Kings of Paradise and easily became immersed in the scope of his world. Lucky for me, he was kind enough to answer a few questions about his work.
What inspired your world building process?
The short answer is a love of history. Kings of Paradise has a world very much like our own, in a style we tend to call ‘low fantasy’ these days. The two main cultures shown are bits and pieces of different real cultures mushed together with a little spin. The Ascom, for example, or the ‘land of ash’, is pulled right out of an old Norse self-description: ‘Ascomanni’, or ‘men of the ash tree’. They meant Yggdrasil, the tree they believed held the worlds (this is also where ‘Middle Earth comes from, or Middenheim), and I turned the mythology into men rising from the ash of a volcano. Even some of the matriarchal aspects are pulled from a South-East Asian people that still exist today (though they are mostly Islamic now, which is rather more patriarchal!). Anyway, I could go on (and on…). It would be fair to say I enjoy the world-building process, but I try not to make it intrusive. I know not everyone is as interested as I am!
Who are you writing for and why?
Myself, mostly. I have ideas I want to explore, things I need to get out, and the best method I’ve ever found is to write them down and pull them apart and try to understand. These days more and more I write for the wonderful fans eagerly awaiting the next book(s), but fiction has always been a way to invite others to explore these things with me. Once a reader has the book in their hands, I like to think we’re seeking answers together. I’m not a preacher. I don’t have any great truths to impart.
What do you do to recharge your creative energy?
I work rather hard at a schedule of relaxed discipline. Writers in general tend to be lazy, sneaky gits who (if you let them), will sneak off and indulge any number of bad, self-destructive habits. So I try to keep my mind and body healthy. I exercise, eat relatively right, and allow time to screw around and do nothing. I read a lot, too.
What reactions do you hope to inspire in others?
Thought, emotion. I’ve never really been the type to just ‘entertain’, though of course that is and must always be part of the experience. I suppose I’m happiest when I hear a reader is consumed, glued to the writing until they’re finished, and affected long after. I know what it’s like to have a book change you, and whether or not I can pull it off, that is what I want for anyone.
Where is your writing taking you?
Hopefully to a better version of myself. Writing I think is the most authentic thing I can do with my energy, so there’s a certain freedom or at least peace in that. If I die tomorrow, I did what I could. And if I’m very lucky perhaps it will even earn me a living. But we’ll see.
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