#SPFBO7 Interview – Drew Montgomery

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

The Burial is an epic fantasy story. Here’s the blurb:

A call to arms against a heathen threat in a hallowed place. A promise made that cannot be broken. An epic journey through unfamiliar kingdoms to lands ravaged by war.

Even those hundreds of miles away cannot escape the call for soldiers to fight for the holy cause in a hallowed land. Those summons reach the small farm of Gwil and Eira, and a husband and father marches away, joining others from his town and across the kingdoms in the fight.

For two years, Eira keeps the farm going, working with her children to tend the crops, all while awaiting news about her husband. When news finally comes, it is in the form of a half-dead townsman, ridden much of the way from the front only to deliver news of an ambush, the men of the town slaughtered, left unburied, their rites unspoken, their souls forever lost in the place between worlds.

While the rest mourn, Eira can only think of the promise she made before Gwil left, the promise to see him properly buried. Leaving the farm in the hands of her children, she ventures from her home for the first time in her life to fulfill that promise. With the help of a drunken priest, an adventurous bard, and dreams of her husband that may or may not be real, she travels across lands she’d never known and into a place where a terrible war still rages on, where she only hopes she can make it alive to see her husband given his rites.

And now to the interview:

1. Is this your first time entering #SPFBO? Why did you decide to enter this book?
This is my second time. I entered in 2019 with an urban fantasy noir work called Taika Town.

When it comes to entering, the exposure is definitely a part, but for The Burial in particular, it was because I really believed in this book. I think it’s the best and most meaningful work I’ve ever written, published or not, and I really wanted to see how it stacks up against others in the genre. Of course, win or lose, I love what Mark does with SPFBO, and even when not participating, I love following the contest and seeing the scores roll in until there’s one left at the end of it all.

2. Why do you write in the fantasy genre? What make this genre particularly appealing to you?
I think what I love the most about fantasy is the worldbuilding. There’s something cathartic about building my own worlds with their own rules, imagining cultures, religions, nations, landmarks, and all the other bits and pieces that come with it. I feel like it gives a lot more freedoms in the approach I can take with the story, presenting a context where conflict can exist and being able to control the variables that allow the story to come together.

3. Why did you decide to self-publish?
I feel like self-publishing allows me more freedom with what I put out there. I write for myself more than anyone else, and I like being able to decide what and when I put out.

4. Are there advantages to self-publishing? What about the challenges?
Definitely the freedom, as I mentioned above, the fact that if I want to put out a story, I can, that it’s subject to my own quality standards as opposed to those of anyone else. That is a double-edged sword, of course, in that as an independent author, I’m either doing or outsourcing a lot of the work that a traditional publisher would provide. And there’s of course a learning curve to it all, one that I’ve had to grow in over the past years I’ve been publishing and one that I’m still growing in.

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 feel like there has been a trend toward the darker side of things, something I think the popularity of Game of Thrones has really driven. There’s also been improvements in representation that’s great to see, whether in race, sex, orientation, or even settings. You still do see a lot of traditional Western European influenced books, but people are definitely expanding beyond and looking at other cultures for inspiration, which is great to see.

At the same time, you still see a lot of the old cliches and tropes that are so prevalent in fantasy just not go away. There are still hero quests with the chosen one from a small town, discovering he or she is the answer to defeat the evil king or dragon. You still see elves and dwarves presented in ways that Tolkien first wrote them. To an extent, I think it all still has a place, but I am happy to see more and more authors branching out and trying to avoid these things.

6. Do you write (or plan to write) in any other genres?
Fantasy is my primary, but I write a lot of Science Fiction and Horror as well. I’ve also had an idea for a western tumbling around in my mind for some time, but we’ll see if that one ever sees the light of day.

7. What do you look for in a story? Especially in the fantasy genre? (Original ideas, plot lines, character development, world building, etc.?)
Plot is always first. If something catches my eye, I’ll see what the synopsis is and if it’s something I’m interested in. I want a captivating story when I read, and it’s definitely something that can make up for shortcomings in the other area. I will say, though, that writing style definitely plays into it. If it’s a good story told poorly, then it will negatively affect my enjoyment.

8. Are you working on a new book? Can you share any details?
I have a more traditional fantasy coming out in June called The Last Dragonkeeper, which is the first of a series, though no plans yet on when the next parts will be coming out. Beyond that, I’m putting together a collection of short stories and have the first of a planned horror trilogy that I’m hoping to get out this year.

9. Do you have any advice you would offer to writers who plan to self-publish in the fantasy genre?
Do your research. There are so many resources and testimonials available from folks who have been successful at self-publishing, and their experience is available to your gain, with much of it available for free.

You can find Drew Montgomery’s book on Amazon! https://www.amazon.com/Burial-Drew-Montgomery-ebook/dp/B08HY7G82Y