Mystic Inkwell Blog

Home of Authors Stefan M. Nardi, Jacob S. Nardi, and Damian Jeffrey

Month: April 2018

Author Interview: Rosalyn Kelly

This week I am interviewing Rosalyn Kelly. Rosalyn is a fantasy author and one of the authors that I worked with on Beyond The Deepwoods!

Tell us about a great book you’ve recently read!

The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan. It is described as a ‘steampunk flavoured’ fantasy and has a modern, industrial revolution kinda feel to it with guns, machinery and steam powered engines rather than a medieval setting.

There are drakes, animals similar to dragons, and their blood allows select people who are ‘blood-blessed’ to do remarkable things, such as super speed, healing, creating fire, communicating through mind trances, and telekinesis.

It has great worldbuilding, characters and action. It was a five-star read for me.

What is the first book that made you cry?

I can’t remember the first book that made me cry, but I can definitely remember the book that made me cry A LOT. Seriously, I blubbed for hours! A book has never made me weep like that before or after.

That book is One Day by David Nicholls.

It is so cleverly done, as each chapter tells of the same day, 15th July, in the life of two characters for twenty years. It follows the ups and downs in Emma and Dexter’s lives, and their ‘will they, won’t they’ relationship.

And then the ending. Wow. I’ve got a tear in my eye thinking about it!

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Writing massively energises me. I absolutely love the entire process. From coming up with an idea, then stretching it out into a story, the planning, plotting and brainstorming, bringing the characters to life and then getting down to the writing. I get a buzz from it and, even after spending hours typing away at my laptop, am still happy.  

I also enjoy the editing and rewriting process, which I know a lot of writers don’t like. Every time I ‘touch’ my work I’m improving it and I find that thrilling! (Is that odd?!)

Of all of the characters you have created, which is your favorite?

It’s got to be Jakira. She is the mother of Ammad, who is a point of view character in my novel Melokai. Jakira is a powerful, intelligent, subtle woman with a gift for remembering everything. She has ambition and she’s not afraid to manipulate people and situations for her own gain. She also loves her son, despite all his flaws.  

I adore Jakira so much that she is the focus on my new novella The Sand Scuttler. It’s set twenty years before Melokai and tells of her early life in the desert country of Drome.

What is your favorite thing about worldbuilding?

I find worldbuilding absolutely fascinating and I spend a long time considering it before I start writing. My favourite part is thinking about what made a country and people the way it is presented in the story, what events triggered certain cultural quirks, what part of its history led to how it treats other countries or its own people.

Melokai is predominantly set in a matriarchal society. It is not perfect in the slightest, and has evolved to be ruthless and treat men as second-class citizens. It was interesting thinking about what had happened in the past that led to the women taking rule and how their customs and practices evolved.  

When you aren’t writing, what do you like to do with your free time?

I’m a voracious reader. All genres, but mostly fantasy. I never watch television and prefer to read. Travel and seeing new places is a big passion of mine. I’m also a fan of being outdoors and walking and hiking. Painting with acrylics is my much-loved hobby to relax and unwind.  

You recently released Melokai: In the heart of the mountains Book 1. What was your favorite thing about writing this book?

I loved everything about writing Melokai! But I think my favourite thing was imagining the settings and locations and then bringing them to life in my writing.

A number of reviewers have mentioned my descriptive and immersive language that allows them to vividly picture the setting. I’ve been fortunate to travel and live around the world, so I draw on personal experiences when writing about places.

You are participating in the upcoming fantasy anthology, Beyond The Deepwoods. Can you tell us a bit about the story you have written for it?

My story for the Beyond the Deepwoods anthology is called The Tunnel Runner. It tells of the story of the young Lord Andrew Chattergoon who is sent on his first clandestine mission to deliver an important message to the true King, who is currently hiding out in Lian and amassing an army to overthrow the false King.

To do this, Chattergoon must venture into the tunnels that were excavated underneath a vast desert inhabited by their enemy, which link the country of Fertilian, where the false King resides, to the outlying city state of Lian.

It is Chattergoon’s first time in the tunnels, but he has been trained for the task by his famed tunnel runner father. However, he comes up against a number of obstacles – giant, sand dwelling, poisonous creatures as well as dangerous bandits, unstable tunnels and mysterious desert nomads.

The Tunnel Runner is set in the same world as Melokai, but twenty-five years before. Lord Andrew Chattergoon has a small part in Melokai, however he plays a bigger role in book two of the In the Heart of the Mountains trilogy.  

What did you enjoy most about writing this story?

It was a lot of fun thinking about Chattergoon’s backstory. He’s a distinctive character in Melokai, although only has a small part, and it was great to develop his history and delve deeper into his personality and beginnings.

Why should readers check out your books?

Readers who like deep worldbuilding will enjoy my books. I currently have one novel, two novellas and two further short stories set in the same rich world. It has been described as ‘immersive and atmospheric’ and ‘a masterclass in world-building.’

Melokai has a large cast of characters and multiple point of view narratives. Whereas my novellas, The Fall of Vaasar and The Sand Scuttler (coming out in May 2018), and my short stories, Peonhood and Ruby’s Return, are all told from one point of view character.

My books are dark and gritty adult fantasy, and often described as grimdark, with no guarantee of a happily ever after ending, and sometimes the bad guy wins. There’s action and battles, as well as intrigue and unpredictable twists and turns.

You can find out more about me and my books here

About Rosalyn’s Books

Game of Thrones meets Kushiel’s Dart set in a ruthless land ruled by women.

Legendary warrior Ramya has successfully ruled as Melokai for longer than most. Prosperous, peaceful, and happy, her people love her. Or so she thinks.

Ramya’s time is up. Bracing herself for the gruesome sentence imposed on all Melokais who have served their purpose, she hears instead a shocking prophecy.

Is the abrupt appearance of a mysterious, eastern cave creature the prophesied danger? Or is it something darker, more evil? And what of the wolves? Will the ferocious war with their kind oust her from power?

Suddenly Ramya must fight threats from all sides to save her mountain realm. But while her back is turned, a conspiracy within her inner circle is festering. Ramya and her female warriors must crush an epic rebellion before it can destroy her and devastate her beloved nation.

She thinks it’s the end, but it’s just the beginning…

If you love elaborate fantasy worlds and deep worldbuilding, perilously high stakes, magic, brutal battles, intrigue, and unique creatures and beings, then Melokai, Book One of the grimdark, epic fantasy trilogy In the Heart of the Mountains by Rosalyn Kelly, is for you.

Dark and gritty adult fantasy with adult content. For fans of George R. R. Martin, Mark Lawrence, Anna Stephens and Joe Abercrombie.

Buy Now

Amazon US   Amazon UK


About Rosalyn Kelly

Rosalyn Kelly grew up in the magical New Forest ​in the south of England and has lived around the country ​as well as in the Middle East, and travelled all over the world.

She studied English Literature and Language at Oxford Brookes University before embarking on a PR and marketing career.

After ten years telling the stories of international brands and businesses, she decided the time had come to tell her own and her debut novel MELOKAI was written in 2016 after quitting her job, going travelling for four months and then writing solidly for the following four.

The inspiration for her epic fantasy trilogy came when she was trekking in the mountains of Nepal’s stunning Annapurna Sanctuary.

When she’s not putting her heart and soul into book two of the In the Heart of the Mountains trilogy, she daydreams about where to travel to next, paints with acrylic, reads voraciously and writes book reviews on her blog.

Author Interview: Devin Madson

This week I am interviewing Devin Madson, the winner of the 2017 Aurealis Award for best fantasy novella.

First off, could you tell us a bit about yourself?

 Sure can, I’m an Australian fantasy author with a magical ability to turn fried zucchini and chocolate (not together) into books. I’m also a gamer, a terrible gardener, and parent of three including the infamous Toddler of Doom.

What book are you currently reading and are you enjoying it?

Not actually a fantasy book! Rare for me, but I’m reading Small Spaces by Sarah Epstein, which is a YA thriller set in Australia and given I don’t often branch beyond fantasy I didn’t think I would enjoy it but WOW. Talk about beautifully written and freaky as all hell. Really enjoying it. Last fantasy book I finished was Kings of the Wyld, which I’m assuming NO ONE needs me to tell them about. Lots of fun.

Your third novel, The Grave at Storm’s End, released in November last year. Did you find it easier to write the first book or the sequels?

I don’t find third books are harder to write than first books in a general sense, as in a first book you need to be laying groundwork you’ll reap the rewards of in the later books, but in the specific case of The Grave at Storm’s End – that was a difficult write for me. Between bringing out the second book and the third I moved country, got divorced, moved country again, started a new relationship and had a baby. That’s the kind of life upheaval that interferes with ANY book no matter where it sits in a series.

Last year your novella, In Shadows We Fall, won the Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Novella. What was that experience like?

There was a lot of screaming involved. I thought seeing my name on the nomination list was as good as it was going to get because it felt much safer to just assume I wouldn’t win. Better to be pleasantly surprised rather than disappointed. Sadly I am optimistic by nature and couldn’t help having a sliver of hope no matter how much I tried to crush it. So yeah, when they read my name out I ran around my house screaming and then my editor called and started screaming at me. Safe to say my whole team was thrilled.

Which of your characters do you most enjoy writing and Why?

In The Vengeance Trilogy it was Minister Darius Laroth, who is a very intelligent, broken and snarky fellow who has been with me for quite some time, but in my new series Cassandra Marius takes the cake. She’s an older whore turned assassin who has no illusions whatsoever about the world and her place in it, but she also happens to have a voice in her head with which she argues and fights for control of the body they share and as sad as it is to say I crack up every time I read those scenes and they’re damn fun to write. She’s also snarky, rude and doesn’t give a damn what anyone thinks of her.

What was the hardest thing about writing The Vengeance Trilogy?

Having to do it while parenting little kids! I am laughing and crying as I say that. But honestly about writing the actual books… probably getting the ‘magic’ system right. It is based on soul science and carries not only into my new books but every book I have planned, all in the same world. So my first of these characters, my Empaths, needed to be right to set the foundation, and they weren’t easy to write because they see the world so very differently so that was a challenge.

Now that you have completed The Vengeance Trilogy, what’s next for you?

I have the first book of a new series coming out June 7th. We Ride the Storm, Book 1 of The Reborn Empire. I’m also working on a spanish/moorish thieves and political intrigue fantasy series set in a different part of the same world. There are so many books in my brain waiting to be written that I need more hours in the day!

What drew you to writing Grimdark Fantasy?

Its honesty and the ability to really delve into the darkness of human psychology. Grimdark allows me to explore the shades of grey, and to have stories that focus heavily on the decisions of very complex characters rather than good heroes and evil demons, both of which I find difficult to empathise with and understand.

What book/series has had the greatest influence on your writing?

Gosh that’s tough, because although The Belgariad brought me to fantasy as a teenager and A Song of Ice and Fire opened the door to grimdark, I think the actual books that had the most formative influence on my writing itself aren’t fantasy at all but the works of Georgette Heyer, which I read repeatedly in my teen years. She was a master of characters and witty banter and was not an effusive describer of things other than ballgowns yet still managed to bring Regency England to life on the page with humour and mystery. I’ve just taken everything I learned from her and used it to write about people ripping heads off and backstabbing each other. No ballgowns though.

In your opinion, other than Tolkien’s works, which fantasy series has had the greatest influence on the fantasy genre?

This is one of those questions that could lead to author war. So many have changed the genre, decade to decade, but from where I’m sitting only two have guided enormous shifts in the way people outside the fandom perceive and receive fantasy: Harry Potter and Game of Thrones. Between them they not only brought swathes of new readers to fantasy, but also helped bring fantasy from ‘geeky nonsense’ to ‘mainstream cool’.

If you could write in any fantasy world, which would you choose and why?

Well, mine of course. But assuming you mean other than my own… The world of Bioware’s Dragon Age games. I have always been a massive fan, but what I love about it is the inbuilt conflict within the society on a basic, ethical level. Should mages be allowed to live free despite the danger they pose to society, or should they be kept in circles, guarded by templars to protect the rest of society even though it infringes on their rights and their freedom. After all they didn’t choose to be born a mage.

If I had to pick a book world it would have to be Westeros because I love scope and naturally write low-magic high-politics character drama with lots of blood.

If you could write a book using another writers character, which character would you choose and why?

Can I pick two? Because to separate Locke and Jean (Scott Lynch’s Gentlemen Bastards of course) would be a crime. I have loved their deep and enduring friendship since I first picked up Lies of Locke Lamora, and I can well imagine them having all sorts of mad adventures in pretty much any setting. They would be a fun pair to transplant, because they are resourceful and entertaining and snarky banter is totally my thing.

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?

That’s tough when most of the fantasy worlds I read about are grim and awful. Assuming I have magical powers, I’d have to go for the Harry Potter world simply because I can wander back to the muggle world and my muggle friends and my high speed internet whenever I like. If I had to go for a full other world then Discworld all the way because that place would be off the wall.

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?

Can I still be an author? It is seriously the only profession I have ever wanted or actually ever had. I tried three different university degrees in an attempt to educate it out of me, but ended up just writing in my lectures. I’m really not cut out for much else.

What is the weirdest place you have found yourself working on a book?

In a haunted insane asylum (not kidding). Also in front of endless Thomas the Tank Engine re-runs.

What weird writing rituals or habits do you have?

For each book I pick a set of epic music and listen to it every time I sit down on that particular book, which often ends with me unable to ever listen to it ever again mind you… And every writing session starts with green tea and chocolate. Otherwise everything just feels weird.

Why should readers check out your books?

Hardest question of all because all writers are built of self-doubt and coffee (tea in my case) but my books are a bit different, I write characters in all shades of grey and like to explore the depths of the human psyche to see just what we might do if forced into situations our world doesn’t possess. So if you’re not after fluffy happy endings and you like complex characters and snarky humour then this is for you.

About Devin’s Books

You will die. Your children will die. The empire will burn.

Empress Li is out of favour at court. Foreign-born and past her prime, she is to be set aside. But she won’t go quietly. With nothing left to lose, Li will do anything to stop Emperor Lan signing a secret alliance that could tear the empire apart. Yet when her life is threatened, old mistakes come back to haunt her and only a three-year-old boy can change the course of history.

With everything at stake, could an innocent child be the best assassin?

Buy Now

Amazon US   Amazon UK


About Devin Madson

Devin Madson has given up on reality and is now a dual-wielding rogue with a lot of points sunk into stealth and lock picking skills. A completionist at heart, she works through every tiny side-quest and always ends up too over-powered for the final boss. She is still waiting for her Hogwarts letter (a total Ravenclaw) and dreams of flying away in the Tardis.

Anything but zen, Devin subsists on tea and chocolate and so much fried zucchini she ought to have turned into one by now.

If you’re after happy, fuzzy tales then you’ve come to the wrong place. Her fantasy novels come in all shades of grey and are populated with characters of questionable morals and a liking for witty banter.

Battle of the Sub-Genres: Noblebright vs Grimdark

I have always loved fantasy. SciFi and thrillers are great, but fantasy will always be my one true love. I read pretty broadly in the genre too. From sprawling epics like the Wheel of Time, to nice quick urban fantasy reads, I like a mixture. One thing I have come across in the past year or two is the rise of two new sub-genres; grimdark and noblebright.

The two terms originally came about in the gaming community and eventually expanded to book genres. Grimdark and noblebright have both been around for a fair while, but the terms have become more widely spread and more prominent over the past year or two. Thanks to some stellar authors like Mark Lawrence, Joe Abercrombie, and Miles Cameron, grimdark has by far become the more popular and widely used term. What exactly is encompassed within each of the sub-genres can be pretty vague and whether a book is considered grimdark or noblebright will vary depending on who you ask. I think C.J. Brightley put it best in her article on


The notion that the actions of one person can do little to improve this world in decline, that the forces of evil and inertia and temptation will ensure that all of us are doomed. The best we can hope for is a little struggle with morally ambiguous heroes to oppose danger and maybe rescue for a brief time a few others.


The notion that the actions of one person can make a difference, that even if the person is flawed and opposed by strong forces, he can (and wants to) rise to heroic actions that, even if they may cost him his life, improve the lives of others.

One thing that I have come to realize, is that a lot of people seem to think that you have to choose one or the other. Fans of grimdark will often slander noblebright saying that it is all just unicorns and rainbows and fans of noblebright will do the same of grimdark (obviously without the rainbows and unicorns. If someone can write a grimdark book with rainbows and unicorns in it, I would be seriously impressed). I see people insisting that if you like one, you cannot like the other. And I hear this from both authors and readers. But I’ve never understood why.

Both grimdark and noblebright are fantastic sub-genres and both have their place. I have books in both genres that I love. Miles Cameron’s ‘The Red Knight’ is a great book that I absolutely loved reading. Yes, it can be a bit dark and yes it can be violent, but it’s a great book. Even though I haven’t gotten to the other books in the series yet, I’ve already bought most of them and they are sitting on my shelf glaring at me. I also love Chris Riddel and Paul Stewarts ‘The Edge Chronicles.’ They are brilliant examples of noblebright and they definitely don’t have unicorns and rainbows in them and I have loved them since I first found them when I was a teenager.

And that is what really bugs me about this. I get that people have different tastes and like reading different things but given the broad range in both sub-genres, I’m sure if people gave it a try, they’d find something to enjoy in both.

Anyway, that’s the end of my mini-rant. But I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Drop me a comment below and tell me what you think!

Author Interview: Martin Owton

First off, could you tell us a bit about yourself?

Real life scientific researcher (drug designer), married no kids. Diagnosed with CLL in 2014, lost my hearing 2016, cochlear implant 2017.

What book are you currently reading and are you enjoying it?

Darkmage by ML Spencer. Certainly enjoying it, but it’s difficult to turn off the internal editor that suggests enhancements to the tale.

You’ve been writing and publishing short stories since 1995 and you published your first novel, Exile, in 2016. What was the hardest part about transitioning from writing short stories to a full novel?

 I didn’t find much difficulty.  I had no intention of writing a novel; Exile was a short story that just grew unexpectedly. Now I find it very difficult to go back and write short stories.

What inspired you to write Exile?  

The old ‘what happened next’ plus ‘you can’t end it there, that’s too easy’.

Which of your characters do you most enjoy writing and Why?  

Lord Tirellan, he has all the best lines. The guy is very smart, very ambitious and totally amoral.

What was the hardest thing about writing Exile?  

Same as with all my work – characterisation. I’m fairly good with plot but giving my characters real depth is a continuing challenge. Fortunately I have great beta readers who pull me up on it.

What book/series has had the greatest influence on your writing?  

The works of David Gemmell.

In your opinion, which fantasy series has had the greatest influence on the fantasy genre?

I think that has to be Lord of the Rings and the rest of the Tolkien universe.

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the fantasy genre since you first started writing?  

The rise of e-books and self-publishing. When I started only the desperate resorted to it, but now with e-books it is a very viable alternative. My agent failed to get a deal for Exile and it would still be sitting on my hard drive if electronic publishing had not delivered a whole new world to smaller publishers and self-publishers.

If you could write in any fantasy world, which would you choose and why?

Gemmell’s Drenai world. Because it is full of possibilities and Gemmell’s world-building is loose enough to accomodate them.

If you could write a book using another writer’s character, which character would you choose and why?  

Conan, again a world of almost endless possibilities. Also plenty of other authors have written in this setting so there’s less chance of upsetting fans.

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?  

Juliet McKenna’s, because she builds such a very coherent world you can imagine it carrying on working when you close the book.

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?


What is the weirdest place you have found yourself working on a book?

Hospital ward.

What weird writing rituals or habits do you have?

Writing without much of a plan – though I don’t think that’s weird. I’ve written a couple of books with no idea of what the end will be.

Why should readers check out your books?  

If they love fast-paced adventure with real (as real as I can make them) characters facing real threats then my work should suit them. They are deliberately non-epic so if the bad guys triumph its rotten for the characters but the world keeps turning; the Dread Emperor and his endless army of zombie penguins will not take over everything.



About Martin’s Books

‘The Exile of Darien’ is a fast-moving tightly-plotted fantasy adventure story with a strong thread of romance.

Aron of Darien, raised in exile after his homeland is conquered by a treacherous warlord, makes his way in the world on the strength of his wits and skill with a sword. Both are sorely tested when he is impressed into the service of the Earl of Nandor to rescue his heir from captivity in the fortress of Sarazan. The rescue goes awry. Aron and his companions are betrayed and must flee for their lives. Pursued by steel and magic, they find new friends and old enemies on the road that leads, after many turns, to the city of the High King. There Aron must face his father’s murderer before risking everything in a fight to the death with the deadliest swordsman in the kingdom.

Buy Now

Amazon US   Amazon UK


About Martin Owton

Fantasy and Science Fiction writer.

I am Martin Owton, I write fantasy and science fiction stories and novels. I am a member of the London-based T-Party writers’ group , and am represented by Ian Drury of Sheil Land Associates.

My first completed novel is a secondary world adventure fantasy called ‘The Exile of Darien’. It is available from the Phantasia imprint of Ticketyboo Press since April 2016, and the sequel ‘Return to Nandor’ will follow shortly.

Author Interview: Brandon Draga

This week I am interviewing fantasy author Brandon Draga. Brandon is the author of the recently concluded fantasy series, ‘The Four Kingdoms Saga’.

First off, could you tell us a bit about yourself?

Certainly! My name’s Brandon Draga which, despite what’s now become a bit of a joke over on /r/Fantasy, is my real name and not a lazy nom de plume. I’m the author of The Four Kingdoms Saga, a high fantasy quartet that’s been compared to Terry Brooks’ Shannara series, R.A. Salvatore’s Dark Elf novels, and other sorts of popcorn-fantasy. I live just outside Toronto, Canada. I’m a nerd in all that I do, so I’ll be just as quick to bloviate for hours about books as I would about tabletop gaming, punk rock, skateboarding, and video games.

What book are you currently reading and are you enjoying it?

I most recently started the audiobook version of Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft. Ninety-five percent of my reading since I started writing seriously is via audiobooks, and so I was really excited when I saw Orbit was releasing Josiah’s books as such. Senlin has, so far, lived up to every bit of praise it’s received.

You published the conclusion to your Fantasy series ‘The Four Kingdoms Saga’ in May last year, how did it feel to end the series?

I’ve tried on a few occasions now to really accurately put into words how I felt throughout the process of writing and releasing Collapse of Kingdoms. Writing the final book in a series is one of the most stressful things I’ve ever experienced, and the amount of empathy I gained for Pat Rothfuss and George R.R. Martin, who have infinitely greater outside pressure to finish their series’, multiplied exponentially.

After all was said and done, finishing the series was ultimately bittersweet. Yes, in some ways it was a weight lifted, but it was a weight that I charged myself with carrying. It’s easy when you surround yourself with other authors to start feeling like writing and publishing a book isn’t such a great achievement, but it absolutely is, and to say I’ve finished an entire series is something I can really take pride in.

What can readers expect from you next?

I have a few different projects on the go at the moment. I’m working on a short for a new digital magazine being launched by Ellen Michelle, the editor of the Dwarves of the World anthology, I have a dark fantasy novelette I wrote a few years back that I’m hoping to do something with by year’s end, and I’m working on a new full-length novel set six years after the end of Collapse of Kingdoms tentatively titled Shadows and Sand.

Which of your characters do you most enjoy writing and Why?

Most recently, I think I had a lot of fun with O’Den Overhill. I had the opportunity to write him at two very different points in his life: first as a side character in Collapse, and then as the main protagonist of my story in the Art of War anthology, which is nearly twenty years prior. It was fun getting to write this glimpse of who he is, and then to write a pivotal point in shaping that. I actually might try and do more with him in the future.

What was the hardest thing about writing The Four Kingdoms Saga?

If I’m being totally honest, I think the hardest thing was when Realmwalker Publishing Group folded. I wrote and self-published the first two books, as well as the picture book I did with my fiancee, when RPG approached me. In the brief time I was with them, I was emboldened to really try and make the third book worthy to be next to the other authors RPG published. Despite the whole operation being small, I was seeing greater success in terms of sales than I had seen when I self-published, and it really felt like a step in the right direction.

By now I’m sure most of the industry knows that RPG ended with a lot of drama. Beyond all of that for me, though, was the sense that, despite working harder than ever to write a good book, do boots-on-the-ground promotion, and really up my own level of professionalism, it felt like I had made no headway in the end. It was something I struggled a lot with when writing Collapse, and is probably a large part of why it took me as long as it did to finish.

What book/series has had the greatest influence on your writing?

I think in the beginning I tried really hard to emulate R.A. Salvatore’s pacing, whether I knew it or not. As I’ve grown and evolved as a writer, I simply take mental notes on what other authors do that excite me, and figure out a way to make those things work in my books, and on my terms.

In your opinion, which fantasy series has had the greatest influence on the fantasy genre?

I think, whether people like it or not, Lord of the Rings is the stepping stone upon which nearly all modern fantasy stems. Those books are to fantasy what The Ramones’ first album is to punk rock.

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the fantasy genre since you first started writing?

The change had already began as I entered the world of published writing, but the destigmatization of self-publishing. In a lot of ways it’s starting to feel like self-publishing your work has gone from the fringe vanity act of someone unable or unwilling to find an agent, to becoming an integral step in getting oneself published by a larger house. Five years ago most publishers wouldn’t touch work that had been self-published with a ten foot pole, and now Mark Lawrence is organizing his annual SPFBO (Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off), and agents are using it to scout under-the-radar talent. It’s a fascinating paradigm shift to be privy to.

If you could write in any fantasy world, which would you choose and why?

The whole team behind the Art of War anthology recently did an AMA on /r/Fantasy the day the book came out, and I sort-of half joked that I’d love to write a short story set in Nicholas Eames’ Heartwyld. For those who haven’t read Nicholas’ debut, Kings of the Wyld (first off: do), it’s a setting that leans heavily on rock and roll analogues, and I’m enough of a geek that I think I could do a fair job injecting some punk rock into the world.

If you could write a book using another writers character, which character would you choose and why?

I feel like I’d be incredibly self-conscious writing any one writer’s characters, but I would willingly have several non-vital organs removed for the opportunity to write Batman.

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?

Most likely Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. It seems like as long as I kept my head down, I’d have the least chance of dying a gruesome death there.

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?

Writing. I figure I’ll stick with what I know.

What is the weirdest place you have found yourself working on a book?

Most of my writing happens in the places that aren’t that weird to us writers: at home, in a coffee shop, on a bus, at work when no one is looking. I’m sure at some point I’ve furiously scribbled lines or plot points while on a forklift. Don’t worry, it wouldn’t have been moving at the time.

What weird writing rituals or habits do you have?

Nothing too crazy, really. I just make sure I have coffee handy, cue up my writing playlist on Spotify, sacrifice exactly twelve grams of cotton candy and two ounces of triple sec to the elder god Shoggoth, and just let the words flow out.

Why should readers check out your books?

Because they’re fun! I referenced popcorn fantasy earlier, and I didn’t mean it in a derogatory sense. I think there is plenty of room in the genre for books that are light, fun jaunts, and I think I’m pretty good at writing them. Fantasy is an infinitely long buffet of all the foods in the world, but if you’re in the mood for some comfort food, I make a mean shepherd’s pie.

Sounds delicious, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions today!

About Brandon’s Books

Enna Summerlark has spent her entire life as a farmer’s daughter in the kingdom of Hallowspire, paying little mind to anything past what to sell at the next market day. When the next market day comes, however, strange events take place that will reunite her with an old friend, bring her into the world of a pair of sell-swords, and reveal a secret that will change Hallowspire forever, and cause ripples across the whole of the Four Kingdoms.

The first book in “The Four Kingdoms Saga”, The Summerlark Elf introduces readers to compelling characters in an engaging world of swords and sorcery, personal turmoil and political intrigue!

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About Brandon Draga

Brandon Draga was born in 1986, just outside Toronto, Ontario. His love of all things fantasy began at an early age with games like The Legend of Zelda, Heroquest, and Dungeons and Dragons. This affinity for the arcane and archaic led to his studying history in university from 2005 to 2011. In late 2012, he began writing a D&D campaign setting that would lay the groundwork for the world of the Four Kingdoms. Brandon still lives just outside Toronto, and when he is not writing enjoys skateboarding, playing guitar, and playing tabletop games.



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