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Orbit Books

AGE OF IRON by Angus Watson

AGE OF IRON Angus Watson

Bloodthirsty druids and battle-hardened Iron Age warriors collide in the first volume of this action-packed historical fantasy trilogy.
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THE BROKEN EYEBrent Weeks

The third explosive novel in the New York Times bestselling Lightbringer series!
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Category: Interviews

You interviewed Kevin Hearne

To celebrate the release of the seventh book in the Iron Druid chronicles, SHATTERED (UK | ANZ), we asked you to come up with your best questions for author Kevin Hearne (or Oberon). We had some absolutely fantastic responses, and Kevin has answered a selection of the best below.

Q. How did you get interested in Druids and how have you collected your information of how Atticus understands his magic?

KH: I got interested in Druids because I’m a tree hugger. The modern-day Druids, of course, are revivalists who are basing their ceremonies on nineteenth-century guesswork. The ancient Druids never wrote anything down except for things like property boundaries on stones marked with Ogham. Atticus’s magic system, therefore, is almost entirely my fabrication. His abilities are suggested by legends, however: multiple accounts speak of shape-shifting, divination, and even of teleportation (which I presented as a shifting between planes). There are also accounts of weather manipulation, which Atticus has used in a small way in the first two books. I unified those legendary Druidic abilities under the system of binding.

Q. Which super villain do you think Atticus would have a tough time defeating?

KH: Going to go a bit obscure on you: Cyclone, an old opponent of Spider-Man’s that I always found to be quite scary as a kid. He controls the wind in a hundred-foot radius around his body and can pluck the very air out of your lungs, preventing you from taking another breath. He can also create tornado-force whirlwinds about himself, which he can use defensively (any strike with Fragarach would be deflected) or offensively, lifting Atticus off the ground and cutting him off from the earth. I’m sure there are other super villains who could also succeed but that’s the first one that came to mind.

Q. What is Atticus’ favourite pop culture tshirt?

KH: He has one that says WHAT THE FRAK in really large letters and then, in a much smaller font underneath, “happened in Season 4 of Battlestar Galactica?” Because it was a mess.

Q. How is it that a Druid who has had so much grief from the Fae, came to name his dog after Shakespeare’s King of the Fairies?

KH: Atticus thinks of it as wry jest. He knows very well that the Fae are actually ruled by women – Brighid, the Morrigan, etc. – and Oberon & Titania were merely Shakespeare’s creations.

Q. Does Oberon have an accent when he ‘talks’?

KH: Great question! He has the standard Western American accent – in other words, not anything southern or northeastern – mixed with the slightly manic tone of an excited, hungry, and horny hound. Atticus adopted him when he had been living in America for a while and of course Oberon’s pop culture diet in the States included plenty of American movies and TV.

Calling Kevin Hearne fans! Do you have a question for the author of the Iron Druid Chronicles?

On 17th June, we release SHATTERED, the brand new Iron Druid Chronicles book by Kevin Hearne. It’s urban fantasy at its most exciting, fast-paced and just darn witty.

To celebrate the release, we wanted to ask Kevin what it was like writing the new book, what fans can expect from it, and what he and Oberon the adorable Irish Wolfhound are up to in general.

But then we thought – WAIT!! – there are thousands of fans out there who might love to ask Kevin (or Oberon) something themselves.

So we’re giving fans in the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand the chance to submit your own interview questions to one of the loveliest authors on the planet (FACT). You can do so by filling in the form below before next Friday. Then Kevin (or Oberon!!) will answer the best ones right here on the Orbit site in a week or two.

We’ll also randomly select one winner from all those who send us questions. This winner will receive five free copies of their favourite Iron Druid Chronicles book. These will be perfect to gift to your friends, neighbours and local occult practitioners, helping to spread the love of Atticus O’Sullivan even further . . .

Fill out the form below with your question:

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Don’t forget to read our terms and conditions before entering.

SFF Interview Swap: Rachel Bach Interviews Elizabeth Moon

What happens when two writers from different genres come together to talk about science fiction, fantasy, and story crafting? Find out in part two of our SFF interview swap between Rachel Bach and Elizabeth Moon!

Elizabeth Moon has degrees in history and biology, and served as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. CROWN OF RENEWAL (UK AUS) is the final installment of her Paladin’s Legacy series. This gripping epic should be on every fantasy reader’s To Read List. Expect it to be hitting bookshelves on May 27th, or you can start at the beginning with OATH OF FEALTY.

Rachel Bach grew up wanting to be an author and a super villain. Unfortunately, super villainy proved surprisingly difficult to break into, so she stuck to writing and everything worked out great. Her current project, the Paradox series, is a high-octane SF adventure across many fascinating alien worlds.  Look for the third novel, HEAVEN’S QUEEN (US | UK | AUS), online and in stores on April 22nd or start at the beginning with FORTUNE’S PAWN.

 

paladinslegacy

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Rachel: First off, let me say what an amazing honor it is to get to do anything with Elizabeth Moon. I’ve been a fan of yours since my early teens when I took my mom’s DEED OF PAKSENARRION omnibus to school and nearly flunked out of 8th grade due to the constant class skipping reading sessions. In defense of my juvenile delinquency, I’d never encountered anything like Paks before. Her adventures, and the fact that she was the one having them, completely overturned my ideas of what was possible in Fantasy, and it’s hard for me to overstate the influence your books had on my writing. I can draw a straight line from my own stories, especially my Devi books, right back to Paks, and so my first question for you is, was that ever in your mind? While writing Paks, did you ever think ‘I’m writing a strong female character that young women will look up to,’ or was she just who she was?

Elizabeth: (First I dig my toe in the dirt, writhe a bit, and blush, muttering ‘Oh, shucks.’ Followed by ‘Wait – you skipped class in 8th grade? I never dared do that, and I hated most of 8th grade.’ OK, now that’s out of the way . . . )

The short answer is: ‘Not really.’ Like many first books, Paks was partly rebellion against books that didn’t give me what I wanted as a reader . . . including women who were more like real women I knew: women with agency, with intelligence and drive, with both physical and moral courage, and with interests beyond home and sex. And as someone who’d been fascinated with military history since childhood (legacy of WWII vets, including women vets) and a veteran myself, I wanted more realistic women in science fiction and fantasy military stories.

With the exception of Joe Haldeman’s THE FOREVER WAR, male writers who depicted female soldiers at all depicted them as cartoonish cigar-smoking butch lesbians with no military ability except looking butch and acting mean. (To be fair, a lot of the male soldier characters were equally cartoonish.) Female writers were writing women warriors by then, some of them with obvious knowledge of sword-fighting (for instance) but the female characters seemed always outsiders – not integrated into a military organization from recruit to commander, with characters of both sexes showing a range of skills. Yet in real history, some women had fought alongside men without being detected as women until badly wounded or dead. Others were known to be women and also fought well. I wanted to explore ‘the natural soldier’ as a woman. And it was mostly for my own satisfaction, though as my alpha-readers began to respond, it was also for them.

Paks cooperated by being who she was like a laser beam . . . through good times and bad, she was (and remains) one of the most purely focused characters I ever had to deal with, the easiest to write until the end of the book when she . . . rode away and hasn’t come back as a viewpoint character. It wasn’t until later, when I first got feedback from young women, that I realized what she might mean to them.

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Meet the author of BATTLEMAGE: Stephen Aryan!

photo by Hannah Webster, copyright Stephen AryanOrbit recently acquired a debut epic fantasy trilogy by British author Stephen Aryan. The first book in the series, BATTLEMAGE, tells the story of mages treated as living weapons during a war between empires. It’s chock full of magic, scheming and truly epic battle scenes as these mages fight hard for an army that fears and distrusts them.

We’re sure you’re curious to meet the newest addition to Orbit, so we’ve created a mini-interview here with Stephen where you can get to know each other!

JH: Hi Stephen! Welcome to the Orbit gang!

SA: It’s a gang?

JH: Yep, we hang around on street corners, publishing books and scaring the neighbours. So what can you tell us about BATTLEMAGE, your very first novel?

SA: It’s an epic fantasy story set during a massive war and told from three main points of view; the front line warriors, the Heads of State and Generals conducting the war, and the Battlemages, wizards trained to fight and kill with their magic. Expect chopping off of limbs, political and espionage shenanigans, and black humour.

JH: Magicians, witches, wizards, we’ve read about them before – what’s different about your Battlemages?

SA: They’re a dying breed and are in demand all over the world. The Grey Council, the people in charge of magical training, abandoned their post years ago: the result is the majority of those born with a sensitivity to magic receive no training at all. Some have a little, which makes them unstable and, quite possibly, explosive as they don’t know how to control their power. Accidents happen quite often which has made a lot of people afraid of magic. So Battlemages are both feared and respected because they have immense power that makes them seem superhuman to most people, but they’re also necessary.

JH: Which books and authors influenced you in the writing of this series?

SA: The Earthsea novels by Ursula Le Guin was one early influence, which focus on Ged, a wizard who has several painful events that shape him as an adult. The other series that really made me think about wizards and magic were the Belgariad and the Malloreon novels by David Eddings. In both series there are only a handful of really powerful magic users who are also demi-gods and they walk that fine line between using their power to guide and protect humanity versus letting events run their natural course. LEGEND by David Gemmell was a big influence in terms of characterisation and my approach to story. Also the the work of Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, in particular their Dragonlance novels, as they have magic, non-human races and diverse characters which I have in my books as well.

JH: If there’s one reason that readers should be looking forward to BATTLEMAGE, it is:

SA: Only one? Hmm, because it’s a rollicking good story with plenty of action, memorable characters, epic battles and a sense of humour throughout.

BATTLEMAGE will be out in October 2015, with the sequels to follow six months after. If you’d like to hear more from Stephen in the meantime, you can follow him on twitter at @SteveAryan or check out his website.

SFF Interview Swap: Elizabeth Moon Interviews Rachel Bach

What happens when two writers from different genres come together to talk about science fiction, fantasy, and story crafting? You’re about to find out!

Rachel Bach grew up wanting to be an author and a super villain. Unfortunately, super villainy proved surprisingly difficult to break into, so she stuck to writing and everything worked out great. Her current project, the Paradox series, is a high-octane SF adventure across many fascinating alien worlds.  Look for the third novel, HEAVEN’S QUEEN (US | UK | AUS), online and in stores on April 22nd or start at the beginning with FORTUNE’S PAWN.

Elizabeth Moon has degrees in history and biology, and served as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. CROWN OF RENEWAL (UK | AUS) is the final installment of her Paladin’s Legacy series. This gripping epic should be on every fantasy reader’s To Read List. Expect it to be hitting bookshelves on May 27th.

HEAVEN'S QUEEN   CROWN OF RENEWAL

Elizabeth: You’re well known as someone who can write very fast without loss of quality, and your recommendations for increasing speed–both in your blog and in your book–make good sense. (In fact, I’d been using only two legs of your “triangle” for years and after adding the third had such good days with a new story that it slowed me down in getting these questions ready.) I’ve had 10K word days in the past, but I’ve also experienced increasing physical difficulty–arthritis in my hands, neck, and back that limited how much I could write in a day. Have you considered expanding your advice to include the ergonomic issues arising from very fast writing? How to generalize the skills to using alternate input methods, such as using a speech input? (I’m waiting for the direct brain-to-page technology. Visualize the scene: boom, it’s in the file or on the page, ready for editing. Hear the conversation between characters: there it is, with all the uh, um, er…but nothing vital missed.

Rachel: I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to hear my writing triangle helped you have a good writing day! Best thing ever.

I’m not at all surprised to hear you’d already figured parts of the triangle out. I’ve heard the same thing from several experienced authors, and I’m starting to think that all I did here was put words to what’s actually a universal writing concept. Can’t stop the signal, Mal!

You’re also not the first person to mention the physical difficulty of writing ten thousand words a day. The most extreme example of this was when I did my an annual open Q&A on the NaNoWriMo forums. One of the writers I talked to had stared out as a professional musician, but she had to stop when she injured her hands through repeated stress caused by playing. This injury effected her writing as well. She wasn’t even able to type two thousand words a day before her hands gave out, much less ten. It’s an admittedly extreme example, but it highlights the fact that writing is much more of a physical activity than most people give it credit for, especially if you have a pre-existing injury or ailment, like arthritis.

So, yes, I think this is a very valid point and I will be updating my book and blog to include it. Even with my healthy hands, it is physically exhausting to type that much, and it would be very easy to seriously injure yourself if you’re not careful. That said, though, I don’t actually know what to recommend as a solution. Right now my best advice is to listen to your body and stop if something hurts. Likewise, you should pay attention to your writing position and invest in a keyboard that’s comfortable for your hands over long periords. Speech to text programs have also come a long way in recent history (prolific author Lynn Viehl swears by Dragon Speaking Naturally), but I’ve never personally used them as anything other than a novelty.

Anyway, long story short, you make a very good point and I will be definitely be amending my process to include this issue. After all, my hands might be good now, but I intend to be in this writing business for as long as I can, and at ten thousand words a day, I’ve got a lot of typing in my future.

When can we expect that brain to page interface, science?

Elizabeth: You decided on a writing career early, but then found an English degree not particularly helpful. Writing our kind of fiction demands skills–for worldbuilding, for inventing new technology, for creating invented cultures that “work” in story terms–not taught in English classes. Have you ever wished you majored in something else, and what do you think would be the perfect degree plan for a spec fic writer? What research sources do you like to use when creating the surrounding cultural environment and technology for your invented worlds? What’s been your favorite thing to research in each of your genres? What was hardest to find or understand? Have you had life experiences that you feel were particularly important in expanding your writing scope? Do you schedule specific time for research and general reading, or is it “grab it when you need it?” (Yes, I know, I packed too many questions into one. Pick one or a few…)

Rachel: Actually, I think all of these questions interrelate beautifully! Like a lot of writers, I already knew what I wanted to be when I went to college, and English Major seemed like the most logical choice. How better to learn about writing books than by studying how the best are put together?

The reality of my experience was very different. This is not to disparage the University of Georgia’s English program, which is actually very good, it just wasn’t what I wanted it to be. College English programs are excellent at teaching you how to be a good non-fiction writer: how to properly use sources and make solid arguments and write thoughtful essays. But fiction writing is a different beast all together, and even though I took several creative writing classes, they were all focused on literary short story writing, which is about as far from genre novels as it’s possible to get and still be called fiction. Even worse, I was in an environment that actively looked down on the sort of commercial books I enjoyed and wanted to write. So yeah, not a good choice for me in hind sight.

If I had it to do over again, I would have majored in something much broader, like history or sociology, or even Comparative Lit, which focuses on international fiction instead of the Western Euro-centric literary cannon. I would also have taken a lot more electives, because the most useful thing I’ve found as a novelist is having as wide and diverse a base of knowledge and interests as possible. The more you learn about the boarder human experience, the deeper the well of ideas you can draw from becomes.

As to the more specific of your questions about what research or experiences I’ve found most important or difficult, I’m afraid I couldn’t tell you. I’m not dodging the question, I just can’t remember the individual acts, because for me writing has always been a process of running the entire sum of my knowledge and experience through the grinder. The Paradox novels, for example, pull ideas from everything: books I’ve read, jobs I’ve worked, that essay on binary gender I wrote for my one sociology class, a picture I saw on Deviant Art, video games, a role playing game my husband ran in middle school ten years before I even met him. All of these seemingly unrelated experiences and influences get mashed together as I write, and I couldn’t separate them out again if you paid me.

People have actually asked me what degree or life experience they should get in order to become a genre writer before, and my answer to them has always been that writing genre stories makes you a genre writer, nothing else required. But if I had to recommend something, I’d say you’re best off studying whatever you find most interesting. Go wherever your passion leads, whether it’s in formal schooling, a challenging job, or just something you do for fun. Whatever you do, though, make sure you’re paying attention, because it’s these memorable, seemingly random notes of experience that you’re going be drawing from later as a writer. They’re the fuel that will keep your idea furnace blazing bright. All the other stuff—story structure, pacing, characterization, and so forth—is just a matter of practice.

Or, at least, that’s how it’s been for me. Every writer works differently, so your mileage may vary.

Elizabeth: You also commented in an interview that you feel your fantasy is informed by an SF sensibility. After reading Dr. James Gunn on writing science fiction, and the difference he sees between how SF and fantasy are approached differently, I realized that although the two genres feel different to me, I use much the same process in writing both. I want the deep logic in both to be similar–everything links together into one coherent system. What do you mean by having that SF sensibility in your fantasy? That leads to the impossible question of “Where do you see the difference between SF and fantasy?” and the closely related “Is there a line between worldbuilding everything but the “people” part of the story and worldbuilding the cultures the characters come from?” And if there is such a line, is that where the divide between science fiction and fantasy lives?

Rachel: I don’t think anyone has ever drawn a line between Science Fiction and Fantasy that we can all agree on. Take Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books. Are they Fantasy or SF? On the one hand, you have dragons with mystical psychic bonds to their riders who can blink through space and time, on the other, humans are only on Pern because of space colonization and the Thread they ride dragons to burn is itself a space born spore.

The easy way out of this is to just say “what does it matter? Pern is awesome!” but it does matter to readers. The F and SF parts of SFF attract different audiences with different expectations and tastes. That said, I absolutely agree with you that, from the perspective of a writer looking at her own books, the creation process for each is pretty much the same.

In my own case, I’m a systems oriented, logical sort of person, so when I sat down to write a fantasy series, I took a logical approach to it. I built an internally consistent magic system and a world to contain it, and then I worked out from that framework to determine out how everything else in the story would function. When the time came to write Paradox, I built its universe the same way, only on a much grander scale. Both times, however, I figured out the why of reality first, and then used that to derive the how, who, and what.

This is what I meant when I said I approached my Fantasy with a Science Fiction sensibility, because, as Dr. Gunn says, one of the fundamental elements of Science Fiction is the scientific idea that everything is ultimately knowable and explainable, even if we don’t understand it at the moment. For me, though, this is as true in a fantasy world with an active goddess figure who makes things happen on her whims as with a galaxy that formed by the accidents of nature. Everything is knowable, everything is explainable, everything happens for interlocking reasons, and discovering those reasons is often the whole point of the story.

So at the worldbuilding, story crafting level, I don’t actually think there is a line between Science Fiction and Fantasy, at least not for me. Even when you start talking about characters, both Fantasy and Science Fiction favor larger than life heroes who change the world through significant personal action and sacrifice, be it exploring a new planet and ending up the unlikely champion of the indigenous population against your own corrupt galactic government or journeying to throw the One Ring into Mount Doom. Even the window dressings are somewhat interchangeable, because I’ve read Fantasy with complex machines and written Science Fiction with magic. There are short, lightning paced Fantasies and glacially slow SF epics with thousands of characters. Even the relative perception of time is no guarantee when the most famous Science Fiction story of all time took place long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away.

Personally, I’m inclined to believe the only real, measurable line between Science Fiction and Fantasy is one of flavor and emphasis. Fantasy novels tend to emphasizes the fantastical elements—magic, monsters, fully developed secondary worlds, the sense of being in another place, etc.—while Science Fiction generally places its accent on the products of scientific achievement—gadgets, fast travel, galactic expansion, exploration in the vastness of space, and so forth. Otherwise, the two are so similar as to be almost interchangeable, as evidenced by how easily and often they get lumped together. Both genres tend to be deeply humanist, both reflect and comment on issues present in our own world, both provide a stage for the invention and exploration of alternate cultures, both are given to power fantasies, you get the idea. They’re both wonderful, delicious ice cream, and the only actual question here is which flavor do you prefer in your sundae.

Elizabeth: Thinking ahead, do you imagine yourself delving into each of the various subgenres of our big playground, or do you think you’ll settle into some favorite pair (or quartet) of niches? So far you’ve done witty, rollicking fantasy and hard-edged action-packed SF…what other areas intrigue you and set the writer-vibes going? SF mysteries? Epic fantasy?

Rachel: I freely admit that I’m an agent’s worst nightmare, because I write everything! In addition to my current roster of Fantasy and SF, I’ve finished the first in a near future Urban Fantasy series about dragons that I’ll be using as an experiment in self publishing this July. I also have an alt history mystery novel about magic in the Industrial Revolution set in Manchester complete with necromantic workhouses and a spell breaker detective that’s currently with my agent. And as if that weren’t enough, I’m also planning a darker military fantasy young adult book, another Paradox novel focusing on the secrets of the Sainted King, an epistolary series of shorts chronicling the tragically comedic and unavoidable fall of a Dark Lord called “Speeches to Orcs,” and about a thousand other things that I may or may not actually finish in 2014.

So yeah, you could say I’m running all over our genre playground like that one weird kid who always eats waaaaay too much sugar. But then, what’s the point of writing fast if you don’t also write far and wide?

Elizabeth: Thanks for being part of this–it’s been a lot of fun learning more about you and your work, and thinking about the questions you proposed.

Rachel: Thank you for taking the time and for talking with me! Again, I can’t stress enough what an honor and a delight it’s been to get the chance to talk with you. (When I told my mother I was doing this, her response was “You’re interviewing Elizabeth Moon? Can I touch you?!”) Thank you again, and I can’t wait to get my hands on The Crown of Renewal later this year!!

Rachel and Elizabeth will be back again soon, and next time the tables will be reversed! In the meantime, check out their novels and get ready for their upcoming releases!

An interview with Glenda Larke

Saker appears to be a simple priest, but in truth he’s a spy for the head of his faith. Wounded in the line of duty by a Lascar sailor’s blade, the weapon seems to follow him home. Unable to discard it, nor the sense of responsibility it brings, Saker can only follow its lead.  The Lascar’s dagger demands a price, and that price will be paid in blood.

THE LASCAR’S DAGGER (US | UK | AUS) is the first book of an brand new trilogy by Glenda Larke. Get to know Glenda and find out what her new series is all about in the interview below. 

1.) When did you first start writing?

I was still in elementary school when I discovered I could write stories and – better still – I could persuade other kids to listen to them. When a teacher asked us what we would like to be when we grew up, my reply was ‘an authoress’!

2.) What made you want to write fantasy?

My first novel (unpublished!) was actually not fantasy at all. It was a thriller with a strong dash of romance, set in Malaysia, where I was living at the time. I showed it to someone, and to my alarm discovered that she equated the main character’s views with mine simply because the main character was, like me, an Australian living in Malaysia. I figured that the book – if ever it was published – would get me into trouble with the community I was living in at the time, so I shelved it and turned instead to writing fantasy. After all, no one was going to equate me with a woman born in the Keeper Isles and living in a place called Gorthan Spit, were they? (It was no hardship switching genres, of course. I loved reading fantasy and it makes sense to write what you love.)

3.) Who are some of your major influences in the genre?

It’s hard to single out any particular book or writer. I suspect it was Susan Cooper’s ‘The Dark is Rising’ that started me reading fantasy in the first place. The authors I read in the 1980s as I was developing my skills as a writer of fantasy were people like Barbara Hambly, Janny Wurts, Guy Gavriel Kay, Raymond Feist and Ann McCaffrey.

4.) Where did the idea for The Lascar’s Dagger come from?

There’s never a single idea! If I had to sum up the sources for my inspiration, I’d say: the great port cities of the Netherlands and the U.K. in the time of sailing ships, my mother-in-law’s kitchen, the Malay dagger, my ancestor sailing around the world on Captain Cook’s ‘Endeavor’, the spice trade, my husband’s background, privateers, birds of paradise…

The Malay/Indonesian dagger, with its distinct wavy blade, is part of my husband’s culture. Called a kris, it is a traditional weapon of his people, and historically it was thought to contain a spirit or presence (which can be good or evil). Folk tales often tell stories of a kris with magical powers. What fantasy writer can resist the idea of that?

Most of the trilogy, though, is set in my version of Europe about to embark on colonial expansion and trade dominance of the East. There’s a bit of a twist on our history, though: in my books, the East has a novel way of fighting back…

Read more. 

Dragons, giants, bloody battles – MALICE has it all!

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.

Read the full interview here.

Trudi Canavan answers your questions

Canavan_Traitor Queen-MMTo 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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Exclusive Interview With BLOOD SONG Author Anthony Ryan

BloodSongBLOOD 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.

Anthony RyanWhat 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 »

BLOODFIRE QUEST – Terry Brooks answers your questions

Bloodfire Quest, the second epic fantasy novel in Terry Brooks's Dark Legacy of Shannara series following Wards of FaerieToday 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 . . .

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