Is January already over? Well, the one great thing about it rushing by so fast, is that I got to my Community Week post that much faster. Community week is my favorite (and, no, it's not just because I don't have to write a post.) I love introducing you guys to some of my favorite Indie Authors and this week is one I've been looking forward to for a while.
I first met Rob Nugent through the Shore Indie contest, as he was hosting an Ask the Author session for them. I was immediately impressed by his knowledge and level-headed approach to writing. More than that, I very quickly found that Rob was very eager to be helpful. I have gone to him many times for questions on historical events as well as other things.
Rob is a fantasy author with two published works out at the moment. Both in the world of "Aerothos". I haven't had a chance to read them yet (partially because if I read a good fantasy, I will not be able to finish my current Sci-Fi projects because my fantasy flame will be sparked) but I am so excited for them. I am a sucker for low-fantasy, historically inspired, fantasy books and these fit that category beautifully. But don't take my word on it. Rob was so kind as to provide an exclusive preview from Tales of Aerothos: Kingsblade. I will include that directly below the blog post.
If you want to know more about Rob Nugent, you can find him on twitter, and on his Amazon author page, as well as at his blog site. So, without further intro, here is Rob Nugent on how he creates his in-depth worlds.
I’m Rob Nugent, author of the Aerothos books, a medieval low-fantasy series which focuses on court intrigue, politics, and warfare. My writing is mostly influenced by history and realism, but all my life I was inspired by epic fantasy and the grand scale of stories like The Lord of the Rings and A Song of Ice and Fire. When I began as an author, my goal was to create a world as in-depth as those which I immersed myself in as a reader, and to this day, it still is.
When it comes to any part of my writing process, the question I get the most is, “How did you come up with all this?” My answer is a very simple one, and whether it’s something I’m writing or a work I’m reading, I ask this question all the same: Why?
I ask ‘Why?’ to everything that is going on in the world. Why is the evil empire so evil? Why is it an empire at all? Why is there a war? Why did the conflict which began the big ol’ war happen? Why did the event before that one happen? On and on it goes, until there’s enough history to fill a textbook. Politics, nations, conflicts, and characters, I ask the same question for every piece, down to the point where it feels like I could be living in the world that I’m reading or writing about.
I read and write fiction to lose myself, to explore something new, and to leave our own world behind. The more real a fictional world feels to me, the more I’m sold on what I’m getting into. For a long time, I thought I was a minority in this regard. I used to hear a lot of, “Wait, you like that random character who only got three lines of dialogue in the first book?” But what most people often missed was how that random character had hints of their backstory throughout the greater series, and by the end, you had a totally new story you could put together. That felt real to me. It made a story more than just what the point of view character(s) experienced. Stories within a story.
But if the uproar over the new Star Wars trilogy and the canon vs. non-canon materials wasn’t obvious enough, I’m clearly not in such a minority for appreciating networks of connected stories and heaps of lore!
If you’re writing a fantasy or sci-fi world, or the next time you’re reading about one, I challenge you to ask ‘Why?’ and build that deeper understanding. You may find yourself surrounded by more stories than you ever knew were there.
Preview of Tales of Aerothos: Kingsblade. (Some swearing)
It was dark, but through the haze of the rain one could see the glow of the inn’s hearth. The knight of Orastus approached on his black stallion, reading the words The King’s Crown from a wooden sign that hung over the door. He dismounted, landing with a soft smush as his boots stuck into the thick mud. With a gentle hand, he guided the trusted horse to the negligible shelter of the hitching post. The canopy was only enough to keep Steel and the two other horses housed beneath it dry.
The knight kept his hand on the steed as he looked to the light of the windows. Inside this building was the man whom he sought. It had been years since their last meeting. Would they recognize each other, or see only a stranger’s face, masked by time and the burdens of life which weighed upon them? The knight had been a boy when he departed, but now he was a man, anointed by the oils of Halros and wearing silver spurs on his riding boots. Fate had been gracious to him.
Loud voices and the faint playing of music sounded over the creaking of the inn’s door. It was dank inside the inn and smelled of wet clothes beneath the lighter scent of Orastan tobacco burning from smoldering pipes. A hearth kept the large room warm and well lit, though candles burned in the darker corners, where men kept to themselves who wanted to avoid the eyes and thoughts of the other patrons. It was crowded within the inn, for few would want to spend a night in the rain without shelter, even if it meant sparing their purses. Despite such odds, the knight had no difficulty in tracking his man.
He sat on a bench, alone at a table, his back against the wall. His once black hair bore streaks of grey and his skin had become like scratched leather, cut with age, making the scar that crossed his right eyebrow seem less gruesome than it did in years past. About him on the table were empty mugs of ale, knocked over and pushed aside, except for the one which still leaked over the edge of the table, dribbling in a thin stream onto the wooden floor.
“So, this is what the years have done to you, old man.”
With a wince at the sound of a nearby voice, the drunken elder slowly opened a pale blue eye. He groaned, “The fuck do you want?”
“Do you not recognize me?”
“I would recognize you anywhere, Ryan. A coat of maille and a sword at your side won’t hide the face of the frightened boy I once called my squire.”
“I am a knight now.”
“Piss on that. What drunken shit wasted their breath to knight a fool like you?”
“Not you, clearly.” The knight smirked. “The once honorable Sir Markard Greystone, now nothing more than a tavern drunk who can’t tell his ale from a cup of his own bile.”
Markard straightened himself upright against the wall and opened both his eyes, now fully awake after the exchange of insults. “If you think I’m going to start calling you Sir Ryan Stalgard, I must have knocked your head too hard for all those times you were a damned fool.”
“At least I’m not the one wasting away at some inn.”
The old knight pointed at his former squire with a stout finger, “Shut the fuck up.” The men were silent, Markard too inebriated to continue speaking and Ryan obeying the harsh command as the instincts of his youth returned to him. “I need food. Sit down already.”
Ryan unbelted his sword and propped it against the table as he took a seat. He beckoned to a buxom maid who carried a tray of ale-filled mugs and spoke to her, “Whatever meat you’re cooking tonight, with some bread, and a cup of water for us both.”
“Don’t listen to the boy. An ale, lass.”
The younger knight countered with a copper piece he pulled from his pouch and put in the maid’s free hand, “Water.” When food and drink were brought to the table, Ryan handed Markard his share. “Drink. Now.”
Markard drank begrudgingly. “Why are you here?”
“Not because you’re half the man you once were, but whatever has become of you, your honor is still worth consideration.”
“To the Crown. The king has need of loyal blades.”
“I’m certain he does,” Markard answered with a low voice. “But I’m not interested. King Alaric can’t bring my men back from their graves, so he best think twice before ever asking me to put more bodies in the dirt for him.”
“King Alaric is dead.”
Markard raised a brow and dropped his piece of chicken onto the plate. “What do you mean he is dead?”
“For Halros’ sake, Mark, have you been in a stupor for that long? He died a fortnight ago. Prince Euric wears the crown now.” Ryan corrected himself, “King Euric.” The two men drank from their cups and put food in their mouths. It was long before words were exchanged again. “It was a tragedy, what happened,” Ryan finally spoke. “But there was nothing any of us could do.”
“You’re wrong,” Markard answered firmly. “I led my men into hell and I failed to bring them out. They trusted me. They relied upon my judgment.”
“It was not your fault.”
“Do you not remember the noise, Ryan?” the old knight questioned loudly, gaining the attention of a group of men at a nearby table. “The sound of the crash, the Arathenian knights hammering through our lines and making corpses of us beneath their chargers’ hooves. It was my responsibility to make certain those men lived to see the end of the day.”
“It was beyond your control. Halros may even have willed it so. But now there is a chance for you to serve the king once again.”
“Do not ask such a thing of me. My blade is sheathed for good. I cannot stand to watch any more men die nor be responsible for their deaths.”
Ryan leaned back in his chair, witnessing the pain his mentor endured from his memories. “That won’t happen. I swear it in Halros’ name.”
“Swear all you want, boy. Halros doesn’t hear our prayers.” Markard swallowed what was left of the water in his cup. “My life is forfeit. I should have died that day with my men beneath the walls of Sorenhal.”
“But you didn’t. Do not insult their memory by failing to uphold your oath.”
“Aye, you know all about oaths, don’t you? A newly raised knight, you probably swear an oath every day.”
“You are a knight of the Kingdom of Orastus. You swore but only one oath, an oath to the Crown, and it is time you remember it.”
Markard gritted his teeth, “I made good on my oath fifteen years ago when I watched every friend I had die. That was for the Crown.”
Ryan’s nostrils flared and he tossed a chunk of bread down on his plate. “Fine, rot in this hole and see if I care.” He stood up and took hold of his sword by the encased blade. “You were once a great knight, but now you’re no greater than the mud on my boots.” Ryan handed a bag of coins to the young maid as she passed by, “Give him ale if that’s what he wants.” With a final glance over his shoulder to the old knight he said, “Perhaps you did die beneath the walls of Sorenhal. Only a ghost sits before me.”
The door of the inn slammed shut behind Sir Ryan Stalgard, and at that Markard drank. But as he slouched back against the wall and his mind wandered, he could only think of former glory and sworn oaths.