The first installment of Christopher C. Fuchs’ epic adventure, Lords of Deception is out today in e-book format. To celebrate, Christopher C. Fuchs is my Author Interview of the Month! Without further ado lets hear from the man himself:
First off, let’s get to know you:
Were you a lover of books from a very early age, which book would you say defines your childhood and what book would you say defines your life now?
My favorite childhood book was The Woodland Folk Meet the Gnomes because it illustrated in great detail a whole little world. But overall I didn’t read a lot on my own as a kid and spent more time outdoors. Only as a sixth grader did I start to take a real interest when I read Hatchet and The Cay, both adventure fiction about wilderness survival. It’s not reading, but videogames on the first Nintendo and the later Final Fantasy series inspired me to start writing and drawing. But what really grabbed me as I got older was nonfiction, mostly history and astronomy, which is what I still read most today. Most genre fiction writers seem to be voracious readers of their own genre, and its encouraged by the experts to “know what’s out there.” I’ve just never been that way as a reader.
If any, have you gone on any literary pilgrimages?
Not intentional pilgrimages, but I have visited places that boast a literary culture, like Edinburgh, Paris, and New Orleans. I love to travel and keep a little notebook in my pocket for ideas, and of course pictures are inspiring. But my photo collection is, I think, atypical. For example, I’ve taken dozens of photos of symbols carved into 17th century crypt slabs in Dutch cathedrals. I draw a lot of inspiration from these little details.
Does writing energise you or do you feel exhausted after a writing session?
Definitely energized. I write slowly and old school: first draft always with pen and notebook. I find a computer distracting and constraining, but a notebook allows me to be more free to let my scenes flow. I can draw big arrows and move stuff around and sketch places or objects on a whim. Pages often look more like engineering schematics or treasure maps than chapters. I enjoy the building of a book like that, especially at the beginning when I have to organize what is often years-worth of notes and random jots to get a feel for the direction of a new novel.
What do you find is the most challenging thing about writing?
Usually the first 10 minutes of sitting down to write is the hardest obstacle. Like many writers, I have to force myself to overcome all the excuses not to write, even though I want to. But I also get a thrill when push through that to find my rhythm each time. I never lack ideas (I have more notes and concepts than I’ll probably ever have time to write) and I’m very skeptical that writer’s block is a real thing. So really it’s just keeping a daily writing routine that is hardest.
Do you have any unpublished or half finished books up your sleeve?
Yes, where do I start? Lords of Deception was actually the third novel I wrote. The first two will be published in December and February as a double-prequel to Lords of Deception. I wanted to take my time before publishing them because I wanted the story arc to be just right. I also intend to diverge from traditional series writing because I think it’s neat for a reader to be able to wander and choose which characters or events to explore further in side novels and half-tales, rather than just a linear trilogy or such. Two of those half-tales were published this year, which you can get for free by subscribing to my site, EarthpillarBooks.com. Two more are ready to be published next year. So there is plenty to explore while I write the true sequel to Lords of Deception.
Now for your new book!
Lords of Deception is a rabbit hole of plot, intrigue and fleshed out characters, what came to you first the characters or the plot?
If by ‘rabbit hole’ you mean you got completely lost and consumed by a deep, new world where you wanted to stay, then that is success to me! The characters came first, mostly. I wrote most of this book more than a decade ago, but it wasn’t very good. I grew a lot as a writer during that time and completely re-wrote it. So I knew the general plot and roles of the characters, but, as weird as it sounds, the characters made up their own minds on the direction they wanted to go and the plot changed to account for that. I definitely do detailed planning for my novels, but I’m flexible once I get going based on what is (or becomes) natural for the characters.
Reading through the book we can gleam hints of European history that may have inspired you, did you do much research reading through history books? If not then what research did you do for the book and how long did it take?
I read more history than anything else. Not just military or political history, but the history of technology and trade. Certainly Europe has been a big influence, but also Asian and African history. I can’t read a history book without taking lots of notes on how I would use certain details or plots in my writing. Beyond this, I did look up things like the distances traveled in a day by an army, a ship, or a mounted courier, because my novels span continents. I also did a ton of research on things like metals, minerals, plants, and chemistry to build a broad system of alchemy, which I guess is my realist equivalent of magic systems often used in fantasy novels.
You’ve created a vast world and i’ve always wondered if creating a map comes easily to an author and what inspires them to choose the place names that they do, can you shed any light on this?
I do my own cartography and really enjoy it. The map in Lords of Deception is a scaled-down version (only about one-third of one of the continents) of hand-drawn geography with icons and other details added on top digitally with Procreate. I wrote a compendium of a couple dozen cultures within the Earthpillar world, with naming conventions adapted from real-world languages and mash-ups. For example, Donovard names are mostly Franco-German (except for the older Brintilian colonial settlements, which are similar to Scandinavian names). In the novels that will be published in December and February, there are mashups of Sumerian, Welsh, Ethiopian, and Mongolian. I want a reader to eventually know just from the name of a newly-introduced character where they are from, just as other characters in the book might. So I tap into all this when I’m writing about the dynamics between kingdoms and empires across the continents and seas, while striving to show how those strategic machinations impact individual characters and organizations. It may sound complex, but I don’t think any more so than the character roster for epics like Game of Thrones.
Which scene did you find the hardest to write and why?
Chapters 106-117 were hardest. They are shorter than normal and the characters that are followed by the reader are well-tread by then. But this is the climactic part where a lot of action is taking place simultaneously. There were a couple times while writing it that I had to avoid getting ahead of what another character was doing. So I essentially wrote several chapters at the same time on side-by-side sheets of paper. More than once I got it out of order because of some detail that impacted a different character’s stream of action. But keeping everything consistent is vital to avoid distracting the reader. I’m biased, but think it came out well!
I have a soft spot in my heart for Fetzer as I see him as an underdog. Do you have a special soft spot for any of your characters?
I’m fascinated that you chose underdog to describe Fetzer, but I don’t think you’re wrong. Without giving too much away, he certainly has a disadvantaged beginning and is determined to rise up like an underdog would. But he’s also a deviously clever, self-serving, and ruthless person who has lost any moral compass. He is certainly a focus for me in this book (more to come!), but I also have a soft spot for three others. Serdot, the gifted young spy-becomes-counselor (a la Walsingham?). Princess Milisend, for her secret fondness of thievery, but also because I have some idea of where she is headed. And the professor Danleri, who is burdened by the regret of not having taken drastic measures against a friend as a young man, and is torn between hopelessness and finally facing that erstwhile companion later in life.
Lords of Deception is the first book in your epic, did you write one book at a time, jump back and forth between the books or write it all in as one?
Lords of Deception was the first to be written years ago, then later re-written after I had already finished two other novels that serve as prequels. There will also be a proper sequel, which is my next project. But I often have a couple half-tales in progress on the side while I’m working on the novels.
Do you have any hidden secrets in your book that only a few people would know or notice?
It’s too early to give things away, but I have planted seeds or breadcrumbs that I will expand on in the future. I like to link all my novels and half-tales together to stoke those “ah-ha!” or “ohhhh” moments later.
If your epic was ever to become a movie or tv series which actors do you see playing which characters?
I actually do attach photos of real actors to my personal profiles on characters, to help me visualize them. Arthan would be the younger Jim Caviezel in The Count of Monte Cristo. Arasemis would be the bloody-bearded Brendan Gleeson in Kingdom of Heaven. And Milisend would be Katheryn Winnick similar to how she was in Vikings. I do this for minor characters too. For example, Livonier would be the loyal and even-keeled commander played by Tomas Arana in Gladiator.
Do you have anything you would like to say to any readers out there who are about to start reading your book?
I would say thank you for giving my Earthpillar world a try. There is no shortage of book choices, now that new technologies and market changes have lowered the barrier to publishing. I took a third route between traditional and self-publishing by creating my own publishing company and hiring professional freelance editors, proofreaders, and illustrators. With those refinements, I think I offer some good books, so thanks for diving in! And if you like it, tell a friend, which is the biggest complement you can give to indie authors.
And lastly, where can we purchase Lords of Deception and keep up with all your news?
It is available now in e-book from online retailers (Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, etc.), and paperbacks and hardbacks will be available by November from the same stores, or order from your favorite bookshop by providing the ISBNs. You can find each format’s ISBN on the website, EarthpillarBooks.com,where you can also subscribe to my mailing list. I send updates infrequently (more time for writing), and you receive discount codes and other exclusive content I’ll be rolling out over the next year. And the double-prequel to Lords of Deception will be released in December and February, so definitely watch for those!