Sergio Leonardo Cornejo
Today in the Writer's Corner, we meet Sergio Leonardo Cornejo.
Amanda: Hi, Sergio. Welcome to the Writer’s Corner, where we talk all things writing in our corner of the world!
Sergio: Hello. Thank you for your time.
Amanda: So tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you in this big wide world?
Sergio: Well. I’m basically a Mexican nerd. There’s not much to say about myself. I like anime, Japanese video games, manga, tabletop games. The least censored the better. I am not fond of changes in content. Anyway, I prefer to let my characters take the limelight and stay in the shadows.
Amanda: You’ve released The Guilds of Avlaan series. Tell us anything and everything.
Sergio: Sincerely there’s not much to tell without spoilers. I mean, it is set in an anachronistic fantasy world with several steampunk elements, a bit of renaissance and medieval Europe too.
It is the kind of fantasy setting found in the works of fiction I enjoy. Video games such as Final Fantasy, and animations such as The Vision of Escaflowne or The Rising of The Shield Hero.
Regarding the plot itself, it centers around the exploits of two characters, the half demon swordsman, Zeneth of Antua, and the young wyfwolf (That is the historically accurate term for a female lycanthrope) huntress, Ruwa the Red. It’s pretty much a character driven story about two members of a guild similar to medieval private police officers. Full of references to alchemy and mythology, as well as some things taken from my artistic influences. Honestly it is quite different to what you expect from a Western author.
Amanda: And you decided to be a writer? Why’s that?
Sergio: I’m quite good at coming up with stories, fictional ones that is. Ever since I was young I came up with characters of my own imagining and adventure filled stories. At first I wanted to develop a video game (I still intend to do so eventually) with the story I wrote, but I lack the skills or resources to make it into a game, so I wrote the entire story as novels, to make sure eventually there will be a video game adaptation.
Amanda: Was there a defining moment in your life where you knew you had to be a writer?
Sergio: That’s a funny one. At first I didn’t like to even read at all. The only thing I read was manga. But, during the process of outlining the video game concept of what would be Steel and Flame, I began to read some of the short stories tied to The Witcher, as well as the Myst novels, and decided to give it a shot. Turns out I love writing, and even though it is not as visual as I would like, it is a great medium to share my stories.
I also published some short story collections, which are released whenever I write enough short stories to complete the 40k word minimum.
Amanda: What are you working on right now?
Sergio: Well. On shilling for my novels of course! Just kidding. It is true however that I released the second tome of the Guilds of Avlaan series earlier this year. Right now I’m working on getting the thrid tome ready for release, as well as some new stories, including an urban fantasy story set in the city I live in, as well as a science fiction mecha story.
I got hundreds of ideas in my head, and just recently started to put them on paper for real.
Amanda: Describe your writing space? What makes it uniquely you?
Sergio: I sit on a desk in my bedroom. The desk itself is decorated with some anime merch, my personal mask collection, writing notes, and a stale hamburger… The hamburger part is a joke. Food never lasts enough to spoil if I’m nearby!
Amanda: But you’re not just a writer, you’re also an artist. How does your art practice help shape you as a writer?
Sergio: Artist? No. I just make some of the concept art for my novels. Generally speaking it is badly drawn, so I send it to actual visual artists to transfer my vision into actual art. That concept art is generally just for the purpose of depicting visually what I imagine in order to make the descriptions easy for myself.
The only two arts I take pride on are literary and culinary. I love cooking.
Amanda: Have you ever based a character on someone you know? Did you ever tell them?
Sergio: Many! But generally speaking I avoid telling them. Even though normally it is a positive depiction, I am sincerely cautious since they may take offense or find it creepy. People nowadays react strongly to even the most harmless things. Some ask me if they are part of my stories, and that’s when they have their assumption confirmed or refuted. Otherwise they may never know.
Amanda: What kind of research do you do? And how long do you spend researching before you write a book?
Sergio: I spend at least an hour on random trivia and research, especially historical. Many of my characters have one or more allusions to historical figures as a result. Generally speaking I conduct research on historical events during the outline, and I research on things which might be useful in the middle of the writing phase.
I have read about almost anything. From medieval laws to cheese making. I would dare say I know too much, and maybe became part of a few watchlists with my research. It is not something you can’t find on literally Wikipedia, but let’s just say I know things one is not expected to know.
Amanda: Have you edited something out a book? And why?
Sergio: The plot stays almost the same from the writhing phase to the editing phase, but I do remove some expletives here and there. Let’s just say I didn’t want Ruwa to speak like a drunken sailor, and before editing she cursed a lot more.
Amanda: Have you ever hidden a secret inside a book? Can you give us clues how to find it?
Sergio: Many. And I would like to give clues while still making them vague. Let’s start. Among the secrets hidden, and they will be listed.
I like Doctor Who quite a lot (Except for the last seasons).
I love JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.
Some of the plot started off as a joke, including a small referene to The Simpsons.
Some characters and their way of living are allusions to historical figures.
There are some things I liked enough to add them.
With that said, there are several pop culture and historical references. I had to be cautious and clever though. Direct mention of them would ruin the plot unless the setting is our real world.
Amanda: What was your hardest scene to write?
Sergio: I’m still trying to figure out. I’m not good with character deaths. I avoid them because if it is a good guy it feels painful, and if an antagonist die, you have cut off some good conflict material. I did struggle with connecting a few events too.
Amanda: What is the most difficult part of your writing process?
Sergio: I like Ruwa too much, and I don’t want to make her too OP or a Mary Sue. I want her to be likeable to my readers and fear the idea of them hating her.
Amanda: Do you have a writing kryptonite?
Sergio: Bad mood. If I feel emotionally wrong or unstable I just can’t write. In such cases I edit.
Amanda: Is there a taboo topic you’ve ever wanted to explore?
Sergio: Many! Already did to some extent! Telling you would be spoilers. Well. I do love to explore culture shock and how sometimes cultural elements common at some point in time might seem abhorrent to our modern sensitivities. Sensitivities I sometimes do not share.
Amanda: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Sergio: Dunno. I do make an outline before writing, but some things appear on the go.
Amanda: Are you a world builder or character creator?
Sergio: In that regard I’m like roadkill. Disturbingly in the middle. I love to write novel characters, but they need a setting.
Amanda: What are you reading right now?
Sergio: Mostly manga. But if you want me to recommend a book, I got plenty. In fact some of my friends are writers too, and better than myself TBH.
Amanda: Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, have you ever had to deal with it? And how did you overcome it?
Sergio: Do I believe in gravity? The answer is simple. It happens. How to overcome it? Well. Mostly figuring out what is causing the pain and removing the source. Sometimes I just miss my favorite restaurants, so I go there and recover my inspiration. Sometimes it’s a cold, and I treat it.
Amanda: What about reader’s block? Is that even a thing?
Sergio: Yes. It happens when you like the book enough to not hate it, but you don’t feel like reading it yet. Been there too.
Amanda: If you could tell your younger writer self some advice, what would it be?
Sergio: Don’t hire Catus Cactus for that cover. Also shill more. Being shy won’t get you sales! I would also slap me a couple of times and help myself approach the woman I love, but that’s why I don’t do time travel. It complicates things.
Amanda: Any advice for writers?
Sergio: Keep writing until you make enough f-you money to make it your day job. Right now being an employee is a terrible idea. You could get fired for no reason at all.
Amanda: Any advice for readers?
Sergio: Recommend your favorite books, leave reviews when possible. That way we can keep writing the stuff you love, and you can share your enjoyment with other people too.
Amanda: The next book - when can we read it? And what can we expect?
Sergio: Right now book 1 and 2 are available. We don’t have a set date for book 3, but I expect to have it ready for either the second quarter of 2020 or early 2021.
What can you expect? Well. More adventures, a lot more references to alchemy and mythology, and so much fluffy Ruwa your mind might explode! I really like her too much.
Amanda: That’s awesome. Thank you so much for coming along today. It’s been great to chat.
Sergio: I should be the one thanking you for inviting me over. I’m just starting and I felt really, really, really nervous.
Amanda: Can you please tell everyone how to find you.
Sergio: Just look the name “Sergio Leonardo Cornejo” on Amazon. I don’t use social media that much in terms of business. I insist, what matters are my stories, not myself. I would rather not become a celebrity author. That way of living is not for me. What matters is not myself, but the stories I write.