Tag Archives: fantasy series

Interview: Mark Brisby, Author of “Untoward”

markbAbout Mark Brisby:

“A self published author looking to expand my audience.  I am from Fairfax, Virginia and published my book through Amazon in January, and it’s called Untoward.  This book is the first of a forthcoming series (as yet unfinished).  The ISBN is 978-0615750118 and it is 488 pages long.

Description: Daumis always knew that turning thirteen was unlucky, but when he sees Denizens (evil magicians who kidnap children) he decides to stop them from abducting someone else.  When he stumbles into a botched rescue of Cewyn, the son of the local duke, he is also captured, starved, and tortured for his pluck.

Enter hero Tadrec, a graduate of a prestigious magical university, recently the only member of his party to survive a cursed artifact.  He is stoned on witchreed and morning his friends with absolutely nothing to do.  When he’s asked by the president of his alma mater to rescue Daumis and Cewyn because they’re the most powerful magicians to be born in a century, he agrees.  For a price.

Tadrec, Daumis, and Cewyn must encounter golems, insane monks, cannibals, giant badgers, an undead army, and a demigod all just before they can reach the magical, floating city of Horizon.  Not to mention the fact that they are in company that they do not necessarily like, trust, or can even stand in the form of a pompous Citizen who used to pick on Tadrec, an old, blind seer who likes to spit on people, a drunken minstrel, a homicidal metal shard, the sickeningly-perfect teacher and student combo, and a royal vizier who just doesn’t want to go bald.  With the forces of evil gaining ground from behind them, no matter what all the three of them go through, it always seems to Tadrec and the boys that their destination moves ever-farther away from them…In fact, it flies.



What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?

I choose to write fantasy and science fiction genres.  I like my entertainments usually to have some sort of other-worldly aspect to it, so I find it’s easiest to write in those genres because I find them to be the most stimulating to my imagination as well as just plain fun.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I was very young, in elementary school.  Probably the fifth or sixth grade.  I still have original works that I’d done, but looking at them now, I’m glad I’ve improved my vocabulary.

Who or what was your inspiration for writing?

I have always been creative.  In my youth I used to draw and I would try to emulate my favorite artist, M.C. Escher, but I hated the math involved with tessellations.  But reading books when I was young was probably the main reason. I’ve always wanted to inspire the same fears, loves, anguished, and well the rest of the range of human emotions in others.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

When I’m not writing I work at my full time job as an admin assistant.  In my free time I usually love to read and/or become lost in bookstores for hours, bowling, cooking, watching TV and movies, listening to a variety of music, and spending time with friends.

Where do you hang out online? Website URL, author groups, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc?

If I go online at all it’s usually to check the sites update:

FaceBook (http://www.facebook.com/mark.brisby.5)

Twitter (https://twitter.com/MarkBrisby13)

And my blog (http://markbrisby13.wordpress.com/)

What books are currently on your nightstand?

The Birth of Classical Europe (A History from Troy to Augustine) by Simon Price and Peter Thonemann and Conan the Barbarian (a collection of original, unabridged stories) by Robert E. Howard.

Do you remember the first novel you read?

The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

Colleen McCoullough for her First Man in Rome Series, so thorough and sharp, steeped in details and tidbits of forgotten information. I envy her research skills.

Agatha Christie for her Hercule Poirot Mysteries, completely, captivatingly genius.

Your Writing Process

Do you listen to music or have another form of inspiration when you are writing? 

Music is a major component to my writing process.  Headphones in, iPod usually playing something that I like but is soft enough to fade into the background.  If it’s too loud or jarring, I end up concentrating on the music or lyrics and less and less on what I’m supposed to be doing (say, getting a character out of a sticky situation).

Most people envision an author’s life as being really glamorous. What’s the most unglamorous thing that you’ve done in the past week?

Scooped the cat boxes.  Yes, two of them.

How long does it take you to finish a book from start to submission?

I’ve never finished a project until now, usually losing faith in it/myself.  But this time I pushed through.  It took four years to write it and about two more for the editing process.

Do you prefer writing series books over non series or does it matter?

I actually prefer to write the books (and in general think of them) as a series.  I have big plans for each major character I’ve written for, and I plan on carrying those machination out.

Your Books

What is your novel about?

It is a fantasy novel in which two boys are kidnapped by evil magicians only to be rescued by someone they don’t necessarily trust or even like.  They must journey with this rival magician to the magical, floating city of Horizon where the boys will learn how to protect themselves from other evil magicians.  Basically the entire book covers the journey to safety through savage lands and must encounter cannibals, giant badgers, insane monks, an undead army, and a demigod.

Do deadlines help or hinder your muse?

I need deadlines or else I usually end up putting writing off for some mundane activity/vice.  A time table by which I have everything read is key to motivating me.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I just start writing.  I begin with one sentence and then see where it takes me.  If I ever do make an outline, it’s usually several chapters in when most of the characters have been established.  It’s mostly just so I can keep track of what’s coming up so I know how to transition between the two.

If your book is available in print, how does it feel to hold a book that has your name on the cover?

It feels like a life-fulfilling moment.  I was shaking with adrenaline so much that I almost dropped it.

Your Characters

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

I tend to make up a persona for someone, but I might some comprise it of different pieces of people (either in my life or just that I’ve encountered).  I take the good and the bad and place them inside each character, because I want them to be likable and humanly fallible.

Is it hard coming up with names for your characters?

I’m a wiz when it comes to naming characters, pets, vehicles, inanimate objects.  Names just jump out at me, but sometimes it does take a mixture of several different choices until I’m happy with it.  Also, I feel the names should fit the characters, even if the character themselves do not feel their designations match.

Have any of your characters ever haunted your dreams or woken you up during the night demanding attention?

Yes, a particularly vain and arrogant magician taunted in me in my dreams, offerinf suggestions about how I could get him out of the mess I had thought up for him in the first place.

What in your opinion makes good chemistry between your leading characters?

Good chemistry is always nourished by conflict.  If characters start off hating each other, they will usually grow to like/love/respect them by the end of it…at least just a little.  The reverse can happen too of course.  Conflicts and arguments between the main characters not only let the readers become engaged in the debate so that they might also choose sides, but also makes for amusing dialog.

Is there a character from one of your books that resonates deeply with you?

The main four characters in Untoward have pieces of me and a few other people too.  Speaking for myself: Tadrec has my wit, Daumis has my interest in studying human interactions, Cewyn has my logic, and Rilliam has my scheming nature.

Random Questions

Name one website you visit every single day.


Where do you get your daily dose of news?

I usually get it from either CNN (because it’s on at work), FaceBook or from word of mouth.


Filed under Announcements, Books, Fantasy, Interviews, Writers and Writing

Shadowing: A Henchman’s Tale, Book 1 of Moonblind by Kat Zantow

Review: “Shadowing: A Henchman’s Tale” is the type of fantasy story where you can literally feel the author’s enthusiasm for the genre and their story in every word. Yet like the dedication to all the fantasy books they’d read, there was a little of everything in this tale, and sometimes it’s seemed a little too much all at once. The writing style was somewhat problematic for me also, as there’s lots of telling going on when I’d have preferred to be shown itself. More transitional phrases could have helped in this area, improving pacing and flow, which often seemed stuttered and abrupt. The first person point of view also didn’t help in this regard.

I thought “Shadowing” was a good idea for a story, one that could evolve and continue in installments, and would be interested in reading the next book but I tired of the main character as he was presented in book one of the Moonblind series. There was plenty of action throughout, yet the stilted nature of the narrative I felt held the henchman’s tale back from being as good as it could have.

Description: The moon has not changed in the fifty years of the dark lord Magna’s rule—but everything else has.

All too often, the servants of Dark Overlords are dispatched with a lazy flick of the hero’s sword. But in Shadowing, the job benefits of fire, mayhem, and flight almost make up for it. In between burning down villages, the minion’s primary directive is taking out heroes. When a man in golden armor and his faithful companions sneak across the border on a quest to assassinate the Dark Lord Magna, long live the Magna, it’s up to the Shadows to cut his quest short. As always, things do not go quite according to plan, and one henchman ends up lone-wolfing it across the permafrost lands, following the stench of valor.

A story of sword and sorcery, tooth and claw, and wyvern wing.

Kindle Edition
Published June 2nd 2011 by Fictician Press
ASIN: B00545W2IY
Source: Author
Samples are available on Smashwords.

Author Bio:

Kat Zantow is a writer who likes painting, kayaking, mixing drinks, hiking, shark-punching, 24-hour coffee, and hand-feeding squirrels.

She maintains an author blog with fun facts about Kat and ridiculous drawings as well as a more reasonable blog for everything eBooks.

A twentysomething alumna of Jon Stewart’s alma mater, she is recovering from an overdose of postmodern literature by writing solidly fun fiction. She is currently in love with the spatial efficiency of eBooks.

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Star of Savoka by Richard S. Tuttle

Review: Book 2 in the Forgotten Legacies series. It  took me a few tries to get into it, and I found the “Star of Sakova” to be a rather slow paced, methodical fantasy novel. I couldn’t help but feel a great deal of streamlining could have helped immeasurably as there was an abundance of background information, description, and histories. Although this was the second book in the Forgotten Legacy series, because of all the extra pages of past information, it is not difficult to ascertain the direction of this story or understand the world as a whole.

I liked the main character, Lyra, and was interested in her view of the world, and events happening around or to her. Her quest for greater knowledge of magic was a special highlight I enjoyed, but overall, it was a difficult read for me. If one likes a lengthy novel written in extreme pedantic detail, they might enjoy “Star of Sakova” for it’s an ambitious story. It’s an interesting in it’s way especially if you’re a fan of swords and sorcery, but I found it very laborious.

Description: Star of Sakova, the second volume of the Forgotten Legacy, features Lyra, the only daughter of Master Malafar, owner and master of the Omunga Academy of Magic.

A devastating and seemingly senseless attack on the Omunga Academy of Magic leaves Lyra running for her life. Her father, Master Malafar, was kidnapped and her mother was killed during the attack. Her mother’s cryptic dieing words propel Lyra on a journey across the breadth of the country in search of her Uncle Temiker. The raiders of the Academy however have other plans for Lyra as they doggedly pursue her. Trying to stay one step ahead of the raiders, Lyra finds out that the Imperial government wants her head for the very slaughter she narrowly escaped.

With the raiders in pursuit and Imperial troops blocking the roads ahead, Lyra has no chance of survival unless she enters the dreaded Sakova, a land of nightmares. The Sakova, long known as a place of no return, is home to cannibals, ferocious beasts, and strange magic.

The fast pace of her flight leaves Lyra little time to solve the mysteries of the attack, but the questions of why anyone would kidnap her father, or slaughter dozens of innocents to accomplish it, linger as a gnawing distraction.

Discover a world of swords and magic, political intrigue and deceit, and cunning, ruthless people who seek to finish the annihilation of a society that began ages ago.

In Paperback, 336 pages, and Kindle editions
Published August 2002 by kbs publishing(first published February 1st 2000)
ISBN : 097108971X
(ISBN13: 9780971089716)

Source: Author

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Filed under Fantasy, Reviews