Questions From The Editor
When did you get the first inspiration for this story?
It was a very long time ago. I remember my parents and I were driving home after seeing Monsters Inc. at the cinema. The film came out in 2001 so I must have been 9 years old. For some unknown reason the image of the dragon’s blade popped into my head and I started to think about the powers it had. I remember that moment so vividly that I can recall looking out of the window at the back end of a fish & chips shop in Ardrossan (a nearby town) as we were stuck in traffic whilst the image came to me.
The rest of the world and story sort of grew around the idea of the sword. Over the years things have changed immensely but the sword has been the one constant at its core. The title of the series was therefore never in any doubt.
Where/when did you get the idea for Darnuir?
Darnuir’s name popping into my head is another one of those vivid memories. It came to me one day walking across the playground at school. I think I must have been in primary five or six, so I was perhaps 10 when this happened. Up until then I had been using my own name for the main character of the story (incredible vain, I know) and my friends’ names for the others. Just as well I decided to start making up better names really.
Darnuir was always going to be reborn in some way. That is one of the story ideas that has stuck around for a considerable amount of time. It wasn’t until my first year of university that I began thinking of the full consequences of that. I took a first year philosophy module and the lecturer raised an interesting question about what would happen if you took a blank brain and transferred some memories of a person into it. He asked at what point would this new brain starts to become the person whose memories it was receiving. He then asked what would happen if you started implanting memories from one person into another. It was a question I knew I had to ask in relation to Darnuir.
Which authors have influenced you the most over the years?
Like many people my age I think the Harry Potter series was what first really got me into books and stories. My favourite is The Goblet of Fire for those who might be interested. Tolkien and George R.R. Martin are obvious and require no explanation. As a teenager I was quite inspired by Christopher Paolini as he wrote his first fantasy book when he was very young and became a published best seller by the time he was nineteen. Patrick Rothfuss’s beautiful prose style was something that really blew me away – I had no idea writing could be that poetic without being poetry.
The author I owe most too, however, is Brandon Sanderson. Nothing has quite grabbed me so unaware and as fully as his Mistborn series. Will there ever be a more perfect magic system than Allomancy? Aside from his work, I owe him an huge debt as his online lecture series really helped me; he openly discusses writing in science fiction and fantasy in more depth than any other author I could find. After devouring those episodes I saw my own writing go from amateur hour to ‘okay this might get published’. Brandon, if you are reading this, you’re the best!
Beyond books what has influenced you?
History and games. I’d say games have perhaps shaped my fantasy inclinations more than actual fantasy books. Many RPG games over the last ten years have been as, if not more, in depth than book series. In a way this is no surprise. Whole teams of people work on building these worlds and they are not limited to the imagination of one person. I’m speaking about games like: Fable, Dragon Age, Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect, Zelda (especially the Ocarina of Time) and, of course, World of Warcraft. Many of the stories in the Warcraft Universe are second to none in awesomeness – I mean it.
What periods from history have influenced you the most?
The Romans are a favourite of mine and you can clearly see them shine through in the book. Scottish history is another huge influence on me and was the main focus of my degree towards the end; though I will likely save the very best of that for future novels… I also really enjoyed studying the period known as the ‘Military Revolution’ which largely encompasses the 17th century and this found its way into book one with the Bastion fortress.
What tips would you give a new author thinking of starting to write in your genre?
Don’t let anyone tell you no. If you want to write a fantasy novel then you should. More generally if you want to start writing in any genre, you just should. If you don’t love what you are writing then you won’t be able to write it.
Write the book you would want to read and it will turn out all the better for it. I learned this eventually with this first Dragon’s Blade book. I thought I had to try and be ‘like such-and-such author’ or ‘make it sound like them’ but then it didn’t sound like me.
For fantasy specifically I think you should have a few core ideas that are new or different or reimagined and explore them fully. Fantasy is really a blend of the familiar and the strange. If things get too whacky or alien then it becomes a nightmare for the reader to follow and for the writer to create and maintain consistency. Know your own limits and know where to draw the line. If you have a lot of ideas try and save some for another book or series. At least that is my opinion. I don’t claim to be an expert yet.
What will you be working on next?
The next Dragon’s Blade book is certainly something I want to get out there. Right now I am working on another fantasy book but one which is shorter, more humorous and definitely not an epic. This first Dragon’s Blade book is reasonably short where fantasy is concerned but it is still a lot of effort and I think I’d like to try writing smaller books for a time. The next major series I have in mind is more historically orientated – but more on that later!
Some More Interviews
From 1st of June 2016.
Some questions about the world building of Dragon’s Blade, the magic system and the early stages of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off Round 2!