A month ago John Gwynne won the David Gemmell Morningstar Award for his debut novel, MALICE, and we’re thrilled to be able to bring this story to US readers now. To find out more about John and the excellent worldbuilding that he brings to the table, check out the interview below.
Your book has several viewpoint characters. How did you structure your writing process to tie their stories together?
Writing MALICE was one big learning curve – it began as a hobby and grew slowly into something bigger. Initially I had no thoughts of being published, I was just writing for my own entertainment, with the only likely readership being my wife and children, and perhaps the odd overly-polite friend. I wrote multiple POV because that is my favourite type of read – most of my decisions were made that way – I like seeing a story from different angles, and enjoy it when diverse characters come together.
As far as how I wrote the multiple points of view, I mapped out the big picture first – the general brush-strokes of the overall plot, breaking it down into the major strands and plot arcs. Then I put some thought into the characters that I would like to view the tale through. After that I started writing. It was a bit like letting a bunch of hounds off of the leash, watching them sprint off, paths diverging and intertwining, some going off in very unexpected directions, but I knew there were key events at certain points down the line that would bring them together, some of them quite explosively.
To celebrate paperback release of the final book in the Traitor Spy trilogy, THE TRAITOR QUEEN (UK | US | AUS ), we asked fans of the Trudi Canavan Facebook page what questions they’d ask Trudi about her writing if given the chance. There was a fantastic selection, which were then voted down to a final four for Trudi Canavan to answer. Find out about who Trudi would cast in the Black Magician trilogy films, and more about her new series, the Millennium’s Rule trilogy.
Q. If the Black Magician trilogy were made into a film, who would you like to portray the main characters?
A. My original casting wish list betrays my age! I wanted Natalie Portman as Sonea and Daniel Day Lewis as Akkarin, and Matthew Broderick as Cery. But those choices were just the first building blocks and my visual picture of the characters changed as I wrote the Black Magician Trilogy. You see, in developing the world my approach was to try to make the ecology and cultures seem less like this world’s past transplanted onto another, but a truly new world. My rule was ‘inspired by not based on’. I applied that rule to the people as well, who aren’t based on any particular race or culture of this world but have small similarities to some. I realised later that the small similarities were inspired mainly by the wonderful mix of people in Australia, created by our proximity to Asia and Polynesia, and the waves of immigration over the last century.
I’ve put together a Pinterest page called Casting Wishlist, but since film and TV isn’t based in multicultural Australia, I found it hard to find actors to play all of the characters – and even Bollywood hasn’t made finding someone to play Faren easy.
Q. I simply loved your books. ALL of them. Especially the ones in the Black Magician universe. Will we ever see any adventures set in these lands again?
A. Maybe. When I finished the Black Magician trilogy I didn’t think I’d write a sequel as I didn’t have enough ideas. But as I wrote the Age of the Five the few ideas I had began to develop and attract others, so by the time that trilogy was done I was ready to write not just a sequel, but a prequel as well. Once again, I don’t have enough ideas for more books, but I’m hoping the ones I have will mature into something worth writing while I’m writing the Millennium’s Rule trilogy. All I can say is, I like the idea of jumping another twenty years forward and putting Lorkin in the position of the worried parent, introducing new technology and forcing more class-leveling challenges on the Guild.
BLOOD SONG (UK | ANZ) was published last week to a chorus of rave reviews and online buzz that heralded the novel as one of the year’s best epic fantasy debuts and author Anthony Ryan as a huge new talent in the genre. In this exclusive interview, Anthony talks to us about his work and inspirations.
Blood Song is an epic fantasy in every sense of the word – particularly in that it took you six years to write! Why did it take so long and what was the spark that started it all?
Working a full time job whilst studying part time for a history degree had a lot to do with the time taken to write Blood Song. Also, although I had a one page synopsis, I wasn’t working to a detailed plan, something I’ve subsequently learned is very useful in speeding up the writing process. It’s always difficult to pin down the genesis of an idea but I recall the basis of Blood Song germinating for a few years but not really coming together until I started my history studies. The themes of religious conflict and political intrigue were also at the forefront of my thinking in the aftermath of 9/11 which probably had an influence.
You were influenced initially by Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles, and then later by legendary British fantasy author David Gemmell. What was so special to you about the works of these two writers, and how do you think they influenced your own writing?
Although I was aware of Tolkien as a kid my first foray into fantasy began with Lloyd Alexander, who was writing YA fantasy long before it had a name. The Prydain Chronicles are essentially a coming of age tale mixing Welsh legend and epic fantasy, completely capturing my ten year old imagination from the moment I picked up The Book of Three. There are echoes of my main character Vaelin in Alexander’s Taran, orphan and apprentice pig keeper continually beset with questions over his past and doubts about his future. Whilst Lloyd Alexander began my love of fantasy, David Gemmell ensured it continued into adulthood with the wonderful Wolf in Shadow, an action packed but also sublimely sombre tale mixing the western with fantasy. Gemmell is primarily remembered for the pace and action of his books but I also think his characterisation is excellent; his characters are flawed, conflicted and, most importantly, consistent whilst also being capable of change, all elements I’ve tried to include in my own work.
What is it about epic fantasy as a genre that attracted you to it, from a writing perspective? Given that you studied medieval history, did you ever consider writing a purely historical novel?
I’ve read plenty of historical novels but not yet had the yen to write one – though I do have a germ of an idea for a historical detective story, so who knows? However, at the moment I think I would find it too restricting; you have to spend a long time on research and are stuck with recorded events that can’t be changed. Epic fantasy gives the writer the room to create the history of their imaginary world allowing a great amount of scope for drama, spectacle and a combination of themes that would be denied the historical novelist.
You originally self-published Blood Song and achieved considerable success, so why did you decide to sign with a traditional publisher? Read the rest of this entry »
Today we release the paperback of BLOODFIRE QUEST (UK|ANZ) – book two in Terry Brooks’s Dark Legacy of Shannara series following WARDS OF FAERIE (UK|ANZ). It’s a new epic fantasy set in the author’s core Shannara world, and it’s been knocking people’s socks off:
‘Explodes from the first page…the action doesn’t stop until the novel’s cliffhanger ending…Intense and exhilarating…Brooks is one of the best fantasy writers in the business’ ASSOCIATED PRESS
‘[Brooks] brings his distinct talent, giving a true grandeur to clashes involving terrifying creatures and powerful magic’ KIRKUS REVIEWS
‘A thrill ride that will leave readers wanting more…This volume, paired with the first, might be just the right place to introduce new readers to this fine writer’ BOOKLIST
The third book, WITCH WRAITH (UK|ANZ), is released very soon on 16th July.
Back in April, Terry did a very rare signing in the UK for the hardback release of BLOODFIRE QUEST. The queues at Forbidden Planet were phenomenal, and the signing went on for hours! See some pics of the event here.
For those who were unable to make it, we asked readers to send in their questions for this fantasy legend from afar. Now, we release Terry’s answers in the video below:
ps. Is it just me or is Terry awesome? No – the signs say it’s not just me . . .
ICE FORGED (US | UK | AUS) launched the popular new Ascendant Kingdoms Saga in January 2013, and Book Two, REIGN OF ASH, is coming in early 2014. Author Gail Z. Martin is doing her annual “sneak peek” Hawthorn Moon event featuring REIGN OF ASH beginning June 21 with an international blog tour, podcasts, excerpts, readings, giveaways and more. We asked her what readers should expect from Reign of Ash and afterwards show off the fantastic cover of the upcoming novel.
Q: What can you tell us about where Reign of Ash will take Ascendant Kingdoms readers?
A: Reign of Ash picks up right after Ice Forged, with Blaine McFadden’s quest to restore his homeland of Donderath. As Ice Forged readers know, the quest isn’t completed at the end of Book 1 because there is so much more to do, so much damage to overcome. It’s going to take all that Blaine and his friends have to give to survive!
Q: How have Blaine, Kestel, Piran and the other Ice Forged characters changed going into Reign of Ash?
A: Exile and prison brought Blaine’s group together, so they’re used to having each others’ backs. That serves them well in the very dangerous and unstable conditions in post-war Donderath. Now that they’re free, there will be choices to make. Blaine is still very much at the center of the group, and in Reign of Ash, several new characters get added to the circle, some old friends and new allies. Going forward, they will be at the heart of bringing the ruined kingdom back to life, and the paths they choose will determine Donderath’s future.
Q: Will we see more of Connor and Lord Penhallow?
A: Absolutely! Bevin Connor remains an important viewpoint character. We met him in Ice Forged fleeing for his life when Donderath fell, and see him emerge as an unexpectedly heroic person. No one is surprised at that more than Connor himself! In Reign of Ash, Connor grows into an even more important role, playing an enormously important part in the book’s life-or-death climax.
Q: Will Ice Forged’s bad guys be back for more?
A: Bet on it! Pentreath Reece and Vedran Pollard have their own agenda for the post-war wreckage, and their vision involves seeing themselves emerging as the ultimate power players. Anarchy breeds opportunists, so Reece and Pollard are in their element, and the only thing standing in their way is Blaine McFadden. Expect serious fireworks! Read the rest of this entry »
An anthology featuring highly original zombie stories from the likes of Stephen King, George R. R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, Clive Barker, Laurell K. Hamilton, Will McIntosh, Harlan Ellison, Robert Silverberg, Poppy Z. Brite, Joe R. Lansdale and many, many more (see a full list here)
From Dawn of the Dead to White Zombie, from Resident Evil to World War Z (the movie is released today in the UK!), zombies have invaded popular culture, becoming the monsters best expressing the Western world’s fears and anxieties. So it’s time to face your fears and get up close and personal . . .
This anthology is edited by the illustrious John Joseph Adams, a bestselling editor of multiple anthologies and a four-time finalist for the World Fantasy and Hugo Awards. We’ve also released his WASTELANDS: STORIES OF THE APOCALYPSE, an anthology of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic from some equally impressive names. Last week we heard from several of the authors involved in WASTELANDS about what inspired their stories (read the post here).
Today we focus on THE LIVING DEAD, and just what was going through the heads of some of the contributing authors when they came to pen their tale . . .
“Followed” is probably the most controversial story I’ve written, a zombie tale where the zombies are the victims, the living the predators. Evidently the story resonated with others. It was adapted as a short film, and the film inspired a sermon at a Baptist church.
Humans often use the dead as fuel for our vengeance, as an excuse to kill the living. I wrote ‘Beautiful Stuff’ because I wondered what the dead might say about that if they had the chance. Read the rest of this entry »
SO WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THESE MIGHTY FORCES COLLIDE?!
Read on to find out!
Matthew Stover: Okay, first: how soon can I get an ARC of The Republic of Thieves?
Scott Lynch: Be down at Pier 36 at midnight. Look for a man with a copy of yesterday’s Beijing Times under his arm. Offer him a cigarette. If he declines, say “Which way was the dolphin swimming?” Then follow his directions precisely. Bring a flashlight and a set of hip waders. Good luck and godspeed.
MS: Despite the first Gentlemen Bastards novel being titled The Lies of Locke Lamora, it seems to me that Locke and Jean are dual protagonists, true partners rather than hero and sidekick. While this is not unusual in other genres (especially police procedurals, for example), in ours they’re pretty thin on the ground. The only truly legendary fantasy dual-protags that spring instantly to mind are Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser, and they are explicitly portrayed as linked by mythic destiny (“Two halves of a greater hero.”) Locke and Jean, by contrast, are bound by human friendship and deep loyalty – more Butch & Sundance than F&GM.
So I’d like to get your thoughts on what inspired their relationship, and why you chose to write them this way. Were they always to be dual protags? Did Jean start as a sidekick and grow in the writing? Is there something about their friendship that has Super Story Powers?
SL: You’re making me peer back through the hazy mists of memory, man. But the honest truth is that Jean was decidedly a less fleshed-out character, initially, very much vanishing into the ensemble. His role grew in the telling, until I realized that he wasn’t just a foil for Locke but the essential foil. I grasped the benefit of having a sort of external conscience for him, another intimate perspective on Locke that would enable me to sort of hover nearby without peeling back too many layers of his mentation. For all that he’s the protagonist, we don’t spend too much time with unfettered omniscient access to Locke’s thoughts in that first novel; I wanted to express his feelings more through his actions and the responses of those around him than by writing something like, “Locke was sad now.” Read the rest of this entry »
In September we release CHOSEN (UK|ANZ), the fourth Alex Verus urban fantasy novel from Benedict Jacka. In an interview below, another Orbit fantasy star Francis Knight (author of FADE TO BLACK – UK|US|ANZ, and the soon-to-be-released BEFORE THE FALL -UK|US|ANZ) finds out more about the writing of this highly popular series . . .
Francis Knight: So, Alex Verus, wizard in London. I suppose certain comparisons are inevitable, if a bit easy. So who and/or what were your inspirations for this series? I know when I start, the first idea generally morphs into something bigger. What was the initial spark, the first ‘what if…’ that led to the book becoming reality?
Benedict Jacka:The Alex Verus setting is an adult version of a YA setting that I’ve been using on and off for almost 15 years – the whole mage world and the magic types was something I first came up with back in 2000-ish. Between 2000 and 2008 I wrote four YA books in the setting, all with teenagers as the main characters who all had elemental powers of some kind. None of the books got published, so I kept giving up and shelving the series and trying something else.
In 2009 I decided to pull out the setting yet again to give it another shot, with an adult main character this time. I was getting dissatisfied with the elemental mages as protagonists, though, and at some point I had the idea of using a protagonist whose abilities were information-based instead of brute force. The rest of the story snowballed from there!Read the rest of this entry »
Today sees the release of EARTH UNAWARE (UK|ANZ) and EARTH AFIRE (UK|ANZ), books 1 and 2 of The First Formic War, set 100 years before ENDER’S GAME.
Orson Scott Card co-authored these novels with Aaron Johnston – a bestselling author and associate producer on the upcoming Ender’s Game movie. To celebrate the release, we asked Aaron what it’s like to write within such a well-known and much loved world . . .
When Orson Scott Card asked me to coauthor the prequel novels to his science-fiction classic Ender’s Game, my first two thoughts were: (1) Wow, what an incredible honor, and (2) You better not screw this up, Johnston, or fans will hunt you down and toilet paper your house.
We fans can be a prickly lot. Especially when it comes to stories that hold special significance to us, as Ender’s Game does to millions of readers. I’ve read Ender’s Game more times than any other work of fiction, and whenever anyone asks me for a book recommendation, the first words out of my mouth are always, “Have you read Ender’s Game?”
For me, Ender’s Game was the first book I ever read wherein the characters didn’t feel like characters at all but rather like friends and kindred spirits. Bean, Dink, Shen, Valentine, Ender. They were all so believable and honest and distinct that when I stepped into their world, my own world melted away.
I don’t presume to suggest that our books will have the same effect on readers as Ender’s Game does. Only Ender’s Game can produce the experience it provides. But I do hope that our novels will feel like they belong in the Ender universe. That was my goal from the beginning. “If we do this,” I told Scott, “I want it to feel like an Orson Scott Card novel.” And by that I mean: when fans read the book, I didn’t want them to distinguish between the parts I had written from the parts Scott had written. I wanted it to feel seamless.
That’s a lofty goal, I know. Only OSC can write like OSC, after all. But I felt as if we owed it to fans to provide a new and exciting adventure story that also felt like a member of the Ender universe.
In fact, it was so important to me that the books sounded and felt like other OSC novels that before I started writing each day, I would usually pick up an OSC book and read a chapter or two just to get my mind in a place that spoke in the voice and rhythm of Orson Scott Card. Scott has a gift for writing in third-person, limited point-of-view that allows for deep characterization without abandoning the pace. I’m not conceited enough to suggest that I do it as well as he does, but I certainly tried. The biggest compliment I have received thus far is when one fan called the series “classic Orson Scott Card.”
But of course this is a collaboration. And since Orson Scott Card rarely collaborates with other authors, fans naturally have a lot of questions. What follows are my answers to the questions I most often hear. Read the rest of this entry »
Amanda Carlson: I love Jane True and your writing voice. She’s witty, quirky and lovable. How did you come up with the idea to write a half selkie heroine?
Nicole Peeler: Thanks, Amanda! I’d fallen in love with the mythology as a teenager, and I’d always wondered about what happened to the half-human, half-selkie children that often feature in these myths. So when I realized I wanted to write a character that wasn’t naturally “kick-ass,” the answer was pretty obvious. Seal shapeshifters are definitely not naturally kick-ass!
AC: In the TEMPEST REBORN, without giving too much away, does Jane get snuggle time with Anyan?
NP: Absolutely. I knew I’d be beaten to death by Jane’s fans if that didn’t happen.
AC: You have a PhD in English Literature and teach Popular Fiction at Seton Hill University, which sounds like an amazing job! What’s the most fun assignment you’ve given your students?
NP: The most fun was working with undergraduates, creating World Building Books for an Urban Fantasy course I taught. They had such amazing ideas! And it was fun to watch them realize they could do just that—create a whole world.
AC: You just bought a house! That’s a big, exciting step. Tell us about it.
NP: It’s soooooo nice! I keep having to rein myself in from having my every Facebook post be “OMG I LOVE MY HOUSE.” I’m also really loving Pittsburgh. It’s super up-and-coming, so you can really get involved with things. I’m going to help plant a tree irrigation system for Tree Pittsburgh this weekend and I’m stupidly excited about it.
AC: The TEMPEST REBORN is Jane’s last adventure. What’s up next for you? (We hope more fantasy!)
NP: I’m not sure yet, honestly, but yes. All my ideas are inevitably fantasy. It’s funny that I read so much literature but I think in dragons. I’m not sure why! But I do love the genre.
AC: Here are some fun quick bullet questions to end.
Ice cream or sorbet: Both!
Breakfast or dinner: Both!
London or Paris: OMG both.
Beer or margarita: YEAH, both. I don’t really limit myself too much, in case you couldn’t tell.
Cats or dogs: Neither. I travel too much.
Spring or fall: Either, as long as it’s not winter or summer.
The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones: MAD MEN. (I’m not very good at this game, am I? But I loved playing!)