I’m back on the beginning of the month! Today’s interview is with Alex Anthony, author of his debut “Servants of Rage.” Think an awesome mix of Mongol fantasy and wild violence, and that’s only scratching the surface. Go check it out, I’ll leave a link down below. Enjoy his book and the interview I held with him.
First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you write?
Hey there, Michael (and everyone else!). I’m A.Z. Anthony and I write pretty much everything SFF (sci-fi / fantasy). By day I’m a ghostwriter, working on sci-fi and fantasy novels for my clients, and by night I’m an author in the midst of publishing my debut fantasy trilogy. I enjoy writing darkly comedic characters and survival situations that push them to their limits.
How do you develop your plots and characters?
Well, I used to come up with a story, then fill it with the appropriate characters, but recently I’ve developed some characters I really enjoy and have been finding trouble for them to get into. When it comes to actually laying out a plot, I prefer to think about the elements I want to have in a story, then find a way to combine them all into one. For example, when I was developing the plot for my first novel I wanted magic that came at a heavy price, small groups of deadly individuals playing a game of cat and mouse, a non-Eurocentric setting, and an excuse to write some seriously fun (and explosion-filled) fight scenes. It took a while, but eventually I managed to find a premise that allowed all those factors to work.
Tell us about your current project.
I’m in the middle of publishing my debut novel, Servant of Rage, and plan to start writing its sequel in March. In the meantime, however, I’m working on a standalone novel that I’m very excited about. It features a darkly comedic “gentleman adventurer,” his legendary ego, and his personal biographer as they brave a jungle in which everything, including some of the plants, are trying to eat them. They are, of course, in search of three simple things: wealth beyond measure, fame beyond reason, and maybe a small kingdom somewhere warm.
Who would you say is the main character of your novels? And tell me a little bit about them!
The main character of Servant of Rage is Subei, Son of None. He’s a headhunter for the Ghangerai – a powerful khanate of steppe nomads, and the peoples they’ve conquered – currently bulldozing its way through the settled societies of the world. Subei is an ambitious person, and when he’s cursed / blessed (we’ll let the readers decide which) by otherworldly powers, he finds himself in a unique position to both serve his khan and carve out his place in the great history of his people.
What advice would you give new writers on how to delve into creative fiction?
Be like Nike and Just Do It. Grab a computer, or pen and paper, or whatever you need, and write. A lot of people like to talk about writing, but I’ve found the quiet ones who pound away at their keyboards consistently, are the ones who make great progress as writers. Also, always, always, always write what you enjoy. Fun writing makes for fun reading.
What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the worldbuilding within your book?
I’ve always been fascinated with history, and particularly, with nomadic peoples. The infamous Mongols, the Scythians, Turkic nomadic tribes, and even the Beja people of Sudan. All of these were inspirations for me and I’ve spent many hours studying their histories. The Ghangerai khanate in Servant of Rage was heavily inspired by these peoples. I also find it incredibly interesting how the Mongols – previously a scattered and relatively ignored people – were able to band together and steamroll the settled societies around them in order to create the largest land empire in history. It’s a topic that’s also interested me and I’m constantly learning more about it.
What inspires you to write?
Escapism, I suppose. I love the idea that my stories can help someone relax at the end of a long day, or take their minds off a troubling topic in order to spend some time in a world of fantasy. I think it’s a worthy thing to contribute to society. Also, it’s just plain fun.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
The learning curve, I think. I started Servant of Rage in college, and hadn’t properly written a novel before it. The actual writing came easy to me, but the process of planning a novel from start to finish, of hitting the right beats at the right time, of appropriately showing character growth, was all new to me. Since then I’ve written numerous novels and while I’ve gotten better at all that, it’s a continual learning process.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
The second to last chapter features the final fight scene of the novel and it’s a doozy. I had a blast writing it because the characters were at their “final form” in terms of book one, so there was no holding back. Throughout the book the characters are learning new powers and how to use them, but in this fight, they’re so drugged up on power that they’re inventing new attacks on the fly. It was awesome to write with such freedom.
Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?
Oh jeez. I learned a ton. There’s really too much to list here, but I think the most important thing I learned is to write what you’d like to read. I said it earlier, but I’ll say it again because I think it’s important: fun writing makes for fun reading.
It’s sometimes difficult to get into understanding the characters we write. How do you go about it?
I try to force myself to think and act as the characters would. It’s an acquired ability and I’m still learning it, but I try to distance myself from my own thoughts, feelings, and motivations. By doing so, I can focus on what the character wants. This helps me organically discover what the character would do, and not what I would do.
What are your future project(s)?
After publishing Servant of Rage I’m planning to finish up my standalone novel, which is currently unnamed. That novel will be queried to agents. In the meantime, I’ll write the sequel to Servant of Rage for release in Summer, and then the final book of the trilogy for release in Fall. It’s going to be a busy year, but it’ll be worth it.
If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?
This is an odd one, but I used to work in the tourism industry in a position where I helped manage an association of Florida’s largest theme parks. I really enjoyed that job. There’s a big focus on encouraging people to come to the state, but also on helping them have the best vacation they can. It’s a very interesting culture in Florida (there’s a reason it’s looked to worldwide as a model for attracting tourists) that truly cares about giving visitors the best trip they’ve ever had. It permeates down from the people like me, sitting in offices at the capitol, to the individual employees working with park guests daily.
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)?
Well, as I always say, the best way to get ahold of me is to go out into the forest at night and just give your best Sasquatch-esque whoop or tree knock. However, you can also contact me through these less effective means:
Thanks very much for having me, Michael! It’s been a pleasure!
You’re most welcome, Alex, and I know you’re going to do great in this year.
Interview uploads this month might be a little slow. I’m going to be focusing heavily on edits in my second Counterbalance novel THE AEGIS MORA as well as going on vacation mid-month. I’ll still try and get as many up as possible. In the meantime, if you’re in this year’s SPFBO and haven’t had an interview, and would like one, don’t hesitate to get in touch! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook Author page: http://bit.ly/2kiNHSk
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2kZ4wix
Worldbuilding Services: http://bit.ly/2kBMiCB
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B017GDAO3Q