Literary titan on The nightbreaker
The Nightbreaker follows a paladin named Daniel as we’re introduced to the conflict between the gods of darkness and light and their conflict on the Mortal Plane. What made you want to write this prequel novella to your Broken Pact Trilogy?
Daniel has a major impact on the history of the Mortal Plane. His secret affair with Lio is the catalyst that directly leads to Lio’s fall and the creation of the Grey God’s Pact. Without Daniel, the world as we see it in the Broken Pact trilogy wouldn’t exist. Without spoiling too much of the next book in that trilogy, Daniel and what happened to him plays a larger role in the story, and how Trent and Ren deal with their own parallels to the Paladin hero.
Daniel is on a mission to defeat Rexin before he plunges the Mortal Plane into darkness. Do you feel that Rexin is Daniel’s antithesis, or did you want them to compliment one another?
I first came up with the story as my spin on the classic dragon-slayer tale where a hero must travel away from the kingdom to kill the beast that threatens to destroy it. Daniel is a conflicted character though, as he struggles with the nature of his birth and the way that he is viewed by society. It made sense for Rexin to be a physical manifestation of the darkness that Daniel sees in himself. In order to overcome this external force he doesn’t just have to banish his own darkness, but accept it and use it.
The battle of good vs evil is a theme we see often in fantasy. Do you think the Gods of Darkness and Gods of Light represent this contrast or is there a grey area?
I’ve tried to take the classic good vs. evil tale and add grey areas within each of the factions. Lio, the villain of the Broken Pact trilogy, is a fallen God of Light, who only fell because of his love for a mortal and his natural desire to avenge him. Daniel commits an objectively evil deed at the end of The Nightbreaker to defeat Rexin the Blasted. Although the Gods of Light and the Gods of Darkness represent that classic dichotomy, the individuals who makeup and serve those groups fall into somewhere between good and evil in their personal morality, which makes their interactions all the more interesting.
What is one thing that people point out after reading your book that surprises you?
I’m usually surprised at many of the little world-building details that people pick up on. I try to seed references to other stories and events in the world that I have planned so that sometime in the future when those stories are written the whole series will feel like a more cohesive whole. It’s a really cool feeling though when people catch some of those now, and ask me, “What’s up with that? When do I get to find out what that meant, or who they were talking about?” My answer: keep reading.
Literary Titan on Wrath of the Fallen
Wrath of the Fallen is an epic fantasy novel detailing the ferocious clash of angels and demons. What was your inspiration for this story and how did it change as you were writing?
This story has been kicking around in my head for some time. As much as I enjoy the human machinations of stories like Game of Thrones, I really like battles between good and evil as a larger construct over the human element in a story. I crafted this mythology over several years, drawing inspiration from some of my own beliefs, and cobbled them together with different failed story ideas that I came up with as far back as when I was in High School. The opening Prologue, for example, started as a scene from a story set in an entirely different world, but I eventually reworked it to be the jumping off point for this one.
Early in my college career, I was a dishwasher at a restaurant. I worked graveyard, and as you can imagine, I didn’t have a lot to do mentally from the hours of 9 PM-4AM so I started to craft this world in my head to pass the time. I came up with the history of the Mortal Plane, starting over a thousand years before Wrath of the Fallen, and continued it some two thousand years past that first novel with multiple other story ideas that I hope to get to someday. Overall, the initial planning of the world took place over several years, while the actual writing of Wrath took place over roughly two.
The characters in this book are well written and easy to visualize. What were some obstacles in your story that you felt were important for the characters development?
I ran into the issue when crafting the story of making the characters too black and white. I didn’t want to fall into the trap where Trent was always likable and never did anything good, and I wanted to make sure that the antagonist was somewhat sympathetic. The hard part about overcoming this was the good vs. evil divide that was built into the very fabric of the world. This is why I felt that it was important to give Trent his anger issues and resentment towards his father based on what happened in his past. I actually didn’t have him meet his dad in the first draft, but on the rewrite, I knew that adding that scene would give Trent a more realistic and humanistic characterization. Trauma, especially in childhood, fundamentally changes a person, and I wanted what happened to Trent to reflect that. Too many of the orphan chosen-one archetypal heroes are good people through and through and are too well adjusted for my taste. On the opposite side of the spectrum, I wanted to make sure that I gave the villain, even being an evil god, a real human motivation, so I picked what might be the strongest one out there: revenge. He couldn’t just be evil for the sake of being evil, but because he was also defined by trauma.
The backstory and mythology of this story, I can tell, was developed with a lot of thought and care. How did you set about creating the rich background for this story?
As I mentioned earlier, I started coming up with the history while washing dishes. Most of the world is still in my head, though I am finally typing it up into a series bible that I can refer back to. I also laid out an illustrated timeline on my website to allow others to see what the history of the world is leading into the Broken Pact Trilogy, which really helped me pin down specific dates for events that I was fuzzier on in the beginning.
I follow the history through storytelling method of worldbuilding. I would rather write a novel, novella or short story that details a historical event in my world and allow readers to learn the full details that way than writing out a detailed pseudohistory for them to pore over and wonder about. Those certainly have merit, and I enjoy reading them myself, but as a writer, I would much rather tell a story than write a history book.
This is book one in The Broken Pact series. Where does book two pick up and take readers?
Book two will be titled Cries of the Forsaken. It picks up immediately after the events of Wrath, and even a little bit before the final chapters to show us what happened to certain characters that we weren’t previously following. Some heroes that we thought dead return and some that we hoped survived do not. One of the themes of the next novel is good destroying good and evil destroying evil, so be prepared to see the conflict between the gods turned on its head.