I’d like to welcome another amazing author to my blog – Graeme Brown! Thanks for taking the time to stop by and answer some questions about “The Pact”. “The Pact” – a dark epic fantasy – was released by Champagne Books. Wait until you dig your heels into the excerpt! Keep scrolling to read more!
1) What was the inspiration for “The Pact”?
This is a difficult question. Originally, I wanted to write something short and something fresh. I think when I came up with the idea of a boy who lived in a safe castle, who would soon lose everything and find himself at the heart of a conspiracy, I drew a lot on my childhood (with some exaggeration, of course!). On the other hand, having spent nearly two decades building a fantasy world, as the story came together, that emerged as a backdrop for the vivid, unique world the story is set in, giving it a powerful realism I would have had a hard time creating if I was making everything up on the spot.
2) In “The Pact”, who is your favourite character and why?
Again, a difficult question. I like most of the key players. But I think Will is my favorite, given that I have devoted a roadmap of several (upcoming) books to the story that unfolds around him. Will is the character I am closest to because, I think, I really relate to my own childhood and the way I looked at the world when I was young in him. I also like that he’s not a clichéd hero, since that allows me to appreciate a story about weakness and insecurity as much as a story about grand events.
3) Who is your least favorite character and why?
None. I love them all, even the bad ones.
4) Tell us an interesting or fun fact – or a few –about “The Pact”.
The Pact was supposed to be a short story, but it turned into a novella
5) Do you ever experience writer’s block? How do you work through that?
I don’t get writer’s block anymore. I’ve discovered, through spending about the last 6 years disciplining myself to sit down each day and write a little bit, that those “blocks” are really just restlessness. You don’t always have good writing days. Some suck, but, instead of focusing on “getting the story done”, I focus on “developing the story”, and so when I find myself getting distracted, I try to catch myself and use a few tricks, like looking over outline notes, popping around to earlier (or later, partly-written) sections of the manuscript I’m working.
6) Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Absolute plotter, but no amount of plotting can avoid the pantsing that happens when you think of better twists and when the characters you chart out become someone else entirely when you actually meet them live in the story.
7) What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I would like to continue to develop the fantasy epic that is unfolding. This small story The Pact opened the door to another story, A Thousand Roads, which I just submitted to my publisher, and that, in turn, has opened up so much world-building that I now have to look at ways to store it in spreadsheets so it’s more retrievable and easier to organize / develop (presently, I have a black box an about 500 sheets of paper that are in order, and whenever I write I haul that around with me and cover the table with the sheets I need). It keeps growing, and I have a lot of the arc planned out. I’d love to be able to do it full time, and to make something beautiful, to put all my energy into it and contribute to the wonderful epic fantasy landscape.
8) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I like to play piano, to do math and computer programming, to run long-distance and do yoga. I love reading all sorts of things, and I’m also an editor. I enjoy coffee and tutoring university students, and I like walks on snowy days.
9) Do you have any advice for other writers trying to get published?
Don’t rush. Focus on making your story as good as it can be. Be prepared to write more than one book before you have one you think you can submit (I have two failed manuscripts in a box, and I’m glad they’re there).
Read lots of craft books, I’d suggest the works of Donald Maass, and, if you want to submit something, read Rayne Halls’ “Word Loss Diet” so you can avoid some obvious blunders that will get your rejected even if you have plumbed your story to its depths. Network with authors in your sub-genre, go to writing conventions and meet people who are active in the writing community and invite them to be guests on your blog – stay in touch and ask for advice, ask for good reading books and follow their blogs so you can learn from them.
Writing itself can be a solitary process, but being a writer is not. Become part of the collective whole, and soon you’ll add your words to it.
10) Can you share an excerpt of your current work? Why did you select this particular section to share?
This excerpt is from the beginning of The Pact. I’m sharing it since I was deliberate about beginning here and not anywhere else, and I hope if you enjoy it then you might want to read the rest.
“When you kill a man, look him in the eyes.” Grizzled Lord Wood peered down at Will, face hard, hazel gaze focused. “That’s the only way he’ll know you’re not afraid, the only way you won’t hesitate when your moment comes.”
“Why ever would I kill a man, Uncle?” Will’s words sounded faint in the hubbub of the Banquet Hall’s festivities.
Stuart Wood cocked his head, narrowing his eyes a little more. His bronze beard bristled, as if every hair were made of fine wires. He moved a little closer, and Will smelled the Scotch of Myra on his breath. “I pray by the White God’s blood that you never have to wield a blade, Willy, but a man should always be prepared. When the reaper comes, if your axe is sharp, you can cut his scythe at the haft, and escape with your life.”
“But the Pact keeps us safe.” Will looked away. Across the table, he heard Grandpa Judd talk about shopping for fresh melons while his hands moved underneath a young maid’s blouse, creating quite a commotion among the honored guests. Next to him, Grandma Mae shook her head, jowls jiggling.
Uncle didn’t seem to notice. He leaned closer. “An oath is only as good as the ones who take it. Don’t delude yourself, boy. The Pact has held for two hundred years now, but that doesn’t mean it will hold a year more.”
Will frowned then took a bite from a fat slice of sausage. He enjoyed Uncle Wood’s visits—whenever the man’s duties as steward to the King of Annon would permit. Every time Lord Wood came to Fort Lesterall, he talked about his wars up in the mountains, but Will had no way of knowing if they were true or not. Ogres and Trolls and the monsters of nightmare visions never came inside the walls of the castle, and Will never left his home by the strict instructions of his father. He lived safely in his refuge, a lone outpost in a world full of war, and the only way he heard about the outside was through his uncle’s stories.
They were intriguing tales. His uncle told him of Goblin raids to the west—in Leviathan’s Gate—where some said the mountains climbed beyond the sky. A hundred knights rose and a hundred knights fell, for the foul creatures never slept, pouring out of their Crossling Mountain haunts like maggots from midden. Battles raged across the ten mountain realms, and armored warriors charged the Ogre lines, holding the northern marches of Daliador against the Unborn foe. Only the game champions who narrowly escaped were remembered in song. Will loved to hear of the heroes, of valiant Bor the Blackhanded, of Redbeard Patrick and Grolf the Rough, whose laugh could crack a stone. He always asked to hear more about Jarr the Twister, and Brutus with the brown cape, but his favorite was Ruklam the Wide, whose broadsword Alkarom could take down a tree and behead a Troll with one fierce swing. If only Uncle told those stories still. Of late, his tales grew darker, and Lord Wood’s face looked more tired each time he came.
A bony elbow poked Will in the shoulder. He didn’t need to turn to know it was his brother. “Carril and I are going to the groves to hunt quail. Father’s given his permission for us to enter.” Black- haired Robin Lesterall looked smug, as usual. “He brags that he’s a better bowshot than me, but everyone knows the Wine Kingdoms breed better drunkards than archers.”
Cousin Lanis flashed his cocksure smile, leaning his lanky frame over his empty plate on the other side of the table. “Just watch he doesn’t shoot you instead. I hear he has a fierce temper when he loses at anything.”
“Spoiled whelp or not, Carril Britte knows better than to insult his host.” Uncle Wood glanced across the hall to the upper gallery, where the well-to-dos of House Britte—all dressed in gaudy blues and greens—cavorted among other popinjay nobles, visitors from near and far. Mattas, the head of the House, stood so tall he looked like a long noodle. Will had never seen nor heard of House Britte until they turned up last week, one of many guests from the far kingdoms of the world come to Fort Lesterall to celebrate this special day.
“Later, we will compete, to see who’s the better shot. I will beat him fair and square, to show him that Lesterall should be acknowledged properly.” Robin sported his usual sly twist of the mouth. “If he has any honor, he will accede. We are Lesteralls of Annon, Lords of the Mountain Kingdom, and his lot belongs with the cowards who hide up north, as far away from the mountains as they can get.”
“Such arrogance does not become you, Robby.” Uncle Wood lowered his voice, a growl. “I’ve told Ham he was a fool when he chose to keep you boys inside these walls, hiding you from the realities of the world. What do you know of honor? How are you any different from one of the Northmen, hiding here behind your Pact, while they relish their vineyards and yachts?”
“I’ve fought with real steel in the yard,” Robin protested. “Father says—”
“What are you all arguing about? What sort of fears is my husband trying to put into these innocent boys, hmm?” Will looked away from his uncle, toward the tall woman who approached, her dress a shimmering wonder of blue and yellow flowers. Aunt Zaria displayed the exotic fashion of her homeland, an island in the South Kingdoms, as far away as the Icelands of Allamar. Gathered in a net, her tower of black ringlets sparkled with crystal combs while her smooth, rounded cheekbones could have belonged to a doll. Her marriage to Uncle Wood was a recent event, done quietly last year, making her a stranger to Will. Waddling like a great goose, Aunt Gurtle, the sister to Will and Robin’s stepmother, followed close behind, one of her poodles padding at her side.
Aunt Zaria ruffled Robin’s hair, lifting the boy’s feathery black locks. “He might have the semblance of his father in youth, but this is a different time, Stu. The Blackfriars are long dead, and Annon’s Vassal Knights hold more power than ever before. Ham has the right idea. Let them have their innocence.”
“It’s not me that would take it away.” Uncle opened his mouth to say more, but the loud clang of the speech bell interrupted him.
If you like what you’ve read, you can find out more at: http://www.graemebrownart.com/the_pact.html
Thanks, Paula, for having me as your guest. It’s been a pleasure visiting your blog and I look forward to staying connected!
Thanks so much for stopping by for a chat, Graeme. If you’d like to get a hold of Graeme, check out the links below.
If you’d like to get a hold of “The Pact”, visit the links below
Other formats: Burst Books