Your newly released novel Fate of the Fallen is the start of a new series. Tell us about the book, the world, and your plans for the series.
Fate of the Fallen is a story about the internal conflicts that humans, as a species, experience. It begins with the basic balance between civilization and nature then turns inward toward the struggles of the heart. It confronts the value of survival and challenges us to face our true natures. When hope becomes pointless, do we go down fighting or is accepting our fate—and imminent demise—favorable? Do we concede to the will of the gods when our very existence is threatened? This story forces us to face death with open eyes, and it may also contain a dreaded prophecy, an idiot horse, a talking severed head, a dragon, a reaper, petty gods, the fae, and numerous corpses.
As the series progresses, the lines between good and bad, light and dark, and life and death become blurred. Although the path is grim, the characters face it with the spirit and dispassion of people with nothing to lose. The question becomes, what is the cost of continued existence? Even greater is, what is the cost of death?
You’ve also published four books in another series, King’s Dark Tidings. Tell us about that world. Will there be more volumes?
King’s Dark Tidings is an ongoing series set in a large world riddled with unique cultures. Rezkin was trained since birth in skills no normal man should require. When everyone he knows is destroyed, he realizes he has no concept of his purpose. He sets out on a mission to find the one man who might hold the clue, but chance encounters and dramatic events lead him to begin building his own destiny—so long as it fits within the Rules. It’s a medieval style epic fantasy, but it’s also a mystery. As the series progresses, the characters are shocked by the sudden collapse of their society. As they struggle to find new meaning and set things right, they discover strange and ancient powers both enchanting and terrifying. They begin to understand that more is happening than they had considered possible.
Who are some of your literary influences?
I’ve appreciated the works of so many authors, it’s hard to point to just a few who have influenced me more than the others. My first great love of fantasy was Mary Stewart’s Arthurian Saga. She skillfully combined magic and intelligence in a way that has stuck with me throughout the years.
What’s the attraction of writing epic fantasy instead of, say, mystery novels or “literary” fiction or historicals?
Although I enjoy other genres, epic fantasy is my genre of choice. When I set out to try my hand at writing, I decided to create something I would want to read. I’m not opposed to concocting a great mystery or a traveling thriller, and I may do so in the future; however, I can’t help but say, “Okay, but what if he’s a necromancer and she designs black market time warp cannons?” Adding a bit of fantasy or science-fiction gives my imagination an extra thrill.
Why do you like writing series, as opposed to standalones? What particular advantages or pleasures does the series form offer you as a writer?
In my mind are vast, complex worlds filled with people, creatures, and cultures unique to each. Series give me the space and time to construct these worlds in the minds of my readers. What was once only a reality to me becomes an alternate reality to others, one they can visit whenever they want. The more people who read my stories, the more who know and understand these worlds. Our collective consciousness becomes larger via a single fiction blooming into a shared reality.
You’ve worked as a science teacher. Does your background and interest in science affect your approach to writing?
A geoscientist’s concept of time and interconnectedness is different from that of most people. It’s accepting that the moon used to be part of the Earth and that anything that occurred in the past few million years is considered “recent.” It’s understanding the processes that create vast systems like galaxies and also the bonds between atoms that constitute those systems. When it comes to world building, the greatest designs must be supported by the smallest details. The same holds for characters whose personalities, strengths, and flaws must be functions of the experiences that formed them. It’s important to recognize the logic behind characters’ interactions, the way they relate to their world, and the actions and emotions that defy such logic.
You grew up in a military family, traveling extensively. How did those experiences influence your writing?
Some people grow up in a bottle and believe all other bottles are the same. I’ve known people who never left the state or even the city in which they were born. I’ve traveled and lived in new places since I was an infant, and it’s always been a fact that people, laws, and cultures are different. As a child, visiting the military bases gave me a sense of belonging; but we often lived off-base, in the local community, and I learned to belong there too. Accepting people for their traits and differences, even those you may not like, is vital to integrating with a world-culture and has been especially beneficial in developing my characters.
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know? Upcoming work or other projects of note?
I intend to continue writing fantasy and plan to expand on the universe introduced in King’s Dark Tidings in addition to completing the Shroud of Prophecy series. I also have many ideas for science-fiction and supernatural thrillers. With a long “To Be Written” list, I’ll be generating new stories for many years.
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