Interview with Peter V. Brett, Author of The Warded Man (The Demon Cycle)

by A.M. Justice

51hu1K5f9LLAbout eight years ago, my husband came home from work and announced that his coworker Peter had given notice so he could become a full-time fantasy author. Curious and skeptical, I bought the coworker’s book, thinking, “Let’s see what this guy’s got.” I quickly learned he had the right stuff. From the opening lines about a community gathering together in the wake of a strange fire, New York Times Bestseller The Warded Man hooked me, and I’ve been a loyal follower of Arlen, Lessa, Roger, Renna, Ahmann, and Inevera since. My copy of The Skull Throne, Book Four of The Demon Cycle, published by Del Rey, will be delivered to my Kindle today, and I look forward to reading it on an upcoming family vacation.

I admire Peter’s tight prose, inventive storytelling, and nuanced characterizations. Arlen is one of my all-time favorite fantasy heroes, and Lessa, Renna, and Inevera hold their own among fantasy’s growing pantheon of strong women. I was thrilled when Peter agreed to do an interview for the Guild of Dreams—so without further ado, here’s our Q&A.

 The Interview

The-Skull-Throne-US-Cover1Let’s cut right to the chase. The Daylight War ended with not just a cliff-hanger, but a cliff-fall. At the risk of spoilers, can you tell us whether we’ll travel into the demons’ domain with Arlen? How about Jardir—does he survive that fall?

Both these answers have been on my website for years now, but I don’t like to answer them in questionnaires. Everyone is welcome to see for themselves right here: http://www.petervbrett.com/excisions/skull-throne-chapter-1-the-hunt/

One of my favorite things about your work is how you show us the hearts of all your major characters. You provide readers with sympathetic, complete portraits of everyone, including those initially presented as villains. Will you be introducing any new points of view in The Skull Throne?

Yes. There are two new POV characters in Skull Throne. The first is Ashia, the niece of Ahmann Jardir who was introduced to readers in Daylight War. There is one flashback chapter of her life to give readers insight into her character, but most of her action is forward moving in the series “now” as she bears witness to some of the massive power shifts in Krasia following Jardir’s disappearance.

The other new POV character is Briar Damaj, a half-Krasian orphan first introduced in the short Demon Cycle story Mudboy, which later became the novella Messenger’s Legacy, which went on sale earlier this year. Messenger’s Legacy gives Briar’s heartbreaking life story, that of a six-year old child forced to survive alone in the demon-infested wetlands near Lakton. The novella ties directly into Skull Throne, and Briar’s story picks back up in the second half of the book.

It isn’t necessary to read the Demon Cycle novellas in order to enjoy the novels, but I really believe the shorter tales add a great deal when read in conjunction with the longer works.

The Krasians and Thesans loosely resemble medieval Arab and European cultures, respectively. Can you tell us why you chose those models, and whether your work is meant to comment on some of the conflicts we see in the real world

Personally, I see Thesa much more as Little House on the Prairie American Midwest than medieval Europe, but I take your point. I deliberately draw on both. For the Krasians, “Arab” is a little to narrow. I drew in part from ancient Greece, medieval Japan, ancient/medieval Persia, and Old Testament Judeo-Christian.

But that said, while I used those initial building blocks, both cultures, Thesan and Krasian, have evolved past the sum of their parts and taken on a life of their own in the series. I try to give both cultures around the same air-time, illustrating how there are complicated characters on both sides who honestly want the best for the world, even if they disagree on how to get there. If I’m saying anything about the modern world, it’s an attempt to remind people to try and see both sides of a problem/person before you judge.

On this site we talk about world-building a lot, and whether as authors we set the stage for our work before we write, or we create as we go. How have you approached the construction of Arlen’s world? Did you encounter any surprises?

I am very much an architect when it comes to worldbuilding. Certainly there was some discovery/creation as I was telling the story, particularly in the early books, but I tend to work from a very detailed story skeleton when I write, stepping out all the actions and much of the dialogue in a book before I begin writing the prose. So by the time I am at that level, most of the story problems have been solved and the events predetermined.

Then comes the hard part. Showing how the POV characters feel about said events, and trying to make the reader feel it, too.

What is your favorite scene or event in the series, and why?

It’s so hard to say, because so many of them have deep personal meaning to me, almost like great triumphs that actually happened in my life. But there are two scenes that never fail to choke me up. The first is Arlen’s encounter with Mother Elissa in The Desert Spear, and the second is the wedding that occurs in Cutter’s Hollow during Daylight War. I expect anyone who’s read that book knows what I mean.

(AMJ’s note: I get choked up thinking about those scenes too.)

Who are your favorite authors, and also your greatest influences?

Too many to properly name them all. I love CS Friedman’s Coldfire trilogy, and George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks is an amazing book, as is The Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan.

The most recent books I have loved are Uprooted, forthcoming from Naomi Novik, Half a War by Joe Abercrombie, and The Martian by Andy Weir.

Is The Skull Throne the last volume in the Demon Cycle, or is there more to come?

The next book, The Core, should close out the Demon Cycle quintet. I have a broad story ARC for what happens and how it ends, but with my upcoming travel schedule promoting the imminent Skull Throne launch (www.petervbrett.com/appearances), I will likely not begin writing until May. If previous books are any indication, The Core should be done approximately 18 months after that.

Do you have any other irons in the fire you’d like to tell us about?

I am contracted for one more book after The Core. It doesn’t have to be a Demon Cycle book, but it almost certainly will be. Either a standalone set in Tibbet’s Brook taking place right after the events in The Desert Spear, or the start of a new series taking place a generation after the events in The Core. There will also be several more Demon Cycle novellas to come.

Many thanks to Peter for taking the time to answer my questions! For more information on Peter’s work, visit his website http://www.petervbrett.com.

VAMPIRE DOWN is now available!

The wait is over!

VAMPIRE DOWN, the final volume of the BLOOD SKIES series, is now available!

And through July 4th, volumes 2-6 are all on sale for just $2.99 each on Amazon.com, so if you don’t own them already go get ‘em now!

Also be sure to check out the VAMPIRE DOWN Blog Tour (see schedule below)!

vampire_down_final_rgb

Who ever knew the end would come so soon?

In this final volume of the BLOOD SKIES series, Eric Cross and Danica Black find themselves facing impossible odds in the desolate ruins of the world they once knew.  Hunted by the mercenary forces of the newly formed East Claw Coalition and desperate to find the elusive White Mother, the two refugees will be pushed to the limits of their abilities and sanity as they struggle to survive.

Meanwhile, in the near future, the undead hunter called Reaver searches for the lost city of Bloodhollow, the place where humankind will make its final stand, while the undead of New Koth and the rebellious White Children make their push to end the reign of the Ebon Kingdoms once and for all.

As timelines collide and the spider weaves her web, the battle for the fate of the riven world will come to its violent conclusion in the depths of a forgotten city, where unlikely heroes will emerge and hidden evils shall finally be revealed…

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Smashwords

 

THE VAMPIRE DOWN BLOG TOUR

Vampire Downbanner2

Vampire Down Tour Schedule

 

June 25th – Kelly at Paperback Cowgirl Reviews – Review Blood Skies

June 26th – Jasmine at Book Groupies – Soundtrack, Spotlight, Dreamcast

June 27th – Meg at Heart on Fire – Guest Post

June 28th – Toni at My Book Addiction – Guest Post

June 29th – Megan at Megan’s Blog – Author Interview

June 30th – Danielle at Consuming Worlds – Character Guest Post

July 1st – Scott Moon at Scott Moon Writer Blog – Review Blood Skies

July 1st – Katheryn The Perks of Being a Book Nerd – Spotlight

July 2nd – Lou at Relaxed Reads – Review Crown of Ash

July 3rd – Stephanie at The Book Hipster – Author Interview

July 4th Michelle at In Libris Veritas – Top Ten

 ****

About the Author

Steven Montano was something terrifying in his previous life.  Now he’s an accountant, so not much has changed.

An avid hiker, reader, San Antonio Spurs fan, goofball husband and father of two, Steven writes novels (the seven volume Blood Skies series, the Skullborn Trilogy, something black…, and the upcoming thrillers Blood Angel Rising and Colder) and drinks a lot of wine when he isn’t busy pulling his hair out over payroll or trying to balance the company books.

Visit the author’s website.

 

Cover Reveal: VAMPIRE DOWN (Blood Skies, Book 7)

VAMPIRE DOWN

Blood Skies, Book 7

Coming June 27th!

vampire_down_final_rgb

Cover Art by Barry Currey

Who ever knew the end would come so soon?

In this final volume of the BLOOD SKIES series, Eric Cross and Danica Black find themselves facing impossible odds in the desolate ruins of the world they once knew. Hunted by the mercenary forces of the newly formed East Claw Coalition and desperate to find the elusive White Mother, the two refugees will be pushed to the limits of their abilities and sanity as they struggle to survive.

Meanwhile, in the near future, the undead hunter called Reaver searches for the lost city of Bloodhollow, the place where humankind will make its final stand, while the undead of New Koth and the rebellious White Children make their push to end the reign of the Ebon Kingdoms once and for all.

As timelines collide and the spider weaves her web, the battle for the fate of the riven world will come to its violent conclusion in the depths of a forgotten city, where unlikely heroes will emerge and hidden evils shall finally be revealed…

****

Available Friday June 27th in Ebook and Print format.

****

About the Author

Steven Montano was something terrifying in his previous life. Now he’s an accountant, so not much has changed.

An avid hiker, reader, San Antonio Spurs fan, goofball husband and father of two, Steven writes novels (the seven volume Blood Skies series, the Skullborn Trilogy, something black…, and the upcoming thrillers Blood Angel Rising and Colder) and drinks a lot of wine when he isn’t busy pulling his hair out over payroll or trying to balance the company books.

Visit the author’s website and check out the Vampire Down page on Goodreads!

Book Release: PATH OF BONES

Available now!

path_of_bones

Cover Art by Barry Currey

Return to the world of Malzaria in the highly anticipated sequel to the best-selling epic fantasy adventure CITY OF SCARS.

Hunted by Empires and crime lords alike, Ijanna Taivorkan and the young warrior Kath Cardrezhej make their way north through the dire Bonelands, a twisted wastelands populated by unnatural terrors. Hoping to find the answers to her dark destiny and driven by a need to escape her fate, Ijanna won’t rest until she locates the last of the Skullborn.

Azander Dane, fallen Dawn Knight, pursues Ijanna to help her as a way of making amends for the crimes of his past. Aided by an exiled giant and gripped by a magical disease that is slowly driving him mad, Dane must brave the dangers of the Phage-controlled city of Kaldrak Iyres in order to reach the Dream Witch in time.

Beset at every turn by evil magic, powerful assassins and dark revelations, Dane and Ijanna will ultimately find themselves in the ruined city of Corinth, where ancient artifacts may hold the key to the world’s salvation…or its untimely doom.

E-Book: $4.99

Grab a copy now!

Amazon
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Smashwords
Barnes & Noble

PATH OF BONES Cover Reveal

Coming Friday February 7th!

path_of_bones

Cover Art by Barry Currey

Return to the world of Malzaria in the highly anticipated sequel to the best-selling epic fantasy adventure CITY OF SCARS.

Hunted by Empires and crime lords alike, Ijanna Taivorkan and the young warrior Kath Cardrezhej make their way north through the dire Bonelands, a twisted wastelands populated by unnatural terrors. Hoping to find the answers to her dark destiny and driven by a need to escape her fate, Ijanna won’t rest until she locates the last of the Skullborn.

Azander Dane, fallen Dawn Knight, pursues Ijanna to help her as a way of making amends for the crimes of his past. Aided by an exiled giant and gripped by a magical disease that is slowly driving him mad, Dane must brave the dangers of the Phage-controlled city of Kaldrak Iyres in order to reach the Dream Witch in time.

Beset at every turn by evil magic, powerful assassins and dark revelations, Dane and Ijanna will ultimately find themselves in the ruined city of Corinth, where ancient artifacts may hold the key to the world’s salvation…or its untimely doom.

E-Book: $4.99

Print Edition: $13.99

Check out the page on Goodreads!

****

Steven Montano is an author, accountant, and blogger, part human and part…well, were not entirely sure, but he sure does write a lot of books.

Steven is the author of the Skullborn novels (City of Scars, Path of Bones), the Blood Skies series (Blood Skies, Black Scars, Soulrazor, Crown of Ash, The Witch’s Eye and Chain of Shadows), Tales of a Blood Earth 1 and 2, Crucifix Point, and something black…. He’s currently hard at work on Blood Angel Rising, a paranormal action/horror/thriller; Vampire Down, the next installment of the Blood Skies series; and The Black Tower, the conclusion to The Skullborn trilogy.

He and his family live in Michigan, where even zombies fear to tread.

Visit Steven’s official website at http://steven-montano.com/

An Excerpt from PATH OF BONES

PATH OF BONES, the sequel to CITY OF SCARS and the second book of my epic fantasy Skullborn Trilogy, releases in exactly one month.  Enjoy this snippet from early in the novel, when a large scale excavation in a ruined city is interrupted by some brutal creatures of the desert…

****

Kala looked towards the dig. Slaves ran in every direction and mercenary soldiers drew their weapons and made for some unseen threat at the edge of the square. Crogas barked orders, and Vance drew his blade and moved down the steps.

A blur of razored steel and black fur moved down near the pit, a giant hunter cat with smoking skin, a lashing tail and disproportionately huge claws and teeth. Diamond black eyes glittered in the morning gloom, and a tongue lined with dark spines licked across its slathering and oversized jaws.

Razorcats!” someone shouted.

The one Kala saw had the shredded and bloody corpse of a serving girl under its claws. More cats moved into view near the squat stone fountain, the tents, and the ruins of nearby buildings. The Razorcats’ black eyes were like cold dead mirrors and their growls sounded of breaking glass. There were least a dozen in all, and maybe more.

Two of the cats jumped into the slaves and slashed bodies apart in a storm of blood and limbs. Shrill screams rang out, pitiful and mewling cries. A dozen mercenaries pushed through the slaves, hacking down those who got in their way. The Razorcat’s tongues snatched off heads and their claws crushed skulls.

Armed men descended on the Razorcats with flashing swords, but the beasts of the Bonelands were stronger and faster, and the mercenaries were hacked to pieces.

blion

Crogas and Kala both called on the Veil from their separate positions. Crogas was suddenly aloft, floating on an invisible disc of force that carried him high into the air. Kala lifted herself from the ground on freezing wind that rippled her hair and swept her up like she rode on the back of an ocean wave.

The air crackled with the smell of death. Her lions stayed behind her in spite of their roars, obeying her silent will. Down below she heard Vance order her personal guard to form a perimeter around the manor and wait for his orders.

Crogas fired molten blades from his hands, and the air burned. The Veilcrafted missiles dodged around Cabal mercenaries until they found the Razorcats. Gritty roars turned to painful hisses as the burning projectiles sprayed the cat’s insides to the ground. Two of the creatures fell.

Kala’s vision turned red. Spiky tendrils of ebon frost oozed from her fingers. Spectral tentacles twisted around the bodies of two more Razorcats and crushed them, squeezing out blood and guts until the bodies exploded across the ground and covered nearby slaves and soldiers in a nauseating splash.

Only a few of the predators remained. Drazzek and Gallaean led the next wave of soldiers through a crowd of mutilated slaves in a clang of rushing steel and battle cries. Drazzek’s black armor and white skin stood out in the tide of bodies, and he moved with the grace of a dancer as his raak’ma sliced through a fast-leaping Razorcat and opened it from groin to throat. Gallaean took a claw wound across his armored chest, but he hardly seemed to notice as he swung his heavy flail and murderously bludgeoned the offending creature to a bloody pulp.

The soldiers mopped up the last pair of cats. In just a few short minutes it was all over, but the price paid was heavy: thirteen Razorcats had killed twenty-seven slaves and a dozen armed soldiers.

****

Steven Montano is part man, part…well, we’re not sure yet.  But he sure writes a lot of books, including the Blood Skies series (Blood Skies, Black Scars, Soulrazor, Crown of Ash, The Witch’s Eye, Chain of Shadows), The Skullborn Trilogy (City of Scars, Path of Bones, The Black Tower), and something black….  He lives in Michigan, where he shovels snow more often than he actually goes to work.

Learn more at http://steven-montano.com/

CHAIN OF SHADOWS is Now Available!

The big day is here – CHAIN OF SHADOWS is now available!

And for a limited time, if you buy a copy of the book you can also enter to win a free coffee cup!  That’s right, sip your java in your very own Cup O’ Darkness!

cup

To enter, just e-mail your receipt/purchase confirmation to daezarkian@bloodskies.com.  I’ll enter your name into a giant spreadsheet, and on November 8th, using sophisticated technology (most likely consisting of one or more 20-sided dice), I’ll select 1 winner who’ll get a complimentary CHAIN OF SHADOWS coffee cup mailed directly to their home.

To qualify, your CHAIN OF SHADOWS purchase must be made and the receipt submitted no later than November 1st 2013!  I’ll announce the winners the following week and get your cup right out to you!

chainofshadows_final

The barrier between worlds has been broken, and the invasion is about to begin.

Eric Cross, burdened by the loss of those who’ve died under his command, must lead his recently reunited mercenary team against the shadow wolf sorcerers known as the Maloj.  Bound to dire artifact blades and charged with protecting the Kindred, Cross seeks help from the enigmatic White Mother, leader of the Southern Claw.

But sinister forces bring his vessel down in a strange and distant land, and soon Cross and his allies are beset by undead armies vying for control of the deadly region called the Chain of Shadows.  Trapped in a desert waste where wielding magic is dangerous and nothing is as it seems, Cross’s team will pay the ultimate price in their battle to finally get home…

Return to the world After the Black in this pivotal 6th book of the BLOOD SKIES saga!

Ebook: $3.99

Print Edition: $11.99

Purchase Links:

Amazon US (Kindle)

Amazon UK (Kindle)

Amazon (Paperback)

Barnes & Noble (EPUB)

Smashwords (all Ebook formats)

CHAIN OF SHADOWS Preview

Book 6 of the Blood Skies sage comes out in less than a week.  Here’s a last snippet before the October 25th release.  This scene takes place later in the book, as Ronan and a band of natives prepare to do battle with an army of ghost-possessed marauders and their leader, the Black Witch.

chainofshadows_final

****

They rode hard over shattered rocks and crossed dry riverbeds and bubbling pools of something like tar.  A haze rose over the plains of dead grass, dust smoke fused with grey.

“There they are,” Ronan said.  All around him the desert nomads readied themselves.

They saw the silhouettes of massive horned elephants in the distance, shifting towers of darkly scarred flesh near the low city walls; the great beasts stamped the earth and tore at the ground with spine-covered tusks.  Possessed Skaravae warriors floated in the air like candles on water.

The Sundered shifted the blades and armor on their leonine and lizard mounts.  They readied bows and dipped arrows in caustic and explosive poisons, hammered the hilts of their blades against their chests and pushed forward, eager to expunge the nightmare invaders from their lands.  Unnatural lightning and the stark and massive moon bathed the desert in bone white light.

“I don’t suppose we have a plan of attack?” Ronan asked, expecting no answer, and naturally none came.

The ground trembled.  Small desert animals scattered and fled into holes in the ground, sensing the coming conflict.  Stones cracked and shattered as the Skaravae bombarded the plains using trebuchets and mangonels located just outside the city walls.

There were more than a score of the massive elephantine brutes and easily a hundred Skaravae, men with pale glowing eyes and shifting cloaks of shadow vapor and oily blood.  The smoke wrapped around the advancing horde and made them difficult to see.  The corbelled rickshaws on the backs of the shadow beasts were the size of small boats, laced with barbed perimeters and masked by strips of black cloth and chainmesh veils.  The creatures tore up earth as they started their slow and deliberate charge.

The Sundered surged forward.  The Pale separated themselves from the nomads and spread out in a phalanx formation of spectral white skin and bone blades. 

We’re screwed, he thought.  He still didn’t know where Creasy or the others were.

On the largest beast, a voice told him.  It was her – the Black Witch.  I have what you want.  I won’t hide from you, assassin.  Come to me, and die. 

Ronan found the calm inside of him.  He took deep and steady breaths, felt his chest rise and fall as his heartbeats slowed.  He narrowed his vision.  The already polarized landscape lost its last shreds of color: black and white, noise and silence.  Everything twisted to sharp edges.

He stepped into the Deadlands.

I’ll be right there, he thought to her.  

****

Steven Montano is freaking out, largely because he and has family have just decided to move, but also because, well, he’s just a freak.  Find out why at http://bloodskies.com/.

Cover Reveal: CHAIN OF SHADOWS

Coming October 25th

chainofshadows_final

The barrier between worlds has been broken, and the invasion is about to begin.

Eric Cross, burdened by the loss of those who’ve died under his command, must lead his recently reunited mercenary team against the shadow wolf sorcerers known as the Maloj.  Bound to dire artifact blades and charged with protecting the Kindred, Cross seeks help from the enigmatic White Mother, leader of the Southern Claw.

But sinister forces bring his vessel down in a strange and distant land, and soon Cross and his allies are beset by undead armies vying for control of the deadly region called the Chain of Shadows.

Trapped in a desert waste where wielding magic is dangerous and nothing is as it seems, Cross’s team will pay the ultimate price in their battle to finally get home…

Return to the world After the Black in this pivotal 6th book of the BLOOD SKIES saga!

E-Book: $3.99

Print Edition: $11.99

Enter the Goodreads giveaway contest!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Chain of Shadows by Steven Montano

Chain of Shadows

by Steven Montano

Giveaway ends November 01, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steven Montano keeps writing novels in the hopes that one day he’ll wake up and actually feel like a real author. Maybe it’ll happen tomorrow.

Steven is the author of City of Scars, the Blood Skies novels (Blood Skies, Black Scars, Soulrazor, Crown of Ash, The Witch’s Eye and Chain of Shadows), Tales of a Blood Earth 1 and 2, and something black…. He’s currently hard at work on Blood Angel Rising, a horror novel; Vampire Down, the next installment of the Blood Skies series; and Path of Bones and The Black Tower, the sequels to City of Scars.

He lives in Washington State with his beautiful and intelligent wife, two beautiful and talented children, and a backyard badly in need of some love.

Visit Steven’s official website http://bloodskies.com/

Here or There

By Chantal Boudreau

I often get asked if my Fervor series is set in a far future version of our world or someplace altogether different. I won’t answer that. I want the possibility that it could be us in future without defining the story that way, leaving it open to either interpretation. Some people may not like the fact that I won’t share my own impressions, but I’d rather they focus on the social and political commentary within the story rather than whether or not I’m saying it’s something I’m projecting for our future if we keep to a certain path. It shouldn’t matter if it’s here or there – the fact that anyone could see it as something that might happen should say enough all on its own.

I’ve had that criticism before with other stories – that people want the location defined for my urban fantasy romance or my sci-fi horror tale set in the near future. “What city is it? Where is it happening?” They suggest defining the location might add something more to the story.

I say it might detract from the story as well. The problem with selecting a specific location is that if people aren’t familiar with that place, they may feel less connected to the story. If you provide a setting that could be almost any urban location, the reader can superimpose a place they can identify with as the city where the action is taking place. Naming the place and adding in specific identifying features can take that away.

Not that I always hold to this. Sometimes, the story demands something less vague. In “Intangible” my yet to be published paranormal thriller, landmarks are important to the plot. For that reason, I identify the location from the very beginning and make reference to places that actually exist in the city and the surrounding area. There’s no point in not being specific under those circumstances and giving details in this case will add to the story.

What I think is funny is that I do give place names and details in The Snowy Barrens Trilogy, my tribal dark fantasy trilogy, but people still assume that because the story borrows elements from North American Native mythology, it is set in the past in North America. That’s not the case, and there are several Easter eggs seeded within the trilogy that link it to the world that serves as the setting for Masters & Renegades, my standard fantasy series, to support this. Barb used to say people think of it as historical in nature because the characters seem so realistic – it was hard not to imagine that they actually once existed.

I guess I should take it as a compliment then that people come to the conclusion that the story takes place here and not there. After all, realistic fantasy has always been one of my primary goals.