Atomic Interview #10: Talking REDEMPTION OF THE SORCERER with Ralph Angelo Jr.

Redemption of the SorcererRedemption of the Sorcerer (2013) – Written by Ralph Angelo, Jr.

Welcome back, everyone, for the 10th installment of my Atomic Interview series. If you’re a regular reader of the Anxiety, you know I’m taking a break from writing reviewsfor the time being but I still hope to have a new interview up every week through the summer. Today, I present my interview with REDEMPTION OF THE SORCERER: THE CRYSTALON SAGA, BOOK ONE writer Ralph L. Angelo, Jr.

REDEMPTION OF THE SORCERER: THE CRYSTALON SAGA, BOOK ONE

Crystalon is a sorcerer of unprecedented power. He is the ruler of his world and universe. But Crystalon is still a man, and not a God. What happens when that man, after centuries of immortal life and power loses his way, giving in to human temptations until he is finally seduced by the power he wields? What follows is an epic adventure that spans two universes, while the man caught in the midst of it all seeks redemption from his past sins. But will he see the error of his ways in time to save both universes from an evil, nigh unstoppable enemy, and utter annihilation? Or will an incalculable amount of innocent souls be damned to an eternity of enslavement and doom? ‘Redemption of the Sorcerer’ is an epic fantasy novel that will have you on the edge of your seat to the very last page!

Mark Bousquet (MB): Hi Ralph, thanks for joining me. One of the great things about the New Pulp community is how people you had lost touch with can come back
into your life. We are both veterans of the Marvel Volume One Fanfiction Project that Van Allen Plexico started at his Avengers Assemble site way, way, way back in the day but I hadn’t heard from you in years until your latest novel, REDEMPTION OF THE SORCERER, THE CRYSTALON SAGA, was being written and we reconnected on Facebook. So let’s start there, first. What have you been up to in the past decade?

Ralph L. Angelo, Jr. (RA): Hi Mark! It’s a genuine pleasure to hear from you again! What have I been up to? Well in general a lot of the mundane things that the roller coaster of life generally puts you through. Back in the day I was a self-employed guy who dabbled in fanfic when Van’s site had come into being. I wrote a bunch of stuff between MV1, The Faux DC (Which I’m still connected with, BTW) as well as a few series on Avengers 2000.

Around 2003 I think I ended up closing up shop and going to work for someone. About that time a friend told me his sister had just written a book and had it published by a company called Publish America. I had been dabbling with the idea of writing a motorcycle safety book for quite some time, as I’m a very avid motorcyclist, and I’m a stickler for safety and safety gear. So I contacted that publisher and they agreed to what I had planned. (It would take me years to realize they were not the best outfit to get involved with, so I would definitely advise any would-be writers to avoid them and look into self-publishing first, if you can’t find a legitimate publishing house to take your work.) But in four months I wrote a 170 page “How To” motorcycle safety book entitled “Help! They’re all out to get me! The Motorcyclists Guide to Surviving the Everyday World.”

After I finished that and it was being published, I immediately began writing “Redemption of the Sorcerer.” But for some reason I got very hung up on it. It literally took me eight years to complete it. Sometimes I’d walk away from it for months at a time. It wasn’t that I ever gave up on writing it, I just got very lost with where I wanted to go with it several times. It was never the overall story, it was the small stuff that drove me nuts. But after a while things started to come together. What happened was that my back got hurt at the job I had taken, and ended up being laid up for many months. So I now had time to sit in front of the keyboard and hash things out slowly. I figured I’d finish what I wanted to do in a few months of writing and I did. It was a very complex story, with a main character who at the books beginning, is unlikeable, and sort of an anti-hero. By about a third of the way in, that changes. Plus he’s a very interesting guy.

So after I finished that book last spring I decided to write another on a sword and sorcery idea I had. That book is being called “Torahg the Warrior, Sword of Vengeance” and that is coming out on the Pro Se Publications label very soon. After that I actually wrote the sequel to the ‘Torahg’ Book, I have no idea when that will see the light of day, but I’d say probably in a year or less. Then I wrote a sci-Fi novel which will be out on my label (Cosmic Comet Publishing) sometime this summer. Other than that, what I have been up to are the usual things for me, motorcycling in the warm months, skiing in the cold (up until I got hurt at least) and I re-discovered my passion for guitar playing again, something I hadn’t done in over a decade.

MB: As I mentioned, we’re both MV1 vets. How did writing fanfiction in a shared universe setting like MV1 help in your growth as a writer?

RA: Oh my God, I had no idea what I was doing until entering that arena. I had written stuff all my life but never anything anyone would have read. It was always a “What if?” kind of scenario. In fact the opening sequence of the first Torahg book had been the opening sequence for something I wrote back in the late eighties. MV1 actually taught me a lot, as far as writing goes. Back in the day I actually wrote in script form, as if I was actually writing comics, not prose adventures. After a while I woke up and changed that format to the much more common sense prose style. What was great about MV1 was seeing how everyone else wrote, and being able to pick up on others styles and abilities as writers. There was a lot of GREAT material there written by a great group of talented people. That was a fantastic place to hone writing skills!

MB: You started the Writing and Publishing Workshop and Discussion group on Facebook. What was your goal in starting this group? What do you hope people get out of it? Is it open to anyone?

RA: That group is not a fan site, in other words if you’re a writer you are more than welcome. The idea of it was for writers to be able to come there and share ideas or ask questions of other writers if they had problems of just needed to hash out something they were stuck on in a book or short they were writing. Also self-promoting is more than welcome there as I know I welcome hearing about what everyone is coming out with. It’s basically a safe area where writers can go if they need help or ideas, or even have something they deem worthwhile to share with other writers. See, I don’t consider us to be in competition with each other as far as who sells the most books or whatever. What I write may not interest the guy who reads what someone else writes and vice-versa. So my goal in starting it is simply to create a place that writers can go and feel safe about talking out any issues they may have with something they are writing and seeing if they can get through it with some suggestions from others as well as a site to share different info that may interest fellow authors/writers.

MB: Let’s turn to REDEMPTION OF THE SORCERER. Based on the book’s description, this is not a small story. Who is Crystalon and what has he done to set the events of this novel into motion?

Ralph L Angelo JrRA: Oh boy, good question. Crystalon is an immortal sorcerer who found himself over the course of many, many years actually becoming the ruler of first his earth and then his actual universe. But he began to think of himself as more than a man, and instead as a God. Who could blame him really? He was over a million years old on a parallel earth with a different history where magic was the prominent source of power and knowledge and not science. They had science, but most people were born with magical abilities. Crystalon’s were latent, as readers will see in the book, he was originally deemed to be powerless by the sorcerers who tested children for magical abilities. A catastrophic event in his life brought those abilities screaming to the surface in one horrible moment that redefined his young life.

But over time he began to lose his humanity as he sought out more and more magical strength. He became cold and distant, almost machine-like in his seemingly never ending quest for power. Basically he lost his way, and a group of rebels with long term plans formed, who were patient and methodical in those plans, including planting a spy within his castle who was very close to him, whose help was absolutely necessary for their plan to succeed. Succeed it did. Crystalon was overthrown and sent to a world where magic was seemingly non-existent. A world that looks exactly like the world outside our doors. That’s where this adventure truly begins.

Dave Ho Redemption scene

MB: The description mentions that Crystalon is “a sorcerer of unprecedented power” and “the ruler of his world and universe.” When you’ve got a character like this that’s immensely powerful, how do you build a threat to match him? What kind of hurdles or opponents does Crystalon face in REDEMPTION?

RA: Well his first hurdle is being stripped of his powers and sent to a magic-less world, where he is condemned to live out his life as a penny-less and destitute lost soul. Except that the instant he lands he gets hit by a truck and ends up in the hospital. In the hospital he is made aware of a magical threat to this world, but now he’s a powerless, regular guy for all intents and purposes. So what does he do? He realizes almost immediately the enormity of the situation, that he’s the only one with the wherewithal to defeat this unknown foe and his forces, but now he’s stripped of his abilities and powerless. A few things fall into place for him and he’s able to begin a quest that will not only allow him the opportunity to save this new home of his, but also will give him the opportunity at Redemption, if he can finally see past the errors of his ways and his own oversized ego, that is.

His enemies are powerful and many, but they are all led by one being, a shadowy mastermind who has an intense hatred for Crystalon.

MB: Does he have any allies?

RA: He has several actually. The most important is ‘Joe Carboneri’ who is actually the man who hit Crys with his truck when he ‘fell out of the sky’ as Joe puts it. There is also Dr. Daniel Walker, who is not only a physician but a ‘Knight of the Golden Dawn.’ An ancient order of Knights who fight mystical threats while themselves are hidden in the shadows. There is also Amanda Serros, whose part in all this I don’t want to give away right now, as it would ruin something for the reader if they decide to read the book after sifting through this interview, but she becomes very important to Crys for a lot of reasons. Those three are his main allies. There are several more, but these three are his supporting cast, and closest confidants.

MB: The novel opens right in the middle of a great battle. Is REDEMPTION a book where the action comes hard and fast, or do you take a more roller coaster approach here and balance action with quieter moments?

RA: Definitely the latter approach. I like to open with an action scene, or something that will grab the readers attention and draw them in. Then there are many quieter moments throughout where the story is built upon. So the roller coaster ride is in effect throughout. I actually had some trouble writing it because of this style of approach. At one point I thought I was putting in too much background and quiet moments and not enough action, which is why you’ll notice when the book hits part II things seem to amp up a bit. I didn’t want the reader to get bored.

Excerpt from REDEMPTION OF THE SORCERER

The crimson suited troopers opened the doors to the citadel, and in a great, cathedral shaped room, huge and majestic, knelt a man in glowing, mystical chains surrounded by dozens of men in ragged, bloodied garb. Most were as old and as wizened as the Sehr. All stood proud and strong, pointing either sharp blades and pikes, or unwavering energy weapons at the figure before them, face turned down, on his knees, unable to move. He raised his head and stared with anger and deep-seated hatred at the newcomer.

He was not a particularly special looking man. His height slightly under six feet, he wore his black hair neatly, and of no great length. A small, black goatee adorned his chin. His clothing, a red and black tunic with mystic symbols scrawled across it, with a similarly colored cloak sprawled behind him, was in tatters. Armored pieces adorned each shoulder, though one was cracked and broken now. Knee height boots of black leather covered his feet. His pants were the same red material as his tunic.

The Sehr approached him, touching his warriors gently, ushering them aside, as he tried to pass. One stopped him.

The man, obviously an officer in the Sehr’s great army, spoke. “Please Sehr; you should not approach him any closer. We know not the strength of his powers as of yet. It takes the concentration of everyone here to maintain the bonds we have conjured to keep him thus subdued.”

The Sehr smiled gently and laid his hand upon his subordinates shoulder. “Tufor, the battle, the war is over. Not even the mighty Crystalon could hold out forever against the power of so many worlds. Our coalition has defeated the Oppressor, and he will be dealt with by his peers. Isn’t that correct Crystalon?”

The man on the floor of his own castle snarled incoherently as he lifted his face up to meet that of his enemy.

“You are a fool Sehr. I will yet have your head upon a platter for this effrontery. When I break free of these bonds – and make no mistake, I will be free of them – yours will be the first life I take as I begin my return to my rightful place above the cattle.”

“And what is that place, Crystalon?” The Sehr asked as he turned his back on the downed man and began walking around the large room.

“You know as well as I do, fool. As their leader, their King, their God.”

The Sehr spun quickly and pointed at Crystalon with his staff. “You are no God. You are a powerful, but petty man who terrorized a galaxy with his petulance for far too long. You were given the greatest mystical abilities ever known. You were a natural sorcerer of untold power; you could have helped shape the universe into a thing of great beauty, ushered in an age of galactic utopia. Instead you chose to create an empire that strangled its citizens and broke their backs with the weight of its aggression.”

“I created a world where those who were loyal to me prospered. I gave their lives meaning!” Crystalon roared, his voice reverberating within the great hall.

“You enslaved them,” the Sehr answered quietly. “Ponder all of this. In one day hence, you will be sentenced for your crimes against the universe, against decency itself. Pray that our judgment of you is less severe than you would impose upon one who committed a far lesser aggression.”

MB: When you subtitle a novel “Book One,” that tells us we’ve got more novels coming. When can we expect to see Book Two? How many books do you anticipate in THE CRYSTALON SAGA?

RA: There are three planned I started the second one recently and plan to release it next year. The title of the second one is “My Enemy, Myself” The reason for that title will become apparent at the end of Book one. Book two takes place two years later by the way.

MB: What else is coming from you in the near future? What are you working on now?

RA: Look out for the aforementioned “Torahg the Warrior, Sword of vengeance” which is my next release coming from Pro Se Publications in the next month or so. This is a book about ‘Vengeance’ as the title suggests, as opposed to ‘Redemption’. I’ve always been a huge fan of Conan and John Carter as well as books like ‘Almuric’ among others. Torahg is in that vein. It’s the story of a young prince of a powerful nation-state who witnesses his father’s death at the hands of two evil usurpers, one of whom is the princes own brother, the Kings oldest son. That begins a twenty year quest for vengeance that spans the world. A world filled with magic and monsters and demons as well as powerful foes and stranger allies. It’s a brutal, savage world set in pre-history where there really are no rules except the strong survive and further, they flourish. There are actually two more short ‘Torahg’ stories coming out in ‘Pro Se Presents’ sometime this year. The second Torahg Novel is titled ‘Tales of Torahg’ and that is a series of short stories throughout the exiled prince’s life, which was very interesting to write because I got to play with his attitude a bit over the years. You get to see his personality change as time goes on.

After that will be my Sci-Fi novel entitled “The Cagliostro Chronicles” which is the story of man’s first faster than light flight and the deadly nature of the rest of the universe when man finally makes the huge leap to join the rest of the universe some 80 years from today. That’s another story that began in the eighties and sat in the back of my mind since.

So in order, you have ‘Torahg the Warrior, Sword of Vengeance’ coming soon from Pro Se publications (probably within the next month I think) then after that will be the release of ‘The Cagliostro Chronicles’ sometime this Summer. After that, you’ll probably see ‘My Enemy, Myself’ released around the beginning of ’14 sometime, followed sometime after that I believe by ‘Tales of Torahg, Vol 1’.

Now after that I’d like to do a superhero novel entitled ‘Hyperforce.’ This one I have mostly laid out in my mind already as well.

MB: And finally, where can people go to learn more about you and your work?

RA: That’s the easiest question today, Mark! http://www.RLAngeloJr.com is my website which I update regularly. I’m also on twitter @RLAngeloJr and my Amazon authors page is at http://www.amazon.com/Ralph-L.-Angelo-Jr./e/B008M0PW6W/.

MB: Thanks, Ralph!

RA: No Mark, Thank YOU! This was fun and a real pleasure to do. Thanks for asking me!

———-

And that’s it for the latest Atomic Interview! Thanks to Ralph for joining me, and remember, if you like an author’s work, there’s nothing you can do to help spread the word better than leaving them a review at your bookseller of choice!

Gunfighter Gothic BOTU3When he’s not talking to other writers, Mark Bousquet is doing some writing himself. He is the author of multiple novels and collections, including the recently released The Haunting of Kraken MoorGunfighter GothicStuffed Animals for HireDreamer’s SyndromeHarpsichord and the Wormhole Witches, and Adventures of the Five. He has also published a review collection entitled Marvel Comics on Film, which covers every cinematic and TV movie based on a superhero from the House of Ideas. A complete listing of all his work can be found at his Amazon author page.

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