Stеp into thе еnchanting world of Brandon Baltes, an author whosе crеativе journеy bеgan long bеforе hе could еvеn hold a pеn. In this еxclusivе intеrviеw, wе еxplorе thе origins of his writеrly aspirations, thе litеrary influеncеs that havе shapеd his craft, and thе dеpths of darknеss that dеfinе his captivating “Thе Fallеn and Thе Risеn” sеriеs.
Brandon’s uniquе pеrspеctivе on thе human condition and his fascination with thе intеrplay bеtwееn light and shadow manifеst vividly in his dark fantasy novеls. As you journеy through this intеrviеw, you’ll gain profound insights into his storytеlling philosophy, charactеr еvolution, and thе intricatе rulеs of thе aftеrlifе that undеrpin his sеriеs.
Prеparе to bе transportеd into a world whеrе еvеry dеcision, еvеry momеnt, and еvеry hеartbеat mattеrs, as wе uncovеr thе еnigmatic allurе of thе aftеrlifе and thе moral landscapеs within his books. Brandon Baltes invitеs rеadеrs to confront thеir own shadows and еmеrgе transformеd.
Balancing chaos and ordеr, crеativity and structurе, Brandon sharеs thе sеcrеts of his writing procеss and offеrs invaluablе advicе for budding authors еmbarking on thеir own litеrary odyssеy. As you dеlvе dееpеr into this intеrviеw, you’ll comе to apprеciatе thе profound impact of his work on rеadеrs and thе lеssons of undеrstanding that liе at its corе.
Join us on this litеrary advеnturе, as wе еxplorе thе mind and imagination of Brandon Baltes, an author whosе words illuminatе thе darkеst cornеrs of thе human еxpеriеncе, lеaving rеadеrs with a profound sеnsе of undеrstanding and a thirst for morе.
But First, Who is Brandon Baltes?
Brandon Baltes is on a mission to conquer the world. Wand in hand, he shall gallop across the land atop his steed, mystors thudding in his wrists, armor glinting in the sunlight, wind swishing through his beautiful hair. The women will swoon. The men will follow. And forward will Brandon go on his conquest to glory. The only question: Will you follow him, or be trampled by him?
In Short, Brandon Baltes is As Mysterious as his writings are.
Brandon Baltes’s Books
- Could you share a bit about your journey as a writer? What inspired you to become an author, and how did you start your writing career?
I’ve always thrived in the space of writing, even as an infant. When I couldn’t write my ideas, my mother did. I’d speak the words, and she’d type them into Microsoft Word. I remember no significant passage, paragraph, or even theme from those early works, though my mother saved them so I could reacquaint myself with them when the time became right. As for the inspiration to write later in life and just then, I simply think the writerly drive comes from what all great things come from—a fascination about the human condition, and perhaps a desire to see what stretches and what does not.
- Are there any authors, books, or external influences that have had a significant impact on your writing style or the themes you explore in your books?
“An author is only as good as the first few authors he looks up to are”—sad but true, I believe. The authors who most influenced my style, personal philosophies, and more, are the following: Brandon Sanderson (specifically Mistborn, and the deeper, more biblically and contemporarily-relevant TheWay of Kings and Words of Radiance, both of which are masterpieces whose power and weight I’ve yet to see replicated in any facet of human art), Joe Abercrombie’s First Law, George R.R. Martin’s written works and visual productions pertaining to ASOIAF, Sapkowski’s The Witcher series, and Stephen King, my favorite work of his being The Shining without a runner up. I recommend all these books to any human up to the tall task of understanding villains and heroes (and not in the way they taught you at school:), or simply for enjoyment!
- Your books are categorized as dark fantasy. Could you share what drew you to this genre, and how do you think it enhances the storytelling in “The Fallen and The Risen” series?
In life, I’ve found that enjoying a second or two in heaven is impossible without living a day or two in hell, venerably. Thus, the best way for me to convey many of life’s lessons is to draw them over the page slowly, in shades of every color, not just one or two, as great and for however masterfully Tolkien and Rowling did. Much of this philosophy comes from Martin, admittedly, as he loves to describe in his interviews his characters as “morally gray and specifically not black and white.” Though I find this phrasing overused and often misunderstood these days, the core idea Martin struck gold with is true, in my opinion.
That is precisely why I put my characters (and sometimes my readers) through hell, hence the darkness in the “dark fantasy” I write. See, sometimes to activate what lies within, one must glimpse what’s really inside the abyss. To my mother, recently, I simplified the idea like this, “Through the eyes of the abyss one’s humanity reflects or redirects.” Within the choice to see only one’s reflection—in the sick shadow of one’s own abyss—or to see it for what it is and to be changed (redirected) is something like the nature of all humans; struggle, change, and growth. Therefore, we mustn’t turn our gaze from the darkest crevice crawling with you know what’s, or you know who’s, or whatever might lurk in the shadow (like monsters, or whatever quintessential evil appears in epic or otherwise dark fantasy).
For the recognition of and the facing of the abyss is vital to the hero’s (or whoever, or whatever might arise) birth, journey, and existence altogether.
In a word, and more concretely, I write dark fantasy as opposed to epic fantasy because I believe many of us humans have grown a tad too complacent with comfort. The 21st century loves to provide comfort, and we love it too. The best analogy is perhaps the modern shower: In a first world country, one might be able to turn the water up to warm, so that not even one second of the experience is uncomfortable. But (and one mustn’t ever forget this) hell is always uncool, and remaining a hot-shower-enjoyer is the figurative and literal opposite of standing up to one’s own abyss (standing up to one’s own shadow/abyss in this analogy is obviously that which you and I both fear—the cold shower, the freezing cold that chills and kills, that makes us shudder, in spirit, body, and mind).
Darkness is vital to everything The Fallen and the Risen is to me. As we see through the series, it’s very easy to dislike someone who stands up to something. It’s much harder, however, to dislike that same someone after you understand why they stood in the first place. Personally, I believe the darkness veining villains and heroes alike enhance everything this series stands for. After all, heroes can only stand amid evil.
- As the series progresses, how do you see the characters evolving and growing? Are there any character arcs or developments that stand out to you?
Unfortunately, I can say little about a few particularly interesting character arcs, given the timing of this interview and the release of the third and final installment of the series. I can say, though, that great triumphing never comes easily. In fact I think the word triumph and easily hate each other. I can also say that every advantage comes with a disadvantage.
Perhaps my third book seeks to answer some of the questions fantasy fans have wrestled with for their entire adult lives.
I will also say that I’ve often felt surreal connections with certain characters in “normal” aspects of my life, like exercise, personal growth, and maturation. Still, I must apologize to any lore-seeking fans for keeping my tongue tied about the juicy Verelyn-versus-Farfidious and similar phenomena, but rest assured as I can hereby promise a release similar to my previous pattern—a book within a year of the last’s release. Although, I will note, this third book could easily grow to be my largest.
- The concept of the afterlife plays a central role in your series. What inspired you to explore this theme, and how did you go about creating the rules and dynamics of the afterlife in your world?
I view the afterlife, at this point in the series, as a place wreathed in as much creative nuance as deliberate mystery, and so I cannot reveal the most interesting colors yet to be painted upon the coming pages, for even some of those haven’t been revealed to me. The concept of the afterlife, however, is integral to everything the series stands for.
The belief that every second, decision, and change matters in the end—after all is said and done—is an older idea than your grandparents’ ages combined. It boils down to morality, often, for my characters, and the decisions they’ll make or not make in the afterlife. I wanted to explore afterlife themes because of an interest about . . . basic human morality, we could say. A more scientific and brash route might posit, however, that: My fascination of the human condition all but forces me to explore places otherwise deemed unsafe, or uncool. Let us say that I explore many of the darker avenues through the pages. And let us also say that I do not generally strive to create rigid rules about my series, as my writing style tilts slightly toward the “gardener” school, as I learned initially from George R.R. Martin (the duality of writing schools explained here).
I like to think the rules and dynamics of the afterlife in my series are more defined by life lessons than creative impulses, so that perspective might allow one thousand people to have one thousand vastly different imaginations, dreams, and/or visions of the afterlife, or a character, or something as seemingly-meaningless as name pronunciations.
- Writing a fantasy series requires a lot of creativity. How do you balance the creative aspects of world-building and storytelling with the need for structure and consistency in your writing?
The cultivation of this skill is best leveled-up through—in my opinion—revision. In my experience, nothing comes close to beating revision, not even reading, though it can boost you higher, like an optimal diet’s effect on an aspiring Olympic athlete. Moreover, I’d like to get more specific about this writerly skill, because no one I’ve come across has actually coined a term for it. I figure, since balancing chaos and order in the literary sense is so vital to any writer (chaos and order being equivalent to “creative aspects” [versus/and] “structure and consistency”), we should probably have a name for it. I’d not mind seeing this skill called Writer IQ, or Writer’s IQ, or something along these lines.
Anyway, a writer’s IQ is comprised/based on a series of amazing pathways in the brain, with neurons like the grandest of trees, synapses like the most beautiful and most diverse leaves, and nerves that run deep like caverns old and dungeons deep (here’s a free and limitless source of creativity to any aspiring fantasy writers, BTW—and make sure you have an ad blocker, obviously:). Although everyone’s brain has trees and what not, not everyone’s neural pathways are shaped in the same ways. Some people may score 84 on a normal IQ test, and not exactly burst into creative outbursts when it comes to the ’ol pen and paper.
However, put the same person through musical and literary training at a young age, and they might score 152 on a normal IQ test. With that number, who can imagine what their writer’s IQ grew into?
The last thing I’ll say on this: Music and (especially literary) creativity are wired more closely inside your brain than mainstream intelligence would lead you to believe.
- What kind of reader experience are you hoping to create with “Verelyn the Dastardly” and “The Lord of The Fallen“? Is there a particular emotion or insight you want readers to take away from these books?
There are many emotions I want readers to take away from both or one of the books. Ideally, they read every page of both, and so they’ve lived (in a sense) the entireties of all the great, beautiful, and horribly hellish lives my characters will always live through their pages. Through this, my readers’ perspectives (specifically, their theory of mind) improve in ways that benefit everyone. For the most fundamental and most vital lesson my series seeks to teach is not one of vast, godly knowledge or forbidden, yet delicious secrets, but of a simple battle of understanding.
- Many aspiring authors look up to established writers like yourself. What advice would you give to those who are just starting their journey in the world of writing and publishing?
Only through revision can progress be made.
- Aside from “The Fallen and The Risen” series, are there any other writing projects or genres you’re interested in exploring in the future?
I seek to publish the final book in the series along with a non-fiction book about my personal experience in the 21st century just before, ideally, leaving for boot camp of the air force or some military branch. Indeed, I picture a day with a bright sunrise and a dark moon, where two books’ releases are aligned by sunset, and my date with pain (and responsibility) at boot camp is set in stone by nightfall. I deliberately intend to not see the fruits (if any) of the third and final book until after boot camp and AIT. I should mention at this point, that never in my life have I intended to espouse empty words. For actions, after all, speak louder than the greatest or most poetic set of words, strung together in the grandest or darkest series. These are the actions and projects I intend to explore in the future.
- How do you engage with your readers and fans? Are there any memorable interactions or feedback from readers that have stood out to you?
I don’t know if I’ve met a true fan yet, as the industry of growing as a self-published author is amazingly rigged, in my opinion. Yet I did receive one bit of feedback I’ll never forget. A great man reflected on my work, once, and all he said was, “Well done.”
We’d like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to Brandon Baltes for sharing his creative insights and the intricate world of “The Fallen and The Risen” with us. Thank you for the enlightening conversation, and we look forward to your future literary endeavors.
To Read our reviews of Brandon Baltes’s Books Please check them out here: