#SPFBO7 Interview – Joe Coates

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

Out of the Dust is the first book in The Crucible Trilogy. Here’s the blurb:

There are few things more dangerous or more destructive than a bad man who thinks that he is doing a good thing…

The Aska Isles are burning. An unseasonable drought is slowly killing the land; crushing it in a patient and merciless fist of rising fire and dust.

On the prosperous Northern Isle, King Taavi Fulbright, senile and raving, edges closer to death while his Viceroy, the flint-hearted Corbin Cadmael, continues with his plans for subjugating the South and bringing the contemptible, stinking peasants that farm it under his yolk.

On the beautiful and brutal highlands of the Southern Isle, an outfit of desperadoes, bandits and cattle-thieves, led by the infamous Shaw siblings, is in the midst of murdering a team of the Crown’s cattle drovers and nicking their stock. It’s a final payday before the head of their crew, Viggo Shaw, leaves the road-life for good and settles down to fatherhood. Viggo cares little for the fate of the many, being concerned only with the lives of those closest to him; his sister and brother, Ylva and Destin, his lifelong love, Erika, and their unborn child.

That is until the delightfully psychotic Cormac Latrell comes strolling back into their lives after a decade-long absence. Latrell is a monster and, like all good monsters, is a monster of Viggo’s own creation. Once a polite and conscientious young nobleman, Latrell is the bastard son of Viceroy Cadmael and has been twisted by a love unrequited, the scorn of those he wished only to help, and the revulsion of a father who only ever saw him as a disappointment.

Latrell is hunting Erika’s sister, Fenella, who is rumoured to be endowed with powers long believed to be lost to legend. They are the powers of the Empathy, an elemental magic that could bring the Aska Isles back from the brink of the fire –– or cast it into the flames.

Now, Viggo and his band find themselves inexorably drawn into a choking world of revisited childhood sins that have sown the seeds from which fiends grow, soul-ripping jealousies, false prophesies, and blood-soaked feuds that promise little in the way of relief for any of them.

Viggo Shaw must face a trifecta of hard questions and an even tougher choice; is the saving of his world, the keeping of a final promise and the defeating of a monster he helped mould worth becoming a monster himself for?

Or should he just do what he aches to do, and surrender to death?

Or perhaps, Viggo might learn on his journey that the human heart is a torment and a masterpiece.

And now to the interview:

1. Is this your first time entering #SPFBO? Why did you decide to enter this book?
Yep, this is my first time entering the competition, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it all pans out and what other great books come out of the woodwork. I decided to enter Out of the Dust because it was all ready to go—edited and proofread—and it seemed like a great way to see if it was as good as I hope it is. It was also heavily influenced by the Australian bushfires that ravaged our cattle farm a couple of years back, so it felt like a auspicious way to remind people of what a hell of a time that was. 

2. Why do you write in the fantasy genre? What make this genre particularly appealing to you?
The freedom you get in building and creating, compared to other genres, is unparalleled. Reading fantasy is escapism distilled, it transports you into someone else’s imagination, and I love that. I love the idea that I can (hopefully) help someone get lost in a world that I fabricated, or care about a character deeply enough to be gutted when I knock them off.  

3. Why did you decide to self-publish?
I wanted eyes on my book! I wanted people to read my story. The traditional publishing route is a tricky one to navigate now, from what I hear, so I think we’re pretty lucky that we’re able to choose the self-publishing way if we want. After all, we write because we love it and because we want people to read our stuff, right?  

4. Are there advantages to self-publishing? What about the challenges?
I guess being your own boss and answerable only to your readers is pretty awesome. I find the marketing part of self-publishing really hard though, and that frustrates the hell out of me.

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 think its got a little darker, maybe? A little more gritty and realistic. A little more cynical. Or that might just be my taste in fantasy. Or just me!

6. Do you write (or plan to write) in any other genres?
I ghostwrite for a living so I write thrillers, sci-fi and historical fiction for other people already. I’m finishing up a noir detective novel set in London for myself though at the moment.

7. What do you look for in a story? Especially in the fantasy genre? (Original ideas, plot lines, character development, world building, etc.?)
Growing up I loved an intricate and detailed world that was vastly different from our own. Now though, world-building is of secondary importance and I prefer character-driven books. I like a good old morally ambiguous protagonist, one who struggles to do the right thing, and the sort of villains that make your skin crawl. I good villain is a must. They’re the most entertaining characters to follow.

8. Are you working on a new book? Can you share any details?
I’ve just started jotting the ideas down for a book that straddles fantasy and historical fiction. It’s got some old west influences in there too, like Out of the Dust. It’s going to have a badass female lead for sure, and maybe some Norse gods thrown in. I have a title for it, but I think it’s a pretty good one so I don’t want anyone nicking it!

9. Do you have any advice you would offer to writers who plan to self-publish in the fantasy genre?
Just don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do. So long as it makes sense in your book then that’s all that matters. And always back yourself.

You can find Joe Coates’ book on Amazon! https://www.amazon.com/Out-Dust-Crucible-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B094T4VPWL