Author Hans Cummings, whose hobbies include (amongst other things) smoking meat and tabletop gaming, talks to me about the second book in the Scars of the Sundering trilogy — Lament. Thank you, Hans, for taking the time to chat to me. Please sit down, get comfortable and let’s begin.
About Hans Cummings
The author of the Fantasy series: The Foundation of Drak-Anor and Scars of the Sundering, as well as the Zack Jackson science fiction series, Hans Cummings is Nuvo’s Best of Indy — Best Local Author 3rd place Honoree for 2014 and 2015. Two of his short stories appear in Fear the Boot’s Sojourn speculative fiction anthologies.
Hans earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Indiana University in 2006. He grew up in Indiana, Germany, and Virginia and returned to Indiana when he was 21. He currently lives in Indianapolis with his wife. His hobbies include tabletop and computer gaming, smoking meat, and igniting young people’s curiosity and passion for science and exploration.
What’s the name of your new book?
Scars of the Sundering: Lament
Tell us a bit about your book
“The quality of our legacy is measured in the lives we touch”
Pancras and the drak twins reach Muncifer. The judgment of Archmage Vilkan Icebreaker was swift: Pancras is sent to the far side of the continent and Delilah remains the Arcane University. His penance takes him toward the far north, and is made only somewhat better by the companionship of The Golden Slayer and the fiendling Qaliah. Along the way, events drive Pancras to rekindle his faith in Aita.
Bound to the Arcane University, Delilah works to escape, while her brother uncovers an ancient Munciferian secret that will change the very nature of magic as they know it and shake the foundation upon which the Arcane University was built.
Lament is Book 2 in the Scars of the Sundering trilogy by award-winning author Hans Cummings.
If there was a film or TV adaptation of your book, who would you like to see play your characters?
For the purposes of this question, I’ll restrict myself to Scars of the Sundering. The main character, Pancras, is a minotaur, so he would be at least partially CGI. If there was any motion-capture or prosthetic work, whoever was cast would have to be really skilled at body language. The voice, however, would need gravitas and more than a little bit of that British poshness, so someone like Patrick Stewart or Ian McKellen would be my dream choice. Peter Capaldi would be pretty awesome, too, but I think I would like a bit less Scottish and a bit more Queen’s English.
The drak twins would almost certainly be 100% CGI. Kale could be voiced by someone who can be emotional and serious, but with a lot of irresponsible roguishness, like Ryan Reynolds. His sister, Delilah, is arrogant, confident, but with a prankster side. She’s probably the most difficult to cast. I’ll just go with Tress MacNeille since she did the voice of the animated character that inspired her.
Gisella the Golden Slayer is a blonde beauty from a region analogous to Scandanavia, so a tall blonde would be needed, or someone who can pull off the look. Maybe Gwendoline Christie. She has a sister, whom we meet in Scars of the Sundering: Salvation. Melissa Benoist would be good for her.
Qaliah the fiendling would have to be someone comfortable in make-up and prosthetics because humans have neither horns nor jet-black skin. I’m not a fan of Megan Fox, but she has the look. Taylor Swift has the right look, too, though she’s not technically an actress.
My favorite casting choices would be for Lady Aveline of Curton. She’s a Knight of Etrunia and Captain of the City Watch and Gina Torres would be perfect. She’s tall, beautiful, strong, and commanding. Princess Valene of Almeria. The only problem is I’d want her to be in it more. Princess Valene would be good for her, too, but she probably shouldn’t play both roles, since the characters aren’t related and don’t live anywhere near each other (though they’re both originally from the same region, so maybe separated at birth?)
How important are character names to you in your books? Is there a special meaning to any of the names?
Names are very important. In my fantasy novels, I select names for each character based on the world’s analogous culture and on the name’s meaning. I only make up names from scratch for characters that come from a fantasy culture that has no real-world analogue, and even then, I think carefully about the name so it has weight and carries a suggestion of what that character might be like.
Where do your ideas come from?
Like Athena, they spring fully-formed from my head!
That’s only half-joking. Most of my ideas just pop in there, though if I think about it (which I try not to do), I’m probably inspired by things I see in the media (whether TV shows, movies, other books, world news, etc). Plot ideas are pretty much my own creation, though there may be elements that pay homage to something I like from popular entertainment. Certainly, when I’m thinking up new technology for my sci-fi series, I’ll pay close attention to scientific advances and try to extrapolate practical applications for those technologies. I’ve read articles many times for devices people have invented based on certain technologies that I’ve already introduced in my Zack Jackson series (like the fabricators they use to make clothes and household items to order; basically 3D printers). Shortly after the first Zack Jackson novel was published, I read an article about adapting 3D printers to make clothing. It’s very gratifying when that happens.
How long does it usually take you to write the first draft of a book?
I can usually write a first draft in 30-60 days, depending on the length. Since I still have a day job, I have to be laser-focused when I write and when I’m in the groove, I can easily exceed 3,000 words a day. Thankfully, I have editors, or very little of that would be fit to publish.
What are you working on now?
Hot on the heels of Scars of the Sundering: Lament will be the conclusion to that series, Scars of the Sundering: Salvation. The first draft of that novel is already written; it’s just waiting its turn for editing and revisions. I’ve also begun work on the fourth Zack Jackson novel, Zack Jackson & The Secret of Venus. I hope to have that first draft completed prior to Gen Con.
Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day?
I’m the Manager of Catalogs and Custom Publications for a trade organization supporting independent hardware retailers across the United States and Canada. We made business-to-business hardware catalogs, i.e. the catalogs hardware stores use to stock their inventory.
Are your characters based on real people, are they imaginary or a combination of both?
Most of my characters are my own original creations, though for some of them, I will take inspiration from either real life (as in the case of Zack Jackson’s school counselor, Fred McPheely; he is 100% homage to Fred Rogers) or from other fictional sources (Zack’s gym instructor is inspired by Tech Sergeant Zim in the Starships Troopers film and Delilah from my fantasy series was inspired by Dot Warner from Animaniacs!). No matter from whom my characters are inspired, they always take on a life of their own and often go in directions I never anticipated.
When you’re writing, do you listen to music or do you need silence?
I usually listen to music. Specifically, I listen to soundtracks from the genre in which I am writing. For the most part, there can be no lyrics, although I find if the lyrics are in a language with which I am completely unfamiliar (like Japanese), they fade into the background and become like just another instrument. When I write fantasy, I particularly like to listen to the soundtracks from World of Warcraft and The Elder Scrolls. When I write sci-fi, I’ll listen to Star Trek, Doctor Who, and Mass Effect soundtracks.
What do you find most challenging about writing?
Finding the time to write. I still have to work a full-time job to pay the bills, and since my wife is disabled and my step-daughter is now married and living on her own, most of the chores around the house fall to me. Still, I can usually find an hour or two each evening to sit down and write. If I’m able to find my focus quickly, I can accomplish quite a lot in that short time.
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