Tom, welcome to Lavender Lass Books. Thank you for agreeing to this interview and best of luck in the competition!
The Look of a King is the first book in the Pillars of Peace trilogy. Here’s the blurb:
Two young men.
One with a dark past, the other with a bright future.
Cyrus is a storyteller frustrated by the mundane trappings of village life, while Prince Augustus struggles to meet high expectations after an upbringing of royal privilege in the bustling capital.
As both try to forge their own paths, a royal assassination unexpectedly closes the gap between them. The nation of Easthaven is thrown into war with their oppressive neighbours, and so begins a conflict from which neither can walk away.
Will a young prince finally measure up to his destiny? Will a storyteller create a legend of his own?
Cyrus and Augustus’s lives may seem worlds apart, but perhaps they aren’t so different after all…
And now to the interview:
1. Is this your first time entering #SPFBO? Why did you decide to enter this book?
Yes, first time and this is my debut work so a great opportunity to position myself alongside some fantastic writers in a community that is thriving at present. My only hope is that my book will offer the judges something different, other than that, it’s set to be a fun ride!
2. Why do you write in the fantasy genre? What make this genre particularly appealing to you?
My earliest memory of really loving a set of books was ‘His Dark Materials’ by Philip Pullman, a series that coincided with a growing passion for Role-Playing video games in fantasy settings. I think the sense of escapism was, and continues to be, incredibly exciting. For me, good fantasy can place the reader in fantastical worlds, but make them entirely relatable with well-written characters and shared problems.
3. Why did you decide to self-publish?
Because I couldn’t find a publisher to take me?! Surely that’s the honest answer! That and a desire to just get my book out there. I don’t really define myself as an author, just someone who wrote something and wants people to enjoy it. In the end, self-publishing gave me the opportunity to get the book in front of people all over the world and control how it is visualized and distributed – that control element is one of the major advantages.
4. Are there advantages to self-publishing? What about the challenges?
Ooops, see above! Yes, it’s all my vision, my schedule from start to finish. But self-publishing is essentially a 2nd job – you have to constantly find your readers without alienating friends and family. You have to absorb the financial aspects and invest an inordinate amount of time and money with no guarantee that it will be well-received. There are always huge, massively hyped releases, so the real challenge is keeping yourself visible and relevant, especially if you’re writing a series.
5. As a reader, and now author, how has the fantasy genre changed over the last several years? How has it stayed the same?
Diversity is the main difference that I can see. The worlds and their protagonists have changed so much. There are new cultural influences and social challenges from our own world being represented in literature.
6. Do you write (or plan to write) in any other genres?
I am passionate about the fantasy genre and feel that I need this level of passion to drag myself through the process. At the end of the day, I am constantly asking myself “would I enjoy this as a reader?” and I’m not sure that I am qualified to do that in other genres – it’s arguable as to whether I’m qualified to do that in fantasy!
7. What do you look for in a story? Especially in the fantasy genre? (Original ideas, plot lines, character development, world building, etc.?)
I write as I read. I don’t need huge books full of detail, but I do look for the world to be visualized or clearly comparable to places I would know. From there, I am all about characters. I’m not a fan of first-person perspective, but I would rather have a small cast of characters that I am close to, than sprawling POV where characters become muddy. I’ll never tire of a true ‘hero’s journey’ story and love to see character growth.
8. Are you working on a new book? Can you share any details?
Currently working on the 2nd book of my trilogy which picks up straight after ‘The Look of a King’ – it’s great to continue the journey and build toward the 3rd and final book. The sequel, titled ‘No Place for Peace’ will be released this October.
9. Do you have any advice you would offer to writers who plan to self-publish in the fantasy genre?
Expect it to be costly. I can only speak from my own experience, but professional editing is vital and good cover art can make all the difference. People really do judge a book by its cover, and you want people to measure your work against the published alternatives, rather than making excuses for you. No doubt your ideas are good enough, don’t let the rest let you down!
You can find Tom Dumbrell’s book on Amazon! https://www.amazon.com/Look-King-Pillars-Peace-Book-ebook/dp/B08Y81KF5X/