Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Steadfast Pen Blog Launch & Interview!

In my last post I promised a special guest was coming. Well, joining us today is my younger brother, Josiah! He just launched his blog, called The Steadfast Pen, this week. To celebrate his splashdown into the blogosphere, I'm interviewing him about his perspective on creativity and life, two of my main topics here at Adventure Awaits.

You may remember him from Four Elements of a Successful Villain, a guest post he did here over a year ago. Or you may recall that he and I shared college adventures recently. You may also be unable to forget that, ahem, darling picture of him and I dressed as Mario and Princess Peach (featured in S&S May 2017) .

Josiah neglected to give me an official bio for this post, leaving his introduction in my very capable hands. (I've known the guy for nineteen years, so I'd like to think I'm an expert at this sort of thing.) Josiah is the creatively inclined, fastidiously detailed, uproariously funny person responsible for many a brainstorming session or Marvel fest in my household. Stories were what paved the way from our squabbling phase of siblinghood to the friendship phase we enjoy now. He's got a quirky sense of humor, an affinity for puns, and a boatload of patience developed by the trials of having three sisters.

Without further ado, please welcome Josiah Dyck to the stage!

Tracey: Art and life have a way of intersecting. How does your life influence your art, and how does art influence your life?

Josiah: Interesting question! I think that my life influences my art—or, more specifically, my writing—in a host of different ways. When I struggle in life, I can work those struggles into my writing. My story The Tournament of Convicts is a good example of this. The main character fights against the feeling of never seeing his dreams come to pass. This is something I’ve had to fight as well, and that makes it more poignant in the story. Another scenario is for my first book in The Portal Chronicles. One of my characters, Mark, tries to prove himself because he wants his parents to be proud of him. I can relate to this, which strengthens the story’s emotion.

If there are things I’ve wondered and want to work out, stories are good places to do that. For example, Of Beauties and Beasts toys with the concept of actions and consequences, especially when said actions were bad, but the intentions were good. Darkened Slumber deals a lot with honor and asks if someone can be honorable when they’ve killed someone else. Maelstrom is going to be focused on grace versus judgement, especially when people don’t deserve grace. Being able to figure these things out on the pages of a novel is always a joy to do in the end.

Through this answer, I think I’ve also partially answered the second part of this question. By working through the struggles and questions I have, my art influences my life when I find the answers. Also, when one is a writer, one pays attention to different things than most people would. I sometimes try to remember how someone looks so I can incorporate part of them into a character. I’ll notice quirks, habits, and mannerisms—all worth noting should I someday want to use them. I could go on, but I think I’ve rambled on long enough for this question, seeing it’s only the first one.

Tracey: You write, but you also engage in a number of other creative outlets—both as creator and as an audience member. What creative art forms influence your writing?

Josiah: ALL OF THEM. Well, I should specify that every art form I engage in has an impact on my writing. That includes books, movies/TV shows, music, video games . . . There are art forms (e.g. dance, theater, painting/drawing) that either don’t have any influence, or only a bit, but maybe that’s because I don’t participate in these outlets. I couldn’t tell you which one has the most power in my writing, but what I do know is that my writing is indeed impact by the major forms of art I engage in.

Tracey: Soundtracks are a big favorite of yours, and I know that asking you to pick a favorite is cruel of me . . . but tell us. What’s your favorite soundtrack? (You can stab thank me later.)

Josiah: Ha. Ha. Ha. You just had to pull this one, did ya? I can’t pick one favorite, because I’ll think of another and think to myself, “Oh yeah, there’s that one, and that one, and that one . . .” Pretty soon, I’ll be saying all of my soundtracks are my favorite.
But whenever I’m asked this question, one soundtrack often comes to mind, so I’ll just use that one. If someone were to ask me what you just did, I might be tempted to say that the Mad Max: Fury Road soundtrack (the extended version of it) is my favorite. “Why?” you might be asking. Because Junkie XL is a phenomenal composer, that’s why. You start off with lots of intense or suspenseful sequences, filled with scratchy strings, pounding drums, and eerie sounds I can’t properly describe. Then, out of the blue, an emotional theme appears in the music. You’re hit with tracks that seem to be influenced by classical music. Suddenly, this soundtrack is very different than what you initially thought. It’s just so amazing! Hans Zimmer himself describes the soundtrack as being “absolutely phenomenal and mind-blowingly brilliant.” Which should tell you something about the Fury Road score.

Tracey: If you had a theme song that played whenever you walked into a room, what would it be?
Josiah: I have legitimately thought about this beforehand, and all my answers are goofy ones. Like, if I walked into a room and the Imperial March started playing, or the Black Rider theme, I’d find that absolutely hilarious. But if I were to seriously consider a theme, maybe Rohan’s theme? Or perhaps Ballad of the Goddess from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Ooh, there’s also the LEGO Ninjago overture! So many to choose from, and I don’t which I’d pick. I would probably change it . . . a lot.

Tracey: Who are some of your fictional heroes, and why?

Josiah: Obviously, the first one on this list is Captain America. He’s such a patriotic hero who upholds his morals, and when he’s made a decision, he’s determined to stick with it. He was one of the first superheroes I saw in a movie, and I couldn’t help but love his character. I just don’t understand people who think he’s lame. Obviously, such people don’t know a great hero when they see one.
Another hero would be the Flash—as in, Grant Gustin’s version. He strives to be a noble hero, but at the same time, he’s also very human. He makes mistakes and doesn’t always admit it right away. He wrestles with the punches life keeps throwing his way. I love the combination of hero/human, because then I look up to him and identify with him. He’s a relatable character, and that makes him awesome.
Finally, Charlie West from Andrew Klavan’s Homelanders series is one of my heroes. He’s fiercely loyal to his country and will go great lengths in his fight for it. He’s also got a family, friends, and a girlfriend who he loves and wants to protect. I cheered for him throughout the whole series. He has to be one of the most memorable protagonists I’ve read in a book series. (I don’t know about you, but I’m detecting a theme here.)
Captain America // The Flash // Charlie West featured on the cover of The Last Thing I Remember by Andrew Klavan

Tracey: If you could spend a day with any character, yours or someone else’s, who would it be? And what would your day together look like?

Josiah: Gah, this is so hard. I think I’m going to cheat and say I’d love to hang out with the three main characters from my Portal Chronicles books: Mark, David, and Warren. They would be so much fun to spend a day with! We would probably do things like go watch a movie in theaters and then rave or rant about it afterward; we’d play video games and probably do it loudly; we would go to a cozy café, sit down with beverages, and just talk about life. Now you’re making me wish I could actually do this. You wouldn’t happen to know how to make book characters come to life, would you?

Tracey: You’re a very detailed movie-watcher. What things do you look for or notice first in a movie?

I’ve never really thought about this. I guess one of the things I notice is the music. Because I love soundtrack and am always on the lookout for something new to listen to, I’ll pay attention to the movie’s score. This, however, doesn’t happen all the time. There usually has to be something that triggers it. One case of this is in Big Hero 6. During the chase scene in San Fransokyo, the music changes from orchestral to electronic with electric guitar. My ears perked up, and I decided to give the soundtrack a listen.

San Fransokyo

There are other things I look for, such as an opening that catches my attention, characters that I can feel emotional about, a gripping plot, cool camera angles, realistic sets, et cetera. Like I said, I haven’t even thought about this before. I suppose I’ll be paying more attention to that now.

Tracey: You don’t hesitate to follow the advice, “Kill your darlings.” Talk to us about character deaths—what is their value, how do you go about it, what to avoid, etc.

Josiah: Ah, yes, I do tend to kill off a number of my characters. I think they’re valuable because they heighten the emotion of the story, and that’s our number one goal as writers: to give the readers an emotional experience. Plus, there are other reasons for killing off a character. Sometimes you need to raise the stakes and show the danger of what the protagonists are doing. Other times, a villain’s demise is just satisfying.

The way I do deaths, if I want the readers to care, is to give them plenty of reasons to become attached to said character. When readers love characters, the scene of their death will be so much more powerful. There are some character deaths where I do it “at a bad time,” if you will. If the protagonists are at the crux of the plot, when things are getting darker and hard, kill one of them off. Make things even more difficult for the others.

Another idea to do it is when there should be satisfaction, like when a final battle has been won. Mortally wounding a character just at the end increases the emotion. Or perhaps things are finally looking up for your character; kill them, and your readers will become frustrated—in a good way, of course. I’ll even give the villains a bit of humanity to spark even a little bit of emotion from the readers.

However, here is my major precaution in character deaths: if they’re supposed to matter, do not do them just because. See, when it’s a minor character, you can kill them off easier because they don’t matter as much. But when it comes to major protagonists, or even antagonists, tread carefully. Killing them off willy-nilly doesn’t incite emotion in the reader if there’s no reason behind it. I have to remind myself of that too sometimes. Whenever you’re debating removing a character permanently, always ask yourself, “Do I have a sufficient reason for doing this?”

I could give more advice, but this answer’s getting pretty long. I guess I’ll just have to do a whole post on it sometime.

Tracey: If you couldn’t write, what would you do?

Josiah: I’d probably be a filmmaker. I would save up and get a nice camera, establish a small crew, and make all sorts of movies. Even now, though I am a writer, I wish I could pick it up as a smaller hobby. I think it’d be a lot of fun to do.

Tracey: Quick—sort yourself! Which faction from Divergent? Which race from Lord of the Rings? How soon would you die in The Hunger Games? Which Pevensie are you most like from The Chronicles of Narnia? (I’d ask you which Harry Potter house you’re in, but neither of us has read it. #behindthetimes) (I took a quiz once, and I’m apparently Gryffindor?)

Amity faction
Josiah: According to a test, I’m part of the Amity faction, but I might prefer to choose Dauntless. I’d either be an Elf or a Skin-Changer. I’d like to think I would win, but realistically, I’d probably die somewhere in the middle. Eh, probably Edmund, after he’s done the whole betrayal thing. (I did the HP house quiz, and I’m fairly equal in all the houses, which means I can choose my own. Yay . . .?)

Well, thanks for allowing me on your blog, Tracey! I had a lot of fun with this interview.

Tracey: So did I! Thanks for stopping by, bro! To all my fellow adventurers, head on over to The Steadfast Pen to read Josiah's very first post. Hint: if you like pizza, you'll get along just fine. Feel free to leave him some comments, here or there (or both!). I think I can persuade him to loiter around my comment section and chat with y'all. ;)


  1. Another Dyck blog! I'll have to stop by!
    I love that first question, and those were some good answers throughout! Question four seems familiar.

    1. Yes, do peek in!

      Question four was familiar? Hmm... *tries to figure out why*

    2. Please, do stop b--wait, you already did. Scratch that. XD

      That one was a real tough first question, actually. When I saw it the first time, I was like, "Wha-?" Obviously, I came up with a response. I should hope I managed to write some decent answers. XD I don't think it's an original question. :P

  2. Yes! Captain America is the best! Welcome to the blogging world! :)

    1. Good ol' Cap happens to be one of my favorite heroes as well. ;D

    2. #CapForever Thanks, Meaghan! I appreciate the welcome. :)

  3. Yay, new blogling!! Welcome! I can't wait to see what you have to post, Josiah!! <3 And great interview, you guys. ;)

    1. I'm a blogling? That makes me think I'm some kind of . . . I dunno, fuzzy monster. XD Thanks! I hope you'll enjoy my posts. ^_^ My sister did a fantastic job of creating questions.

  4. Ooooh my goodness, these questions were BRILLIANT and answers sooo fascinating to read about! I LOVED THIS INTERVIEW.

    I 100% agree that ALL creative outlets impacts writing. I'm the same! Every book I read, every show I watch, everything I DO tends to seep into my writing or turn into a story idea. I don't think there are such things as "casual" writers. Once you're a writer, it takes over your entire life. XD But we love it!

    I have never seen the Mad Max movie, thus I've never listened to the soundtrack, but I apparently need to give it a listen if Hans Zimmer himself endorses it!

    If only we could bring our characters to life! Although...I wouldn't want to hang out with ALL my charries. Eheh. But still. XD

    You're definitely not afraid to kill your characters, Josiah, that's for sure. XD But I love the advice you gave. I can't stand it when characters die just for the sake of "drama". It makes me more angry toward the author than emotional. I love how you put meaning into your character deaths. And I'd totally love a post about that from you! :D

    I could absolutely see you as a filmmaker, that'd be awesome! Or maybe combine writing and that and become a TV/movie writer or something? That'd be so cool!

    Anyways, I've babbled enough. I'm so excited you've joined us in the blogging world, Josiah! And thank you BOTH for this awesome interview! It was too fun to read.

    1. "Once you're a writer, it takes over your entire life." Truer words have never been spoken. XD

      I've never seen Mad Max either, but the soundtrack was good (like, the two times I've listened to it, lol).

      Oh my goodness. Now I'm thinking of certain unpleasant characters and you hanging out with them and...nope. That would be bad. XD

      Thanks for the comment, Christine! :D

    2. I had fascinating answers? Hooray for me! XD

      Your words are spot-on, Christine. We shall be writers forevermore, and we would do nothing to change that. Even if it means a bajillion story ideas from all the creative outlets around us. XD

      I, too, have never watched the movie, though I would like to someday when I can "handle" it, I suppose. :P But yes, listen to the score, specifically the deluxe edition. Because extended tracks are awesome. :D

      Are you sure you wouldn't like to hang out with certain characters from BT? XD

      You would know. XD This is very true. A death for the sake of having a death is a wasted one. Well, if people are interested in the topic, I'd happily do one. :D

      It would be a lot of fun. And yeah, that could definitely work too!

      Babble for as long as you want. :P Same here! Is there really such a thing as "too fun"? XD

  5. Welcome! Great interview, and good choice in heroes. I just finished season one of The Flash and Grant Gustin is amazing. Love that the Skyward Sword soundtrack got a bit of a shout out, that one is one of my favorite games in terms of music.

    1. You finished season one! :DDD On to season two, I presume? (LOL, they're just so GOOD.)

    2. Thanks, Skye! Yes, he does an awesome job in that role. You absolutely must watch season two! It only gets better, in my opinion. Plus, the villain is super creepy, so that's a bonus. XD It does have an awesome score. I actually just beat that game a month or two ago. It was a lot of fun to play. :D

  6. How nice to catch up with Josiah a bit! Happy writing, Josiah. I look forward to seeing your work in print. =)

    1. Well, thank you, Mrs. Davis! That's very kind of you. I'll be sure to let you know when I release my first book. ^_^

    2. Hello, Mrs. D! Thanks for the comment! :D

  7. Are you possibly related to Lostfairy (

  8. Thanks for the great intro, Tracey! You do describe me pretty accurately. XD And your pictures were fantastic as well. :D

    1. Hahaha, thanks, Josiah! It was a pleasure having you here. :D

  9. Replies
    1. Thanks, Sarah! (I've heard of you from Lostfairy, by the way! *waves*)