Today I have fantasy author Dylan Madeley here at After Dark Reading Nook for an interview. He is the author of the book “The Gift Knight’s Quest”. So let’s get it started and jump straight in to the heart of the interview.
Q : Tell us about your book. What genre is it? What audience were you going for?
A : This book is called The Gift-Knight’s Quest. In general it’s a fantasy, because it takes place in a created world (hence the map at the beginning of the book). If it had any subcategory it would be historical, not because it’s actually meant to represent a historical time period with complete accuracy, but because it’s low/no-magic and is situated at a medieval-to-renaissance varied technology level that readers often associate with fantasy novels. This book’s intended for adult readers; it’s not erotic fiction, but it doesn’t fall squarely into Young Adult.
Q : That’s an unusual title. Did you have that in mind from the beginning?
A : No. It took a few drafts, actually, before I settled on a title. I worked with The Last of the Feud to start, but this is the beginning of a series, so I thought that could be confusing. And yeah, it’s the closest I could get to a descriptive title that’s accurate to the material.
Q : What exactly is a “gift-knight”?
A : In the continent “world” depicted, there’s one land that’s well known for the quality of its soldiers. Whenever another empire, kingdom, or other known land has a new regent or leader, one top soldier is chosen as a “gift-knight” who often ends up being a personal bodyguard. There could also be other roles for this person, like captain of the guard, or just someone in charge of training the local warriors, depending on where he goes and what his recipients prefer to do with him. And one of the main characters identified early in the book is going to be chosen as a “gift- knight”, while he struggles to find life’s true quest. I hope that explains the title well enough.
Q : I heard you say one of the main characters, so you have other mains? Would you like to talk about them?
A : The second main character is a key decision-maker named Chandra. She quite unexpectedly ends up ruling an empire, and is sure that the circumstances which put her on the throne are suspicious. So is everyone else who suspects her of foul play, which means she’s going to have to be careful who she trusts. And the empire she’ll rule is undergoing a huge political shift, where people want increasingly more representative government, and some of them are sure the only way to get that is by getting rid of her, by any means necessary.
Q : So how does Derek enter the equation?
A : He shows up and complicates everything even further, as if Chandra didn’t have enough to put up with already. I’ll let you guess how that works, but I would prefer that you read the book and find out.
Q : How do you prefer to choose character names? Are there conventions you choose to follow, or is it pretty much random?
A : The earliest character namings were just whatever came to mind. As I went deeper into the process of word building, I decided which name sets from our world best reflect the different cultures I was crafting for this world. Even though this created world isn’t meant to map directly to our own, I thought this was the best way for keeping names consistent in different realms without having to study linguistics and invent any particularly detailed rules of my own.
Q : And how would you describe your world-building approach, then? Did it also start out random?
A : I would describe it as “micro to macro”. The map at the beginning of the book really just shows you the “known world”, the world known to cartographers mostly based out of Chandra’s homeland of Kensrik. Think of the “known world” like maps of Alexander’s Hellenic World, which really just covers the world that concerned his empire, and either ignored or didn’t know of most of the continents we can see on a map today. I begin with a focus on places seen or passed by in this story. As the series goes on, there’s room to open up a larger world map, though the plot arc of the series never really takes the reader outside of this one big continent.
Q : I was going to ask if this was the first of a series, but from your answers so far, it must be. Okay, do you have plans for the next book? Is it already written?
A : Actually, before The Gift-Knight’s Quest was published, I had rough drafts of the entire trilogy. I’m not sure I count my rough draft as having already written the book, because mine turn out rather short, and the process of revising them becomes the process of expanding them–in the case of TGKQ, to almost twice the length of the original manuscript. You could say I’m about half-way into writing the sequel. It keeps my creative juices flowing, and it also gives me something to do while I’m waiting for the work I’ve done toward TGKQ to bear fruit.
Q : Where do you live? What’s your workspace like, if I may ask?
A : I temporarily live up in Vaughan, Ontario, which is about 30 minutes’ drive from downtown Toronto. I love Toronto and prefer to live within the city limits, but it’s also an expensive place to rent. I would describe my workspace as a sunken first floor with a small window to let some daylight in, and two occupied chinchilla condos directly across from my desk; I have a couple of fluffy rodents living here named Liam and Basil. It works.
Q : How have you found the process of self-publishing through a service?
A : I’m quite happy with the quality of book that got printed through Matador, the self-pub wing of Troubador. I do get concerned about the logistics of being a Canadian writer selling his books and needing to order them from the UK, but the good thing about being a self-pub is that I still retain all rights to my work, and I am still free to look around at agents and publishers while my service looks after ebook sales through a variety of platforms. They did take care of a lot of technical stuff, for which I’m grateful.
Q : Where can we find The Gift-Knight’s Quest?
A : At present, you can find the digital version on Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, in the Kobo store, and on iTunes. The paperback can be slightly more difficult to track down, but from August 4 onward, you can find it well stocked at the Camaraderie Collective Artisan Market, 2241 Dundas Street West, Toronto. I also reserved a booth at The Word on the Street Toronto, the city’s largest book fair, so if you’re in town on September 27 you can purchase an autographed copy and have a chat with me as well.