Please welcome Mazarkis Williams to The Qwillery as part of the 2011 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Emperor's Knife (The Tower and Knife Trilogy 1), Mazarkis' debut novel, was published on December 6, 2011 by Night Shade Books in the US and in October 2011 by Jo Fletcher Books in the UK.

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Mazarkis:  I'm starting to realize I don't enjoy the painful process of writing. Perhaps that's a strange thing, for a writer.

TQ:  Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

Mazarkis:  Almost every writer is my favorite. I've been a reading maniac since I learned how to do it. As a child I read Madeleine L'Engle, Roald Dahl, Dr. Seuss, and many others. When I got a bit older I enjoyed E.M. Forster, Tolstoy, Charles Dickens, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and--really, all the books they ask you to read at university, except that it never seemed a chore; I always loved the books. As for current mainstream authors I am a fan of Kazuo Ishiguro, Gail Godwin, Khaled Hosseini, and a few others. I didn't start reading fantasy until I was much older, as I was a bit of a literary snob (I am embarrassed about that now). When mainstream fiction started to get a little bit "navel-gazy" to me, I turned to other genres.

My favorite fantasy authors are Robin Hobb, Neil Gaiman, Carol Berg, George R. R. Martin, J.V. Jones, Scott Lynch, and Guy Gavriel Kay. In science fiction I like Gene Wolfe and C.S. Friedman.

I wouldn't be able to say who has influenced me the most out of all the authors listed. I try to make my prose as clean and shiny as Gaiman's and as rich with meaning as Wolfe's; but I don't come anywhere close.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Mazarkis:  Neither, but if I have to pick one, I am more of a plotter.

TQ:  Describe The Emperor's Knife (The Tower and Knife Trilogy 1) in 140 characters or less.

Mazarkis:  TEK is about damaged people reaching deep inside themselves to find the strength, smarts, and self-forgiveness to fight an all-powerful foe.

TQ:  What inspired you to write The Emperor's Knife?

Mazarkis:  A historical account of an imprisoned prince. In his case, he was completely mad by the time they let him out, and they eventually killed him. Hopefully Sarmin will be a bit luckier.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for The Emperor's Knife?

Mazarkis:  None, except that which I had done previously, at university. For the second book I've had to look up a number of things including how ancient sewer systems worked.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?

Mazarkis:  I found Eyul the easiest. He's older and carries a lot of guilt and I can relate to that. I found Mesema the hardest, as she is so strong and at the same time, innocent. It's hard to remember how that feels.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in The Emperor's Knife?

Mazarkis:  I love it when the two brothers get together for the first time. There is so much love there, but also pain and resentment.

TQ:  How many books are planned for the Tower and Knife series?

Mazarkis:  Three. The second is Knifesworn.

TQThe Emperor's Knife is a fantasy novel, are there any other genres in which you'd like to write?

Mazarkis:  Not really. I like the broad range that fantasy allows me.

TQ:  What's next?

Mazarkis:  Well, right now both of my publishers have exciting things going on. Jo Fletcher Books is doing lots of giveaways. I would check their website or their twitter feed. Sometimes it's as easy as answering a trivia question to get a free book.

Night Shade is putting up a lot of book excerpts right now. There have a great author line-up including Courtney Shafer, Teresa Frohock, Martha Wells, and Bradley Beaulieu. People really need to go out and buy these books! They're great.

I'm very much looking forward to next year's releases, including Martha Well's Serpent Sea and Carol Berg's Daemon Prism (both in January). Crossing my fingers we'll see Scott Lynch's Republic of Thieves in 2012. I'm still just a big fan.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Mazarkis:  Thank you for inviting me!

About The Emperor's Knife

The Emperor's Knife
The Tower and Knife Trilogy 1
Night Shade Books, December 6, 2011 (US)
Hardcover, 300 pages

Interview with Mazarkis Williams and Giveaway - December 9, 2011
There is a cancer at the heart of the mighty Cerani Empire: a plague that attacks young and old, rich and poor alike. Geometric patterns spread across the skin, until you die in agony, or become a Carrier, doing the bidding of an evil intelligence, the Pattern Master. Anyone showing the tell-tale marks is put to death; that is Emperor Beyon's law...but now the pattern is running over the Emperor's own arms.

His body servants have been executed, he ignores his wives, but he is doomed, for soon the pattern will reach his face. While Beyon's agents scour the land for a cure, Sarmin, the Emperor's only surviving brother, awaits his bride, Mesema, a windreader from the northern plains. Unused to the Imperial Court's stifling protocols and deadly intrigues, Mesema has no one to turn to but an ageing imperial assassin, the Emperor's Knife.

As long-planned conspiracies boil over into open violence, the invincible Pattern Master appears from the deep desert. Now only three people stand in his way: a lost prince, a world-weary killer, and a young girl from the steppes who saw a path in a pattern once, among the waving grasses - a path that just might save them all.

About Mazarkis

Interview with Mazarkis Williams and Giveaway - December 9, 2011
Mazarkis Williams is a writer with roots in both the US and UK, having worked in and been educated in both countries. Each year is divided between Boston and Bristol and a teleport booth is always top of the Christmas wish-list. Mazarkis has degrees in history and physics with a diverse set of interests accumulated while misspending a hectic youth. Cooking has always been a passion and in addition to feeding six children and a sizable herd of cats Mazarkis regularly caters for crowds of permanently hungry friends.

Mazarkis' Links


The Giveaway


What:  One commenter will win a copy of The Emperor's Knife (The Tower and Knife Trilogy 1) from Mazarkis Williams!

How:  Leave a comment answering the following question:

What is/are your favorite Fantasy novel(s)?

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1)   Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2)   Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

3)   Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.

There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. In addition please leave a way to contact you.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Friday, December 16, 2011. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*