Unlike many authors, Armen was not an early reader. He can honestly say that he didn’t voluntarily read a book until he finished The Hobbit in sixth grade. After that reading became a vice as he ravenously devoured science fiction and fantasy stories. In addition to Tolkien his favorite authors included Piers Anthony, Arthur C. Clarke, Stephen R. Donaldson, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Anne McCaffrey.
Taking a more practical approach to college, he earned a BS in Electrical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he was an Honorable-Mention All-American swimmer his senior year. Other than extensive lab reports, his writing was limited to crafting articles promoting the swimming and water polo teams for the school newspaper.
Commissioned as an officer in the USAF, he was assigned to a systems development position just outside of Boston, Ma. While volunteering to coach the base swim team, he met fellow Lieutenant Catherine Robertson, who was also an engineer. Less than two years later they were married.
Despite the fun of working on top secret ‘Area 51’ projects, where he never saw a single alien (dead or alive), Armen decided to leave the service. Both he and his wife earned MBAs from the University of North Carolina. In something akin to what people in the witness protection program must feel like, they spent a decade navigating through the dual career corporate life, with seven moves through six states. After the internet wave crashed, Armen’s environmental conscience led him to a brief stint in second generation bio-fuels, where a highlight was presenting ideas to jumpstart the industry to United States House and Senate staffers.
Unwilling to relocate an eighth time and looking for something new, he and his wife opened three franchised hair salons. In addition to grounding them in one place, he finally found time to write those stories that had been fermenting in his head since high school. As one might expect, his stories mix elements of science and history with a healthy dose of fantasy. He and his wife continue to swim and help coach the local YMCA team. When not writing he enjoys reading. Current favorites include anything by Jack McDevitt and historical fiction by Bernard Cornwell and Steven Pressfield. He lives outside of Rochester, NY with his wife and three children.
And now from the author himself:
Like my late introduction to reading, my writing career has a rather convoluted beginning. Part of the attraction of getting into the franchise hair business was the opportunity for personal growth. That meant more time with my children and a chance to explore my creative side. I didn’t start with writing, but with painting. I managed to produce a few mediocre (and that’s generous) landscapes. I realized I would quickly fill my house with paintings. Once you put one in each kid’s room and on a few unobtrusive walls, what do you do with them?
So I moved on to plan B, which was supposed to be learning to play the piano, but for a variety of reasons I never got started. I still intend to learn, but the strange combination of insomnia and my children’s distaste for writing sent me in another direction first. It had always bothered me that my children were such avid readers, but had shown little interest in writing. One night, unable to sleep, I wandered down into our basement and began typing. I wanted to write something they would enjoy reading. I’d read that Stephen R. Donaldson’s stories started with the intersection of two dissimilar ideas. I was always a fan of Arthurian legend and had recently read some articles about String Theory, so I decided to mix the two of them together. I wrote forty pages that night, of which maybe ten made it into the published version of Misaligned: The Celtic Connection. The rest is great background material, some of which I mined for the sequel Misaligned: The Silver Scepter.
I made several other conscious decisions about the Misaligned series. First, I noticed that most of the really popular YA fantasy adventure stories feature male protagonists, so of course I went in the opposite direction and decided that Arthur would be a girl. Maybe I didn’t do the change justice, but it really wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. Second, as a child I always enjoyed learning new things. I’d pick up a volume of Funk & Wagnalls to look something up (gives you a hint on how old I am) and half an hour later I’d still be reading it. I wouldn’t have found what I was originally looking for, but I’d have learned half a dozen new things.
With that in mind, I worked several facts that I found interesting into the story. While history is the most obvious theme, with elements of Hammurabi’s Code, mentions of King Henry’s appropriation of church lands and an appearance by nineteenth century suffragette Matilda Joslyn Gage. I also sprinkled in a few other tidbits, the migration of the Monarch butterfly and the Black Book of Carmarthen, the oldest existing book written in Welsh. Finally, true to my inner nerd, I tried to use prime numbers wherever possible. I made exceptions for awkwardness, where I use a round number like 500 or 1,000 instead of the nearest primes (499 and 997), but as long as the prime number doesn’t detract from the flow, I use it. For consistency, and because I enjoy it, I used this same approach in The Silver Scepter, with a focus on Egypt including facts about the Pyramids, mummification, and Hatshepsut, the most prominent female ruler of ancient Egypt. Other areas include the creation myths of the Iroquois and an expanded role for the Monarch butterfly.
It took me almost a year to complete The Celtic Connection. While I had achieved my initial goal of raising my kids’ interest in writing (they all began writing their own stories and my eldest served as a story editor), during the process my goals expanded, and I began to seriously think about publishing. I worked up my courage and submitted to, and was promptly rejected by, more than a dozen agents. As per the norm there was no feedback, but I suspected something was wrong and decided to get a professional opinion. It only took me a few days on the internet to find Rosanne Catalano, a freelance YA fantasy editor with a working knowledge of Welsh, which I use to connect the story to the origins of Arthurian legend. She liked the story and thought it was publishable, but I needed to clean up a few things and cut 30-40,000 words. I chose to take that as good news and with her well annotated critique spent two intense weeks editing. After many rejections, I received two offers for publication. I chose Synergebooks, and eight months later Misaligned: The Celtic Connection was published.
During the publishing process and at the urging of my daughter I decided to start another series in a more traditional high fantasy setting. She really wanted me to write a straight High Fantasy, with dwarves, elves, and dragons. I’m a big fan of that genre, but it’s a very well-trodden field. I tried to come at it from a non-traditional angle. So I started with a question: What if a James Bond-like story took place in a High Fantasy setting? Magical items replace M’s high-tech gadgets and fantastic creatures and sorcerers serve as villains and Bond’s exotic allies. The result was The Warder series, with the first book, The Poisoned Princess, due out later in 2013. I’m currently outlining a second Warder book and noodling the possibilities for a third Misaligned story.
You can find more about Armen and his writing via…
- Publisher’s Site: http://synergebooks.com/ebook_misaligned.html
- Amazon site (US): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00906RDVE
- Amazon site (UK): http://www.amazon.co.uk/Misaligned-The-Celtic-Connection-ebook/dp/B00906RDVE
- Barnes & Noble Site: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/misaligned-armen-pogharian/1112572746?ean=2940014889544
If you would like to take part in an author spotlight, take a look at https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/submission-information/opportunities-on-this-blog (the spotlights are option (a)) or email me for details.
** NEW!! You can now subscribe to this blog on your Kindle / Kindle app!
or http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008E88JN0 for outside the UK **
You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my Books (including my debut novel, which is being serialised on Novel Nights In!) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers. If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating and choose an optional free eBook.
For writers / readers willing to give feedback and / or writers wanting feedback, take a look at this blog’s Feedback page.
As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do. If there’s anything you’d like to take part in, take a look at Opportunities on this blog.
I welcome items for critique for the online writing groups listed below:
Morgen’s Online Non-Fiction Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Script Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group
We look forward to reading your comments.