Last week we had the chance to look at a new episodic Kindle Vella series by the talented author, Egar Sugimo. He’s been writing for a long while, but Omigus Rage has become his debut claim to fame, and he’s developing a following for delivering frequent, regular content that readers enjoy. More recently, we had the good fortune of being able to find out his inspirations and motivations, and to learn more about what’s coming down the pipeline. Read on to learn more about Egar Sugimo.
Tellest: Greetings Egar! I wanted to thank you for the opportunity to speak with you. It feels like all the writers I work with are all incredibly busy, and you are certainly no exception. Your day job aside, you’re writing content for Amazon’s new Kindle Vella platform, which means you’re writing episodic content that your readers engage you on—a completely different animal. All this is to say I know your time is valuable, and I very much appreciate you sharing some of it. Let’s get into it and see what drives you forward in your writing journey.
Egar Sugimo: I can’t wait, Thank you for this opportunity and I don’t think there is a writer/author out there that won’t want to share their stories on any platform.
T: I always like to start off my line of questions by asking about how writers and storytellers believe they became enthralled with writing and with their genre. What do you think it was that inspired you to create your own stories? Do you have any authors or people in your life that encouraged you?
ES: Fantasy is amazing. I remember reading C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series, Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, and just so many more as a kid. My mind would go into a multi-verse of different ways the story would end—that’s where I feel I started as a writer—and I was just enthralled with fantasy as a whole. When I was a bit older, I remember a wonderful lady at a bookstore recommending a Tad Williams story, Dragonbone Chair. Sorry Tad for what I’m about to say. I hated it at first! I fell asleep a lot, it was hard to get through almost the first half of the first book, but—and that’s a big but—after that, I loved it. I rushed to read the other books in the set and I don’t think I slept much until it was all done. I cherished that story, and it gave me an appreciation for buildup, it pulled you into the story, and once you were in there was no escaping it. I have my favorites, and Terry Brooks, R.A. Salvatore, Margaret Weis, and Phillip Pullman are at the top of that list but there are so many more. I am currently on a discord with other Amazon Vella authors, and they are super supportive. The community in general is great and I find myself lucky to be a part of it.
T: With the kind of camaraderie that you’re building on the discord server, have you ever considered collaborating with any other authors on projects or bundles, or things of that nature?
ES: The discord was a true gem to find. I found it through a YouTuber called Unlimited Story, and really got to meet a lot of different types of writers/authors. The chat is open to anyone, including readers, but it’s a place for the writers/authors to take a breath, complain, and relax at the same time. There is so much to the writing world I didn’t know about; including conventions, courses, and other types of meet ups that I’m just starting to put my toes in the water. I’ve always wanted to build up my own fantasy world different from the known one’s like Forgotten Realms. At one point I did want other authors to write under my realms but as I’m older I think there is also a lot that goes into making sure others don’t twist the world in a view you don’t share. Don’t get me wrong I’m good at destroying worlds, although my 2-year-old son is probable perfected it by now. At one point in time, I’d love to work with other authors on some projects but I’m a long way from that point currently.
T: It is incredibly painstaking the work that you need to put in to make sure that a world stays consistent if you’re sharing it with other authors. You would need a style guide, editors who could help retain the same voice, probably a writing team to make sure everything is cohesive. It’s exhausting, and not for everyone, but the idea that you’re already thinking about it might mean you’ve got the chops for it! Would you adapt your Omigus Rage story for that kind of worldbuilding? Or would it be one of your other worlds?
ES: I believe Omigus Rage will support an endless amount of side stories. I would be open to other writers dabbing in those areas once the series gets to the point where it would make sense. My other works are more High Fantasy and would be smoother to support other authors.
T: As I mentioned earlier, you’re creating content on the Kindle Vella platform, and not only that, but doing it at a quick pace and a regular schedule. It’s a bit different than the kind of “let it breathe” method of writing at your own pace. What made you want to use Vella as your platform of choice in this case? Has it been a good experience?
ES: Laziness! I’ve been writing stuff in the Navy for years, and I’ve been hoarding my creative stories for even more years. Vella comes into the picture and poof, now I don’t need to really focus on trying to find the perfect illustrator. Now I can just put out what I wrote (after an editor) and see what pays off and what doesn’t. I’ve been lucky to have a lot already written up so I’m not crunching for episodes, but it does put a bit of pressure to finish. The more readers the more you get the feeling MAN I NEED TO FINISH THIS there are people out there that want to know how this whole thing ends. The overall experience has been fantastic and I encourage my avid readers to reach out and let me know what they think on my Facebook page, Instagram or twitter.
T: How far into the future for Omigus Rage do you see things progressing? You have multiple seasons planned, right? Do you leave things open for yourself toward the end of your planned content, or is what you’re building to a pretty finite conclusion?
ES: Omigus Rage is planned out to the end or the beginning however you want to interpret the quote in the first episode. There will be 3 major arcs for the series. I almost want to say the first one is straight to the point, and anyone could guess how it would end. It’s the second arc that should start around episode 36 that takes the story to a different level one that I have yet to see anyone else do. That’s the great thing about writing you’re always looking for something new to give to the readers. The third arc comes with complimentary discount coupons for philosophy and physics courses as it will be very heavy on several concepts. The series in all is wonderfully wrapped in fantasy like a sugar-coated pill that makes it easier to swallow. Although I have arcs planned out there is plenty of stretch room to get to the end I continue to find where I can add more to improve the overall story, so I don’t expect anything less the 100+ episodes. As far as side stories well those are technically endless.
T: With those side stories, do you have any characters that you’d like to explore more of besides those we’re introduced to at the onset?
ES: In my Knights of the Apocalypse Series I’d love to explore each of the main characters as their own series which would currently take a count to around 12 strong side stories, but the amount of time it would take only makes sense if I filter them out a little at a time to support once a week uploads. As far as Omigus Rage I’m about to go into more detail with the beings called the Jackul. One day I’d love to make a History of the Jackul, maybe even make is a small short story for kindle unlimited.
T: Omigus Rage is a project of devotion, as you’ve got plenty more story left in the chamber, and you’re committing to your goals. With a story like this that is being written weekly, do you run into any surprises for your characters or the way the plot is unfolding, or are you able to commit to what you’ve been expecting since the beginning?
ES: YES, like most writer’s or authors. Omigus Rage was going to be a set of books. Episodic writing is way different, a lot faster paced, and you really want to keep the reader hooked every episode. I had to cut a lot of buildup and descriptive writing in the story which made the action faster paced. I’m juggling the thought of adding the content back when I put it in a book set for a deeper reading experience, but I’ll send that to my readership to decide. I even added a few episodes after going through one and just stopping with “man I really need to pay this off and I need to extend this.” My mindset took a shift around episode 8 and I started really looking at the series like a cartoon manga. There needs to be action or conflict and some sort of cliff hanger before the episode is over or a peek at what’s next. In sum: Yes, yes, yes, writing episodic has really changed the story from what was in my head and left tossed around random papers in my office everywhere. I even had to hold myself to a strict outline as recently my word count has drawn too high so I’m trying to keep each episode in the 2-3k words range which comes to 20-30 tokens. This type of writing is supposed to give the reader a quick satisfied feeling, although I’ve run up to 4k-5k words and will be bring it right back down. I think there is a sweet spot and I just need to find it.
T: While it’s clear you’re comfortable with Vella, and you’re doing well, do you think you’ll ever write a book in the traditional non-episodic style? It certainly seems as though these small bursts and this routine is helpful, so it may not be on the horizon.
ES: Maybe, at this point I really don’t know. I plan to release the series to books Omigus Rage being an example of three planned books. Others I’m planning would probably release to books after every 10 episodes. At this point I don’t have any intention of going straight to a book or eBook, I honestly think building up my fan base although I like to call them my avid readers is more important. Episodic writing is collecting new readers and grabbing their interest. Down the road I’ll have the stories in print, and I’ll sign the books etc. for people to put on the shelf, but there is a very real thrill with people waiting to read the next bit of your story. Once you publish a book you have two months maybe, unless your like Harry Pottery, where you are in that spotlight. When hundreds or thousands are reading your work and enjoying your world. They can’t really interact with you, but they can share your vision. Amazon Vella is providing a longer relationship with the readers; they can provide feedback with thumbs up. A lot of the writers are requesting for them to add a comments section, I would enjoy one as well for the positive feedback it could provide. This is a new era and I’m enjoying it greatly at some point I see a blend of traditional and episodic as a balance of my career as a writer.
T: You’re receiving great feedback and positive vibes from your audience, and that’s a huge victory. Sometimes the winds sway in the other direction. How do you deal with critiques, whether they’re warranted or otherwise?
ES: I think my day job has me cover with handling all types of critiques. I usually take a step back I’m human just like everyone else so I’m not perfect. Usually there are a couple types of negative feedback, I would love to fix the types that are actually constructive those are the readers that care enough to address a problem they see. My series might not be for everyone’s taste so it’s possible I may offend religious readers to which I would point this is just a work of fiction. I enjoy conversation and I’m looking forward to discussions with any avid reader or critic.
T: You mention to your readers that if you had more time, you’d be working on an additional story. Omigus Rage is an apocalyptic fantasy that’s bombastic and epic. If you were able to find some time for a second story, what would that be about?
ES: I currently have four series up on Vella and I’m enjoying the juggle. My primary focus is on Omigus Rage, but I have two Knights of the Apocalypse (KOTA) and another series called Saga Opus. I do need to give the others some more attention but with time those stories will move forward after I’m done with the first arc of Omigus Rage. Knights of the Apocalypse is very heavy in the fantasy genre. Its set in the land of Hulkara and the series subtitled KOTA War with Fear centers around a large cast of Generals that are part of an order called Knights of the Apocalypse. Each General is unique and there is a lot of build up to get through the whole cast of characters. The other KOTA is Trinket Lord and that just focuses on the life of Enecubis one of the KOTA Generals as you follow him to how he became this great antihero. Saga Opus is my attempt at a reincarnated in another life type of manga/light novel story. Jora is the main character and he wakes up in a game like world with levels and skills etc. There is a major twist to all my stories and we have a couple of years together as writer and reader before those paths pay off. I hope to continue paying out my readership with all the amazing worlds and series my brain can produce for as long as possible.
T: Is Omigus Rage your most popular series so far? How do the other stories fare? I feel as though the LitRPG-ish structure of Saga Opus would work wonders with Vella.
ES: It is and probably in part due to my own promotion of it. My KOTA series has had just as long of a time developing and it has some 5-star reviews already, but my focus is leaning more on getting Omigus Rage out to a certain episode before moving forward with the other stories. Door, Gateways, windows, and Portals a lot of that comes out early on and depending on which character is explaining they mean the same thing but just viewed differently. There are some connections to all my stories, but it will be up to the readers to find out where those connects are, and how deep they go. So, there is sanity to the madness of what I put out and in what order I’m posting in. I’m a huge fan of the isekai style and reincarnated content out recently. I agree that Saga Opus would be greatly suited for Vella but in my attempt to rush at the Amazon Vella grand opening I need to address the pace of the story and develop it more episodic. I promise my avid readers that it will be adjusted in the spring of 2022 and then I’ll be promoting it more as I move forward with its own weekly updates on Vella.
T: You and I briefly discussed in private that you had been writing for two decades, but that Omigus Rage made you a first-time author. What other projects have you been working on that have remained in the shadows? What have you learned in that time that have made you a better storyteller?
ES: Writing and just having these creative stories in my mind over the years I’ve notice changes that were both major and minor. Like a fine wine sometimes I have a story that just gets better with age. It is always fun to sit down and write something out but really what gets readers are when you have major payout, and what the heck moments. Like all fantasy writers I’ve made Dark Elves, and I spent many nights on how my Dark Elves would be different than others. I got to the point where they were forsaken by the other races due to some horrible tragic effect they did that caused the near genocide of a whole race. Banished from the surface, they tore their eyes out and used magic-infused onyx to see in the dark. These were the ancestors of the current Dark Elves. It’s thoughts like this that matured with time. Omigus Rage has been a sweet spot since college which was 20 years ago. There are three arcs, but I won’t go into any spoilers, and I do plan on releasing the series as a physical trilogy later on. I’ve read a lot of fantasy and I’ve enjoyed edge of my seat thrilling action packed adventures. I want to leave each arc with such a bang for the reader’s buck that is hits both body (the action climax) and mind (did he just go there thoughts).
T: Regarding your dark elves story, does that bundle into any of your existing sagas? Or is that something that needs some rejiggering before you’re ready to release it?
ES: The Dark Elves can be found in the KOTA series. One of the General named Sprie is a Dark Elf, but he is the younger generation, so he has normal eyes that have adjusted to the dark. I’ve put in 500,000 years of history into KOTA which is a mind-blowing number but there are key events that happen and are referenced throughout the story. With races that are near immortal, you tend to need a longer timeline.
T: I’ve asked this before of storytellers who tackle the ageless races to some greater extent: how do you wrap your head around the idea of people who never have to worry about a finite end except at the end of a blade or a magic spell? How do you conceptualize what their lives must be like?
ES: I see a lack of emotion almost as time goes on feelings are lost with time, or a better way is the ability to control emotions are lost. Picture making an Elf that is 20,000 years old. How many lives have they seen turn to dust. Now picture that same elf that had been joined for 10,000 years to a partner. If that partner were to pass brutality the amount of sorrow and pain would be devastating. I would think this would make great villains. Dragons would be the same way, and any other race that is near immortal. I would also think that those races are slow to move, they would not be in a rush to do much since time is actually on their side.
T: Kindle Vella hasn’t been around too long yet, so in a lot of ways, you’re pioneering the platform. What advice would you give to storytellers who want to take their first steps toward unleashing their inner author on Kindle Vella?
ES: JUMP IN! Vella is an amazing experience. There are several other options for episodic writing, and Amazon has not been perfect with the launch of Vella, but with all that said there is a big BETA logo when you are submitting your episodes that reminds you this is just the early phase. If your mind is a mess with fantastic ideas then Vella will give you an avenue to see which ones readers fall in love with and the others that may fall flat. This takes away the stress of writing 100,000 words plus to find a ghost town for an audience. Vella is giving USA based writers a handicap before opening it to other markets so I would encourage to jump on the train earlier then later.
T: What challenges have you experiencing along your writing journey? Have you had any moments at which you were nearly ready to toss in the towel?
ES: There have been many challenges and I wouldn’t say I tossed in the towel, but writing has definitely taken a few steps back as I progressed with daily life. I’m not a full-time writer so a lot of what I wrote was for that “Someday I’ll try and get published mentality”. Within that 20 years, self-publishing has come to fruition, and now episodic is coming back around since it used to be a thing a very long time ago. I have a family that comes first and a day job. In fact, I’m in the United States Navy and currently have the honor of being a Senior Chief thanks to that same family and all the Sailors that I had and have the honor to led. When I’m not “Senior”, Dad, or the various names my wife calls me, I can then sneak into my home office and work on my fantasy worlds. I love the era of technology. I use Ulysses to sort all my jumbled ideas into something that looks sane, I also use Story Planner, Mind Node, Aeon Timeline and Scrivener. Great tools if I actually use them to help keep everything in my head out in the open for me to work with.
So, there was no throwing in the towel, but I’ve had friends that have pushed me to publish for years keeping my mindset that I still need to do this. My closest friends already know the three different arcs for Omigus Rage and how it will go, and they want me to publish before someone else has the same idea. There are times that you can get just stuck on an idea but not know how to get it on paper, and then there are times when you have to just delete everything you did because it just won’t work. Those times are rough, but you get past those trials and tribulations.
T: Egar, I wanted to thank you once more for taking the time to talk to me, and to let me delve a little deeper into the mind of a great fantasy storyteller, and to be able to share this with readers who I hope will take the plunge and dive into your debut Vella series, and the rest to follow. If someone wanted to find out more about you, where could they look you up on the internet?
ES: I would like to thank you as well for your time in conducting this interview. I’m open to any readers trying to stay in touch for the latest works I put out. They can follow me on Facebook at @epicfantasyauthor on Instagram @egarsugimo, twitter @omigusrage, and tiktok @egarsugimo. I have no clue what I’m doing on tiktok so I wouldn’t really suggest that one. I’m also on Unlimited Stories discord which can be found at https://discord.gg/2QDpJd3p6p . I don’t currently have an author website, once I actually publish an ebook, softcover, and hardcover for Omigus Rage in the spring of next year I’ll be having one built. Again I appreciate everyone out there that takes the time to enjoy the stories I write, and I thank you again for this chance to address my current and future readers.
Again, I want to extend my thanks to Egar Sugimo, who as you can see is very busy balancing a ton of projects, as well as his “real life” commitments. It was a lovely experience working with him to learn more about his worlds. With weekly content coming to Omigus Rage, there’s never a bad time to begin with the series. But the best time? That time is now. Check out Omigus Rage on Amazon Kindle Vella today, and remember to follow Egar for future releases.