Some Thoughts with … Jim Wilbourne

1 Oct 2022

The Author/s

Jim Wilbourne

Jim Wilbourne

Jim Wilbourne is a creative at heart. If he’s not writing a novel, he’s writing and recording a song, or once again trying to learn how to draw. When he’s not working on the next project, he spends his free time working on another project. He totally has a life. Jim lives in the deep south with his wife and son and doesn’t miss the snow at all.

The Interview

Welcome to another episode of Some Thoughts with… Today we are accompanied by Jim Wilbourne, author at Emergent Realms, whose book The Seventh Cadence we are reviewing. Soon there will be another book from him, Strangers in the Promised Land.

Let’s dive in!

1.- What made you decide to go self-publishing/indie publishing for The Seventh Cadence?

I first started writing fiction in high school, and after I started writing again, I looked into what I’d need to get published. At first, I buckled down for a lengthy query process, but when I learned about self-publishing, I almost immediately decided to go that route. I’d been an independent musician for years, and it seemed very natural to go this route. I thought that many of the same skills I had to cultivate over the years would directly translate, and I loved the idea of focusing on connecting to and selling directly to readers instead of to bookstores. Perhaps one day, I’ll work with a larger publisher, but for right now, I like this process best.

2.- The Seventh Cadence is a really long book, from an author’s perspective, all of this was planned, or did you just let the words flow?

It was planned. I’m the kind of fantasy reader who gravitates to the biggest book on the shelf. I like having a long experience that gives the story time to unfold carefully and a plot that doesn’t quite rush to the finish line. I wanted to write a book that allowed its readers to spend as much time with the characters and world as I could without slowing the pace to a standstill.

3.- Let’s talk a little about the whole process of publishing, which aspects would you say become the more difficult for you?

The biggest part of publishing is writing a book that meets or exceeds a quality threshold. That’s probably the most difficult part of the process, but is also the part that can be most fun if you love the act of creation. After the book is complete, finding people to read it is the hard part. There are a lot of books out there, and so many of them are great. Releasing a book into a niche that is already well-serviced means you either need to have a book so good that people can’t stop talking about it or you have to get very clever and scrappy in your marketing.

I tried to do a mix of both. I wrote the best book I could write for my skill level, then tried to do a lot of experimentation on how to put it in the hands of the right people. There’s no simple answer for what will work, but you often will have to try a variety of things to see what gives you the most results for the money and time invested.

4.- Your worldbuilding is really ambitious, establishing almost all of Continua in the first book of saga, could you tell us a little bit more about it? Any trick/advice about it for aspiring writers?

Like many authors, I did a fair amount of worldbuilding ahead of time. I approached this book intending to create a world that was big and robust enough to support as many books and characters as I wanted to add to it. It’s tricky to do this because it’s easy to build forever and never actually write anything.

I believe I built just a bit more than needed before I started writing, giving myself a bit of room to create some elements on the fly as I wrote the story. As I wrote, I noted what elements I built in the moment or which needed to be expanded on.

If you’re just getting started, I’d recommend building just enough to get you started. This will help you to resist the urge to info-dump unneeded information just because you’d worked so hard on it. After the book is complete, feel free to build out some more, but be careful not to go back to insert anything that’s extraneous.

On the other hand, a careful sprinkling of detail and worldbuilding across the story can do a lot to help the world feel vast and lived in. One of the primary feelings you’re trying to evoke in SFF stories is a sense of wonder. Giving the reader this feeling is important. Too little, and the story feels as though its world is shallow. Too much, and the story will feel either like an encyclopedia entry, or worse, the story’s momentum will stall.

5.- The concept of dragons here is quite original, how did you imagine them?

Writing about dragons is a tricky thing these days. On one hand, they’re one of our most beloved fantasy creatures. On the other hand, they’ve been done so frequently that they can feel tired when the author doesn’t have something new to add to their lore, and that lore has been explored so many times that it’s difficult to find your own space. In this story, I wanted to create something familiar but had a distinctive flavor. I knew that if I could do that, I could give the reader a sense of wonder with an element that could easily feel mundane at this point.

Their imagining started with looking at how they’d been depicted in many stories that had come before me, then I took some of those ideas and flipped them on their head. What if the dragons weren’t old things, but new? What if the characteristics normally associated with dragons were different or even the opposite? How do I combine all of that with the world I’ve built? Those questions led to how I envisioned the dragons in The Continua Chronicles.

6.- Strangers in the Promised Land is published at the end of October, what can you tell us about it?

The story comes in at a much shorter page count that The Seventh Cadence, but it’s still a fantastic little story. It follows two of the characters from the first novel on a side quest that occurs between Books 1 and 2. It’s tense and suspenseful and gives the reader more information about what’s going on than any of the characters have on their own, which adds a different approach to enjoyment compared to the first novel.

7.- Could you talk to us a little bit more about why you decided to publish with Emergent Realms?

Emergent Realms is an indie publishing house that I built with another author/editor for us to release our books with. We recently added another author to the team, and we’d love to work with more authors as we are prepared to take on new projects. If you’re interested in working with us, shoot us a line. It’s like self-publishing but with many more of the perks of having a traditional deal when it comes to cost.

8.- Which authors would you say are your biggest influences?

Robert Jordan, Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman, Brandon Sanderson, Becky Chambers, and Frank Herbert are all easy to point to as influences.

9.- What can we expect from Jim Wilbourne in the future?

More books, the occasional rock/metal song, and whatever else my wife lets me get away with.

10.- Is there somebody you would like to shout out for helping you or for being a support to you?

Andrew’s Wizardly Reads and Dominish Books on YouTube were both big parts of helping my book get in front of a lot of people who were willing to give me a shot.

Debzi Overstreet (@the_bookwyrms_bookshelf), Chelsea Semonco (@jupiterdropsco), Alex (@alexbetweenpages), Aniko (@bookaholicqueen), and Alyssa (@nerdynursereads) have been a fantastic help over on Instagram.

And on Twitter, John (@J0hnADouglas) has been ride-or-die level supportive to me and many other up-and-coming indie authors.

My editors and beta readers also deserve a shoutout as well.