Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Gathering of Dust

The writers of Skulldust Circle have assembled a collection of short stories (some based on existing novels) for your reading pleasure. It is now available for the Kindle and is selling for $5.99 on the US site. 
Some of the stories are companion pieces to the writer's existing novels and expand upon their worlds. Others are stand-alone tales.

If you've read book 1 of my In the Shadow of the Black Sun series, you are aware of the character Trune. He is thought by most to be nothing more than the town drunk. Nothing could be further from the truth. Find out the secrets of his past and the true reason that he wound up in Lauden. All of this can be found in my short story entitled Shadewraiths over Pandaria as part of A Gathering of Dust. 
Click the link to have a look.

A Gathering of Dust

As always, I appreciate your support and look forward to your questions or comments.

Walk with the Wind


Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Roaring Mouse Interview with Gary Vanucci

Gary was interviewed on The Roaring Mouse book blog by Ross last week. Here is the interview for the followers of SkullDust Circle.

In the endlessly running sitcom ‘Friends’ there was an episode where Joey was in Vegas and saw a croupier with the same hands as him. He dubbed him his 'hand twin.'
In a similar fashion, via the medium of Tweet I have located my author twin-Gary Vanucci.

Gary writes fantasy with an unashamedly DnD influence, focusing on detailed action and intricate world building. His Wothlandia books are set in the Realm of Ashenclaw, a land populated by adventurers, dwarves, elves, demons and dragons.Gary has developed a wealth of material to support his books- a DnD sourcebook, a great web-site, and a fantastic partnership with author-artist William Kenney. The covers are fantastic, bringing to mind the classic sixties and seventies styles that adorned sword & sorcery classics by Moorcock et al.
But a book is far more than its cover, and Gary's work doesn't fail to impress. My first exposure was one of his prequels (now collected in a single volume) and from that I went on to read Covenant of the Faceless Knights.
Covenant tells the tale of Garius, a rather dour Inquisitor, who assembles a group of disparate heroes to accompany him on a mission to rescue some priests. The heroes struggle to integrate initially - as you'd expect from a barbarian, a thief and an elf alchemist. However their journey brings out their extraordinary talents and they knit together as the story progresses. In the backstory we have a demonic warlord making alliances with succubi queens, evil dwarves and a lich. Yep, a lich! Only one down from a beholder for sheer classic DnD! The main purpose there seems to be to set up books 2+, which is something that I (as well as authors like Martin and Erikson) like to do.
The characters are great: lots of fun, interesting, with abilities verging on super powered. In fact I could pick up a big comic-book influence in Gary's style ( just like me :-D ... Truly we are author twins).
I felt genuinely curious about what happens next when the book finished, and look forward to reading the sequel. I interviewed Gary about being a self-pub author, so without further ado, over to my US 'twin.'
Me: Where did you draw the inspiration for the Wothlondia series from?

Gary: I wanted to do a series of prequel short stories that actually added not only history to my world, but character development. I am attempting to set the characters up in the mind of the reader to allow them greater depth, motivation and a sense of what makes them tick. The whole series came to me from decades of writing my own D&D adventures, campaigns, etc. Most of the story, background, maps, etc. came from those years with quite a bit of tweaks and changes to give them the feel of the Realm of Ashenclaw setting. All of the characters are my own creations. They are not old characters.

Me: You've assembled a great cast of characters. Who do you like writing the most out of them all?

I can’t choose that! It’s like asking “who is your favourite child?” I do enjoy writing them all. Orngoth to me is kind of like the Hulk. I picture this massive monster of a man and go from there. Garius is your typical leader-type with very little in the way of emotion or humor. He is slightly emotionally stunted I guess, though this is a kind of social impedance in that regard. He puts his work and his devotion above all else. Saeunn is a cold, heartless warrior with a chip on her shoulder. She has suffered great loss early on, especially if you have read Tears of Blood, and it continues in Covenant. She has become very callous and guarded emotionally, aside from her mother. Elec is a kind of young adult to me. He is very na├»ve and growing, kind of inexperienced and yet, extremely intelligent and full of potential. He is becoming more and more addicted to the adrenaline rush of combat as well as his elixirs. It should be a very relatable tale with him moving forward. And Rose is really developing on her own, moreso than any of the others. She started out with a rough childhood, got used to a certain lifestyle afforded her by Ganthorpe and the Thieves’ Guild and currently, she is realizing that she was missing out on the action. She has a hidden side that really enjoyed working hard and she misses the ‘thrill and excitement of her youth. And, above all else, I try to write my characters so that they seem real, with real emotion and motivations.

Me: How much has playing (and presumably DMing) role-playing games influenced your writing? Do you worry that such influences may pigeon-hole your work amongst fantasy readers?

Gary: Playing and DMing has given me more to draw on and opened my mind, as has everything else I have ever done with regards to creativity and exposing myself to other imaginary worlds. All of my past hobbies have influenced me greatly. I feel that I can place a spin on the typical good vs. bad and make it unique, fun and even engaging enough to make people want to read it. I don’t think that pigeon-holing is what I would worry about. I am telling high fantasy and a reader comes along with certain expectations in that genre, which I am fully capable of providing. However, I feel that I can place an exceptional stamp on my characters, my writing and my world that will make the experience very unique.

Me: What are your big literary influences?

Gary: R.A. Salvatore. He is amazing. I have never read an author that can put so much detail in the world, speak so uniquely, introduced so many awesome characters and still give you a fight scene that is incredibly written. I also enjoy Michael Moorcock, George Martin, Terry Brooks, Robert E. Howard, Frank Miller, Peter David, and Alan Moore. There are really too many to name. Also, I must say that there are seriously tons of good fantasy writers on the indie side that need to be read as well. Mind you, there is also a lot of garbage, which is the con about self-publishing, but there are quite a few gems out there as well. Visit Skulldust Circleand you very well may find some good ones there! *hint-hint* As a side note, I am currently reading your Darkness Rising novel and feel that I must say, your writing is brilliant and elegant, and more people really need to discover your prose as I believe they will greatly enjoy it. As a fan of epic fantasy, I would recommend it!

Me: The covers are amazing- tell us something more about them.

Gary: They developed from my mind and I give Mr. William Kenney (also another Skulldust Circleauthor and my artist!) the descriptions and he churns out something amazing for me. It is truly amazing to work with someone who shares your vision on what the quality of the covers should look like, what the characters need to look like and the overall feel and ambiance of the world I am trying to create. If you need some amazing, character-focused artwork, please look him up!

Me: Fun question: in the Hollywood blockbuster who would play your main characters?

Gary: I’ve been asked this before and still have no good answers. I’d really love Olivia Wilde to play Rose in my movie. I think she would be amazing as a smart-ass rogue-type. I think I’d like Karl Urban to play Garius. The dude is extremely intense and his scowl is unmatched. Imagine him shaved bald with a long beard…lol. The elf-like character that appeared in Hellboy 2 might make an awesome Elec. Aside from a few stars to carry the movie, I’d try to introduce some new actors in an attempt to give some fresh talent a chance to make it in the big town of Hollywood!

Me: With the advent of e-publishing, people have been predicting the end of print. I recall the same predictions with the boom of multi-player Internet based gaming that the same would happen with RPG. What are your thoughts on this?
Gary: My opinion, albeit a strong one, is: It will never happen. Never. Mark it down. There will always be a want and therefore a need for publishing houses to continue on in print. It may never be lower than it is now, but it certainly will never disappear completely. I think it would be foolish, irresponsible and short-sighted. What if something happened to the internet? All we would have left would be print.

Me: So what are your current projects?
Gary: I am currently writing Book 4 in my series, called Dance of Deceit, which continues the saga of my heroes and which I expect to be released by this Christmas…if all goes well. There will be quite a few reveals and (teaser) quite possibly a death of a character in there. (WHAT?!)

I also have a short story that will be out shortly with some of the guys from Skulldust Circle! You may have heard of them. My story is the Legend of Ashenclaw (the giant red-dragon queen whose namesake is the branding of my world!) IT should be epic for any fans of my world and there are several other amazing short stories in there that need to be perused as well. I think this cross-promotion anthology will be an awesome endeavour that introduces many readers to our work that otherwise may not have taken the chance.

Thanks for having me and I look forward to an interview with you as well!

Thanks, Gary, especially for the mention of my work!!! The Skulldust anthology will be out soon, and in the interim check out Gary’s excellent style at the links below and on his website.

Gary's Amazon page

Realm of Ashenclaw website

Covenant of the Faceless Knights