SPFBO Entry Interview: Keith Mcardle: “Fallen Empire”

So I’ve returned with another interview, this time with Keith Mcardle, author of “Fallen Empire.” No witticisms from me, so let’s get right down into it.

 

Check out a selection of past interviews down below:

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First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you write?  

 

Hi Michael and thanks for the opportunity mate. My name’s Keith and I’m an Australian author of fast-paced fiction in the contemporary, sci-fi and fantasy genres.

 

How do you develop your plots and characters?

 

I think George R. R. Martin’s explanation for this really struck a cord with me. He said that there are two types of authors, the gardener and the architect. The architect maps out the entire novel in intricate detail. He/she knows exactly where the final nail will be driven before they place pen to paper. The gardener has a seed in their hand, they know it’s the seed of an oak, they know in which type of ground to plant it and how to cultivate it. They know which fertilisers to use and how often to water the seedling. The gardeners have a rough idea of how the tree will look when it’s grown. I’m more of a gardener.

 

Tell us about your current project.

 

The Ironstone Saga is a fast-paced fantasy adventure that would lean more to Dark Fantasy than Grimdark. It is akin to the Georgian Era of Britain as far as weapons, technology and infrastructure are concerned. We follow the adventure of Vyder Ironstone, an assassin hailing from the highlands far to the north of the land upon which the first book is set. He is tasked with a very dangerous mission. If the mission fails, the country will descend into bloody war. The problem? He is killed inside the first chapter. But a powerful witch may have a solution to bring him back. But he is a changed man.

 

Who would you say is the main character of your novels? And tell me a little bit about them!

 

Vyder Ironstone is a highland assassin. At his heart he is a good man, but comes from a dark past. His wife was murdered, something for which he feels eternally guilty (as he was not present when she was attacked). He works for coin, but still has a moral compass. I won’t go into too much detail about him, because I don’t want to spoil, ‘Fallen Empire’ (the first book in the series). He is a good man, even a kind one, but there’s also a violent element to his nature.

 

What advice would you give new writers on how to delve into creative fiction?

 

I consider myself a new writer, but for what it’s worth, I’d suggest four things: jump in and start writing, keep your mouth shut and ensure your ears are open. And read. A lot. I’ve learned so much in particular over the last 2 years from editors, manuscript appraisers and also from fellow authors far more experienced than I. I’m still on that learning curve, too. There’s always something new to learn.

 

What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the world building within your book?

 

The most interesting part for me are the people in the world of ‘Fallen Empire’. Although they are not exact copies of real people, most of the characters are based upon people I have known or know. With almost a decade of military service under my belt, I have served with some amazing men and women. Where we were based in Afghanistan, we received incoming enemy fire on most days (primarily rockets and mortars), and for the fact a rocket that ricocheted off the concrete not ten feet from me failed to detonate, I wouldn’t be here today. These experiences tend to extract a certain type of dark humour and robust attitude to life that few other jobs could ever replicate. It also breaks some people as well, unfortunately. Right or wrong, it’s these experiences and watching how others experience and react to them that can make for great character traits (including heroic, cowardly, comedic and saddening). The world itself would be forlorn but for the men and women who are ensconced within it.

As I was a member of Army Aviation (helicopters), we often worked for units such as the Australian Special Air Service Regiment and the Australian Commandos. These men are a cut above and breed apart. However, despite the news or movies, they’re not heroes (by their own admission), nor are they supermen. They are soldiers. But they are soldiers who choose to place themselves in extraordinarily dangerous situations to ensure the success of the mission they have been tasked. Knowing these kinds of people also gives me great traits for some of my characters, particularly the warrior type characters. More often than not, these soldiers (the real life ones) are softly spoken, calm and unflappable in any situation. As a side note (and something I’ve always found interesting), it’s usually the blokes who are loud mouths, boastful and like to strut, who will turn to water when a dangerous or life threatening situation kicks off. It was the Special Forces guys I based many of my King’s Own soldiers (in Fallen Empire) upon.

 

What inspires you to write?

 

I wouldn’t say inspiration as such. I consider writing my ‘blow off valve’. I work as a Paramedic and as one could imagine, we do see some terrible things sometimes (and some amazing things too), and it is into writing that I channel my energy. So my writing and para-medicine are a symbiotic relationship if that makes sense?

 

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

 

Making time to write the minimum number of words I’d set myself for that day. Many days were easy, but some days, when a lot was happening in the lives of my wife and I, I found it challenging. But, needs must and the writing refuses to be ignored!

 

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

 

I enjoyed writing every scene in Fallen Empire. However, the one scene I enjoyed immersing myself within was Rone’s charge. In a desperate situation, against all odds, Rone and his force of one hundred King’s Own warriors, charge on horseback against thirty thousand enemy soldiers. As with many elite forces, surprise, agility and speed are their only weapons to success. It was an intense scene.

 

Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?

 

I certainly did. Thanks to two amazing ladies (Devin Madson and Lee Murray), I gained a firmer grasp on showing not telling, and eliminating ‘filtering’ from my writing. Fallen Empire took on a new, tighter feel thanks to the advice from these wonderful authors.

 

It’s sometimes difficult to get into understanding the characters we write. How do you go about it?

 

As I’ve said, although I don’t replicate physical characteristics of real people in my writing, I do exhume traits from men and women I have known or know and inject them into the characters of my world.

 

What are your future project(s)?

 

To complete the remaining two novels of the Ironstone Saga and then return to the Unforeseen Series (a series of novels, which will be five in number when I’m finished) about how everyday Australians struggle to survive following an Indonesian invasion of their homeland.

 

If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?

 

Travel around the world experiencing new cultures (all expenses paid).

 

What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow  you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, here on Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?

 

My Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/KeithAuthor/

Or e-mail via my website: https://www.keithmcardle.com/contact.html

 

Many thanks for the interview Keith! I will try and get another one up in a few days! If you’d like to check out my own SPFBO entry The Thousand Scars, check the link down below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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