• The book is my first attempt at real Tolkien-esque epic fantasy, and I spent a lot of time researching how story arcs in such fantasies are structured. It was quite an adventure for me! I also spent a whole evening with some hardcore dedicated D&D folks, reviewing the book and talking about the characters in terms of Class Types and the plot in terms of a Campaign. I wanted to make the fantasy world rich, but also fun and playful (perhaps playable?) in the way that the great D&D stories are.
• My mother called it her favourite of all the books I’ve written so far. That’s pretty high praise! Especially since she’s read everything I’ve written since the age of 11 (Except for some of the slashy fan fiction. No. Not that.)
• One of the episodes in the novel was inspired by a less-than-sober discussion with Forgotten Realms creator Ed Greenwood; Ed also inspired one of the characters. Don’t worry, he’s read it and he’s okay with it. 🙂
• I’ve already written some companion novellas and shorts and one of my beta readers has already written fan fiction!
• The idea of the book came out of a discussion I had with a friend on HBO’s treatment of in-world sexism and misogyny in Game of Thrones, which we were mainlining at the time. I was annoyed that I wasn’t able to articulate my frustrations to my friend – a great guy, but one who has never not been the target demographic in his life. He didn’t understand what it meant to not be the person the story is for, and I went off to my office to write out my frustrations in a scene that eventually became one of the pivotal points of this book.
• This was the hardest novel to name I have ever written. I think the poor book went through about fifteen titles before Laurie and I settled on this one, and even then there were three variations of it that I cycled through before I was happy with it. I am still floundering with the titles for the next two books, and Leah Petersen and I spent a morning trying to figure out a series title. (The Physics of Falling is such a good title for a series – she named that so well! I was hoping for her inspiration to strike for me, too!)
• I don’t write to music, nor do I keep booktracks. I need to write in total silence – I can’t even write in coffee shops – and sometimes even darkness. I like my story to be the only thing I focus on. However, I do collect inspirational art imagery and create a screensaver slideshow of the art so that when I come back to my computer after a break, it is there to fill me with energy. This particular slide show featured a lot of Boris Vallejo, and the cover art for series like The Lord of the Rings, Xanth, Wheel of Time, Temeraire, Discworld and from epic sword-and-sorcery films, and the traditional clothing of Georgia.
• This is the first time I have ever written a character specifically for an actor to play. Usually I take inspiration for characters from people around me or fictional characters or celebrities and amalgamate them into an overall person – this person’s hand gestures, that person’s verbal tics, this one’s eyes, the way that one stands, the way that this one handles stressful situations, the way this one reacts to danger, etc. But I knew from the moment I began writing my narrator – Forsyth Turn – that I wanted him, one day, to be inhabited by actor Mark Gatiss. (Or, you know, Mark Gatiss in his League of Gentlemen years). That made creating Forsyth’s personality a lot more fun, because I already had his physicality down and knew now I could play. I have since assembled a photo gallery of a fantasy cast.
• I got really worried about my lead character’s family name a few months after the first draft was done, as my friend Julie Czerneda then announced her first Epic Fantasy novel’s title – A Turn Of Light! In the end I decided to keep it as is, as it’s an important surname and by the time this book comes out, Julie’s second book in the series – A Play Of Shadow – would be out. And it is! (Seriously, go read these people. They’re fantastic.)
• My agent came back from a conference in Seattle in November 2014 and told me all about this keynote address she’d made about author hybridity; she said she’d mentioned The Untold Tales in her speech, and that she had later been approached by a publishing company interested in reading the book. I got a bit of a shiver, a sort of good version of the “walking over your grave” willies, when I read that. Turns out, the feeling was right! Because that publisher was Reuts!
• I deliberately sprinkled references to a bunch of other fantasy and science fiction series in the novel – I had a lot of fun looking up things and trying to figure out how to wrangle them into the book as naturally as possible!
To celebrate the release of The Untold Tale, Short Fuse has a contest going on their blog. Check it out, and win a free short story from me!
Also, read the journey from writing to signing of The Untold Tale.
And, you can now add The Untold Tale to your “Want To Read” shelf at Goodreads!