A while back (not too far, however), I did a Book Spotlight on Brian Rathbone's Call of the Herald. The Spotlight was long overdue—too long, really, considering it was nearly a year from when I first put out the feelers for willing victims to interview.
I never forgot about Brian. I promised him an interview, and an interview he'd receive. I knew he had a building Fandom already, and I wanted my questions to come from a fan—me. I had read the premise of his series, so I was already a fan...but I couldn't call myself a true fan until I had actually read his work.
After finishing Call of the Herald, I was definitely a true fan. So, without anymore delay, here's my Author Spotlight on Brian Rathbone.
Brian was born in the garden part of The Garden State, far from the New Jersey seen in the Sopranos. Farm life shaded his perceptions, and old-world knowledge seemed to separate him from his peers—or perhaps it was the ever-present smell of horse manure. Though Brian obtained a certain level of skill working with horses, he somehow knew his life would take a different path.
With Corporate America calling to him, Brian imagined it would be better to work in an air-conditioned office than in the fields or on the racetrack. He started in the mailroom and worked every day to learn new skills and advance his position. He got lucky, and some wonderful people gave me the chance to prove his worth; as he climbed higher and higher on the corporate ladder, however, Brian came to see that the machine was broken. The day he read the daily Dilbert and realized that Scott Adams had landed one squarely on his forehead, Brian knew he had to make some changes.
Brian began working from home, finally finding the time to write down the story that had been growing in his mind for over a decade. At times he felt like a juggler in motley while he balanced the writing of code and the writing of fiction, but it’s all been worthwhile.
Interview:The Bearded Scribe: Which book introduced you to speculative fiction?
Brian Rathbone: I hated reading until the day I found A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle. I may not know how to pronounce her name, but I will always be grateful to her for writing that book. It’s what taught me that reading could be fun.
The Bearded Scribe: Do you have an all-time favorite book? What about it makes it your favorite?
Brian Rathbone: I honestly don't have a single favorite book of all time. This probably has to do with the fact that I read a lot of series, and I often forget which books my favorite bits happened in. With that said, I have particularly fond memories of Melanie Rawn's Dragon Prince trilogy. On the other hand, my vote for most memorable fantasy character goes to: Tasslehoff Burrfoot.
The Bearded Scribe: Which author and/or book inspired you to start writing?
Brian Rathbone: In my teenage years, my brother and a group of friends all liked to read fantasy, and we would exchange books. There were a group of authors that inspired me most, here are a few: David Eddings, Wiess and Hickman, Terry Brooks, Stephen R. Donaldson, Robert Jordan, George R.R. Martin, Anne McCaffrey, and many others.
The Bearded Scribe: As an aspiring Fantasy author trying to shop his first manuscript, could you tell me why you chose to self-publish versus traditional publishing?
Brian Rathbone: I took a shot at traditional publishing, but the response wasn't good. I was pretty sure the agents I queried weren't even looking at my writing (I could be wrong). In the end, I came to the realization that I had no audience, no platform, and no one waiting to buy my next book. These factors made me unattractive to agents. I decided the best thing to do would be to use my technical skills and tenacity to build an audience from scratch. It seems to have worked. Not long ago, a major literary agency contacted me to see if I was looking for representation. Oddly enough, I still don’t have an agent, but I know I have their attention. The fact that I'm seven books into a series makes it difficult for an agent to take me on. I plan to develop other projects in the future for traditional publication.
The Bearded Scribe: Of the entire publishing process, what would you say is the most difficult aspect to endure?
Brian Rathbone: For me, it is time management. For much of my writing career, I had a full-time day job. I still have a part-time day job that I keep because I'm passionate about helping people in rural areas get high-speed Internet. Between the writing, editing, artwork, audio proofing, promotion, PR, etc, let's just say my lawn hasn't been mowed.
The Bearded Scribe: From where did the inspiration for the Godsland series arise? Was there specific mythology or folklore that sparked it?
Brian Rathbone: I always loved all kinds of mythology. It struck me that people have believed so strongly in what seemed like some pretty farfetched tales. I wondered how so many people could have been fooled into believing and living their lives based on things that clearly couldn't have actually happened. And then I asked myself what if some of those things actually did happen? What if there had been times in the past when magic was real?
I imagined periodic ages of power spaced so far apart that their memory is lost before they once again return. I thought about what could bring about these periodic ages of power, and I was reminded of comets and how they came only once every so many hundreds or maybe even thousands of years. This made me think of how comets are born, and how they are usually pulled from the Oort by the gravity of a passing planet, and then I imagined a very large planet drifting close to the Oort cloud and sending a massive storm of comets hurtling through the solar system. The Goddess Istra was born.
The Bearded Scribe: Was there a specific place (or combination of places) that inspired the world of Godsland—specifically Godsfist?
Brian Rathbone: The World of Godsland exists purely in my mind and those of my readers. It doesn't correlate directly to our world's geography or timeline, though when asked when the story take place, I often say it's in the equivalent of the 1500s.
The Bearded Scribe: Do you have a favorite character (to write) from your series? If so, what sets them apart the others?
Brian Rathbone: I've had a bunch of favorites, but I keep killing them. Oops.
The Bearded Scribe: It is clear, in reading Call of the Herald, that you are truly a horse lover; could you tell the readers a little more about your love of and experience around these majestic animals?
Brian Rathbone: I grew up on a working horse farm in one of the most rural parts of New Jersey. Four generations of my family worked on the farm raising and training standardbred racehorses. When I was small, I got a quarter for every stall I cleaned, and by the age of ten I was training horses myself. There was a half-mile training track on the farm, and I once went a mile in two-minutes sixteen-seconds on that track; it felt like I was going a thousand miles an hour. There were usually more than forty horses on the farm at any given time, and they were as unique as people. I had horses who were great friends and other that were seriously out to kill me.
When my older brother and I wanted to race in the junior driving championships, my dad let my brother train a little creampuff filly who wouldn't hurt a soul. He gave me the meanest stud horse in the barn. This horse LITERALLY ate the shirt off a guy's back one night at the racetrack and then went out and finished second--he was one seriously tough customer. And after all that, neither of us got to race in the championship. Brad's horse got claimed two weeks before, and my horse bowed a tendon one week before. You can't make this stuff up.
Though I never went pro, nothing will ever take away the experience of working in the barns and on the farms and at the racetracks for all those years. Priceless.
The Bearded Scribe: On what project(s) are you working at the moment?
Brian Rathbone: I'm very excited to be working on The Fifth Magic, which is the first book in the Artifacts of Power trilogy. This is the seventh book in the Godsland series, and I'm having a blast writing it. I won’t release this book until the third book in the trilogy is well under way, which should be late this year.
The Bearded Scribe: I'm not sure of the topic or in what capacity, but would you consider writing a guest post on The Bearded Scribe at some point?
Brian Rathbone: I absolutely would. Sometimes I'm forgetful, and sometimes I get overwhelmed, but I would be honored.
The Bearded Scribe: And lastly, because I have asked this of all of my interviewees... Is there anything else that you would like to share with The Bearded Scribe's readers that I did not ask you (and you wished I had)?
Brian Rathbone: First off, thanks for hosting this interview and thanks to all who read it. I am excited to say that I'm celebrating the upcoming release of the full Dawning of Power trilogy in premium audio at Audible, Amazon and iTunes. The second trilogy is going into production now. I'm thrilled to say that you can grab the free Call of the Herald ebook from Amazon and get the premium audiobook for just $1.99!
To make it easy on all of you, you can buy all of Brian Rathbone's World of Godsland Novels below. If you are buying a Kindle version, four of them (Wayward Spirits, Call of the Herald, Inherited Danger, and Regent) are FREE!
The World of Godsland Novels:
Écrire souvent, bien écrire, et écrire avec bonheur,