The Guest-Knight’s Quest
Genre: Fantasy, and Historical
Date of Publication: March, 2015
Publisher: Troubador Publishing Ltd
“Chandra had yet to fathom why Jonnecht could not have lived and ruled for many long years, or why it was so urgent that she ascend immediately.”
Chandra never asked to rule Kensrik, but fate took a strange course. Known as a usurper and sorceress by most and traumatised by all that has transpired, she is forced to make use of the few loyal allies she has in order to hold together her restless empire. In an attempt to identify and defeat the conspirators who inadvertently landed her in power, Chandra risks putting the lives of many in mortal danger, as well as her own.
Derek is an aimless wanderer – the youngest in a lineage that has long fallen from nobility. He finds himself summoned by tradition to serve a family historically considered his bitter enemy. As he journeys down the same path a fateful ancestor once travelled, he struggles with personal demons and begins to reconsider his loyalty to the mission.
Duke Lenn found one true cause in love and it cost him everything. His legacy shaped the present in which Chandra and Derek find themselves. Now their choice will shape the future of Kensrik…
The Gift-Knight’s Quest is set in a new and vividly imagined world, written with delicate prose that will allow the reader to explore with their imagination. Inspired by authors such as Michael Moorcock, J. G. Ballard and Roger Zelazny, it will appeal to fans of fantasy and historical fiction.
First I want to thank Dylan Madeley for doing the interview with me. Read the interview below and found how intriguing he can be.
1. What is your writing process?
The first-draft sprint happens during November, National Novel Writing Month—I have participated in it since 2008 and not yet skipped a year. I tend to write better alone, which can be in a public place as long as I’m not being directly engaged by passersby; I try to find some music to hit the right groove and then start pushing ideas on to the page. After a first draft is finished, provided I have another manuscript lying around from a previous year, I ignore what I just wrote and begin a revision cycle with something I have not laid eyes upon for at least a year.
2. Who are your largest author influences?
Stylistically, I aim to be more like Ray Bradbury; I would rather overwrite than be too spare with words. I also like Ursula K. LeGuin for similar reasons. I also try to include at least some degree of dry, sardonic humor like what you might find in the Amber series by Roger Zelazny.
3. What is your latest news?
I have the sequel (and my second book) all but finished, and I am looking for an interested publisher/agent. While I used crowd funding to self-publish this first novel, I feel that most of my backers are “tapped out” of funds to give me, and I may have gained the stigma over the past year of that guy on your social media who’s always asking for money for a cause; I did have two iterations of campaign with Auxiliary Magazine as well, and that added up to many Kickstarters within the span of a few months.
4. What genre do you write?
The setting of my alternate worlds, usually feeling like medieval Europe or earlier, tends to place my works in the Fantasy camp for many readers. Some readers are disappointed to find that there is not a lot of magic to be seen, just inferred, while others find it a bit refreshing.
5. What is your most recent book The Gift-Knight’s Quest about?
The Gift-Knight’s Quest is where both protagonists find their lives in a state of flux, in a world that is about to feel much the same. Chandra has been a very bookish wanderer of the Kenderley Palace halls; the King is her father but the Queen is not her mother, and she is not considered an heir until both King and Queen are suddenly dead and a bizarre legal technicality makes Chandra the Crown Princess. Now she has to put up with a common public who is really suspicious of how she got power, and while being aware of her own innocence she’s also suspicious and needs to find out who caused this to happen, and stop them from getting her too. If that was not enough to cope with, one of the conspirators, a trusted army adviser, knows that a distant land typically sends a personal guard as a gift to the rulers of new countries, a gift-knight, and this conspirator makes sure that the one requested for the job will be a descendant of a family that has an ages-old feud with Chandra’s. Now Derek is suspicious as well, but he does not think he can escape the world’s largest empire if he just runs off, particularly if this really is the trap he thinks it is, so he wonders if he should make this journey and turn the tables. I think anything else would be spoilers.
6. What are your favorite characters in The Gift-Knight’s Quest and Why?
I made my protagonists my favorite characters so that I would enjoy writing them and their dialogue; Chandra far more so than Derek. They are younger characters than most of the people around them, and each finds their lives going nowhere particularly exciting, until suddenly a lot is happening at once and they are challenged to make the best of it. I envy their fresh set of problems because at this time I feel more like how their stories start.
7. Is there a message behind The Gift-Knight’s Quest?
There are a few smaller ones in here. Make the best of a situation, however less than ideal; it is possible to take things too far, even in the name of something which should otherwise be a good idea, and going too far can make you just a different kind of villain; life’s purpose can sometimes be found in places you would never expect.
8. What is the hardest part in writing The Gift-Knight’s Quest?
Being my very first novel, I had no formal instruction on how to write something that length. I first tried one story, which was essentially Derek’s, and I was slow to start and I felt like I had no idea how this would become a longer story; then I decided to write a serious female character and this mystery she needs to solve while avoiding uprisings in the kingdom—essentially Chandra’s story, which by itself also went nowhere. Then I decided to make Chandra’s land the place where Derek is going, and make Derek one of the obstacles or mysteries for her to solve, and mashing their plots together finally got something of fifty thousand words. It took extensive editing and rewriting to flesh out every other part of the story, but I would say the longest and most difficult thing was getting that first novel off and running.
9. What did you enjoy about writing The Gift-Knight’s Quest?
Those moments I’m writing when I get a very strong visual and scene in my mind’s eye, and when I actually think my narration is doing anything that will allow the reader to see what I have seen. Those moments when on the spur of the moment I get characters to say some really emotional response that makes the character feel more real to me. I think these have been the first rewards of the entire process.
10. How long did it take for you to The Gift-Knight’s Quest?
The first attempts began around 2006, according to word processor file properties from these drafts which I still keep. I was still making corrections until the very moment Matador Books helped me to finish by requesting those final edits and making me sign off on the finished copy, so that it could finally be published. The story as it appears today was generally there by 2012 or 2013, when I first sent out queries to publishers, so we can say six years, conservatively.
11. Do you have any children or pets? If so, do they distract you, or assist you with writing?
I have two chinchillas, which are very fluffy squirrel type rodents from South America. They are fairly quiet creatures but when they get super bored they start letting out these shrill, repeat calls which sound like the most anguished cries for help, but there is nothing visibly wrong when I get to them; generally they’re good after I give them some rosehip bits and apple twigs.
12. Do you have a day job, you would be comfortable sharing? Do you have any good stories about your day job, you would like to share?
I edit some technical reports and transcribe technical interviews for clients. I have a non-disclosure agreement signed so unfortunately there is not much more I can relate to you.
13. What are your next writing projects?
This November’s priority has been what you might call it a fifth book in the Gift-Knight series, or more specifically, the second book of the second trilogy. I keep writing these books and will probably end it on a neat two trilogies, the first of which begins with The Gift-Knight’s Quest and follows that overarching story to its conclusion, and the second is rather historical and tells the story of Derek’s ancestor Duke Lenn, as well as various things that went on in the world around Lenn’s time that shaped the world into which Derek and Chandra would eventually be born. Getting back to this present project, it focused on Chandra’s ancestor Jonnecht who gets some brief time in The Gift-Knight’s Quest, who has been a very successful ruler but is finally taking things so far that his own family starts to wonder what they should do about him. Jonnecht is a very rage filled and controlling person, and his family seems to have a wealth of empathy which he lacks. It’s quite dramatic but everything turns out well for decent people in the end.
14. What are your writing or publishing goals in the future?
I would like to republish this book under a new imprint, which would hopefully also pick up the sequels, so that I can launch the series proper. This has been a nice self-publishing adventure but my goal for now is to get some healthy attention from people with the resources to help me bring it to the next level.
15. How can fans reach you directly?
I am the admin of The Gift-Knight’s Quest Facebook page, and I also have a personal account there and on Twitter, but a simple email to firstname.lastname@example.org will do fine.