Posts Tagged ‘Rojan Dizon’

Writing like a Guy

Ever since I decided to use Francis as my pen name, the subject has cropped up. Why? Is there some gender reason? Is it because you’re writing from a male first person perspective? In part that’s true – although Francis is a family name, which is why I chose it initially.

Writing as a supposed male has had some interesting side effects though. I’ve surprised a few people who thought I was male, which I’m taking as a compliment about getting the character right. And the other area that surprised me was the idea of author inserts, and the assumptions that come with that.

As a reader, I completely understand the temptation to assume a character (especially in first person) is, somehow, a representation of the author as they are, or who they wish they were. Perhaps because first person is so personal and you get so far inside the character’s head, that it’s difficult to see how they could possibly not be some sort of self-insert. (more…)

LAST TO RISE – the stunning conclusion to the Rojan Dizon novels

Released today is LAST TO RISE, the third and final novel in the Rojan Dizon series by Francis Knight, following FADE TO BLACK and BEFORE THE FALL. The ending to this action fantasy series is intensely powerful and moving.

Things are at breaking point for the towering vertical city of Mahala. It has long been a city plagued by corruption, by the exploitation of the weakest – where the pain of the downtrodden has endlessly paid for the whims and fancies of the privileged elite.

But now things are reaching boiling point – as the city is under siege and Rojan’s desperate efforts to save the city using his forbidden magic are driving him further and further into the depths of madness. Although he’d gladly see this city burn, he will give his all to save those who mean something to him – as they’re all he’s got left.

This quote from Publisher’s Weekly really sums up how magnificent it is:

Knight’s Rojan Dizon trilogy conclusion presses its growing cast of characters into intense moments of loyalty and sacrifice to close with a sharp turn into darker, more rewarding territory . . . With Rojan’s best friend anchoring him to humanity on one side and his exhausting, bloody, agonizing magic driving him closer to insanity on the other, the novel takes on a propulsive, fractured energy that mirrors Rojan and Mahala’s increasingly frantic struggle for survival.

The series, which has grown in complexity since the beginning, reaches a profoundly moving conclusion that is both unexpected and entirely satisfying.

If you haven’t picked up the Rojan Dizon novels yet (starting with FADE TO BLACK) I urge you to give them a go, as it’s one of the most dynamic and readable series around from a very promising new British fantasy talent.

Fade to Black, book 1 in the Rojan Dizon series by Francis Knight, perfect for fans of Scott Lynch and Douglas Hulick Before the Fall, book 2 in the Rojan Dizon series following Fade to Black by Francis Knight, perfect for fans of Scott Lynch and Douglas Hulick


Introducing Guns into Fantasy Worlds

Fade to Black, book one of the Rojan Dizon fantasy book series by Francis Knight - in a post talking about the introduction of guns to fantasy worldsFrancis Knight’s novel FADE TO BLACK (UK|US|ANZ) and the just released BEFORE THE FALL (UK|US|ANZ) are set in Mahala – a towering, vertically-built fantasy city. It’s a place that has long relied on magic, but is fast becoming mechanised – and now the first prototype guns are appearing. Francis Knight discusses below just what the introduction of arms can do to a world – fantasy or otherwise . . .

Whenever a significant discovery or invention appears, everything changes. Not always in foreseen ways either. I don’t suppose Edison or Babbage ever thought that their discoveries/inventions would mean that you’d be here today, reading this on a PC or pad. Did Edison consider that electricity would be used to carry out death sentences? Would Babbage have continued if he’d known the end result would be Rule 34?

Unforeseen consequences abound in history. If I invent this, it will make life easier for everyone! Only then, a war, or a revolution or plague, people being people, or even just a lack of imagination on the part of the inventor means that it all turns out rather differently.

The same thing goes for guns. Yes, many fantasy worlds use just swords/siege engines/whatever. But what happens to warfare when guns are added to the mix? Are they what people expect? Possibly not. The inventor of the Gatling gun noted that more died in war of infection and disease than gunfire. In 1877, Gatling wrote: “It occurred to me that if I could invent a machine – a gun – which could by its rapidity of fire, enable one man to do as much battle duty as a hundred, that it would, to a large extent supersede the necessity of large armies, and consequently, exposure to battle and disease would be greatly diminished.” And of course, that worked wonderfully. (more…)

BEFORE THE FALL – the exceptional follow-up to FADE TO BLACK

Have you heard what people have been saying about Francis Knight’s debut fantasy novel FADE TO BLACK (UK|US|ANZ)? Here’s a clue . . .

Word cloud for reviews of FADE TO BLACK, the fantasy debut by Francis Knight - a noir fantasy adventure that's "powerful", "emotional" "Distinctive", "brilliant", "Inventive"

If you’re amongst the hoard of readers who loved this thrilling and original tale set in the vertigo-inducing fantasy world of Mahala, you’ll be interested to hear that the follow-up BEFORE THE FALL (UK|US|ANZ) is released today.

Fade to Black, book one of the Rojan Dizon novels, by Francis Knight - a dark, noir fantasy series with a dystopian feel - perfect for fans of Scott Lynch, Douglas Hulick, Benedict Jacka and Ben Aaronvitch
Fade to Black – out now
Before the Fall, book two of the Rojan Dizon novels, following Fade to Black by Francis Knight - a dark, noir fantasy series with a dystopian feel - perfect for fans of Scott Lynch, Douglas Hulick, Benedict Jacka and Ben Aaronvitch
Before the Fall – released today
Last to Rise, book three of the Rojan Dizon novels following Fade to Black and Before The Fall, by Francis Knight - a dark, noir fantasy series with a dystopian feel - perfect for fans of Scott Lynch, Douglas Hulick, Benedict Jacka and Ben Aaronvitch
Last To Rise – released November


The latest book again features the reluctant hero, bounty hunter and pain mage Rojan Dizon. He’d love to keep his head down and out of trouble – but he needs to get some power back to the city, and his worst nightmare is just around the corner . . .

Then there’s not long to wait until the third and final book in the trilogy is released. It’s called LAST TO RISE – and it’s a truly explosive finale (yes I did cry…)

If you haven’t checked this series out yet, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Benedict Jacka interviews Francis Knight, author of FADE TO BLACK

Next week sees the release of the fantasy novel BEFORE THE FALL (UK|US|ANZ), the second Rojan Dizon novel by Francis Knight (following FADE TO BLACK – UK|US|ANZ).

Below, another Orbit fantasy star Benedict Jacka, author highly popular Alex Verus novels, interviews Francis on the towering fantasy world of Mahala . . .

Before the Fall, book two of the Rojan Dizon novels, following Fade to Black by Francis Knight - a dark, noir fantasy series with a dystopian feel - perfect for fans of Scott Lynch, Douglas Hulick, Benedict Jacka and Ben AaronvitchBenedict Jacka: One way to describe the Rojan Dizon books would be dark fantasy – how did you end up moving into that genre, and what’s it like to write in compared to other things you’ve done in the past?

Francis Knight: By accident! It started off as an antidote to what I had been writing – romance – and went from there. I like to challenge myself each time I start something new, and this was it. Every genre has its restraints, and I wanted to explore not-so-nice “heroes” and not-so-Happy-Ever-After endings and lots of other things that a romance reader might be very disappointed to find in her book! In particular I wanted to explore how being a not particularly nice chap doesn’t have to prevent you from doing the right thing.

BJ: How difficult do you find it to write a protagonist of the opposite sex?  Do you find yourself asking guys for advice on how a male character would react in a particular scene you’re writing?

FK: The first time it was hard, I have to say. I actually find I prefer it nowadays. It’s a lot easier to separate my characters from me for a start! Also I love trying to get inside a guy’s head, see what makes them tick. I do sometimes ask husband/male friends/betas for advice about whether a guy would do X – but it’s just not that simple. It’s not about whether he’s a guy or not, it’s about who he is. Some guys would do one thing, and others would do the opposite. They’re still both guys.

Fade to Black, book one of the Rojan Dizon novels, by Francis Knight - a dark, noir fantasy series with a dystopian feel - perfect for fans of Scott Lynch, Douglas Hulick, Benedict Jacka and Ben AaronvitchBJ: So, the scenes in Fade to Black which go into detail on exactly what Rojan and the other pain-mages do to themselves to fuel their pain magic . . . did you deliberately make them wince-inducing or did it just work out that way?

FK: I actually tried not to be too graphic there, but it was necessary to show something, I think, or it wouldn’t have been honest. There’s a fine line between glossing over something important and showing graphic things that are unnecessary. Of course, that line is going to be different for everyone. I inferred more than I showed (I think/hope), but that goes for lots of things. (more…)

How to make a fantasy book cover: FADE TO BLACK

It’s finally here! Today is the release date for FADE TO BLACK (UK | US | ANZ) by Francis Knight, one of the most hotly anticipated fantasy releases of the year.

The illustrator for the covers of this series, Tim Byrne, did an awesome job representing the vertigo-inducing city of Mahala, the setting for FADE TO BLACK and all the Rojan Dizon novels. We asked Tim to go step-by-step through the process of creating such a cool image:

I started off by doing a very quick sketch of the cover to get an idea of how the perspective might work. I wanted to convey the extreme height of the city of Mahala and how it might be if you were at the bottom looking up. I nearly always start a cover by positioning the type – as once I know where and how that is sitting, I know how much space I have left for the rest of the image.

Sketch by Tim Byrne for FADE TO BLACK by Francis Knight, the first Rojan Dizon novel and a highly anticipated fantasy debut

Next I started blocking in the faces of the buildings/vertical streets using an image of a mud face that I had – which I repeated, scaled and distorted in order to get the perspective to work. This gave me a base on which to start adding bits of buildings and windows.

Stage 1 of a cover by Tim Byrne for FADE TO BLACK by Francis Knight, the first Rojan Dizon novel and a highly anticipated fantasy debut


My top six anti-heroes in film and literature

Yes, it was supposed to be five but . . .

I love an anti-hero. I think they appeal to my non-conformist nature – they tend to do what they want, as far as possible, even if it gets them into trouble. Plus there’s that whole bad-boy vibe and, very often, a darkly cynical sense of humour, which I am a sucker for.

So, that said, here’s a few of my favourites.

© AVCO Embassy Pictures
© AVCO Embassy Pictures

6. Snake Plissken (from Escape from New York). I mean, what’s not to like? Under a totalitarian government, he thumbs his nose at them and does what he wants for the most part, at least until he’s forced to do what “they” want. Weirdly – and perhaps essentially – he appears sometimes to have more morals than the “good” guys. It does not hurt that Kurt Russell looks good in leather.

5. Conan the Barbarian. Your classic anti-hero. He’s out for himself, always. He’s dark, he’s brooding, he’s itching for a fight. But if you’ve got a bad guy you want rid of, he’s your guy. Just don’t expect him not to ravish your girlfriend while he’s saving you.

4. Sandman Slim. You don’t get much downer and dirtier than the Sandman. His saving grace is, apart from his black humour, no matter how bad he gets, pretty much everyone else is worse. He’s on your side for the right price, but if he hates the guys you want dead, maybe you’ll get a freebie. Plus he has a nice little redeeming feature of falling hopelessly in love. Even men from hell just want a bit of lovin’.

© Walt Disney Pictures
© Walt Disney Pictures

3. Jack Sparrow. He lies and cheats and steals, but he doesn’t hide it, he flaunts it. But of course he’s a pirate, and who hasn’t wanted to throw off the yoke and just sail about doing whatever you felt like, especially if it involves a bit of swashbuckling and derring do? Again, crucially, he has morals. They just aren’t quite the same as everyone else’s. (more…)

The challenges of building a vertical city

While world-building a city is an exercise in imagination, it’s always preferable, I think, to make sure you’re grounded in at least the basics of reality.

It’s possible to make buildings that can support many, many levels, so why not a city that can do the same? It takes a little extra forethought and planning perhaps. In the case of Mahala, it didn’t start off meaning to grow up, that’s just the way it happened. They ran out of room sideways, so they began building up. While this is fine to start with, just building as and when, at some point things are going to start to collapse under their own weight. Not to mention other considerations, such as “what do you do with all the waste?”.

isbn9780356501666-detailSo at some point in the past, well before the story of Fade to Black starts, a bright mage-king decided it was time to sort it all out. A superstructure was grafted on to what already existed and gave a backbone for more and bigger buildings. As Mahalians are well known for their inventiveness and ingenuity, it wasn’t just any old superstructure – the steel was strengthened to withstand almost anything. Archive details are hazy, but it seems likely that magic was involved in this – in those days magic was involved in everything. The only thing the superstructure couldn’t withstand, so it turned out, was mages. But never mind, the resulting Slump made a handy dumping ground for bodies, especially when space for crypts was at a premium.

A second problem was light – once you go up far enough, light is at a premium at the bottom. That same thoughtful mage-king made sure that even the poor sods far below his sun drenched palace got at least a minute of daylight a day by the cunning installation of lightwells and mirrors to bounce all that light around, and I’m sure everyone was jolly well grateful.


Interview: Francis Knight on FADE TO BLACK

Fade to BlackRojan Dizon doesn’t mind staying in the shadows, because he’s got things to hide. Things like being a pain-mage, with the forbidden power to draw magic from pain. But he can’t hide for ever.

Because when Rojan stumbles upon the secrets lurking in the depths of the Pit, the fate of Mahala will depend on him using his magic. And unlucky for Rojan – this is going to hurt.

Only two more weeks until FADE TO BLACK (US | UK AUS) releases online and in stores. Here’s an interview with Francis Knight. Find out how the city of Mahla came to be and more about the magic system employed by Knight’s pain mages.

Have you always known that you wanted to be a writer?

No, I can’t say that I have, probably because it never occurred to me to write down all the stories in my head. I’ve always read, and always made up little stories but it was only when I was struck down with ME that I started to write—I was housebound, and it was almost a defence against day- time TV. So I wrote one of my little stories and found I was addicted to writing.

Did the idea for the Rojan Dizon books come to you fully realised or did you have one particular starting point from which it grew?

As with most of my ideas, it came a piece at a time, each piece from a different direction. The idea really takes hold when they gang up on me. The theme came from one direction, Jake from another, whereas Rojan came as I was writing. He was kind of an experiment—I’d never writ- ten in first before, and he is polar opposite to me in many areas (though we do share a trait or two), so he was almost a challenge I set myself, to see if I could do it. I splurged out fifty thousand words in a month—at this stage it was a future dystopia world, but then my writers’ group pointed out, quite fairly, that I am horrible at making up future tech. One member suggested, “Why not make it a dark fantasy?” which kind of fed into a separate idea I’d had for a world where magic lived with technology. I dabbled a bit then left it on my hard drive for a few years, tinkering with it every now and again in between other projects. It was only when I decided to actually knuckle down and do something with it, when I started with the idea of pain magic in fact, that it really came to life. It was waiting for me to have the right idea to make it work, I think.

Read the full interview here.

New Wallpaper: FADE TO BLACK by Francis Knight

fade-to-black-wallpapersAll of us at Orbit are just crazy about the covers gracing the books of the Rojan Dizon series. The dizzying views of Mahala, are absolutely breathtaking so it was natural that we would want to make a wallpaper to celebrate the release of FADE TO BLACK (US | UK AUS) – the fantasy debut of Francis Knight! Read an excerpt over here or check out the cover to the upcoming sequel, BEFORE THE FALL.

If you need another size for your computer or electronic devices let us know.

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