The Sworn is your first book with Orbit, but it’s not your first fantasy epic, isn’t that right?
Yes. The Sworn is my debut with Orbit, but since 2007, I’ve written The Chronicles of the Necromancer for Solaris Books (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven, Dark Lady’s Chosen). With The Fallen Kings Cycle books, the world of the Winter Kingdoms jumps to Orbit.
So The Sworn marks a new beginning for you?
For me and for the Winter Kingdoms.
Is The Sworn related to your other books? Can someone pick up this book and start here?
I intentionally wrote The Sworn (and its sequel, The Dread, coming in 2012), to be a starting point for new readers, people who hadn’t read any of my previous books. It’s the beginning of a new adventure, and the threat faced by the characters has nothing to do with the villains in the previous four books. Having said that, I like to read a book where it feels as if the characters have their own pasts, so that it doesn’t seem like they have been sitting at home doing nothing until their “big adventure.” So the characters in The Sworn have personal histories and relationships, with the same kind of complexity you’d expect in real life. You don’t have to have read my prior books to enjoy The Sworn and The Dread — but of course, I always like it when people do!
What should your long-time readers expect?
For people who have read all of my prior books, The Sworn picks up about six months after the end of Dark Lady’s Chosen. Tris Drayke, Jonmarc Vahanian and the other main characters (and some new ones) head into a brand new adventure that’s unlike anything they’ve faced before. For long-time readers, this book should feel like a comfortable homecoming. And, of course, they’ll know the landscape and the characters very well.
What do you enjoy most about writing epic fantasy?
I was a history major in college, so I enjoy getting to build my own histories, cultures and religions into a believable world. And, of course, I enjoy creating characters in that world who have problems and triumphs that make for an exciting and enjoyable adventure. My goal is to create a really fun theme park with a killer rollercoaster of an adventure and then open the gate and let everyone enjoy it.