Leather and Lace by Magen Cubed
 

Leather and Lace

New Release Review

 
The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart
 

The Bone Shard Daughter

Review

 
First, Become Ashes by K.M. Szpara
 

First, Become Ashes

ARC Review

 

Scott Kaelen Interview – The Nameless and the Fallen

Scott KaelenScott Kaelen’s debut novel, The Blighted City, was a semifinalist in the Fourth Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off (SPFBO4), and one of my favorite novels to emerge from that annual fantasy competition (reviewed here). The audiobook version of The Blighted City was also a finalist in the fantasy category of the 2020 Independent Audiobook Awards. When I heard Scott was releasing the next novel in the Fractured Tapestry series, I immediately asked for an interview, so I could help readers know more about it.

Today is your birthday. Many happy returns! So, you have anything special planned today?

It’ll be a low-key day. The main event is bringing my new book into the world right next to my birthday. If The Nameless and the Fallen gets some prezzies for his/her zeroth birthday (sales, reviews, etc.), then those will be my prezzies, too. That’s my plan, or at least my hope.

Well, many happy returns on your book birthday too, then. Tell us about the series name Fractured Tapestry. What does it signify?

Ha! How do I answer that without giving spoilers? Towards the end of The Blighted City, the first novel of the series, one character actually uses the words “fractured tapestry.” An astute reader might look at that scene and get a vague sense of what the tapestry is and might wonder how it could be “fractured.” In the new novel, The Nameless and the Fallen, there are a few scattered clues—some quite hidden, some less so—that further hint at what the series’ name might mean and where it might possibly be heading in the future. But I’m in no rush to directly answer just yet. Anyone who reads one or both of the novels (and maybe the short story, “Night of the Taking”) could voice their speculations on social media.

You’ve said The Nameless and the Fallen is not a sequel to The Blighted City. Where does it fit in the timeline?

The Blighted City (cover)Blighted City is a standalone, although it might get a direct sequel at some point in the future. That being said, the events that occur in Blighted City are far from forgotten by the characters who survived them. One of the protagonists—Oriken—returns as a main character in The Nameless and the Fallen, and all that he witnessed in Blighted City is still with him—in some ways, quite significantly. However, The Nameless and the Fallen is the start of a new, overarching story, and my next book will be a direct sequel to it. Spoilers were unavoidable, but I wasn’t willing to use a vanilla version of Oriken just to avoid them. In my head, The Blighted City was always a prequel to what later became The Nameless and the Fallen—I just couldn’t officially call my debut novel a prequel until now.

Oriken was my favorite character from The Blighted City. Tell us what he’s been up to in his time off-page (between the two novels).

The best part of a year has passed between the end of Blighted City and the opening chapter of Nameless and the Fallen. (As a side note, there are 13 months in a year of the Sosarran calendar, each consisting of four seven-day weeks.) About a month or two after the end of Blighted City, Oriken ventured into a vast, forested region known as Grenmoor, where he witnessed atrocities being caused by the ruling sheriff of the region. He spent months covertly dealing with the corruption in the forest, and the opening chapter of Nameless and the Fallen is titled “Bridge” because, a) it’s set near a bridge, and b) it serves as a “bridge” between the unwritten Grenmoor story and that of The Nameless and the Fallen. In short, Oriken has been through the rough and it’s not about to improve for him.

Minor spoiler, but Oriken loses his beloved hat in Blighted City. Does he miss it?

Haha! He’ll always miss his favourite hat. Luckily, he had another to fall back on (which he actually got from a bandit leader whom he and his teammates—including Maros (another Blighted City alum)—dealt with a couple of years prior to The Blighted City. He’s wearing that hat as we meet back up with him in the new story. The bigger question is, will he manage to keep a tight enough hold of this one?

You have suffered vision loss in recent years. Can you share with us how that affects your work?

The technical side is a problem on several levels. Thankfully, shortly after I was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa back in 2001, I took a touch-typing course (not knowing at the time how much I’d benefit from it years later as a writer). So, the writing part is maybe the least of the visual difficulties. What’s harder is when it comes time to do the full revision of a manuscript, painstakingly battling to focus on each word. Even harder than that is social media. It’s said that no author should be an island, but in recent years my eyesight is making it too difficult to read people’s posts and comments on Facebook and Twitter, so I tend to not be on those much—which has sort of turned me into an island whether I like it or not.

The creative difficulties are much more interesting. When describing what something looks like, I often have to put trust in my memory from when I had better eyesight. Nowadays, even people’s facial expressions are usually lost on me. Hell, I haven’t been able to see my own face well enough to recognize it for years. The hardest part isn’t describing what my point-of-view character is seeing, it’s knowing whether they “should” be able to see it, be it in the darkness, bright light, the corner of their eye, at varying distances, and so on. I’m completely night-blind, and I have tunnel vision, daylight sensitivity, colour blindness, blurry central vision, and distortions. That doesn’t make it easy to write a “normal-sighted” character.

I really enjoyed the philosophical underpinnings of The Blighted City. Do you tread into philosophy in The Nameless and the Fallen as well? Can you give us a preview of some of the themes?

The Nameless and the Fallen (cover)The Blighted City’s philosophical current gives the story a deliberate pace. By contrast, the pace quickens in The Nameless and the Fallen as the scope of the adventure explodes way beyond the sandbox setting of the first book (which occurred almost entirely in the “Deadlands”). So, while there are still moments of philosophy in the new story, they tend to be shorter and farther apart. My aim with The Nameless and the Fallen was a quicker pace, a huger scope, much more worldbuilding, travel, exploration, and a whole lot more. Although I dialed down the philosophical aspects, I’d be interested to know what readers think of the contrast between the two stories.

I know you’re a massive Red Dwarf fan. What is it you love about the show, and has it ever influenced your fantasy writing?

I do love Red Dwarf and have done for three decades. It’s so re-watchable, which is something that most shows (even really good ones) fall well short of. It probably has been a bit of a background influence to my writing, alongside a number of other influences within the science fiction, fantasy and horror genres. I haven’t yet made it hugely obvious (publicly) that there’s a sci-fi element to The Nameless and the Fallen, which is predominantly a secondary-world fantasy story but isn’t moored by the usual fantasy trappings. I know you love a bit of genre-blending, too.

That I do! Science fantasy is my jam. I loved the science fiction aspects of The Blighted City—i.e., there was a biological explanation for the supernatural goings-on. Can you share anything about the twists you’ll include in the new book?

I don’t want to give any spoilers, but The Nameless and the Fallen evolves way beyond the typical epic fantasy and hints at much more genre-expansion and worldbuilding to come.

I think it’s a sign of the evolution of story-writing when an incredibly detailed and fleshed-out secondary world can also incorporate elements beyond itself, sometimes WAY beyond. I’m not knocking Tolkien by any means, but can you imagine a follow-up trilogy to LotR which also had SF aspects to it? Maybe a 1960s collaboration between Tolkien and Asimov?

Red Dwarf’s humour is among the best ever, and I think that even the grimmest tale needs an infusion of character humour, but not too much to make it the dominant genre. I don’t think there’s enough of a humourous angle to The Nameless and the Fallen to market it as having a comedic edge, but I hope that the readers will enjoy those particular characters that are off-beat, weird, zany or downright crazy in darkly humourous ways. It would be interesting to get some feedback from readers about that. Hopefully some reviews will mention it along with all of the other stuff.

Tell us what’s next for you after The Nameless and the Fallen launches.

I’m working on a major overhaul of The Blighted City, which will eventually lead to a new edition, but I’ll probably shelve that project and get started on the follow-up to The Nameless and the Fallen. Also in the pipeline is the audiobook of The Nameless and the Fallen, which has already been agreed on with the narrator of Blighted City.

But personal life is more important, and right now I would have been living in Canada with the lady of my life if the coronavirus hadn’t put a stop to it happening, so I’ll be on the first flight to Canada as soon as the UK government permits travel. I think my writing output will benefit from being where I want to be rather than being stuck in a holding area, both physically and emotionally. I’m really looking forward to all of that becoming true and to furthering the Fractured Tapestry series.

Thanks, Scott! I’ve got my copy of The Nameless and the Fallen (released on March 29, 2021), and I can’t wait to dig in! Best of luck with the launch, and thanks for taking time with us today.

The Nameless and the Fallen is out now! To learn more about it and the rest of Scott’s work you can visit his website or follow him on Twitter!

The Nameless and the Fallen (cover)Widespread madness, rampaging monsters and the reckless choices of monarchs all stem from a pall that has descended upon Verragos. In the midst of chaos and looming war, disparate travellers confront their own nightmares as they become embroiled in the fray of nations. Their best hope is the exposure of incredible truths from an ancient facade of lies, but is civilisation ready to pay the high cost of survival?

The Outcast

Wren, exiled from his home in the icy north as a scapegoat for a horrific massacre, begins to suspect an insidious influence is behind the growing slew of psychotic events. To uncover the source of the threat, he must enlist the help of an old and distant friend—the only living entity aware of his bitter and brutal past.

The Freeblade

Oriken, a beleaguered sellsword, narrowly escapes death by the intervention of a mysterious woman. In gratitude for her timely arrival, he vows to help her vanquish her demons of a lost identity and a burning urge to find the owner of the one name she remembers. Haunted by the echo of a dead friend, he ventures into foreign and hostile climes and soon comes to realise a dangerous identity may lurk beneath the trauma of the stranger at his side.

Background of title image by Free-Photos.

Share

Leave a Comment