Born and raised in the Chicagoland area, Percival Constantine grew up on a fairly consistent diet of superhero comics, action movies, video games, and TV shows. At the age of ten, he first began writing and hasn’t stopped since.
Percival has been working in publishing since 2005 in various capacities—author, editor, formatter, letterer—and has written books, short stories, comics, and more. He has a Bachelor of Arts in English and Mass Media from Northeastern Illinois University and a Master of Arts in English and Screenwriting from Southern New Hampshire University. He currently lives in Japan’s Kagoshima prefecture, where he works as a literature and writing instructor at the Minami Academy.
Interview with Percival Constantine author of The Vanguard series 4/23/2015
What is your current release and (without spoilers) tell us about the new book or series.
I just released Vanguard #4: Power Surge. This is the fourth episode of my superhero serial, Vanguard. The first episode, Come The Exemplar, introduced the world of the series. A mysterious event has somehow triggered the development of superhuman powers in a small percentage of the population. To police these beings, called specials, the President of the United States has ordered the creation of a secret team of superheroes, called Vanguard.
The latest episode sees the team going up against a powerful special named Lucent who can absorb and redirect energy in a variety of forms. Lucent was being experimented on by a research company, and a mysterious threat that’s been lurking in the background since the first episode is involved as well.
I used to be a pantser, but after writing myself into a corner with several projects and abandoning them, as well as struggling with other projects when I got to a certain point, I decided it was time to start plotting.
My process is to first jot down notes and story ideas in a notebook. When I’m ready to start seriously plotting out, I sit down at my computer and type up a full synopsis of the entire story in Scrivener. I then break that synopsis down into individual scenes (also in Scrivener). Sometimes if I’m struggling with scene order, I’ll write the scene ideas on index cards and post them up on a corkboard, working out the order and seeing what’s missing.
Once you have an idea that sparks your imagination do you research your idea or do any world-building exercises, or do you just begin to write and see where the Muse takes you?
It depends. Most times when an idea occurs to me, it’ll be for a project that will come later on down the line when I can fit it into the schedule. So I make a note of it in my notebook and come back to it later.
The Myth Hunter series requires a bit more research than the others, so I’ll do research on the legends that I think might serve as the basis of an interesting story. My Luther Cross series may also sometimes require a little more research into the supernatural phenomenon I’m going to write about. But with Vanguard and Infernum, those ideas come more from characters and situations.
I don’t really engage in any world-building exercises. I think of the characters that I want to include in the story or the plots I want to explore and go from there.
I’m not full-time yet. At the moment, I’m a teacher and I also do a few other side jobs in addition to writing. Ideally, I’d like to get to the point where the bulk of my income is generated by writing, but I’d still like to teach a few classes a week.
What is your daily writing time like?
Lately I’ve been writing more in the morning. I find it’s a lot easier to get it out of the way first thing. Waiting until night (like I used to) resulted in a lot more missed days because I felt too tired.
I write in Scrivener, which is wonderful because it allows me to keep everything I need in one place, tracks my word count, and helps me minimize distractions. To further minimize distractions, I’ll run a program called Anti-Social as I write to block social media, email, and any other websites I specify. I write with the Pomodoro Method, which says you do twenty-five minutes of work followed by a five-minute break.
My daily writing goal is 1000 words. Usually I’ll manage to hit that in about an hour or so.
I entered the publishing world in 2005, working as an editor for Making Comics Studios. I self-published my first novel, Fallen, in 2007 and shortly after that, I started writing and lettering comics for a variety of publishers, including AC Comics.
My next book, Chasing The Dragon, followed in 2008. Then in 2010, I published Love & Bullets and became part of the New Pulp movement. My output was slow at first, only putting out a novel or novella a year. But with this year, I’ve committed to increasing my backlist.
I’m currently writing four series, three of which are self-published and one which is published through Pro Se Press’ Single Shot Signatures line. Tommy Hancock approached me with the idea about contributing to the line, and I had actually been thinking of experimenting more with serials, so I decided to do one of my serial ideas for him.
Also beginning this year, I joined Nifty Entertainment, an author cooperative with Mat Nastos.
That’s actually a very good question and to be honest, I’m having a hard time finding an answer! Most of my ideas come from pretty mundane sources and I don’t often remember where I got them from.
Can you tell us about some of your other writing (fiction or nonfiction) and any appearances or signings that you have planned?
I have four series I’m currently working on:
The Myth Hunter – A pulp adventure novella series centered on Elisa Hill. Elisa is a myth hunter, a type of adventurer who travels the world seeking out the various myths and legends. She’s often accompanied by Asami, a Japanese changeling, and relies on ancient weaponry. Curse of the Necronomicon is the third book, featuring the quest to find the Necronomicon, and set for release in June and now available for pre-order on all platforms.
Infernum – An action thriller novella series centered on a criminal syndicate called Infernum. Each book focuses on a different protagonist working for the mysterious power broker known only as Dante. Gentleman Rogue is the third book, featuring a thief forced to work for Dante to obtain a biological weapon. That will be released in July and is available for pre-order on all platforms.
Vanguard – The aforementioned superhero serial. Each season of the serial consists of five novelette episodes, plus a special bonus episode that will be available to mailing list subscribers. Vanguard #5: Rise of the Red Fist concludes the first season, with Vanguard going up against a terrorist organization bent on world domination. I’m currently working on the second season, which will have a tentative release date of September. At the moment, the first season is only available on Amazon and if you’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, you can read the episodes for free. But soon, the series will be available on all platforms, including a compilation of the complete first season.
Luther Cross – A supernatural action short story series focusing on paranormal investigator, Luther Cross. Half-demon and half-human, Cross is a true anti-hero who uses his knowledge of the occult and his demonic powers and magical abilities for his own benefit. The third episode, Bloodlust, is in the hands of my editors at Pro Se and should be released shortly.
As an author what inspiration or advice would you give to a writer who is working to make the transition to Author?
Write because it’s something you love to do, not because you think it will bring you fame and fortune. Trying to make a go of it as an author means you have to clock a lot of hours sitting in that chair and banging away at a keyboard. It also means finishing what you start and moving onto the next project almost immediately.
If you want to be an author because you have a romantic notion of the author lifestyle or because you want to be one of those “get rich quick” Kindle success stories, you’re going to end up very disappointed.
But if you love telling stories and don’t mind a near-Sisyphean uphill climb, then sit in the chair and start typing.
Who is your favorite author? Tell us what makes this author stand out in your mind, and what book would you recommend to someone new to that author?
I have to pick one? In that case, I’ll go with Derrick Ferguson. Anyone who wants to know how to write a great pulp action book needs to read his Dillon series. He manages to combine stellar characterization with breakneck action and put it together in a package that, though familiar, sometimes seems brand new.