Q&A With Sean R. Frazier, Author of “The Last Available”

Sean R. Frazier is a Columbia, MO author whose latest book is “The Last Available.” This stand alone comedic fantasy novel follows the bumbling adventures of six unlikely heroes as they attempt to quest their way into defeating an ancient creature that has awakened. Frazier is a father, a husband, a gamer, a runner and a total dork. His other work includes two fantasy book series, the completed Forgotten Years Saga and the newly started Mage Breaker Saga. He was kind enough to take the time to be interviewed via email.

Daniel Boone Regional Library: If you were playing one of the book’s six main characters in a role-playing game, which one would be your pick? Perhaps you’d rather be the game master instead?

Sean R. Frazier: This is a tough one. I’ve played every archetype in the book and run many Dungeons & Dragons games of my own so, technically, I have been every character (or Dungeon Master) at one time or another. And, if I’m being honest, there’s a little bit of me in every character in the book. However, in this particular case, I’d probably pick Devinon because he’s the character who most often breaks the rules and goes off script. He would definitely be the most fun character to play. I have, however, been told on numerous occasions that the narrator’s style sounds exactly how I tell stories. I suppose that’s not surprising since I technically am the one telling the story.

DBRL: This seems to be the first book of yours with an emphasis on humor. Was that an easy transition to make? How did you try to make sure that the humor in the book didn’t fall flat?

Frazier: Humor is tricky. I’ve always thought the two toughest genres to write would be first horror, followed up quickly by humor. I normally write fantasy books which usually have a framework and rules but don’t particularly arouse any one emotion. Such a thing is different with humor, where the book exists solely for one purpose — to make the reader laugh. Character development and plot come secondary for me in a book like “The Last Available.” I didn’t write it to make an in depth commentary on the politics and inner feuds of a fantasy realm, but the jokes must land. And sometimes it felt easy to write as the words flew from my keyboard but when I went back and read it, the jokes didn’t really hit. Add to that the fact that I amuse myself far too easily and I found myself in trouble a few times. My editor, in fact, sternly suggested I minimize the gag surrounding the bard and, even though I found it hilarious, I acquiesced. Once I made the changes, I felt the book was stronger.

DBRL: You’ve self-published in the past, but you recently started on with an official publisher. What’s the biggest benefit about having a publisher in your situation?

Frazier: First of all, I want to make it clear to everyone — I absolutely adore self-publishing. It’s not a fallback “in case you don’t get a real publisher.” Both self-publishing and traditional publishing are 100% valid avenues to get your books out there. But they each have benefits and drawbacks. With self-publishing, you control EVERYTHING and that’s a huge benefit. You’re in control of your own destiny and you make every choice. It’s a pretty powerful feeling. HOWEVER… the benefits can also be the drawbacks. You are basically running a small business, making all the decisions and, most importantly, footing the bill for things like editing, covers and marketing. I’m pretty happy to hand over control of some aspects to my publishers and not be paying out of pocket for anything. Likewise, they handle a little marketing for me as well. But it’s also a partnership — we work together and bounce ideas off each other to determine what works best for the collaboration. Handing over some of the duties allows me to get back to writing.

DBRL: I like how you sprinkled in fourth wall breaking elements in the book to add humorous layers beyond the main narrative taking place. Did you have those elements in the book from the beginning, or did they develop with a later revision?

Frazier: I knew from the moment I began writing “The Last Available” that the fourth wall would not be an obstacle, and that the characters would be entering “the meta” whenever appropriate. The trick was, how to do it properly in a book? It’s pretty simple to execute the fourth wall break in movies but I had to ensure it wasn’t confusing or awkward in written form. But I knew I wanted that element to be prevalent to allow for yet another humorous avenue. The way the story is told, I feel, lends itself well to the mechanic with the narrator himself blurring the lines.

DBRL: It took me a while to realize it, but the title itself is humorous in certain contexts. For example, when we check out your book at the library, we are not only checking out “The Last Available” book, but in another sense we are also checking out “the last available book.” (It’s similar to a Who’s on First? comedy routine I suppose.) Was this title chosen for humorous intent, or is this just a happy coincidence?

Frazier: The title definitely has a couple different facets to it! I did, however, have a tough time for a while coming up with it, and I refused to even start writing the book before I had a title. I wanted everything about the book to be relevant to the story, but also to be funny of course, and the title had to nail the vibe. I think my first thought was something horrible like “The Epic Quest For Something Completely Unimportant”. I quickly shot that down. Then I decided the title name would be whatever the adventuring party’s name was and the “Company of Eight” gag came to mind (since there are only six of them) but that, too, wasn’t remotely appropriate. I’m notoriously terrible at naming things (I don’t get much of a say in what our pets’ names are, for example) so it plagued me for a while. The title for this book, I felt, was more important than any of my others. Once I settled on “The Last Available”, I knew there were several different aspects that pertained to it. And now guys at the library can make a joke anytime someone checks it out!

DBRL: Read anything good lately you’d like to recommend?

Frazier: This is always a difficult question since readers’ tastes are very specific to the individual. I’ve been living a lot in the indie world of books, exploring what’s out there that isn’t mainstream. I feel the indie scene (of which I’m a part) allows for greater creativity and pushing of boundaries because no big publishers dictate what anyone writes. Indies write largely for themselves but find audiences with the same tastes. That being said, I’m currently reading “Sword and Soul” (it’s an advance copy and releases later this month), “Things Magical Under the Moon” (an anthology of dark retellings), and “The Integrity of the Super Club Vol. 2” (an anime-style story). I jump between the three depending on whether I want to read fantasy, horror, or something light.

DBRL: Where can readers get a copy of your book?

Frazier: “The Last Available” is… well, available pretty much everywhere online in print and ebook, be it Amazon, Apple iBooks, Kobo, or other outlets. If you’re lucky, you might find a copy on the shelves at Barnes & Noble. And, of course, there’s a copy residing at the library.

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