Brett Salter is the author of The Talisman series. The Rising Tilde had the opportunity to interview the author about his books, his writing and what readers can expect in the future.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
Sure thing! I live in Georgia with my wife, two kids, and a fluffy “good boy” named Walter Salter. I like everything from anime to soccer to old school RPGs to jamming with my 90’s alternative, cover “Dad Band”. My background in writing stems mostly from the inspiration I found as a kid when I read Fantasy and Sci-Fi books. These include The Chronicles of Narnia, The Xanth Novels, The Time Quintet, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and everything from Shakespeare to Dr. Seuss. In my formative years, I joined several punk rock bands and wrote songs, poetry, and short stories aplenty. As an adult (?) I took on a dare and wrote the first book in my Talisman Series. I loved the feeling it gave me and the idea of inspiring others so much that I kept writing until I had an entire series. I have self-published 4 of the books which can be found on Amazon. At this very moment, I am working on finishing book 11 of the 12 I have planned.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been working on The Talisman Series since 2017, but I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. I wrote short stories in grade school, songs and poems as a teen, and my mouth has written checks my butt can’t cash since I was in my 20’s. I’m always trying to find something to write to scratch that creativity itch, ya know?
Do you write full-time?
No. Man, I wish! Like most people, I’ve got a 9-5’er that I use to keep the lights on, and the kids fed, but I’ll tell you this. When I’m not answering emails or talking to customers, I am constantly inside my own head coming up with new stuff to add to The Talisman Series or something for a new piece of work. I wish I could write full time. I would most likely sell out in a minute. But sometimes I kinda like not being a full-time writer because I don’t have deadlines or editors telling me to change things, and I don’t think I’ll suffer from burnout this way.
What surprised you the most about writing a series compared to writing a stand-alone novel?
So, I am quite the theorizer. I theorize about books, movies, shows. Just about anything. Writing a stand-alone book, you have a story…and that’s it! There’s nothing to worry about after the pages are done. You can tie it up with a bow and place it under the tree. With a series, though, I found myself realizing that I would need to leave each book with some kind of cliffhanger to entice the reader to go for the next one. And since theorizing is what I love to do, I figured I would leave just enough mystery in these books for readers like me to have some fun with it. I sometimes joke about how there’s “water cooler” media out there that gets everyone talking and theorizing around the water cooler. Well, I like to refer to my books as “water fountain” media since the target age is middle/high schoolers.
Is it true you wrote Search for Synergy on a dare?
Yeah. It’s completely true. I’ve told this story a bunch of times and it’s all factual. My mother dared me to write “The Search For Synergy” based off an idea we had been kicking around for a while. She kinda pushed me to do it saying I might as well deliver on the all stuff we’d been thinking about. And for all that brainstorming and for being ½ of the reason for my existence, I thanked her on the Author Dedication page. Since the first book ended on a cliffhanger, I just kept going. Now, I’m sitting on 4 self-published books with plenty more waiting in the wings (get it?) Plus, I loved the idea of writing something my kids could read and share with other people. I sometimes think that maybe I wrote this series to have another thing my son and I could bond over. That may be true, but also there’s a desire in me to share my books with every set of eyes willing to give them a chance.
The characters are quite diverse and well-developed. They also mesh well together. How difficult was it to do that?
Oh wow! Thank you! That is very high praise. Well, to be honest, it was a little easier than one might imagine. This is all available on the character section of Fandom Wiki Page which I will leave at the end, but the two main characters, Rome and Julian, are based on the two sides of my personality. Rome represents the levelheaded and introspective portion of me that wants to do the right thing, but rarely jumps at the chance to be a leader. Despite his uneasiness about assuming a leadership role, he always has the best interests of his friends and family in mind. Rome’s internal dialogue and hesitant decision making reflect how I feel about myself specifically during my teenage years. Julian, on the other hand, is brash and braggadocios. Not to mention loud, and most times, his mouth operates without properly consulting his brain first. Even the idea of him rebelling against his family ideals is indicative of my own brazen and defiant nature during my teenage years. Julian uses informal language with everyone other than his father to emphasize the fact that he tries to be “cool” with a “devil-may-care” attitude. Whereas Rome is more the internal example of how I felt as a teen, Julian more closely resembles my physical appearance during those years. Finally, the spatial linking that the two share as Synergist Knight and Master Dragon is a metaphor for how my two personalities differ and interact inside my head. LOL. Seems funny to really say it out loud, but the idea of splitting my two personalities into two characters was an idea I wanted to explore since the earliest days of my writing
How did you choose the die, frying pans and paper clips to be part of the plot?
Haha, right? Yeah, so I wanted to do something as unique as I could with the magical abilities in this book. Unfortunately, it’s nigh impossible to come up with anything completely original these days. But I really liked my idea of using Pandora’s mythology as a way to represent how historical empires keep fighting against evil over the years by adding their own powerful items to the Die of Hope. And that it would take someone like Pandora with her defiant nature and distinctive curiosity to wield them. That’s Julian! He does NOT do well with being told what to do. But I knew I needed to have him “awaken” by performing The Great Synergy just like Rome does. And so, I decided to “downgrade” these amazing historical weapons until Julian could pull off The Great Synergy too. Attempting humor, I had them revert into everyday items that are SOMEWHAT close to what their counterparts do, but not helpful at all for battle. I don’t want to give too much away, but the sticks and twigs are a de-powered representation of the spear (Gungnir), the slingshots represents the bow (Artemis), etc. Plus, I thought it would be a funny scene to have Julian conjuring a pile of frying pans. Like, “What’s he gonna do with those?”
Are you going to look at dice the same ever again?
Great question! I doubt it. Who knows what magical powers they may contain. I think that would be cool if other readers had a similar reaction. Maybe we should learn to look at everyday objects a little differently after seeing what the simple gaming die is capable of.
When you thought of the idea initially, did you think it would become a series that is at least 4 books long?
No way. I had no idea how far I would go with this. I am currently working on the finishing rough draft for book 11. I’ve got a loooooong way to go with the other books, but the fifth book should be out winter 2022, so that gives everyone enough time to get caught up on the series. Mostly, I wrote the first 3 books flying by the seat of my pants, but after that, I developed a clear plot and resolution for books 4-6. Then, after the pandemic, I settled in and got a long, intricate story for the next 6 books which I will release as the years go on. And I gotta say, I feel like each entry in the series is full of better story telling and more interesting characters.
Now that you’re four books in, any regrets about the previous books?
Well, to be completely honest, yes. I wish I could go back and change some things in the first 3 books. Especially the way characters were introduced. Or setting character power sets. I’ll tell you, the hardest thing about writing a long series is worrying about retcon errors or revisionist history. When I set the history in the first book, I pretty much made it impossible to stray from that later in the series, so working around that can be hard sometimes. I’ve had to get creative with certain aspects of the limits I set myself early on. And some ideas that I come up, and that I get really psyched about, I can’t even use because of some tiny detail I mentioned in book two, or whatever. So, yes, that can be frustrating, but I find that when I end up disposing of one great idea, usually something equally as cool pops up or I just twist it to fit perfectly into my world.
What can readers expect in books 2, 3 and 4 of The Talisman Series?
Well, I hope you like action and dragons. Because that’s what you’re gonna get with the rest of the series. New dragon dens, new Darkbrands, new magic, and new allies are just the tip of the ice dragon. Also, I don’t want to spoil anything, but we’ve only been introduced to 2 Talismans by the end of the first book. And there are plenty more where those came from. The question is how can they be used to help the races of Earth to stop the invasion on the brink of occurring? Of course, you can always check out the Fandom Wiki Page for major spoilers for the series, but what fun is that? Save it for after you read the books and then want to deep-dive my characters and my world.
Any more books coming after 4?
Oooops. I kinda already talked about this. Sorry. Guess I should read the whole interview before I start answering questions like my teachers in middle school told me to do. I’ll be releasing book 5 winter 2022, and I have already written complete rough drafts for 6-10 while finishing 11 simultaneously with the release of 5. I do have the humblest beginnings of a second series in the works. I have the plot of the first book and the “Legendarium” already put to paper (or hardrive). That series will be a work of portal fiction mixed with destiny fiction and entail more adult themes as compared to The Talisman Series. I came up with the idea in between writing books 8 and 9, and I WILL eventually get around to writing that series. Maybe after I close out the first half of The Talisman Series with the end of book 6.
How have readers responded to your books so far?
I’m developing a pretty good group of readers for my series. I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished together. I try to be very involved with my reviewers and keep a pleasant relationship with them. I respect their opinions and appreciate their time, so it just makes sense. I’ve also been doing some Author Swapping lately which has kicked me back into reading. Before I started heavy promoting of my books last summer, I really just tried to get the books into the hands of my target audience and seeing if a following would occur organically. The kids that read my books are like the coolest ever. They are all SO into the characters and the action. I talk about theories and who their favorite characters are and which weapon is the best. It’s so fun. I get constant praise from parents and kids alike when a new book releases. So, yeah. I’m no Tolkien, but I have the best fans, promoters, and reviewers I could want.
Anything you would like to say to your readers who are reading this interview?
I think the main thing I want to impart on young readers is to always take that first step into adventure. It could be a situation in real life or cracking open a book and following along with characters. Preaching creativity is really what I strive for with my life and my kids’ lives. I want them to be passionate about their interests and always be creative because this world need creativity now more than ever. I would also like to thank The Rising Tilde for taking a chance on me and providing both a magnificent platform to promote my books and a competent review of the first one. I hope everyone who reads my books takes something away that makes them happy or finds something interesting or even gets them away from their stresses and screens for a little bit. Books can open doors to new worlds, but it’s on us to reach for the handle. Please seek me out on social media if you ever want to work with me or just discuss any ideas about the series. It makes me so happy to hear from fans. Everyone stay safe and keep a wary eye out for portals.
Check out the links below to know more about the author and The Talisman series: