This week I am interviewing fantasy author A.Z. Anthony. A.Z. Anthony has previoulsy written a number of short stories and his debut novel, Servant Of Rage, is due to be released in April this year!
First off, could you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m renowned author A.Z. Anthony, best known for my genre-warping fiction which crashes global markets, and my humility. More realistically, I’m the author of several award-winning stories, as well as my debut novel, Servant of Rage. I’m also a ghostwriter by trade and a contributor at The Fantasy Hive.
What book are you currently reading and are you enjoying it?
I’m currently reading Supremacy’s Shadow by T. Erik Bakutis and I am absolutely enjoying it. It’s billed as “grimsnark” and it’s definitely had me laughing a fair bit.
Your debut novel, Servant of Rage, the First Book of the Bloodrage Trilogy, is set to launch on April 3, 2018, what is the book about?
Well, some anonymous, but really important person (who’s definitely not me), has called it “Avatar: The Last Airbender as directed by Quentin Tarantino.” But, just in case that word of that really important, definitely famous person isn’t enough, here’s a quick summary:
To kill an heir is to claim their power. But at what cost?
When the khan’s fiercest headhunters, brothers Subei and Bataar, are struck by lightning from a freak storm, they awake to find unnatural powers growing inside them. And they’re not alone – all across the land other “heirs of the ancestors” have been similarly blessed. To kill one of these heirs is to consume their power, but as the brothers do just this, and their power grows, so too does a primal, uncontrollable madness within.
What was your favorite thing about writing this book?
Actually writing it. I’m not the biggest fan of plotting or editing, but I love writing. I always draw up outlines for my novels, but they inevitably change in some ways when I get to the act of physically writing the story. I love that. I love following the text as it develops in unexpected ways and takes me in new directions.
What was the hardest thing about writing Servant of Rage?
Character growth, for sure. I didn’t mean to write a book that required so much character growth, but it turned out to be essential to the plot. I don’t think it’s one of my strongest areas of writing, but advanced reviews have said they liked how the characters grew and changed, so I’ll take it!
How does it feel to be releasing your first book?
At first, it was more stressful. I was worried about a dozen things, primarily, that no one would buy the book. But all that worrying built into an important realization: I was so worried about the book doing well, I’d forgotten to just enjoy my writing. That realization has helped me get back to the basics. Writing for writing’s sake, and releasing the books when they’re done, because, what else do you do with a finished manuscript anyway, eh?
What drew you to writing Grimdark Fantasy?
Joe Abercrombie. He was the gateway drug that led me down this dastardly path. I’ve always appreciated the depth and mixed morality of his characters. I love a good morally gray protagonist, or outright anti-hero. They’re so much more interesting than your typical “good guy.” Also, I’ve always loved hard rock / metal as a music genre, and grimdark really is just the hard rock of the literary world, isn’t it?
What book/series has had the greatest influence on your writing?
Ooh. This one is tough. Based on how Servant of Rage turned out, I’d say Abercrombie’s standalone novel, Best Served Cold. But, my current WIP is a standalone that draws much heavier on survival thriller influences such as Jurassic Park. I’d like to think my writing is moving in a direction to be some abominable mashup of grimdark and man vs. wild, survival thrillers.
In your opinion, which fantasy series has had the greatest influence on the fantasy genre?
I mean, I have to say Lord of the Rings, right? It’s good – not my favorite story out there – but the influence it has had and still does on the fantasy genre is undeniable.
If you could write in any fantasy world, which would you choose and why?
I’d have to go with the universe of Andrew Rowe’s Sufficiently Advanced Magic. I read that book recently and, while I can’t explain why, it’s just really stuck with me. Something about the world he created fascinated me. I’d love to take a crack at writing in it. But he’s almost done with work on the sequel, and I think reading that will satisfy the craving for a while.
If you could write a book using another writers character, which character would you choose and why?
Oh, jeez. That’s a tough one. I hardly feel qualified to write another author’s characters. I suppose, if I had to answer, I’d want to write Nicomo Cosca from Abercrombie’s works. He’s always been one of my favorite scoundrels. That being said, I’m absolutely sure I’d not be able to do the character justice.
An evil wizard casts a spell on you and transports you to a world from a fantasy novel. Which fantasy world would you want it to be?
I quite like living. Thus, I’d definitely want to go to a world where consequences are not quite ever-lasting and I’d have a better chance of not being randomly slaughtered by a passing lord. So…I’d go with the fantasy world of Nicholas Eames’ Kings of the Wyld. Also, airships. Yes please.
You cannot return from the fantasy world you have been sent to and are doomed to spend the rest of your days there, what profession do you choose to take up?
Airship mate, and if I work really hard, maybe I can make it to First Mate. I’d not want to be captain, though. Too much responsibility. I just want to sail the skies in a badass ancient relic ship and watch the sunset over the horizon.
What is the weirdest place you have found yourself working on a book?
The weirdest place I’ve found myself working on a book is in the pick up / drop off lane of our local T (Boston subway) station. Sometimes while I’m waiting to pick up my fiancee, I’ll write on my phone. Not planning, but actual writing. It’s strange to write on your phone, and it’s much slower than keyboard, but it gets the job done, eventually.
What weird writing rituals or habits do you have?
The first time I answered this question in an interview, I had to ask my fiancée if I did anything weird while writing, because of course I don’t. Without hesitating, she reminded me that I work out while I write. Every forty-five minutes or so, I do a quick set of exercises with free weights. I find it helps keep me active, encourages the creativity to flow, and the ever-increasing physical exhaustion makes it easier to stay at the keyboard (a comfy computer chair is far preferred to crunches on the hardwood floor with a weight on my head).
Why should readers check out your book?
It’ll fix your love life!* It’ll whip you into impeccable physical shape!** It’ll put money in your bank account!*** And because, as one advanced reviewer put it, Servant of Rage is “a dark yet hopeful tale of magic and morality in a violent world…packed with action, conflict, and enough fighting to satisfy any fantasy reader’s cravings for magical battles.”
*It probably won’t
**It definitely won’t
***It’ll do the opposite, actually
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions today!
About The Book
To kill an heir is to claim their power. But at what cost?
As the khan’s fiercest headhunters, brothers Subei and Bataar are feared across the steppe. When they’re struck by lightning from a freak storm, however, they awake to find unnatural powers growing within them. And what’s more, they’re not alone.
About A.Z. Anthony
A.Z. Anthony is best known for his genre-warping fiction whose popularity commonly crashes global markets. Also, his humility.
More realistically, he is the author of several award-winning short stories. His debut novel, Servant of Rage, releases April 3, 2018. He’s also hard at work on an additional standalone novel, the two sequels to Servant of Rage, and is a contributor at The Fantasy Hive.
Should you wish to reach out to A.Z. you should know he prefers to be contacted exclusively through Sasquatch-esque whoops and tree knocks. However, he can also be reached through these less effective means: