Monday, March 28, 2016

Interview with Marc Alan Edelheit, THE TIGER'S FATE

How would you describe your Fantasy series?
This is hardcore Military Fantasy done with historical accuracy. Think Imperial Rome meets Epic Fantasy on another world.

A nobleman from an infamous family, imperial legionary officer, fighter and a right proper
bastard of a man… Captain Ben Stiger finds himself reassigned from a crack legion to the rebellion simmering in the South. Placed in command of a truly terrible company, the 85th Imperial Foot, he is unknowingly sent on a suicide mission to resupply an isolated outpost, the garrison of Vrell. Along the way he must rebuild his new company, gain the respect of the men he leads, survive an assassination attempt, fight bandits, rebels, and an agent of an evil god. His companions on this journey of discovery and adventure are one of the few remaining elven rangers and a paladin on a quest for the High Father.

The hero, Captain Ben Stiger, has to come up with practical solutions of his own. His companion, Eli, is one of the last elven rangers. The first book Stiger’s Tigers picks up in the middle of their adventures. Both are thrown into the deep end that sets them off on quite an adventure that neither the audience nor they can predict where it will take them. Lots of really cool twists and turns along the way!

I took great pains to give the imperial legions in the series a ring of authenticity in that they fight and act like those of Rome. Much of what you find was what it was like in the ancient world, with some magic and other races tossed in.

How many books do you plan on having in this series?
There are currently five books planned for this series. Book 3 is expected out in June. I also plan on writing a prequel and an off shoot book/series involving some of the other characters.

Do you plan on writing anything but Fantasy?
Yes. My next project will be a Science Fiction series. No spoilers though. I hope to deliver the first book between books three and four.

In both Stiger's Tigers and The Tiger we learn more and more about Stiger’s background in one bit at a time throughout the story. Why did you decide to start the series in the middle of Stiger’s and Eli’s adventures?
Early on I wrestled with this. I could have very easily done a data dump and spent several paragraphs on his background, but I felt and bet that by having it come out one little nugget at a time, this approach would have a more profound effect upon the reader. As I started to write the story, I intentionally made the decision to keep Stiger’s background limited, as I wanted the story more focused on him as an individual and developing character. This was an intentional technique/approach that I felt would create a sense of mystery on Stiger’s part that would enhance his appeal to the reader as they worked to put the puzzle pieces of his character together.

Stiger’s personal puzzle is far from complete.

It is clear you were inspired by Rome and the Roman Army? Was it mostly the military organization or also other aspects of Imperial Rome that were important for you?
It was a mixture of both. The Mal'Zeelan military and other social organizations are very similar to Roman ones. There is a definite point where that stops though. The empire in the books is certainly similar to Rome but is also intentionally not Rome. It is important for readers to understand that the story is set in a different world. I wanted the empire to be a believable entity, which is why I modeled it on Rome and her legions. That also allows me to add in a level of detail that you do not normally see in a Fantasy series, such as equipment, arms, how the legionaries live, train, fighting styles, etc.

Many of the norms in the books are based upon ancient norms… acceptable behaviors for the times. What would be considered normal in the ancient world would be thought of as barbaric and inhumane today… such as the torturing of prisoners for information and then executing them, or taking prisoners so they can be sold as slaves for monetary gain. Gladiatorial fights, labor, etc.

I’ve received a number of emails from fans who say they find it hard to identify with Stiger’s empire as being the good guys. This is because they are applying modern day norms to an ancient world mindset. Some of the things ancient cultures did to their neighbors would be considered war crimes or crimes against humanity in today’s world. When studying history you have to understand that ancient peoples thought differently than we do today. It is no different in Stiger's world and the reader is thrown into the middle of it.

I took this approach for a very specific reason. Over the years, I’ve read a number of fantasy books where the hero does everything “right” in that the decision making process has to be “good” in relation to what the reader would consider acceptable behavior in our modern day world. This has always bothered me. So, I specifically set about avoiding that pitfall. Once you dispense with modern day norms, it opens up all kinds of interesting possibilities for both the storyline and the characters. It also makes the story much more interesting to readers. I feel that the realism is one of the reasons why people feel so drawn to the story, while others love it, but have problems identifying Stiger's empire as the good guys. Besides... who is to say they are? The Carthaginians and many other nation states certainly did not feel the Romans were the good guys.

How much research did you do?
A lot.  I spent months researching Imperial Rome and the ancient world before I even began writing. This involved reading hundreds of books and making pages of notes on details. I even paid attention to the small ones. I wanted to describe what it was like to be on an ancient battlefield and have it ring of authenticity. I had questions… “What was it like to be in the ranks?”  “What was the daily life of a legionary like?” To answer those questions and many more, it required a lot of study.
When you read you should learn something… it makes the story much more enjoyable, so I set about showing my readers what it was like to serve in the legions.

Your cover art is very cool, but the first two book covers look like more like roman historical fiction as opposed to Fantasy. Why?
My goal in writing this series was to do something different and break the Fantasy model. So, I set about writing a non-traditional fantasy series. The first few covers had to set the tone for the series, as Stiger is slowly ripped from the normal/mundane world that he knows and understands, one filled by legionary life and service to the empire into one peopled with strange races, creatures, gods and magic. So it was important to me to have a very unique cover.

Perhaps it was a mistake to not include more fantasy in the first two covers... though the first two books have been so well received that looking back I would not want to change it.
My cover artist, Gianpiero Mangialardi is a real genius. He’s done some amazing work for me… some of which have yet to see.

Check out the cover for Book 3, which has yet to be released. This book has Stiger thrown into the deep end of the fantasy pool and the cover reflects it.

Do you write full time or part time?
I like to think of this as a hobby.  I have a full time job as an executive in the healthcare industry and a family with three little girls. My wife, on the other hand thinks I write full time. :P I get home from work, play with my girls, have some family time… and when everyone goes off to bed, that’s my time to write. I spend about 3-5 hours a night writing. The key is being consistent and staying with it. That’s how you finish books. One day I hope to take writing full time… where it becomes my sole occupation and I can dedicate more time to it. Writing is my passion.

When did you first start writing Stiger’s Tigers?
I began working on the series back in 2013/14. From the beginning I intended to write a multi-book fantasy epic. I mapped out where I wanted to go, developed a backstory and came up with a very detailed outline.

I wrote the first draft of Stiger's Tigers in three weeks and then spent the next year editing/improving the manuscript to its final form. The Tiger was started in April of 15 and published December 1st 2015. I was working on it right up until the second week of November.

I have just finished with the first draft of The Tiger's Fate. It took me six weeks to write and now I am working on improving it. Having a detailed outline to work from really helps you crank out the chapters. Making it readable, consistent and smooth is the hard part... that literally takes hours and hours of additional work. Luckily I have a great support team with my agent, beta readers and editorial team. That said... it is a lot of work to bring a book from conception to publication. After a book goes to publish, all I want to do is sleep for the next week. :p

What has been most surprising to you?
The fan response has been the most surprising thing to me. The response to the series has been both amazing and humbling. I wrote Stiger’s Tigers to simply see if I could. You spend all this time writing and working… wondering if people will like your work and when it is published you are putting yourself out there for the ultimate critique. There was absolutely no expectation on my part that Stiger’s Tigers would become a bestseller. When I published Stiger’s Tigers, I felt people would think it was a good book and then suddenly I found myself getting compared to George Martin, Simon Scarrow and Bernard Cornwell. WOW! Fans began emailing, messaging me on Facebook and calling me at work. It’s pretty cool because they love the characters and the story. It’s been an awesome experience. The reviews on amazon have been great too. I read every review, even the critical ones. It is important to me.

To my fans… all I can say is thank you for reading my work. Each review motivates me to work harder.

Are reviews helpful? Do you read them?
Oh, yes absolutely. There is a lot of really great feedback in many reviews which can help make you a better writer. The reader gets to tell you what they liked and sometimes hated. I feel it is important to read all of them, even the negative and off the wall ones… which sometimes leave you wondering… “Did they actually read my book?”

It can be tough taking some of the feedback, but as an author you have to do it. If the reader has taken the time to buy, read and then post a review, well then it is worth my time to read it. I appreciate every review and at times I feel like I work for reviews. They help to motivate me to write.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Never give up!  Keep at it and get some professional help. There are a lot of good developmental editors out there.  Seek one out who can help you bring your work to the next level.

What do you do for fun?
I enjoy spending time with my family, traveling and doing outdoor things like hiking, and kayaking. I am a voracious reader… for both pleasure and work. When I am not writing, I can devour 4-5 books a week. I am also an avid video gamer and actively play World of Tanks, World of Warships and Armored Warfare.

How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Facebook: Marc Alan Edelheit Author
Twitter: @MarcEdelheit
Amazon Author Page: