Please welcome Brian McClellan to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Promise of Blood (The Powder Mage Trilogy 1) was published on April 16, , 2013.
TQ: Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?
Brian: I entered a writing contest in the third grade. It was a two-page story about being kidnapped and escaping from my attacker. I ended up winning the class contest, but losing the grade-wide one.
In retrospect, that story may have freaked out my mother a little bit.
I didn't start writing as a real hobby until my mid-teens when I discovered internet forums and fanfiction and realized that lots of people were doing this kind of thing for fun.
TQ: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Brian: I'll sometimes play computer games while I'm writing. I'll play a turn-based strategy game or something else that can be easily stopped and I'll jump between writing and played over the course of the day. It helps me work my way through difficult scenes.
TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Brian: A mix. I start a book with a very general outline and then plot my chapters as I go. I try to keep a detailed outline of the next four or five chapter from wherever I am in the book.
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
Brian: Making myself sit down and do it. If a scene is not flowing well, or I'm not sure what happens next, I get all tripped up over myself and give up for a week at a time. This can result in a lot of hair-pulling frustration, but I've also gotten some of my best ideas by mulling on the plot for a while.
TQ: Describe Promise of Blood (Powder Mage Trilogy 1) in 140 characters or less.
Brian: Promise of Blood is an epic fantasy where a magical world has advanced into the Industrial Age. The people rise, kings fall, and nations clash.
TQ: What inspired you to write Promise of Blood?
Brian: Several things. I wanted something different, but I still wanted to write "epic fantasy." I had already decided that I wanted to create a magic system around gunpowder, and then I saw the show Sharpe with Sean Bean and I fell in love with the idea of a Napoleonic epic fantasy.
TQ: What sort of research did you do for Promise of Blood?
Brian: Books. Lots of books. I spent tons of time on Wikipedia. One of my good friends is a gun enthusiast and I talked to him a lot about flintlock rifles and the development of gunpowder. In fact, the Hrusch Rifle in the book is named after him.
TQ: Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?
Brian: The easiest character to write was Olem. His dialogue flowed well, and he has a relaxed approach to life that's not unlike my own.
The hardest character was probably Mihali. I had to walk a bit of a line with him: I wanted him to be over-the-top, but not in a way that the reader would find off-putting. And, as the reader will discover, there are things about him that make him very... strange.
TQ: Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Promise of Blood?
Brian: It's gotta be the climax. When [REDACTED] does that thing with the [REDACTED] and then [REDACTED] the [REDACTED], it was so much fun to write!
In all seriousness, though, Tamas gives a short speech near the beginning of the book where he talks about his intentions for the coup. It reveals a lot about him as a character and was a scene I had in mind from the very earliest iterations of the book.
TQ: What's next?
Brian: Well, book two of The Powder Mage Trilogy, The Crimson Campaign, is set to come out in February of 2014, followed by book three in September of the same year. Other than that I have a few projects I'm working on behind the scenes, but we'll see how quickly I can finish those.
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Brian: No problem! Thank you for having me on.
The Powder Mage Trilogy
Promise of Blood
The Powder Mage Trilogy 1
Orbit, April 16, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 560 pages
The Age of Kings is dead . . . and I have killed it.
It's a bloody business overthrowing a king...
Field Marshal Tamas' coup against his king sent corrupt aristocrats to the guillotine and brought bread to the starving. But it also provoked war with the Nine Nations, internal attacks by royalist fanatics, and the greedy to scramble for money and power by Tamas's supposed allies: the Church, workers unions, and mercenary forces.
It's up to a few...
Stretched to his limit, Tamas is relying heavily on his few remaining powder mages, including the embittered Taniel, a brilliant marksman who also happens to be his estranged son, and Adamat, a retired police inspector whose loyalty is being tested by blackmail.
But when gods are involved...
Now, as attacks batter them from within and without, the credulous are whispering about omens of death and destruction. Just old peasant legends about the gods waking to walk the earth. No modern educated man believes that sort of thing. But they should...
The Crimson Campaign
The Powder Mage Trilogy 2
Orbit, February 18, 2014
Hardcover and eBook, 592 pages
He began writing on Wheel of Time role playing websites at fifteen. Encouraged toward writing by his parents, he started working on short stories and novellas in his late teens. He went on to major in English with an emphasis on creative writing at Brigham Young University. It was here he met Brandon Sanderson, who encouraged Brian’s feeble attempts at plotting and characters more than he should have.
Brian continued to study writing not just as an art but as a business and was determined this would be his life-long career. He attended Orson Scott Card’s Literary Bootcamp in 2006. In 2008, he received honorable mention in the Writers of the Future Contest.
In November 2011, PROMISE OF BLOOD and two sequels sold at auction to Orbit Books. It is due out in April of 2013.
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