Paul, welcome to Lavender Lass Books. Thank you for agreeing to this interview and best of luck in the competition!
Blood of Kings: The Shadow Mage is a traditional epic fantasy. Here’s the blurb:
Heroes will rise, kingdoms will fall.
In a world of violence, magic and rivalries, change is sweeping across the lands. To the north the sea raiders of the Pirate Isles are jostling for position in the race to see who will succeed their dying king. The claim of Jarl Crawulf of Wind Isle is to the fore, but there are those who would seek to damage his reputation in a treacherous game of power. While in the Duchies to the south an ambitious duke is intent on increasing his position and wealth by invading the lands of the feared dream-witch, a dangerous and lethal enemy.
Caught in the midst of all this turmoil and upheaval is a blacksmith and his wife – a village healer. Arrested for witchcraft and sentenced to burn Aliss is pulled from the flames by her husband. Tomas then seeks the aid of a dark witch to heal her terrible injuries. Fugitives from the law, and cursed by dark magic, their love for each other and loyalties to those who would use them will be tested to the limit.
And now to the interview:
1. Is this your first time entering #SPFBO? Why did you decide to enter this book?
No I entered last year with a book called After The Fall: Children Of The Nephilim. It was a vampire apocalypse dystopian novel.
SPFBO is an amazing opportunity for self-published authors to catch the eye of a much wider audience, be it readers, fellow authors and the publishing world in general. It’s a chance to meet and compare with like-minded people swimming in the same ocean. We all want to be tested against the best in our own field and in our community and you can only do that if you’re on the pitch and not in the stands.
The reason I chose this book is because it is a traditional epic-fantasy. I think it’s a good story which I hope I’ve told well. The book I entered last year lost points because of the genre, the judges who reviewed it weren’t all that keen on vampires in the ‘end of the world’ setting, which is fair enough. That’s the game though, if you submit you submit yourself to the bad stuff as well as the good.
2. Why do you write in the fantasy genre? What make this genre particularly appealing to you?
I’ve always been a fan of folktales and myth and I see fantasy as an extension of that. I’m from Ireland and Ireland is rich in folklore and mythology. I’ve grown up with the wonderful tales of Cu Chulainn and Queen Maeve, of Fionn Mac Cumhaill, and the dark and rich stories like The Children of Lir. In a lot of ways I see fantasy writers as the custodians of myth. I loved the stories of King Arthur, Robin Hood, the hint that there is truth to the tale makes the myth all the more intriguing. Greek and Norse mythology read like fantasy stories now, written and told by people with incredible imaginations. These myths are the origin of fantasy.
I remember being given a copy of The Hobbit by a friend of mine, when we were both very young. He was so excited about the story he was tripping over his own tongue trying to get it out. Ever since then I’ve been chasing the dragon (pun intended) trying to experience that same high again. I read Legend by David Gemmell when I was a teenager and was first in the queue for every subsequent release. I’ve since found so many fabulous fantasy authors who keep pushing out the boundaries. Including our own Mr Lawrence.
3. Why did you decide to self-publish?
My first book, Tribesman, was published by a start-up micro publisher in 2012. I soon realized that what I was getting from the publisher I could do myself and the service they were providing me with was not worth the loss in royalties. So I took back the rights and published it and the sequel Warrior myself. I’ve been self-publishing myself since. The key is building trust with people. I’m not a graphic artist and I often need help with editing. Thankfully I have people in my circle who can help with that.
4. Are there advantages to self-publishing? What about the challenges?
Of course. You retain control. You keep all the royalties. Nobody is telling you when or how you have to publish or write, or what story to work on next. The only deadline you have is the one you impose on yourself.
The challenges are all of the above. Sometimes having complete control isn’t such a good thing. The more eyes on your work from people who can be honest with you the better. A deadline can be an incentive where you would otherwise procrastinate. The biggest challenge for me though is getting the book out there. Some indie authors are geniuses at publicizing themselves and their work. Their marketing abilities amaze me at times, they are like well oiled machines. I really, really suck at it.
5. As a reader, and now author, how has the fantasy genre changed over the last several years? How has it stayed the same?
The world has changed, tastes change. Fantasy has developed and branched out into sub-genres. A lot of it has become less sanitized and grittier for want of a better word. I think in the early days of fantasy there were strong ideals of good and evil, black and white, those lines have become blurred, more realistic and reflective of life. I suppose the huge influx of self-publishers has changed trends and tastes now. It’s no longer just driven by major publishing companies looking for books that fit into a formula (although of course that still exists). At the end of the day though fantasy is and always will be about escapism, it’s about closing the door on school, work, life in general and opening another one into a different world where the rules are not the same and you can become the hero or heroine. We all yearn for the wardrobe to take us beyond the limits of our imagination.
6. Do you write (or plan to write) in any other genres?
Yes I do. As I mentioned earlier I’ve written a vampire dystopian novel. I’ve also co-authored a zombie apocalypse novel called Season of the Dead, the premise is four people in four parts of the world are caught up in the same zombie apocalypse, each alternated chapter tells the story from each of the povs until the four threads come together. I’ve also written a book called Taxi, which is about a Dublin taxi driver who is involved in a traffic accident which results in the death of a teenage girl. Although it wasn’t his fault his life spirals into a cloud of guilt driven by an increasing dependence on alcohol while he pushes away those who care about him.
7. What do you look for in a story? Especially in the fantasy genre? (Original ideas, plot lines, character development, world building, etc.?)
I want a story that I can become immersed in. I want to become the hero or anti-hero. I want to feel his/her emotion, be scared with them, anxious with them, feel the rush as they smite their enemies or lose a friend. I don’t want any distraction to pull me out of that. Strong characters with their own voices are essential. A story that has to be believable even though it is set in a fantastical world that logic tells me doesn’t exist. I want to be introduced to the world with a shake of the hand and a gentle shove not to be drowned and suffocated by it.
8. Are you working on a new book? Can you share any details?
Yes. I’m working on two actually. One I’ve finished and am currently editing, and one whose journey has begun far enough to tell me there is no way back, yet not so far that I can see where it leads yet. The book I’ve finished is a bit of a quirky story, about a man who is summoned home after the death of his father. He meets an aunt he never knew he had and is surprised to discover his mother, who died when he was young, was a witch and his father was a pirate. He’s even more surprised to discover that they are all from a different world and that his dead father is now terrorizing his town and killing people.
9. Do you have any advice you would offer to writers who plan to self-publish in the fantasy genre?
Yes. Follow everything I’ve done and then do the exact opposite.
You can find Paul Freeman’s book on Amazon! https://www.amazon.com/Blood-Kings-Shadow-Paul-Freeman-ebook/dp/B01KMXV4TK/