: When did you decide to become a writer?
A: November of 2014
Q: Why do you write?
A: Originally, because I was bored out of my mind. I went on a reading binge for over a month, going through at least two books a day until I ran out. Once I couldn’t find anything else interesting to read, I got bored and began writing. Thus, The Dive came into being. Within two months, I had finished the first book, and two months later the second was done.
After writing The Dive, I walked away from writing for a while, mostly because I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do next. Originally, The Dive was meant to be a 4 part series. However, after Book 2’s ending, what I had planned for Book 3 seemed too forced. Jin was already at the top tier of power, and continuing from there didn’t feel right. So, I stopped writing for over a year, until I went on another reading binge nearly a month later.
After this binge, I started writing World Seed, and have been writing fairly consistently since then. Back to the original question, the reason I write so much now isn’t exactly out of boredom(though boredom helps). Instead, it’s because I like to create these new worlds and share them with everyone. Also, sometimes I just get that itch in the back of my brain that won’t go away until I write for a while. Totally normal, right?
Q: What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
A: I think I accidentally answered that in the above question. TL:DR? Boredom.
Q: Do you write full-time or part-time?
A: When I first started The Dive and World Seed, I could be considered to write full time. I would write at least one chapter every day, at least five days a week. This lasted for I think around a hundred chapters into World Seed, where I started to feel burnt out. Ever since then, I’ve slowed down to only write when the mood hits me, to prevent the quality of the stories from falling.
Q: Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
A: You can structure your days? I usually just throw all the pieces together in a cup and shake it up, then see what comes out.
Q: Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?
A: Do people still own typewriters? PC master race.
Q: Where do your ideas come from?
A: The same place that I hope everyone’s ideas come from, their head. If people get ideas from other sources, I fear for their sanity. Then again, I fear for my own sanity.
Q: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
A: Outline? What that? I find it best not to try to tell the story what’s going to happen. A lot of the times, the story has its own plans for what it wants. It’s best to just play along, like walking a big dog.
Q: What is the hardest thing about writing?
A: Character descriptions. I am clueless about fashion, social situations, and people in general! The amount of times I have had to look up names for certain types of clothing or hairstyles would likely add up to be more than every other bit of research I’ve done combined.
Q: What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
A: See above. Clothes hard, yo.
Q: What is the easiest thing about writing?
A: Accepting that I have absolutely no control over the story, and just begging it to let me put in occasional tidbits of foreshadowing or funny references while it runs wild.
Q: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
A: Pre-burn - One or two months. Post-burn, probably 3-5 months. I haven’t kept track.
Q: Do you ever get writer’s Block?
A: Absolutely not. I have all the blocks stored off to the side, and they transformed into a Writer’s Wall. It is much more terrifying, because it just crashes down on me when it is the least convenient. Like right when I feel like writing.
Q: Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
A: Bring a pick-axe. Also, one thing that’s worked for me a couple times is to visualize what you’ve written so far as if it were a movie. Then, when you get to the part you left off, stop trying to think about it. Just let the movie play out as if you were sitting on the couch munching popcorn. Last time I did that, I spent the entire day writing.
Q: If this book is part of a series, tell us a little about it?
A: ALL THE SERIES!
The Dive- Story about Jin, a man trapped in his latest game, doing his best to live life casually and doing so just a bit too well. What sort of trouble can he get into? Well, all of it.
World Seed- Story about John, a man who starts playing a game that becomes a little too real. Dealing with gods and nature, learning the secrets of the universe, and meeting strange people on a regular basis.
World Keeper- Story about Dale, a man who becomes a god, and has to do his best to remake Earth. But wait, there’s more! The Earth he makes has several different fantasy races, each with their own cultures and gods. This side of the story focuses on Dale, while the side-story Keeper’s Worlds will focus on… everyone else in the world!
Q: What are your thoughts on writing a book series.
A: It’s not for everyone. But if you’re going to do it, make sure you have an idea about the ultimate conclusion of the story. It helps.
Q: Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors.
A: Jim Butcher is love, Jim Butcher is life. Aside from him, because Dresden Files are just epic, there are plenty of authors on royalroadl.com that write great stories. Apart from Warhawx and LionsDeathDealer that I mentioned before, there is also Xacual, Exterminatus, and emeraldgem.
Q: For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
A: PC master race.
Q: What book/s are you reading at present?
A: Mostly stories by the above favorite authors.
Q: How are you publishing this book and why?
A: I hope I’m not publishing other people’s work. That would infringe on some copyright laws. As for my own books, I publish them via Amazon… because bills suck. Honestly, I would have been happy not publishing World Seed on Amazon and leaving it purely free on royalroadl.com, but bills.
Q: What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
A: I honestly couldn’t say… because I’ve never been officially published by anyone(not counting Amazon because that’s still self-publishing).
Q: How do you market your books?
A: I want to say it was an intentional marketing strategy, but that’d be a lie. While I was letting The Dive gather dust in my google docs folder and writing World Seed, I built up a steady group of readers. I feel like that helped immensely when it came time to publish, as I already had people that liked to read my stories.
Q: Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?
A: Get people interested! The more people you have interested when your first book goes up, the better it will be.
Q: What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?
A: ...I feel like this is a trick question, given that my aforementioned marketing strategy was to write on a free website and gather dedicated readers. So… all of it?
Q: What do you do to get book reviews?
A: Writers gotta write.
Q: How successful has your quest for reviews been so far?
A: The NPC that gave out the quest ran off before I could turn it in, so I guess I better just keep going until I find him again.
Questions From the Audience
Russell Ventimeglia asks: When are the next installments of his books coming?
Q: ETA on the publication of World Keeper, and World Seed Vol. 3?
A: I can't be sure on the first one, as I haven't finished writing it on royalroadl.com. It has a really long first book. As for World Seed Vol. 3, I have finished writing it, but will likely wait until February to publish it. If I remember right, there are roughly seventy or so chapters in that volume, so it will take quite a bit of time to go back and format it all. Originally, the chapters were typed up in BBC code to match the format of royalroadl.com, but they recently changed their system to make it easier to import. So, I have to go through and edit all the old chapters to make it look pretty. I doubt anyone would want to read a bunch of code in their books.
Jay Taylor asks: Will the story for the dive continue, It felt like it ended a bit abruptly and I have heard the words finished in some of the comments about the series
A: Yay! Someone called it The Dive, instead of the Wordsmith series!! I think that's the first time I've seen that distinction anywhere! But, to answer the question, I'm not sure. I can't entirely say no, but at the moment I have no plans of it.
Ardel Richardson asks: The first and second book have such a different feel with the first book brilliant and the second ....a bit rushed. Does the author feel happy with his second book or would he consider revising it in the future.
A: Honestly, I spent longer on the second book than I did the first one. I wrote them both fairly quickly, but I had always planned for there to be more volumes of The Dive after the second. In the third volume, I had planned for Jin and his team to cross the vast oceans and visit other continents, where other types of powers would be prevalent such as taoist magic. But, in the end, that book felt forced. Jin was already at an apex of power, and any mechanic that would lower his abilities down to make it competitive would be too forced. There is a chance I might revisit it in the future, but I would not bet on it.
Stephen Whitmark asks: When is he going audible?
A: I honestly wouldn't have the slightest idea how to do that. I looked at the audible website when someone mentioned it on the author's page, before that forum was taken down. But, I did not see anything about how to submit your own book to be made into an audiobook.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
Q: Oh, and here is the pudding you requested.
A: GET IN MAH BELLY!
Q: How can readers discover more about you and you work?
A: Go to www.royalroadl.com and search for stories by karami92… But don’t forget to buy the books when they come out on Amazon, please! Bills suck!
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01N99E8U8
Smashwords: Hulk smash puny words?
The Dive: Birth of a Wordsmith - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01JOC3G82
The Dive: Birth of a Hero - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N4D3B9W
World Seed: Game Start - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01JQAEM6C
World Seed: New Rules - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MQCKZ6H
The Dive: Birth of a Wordsmith - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31347653-the-dive?from_search=true
The Dive: Birth of a Hero - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33349611-the-dive?from_search=true
World Seed: Game Start - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31352846-world-seed?from_search=true
World Seed: New Rules - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32856206-world-seed?from_search=true
Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.