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The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

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Interview with Brian D. Anderson, author of The Bard's Blade


Please welcome Brian D. Anderson to The Qwillery as part of the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Bard's Blade is published on January 28, 2020 by Tor Books.



Interview with Brian D. Anderson, author of The Bard's Blade




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?

Brian:  Oh lord! It was a humiliating experience. I was roughly eleven or twelve and had just finished reading The Fellowship of the Ring for the first time. It was an old copy my uncle kept in his childhood bedroom at my grandparent’s house. He was a huge science fiction and fantasy fan back in the 60’s and was more than happy to let me have it.

The very day I read the final page, I decided I wanted to be a writer. I was convinced I could do what Tolkien had done. I felt it in my heart. Sadly, that’s all I had: heart. No skill whatsoever. I’m not sure if a pre-teen boy can suffer the Dunning/Kruger effect. But I banged out about five pages of what I thought to be a work of unadulterated brilliance.

This opinion of myself was shattered when I showed my uncle and watched him read it. A grin became a smile, that became a chuckle, that became full blown laughter. He wasn’t trying to be mean. He’s a sweet man. But I was going on and on how I was going to be the next Tolkien, and the proof was in my hands. He simply couldn’t stop himself. I told him I’d keep trying. But my feelings were hurt more than I let on, and I didn’t write again for many years.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Brian:  I started as a pantser, and was for a long time. These days, I find plotting makes life so much easier. That’s not to say an outline is a suicide pact. It’s not chiseled in stone. If I think of a better idea, I’ll go with it, which makes me a bit of a hybrid, I suppose.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Brian:  There’s nothing really all that challenging anymore, at least as it pertains to the work itself. Not in the way it was as a novice. After nearly twenty books I have established my own style, voice, and methods. And I spend plenty of time reading so I can pick up a few new tricks. And I think I am flexible enough to change when the situation calls for it.

The real challenge is not taking on too much as once – balancing writing with my personal life. I have a tendency to overload myself with projects. When I do, my health (both physical and mental) suffers. It’s not conducive to a happy family situation.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Brian:  Hard to say. I’m definitely inspired by other writers. And while I’m sure they influence me, I don’t think I know when it’s happening. It’s too much in the realm of the subliminal for me to be aware of it. In fact, I’m frequently surprised by the comparisons to other authors I get from readers. It’s rarely who I think it will be.



TQDescribe The Bard's Blade using only 5 words.

Brian:  Fantasy adventure everyone should read 😊



TQTell us something about The Bard's Blade that is not found in the book description.

Brian:  Though it’s written as an adult fantasy, I wanted it to be accessible to everyone. It’s not YA, but readers of all ages can enjoy it.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Bard's Blade? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Brian:  It actually came as a result of a failed attempt at writing flash fiction. I needed a distraction, so I entered a contest. The piece was based on fan art, and was supposed to be no more than three-hundred words. While I could not keep it that short and was therefore disqualified, by the end I’d come up with the basic plot and characters for The Bard’s Blade.

What appeals to me most about writing fantasy is the freedom. I can create any type of world I want. I get to touch on social issues in a way that is relevant without being preachy or ham fisted. Things that are often difficult or awkward to talk about can be reframed in a fantasy setting so to allow for nuance and depth. The writer can take the challenges of the modern world and insert them into their narrative without the appearance of bias or malice.

Just look at the way fantasy has grown. You have Asian, African, LGBTQ, South American, Native American, among other types of fantasy that have joined in with European based fantasy as a welcome addition, rather than a contentious rival. The new and the traditional walk hand in hand. I can’t name another genre that can boast this level of enthusiastic acceptance by both creators and readers alike.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Bard's Blade?

Brian:  None. It didn’t require any. I understood the technology I intended to use. And the rest was a complete invention. Well…I did look up the organizational structure of the Roman Catholic Church. But that was more to confirm what I already knew.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Bard's Blade.

Brian:  Felix Ortiz brought his spectacular talent to bear on this. It doesn’t depict a scene. But it absolutely captures the mood and tone.



TQIn The Bard's Blade who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Brian:  Remarkably, it was Mariyah. I know it should have been Lem. We have a lot in common. But I connected more with Mariyah. I knew what she would feel and do in any given situation. I couldn’t tell you why. I just did.

The hardest was Loria Camdon. Her personality and life experience are highly complex. I didn’t want to write a stereotypical hard ass female – humorless, pragmatic, tough as nails, fearless, and sometimes mean as hell. She needed balance. Only then would she be like a real person to whom the reader could relate. It wasn’t easy. But in the end I think I accomplished my goal.



TQWhich question about The Bard's Blade do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Brian:  How many people should I tell to buy and read The Bard’s Blade?

All the people! That’s how many.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Bard's Blade.

Brian:

Knowledge is like the first step down a long road. All you can see is the ground at your feet. What lies ahead is shrouded in darkness until you find the courage to walk on.

Book of Kylor, Chapter One, Verse Fifty-Three


Injustice is the garden in which the seed of misery is sown.

Book of Kylor, Chapter Three, Verse Twenty-Eight



TQWhat's next?

Brian:  A Chorus of Fire is written and out of copy editing. So mainly, I’m finishing up with my indie works, along with A Sword’s Elegy, final book of The Sorcerer’s Song. After that I have a new series in mind, of which I have 80k words written. The world is vast and extremely complex on a scale I’ve never attempted. So I’m excited to dive in deep.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.





The Bard's Blade
The Sorcerer's Song 1
Tor Books, January 28, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 432 pages

Interview with Brian D. Anderson, author of The Bard's Blade
The Bard's Blade is the start of the new Sorcerer's Song fantasy adventure series from Brian D. Anderson, bestselling author of The Godling Chronicles and Dragonvein.

Mariyah enjoys a simple life in Vylari, a land magically sealed off from the outside world, where fear and hatred are all but unknown. There she's a renowned wine maker and her betrothed, Lem, is a musician of rare talent. Their destiny has never been in question. Whatever life brings, they will face it together.

Then a stranger crosses the wards into Vylari for the first time in centuries, bringing a dark prophecy that forces Lem and Mariyah down separate paths. How far will they have to go to stop a rising darkness and save their home? And how much of themselves will they have to give up along the way?





About Brian

Interview with Brian D. Anderson, author of The Bard's Blade
BRIAN D. ANDERSON is the indie-bestselling fantasy author of The Godling Chronicles, Dragonvein, and Akiri (with co-author Steven Savile) series. His books have sold more than 500,000 copies worldwide and his audiobooks are perennially popular. After a fifteen year long career in music, he rediscovered his boyhood love of writing. It was soon apparent that this was what he should have been pursuing all along. Currently, he lives in the sleepy southern town of Fairhope, Alabama with his wife and son, who inspire him daily.





Website  ~  Twitter @BrianDAnderson7

Interview with Simon Jimenez, author of The Vanished Birds


Please welcome Simon Jimenez to The Qwillery as part of the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Vanished Birds was published on January 14, 2020 by Del Rey.



Interview with Simon Jimenez, author of The Vanished Birds




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?

Simon:  When I was seven (eight?) I wrote a story called “The Time Machene” [sic]. It was about a cat that climbs a tornado like a ladder. What this has to do with the titular “machene” I couldn’t tell you, but it made perfect sense to my child brain.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Simon:  A hybrid. I usually start with the haziest suggestion of a plan, but that almost always gets tossed out while I’m in the thick of it. And after I’m done being a reckless idiot, I’ll come up with a new plan. And then toss that one out. I’ll do this a few times more before I reach the end of whatever I’m working on.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Simon:  Like for a lot of people, it’s filling up that blank page. The first draft neuroses. Getting over yourself and finally putting something down, so that you can do the actual work of revising.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Simon:  Books that I loved. Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. And like most writers I suspect, a lot of my writing is powered by some base level fear and anxiety. Some unsettled thing. In this case, it was time and its inevitable passing.



TQDescribe The Vanished Birds using only 5 words.

Simon:  Time lost and love found.



TQTell us something about The Vanished Birds that is not found in the book description.

Simon:  There are sex scenes.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Vanished Birds? What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction?

Simon:  For a while I’d been daydreaming about the central relationship in the book between a starship captain and a quiet boy, and I knew at some point I would put that story to paper. But when I set out and started writing this book, the only prerequisite I had was that there had to be a non-stereotypical gay male character at the center of events, somewhere. That was the most important thing to me. The rest followed in the process of writing.

There are many things about science fiction that appeal to me. There is often a bigness to these types of stories, a feeling of standing at the fringe end of our understanding of reality and looking out. For this book, I wanted the texture and color of space opera. Big impossible constructions and reality bending forces that are almost synonymous with magic.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Vanished Birds?

Simon:  Since the story is set so far into the future (about a thousand years) I had a lot of allowance to just make shit up, which is what I did, in earnest. I did light research for the chapter set in the near-future, on a too-warm earth; little things that would help sell the fiction. Learning where on earth I could put the space elevators. Everything else I invented or pulled from my working knowledge of things.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Vanished Birds.

Simon:  The vividly colorful shape on the front cover does depict something from the novel—a kinetic and galaxy-shaping force. It is not a coincidence that it has the contour of an hourglass.



TQIn The Vanished Birds who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Simon:  The easiest by far was Sartoris Moth, a far future socialite who likes to talk grandiloquently. His love of words, and his awareness of self, makes it fun to write in his voice. The hardest was the young man around whom the narrative revolves. His background is so outside my own realm of experience and understanding that it took extra effort on my part to create someone coherent and whole.



TQDoes The Vanished Birds touch on any social issues?

Simon:  A few. Global warming. The all-consuming force of corporate expansionism. The cultural effects of tourism. Things that are not necessarily the main thrust of the narrative, but rather carpet it.



TQWhich question about The Vanished Birds do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Simon:

Q: Can you speak about the variety of emotion and narrative scope in the story? A: Like my favorite authors I am a fan of maximalism. I like it when I read a book or watch a movie and it is obvious that the author or director or even composer left nothing on the table in the conception and creation of the work. I wanted to capture that here. Put all of myself in the book, and don’t hold back for a sequel or another work, writing in the romance and the adventure and the big ideas and the quiet and reflective moments. To be generous with my offerings.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Vanished Birds.

Simon:

“Weeks passed with the boy as her shadow, he stitching himself slowly each day to the soles of her feet.”

“One day, I will ask what it is he hears, when he hears the notes of music: the infernal, or the celestial. Judging by what I hear now—the flute song through my open door—it is most likely something in between. A fiery heaven all its own.”



TQWhat's next?

Simon:  I’m working on my second book right now. Different genre, mythic fantasy this time. A five-day chase through a land ravaged by a violent despot. Should be out next year if things work out.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.





The Vanished Birds
Del Rey, January 14, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 400 pages

Interview with Simon Jimenez, author of The Vanished Birds
A mysterious child lands in the care of a solitary woman, changing both of their lives forever, in this captivating debut of connection across space and time.

“The best of what science fiction can be: a thought-provoking, heartrending story about the choices that define our lives.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

A solitary ship captain, drifting through time.

Nia Imani is a woman out of place. Traveling through the stars condenses decades into mere months for her, though the years continue to march steadily onward for everyone she has ever known. Her friends and lovers have aged past her. She lives only for the next paycheck, until the day she meets a mysterious boy, fallen from the sky.

A mute child, burdened with unimaginable power.


The scarred boy does not speak, his only form of communication the haunting music he plays on an old wooden flute. Captured by his songs and otherworldly nature, Nia decides to take the boy in to live amongst her crew. Soon, these two outsiders discover in each other the things they lack. For him, a home, a place of love and safety. For her, an anchor to the world outside of herself. For both of them, a family. But Nia is not the only one who wants the boy.

A millennia-old woman, poised to burn down the future.

Fumiko Nakajima designed the ships that allowed humanity to flee a dying Earth. One thousand years later, she now regrets what she has done in the name of progress. When chance brings Fumiko, Nia, and the child together, she recognizes the potential of his gifts, and what will happen if the ruling powers discover him. So she sends the pair to the distant corners of space to hide them as she crafts a plan to redeem her old mistakes.

But time is running out. The past hungers for the boy, and when it catches up, it threatens to tear this makeshift family apart.





About Simon

Interview with Simon Jimenez, author of The Vanished Birds
Simon Jimenez’s short fiction has appeared in Canyon Voices and 100 Word Story’s anthology of flash fiction, Nothing Short Of. He received his MFA from Emerson College. This is his first novel.






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