Steven Poore Interview – The High King’s Vengeance

This week’s Writers of Fantasy Interview is with British Fantasy award nominated Steven Poore, whose new book – The High King’s Vengeance – came out at Fantasy Con this year. His novel, Heir to the North, was nominated for best novel at this years British Fantasy Awards. So we talked a bit about that, a bit about his life as a writer, and how he develops his characters. Check it out!

On the nomination

“Over the easter period I think it was, when they announced the shortlist nominations, and that was rather thrilling.

And it was not just me, but the press that I write for – Grimbold Books – actually got a total of three nominations. There was myself, cover artist Evelinn Enoksen, and Frances Kay, whose short story got nominated.

So we were all really excited about that.”

Not a trilogy

“No, not at all. It was never going to be as long as a trilogy. The story is structured in such a way that you go into a crisis at the end of the first one – and I’m not going into spoilers here. The second volume is all about resolving that crisis.”

“One of the things you have with trilogies is you get the middle volume sag.”

“Everything happens in the first and third volume. The heroes usually end up spending the second volume getting from the first to the third book, so I just cut out the middle man.”

On Cassia

“I knew where [Cassia, the main character] was going to get to. Finding out how she got there was kind of made up as I went along. She survived all the lumps and bumps and she goes from being a very naive story teller, to someone who’s very aware of what she’s done and why she’s done it, and what the consequences of those decisions are.”

Short stories

“My short stories are very different in that they tend to be what you’d call little shaggy dog stories. There’s a little twist at the end or a bit of a punchline. There’s no real punchline for the novels, as such. So I have to treat them as different things.”

“I had written short stories before, and tried to write novels, but they were just messy replicas of roleplaying campaigns. Then I kind of took it seriously to write one short story, and got it got picked up by a – now defunct – magazine called Pantechnicon. And if you look at that issue now, on the contents list you’ve got Jen Williams, Adam Christopher, Ian Sales, Ian Waits… And that kind of convinced me that, actually, I can do this!”

Writing Malasar’s Curse

“I had the beginning and the end of each volume set in stone. Which is a good pun. But the beats in between, they just kind of happened as Cassia made the journey.”

“I have a very good editor. What she wanted to cut out were the flannelly bits. Repeated references to people being old and soldiers.”

“I like history as much as I like stories. I like the point where history and myth collide. You get that if you go far enough into the Greek and Roman histories. Where they’re not sure how much of this is real. So, in the book, the trick is with this; Cassia is learning the stories and she’s having to find out which ones are real, which ones are false, how much of which ones have seeds of truth in them.”

The North

“It’s kind of symbolic. Something always comes from the North. If you look at Game of Thrones, or J V Jones – her antagonists are all in the north. Melkor in the Silmarillion. I wanted to subvert that a little bit in that you’re meant to have the north rising again as not necessarily a good thing.”

What to expect from The High King’s Vengeance

“More dragons, Shieldmen, peril, and Cassia in a literal fight for her life.”

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