I first met A. R. Yngve on Instagram, and I'd see a lot of his art for his series Darc Ages and bits and pieces of other stuff he was working on. When I found out he also did game design in addition to writing and illustration, my first reaction was that I gotta talk to this guy! Check it out~
What are you working on right now?
- Preparing for the big annual Book Fair (http://bokmassan.se) that takes place in my home city of Gothenburg, Sweden. That means creating ads, hustling my books on social media, getting the paperbacks delivered, writing press releases, courting journalists, organizing events with fellow writers... feels like being a carnival barker, which in many ways it is!
I’m also trying to write a short story for a writing contest.
What's your creative process like?
- Messy. Lots of little notebooks, much daydreaming... I try to structure my work by writing plot outlines, but I end up with an unstructured pile of plot outlines. Yet somehow, work gets done.
What helps you balance life with your creative work?
- A very understanding spouse who wants to read my work. Ask other writers who are single parents with three kids, how they manage to get any writing done. They amaze me.
From the get-go did you know DARC AGES would be a series? At what point did you know? Does your process/planning shift when writing a series vs. a standalone work?
- The DARC AGES books were intended as a series from the start, because they began as a script for a comic book in the 1990s (sadly, never completed nor published). Then it became a Web serial, and it got too long for a single book.
I understand that every writer wants to have a bestselling series – those bills are not going to pay themselves -- but there is no way of knowing in advance whether a series will be in demand. So there’s really no point in planning a serial too far ahead of actual success.
That being said, there is that long-running series of DARC AGES books in my mind... I just haven’t written them down yet.
In an Amazon review of your short story collection Precinct 20: Dead Strange, a reviewer states you have a cast of interesting characters that are "full of life and seem to leap right off the page." How do you go about creating that "priest that deals out more than prayers" and the time-traveling president--how do you make your characters feel genuine?
- Real life gives a writer so many characters for free. For instance, that time-traveling President is loosely based on George W. Bush – I didn’t have to make up very much!
I borrow here and there from the real world, and fill in the blanks. Also I borrow from myself, but I think all writers do that.
You’ve got to give the characters flaws. They have to smell a little. I emphasize their physicality; how they move, how their bodies are part of their personalities. I also go inside their minds to follow their thoughts, their doubts, fears and hopes. They’ve got to want something.
If my characters share one trait, it’s that they are obsessively driven – which drives them to greatness, or their downfall, or redemption.
Your works span from a wide range of settings -- from the turf of a big city homicide detective to the Renaissance set 900 years into the future -- how do you start world building? How do you balance the setup with the story?
- For me, a story mostly begins with the idea rather than the characters. And then that leads to more concrete ideas, then a plot, and then characters who fit into the plot.
I am aware that these plot-driven or idea-centered stories may not be everyone’s cup of tea. In recent years I’ve been trying to give the characters more ”breathing space.”
As an illustrator, do you face any obstacles in translating text into an image? Does it differ when you illustrate your own work vs. a client's?
- You can draw almost anything, given enough time. Time, however, is limited. So I take shortcuts – I often draw only ”slices” or details of what is depicted in the text, rather than a big sprawling panorama. Then the reader’s imagination can ”fill in the blanks.” When I work for a client, I need to understand what said client has in mind. This requires good communication; I suppress my ego. (Come to think of it, you should always submit your ego to the craft.)
As a game designer, was there a game that made you say, "Hey, I could do this?"
- Plenty. And plenty I couldn’t.
What's your favorite game and why--would you make any changes to it?
- The only significant change would probably be to make the game last longer. My favorite game of recent years is probably RESIDENT EVIL 4. I like scary games.
Is there anything else you'd like readers to know?
- Yes: buy my books!
You can find them on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/A.-R.-Yngve/e/B075K8BSWT/).
Try my new book PRECINCT 20: DEAD STRANGE; it is getting some seriously good reviews in both the U.S. and Sweden. Reviewers are likening it to THE X-FILES and THE TWILIGHT ZONE...
You can find his book trailers here!