Mike Mollman is a charming individual graced with good looks, undeniable charisma and humility. These descriptions come straight from his keyboard, so they must be treated as unimpeachable facts. When he’s not self-aggrandizing, Mike lives in the Richmond, Virginia area with his two dogs and the many voices in his head.
First of all, tell me a little about your series and introduce us to the sequel(s).
The Protectors of Pretanni series details the struggles of the druidic order established to maintain order on the island of Pretanni. Local petty kings are more interested in fighting each other than defense against encroaching kingdoms from the mainland. The protagonist, Grahme, is a druid apprentice with a lot of potential and little self-control. Sins and Sorrows is a companion book which follows two side characters from Grahme’s travels. Both are from the Sorim kingdom and their tales take the reader through lands never visited by the druids. To Speak With Elders is the direct follow-up to book one, Becoming A Druid. Everyone knows that war is coming, and the druids are woefully unprepared. Grahme’s nephew, Figol, is half Sorim, which technically makes him an enemy, but he wants to become a druid. Grahme and Figol are tasked with establishing new allies for the order if Figol is to join the druids.
You can get copies of these books directly from here.
Do you find that most of your readers continue to read the whole series? Why do you think that is?
That’s hard to say. Both sequels have been out for eight and three months. With the sheer volume of quality books being published, it will take some time for readers to circle back to my work. However, those that have read the sequels have enjoyed the books. I think I’ve written good stories, but more time is needed for readers to weigh in on them.
How difficult is it to add new characters in a sequel into already established relationships?
Not hard at all. I developed a map for my realm before I started writing. I want to make the world feel lived-in, so I’m going to explore as much of the map as I can. Each new location demands new people with different desires, religions, and values. I try to flesh out their motivating factors and let the characters deal with the conflicts.
Is it difficult to continue with worldbuilding for a world you have already built-in book 1? Do you find it easier to switch locations for the sequel and start again with worldbuilding?
See my answer above! Some locations will be revisited multiple times. If they are revisited, I make sure it’s by a different character or for a different reason; so it can be viewed in a different light. My biggest challenge to date was describing a centaur city. There was nothing on which to base it. So, I started by researching how the nomads in Mongolia live and how centaurs were depicted in Greek mythology. Hopefully, I made intelligent choices to build up a logical, fully functioning city.
You have a really fast release schedule. How do you deal with it?
It’s periods of contemplation followed by manic weeks of writing. Starting is always the hardest. When I’m not feeling it, I try to work on the other facets, like covers and filling in my character bible and timeline. Once I’m in the middle of writing, the characters take over, often to my dismay. I feel like I have to bargain with them to get the chapter to end how I want.
You told me you are also working on a new series based on Iberia. Could you tell us more?
I set the Pretanni series in early iron age Britain. The Hiberia series will be set in the same time period. I’ve developed six distinct kingdoms and several religions for this world. I’ve delved into Spanish mythology to bring creatures into the story. I don’t have a main character or a plot yet, but I’m still two years or more away from writing this series. As far as diversity goes, Hiberia is a much wider canvas than Pretanni. Only the northern coast of Hiberia will be similar to the druid culture in Pretanni. Readers will get a taste of that coast, with Briga Kathno, a pirate city, and Isarnobriga, a newly started dwarven city in my next book, Desperate Dispatches. It’s due out in August of this year.
Have you ever been stymied by a worldbuilding or plot detail from book 1 that is very inconvenient to deal with or write your way around in subsequent books?
I wrote book two, To Speak With Elders, in fits and starts over nine months while going through the editing process of my first book. The contradictions were as numerous as they were obvious. This led me to stopping and creating a character bible, where I list every named character and a one-sentence description. Also, I put together a timeline. With seven books occurring in a three-year period in multiple locations with different protagonists, I don’t know how I could complete the series without those two files.
Do you have all the timeline planned for the full series?
I can’t write unless I know the beginning and the end, and that is true for a chapter, a book or a series. I’ve always known that the series will end with a cataclysmic battle for control of the island. Knowing the destination when writing is imperative to me. For the next three books, I’m fairly confident they will be released on time. Book 2.5, Desperate Dispatches, is due out this summer. Books three, Becoming A King, and 3.5, Preparing For War, should be out next year in early summer and winter. Of them all, I’m most nervous about the final book (The Return Of Loris). Nothing is worse than an underwhelming ending. This may be pushed to early 2025, if I need the time to craft a satisfactory conclusion.
Do you have any marketing tips for sequels?
My number one piece of advice is to have a newsletter. If people are dedicated enough to sign up, they will most likely be the first ones to buy your new book. Sign up for my newsletter at https://linktr.ee/mikemollman. (Sorry, I couldn’t not add this). Beyond that, I know a lot about what not to do. I am one author in a sea of fantasy authors. The struggle is always getting your work noticed. I do giveaways of my first book (and sometimes the sequels) fairly often. Last year I started interacting with Booktubers, and they introduced me to the world of Discord servers devoted to indie authors. Of course, I advertise (not well) on Amazon and Facebook. Finally, I go to Comic Cons and pitch my book to hundreds of people. This is where I sometimes make money. Now that I’m repeating venues, I’ve had people come up to me and tell me how much they liked the first book. It’s humbling that my work can have that kind of effect on someone, but it also sends a jolt of electricity through me every time. There is no one silver bullet for success. There is so much to learn on the marketing side. I know next to nothing about Booktok or Booksagram. I also need to learn how to craft better ads for Amazon and Facebook and on and on. But, I can only do so much. It’s more important to focus on what you can do well rather than try to do everything poorly.