Interview: Joshua Viola – Author of The Bane of Yoto

Kicking off the IPPY Winner Giveaway, I got the opportunity to interview Joshua Viola – author of the multi-award winning The Bane of Yoto  (including Gold for IPPY Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror eBook) . I started reading TBOY this week and I’ve already been sucked into the world Josh has created. Awesome to have found a great new author to follow! Get a chance to see behind the curtain a tiny bit as Josh answers questions about the book and being an author.

1. What inspired TBOY or gave you the initial inspiration?

The Bane of Yoto was inspired by a variety of different things. On the outside, it encompasses everything I liked about movies, video games and comic books. If you checked out my movie collection, you’d see some clear connections.

It’s monster movies, sci-fi and anime thrown into a blender.

Growing up I never liked reading. In fact, I hated it. And because Yoto combines so many of my childhood passions, I wanted to write a story that I think the youth in me would love. Something people who don’t necessarily like to read might enjoy. That being said, it certainly isn’t a book for kids. It’s ultra-violent, scary at times and deals with some very serious adult situations.

Now, at 30, I read all the time. And there’s certainly been some characterizations I’ve really admired in other literature (Ender’s Game comes to mind) that I’ve tried to replicate in certain ways.

But when examined under a microscope, The Bane of Yoto is a story about two brothers: Yoto and Eon. It analyzes their struggles and what brotherhood really means to them. In that regard, the book is about the relationship I have with my own brother, Cody.

2. How would you classify TBOY and what other books do you think its similar to?

I would classify The Bane of Yoto as a Science-Fantasy novel. It definitely has science-fiction elements: it is about two alien species on an alien planet. There are no humans to be found in the story.
But it also has a heavy amount of fantasy. There’s magic, witches, medieval-like settings, etc. The main plot focuses on a character who is stabbed in the chest with a mythical dagger. And rather than perishing beneath the blade, it transforms him into a god.

As my friend JC Hutchins, author of the 7th Son series, once put it: It’s Conan the Barbarian meets Star Wars.

3. I love the words you’ve created – all the names of people and places and things in this new world. How did you come up with them?

Thank you. Most of the naming conventions have meaning behind them. When I first came up with the story eight years ago, I was very much into anime and Japanese culture. The name “Yoto” came from Kyoto, Japan.

Other names, such as Eon, was inspired by a Celldweller song. Celldweller is a one-man band whose music is featured in numerous films, TV and video games. Celldweller also owns my publisher, FiXT, and his music is in my free Bane of Yoto 3D comic app for iOS ( http://bit.ly/zstjnZ ). I was a fan of his music long before FiXT published my book and I named the character after one of my favorite Celldweller tracks: Eon.

4. What are your favorite characteristics of your hero – Yoto?

I can’t necessarily identify a favorite characteristic. In a lot of ways Yoto is very unlikeable. At least in the beginning. He is the representation of myself and my struggles. I wanted to be honest and put those feelings on paper.

What I find more interesting is his journey. Yoto’s growth fascinates me. His ability to better himself and put others first. And I hope that, too, reflects some of me.

5. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in book?

I wouldn’t change the story, no, but I’d probably develop more scenes and characters – and likely trim a lot of fat.

6. What was your favorite part of writing TBOY?

The writing process was fantastic. TBOY was the first book I’d ever written and I learned a lot from it. It was amazing watching the story blossom before my eyes. Writing is an evolutionary process and that really fascinates me.

But what I’ve enjoyed more than anything else is the response from fans. It has been very rewarding hearing from people around the world who’ve embraced the crazy ideas I had floating around in my head. I can’t thank them enough for that.

7. What are you working on now?

I’m currently writing a novel for Celldweller, inspired by his “Wish Upon a Blackstar” album. The book is called “Blackstar” and “Act One: Purified” will be available this summer. The book will also be simultaneously released with a soundtrack by Celldweller.

You can read more about it here: http://bloody-disgusting.com/news/3220840/celldweller-plans-new-music-book-series-and-more/

And watch the trailer for it here (scrub to 0:52): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jMzbtNE2e0&list=UUpDmAxyuLoNrP-cek8tEfrw&index=5

Official synopsis: Rezin doesn’t know who he is or where he came from. He only knows one thing: how to scour. His combination of gifts and abilities allow him to scour any system, and steal information to sell to the highest bidder.

Scouring provided Rezin a luxurious lifestyle, but he wished for something more – until the day he stole secrets from Re:memory, the public storehouse of the forgotten past. Secrets controlled by Kaine, leader of the reborn world and the mega-city Central.

Rezin had stolen from Re:memory before, but not like this. Something came into him. Something entered his mind, took up a place in his thoughts, and gave him unknown powers he doesn’t know how to control. From the instant the darkness entered him, Rezin found himself driven from the comfortable life he carved out for himself in Central.

Forced to flee into the dangers of the Outlands by Kaine and his Scandroids, Rezin encounters the mysterious twins Vray and Bastian, as well as the tough and defiant Elara. Together, they begin the journey that will reveal the true nature of what occupies Rezin’s mind. A journey that will take them into the universe of the Blackstars, to the living world of Scardonia, and face to face with Kaine — and ultimately, Rezin’s own nature.

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BlackstarNovel?ref=hl

8. Any advice for other aspiring indie authors?

My only advice would be to write for yourself.

After I finished my first draft of the Yoto manuscript, I was talking to a major publisher – every writer’s dream. Unfortunately, they wanted to make drastic changes to the story. I considered it, at first. But as the opportunity grew nearer, I just couldn’t do it.

I started writing the book to tell the story I wanted to tell. And that is when I decided to pass and look elsewhere.

That led me to FiXT. A music label who was interested in diving into new forms of media and Yoto fit the bill. They allowed me to keep the story in place as I had planned. The book released and went on to win six awards since its release last year. It also spawned a 3D comic app that currently has a solid five-star rating and 100,000 downloads.

So again, my advice, write for yourself.

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