Anthony Ryan writes fantasy and science fiction. He works full time as a researcher, has a degree in history, and lives in London. Visit him here.
NAW- Tell us about your book, Tower Lord. How did you get the idea for it? How difficult (or easy) is it penning down a book series?
Tower Lord is the sequel to my debut novel Blood Song, and is the second book in the Raven’s Shadow trilogy. I wanted to tell an epic fantasy story that dealt with the concepts of heroism and war in a credible way, by that I mean without glorification or hackneyed depictions of good and evil. I was also keen to explore ideas of faith and how it can be lost or altered according to circumstance. It’s always difficult to pin down the genesis of an idea but I recall the basis of Blood Song germinating for a few years but not really coming together until I started my history studies. The themes of religious conflict and political intrigue were also at the forefront of my thinking in the aftermath of 9/11 which probably had an influence.
There are certain challenges when writing a series as opposed to a stand-alone novel, mainly surrounding the different characters and plot-threads. This is one of the reasons I now plan my books rather than discovery write.
NAW- How long did you take to finish the book? How did you decide the title?
Tower Lord took about ten months to write altogether, compared to the six and a half years it took to write Blood Song. Having a legally binding deadline was a great motivator. I came up with the title several years ago but didn’t really know what to do with it until I finished Blood Song. So far my publisher has been happy with my choice of titles.
NAW- How did you plan the Raven’s Shadow book series? Tell us about the character of Vaelin. How did you develop the character?
I developed a broad outline of the course of the trilogy during the writing of Blood Song though it expanded considerably as the series progressed. I plan each book individually on a chapter-by-chapter basis, although I often deviate from the plan in the course of writing. As for Vaelin, I saw him as a man set apart by his abilities, not just the skills he learns as part of a militant religious order but also a psychology that enables him to kill without hesitation. It’s fortunate for the world he lives in that he’s one of the good guys.
NAW- Tell us about your other works.
In addition to the Raven’s Shadow series I’ve self-published a series of SF-noir short fiction called Slab City Blues. The stories take the form of hard-boiled first-person detective stories set two hundred years in the future aboard and orbiting, crime-ridden slum. The first two stories are available for free on my website: anthonystuff.wordpress.com.
NAW- Tell us about yourself. What do you do when you are not writing?
I like to read, go to the cinema and binge on DVD box-sets or Netflix. I’m also partial to attending an occasional beer-festival with friends.
NAW- Please name your favourite writers. Are there any who you’d like to name as an inspiration?
David Gemmell is my all-time favourite fantasy writer and one of my main inspirations. I’m also a big fan of Robin Hobb, George RR Martin and R. Scott Bakker, and many others too numerous to name.
NAW-What are you currently reading?
The Thousand Names by Django Wexler, it’s a ‘flintlock fantasy’ set in a world analogous to the early 19th century where people fight with muskets and cannon rather than swords. It’s a lot of fun and I recommend it highly. I also recently finished The Passage by Justin Cronin which was fantastic.
NAW- What will you be working on next?
I’m currently working on a fantasy series set in a whole new world. I’m keeping most of the details secret for the moment but I will say it features dragons in a big way.
NAW- Any advice for aspiring authors?
I’d advise new writers not to get too hung up on word-counts. If you’re completely new to this it’s more important to develop the habit of writing to a reasonable standard rather than simply generating a large amount of words. Once you’ve come up with a story, concentrate on finishing it and set aside a certain amount of time every day to do so. Other than that the standard advice holds true; write often, read a lot and don’t give up. Any writer you ever heard of is someone who didn’t give up, because I can assure you we’ve all been tempted at one point or another.