Author Interview – Brian McClellan
In a break from the regular schedule of reviews, Shadowhawk and The Founding Fields bring to you an interview with Brian McClellan, the author of Promise of Blood, an upcoming fantasy debut that is already making a lot of waves before it is released next month.
Q&A with Brian T. McClellan
Shadowhawk: Let’s start with the basics first: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Brian: I’m a life-long fan of fantasy and science fiction. I’m married to an awesome woman and my first beta-reader and editor on everything I write. I’m an avid computer gamer and I love to read, garden, make home-made jam, bake, and I keep honeybees. I turned 27 in January.
Brian: You can probably blame my mother. I got into writing Wheel of Time fanfiction in online forums when I was about fifteen. She thought that was fun and so she sent me to a week-long writing retreat when I was about 16. Everyone at the retreat loved my stuff, so when I finally reached college I took several creative writing classes. Around that time I decided to be an author and I have worked on it since.
Shadowhawk: Promise of Blood is your first novel. What is it about and what can we expect from it?
Brian: Promise of Blood is about the after-effects of a coup pulled by Field Marshal Tamas, the world’s most famous powder mage—a sorcerer with the ability to manipulate gunpowder with his mind.
You can expect a bloody good time. There’s war, revenge, guillotines, muskets, betrayal, religion, politics, and several different types of magic.
Shadowhawk: What made you want to write this particular story, and why fantasy?
Brian: I’ve always loved fantasy. While I have dabbled in science fiction, steam punk, and a few other subgenres, epic fantasy has always been my absolute favorite.
I wrote this story because I wanted to see what happened in a fantasy world that progressed into the industrial revolution in the same way ours did. What place would powerful magics have in the world? How about gunpowder? And what if magic and gunpowder were intertwined?
Shadowhawk: Your thoughts on the covers for Promise of Blood and the sequel, The Crimson Campaign?
Brian: I love them. Hardly anything more to say. Orbit went above and beyond my expectations. I haven’t heard a single person express disappointment in them, and I certainly never would.
Shadowhawk: What do you think are the advantages of consistent series designs?
Brian: It helps with branding. It gives them a similar cover feel, which looks good on bookshelves. A person that read the first book, but maybe doesn’t remember the title or the name of the author will see the second book on the shelf an immediately know it’s a sequel.
Shadowhawk: Who are some of your favourite SFF authors?
Brian: There are too many to name. Among my contemporaries (ha! I get to say that now!), I’d say Brandon Sanderson, Brent Weeks, Joe Abercrombie, Daniel Abraham, Steven Erikson, and George RR Martin. The usual suspects. I recently read Mark Lawrence’s Prince of Thorns and King of Thorns and absolutely loved them.
In terms of the old guard, I’d say Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Douglas Adams, Frank Herbert, and Isaac Asimov. Really, there are too many to list. I’ve probably left ten names off here that I would consider must-reads.
Shadowhawk: Where do you see SFF going in the next few years?
Brian: No clue. Some people say that science fiction is getting more popular or that urban fantasy is starting to wane. Honestly, I don’t think anyone knows. I’d love to see more of the muskets and magic sort of stuff that I write, and I know of at least one other new author that writes in the same type of time period.
Shadowhawk: What advice would you give to authors working on their first novels?
Brian: Don’t get discouraged. Keep at it. In the last three years, I spent six months unemployed, time working as a fry cook for minimum wage, and worked at a collections agency where, though it was a good job, I did not want to see myself doing long-term. They were probably the most discouraging years of my life.
Then I got a call from my agent saying she’d just sold my series at auction. Hard work and persistence pays off.
Shadowhawk: How do you prepare to sit down to write? Any music or other such aids that you use to get you in the mood?
Brian: It varies. Some days I just sit down and do it. Other days I put my iTunes on shuffle and brainstorm. But I’m a very visual writer and get great inspiration from watching quality TV or movies and the best of those can send me into a flurry of writing that lasts till 3 AM.
Shadowhawk: Anything else you would like to mention?
Thanks for having me around! I’m so incredibly excited to see what the next couple of years has in store and it delights me that others seem to find my work interesting enough to ask questions.
And that’s all we have for now people! There will be some more author interviews in the future, with lots of different authors. Stay tuned.
I picked up an eARC of Promise of Blood a few days ago and will be reading it first thing in April for review to coincide with a guest post from Brian on my blog the day before the novel is released.
You can read my post on the covers for both of Brian’s novels, Promise of Blood and The Crimson Campaign, here.
Shadowhawk is a regular contributor to TFF. A resident of Dubai, Shadowhawk reads, reads and reads. His opinions are always clear and concise. His articles always worth reading.