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Interview with F. Wesley Schneider, author of Bloodbound


Please welcome F. Wesley Schneider to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Bloodbound was published on December 1st by Tor Books.



Interview with F. Wesley Schneider, author of Bloodbound




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Wes:  I’ve been writing for a long time. My Mom says, as a kid, I used to tell her stories and insist that she write them down. So, I guess I’ve always enjoyed telling stories.

Professionally, though, I started writing in 2000, about the time the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons released. I’d been a D&D fan for years and had already targeted working on Dragon magazine (the monthly, D&D rules and news magazine) as my dream job. But the new edition of D&D debuted with a license that allowed other publishers to release their own game content, leading to a boom in small presses looking for D&D compatible content. Already used to creating detailed scripts for my personal games, I tried my hand at a few open calls. There were some projects for charity or exposure and a lot of rejections—all proving educational in their own ways—but eventually I started getting my work accepted and getting paid for it. When the first paycheck hit my mailbox, I realized I might actually be able to make my hobby into a career. I kept submitting, kept working, got better assignments with more established publishers—including Dragon magazine—and in 2003 landed an assistant editor position at Paizo Inc., then publishers of Dragon and Dungeon magazines.



TQAre you a plotter or a pantser?

Wes:  Absolutely a plotter. The outlines for anything I write typically end up being pretty meaty and I certainly don’t leave them alone once I start writing. No battle plan survives engagement with the enemy, and as I get into the nuances of a story I often go back to the outline and add notes for things to pick up later or that I can kick back to past chapters.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Wes:  Overwriting. That sounds like the “I’m too honest” answer to an interview question, but it’s actually something I need to get better at. You sure can go on for a thousand words about the variety of statuary covering a cathedral’s facade, but if it doesn’t matter to the story, who cares? Sometimes I get what I think is a cool idea, indulge it a bit too far, and then in editing think: Why’d I waste my time with this? What does this actually do to further the plot? Does the lily need this much gilding? Bloodbound might have released a year earlier if I was a bit more economical in my writing. (This probably applies to interview question answering too!)

Fortunately, I take a pretty sharp hacksaw to my writing. Even better, I have amazing editors in James Sutter and Chris Carey—both fantastically talented authors themselves. They’re certainly not shy about trimming the fat. So in the final equation it works out.



TQWho are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Wes:  Nobody writes a fight scene like Robert E. Howard. At the same time, “Pigeons from Hell” remains one of the creepiest stories I’ve ever read. I love how he shifts from slow-build tension to fast-paced action, the stark contrast making both more effective. You also only need to look at Bloodbound’s cover to see the influence of Howard’s monster hunter, Solomon Kane.

I’m also a big fan of gothic horror in general, not just Howard’s southern gothic tales, but classics like Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black, and Le Fanu’s “Carmilla”—all three of which influenced bits of Bloodbound. Growing up in Baltimore, Poe’s also an inescapable force and I think he manipulates that whole city’s perception of what a writer is—he certainly did mine. And no one writes a vampire story without constantly comparing their fanged characters to Dracula, so Stoker’s work was certainly at hand during most of Bloodbound’s writing.



TQDescribe Bloodbound in 140 characters or less.

Wes:  If Van Helsing stopped pursing Dracula, how would a snubbed Dracula respond? And who would step in to stop him?



TQTell us something about Bloodbound that is not found in the book description.

Wes:  The majority of Bloodbound’s characters—and certainly all the true ass-kickers—are women and the only romantic relationship involves a queer vampire.



TQWhat appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Wes:  Fantasy writing’s a genie with infinite wishes—you want it, you got it. In Bloodbound, I wanted to play with a slew of gothic tropes, be they familiar menaces—vampires, ghosts, horrors from below, mind-controlled minions—or classic creepy settings—like insane asylums, ominous cathedrals, dilapidated manors, and opera houses. I got to use every single one of those, as well as many more. In other genres, you might be restricted to just a few for believability’s sake—and certainly, even here, you need to keep things plausible—but in fantasy, no one’s going to tell you no. If you can come up with a reason, anything goes.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Bloodbound?

Wes:  Bloodbound is set in a nation called Ustalav, which is part of the larger Pathfinder world. That world wasn’t created to tell just one story, but to host pretty much any fantasy tale you might want to tell in fiction, roleplaying games, whatever. As editor-in-chief at Paizo, I was one of the creators of that world, but Ustalav, our land of gothic terror, is easily my favorite part. I even wrote a game accessory called Rule of Fear entirely about the country. But all of this work on Ustalav and the Pathfinder world has happened over nearly a decade. So I still had to go back and read a ton of world lore to make sure Bloodbound meshed with existing work. It can be daunting working in such a thoroughly detailed setting, but that’s also how you find stray gems just waiting to be picked up and turned into stories of their own.

Beyond that, my sister-in-law, Aimie Schneider, is a nurse who was good enough to talk me through some of how a vampire’s body might respond to drug injections. I wanted to know if having, essentially, an undead heroin addict could be a thing. Her advice was fantastically helpful in leading me away from ideas that it just didn’t seem like the real biology or medicine supported.

So I’d add that as a caveat to what I said before. In fantasy, anything goes—but real things still have to work like real things. Even in fantasy, you still have to check your science.



TQWho was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Wes:  Considine, a vampire cast out from undead society, was by far the easiest. He’s a character who hates his situation, but he distracts himself with a parade of fine things and attractive company—not to mention, spying on his “sister” Larsa. Considine’s spoiled and likes it that way. He’s effete and self-interested, cynical and easily bored. He’s a vampire playboy, but knows he’s stranded on a cultural desert island, and that no matter how many dodos he dresses up as butlers, he’s not really lord of the house. I love writing Considine, not just because he’s got the best sarcastic banter, but because he’s got the most potential to turn from a spoiled brat into an antihero. There’s also more than a measure of self-indulgence in writing a self-indulgent character, because you can write the first thing that comes to mind—filters are for people who care about who’s listening. And if you can come back later and make a comment even snarkier, so much the better!

For hardest, that’s two main characters, Larsa and Jadain, have that honor. That might seem strange since they’re so prominent. Larsa’s a hard-bitten, straight to the point, half-vampire vampire hunter. Jadain’s a priestess sworn to the goddess of birth and death, who tries to see the good in people. They’re very different characters, but they’re both determined and willing to do anything for certain causes. The chapters switch back and forth between their perspectives, giving us Larsa’s point of view in one then Jadain’s in the next. So I’m particular about making sure that they both have distinct voices, especially when they’re both in more action-oriented chapters where they have to be direct. Jadain’s usually the one that gets trickiest. While Larsa’s usually sharp, even in tense situations I need to make sure that Jadain’s humanity and optimism comes through, or else she starts to sound like Larsa. It wasn’t a balancing act I expected going in, but it made an interesting challenge.



TQWhich question about Bloodbound do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Wes:  Pathfinder fiction and game material has a reputation for featuring characters of diverse genders, ethnicities, sexualities, etcetera. Does Bloodbound continue this trend?

Certainly! Bloodbound’s two main protagonists are both women, as are two of the story’s deadliest antagonists. A swordsman from the Egypt-inspired land of Osirian joins them, regularly offering a critical perspective on the Transylvania-esque lands of Ustalav. Aside from the immortal characters, there’s also a hero in her seventies who proves she’s not too old to head into a fray. Considine too is openly queer, though I’m not ready to pin him down as gay, bi, or otherwise quite yet. But writing Bloodbound was a long process and already I’m looking back at things with an eye toward what I might have done differently. I’m going to be keenly interested in hearing readers’ criticism about what I got right, what I got wrong, and how I can make the next story even better.

Also, being a guy who’s married to a guy, I know I started writing concerned about making the story somehow “too queer.” I’m not entirely sure why—probably something between personal insecurity and not wanting to scare off fantasy readers coming to my stuff for the first time. That’s not to say the queer elements are subtle in Bloodbound—there’s one particular relationship between two guys that is plainly there, but it’s a tertiary plot. I feel like I’m over my beginner’s anxiety now, though. If I get to play with these characters again, I’ve laid the seeds to make their relationship much more of a central feature.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Bloodbound.

Wes:  

I pressed his arm against the wall and drank fast, draining him like I was throwing down a shot. I didn’t like sharing from the same flask as my quarry, but if the evening was taking the turn I feared, I wouldn’t have another chance.

Anyway, he deserved it.



TQWhat's next?

Wes:  Well, next week I’m a guest of honor at GaymerX, where I’ll be talking a lot about the intersections between queerness and gaming of all types. It’s an amazing show and I couldn’t be more honored to be speaking. If you love gaming and you’re going to be in the San Jose area next week, we’d love to have you stop by. Everyone’s welcome!

Writing-wise, I swing between gaming and fiction pretty readily. I’ve got a massive adventure called “The Hellfire Compact” kicking off Pathfinder’s new Hell’s Vengeance Adventure Path in February. A few months later, I’ve got a story, “Stray Thoughts,” in the Eclipse Phase: After the Fall anthology. It’s a detective story involving a private eye mom, her sex worker son, and high-tech possession on an aerostat over Venus. It sounds bizarre—and I guess it is—but it turned out to be one of the more emotion rich stories I’ve ever written, so I’m interested in hearing what folks think.

Beyond that, I’m already starting to feel the fiction bug again, so who knows where that might lead!



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.





Bloodbound
Pathfinder Tales 30
Tor Books, December 1, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 480 pages

Interview with F. Wesley Schneider, author of Bloodbound
Larsa is a dhampir-half vampire, half human. In the gritty streets and haunted moors of gothic Ustalav, she's an agent for the royal spymaster, keeping peace between the capital's secret vampire population and its huddled human masses. Yet when a noblewoman's entire house is massacred by vampiric invaders, Larsa is drawn into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse that will reveal far more about her own heritage than she ever wanted to know.

From Pathfinder co-creator and noted game designer F. Wesley Schneider comes Bloodbound, a dark fantasy adventure of murder, intrigue, and secrets best left buried, set in the award-winning world of the Pathfinder Role Playing Game.





About Wes

Interview with F. Wesley Schneider, author of Bloodbound
Editor-in-chief at Paizo Inc. and co-creator of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, F. Wesley Schneider is the author of dozens of Pathfinder and Dungeons & Dragons adventures and accessories. Aside from having passionate opinions about horror, world-building, and storytelling, he’s spoken at length on inclusively and LGBTQ topics in gaming. His novel, Bloodbound, releases in December, while his next major roleplaying offerings, The Hellfire Compact and In Search of Sanity, debut in 2016.

Wes lives outside Seattle with his husband and a particularly unlucky black cat.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~ Twitter @FWesSchneider  ~ YouTube  ~  Instagram

Interview with Erin Lindsey, author of the Bloodbound series


Please welcome Erin Lindsey to The Qwillery. The Bloodforged, the 2nd novel in the Bloodbound series, was published on September 29th by Ace.



Interview with Erin Lindsey, author of the Bloodbound series




TQWelcome back to The Qwillery. Your new novel, The Bloodforged (Bloodbound 2), was recently published. Has your writing process changed (or not) from when the first Bloodbound novel was published to now?

Erin:  I guess the main difference would be the amount of planning that went into Book 1 versus the later books. THE BLOODBOUND was really a classic panster; I started off with only the roughest of ideas where the story would take me. THE BLOODFORGED is a more ambitious narrative, so it needed an outline. And by the time I got to Book 3, I found I needed to do quite a detailed outline, just to make sure I’d wrapped up all the loose threads.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Erin:  I find that I work best when I have a certain amount of momentum going, and it can be tough to sustain that for any period of time. Life just keeps intruding, you know? Things crop up in the middle of the day that break your rhythm, and sometimes you have to be away from the manuscript for days or weeks at a time. It can be tough to get back into the swing of things after that. On the flip side, when you are in the zone, it can be tough to get a good night’s sleep, because your brain is constantly churning out new ideas, playing out scenes, etc.



TQWhat have you learned about publishing since your first novel, Darkwalker as E.L. Tettensor, was published?

Erin:  Oh, loads. I actually didn’t know all that much about the process before I got started. I had my sights set on landing an agent, figuring the rest would sort of take care of itself after that. So one of things I had to come up to speed on quickly was the importance of marketing your own books – what you, the author, can do to make sure your work finds its audience. That’s by far the toughest part of the gig, and there’s no magic answer. It’s really trial and error, and I’ll always be learning.



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

Erin:  THE BLOODFORGED dials the action/adventure side way up, while the romance is handled differently than in THE BLOODBOUND. This time, the romance element is more about dealing with the consequences of Alix’s choice in Book 1. We don’t often get to see the aftermath of a resolved love triangle, and that’s something I really wanted to look at in this book. That undercurrent of tension between the main characters continues to influence their behavior in ways that have consequences for the main action of the story.



TQWhich character in the Bloodbound series (so far) has surprised you the most? Who has been the hardest character to write and why?

Erin:  I think the most surprising character has been Alix’s big brother, Rig. He gets his own point of view chapters in this book, and he ended up being quite the scene-stealer. Rig has an easy charisma that’s pretty irresistible, and his scenes always flowed so well and were just a joy to write. That’s pretty true of all the characters, actually. For some reason, I find them all easy to write, much more so than in my other series. They’re such distinctive, three-dimensional people to me that I don’t have any trouble figuring out how they’ll react in a given situation, or how they’ll express themselves.



TQThe Bloodbound series is Fantasy. What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Erin:  I like the high adventure of it. You can subject your characters to epic life-and-death situations without having to jump through too many hoops to make it plausible. And I like not being constrained by someone else’s version of reality. I can invent history and geography and cultures and infuse it with my personal experience in ways that make the world truly my own. That’s a lot of fun.



TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues the Bloodbound series?

Erin:  I’m not sure I consciously chose to include social issues in the book, but they’re definitely there. One of the ethnic groups in the series, the Onnani, were mentioned in passing in Book 1, but they play a much bigger role in THE BLOODFORGED, with several major characters being Onnani. There’s a lot of social friction between the Onnani and other races, and that comes up quite a bit in Liam’s and Rig’s chapters. I wasn’t looking to make a point, particularly; I guess I just wouldn’t find the world to be very realistic if it didn’t have its social tensions and historical controversies. So I included some that made sense to me – and they ended up taking on a life of their own.



TQPlease give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from The Bloodforged.

Erin:

Your Majesty.

Okay, that was the easy part. Now what? Liam glanced down at Rudi for inspiration, but the wolfhound just yawned, showing off a mouthful of wickedly curved teeth.

My enquiries are progressing. That wasn’t really true, though, was it?

I regret to inform you of my abject failure. Accurate, but maybe a touch melodramatic.

I have decided that I would rather be bound naked to the prow of a merchant schooner touring every harbour of the known world than continue in this capacity. “Yes,” Liam said, tapping his quill against his chin, “I think I’ll go with that one.””



TQWhat's next?

Erin:  I’m just wrapping up THE BLOODSWORN, Book 3 of the Bloodbound series. At the same time, I’m kicking off a new project, a standalone epic fantasy romance. Expect lots of adventure and plenty of swoons!



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Erin:  Thanks for having me!





The Bloodforged
Bloodbound 2
Ace, September 29, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

Interview with Erin Lindsey, author of the Bloodbound series
The epic saga that started in The Bloodbound continues…

As war between Alden and Oridia intensifies, King Erik must defend his kingdom from treachery and enemies on all sides—but the greatest danger lurks closer to home…

When the war began, Lady Alix Black played a minor role, scouting at the edge of the king’s retinue in relative anonymity. Though she’s once again facing an attacking Oridian force determined to destroy all she holds dear, she is now bodyguard to the king and wife to the prince.

Still, she is unprepared for what the revival of the war will mean. Erik is willing to take drastic measures to defend his domain, even if it means sending Prince Liam into a deadly web of intrigue and traveling into the perilous wild lands of Harram himself.

Only the biggest threat to the kingdom might be one that neither Alix nor Erik could have imagined, or prepared for…



Previously

The Bloodbound
Bloodbound 1
Ace, September 30, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

Interview with Erin Lindsey, author of the Bloodbound series
Of all those in the King of Alden’s retinue, the bloodbinders are the most prized. The magic they wield can forge invaluable weapons, ones that make soldiers like Lady Alix Black unerringly lethal. However, the bloodbinders’ powers can do so much more—and so much worse…

A cunning and impetuous scout, Alix only wishes to serve quietly on the edges of the action. But when the king is betrayed by his own brother and left to die at the hands of attacking Oridian forces, she winds up single-handedly saving her sovereign.

Suddenly, she is head of the king’s personal guard, an honor made all the more dubious by the king’s exile from his own court. Surrounded by enemies, Alix must help him reclaim his crown, all the while attempting to repel the relentless tide of invaders led by the Priest, most feared of Oridia’s lords.

But while Alix’s king commands her duty, both he and a fellow scout lay claim to her heart. And when the time comes, she may need to choose between the two men who need her most…


Review here.





And writing as E. L. Tettensor

Darkwalker
Nicolas Lenoir 1
Roc, December 3, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 360 pages

Interview with Erin Lindsey, author of the Bloodbound series
He used to be the best detective on the job. Until he became the hunted...

Once a legendary police inspector, Nicolas Lenoir is now a disillusioned and broken man who spends his days going through the motions and his evenings drinking away the nightmares of his past. Ten years ago, Lenoir barely escaped the grasp of the Darkwalker, a vengeful spirit who demands a terrible toll on those who have offended the dead. But the Darkwalker does not give up on his prey so easily, and Lenoir has always known his debt would come due one day.

When Lenoir is assigned to a disturbing new case, he treats the job with his usual apathy—until his best informant, a street savvy orphan, is kidnapped. Desperate to find his young friend before the worst befalls him, Lenoir will do anything catch the monster responsible for the crimes, even if it means walking willingly into the arms of his own doom…



Master of Plagues
Nicolas Lenoir 2
Roc, February 3, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

Interview with Erin Lindsey, author of the Bloodbound series
“A dark fantasy detective story that takes readers on a dark, sometimes disturbing journey. E.L. Tettensor crafts a tale that makes you think even while you shudder—a delightful combination.”—Fresh Fiction on Darkwalker

Unraveling a deadly mystery takes time—and his is running out…

Having barely escaped the clutches of the Darkwalker, Inspector Nicolas Lenoir throws himself into his work with a determination he hasn’t known in years. But his legendary skills are about to be put to the test. A horrific disease is ravaging the city—and all signs point to it having been deliberately unleashed.

With a mass murderer on the loose, a rising body count, and every hound in the city on quarantine duty, the streets of Kennian are descending into mayhem, while Lenoir and his partner, Sergeant Bran Kody, are running out of time to catch a killer and find a cure.

Only one ray of hope exists: the nomadic Adali, famed for their arcane healing skills, claim to have a cure. But dark magic comes at a price, one even the dying may be unwilling to pay. All that’s left to Lenoir is a desperate gamble. And when the ashes settle, the city of Kennian will be changed forever…





About the Author

Interview with Erin Lindsey, author of the Bloodbound series
Erin Lindsey is on an epic quest to write the perfect vacation novel for fantasy lovers. THE BLOODFORGED, Book 2 of the Bloodbound trilogy, releases on September 29. She also writes fantasy mystery as E.L. Tettensor. You can find her on her website: erin-lindsey.com, or on Twitter @ETettensor.












Interview with F. Wesley Schneider, author of BloodboundInterview with Erin Lindsey, author of the Bloodbound series

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