Mirror: So, what’s the status of your fantasy series ‘The Deathsworn Arc’ now?
Me: I’ve now finally got a proper author website, which I will blog on and occasionally review other books on:- Martyn Stanley – Author of the ‘Deathsworn Arc’ epic fantasy series I’ve also made the books available in CreateSpace POD, Ingram Spark POD and on all digital formats – Kobo, B&N and Smashwords as well as Amazon. I recently made book 1 of the series free on all formats! Please follow the links here:- Deathsworn Arc: The Last Dragon Slayer is now FREE! – Martyn Stanley
Mirror: Free!? Are you mad?! All that hard work you put in! To give it away?! What on earth were you thinking?
Me: Well, to be honest it was a scary decision to make. It wasn’t an easy or quick thing to do. In the end, after experimenting with various pricing schemes, ranging from $2.99 to more, and as low as $0.99… Nothing had really taken off. When I used to do free promo’s on book 1, I got a lot of downloads and I got follow-on sales from those who enjoyed it enough to read through to book 2. Seeing as I was only getting the financial equivalent of a kick in the crackers for book 1 ($0.33) I decided, I may as well offer it for free and let the books pay their way by the read-throughs. I’m not asking anyone to invest any money into book 1 – just their time. I’m asking a bit more for book 2, but I think I only really want those who ‘get it’ and love the series to read on anyway so perhaps that’s for the best?
Mirror: Well, good luck with that, I see it’s doing fairly well at the moment?
Me: It is! It’s top #3000 in both the UK and US Free Kindle Store without any promotion! It’s top #50 for Dark Fantasy and Epic Fantasy in the US and top #50 for Dark Fantasy and Swords and Sorcery in the UK!
Mirror: Dark Fantasy? Is it ‘Dark Fantasy’?
Me: I don’t honestly know! I think so, I think book 2 ‘The Verkreath Horror’ is definitely Dark Fantasy, it’s border-line ‘Grim Fantasy’ at times. They don’t have a nice time in book 2. There is quite a lot of death and misery in the series. I like to kill off at least one character a book.
Mirror: You’re going to run out of characters!
Me: I don’t think I’ll always kill off a character a book. There will be light at the end of the tunnel, though things get worse before they get better I think.
Mirror: The title ‘Deathsworn Arc’ What does it actually mean?
Me: Ah, it’s explained in book 3 ‘Deathsworn Arc: The Blood Queen’ it’s something some of the characters become, I think in book 5.
Mirror: Is the title of book 1 referring to Silus or Korhan?
Me: Both, either, it doesn’t really matter. I suppose for me, at the start of the book it’s Silus, at the end it’s Korhan.
Mirror: Okay, so will Ramon Hern ever make a proper comback?
Me: He plays a bigger part later on in the series.
Mirror: What about Tubol and Tavion? Do they continue their pursuit?
Me: Oh yes, they are tenacious and will NOT give up. They are part of a really big plot element which starts in book 4.
Mirror: Now, Vashni. She’s *ahem* a bit of an evil bitch at times in book 1 – what gives?
Me: There are reasons for the way Vashni behaves in book 1. The reasons are multi-factorial and complex. You really only have a good idea of why Vashni is behaving the way she is in book one once you’ve read book 3.
Mirror: Have you got any idea how long ‘The Deathsworn Arc’ is at this stage?
Me: I think eight books. I have a solid plot for books 4 and 5 and I kind of know how it ends. I haven’t introduced the main villain yet!
Mirror: Who is the main villain?
Me: Ah, that would be telling. I’ll give you a clue, the human helping the Verkreath in book 2 plays a big part in it. He’s also older than Vashni and has gone by many names.
Mirror: When you wrote this, didn’t you worry that the atheistic world would put some people off?
Me: Yes! I did, but I felt like I had to write it anyway. Thankfully nobody has really picked it apart over that aspect of it – except one. A goodreads reviewer didn’t like it:
“Misery. Layers and layers of misery. The team moves from one horror to another all the while losing their religion. I hated this book and am sorry to have spent the time to read it.”
She gave it one star. That kind of annoyed me, but it impressed me too. It was what I was shooting for in book 2 and I clearly evoked a strong emotional reaction in this reader. At least the book would have been memorable to her.
Mirror: Does the feedback you get in your reviews ever surprise you?
Me: All the time! No two reviewers ever pick up on the exact same points. I suppose the common points are the ‘Truth’ – I expected that, the relationship between Korhan and Vashni – I expected that and the moral philosophizing. Nobody really seems to pick up on the atheist theme that much! That DOES surprise me!
Mirror: How important is the atheist theme and ‘The Truth’ to the overall plot?
Me: It’s critical to the overall plot. There are some huge, world-changing twists. Everything hinges on the ‘Truth’. I became a strong atheist by accident, and exploring the loss of faith and the search for a sense of purpose in life in the books was as much as for me, as for my readers.
Mirror: Are you like any of your characters?
Me: No, not really. I suppose I’m a bit Korhan and a bit Brael more so than the others – but even then, not much.
Mirror: This Korhan and Vashni thing – do they ever ‘get it on’ ?
Me: Well, hmmmm, that’s difficult to answer. Things change drastically for both Korhan and Vashni. Their interactions become a lot more complex in book 5, it’s partly to do with the Korhan taking the Oath at the Deathsworn Shringe and the mind inhabiting Harbinger. I won’t say anymore, but it’s a major, major event for Korhan.
Mirror: Do we ever meet any more gravians?
Me: Yes! There’s a new gravian character in book 4!
Mirror: Ahhh, so they remove Brael’s curse freeing him to use magic?
Me: Nope! They feel the same way Elira did.
Mirror: So does he ever get access to magic back?
Me: Pffft! I’m sick of giving spoilers – talk about something else!
Mirror: Okay, who are you?
Me: I recently posted this about myself on a writers group on Facebook;-
You know me! Want to know a bit more? I’m 37! I’m not old. I live in a little village betwixt Staffordshire and Cheshire which has a little castle perched atop a hill – which you can see for miles around. I have two kids, a girl who’s seven and a boy who’s three. I’ve been married for nine years, I’m a second degree blackbelt in Taekwondo, I’ve also done Kung Fu and Kick Boxing at times. I drive a 3.0 V6 Jaguar, but my favorite car I owned is still my old MX5 which I kept for seven years. I used to be an avid video games player before writing took over my life. In my mis-spent youth I played lead guitar in a band called ‘The Liability Crisis’ and smoked a little weed. I’ve been as far west as Florida and as far east as Singapore – but I usually holiday in France and Germany. Singapore and Rome are probably my two favorite cities I’ve visited. I write fantasy books,but I also work full-time as a manager at a manufacturing plant and I’m studying for a degree with the Open University! I’m about to start ‘Creative Writing’ level 2 – theory being if I actually suck at writing, I’ll get better. If I’m already pretty decent then it’s an easy 60 points and I get to learn ‘poetry’. I drink too much, I don’t exercise enough, but I also don’t eat enough so it kind of balances out. I’m not a very sociable person, but I can be good at faking it. I AM prone to depression, writing has helped with that. A sense of purpose is a powerful thing. *Edit – I also built my own house! Well my father-in-law worked on it more than me, but we literally built the house. I took time of work to do it, and worked evenings and weekends on it for three years! So writing a little 100,000 word novel doesn’t seem that daunting.
Mirror: Wow, you’ve fit a lot into your life!
Me: I dunno. I don’t think I have, it looks like it when I write it down – but it doesn’t feel like it. The last few years have been a blur!
Mirror: So how do you know Ionia?
Me: I came across this blog I think and requested a review. We’ve talked a bit since, she’s told me her story, I told her mine. I now count her amongst my elite group of online BFF’s. She’s awesome!
Mirror: Online BFF’s?
Me: Yes! Another is Inge van de Kraats her shared blog is at Bookshelf Reflections she has me in stitches at times! One of the best thing about writing the books has been the people they’ve facilitated me meeting. I’ve met some really awesome people because of the books. Inge and Ionia are just two examples, whom I have a particular soft-spot for.
Mirror: Anything else in the pipeline? What’s after ‘Deathsworn’ ?
Me: I have a few projects in mind – a dark, high concept urban fantasy with angels and demons, a futuristic earth-based sci-fi with some time-travel and a literary fiction series called, ‘The Week’, ‘The Month’, ‘The Year’, ‘The Decade’ and ‘The Century’.
Mirror: The Lit Fic series sounds odd – what’s it about?
Me: Just life, people, relationships – the passing of time. My main inspiration is that titling my books this way will enable me to market myself as ‘Author of the Week’, ‘Author of the Month’, ‘Author of the Year’ and ‘Author of the Century’ 😛
Mirror: Haha! So what about your studying – what’s your degree about?
Me: It’s the most eclectic degree ever! I have modules from IT, Maths, Science and I’m doing Creative Writing next! I’m just doing what I feel like and trying to drum up enough points to cash in a degree. I’m doing it for personal satisfaction rather than career reasons.
Mirror: How big a part of your life is writing?
Me: Massive! I write or edit every day, I promote every day. I’m always looking for ways of increasing my readership. I love telling stories. I love reading them, but telling them is even better.
Mirror: Do your kids know about your stories?
Me: They do! Emily is amazed that people around the world have read my stories. She says she can’t believe it! I’ve told them both who the characters are and roughly what happens. I’ leave the gory out though – the stories are rather too dark for a three year old and a seven year old!
Mirror: Did you ever try to get published traditionally?
Me: I had a go, I sent out some submissions and queries. Nobody wanted to take a punt on it. I’ll be laughing when I’ve sold a trillion copies and I’m living in a castle next door to J.K. Rowling! Only joking! I would like to go trad-pub, i think it’s essential for growing my brand and raising people’s awareness of my work. I’ve more or less given up on Deathsworn Arc for Trad-pub though, I’ll maybe try again with one of my other projects. I think I will always write about contentious, deep, thought-provoking issues. Atheism and loss of faith will probably always creep into my work. For that reason I think many agents and publishers will think it’s risky – but I think it’s what people want to hear! I recently stumbled upon Shelley Segal | Singer and Songwriter from Australia I love her music, I love hearing what I think in song. I think people will like reading what they think in fantasy. There’s often a religious mythology in fantasy – so to create a godless world is fresh and new I think. It will resonate with agnostics, doubters and atheists. It’s not a strong theme though, I think very devout or extreme theists will hate it, but those in the middle will just enjoy the story for the characters, the relationship and the action.
Mirror: Now the big question – when are we going to see ‘Deathsworn Arc: The Temple of the Mad God’
Me: I expect, hmmm, late summer 2015? I have to do my course, and write it, then edit it, amdist working and toddler herding. The good news is I have 10,000 words down and I’ve edited it. It’s a really strong opening, I honestly think though book 3 was probably my best so far – book 4 will be even better. I’m really, really pleased with it. I just wish I had more time to write and I could afford a pro-editor. I might use Sophie Playle at some point ( http://sophieplayle.com ). She did me a sample for book 1 and I was really pleased with her work on it. I only didn’t use her because I couldn’t afford to at the time and I had offers from others to do it for free. I wanted ‘The Blood Queen’ to go out as version 1.0 and never need changing. I now think version 1.2 will be the one that doesn’t need changing. I want to make sure ‘The Temple of the Mad God’ is as close to ‘spot on’ as I can before I release.
Mirror: What is the ‘Temple of the Mad God’
Me: It’s a place, I’m saying no more!
Mirror: Okay, thanks for the interview!
Me: Thank Ionia for hosting it for me!