Welcome to Lavender Lass Books, Kevin. Thank you for agreeing to this interview and best of luck in the competition!
The Last Benediction in Steel is the second book in The Serpent Knight Saga series. Here’s the blurb:
Book II. of The Serpent Knight Saga is here. A Standalone Sequel
Stalked by ruthless blackguards and driven before a gale of ruin and slaughter, Sir Luther Slythe Krait reaches the soul-sick kingdom of Haeskenburg. Sir Luther knows Haeskenburg intimately. He wishes he didn’t.
On one side of Haeskenburg, a cult of madmen lay waste to the populace. On the other, a usurped king begs Sir Luther’s aid in reunifying his kingdom. But is the king all he seems to be? Are the madmen?
Between a rock and hard place, Sir Luther walks a razor’s edge. Balance or fall, there lies only one certainty: He will bleed.
Experience the sublime catharsis of total annihilation. Read ‘The Last Benediction in Steel’ today.
Thank yourself tomorrow.
Among the best grimdark series and a rollicking first person noir fantasy.
And now to the interview:
1. Is this your first time entering #SPFBO? Why did you decide to enter this book?
This is my third entrant into the SPFBO.
My first was in 2018 with my medieval fantasy detective novel, ‘Lords of Asylum.’
It’s the first book in my ‘Serpent Knight Saga’ series starring the dirt-bag detective, Sir Luther Slythe Krait. LOA did well, making the semifinals and being entered into the Senlin Net. Unfortunately, for me anyways, it wasn’t picked up for the finals, but it was a great experience overall.
Last year, I entered my urban fantasy/horror ‘Monster City’ which was booted early on. Not as much fun as the previous year, but hey, you can’t not win them all. Or maybe you can? Double negatives. Headaches. I don’t know…
Carrying on, my entrant this year is ‘The Last Benediction in Steel.’ It’s the standalone sequel to LOA and the second in my ‘Serpent Knight Saga.’
I entered it because I happened to finish it about a month before the competition began, it’s fantasy, and it’s awesome. (I realize I’m biased on this point)
2. Why do you write in the fantasy genre? What make this genre particularly appealing to you?
I write fantasy because it’s my favorite genre to read, to watch, to hear about, to roleplay.
I just love it.
What appeals to me most are knights and heroes and quests and adventure and monsters and death and battles and betrayals and lost loves and horror and hijinks and humor and anything medieval. Which doesn’t narrow it down, I guess, but I just dig fantasy.
3. Why did you decide to self-publish?
I gave up on traditional publishing. I got sick of writing query letters to publishers and agents and decided I’d be ‘not successful’ all by myself. I’d write it. I’d edit it. I’d proofread it. I’d do my own covers.
Then I really looked at my covers and decided I’d pay someone to do them.
In addition to being a quitter, I also love the process of writing. I love the excitement of writing a first draft. Figuring out what’s going to happen. Who’s going to die? Why is this character such a jerk?
What do I love more than first drafts? I love structural editing. I love getting in there with a lump of half-shaped clay and working it into something beautiful, or in the case of what I write, something horrifyingly repulsive.
And call me crazy, but I even enjoy the process of copy editing and proofreading. I love going through my book draft after draft, finding that elusive error I’ve read over ten times, cleaning the prose, paring it down, polishing it til it’s all shiny and new.
What do I most love? At the end of the process having a completed novel that’s better than the seed of an idea I had maelstroming in my head at the beginning.
4. Are there advantages to self-publishing? What about the challenges?
If you’re a control freak like me, you have the advantage of controlling and being responsible for every aspect of your book. That’s the big advantage.
It’s also the big disadvantage because it’s very, very hard to write … good words and like … sentences and really lump them all together good and stuff.
As a self-published author, you are the writer, the structural editor, the copy editor, the proofreader, the marketer, the advertiser, the guy who makes coffee, booze, methamphetamines… You know, all the important stuff.
Now, you can farm aspects of this out, but if you’re extraordinarily cheap, like me, you don’t. You just try and get good at it. And it takes a ton of work. And patience. And sanity. Lots of sanity. Most of your sanity. Your family’s sanity…
I’ve been doing this longer than I care to mention, and I’m still working to get good. I figure by the time I’m seventy or so, maybe I’ll be decent. Fingers crossed.
5. As a reader, and now author, how has the fantasy genre changed over the last several years? How has it stayed the same?
I’m a fan of grimdark fantasy which seems to be either a brand new thing or an old thing that recently got named (I’m of the second opinion).
Either way, it’s tough to define because everyone seems to have their own idea of what it is.
For me, grimdark fantasy is a continuum. At one end, you have a main character whose moral choices are grey. They may be good here, bad there, etc. At the other end of the continuum, you’re basically following a psychopath who’d make Charles Manson quiver.
6. Do you write (or plan to write) in any other genres?
I also write steampunk and horror.
My steampunk novel ‘The Clarity of Cold Steel’ is a Hindu steampunk post-apocalyptic noir detective story. It’s so niche that I literally wrote it for one guy who lives on the south side of Calcutta. Unfortunately, he two-starred it and said one was from pity.
My horror novel is entitled ‘Monster City.’ MC was my first self-published novel. It’s gone through a few title and cover changes over the past few years as I’ve tried to make it more marketable.
I also have a dark speculative anthology entitled ‘GrimNoir.’ It’s a compilation of my seven best short stories from over the years, and if you like awful stuff, this one’s for you.
7. What do you look for in a story? Especially in the fantasy genre? (Original ideas, plot lines, character development, world building, etc.?)
Mainly, I look for awesome characters. If a character really entertains me, it doesn’t matter what the plot is. I’m just glad to be sitting on his or her shoulder, eating popcorn, watching on and eavesdropping to my heart’s delight.
8. Are you working on a new book? Can you share any details?
I’m in the process of deciding which new book to write. I’m torn between a third installment of ‘The Serpent Knight Saga’ and a sequel to ‘The Clarity of Cold Steel.’
Initially, I was leaning toward Clarity, but a couple days ago I was listening to a podcast and it inspired me to write another Serpent Knight Saga, so now I’m leaning that way.
So, we shall see…
9. Do you have any advice you would offer to writers who plan to self-publish in the fantasy genre?
Force yourself against every grain and fiber in your being to learn to enjoy the editing process.
The first draft is fun and exciting and you feel like you’ve accomplished something and you have. It’s just that you’re going to realize you haven’t accomplished much.
Unless you’re some weird writing prodigy, your first draft is a mess. Maybe if you’re lucky, your story is pretty much set. But if you’re like most people, it’ll need structural tweaking at the very least.
Then comes the most mind-numbing portion of the writing process: copy editing.
And the worst thing about copy editing is that you can’t just barrel on through it. You can’t pull an all-nighter to expedite it (or at least I can’t, maybe you can). Copy editing requires supreme focus, and most people aren’t physically or mentally capable of doing that for more than an hour or so. And if you’re not focused, you’re wasting your time.
You just have to accept that the road is long and hard and you have to be patient and persevere and revel in the small, daily victories of cleaning up your prose one step at a time.
You can get Kevin Wright’s book on Amazon! https://www.amazon.com/Last-Benediction-Steel-Serpent-Knight-ebook/dp/B088RHXZLF