This is very very late. Due to health reasons pushing me to go on an unexpected hiatus, I never got to post this interview during the publicity for Crownbreaker. I'm still not well enough to go back to posting regularly, but with Way of the Argosi coming out in just over a week, I thought what better time to post that interview that I was really excited about! So here it is, late but here.
Of course, there are always changes as you go. Charmcaster is the book that’s least like what I initially envisioned. I had this idea about a mechanical bird and as soon as that came into the picture, I knew I needed to build a whole society around the skill necessary to create such a creature. Then because the Gitabrians were to be explorers, inventors, and traders, the notion of coin magic started to interest me. So there are always ideas that crop up as you’re writing, and some of them change the story in drastic ways, but they’re almost always worth the extra effort.
But it goes beyond that, too. Book 4 of the Spellslinger series had to have an 18+ warning on it in Russia because one of the characters is gay (despite there being no sex of any kind in the book). Why? Because Russia has a law that was passed to “protect” anyone under 18 from "gay propaganda". But there are internalized constraints, too – ones publishers and authors put on themselves because controversy can ruin careers. The argument is always the same: putting “this” (whatever “this” happens to be) in the book could harm readers, so let’s leave it out. No doubt sometimes that’s the right thing to do, but freedom of expression is something we all need to be concerned about, because the argument against it will always be that the risk of harm outweighs the importance of any given story an author wants to tell.
In the meantime, I’ve got two Argosi books due to come out starting next year, and loads of Greatcoats books in the works, so I’ve got lots to do!
Despite the claim that we’re all becoming “snowflakes” and getting participation medals for everything, the truth is that much of world around us seems dedicated to telling us that a first novel will be awful, that too many people are writing books, that if you’re not “this” kind of person you shouldn’t be writing “this” kind of story. Who knows? Maybe all of it’s true. But anyone who listens to those voices will get so discouraged when the writing gets tough that they’ll abandon the book, stick it on a shelf, unfinished, and never reap the incredible benefits that come from finishing your first novel.
My first effort was a terrible mystery novel that will never be published, but it changed my life for the better in so many ways. It expanded my mind, gave me confidence (that led to promotions at work), and made the world around me more interesting. Most importantly, it gave me the urge to write my second book years later, and that one got me a four-book deal that launched me into this amazing career.
So if you want to write your first fantasy novel, write it fearlessly, putting all the things you want into your story, ignoring the voices of disapproval coming from inside your head (and elsewhere), and tell yourself that this book – this one you’re writing now that feels like it’s off the rails? It’s worth finishing. It’s special. Keep telling yourself that as many times as you need to in order to come back to the keyboard and write the next scene. When you get to the end, no matter what you or anyone else thinks of the finished book, it will have transformed you from someone who talks about writing books to someone who actually writes them. What could be more special than that?
The Way of the Argosi comes out on the 22nd of April 2021 and follows the path of Ferius Parfax, a character that was introduced in the now finished Spellslinger series.
I received a copy of Crownbreaker from the publisher.