Monday, September 26, 2016

Death of Dulgath hits #1 on Amazon's Epic Fantasy Best Seller's List.

Wow, I'm thrilled that so many people are taking part in my belated birthday sale. I "think" this is the first time this book hit the #1 spot, but I'll have to look back through my records. In any case, I'm thrilled that it hit #1 now.


And don't forget if you buy the e-book you can get the audio version for just $1.99. So you can have both copies for less than $3.  Not a bad deal.  The discounted audio has no time limit, but to get in on the $0.99 sale for the e-book, pick up your $0.99 copy before the end of the day tomorrow.

Belated birthday gift - for you, rather than me.


I recently turned double nickels,  and I wanted to give a little gift to my readers. Unfortunately, Del Rey and Orbit control the pricing on most of my e-books, and it's not always easy to get them to reduce the price. Luckily I have a copy that I control, so for the next two days I've lowered The Death of Dulgath from it's normal price of $9.99 to just $0.99. I would have made it free, but since the book isn't enrolled in Amazon Select, $0.99 is the lowest I can go.

Now, the good thing about this book, is that although it is the third in the series, it's written as a standalone. So even if you haven't read the other books, you can jump right into the adventures of Royce and Hadrian with this one.

If you are aren't familiar with this title,  here's the "marketing copy" from the back of the book:

Three times they tried to kill her. Then a professional was hired. So was Riyria.

When the last member of the oldest noble family in Avryn is targeted for assassination, Riyria is hired to foil the plot. Three years have passed since the war-weary mercenary Hadrian and the cynical ex-assassin Royce joined forces to start life as rogues-for-hire. Things have gone well enough until they're asked to help prevent a murder. Now they must venture into an ancient corner of the world to save a mysterious woman who knows more about Royce than is safe and cares less about herself than is sane.

From the best-selling author of The Riyria Revelations comes the third installment of The Riyria Chronicles. Although part of a series, it's designed to thrill both new readers looking for fun, fast-paced fantasy and Riyria veterans wishing to reunite with old friends. For those who do wish to experience the entire Riyria saga, two reading options exist:


Oh, and one more thing I should mention. This book is also WhisperSync enabled. If you aren't familiar with it,  it's a really cool program.

  • First, it keeps your kindle and your audio book "synced" up. So if you were listening to the audio book in the car and go into the house to read the e-book, you'll find it right where you left off...and vice versa
  • Second, you can get the the audio book at a SUBSTANTIAL discount, if you purchase the ebook first.  So pick up Death of Dulgath for this incredible price and get the audio as well. After hearing Tim Gerard Reynold's amazing narration. You'l be glad you did!
Thanks everyone for your continued support. And I hope you'll take me up on this little reverse birthday gift - or gift a copy to a friend so we can all celebrate!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Author Discoveries: Amy Braun

In the past, I've not posted book reviews on my site. There are several reasons for this. First, I don't think it's an area that I'm particularly good at, and second, I don't want to field the inevitable flood of review requests that come with opening that particular Pandora's box. All that said, I do run across authors from time to time that I think are worth mentioning, and I would like to do what I can to bring readers and authors together. So here I am trying to shine a bit of a spotlight on someone you might not have heard about before. But first a bit of a preamble.

I decided many years ago that I wouldn’t post negative book reviews. I’m not a critic, and I don’t want to be one. It’s not my job to steer readers away from "awful books," particularly when I feel that the evaluation of any art form is a subjective one. Also, I’ve felt the sting of being on the receiving end of negatives reviews (although thankfully, they've been just a trickle rather than a deluge), and I don't want to inflict similar pain on others.

So why not just review books I love? Well, many of the books I read are written by already famous authors who don’t need me. Sales of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green are already astronomical and any mention from me won't move the needle. Ernest Cline, author of Ready Player One has Steven Spielberg directing his movie. And Andy Weir, of The Martian fame, has no idea who I am nor should he, even though we met briefly this summer. So when a book is already well known and well loved, my comments would be a drop of water in the ocean.

Okay, well what about the books you love from lesser known authors? Well, that's something worth dipping a toe into, so here I am.  But let me start with a disclaimer.

One of the things I found I sacrificed when learning to write is my ability to enjoy most novels. Training myself to find fault in my own writing is something I can’t easily turn off when reading for pleasure. Most often all I see are missed opportunities. These days it’s a struggle to find a book I can finish. Now I’m not declaring that all those unfinished books are horrible. Many of those I put down are major bestsellers, so clearly I am in the minority. What I've discovered is I have specific preferences and the books I enjoy have managed to thread a very narrow needle. So while a recommendation for me might not mean it will appeal to all people, it SHOULD appeal to people who enjoy my work, since I write the kind of books I want to read.

Which brings me to Amy Braun.

Full disclosure: I don't know Amy. I’ve never met her. She didn't send me her book. She didn't ask me to write a review, and has no idea (until now, should she read this) that I have even read anything by her. No one else asked me to read it either. In short, there are no strings attached. I hate strings.

I was, in fact, attracted by the cover of Crimson Sky. That’s what made me click on the “inside the book” feature on Amazon. Then I was impressed by the writing style. The first page is a challenge for everyone, and Amy's opening was filled with the nice crisp, clean, clear quality that I appreciate. She brought me right into the story with an action scene that wasn't a tease (and as it turns out was indicative of the book as a whole). Nor was the opening a mass of fast-paced, emotionless confusion, which is too often the case with opening action scenes.

All of this led me from reading the free teaser to buying the book. What made me keep reading after that was the creativity and logic that went into the world and characters. The details were surprising, (I loved the bit about sugar), and the pace rapid. The characters were not perfect, but they were sympathetic. The world was dark, but not without hope.

I was delighted to find a novel I could read with only minor jolts to my inner editor. Of course, I find fault with any novel, even my favorites. Crimson Sky is no different. It isn’t perfect, but I haven’t found a book that is. I’m sure if you read it you will discover aspects you don’t like, and others you do. But honestly, how can anyone not applaud the audacity of mashing up extra-dimensional vampires and pirates in a post apocalyptic world where engineers are wizards, and the main character wears a key but has no idea what it unlocks or starts.

Unlike Green, Cline, and Weir, Amy Braun doesn’t have a major motion picture, and judging from her Amazon numbers, she isn’t being read by nearly as many people as she deserves. So while I’m not a critic, and don’t plan to become one, I do want to offer her my thumbs up. If you think you might like an action-packed, fast-paced, swashbuckling adventure that is light on graphic violence and profanity, and has a dash of steampunk and a sprinkling of romance, I know a book series you might enjoy. And it'll cost you less than $3 on Amazon (US) That's about the same price as the iced tea I have for lunch yesterday, and Amy's book was even more thirst quenching.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

What's Hot in Epic Fantasy Audiobooks?


Well, I'm pleased to say a fair amount of my books are (#1, #13, #24, #27, #33, #46, #61).  Here's the list of the top 100 Bestselling Fantasy Epic Audio books (as listed on Amazon). But that's been the case for quite some time. The real reason for making this post today is that The Crown Tower (Book #1 of the Riyria Chronicles) currently on sale for just $3.95.  But you'll have to hurry as the sales ends August 31st.  Anyway, here is the full list:

Ranking
Title
Series
Author
Release Date
Rating
Reviews
1
The Crown Tower
Riyria Chronicles #1
Michael J. Sullivan
8/6/13
4.7
5,501
2
A Game of Thrones
A Song of Ice and Fire #1
George R.R. Martin
12/9/03
4.7
54,862
3
Dragonvein
Dragonvein #1
Brian D. Anderson
7/14/15
4.3
2,162
4
A Clash of Kings
A Song of Ice and Fire #2
George R.R. Martin
1/30/04
4.7
34,779
5
A Storm of Swords
A Song of Ice and Fire #3
George R.R. Martin
3/11/04
4.7
30,453
6
A Feast for Crows: A Song of Ice and...
A Song of Ice and Fire #4
George R.R. Martin
12/15/11
4.4
21,383
7
A Dance with Dragons
A Song of Ice and Fire #5
George R.R. Martin
7/12/11
4.5
25,906
8
Dawn of Wonder
The Wakening #1
Jonathan Renshaw
2/16/16
4.7
12,408
9
The Name of the Wind
Kingkiller Chronicles #1
Patrick Rothfuss
5/15/09
4.6
28,781
10
The Fellowship of the Ring
Lord of the Rings #1
J. R. R. Tolkien
10/9/12
4.7
12,945
11
The Wise Man's Fear: Kingkiller Chron...
Kingkiller Chronicles #2
Patrick Rothfuss
3/3/11
4.7
23,771
12
The Way of Kings
Stormlight Archives #1
Brandon Sanderson
8/31/10
4.7
24,086
13
Age of Myth
Legnds of the First Empire #1
Michael J. Sullivan
6/28/16
4.7
2,205
14
Son of the Black Sword
Saga of the Forgotten Warrior #1
Larry Correia
10/27/15
4.6
5,270
15
Cephrael's Hand
A Pattern of Shadow and Light #1
Melissa McPhail
7/26/16
4.5
147
16
Illidan
World of Warcraft
William King
4/12/16
4.7
1,936
17
A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms
A Song of Ice and Fire Novellas
George R.R. Martin
10/6/15
4.0
7,813
18
Words of Radiance
Stormlight Archives #2
Brandon Sanderson
3/4/14
4.8
2,009
19
Mistborn
Mistborn #1
Brandon Sanderson
1/11/09
4.7
2,292
20
The Two Towers
Lord of the Rings #2
J. R. R. Tolkien
10/9/12
4.8
8,935
21
The Drawing of the Three
The Dark Tower #2
Stephen King
1/1/16
4.7
1,945
22
The Eye of the World
Wheel of Time #1
Robert Jordan
5/3/04
4.5
16,542
23
Ultimation
Play to Live #7
D. Rus
8/16/16
4.6
86
24
Theft of Swords
Riyria Revelations #1
Michael J. Sullivan
3/16/12
4.5
11,371
25
The Return of the King
Lord of the Rings #3
J. R. R. Tolkien
10/9/12
4.8
6,583
26
The Cycle of Arawn
The Complete Trilogy
Edward W. Robertson
6/12/15
4.3
6,378
27
Rise of Empire
Riyria Revelations #2
Michael J. Sullivan
5/9/12
4.7
8,581
28
The Waste Lands
The Dark Tower #3
Stephen King
1/1/16
4.8
1,610
29
Wizard's First Rule
Sword of Truth #1
Terry Goodkind
10/15/08
4.3
6,852
30
Arcanum Unbounded
Cosmere Anthology
Brandon Sanderson
11/12/16
N/A
N/A
31
The Well of Ascension
Mistborn #2
Brandon Sanderson
3/21/09
4.7
17,784
32
The Hero of Ages
Mistborn #3
Brandon Sanderson
11/11/08
4.7
17,318
33
Heir of Novron
Riyria Revelations #3
Michael J. Sullivan
8/8/12
4.7
8,529
34
The Silver Theif
Cycle of Galand #2
Edward W. Robertson
5/24/16
4.8
2,526
35
The Great Hunt
Wheel of Time #2
Robert Jordan
5/3/04
4.6
11,384
36
The Fifth Season
Broken Earth #1
N. K. Jemisin
8/4/15
4.3
1,107
37
The Red Sea
Cycle of Galand #1
Edward W. Robertson
1/19/16
4.7
3,218
38
The Bands of Mourning
Mistborn #6
Brandon Sanderson
1/26/16
4.7
6,942
39
Wizard and Glass
The Dark Tower #4
Stephen King
1/1/16
4.8
1,339
40
The Twelve
Passage #2
Justin Cronin
10/16/12
4.4
5,732
41
Extermination
Daniel Black #3
William Brown
8/22/16
4.8
33
42
The Fires of Heaven
Wheel of Time #5
Robert Jordan
3/10/05
4.0
7,819
43
Spell or High Water
Magic 2.0 #2
Scott Meyer
6/17/14
4.5
8,181
44
The Queen's Poisoner
Kingfountain #1
Jeff Wheeler
4/1/16
4.6
434
45
Shadows of Self
Mistborn #5
Brandon Sanderson
10/6/15
4.6
8,321
46
The Death of Dulgath
Riyria Chronicles #3
Michael J. Sullivan
12/15/15
4.7
2,257
47
The Shadow Rising
Wheel of Time #4
Robert Jordan
11/3/04
4.6
8,765
48
The World of Ice & Fire
Reference Collection
George R.R. Martin
10/28/14
4.3
2,639
49
The Sword of Shannara
Shannara #1
Terry Brooks
3/18/04
4.0
4,262
50
The Dragon Reborn
Wheel of Time #3
Robert Jordan
11/3/04
4.6
9,654
51
The Lies of Locke Lamora
Gentlemen Bastards #1
Scott Lynch
5/13/09
4.4
7,667
52
Elantris
N/A
Brandon Sanderson
10/6/15
4.6
1,321
53
The Alloy of Law
Mistborn #4
Brandon Sanderson
11/8/11
4.6
10,929
54
The Blood Mirror
Lightbringer #3
Brent Weeks
10/25/16
N/A
N/A
55
The Thief's Daughter
Kingfountain #2
Jeff Wheeler
5/31/16
4.7
221
56
Path of Daggers
Wheel of Time #8
Robert Jordan
11/11/08
4.5
5,997
57
A Crown of Swords
Wheel of Time #7
Robert Jordan
10/25/06
4.6
7,733
58
Monster Hunter International
Monster Hunter #1
Larry Correia
3/15/11
4.4
11,700
59
A Warrior's Penance
The Castes and the OutCastes #3
Davis Ashura
7/12/16
4.5
585
60
The Aeronaut's Windlass
Cinder Spires #1
Jim Butcher
9/29/15
4.5
8,647
61
The Rose and the Thorn
Riyria Chronicles #2
Michael J. Sullivan
9/17/13
4.7
4,527
62
The Dark Tower #7
The Dark Tower #7
Stephen King
9/17/04
4.6
6,263
63
A Warriior's Path
The Castes and the OutCastes #1
Davis Ashura
8/21/15
4.5
1,679
64
A Memory of Light
Wheel of Time #14
Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
1/8/13
4.8
10,038
65
The Last Wish
Witcher #1
Andrzej Sapkowski
5/5/15
4.7
2,015
66
The Obelisk Gate
Broken Earth #2
N. K. Jemisin
8/16/16
4.8
48
67
The Black Prism
Lightbringer #1
Brent Weeks
7/6/16
4.8
7
68
Winter's Heart
Wheel of Time #9
Robert Jordan
3/11/11
4.5
4,649
69
The Slow Regard of Silent Things
Kingiller Novella
Patrick Rothfuss
10/28/14
4.1
3,748
70
Ghost Story
Dresden Files #13
Jim Butcher
4/21/15
4.8
5,065
71
The Gathering Storm
Wheel of Time #12
Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
10/27/09
4.8
7,746
72
Crossroads of Twilight
Wheel of Time #10
Robert Jordan
1/17/13
4.4
6,684
73
White Night
Dresden Files #9
Jim Butcher
4/23/09
4.8
9,387
74
The Troll King
The Bowl of Souls #9
Trevor H. Cooley
8/17/16
4.6
32
75
Sword of Destiny
Witcher Short Story Collection
Andrzej Sapkowski
12/1/15
4.8
979
76
Homeland
Dark Elf #1
R. A. Salvatore
3/26/13
4.5
5,377
77
The Waking Fire
The Draconis Memoria #1
Anthony Ryan
7/5/16
4.4
547
78
Turn Coat
Dresden Files #11
Jim Butcher
4/10/09
4.8
9,491
79
A Discovery of Witches
All Souls #1
Deborah Harkness
2/8/11
4.2
14,447
80
Towers of Midnight
Wheel of Time #13
Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
11/1/10
4.8
9,094
81
The Magician King
The Magicians #2
Lev Grossman
8/9/11
4.3
5,147
82
The Magician's Land
The Magicians #3
Lev Grossman
8/5/14
4.6
4,270
83
Small Favor
Dresden Files #10
Jim Butcher
1/14/09
4.8
9,244
84
Blood of Elves
Witcher #3
Andrzej Sapkowski
6/12/15
4.4
1,673
85
Sojourn
Dark Elf #3
R. A. Salvatore
4/23/13
4.6
3,012
86
Nevernight
Nevernight Chronicle #1
Jay Kristoff
8/9/16
4.7
40
87
Gardens of the Moon
Malazan Book of the Fallen #1
Steven Erikson
10/13/12
3.9
3,545
88
The Blinding Knife
Lightbringer #2
Brent Weeks
9/26/12
4.7
1,949
89
A Warrior's Knowledge
The Castes and the OutCastes #2
Davis Ashura
11/23/15
4.6
1,124
90
The Once and Future King
Books #1 - #5
T.H. White
6/3/11
4.0
2,248
91
Otherlife: Nightmares
Selfless Hero #2
Wiliam D. Arand
8/26/16
N/A
N/A
92
Furies of Calderon
Codex Alera #1
Jim Butcher
1/7/09
4.4
7,414
93
Godsland Epic Bundle
Books #1 - #9
Brian Rathbone
7/20/16
4.0
24
94
Red Seas Under Red Skies
Gentlemen Bastards #2
Scott Lynch
9/21/09
4.5
4,782
95
The Wind Through the Keyhole
The Dark Tower #4.5
Stephen King
4/24/12
4.3
3,406
96
Critical Failures III
Caerns & Creatures #3
Robert Bevan
5/17/16
4.6
999
97
The Blade Itself
First Law #1
Joe Abercrombie
9/8/15
4.6
1,629
98
The Way of Shadows
Night Angel #1
Brent Weeks
8/10/09
4.3
4,505
99
Assassin's Apprentice
Farseer #1
Robin Hobb
3/2/10
4.2
4,421
100
Seven Forges
Seven Forges #1
James A. Moore
9/24/13
4.1
205

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Sign up for Age of Swords Beta is closing

Hey all, Robin here.  I try to help Michael (who is really slammed right now) in making posts. For instance, he wrote one for SDCC, that I have to look over and copy edit before posting. But I also need to get this announcement out so people don't miss a deadline.

I'm closing the sign-up for those who want to be beta readers for Age of Swords (Book #2 of The Legends of the First Empire).  In general, we get many more people requesting to beta read than I could ever process, so there will be more people turned down than accepted.  To help you decide let me explain a bit about the process.

1. There is a sign-up form. Where I ask questions about whether you are a veteran Sullivan reader, or new to his works, also age, gender, whether English is your native language, and a host of other questions. The purpose of this is so I can develop a good cross-section of readers.  

2. I'll comb through the entries and narrow the list down. People will then get a write up telling them what to expect (but I'll give you the short form here). If they feel they still want to be a beta reader after finding out the expectations then they'll get a copy of the book in any number of ebook formats.

3. Some will provide feedback on a chapter-by-chapter basis, others will do so on a "reading session" basis (several chapters at once) answering questions about what they liked, didn't like, were confused by, etc.  They will also rate each chapter on a scale of 1 - 5 on things like plot, character, pacing, and overall enjoyment.

4. After completing the book, they'll do one last survey that will be used to give their impressions as a whole.

5. Finding typos or grammatically errors are not a requirement of the beta (we're not looking for free copyediting support) and because it is an early edition, there is likely to be several mistakes in the book on those scores. But, if you do happen to run across something then certainly noting them is helpful.

That's it in a nutshell. I had planned on closing the sign up on 7/31 but then I didn't get his post up until now.  Since I'm late in posting, you can be late signing up.  I'll close the doors for good on Wednesday.  

Thanks all, and I'll try to get Michale's SDCC post up soon.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

SDCC Schedule - See you in San Diego (I hope)



In a few days Robin and I will be jetting off to San Diego for our first ever trip to San Diego Comic Con!  Here's my itinerary in case you want to drop by and say hi, get a book signed, or try to get one of the few remaining ARC's of Age of Myth.

Day
 Date  
Time
Location
What
Thurs 
 07/21   5:00 - 6:00 PM  Del Rey Booth #1515 Signing and ARC Giveaway
Thurs
07/21
 7:30 - 8:30 PM Room #4Panel: Deleted Scenes with Kevin Hearne, Harry Turtledove, Tricia Narwani
Fri
07/22
All day
 VariousMeeting with readers on a one-on-one basis

Sat
07/23 3:00 - 4:00 PM Del Rey Booth #1515Signing and ARC Giveaway

As you can see I'm available all day Friday, so if you want to meet, send me an email (michael.sullivan.dc@gmail.com) and we'll setup a time. You don't have to have a SDCC badge to meet with me but you do need to be able to get to the San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina since I won't have a car.

And of course there are plenty of other authors besides myself to visit such as: (To find a complete list of their event schedules click here).
  • Renee Ahdieh
  • Sasha Alsberg
  • J. Patrick Black
  • Mike Braff
  • Terry Brooks
  • Jeffrey Brown
  • Pierce Brown
  • Lorraine Cink
  • Peter Clines
  • Jessica Cluess
  • Cristina Colangelo
  • Andrea Cremer
  • Blake Crouch
  • Melissa de la Cruz
  • Indras Das
  • James Dashner
  • Sylvia Day
  • Camilla D’Errico
  • Christopher Farnsworth
  • Matt Forbeck
  • Cory Godbey
  • Alwyn Hamilton
  • Kevin Hearne
  • Matthew Holm
  • Jennifer Holm
  • Cole Horton
  • Colleen Houck
  • Jason Hough
  • Rachel Ignotofsky
  • Gini Koch
  • Sarah Kuhn
  • J.M. Lee
  • Stacey Lee
  • Todd Lockwood
  • Tahereh Mafi
  • Drew Magary
  • Meagan Marie
  • Seanan McGuire
  • Chloe Neill
  • Sylvain Nuevel
  • Ryan North
  • Bryan Lee O’Malley
  • Sydney Padua
  • Natasha Polis
  • Bob Proehl
  • Christine Riccio
  • Ransom Riggs
  • Brendan Reichs
  • Patrick Rothfuss
  • Paul Ruditis
  • Romina Russell
  • Cavan Scott
  • Scott Sigler
  • Nalini Singh
  • Alan Smale
  • Kathleen Smith
  • Sherry L. Smith
  • Thomas Sniegoski
  • Anne Sowards
  • Hayley Stone
  • Rebecca Sugar
  • Michael J. Sullivan
  • Sabah Tahir
  • Harry Turtledove
  • Jessica Wade
  • Andy Weir
  • Chuck Wendig
  • Scott Westerfield
  • Kiersten White
  • Judd Winick
  • Lisa Yee
  • Brenna Yovanoff

Hope to see you there!

Monday, July 18, 2016

From the mailbag, advice on creating characters.


I get a lot of mail from aspiring authors who are stuck or looking for help with their writing. It takes time to answer them, but I try to be as complete as I can. Robin was going through my email recently (she sorts it for me) and saw a response I made and said, "You should share this with others...why help just one person when others might find it useful?" She's so smart.  Well, I'm not sure whether this will help others or not, but I do think it makes sense to share it.  So here goes:

KS wrote: "I am having a hard time developing the characters. The story revolves around , a hobbit type creature."


My response:


First decided what you want them to ultimately do. What role they will play in the story. 

Let’s use Lord of the Rings as an example. 

Frodo. 
What do we need him for? To carry the ring. 
Why him? He is decent, kind, lacking in pride or a desire for power, making him resistant to the ring’s influence. This makes him ideal to carry it, and why others cannot.

In this way you can see how the plot will dictate much of the character. You need a person to be a certain way, to fulfill a task in the plot, and so you create that character. If you don’t need a character, don’t make them.

Once you make a character, get to know them the same way you might a real life person, by asking them questions:

How old are you? How tall? How much do you weigh? 

These are important while what color their eyes are is not. Even the color of their hair is not, but the length might be. Why? Because these aspect can influence the story. Many aspiring writers spend a lot of time on eye color, but I’ve never known eye color to affect a story, except for Dune. 

Parents? Siblings? Grandparents? Children? What are their names? What are they like. Do you like them? Do they like you?

All of these are standard physical features questions. They don’t usually make the character come to life, but some of these next questions might.

What is your goal in life?
What is your greatest fear?
What secret(s) do you not want anyone to know about you?
What are you most proud of?
What bad habits do you have?
What hobbies, or side interests do you have? (that have nothing to do with the story)
What would you say are some of your quirks—everyone has them.What’s yours?
What is your greatest failure? 
What are you most embarrassed of?
Who are your friends?
Who are your enemies?
What are some things that you like? And what things do you dislike?
What odd talents do you have?
What is your greatest weakness?
What is your greatest strength?

The more of these sorts of questions you can answer about your character, the more real they become, both in your mind and the mind of your readers. Knowing the characters well, knowing more than will ever be put in the story, is what makes them interesting. 

Don’t think you have to answer all these questions for every character. Knowing the answer to a handful will usually get you going. And they can change as you develop the character. The point is that in trying to answer the questions, you’ll learn things about the individuals you create, they will gain depth and you will see them better, understand them as people. (If you have trouble coming up with answers, do real life studies of people you know. You can even ask them the questions and see how they answer.) Also you can add more questions if you think of some good ones that might help.

The last thing you might need to do, is a brief history. 

You thought it might be fun if your character built ships as a hobby. Now the question is how did this develop? Did he learn this trade from his father? Oh—but no, you answered “orphan” to the parent’s question. So now you need to build a logical solution to this aspect of the character’s life. Working out that solution may provide important backstory that can be used in the novel. 

Also consider going on line and doing an image search for pictures of people you think might look like your character. Copy and paste it into a file that you can reference. Sometimes seeing a face will give you ideas about them. 

Hope this helps,