Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Next Big Thing Blog Chain

I was chained to this by David J. West, author of Heroes of the Fallen and numerous short stories, including one in the forthcoming Space Eldritch.

What is the working title of your book?

I'm not actively working on any novels at the moment, although I have a couple in different degrees of completion I hope to finish/polish after the first of the year.  In addition to some stand-alone short stories (science fiction and fantasy), there are two series I'm working on, both fantasy.  The epic fantasy series doesn't have a working title at the moment.  The sword and sorcery series is The Chronicles of Roderik and Prince Balthar.  That's the one getting most of my attention right now.

Where did the idea come from for the book series?

I don't recall what gave me the initial idea for the characters.  There was a comment on the Black Gate blog a couple of years ago in a post about a fantasy magazine that shall remain unnamed.  The magazine had folded, and in one of the comments, someone said this particular publication didn't have enough tomb robbing heroes.  Now I really enjoy a good tomb robbing.  Somehow I came up with the idea of a prince and his squire who were into a little cemetery burglary.  The only reason they would do this (that I could think of) was the prince is under a curse to murder his father, something he desperately wants to avoid doing.  So he and his squire are voluntarily exiled from their home until curse can be broken.  The court sorcerer is trying to find a way to break the curse, and it often involves having our heroes liberate certain items from their eternal resting places, usually at great risk to themselves.  The stories are written from the squire Rodrik's point of view, and all of the ones I've worked on so far start with the words "The Chronicle of" in the title.  Rogue Blades Entertainment was accepting some submissions about this time, and I wrote the first story in the series.  Jason Waltz liked it enough to buy it for the Assassins anthology.  I've placed a second story in the series with him, and I've got four more I need to finish, plus a two more to plot and write.

What genre does the series fall under?

Sword and sorcery, definitely.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

 I have no idea.  I see so few movies these days, I'm not familiar with many of the younger actors.  The characters are both young men, so most of the actors I'm familiar with are too old for those roles.

What is a one-sentence synopsis of your series?

An exiled prince and his faithful squire travel their world seeking to break a family curse while there's still time.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Self-published.  I'm not convinced agents bring enough value to the table in the current publishing climate to justify 15% of the earnings for the number of years they want to receive commissions.  Since everything I've written in this series so far is either short story or novelette length, I will try to place them in top markets.  If I'm not able to, I'll put them up myself.  And of course, I'll collect them and publish them in bundles.

How long did it take to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The first story took a couple of weeks working in the evenings when I didn't have other commitments.  The others have been stop and go, except for the second I finished.  It's been accepted, although I have no idea when it will see print.  That one had a deadline and took a week or two once I got past a couple of false starts.  The others are longer, so they've been start and stop affairs.

What other books would you compare this story to in your genre?

Who or what inspired you to write this series?

This may be cheating, but I'm going to combine the answers to the two previous questions since the works to which I would compare these stories are also some of the main inspirations.  First, I'm a huge fan of Robert E. Howard's Hyborean Age.  I love how he mixed and matched different historical periods in an imaginary fantasy setting.  I also love how the stories are mostly episodic in nature and for the most part can be read in any order.  The setting of The Chronicles draws a lot on that template, although the world isn't a carbon copy of the Hyborean Age.  On the other hand, there have been so many imitations that I didn't want to create another Clonan.  I wanted a civilized hero or heroes who were forced to act at times in, if not uncivilized ways, at least ways that wouldn't meet with civilization's approval.  There's probably a little Fafherd and the Grey Mouser in the inspiration somewhere, although I've not read that series in years, and there are more F&GM stories I haven't read yet than there are ones I have.  I also try to read across multiple genres, so you can see the influence of Arthur Conan Doyle in the structure.  Roderik is Watson to Balthar's Holmes, in that Balthar is supposedly the hero whose exploits are detailed by his faithful companion.

What else about your book series might pique your readers' interest?

This series is intended to be fun.  I've griped at times about how many authors seem to be writing with a political or social agenda, at least judging by their blogs and tweets.  While I certainly don't begrudge these authors their right to say whatever they like in their works, I maintain that the primary purpose of fiction is to tell an entertaining story, not convert me to your way of thinking.  With that in mind, I want to write some things that people will enjoy reading, hopefully to the point they want to read more. 

I'm also using this series as an opportunity to challenge and stretch myself as a fiction writer.  It would be very easy to get stuck in a rut and write formula stories, so I'm trying to do something different with each installment or to work on some technique.  For instance, the story I'm trying to finish in time to submit to a market by the end of the year focuses entirely on Roderik.  He and Balthar are in serious trouble, and Balthar has been taken out of commission.  Getting them out alive is all on Rodrik's shoulders.  He doesn't have much to work with or much time, either.  There's also a market coming open after the first of the year  The story I've got in mind for it isn't told by Roderik (or Balthar), although he and Balthar are central to everything that happens.

Now I have to chain people to this thing, so...I'm going to I'm going to list several authors whose work I enjoy and want to read more of:

Joshua P. Simon
Ty Johnston
J. M Martin
Mark Finn


  1. Sounds excellent Keith, I look forward to reading those. I love a good tomb robbery.

    1. Thanks, David. Not all of the stories will have tomb robbing, and not all of the robbing will be in tombs. I'm going to try to mix things up a bit, but there will be plenty of tomb robbing scattered throughout the series.

  2. Enjoyed this. Good to learn more about your work. SOunds like good stuff coming.

    1. Thanks, Charles. Now that I've promoted the series, it will act as positive peer pressure to be more disciplined in my writing.

  3. We need more sword-&-sorcery short form series. It's really time for a revival. I'm still trying to find a sweet spot myself that doesn't seem like a re-tread. Your series sounds good!

    1. Thanks, Paul. I've got another idea for an S&S short form series I didn't mention in the post. It's historical S&S, and I haven't done the research yet.