#SPFBO6 Finalist Interview – Shaun Paul Stevens

Welcome to Lavender Lass Books, Shaun. Thank you for agreeing to this interview and best of luck in the competition!

Nether Light is the first book set in the Feyrlands. Here’s the blurb:

Take a journey through a world punished by a dark, imprisoned magic. A world where children are given poison. A world where your talent is decided by the state.

A world where reality is breaking down.

When refugee Guyen washes up in the land of his enemy, he knows he will fight, but soon finds himself falling down a well of wonder and improbability.

Can he survive a system designed to oppress him? Can he tame his anger to unleash his potential? Can he see his enemy for what they truly are?

Nether Light is a gritty, heart-wrenching tale of high magic and high stakes, loves lost and friendships gained, set in an oil-lit, 18th century world far, far away.

And it’s full to the gills with epic fantasy, plotting, scheming, and racy, jaw-dropping, immersive adventure. What more could you ask for? Grab a copy now.

For fans of Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, Neil Gaiman, Mark Lawrence, V.E. Schwab, Ed McDonald, Brian McClellan.
Please note: This book contains mature themes.

And now to the interview:

1.  Is this your first time making the final round in the #SPFBO?  Why did you decide to enter this book?
Yes, this is the first time I’ve entered a book. I thought it would be a good opportunity to find new readers and I love the SPFBO crowd, so many great writers and intelligent readers—I’ve made loads of new friends along the way.

2.  Why do you write in the fantasy genre?  What make this genre particularly appealing to you?
I’ve always predominantly read Fantasy, and if you could see inside my brain, that would make sense. I love magic and twisting reality, and the safe space which Fantasy provides allows you to explore real-world themes in fascinating ways.

3.  Why did you decide to self-publish this book? 
I couldn’t see any reason to go the traditional publishing route.

4.  Are there advantages to self-publishing?  What about the challenges?
Yes, lots of advantages. You can write in a tighter niche, timescales are shorter from pen to publishing, you are a master of your own destiny—keeping all your rights, and you can make more money. The challenges are the amount of admin and publishing tasks involved, which take away from the writing time. Although being trad-published you have to do some of that stuff anyway, the publishing process, advertising and publicity side require a lot more input.

5.  As a reader and author, what changes (if any) would you like to see in the fantasy genre?
I love that there is such wide variety and so many sub-genres. I’d like to see more crossover into TV shows and gaming, and I’d like to see more fantasy books as set-texts in the school curriculum.

6.  Do you write (or plan to write) in any other genres?
I’ve dipped my toe into the vacuum of space (sci-fi), and I write poetry, but that’s way too edgy for public consumption. I’m focused on epic fantasy for the foreseeable.

7.  What do you look for in a story?  Especially in the fantasy genre?  (Original ideas, plot lines, character development, world building, etc.?)
I look for believability over everything else, then deep magic systems, characters and emotion. I have to be moved by a book. I love fully-rounded characters and books with a meaningful theme, and I’m a big fan of military flavors and regency style settings with a hint of romance—if you can combine all that, I’m in.

8.  Are you working on a new book?  Can you share any details?
Yes, I’m currently finishing up another story set in the Feyrlands. Working title, Doll Trap. It follows the character Mist (one of the supporting cast in Nether Light), who takes a post as a lady’s maid, an ulterior motive at the fore. “18th century glamour and glitz, duels, a cursed symphony, and nighttime high jinx combined with conflicted characters, pathos and difficult decisions.” If Nether Light is a book to brood over like an oaky red wine, this one is more like mainlining tequila. It should be out in the next few months.

9.  Do you have any advice you would offer authors who plan to enter next year’s #SPFBO?
Get a professional edit if you can, if not, make sure your book has an amateur one several times over. No one likes typos. Aside from that, throw yourself into the community—it’s all about fun and hanging out with friends.

You can find Shaun Paul Stevens’s book at Amazon and other retailers!