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Author Highlight: Riley Tune

A native of Virginia, Riley Tune originally wanted to be an actor. Sadly, he never made it to the big screen...or small screen...or even a local play. Instead, he became something else. A creator of worlds...a purveyor of stories infused with magic and short, a writer. Years later he published his debut series, Warper. A fantasy about teleporting assassins hired to kill an immortal. Badass right? He then found success with his third novel, a superhero series. Within urban fantasy, he created a name and fanbase with over 300 audio reviews for the series. He has told many that he just loves to tell a story and that spelling and grammar aren’t his strong points. This statement is usually followed by a compliment to his editor. He is a lover of video games, a lifter of weights, and pizza aficionado that currently resides in Raleigh, NC.

Riley has been a huge help to me as a new writer, from answering countless questions about the audiobook process to being a beta reader for my 3rd Immortal Relics book, Revenge of the Witch (previously titled Descent to Hel). 

How did you come up with the story concept for Paragon?

Paragon was the mix of several things. Mainly my love for comics/superheroes (way before it was cool to be a nerd). I also knew I wanted to write about an anti-hero that was in an urban fantasy setting. I wanted to be as far away from elves and Kings being killed by assassins as much as possible.

What do you love about writing urban fantasy, superhero fantasy? What do you hate (or maybe just dislike) about it?

I love creating a story where amazing things can happen in settings that are familiar to readers. It also gives me a sturdy platform to world-build from without getting too outrageous. I tried writing a sci-fi story once, but the research on planets or gravitational fields was intense! It wasn't even fun anymore. I can't think of anything I hate about the genre, though.

When it comes to world-building do you have any particular tricks or techniques?

I do. I have a two-sided chart to start the process. One side is for cultural stuff that comes from inhabitants. The government, religion, education, technology, stuff like that. The other side is physical stuff. Things that are in the world naturally. The climate, landmasses, lighting, flora, magic system, and so on. Then I build around it. Characters come last and are products of their environment.

What was the most difficult part of the publishing process for you?

Marketing! No doubt about it. Marketing is a love-hate relationship. I've landed on the best sellers/top 100 lists a few times for book/audio and solid marketing was the reason. It just takes a lot of work and research. Some marketing projects are total money pits. Others are worth their weight in gold. I honestly think that is where many writers kind of drop the ball. Their marketing normally stops at social media but there is a whole world of marketing tricks that can boost sales.

What does your writing space look like?

It's a nerd explosion for sure. My very wobbly desk. Laptop with an extra monitor. Two corkboards on the wall. The finest mid-priced bookshelf Target has to offer. Comic posters and action figures wall to wall. Lastly, an elliptical that may or may not be dusty.

What are your tricks for juggling writing while maintaining a personal life?

The easy answer is I have no social life outside of work and parenting. I didn't realize how introverted I was until COVID hit and my life changed VERY little. I get up around 4:30 AM and write until about 6:30 AM daily. Even on the weekend. Consistency is the greatest weapon I think. I also mentally plot my stories while doing other things. Cooking, working out, cleaning the house on Sunday. All great times to mentally think about your stories. It also makes me look like a great person in the house. I offer to do a lot of stuff, just to think about my stories.

What's the best piece of advice you've received about writing?

To write what you love. Write what you want, when you want! It's hard to stay true to that advice, though. Once you get a little fanbase things get demanding. I went through a minor episode of depression earlier this year because I wanted to write a new project, but I was getting numerous emails, or reviews asking for the next book in my superhero series. These requests came only days after the book released. I loved that readers or listeners wanted more, but I was struggling with writing what I wanted and giving people what they wanted. Things became much easier when I just did what I wanted, which was to work on the new project. It sounds cliche but follow your heart.

What is the best book you’ve read or listened to recently?

Red Rising by Pierce Brown. When his new book released, I decided to start the series over. I do that with some tv shows too oddly enough. The book is amazing, though. The story is pretty good but the characters are wonderful and the dialogue is EPIC! I highly recommend it.

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