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The Final Book Gods at base of pillar

SW Hammond talks with Amber Stoke about the creative process behind The Final Book: Gods, favorite characters, and the future of the trilogy.

What was the inspiration for your story?

The idea for The Final Book came to me as I was digging fencepost holes in Colorado Springs. I had a lot of time to myself, digging hole after hole by hand in an empty field. Anyone who has been to Colorado Springs knows that you can't escape the shadow of Pikes Peak--the mountain is enormous, majestic, and inspiring. While peaceful and sunny in the middle of town, you can watch storms come in over the top of its peak, the wind blowing snow for miles out into the sky. It seemed to me that if moody ol' Zeus were ever to leave Mount Olympus, this would be his peak of choice. Frustrated, sweating, and barely scratching away at the dirt, my mind became lost in a fantastic tale of the Gods living right above the city.

What kept you going throughout the writing process?

This is a good question because it was a chore. The book took six years to write. My work-life became really demanding about a month after I started and I was always on the road—it made it really hard to find a consistent writing schedule or a conducive environment for creativity.

The biggest thing that kept me going was that I truly love these characters—it makes me so happy when I think about them. Serious. It’s weird, but I adore them. I’d also have these moments of vivid imagination where I’d see the story so clearly—I knew I had to try to do it justice and give it life. Lastly, the book was a big chip on my shoulder. It seems I start a lot of things in life, but never finish them, haha. I really didn’t want that to happen to this book—I wanted to finish something. It took a lot of sacrifice—I had to consciously choose to work on the book over meeting friends for dinner, spending time with family, enjoying favorite tv shows and movies, etc. Of course there’s a sense of balance and you can still have a life—but at some point the book has to come first in order to finish it.

Who is your most meaningful character and why?

Oooo, this is hard… Gods is a team effort. While you’ll quickly realize who the story is centralized around, the book doesn’t have a clear “primary” protagonist. Dr. Hork is probably the most meaningful character, as everything begins and ends with him (*think about the title, hint hint*), but Ana might be my favorite character. She doesn’t have a lot of real estate in the book, but she’s important to me—I just love her spirit and attitude.

I think a lot people would assume that I’d choose Josh as my favorite character—but in all honesty, I look at him as a vehicle that gives life to all the others. He’s needed to allow everyone else to shine.

Can we expect to hear more from these characters in the near future?

Yes, The Final Book is a trilogy—Gods, Prophets, and Kings. There’s much more to come and I think book 2 is going to ruffle some feathers! However, I’m going to break things up and stick an unrelated novel or two between each book. I have other interests and passions beyond gods, mythology, and fantasy—it helps your mind and creativity to step back once in a while. The truth is, I’m just selfish, haha—I want Pom, William, Cloe, and Josh to live with me for as long as they can. I don’t want to rip through the books too quickly!

How has this story touched your life?

There’s the literal and the symbolic meaning behind this question, haha. This book literally became my life for about a year—I took time off of work and rearranged a lot of things in order to finish it. So yeah, it “touched” my life, haha. But as I’ve said, it’s always been about the characters—I wish they were real! Maybe they are in some other universe…

What motivated you to start writing?

To me, writing is the only way I can make sense of life. It’s the medium in which I can best express myself. This was huge for me as a teenager—I was able to write what I couldn’t say. Writing is a bit slower than speaking, you can really contemplate what it is that you’re trying to express, and you can go back and perfect it.

I’m really into storytelling and writing is my backbone for that—it also happens to be the “easiest,” or at least the most assessable way for me to create a story. It would be sweet to create epic movies or video games, but I don’t have those resources or talents. You’ve got to love writing to create novels though—I don’t even consider the “act” of writing anymore—it’s just a way of life. Something I do.