HI guys and gals! So, I was lucky enough to get a copy of The Dragon’s Blade: The Reborn King by Michael R. Miller for the purposes of a review, and I was even luckier that he agreed to do an interview with me! If you haven’t yet read The Dragon’s Blade (and really, you should) it is available now on Amazon, Waterstones, and Barnes & Noble. I loved this book (my review is available here) and I think you would too.
The book and its blurb;
‘Dragons once soared in the skies, but that was before the Transformation, before they took human form. Now, demonic forces stand to obliterate them. When left mortally wounded, Darnuir, the Prince of Dragons, can only be saved through a dangerous rebirthing spell. He is left as a babe in human hands.
Twenty years later, Darnuir is of age to wield the Dragon’s Blade. As the last member of his bloodline, he is the only one who can. He is plunged into a role he is not prepared for, to lead a people he does not know. Shadowy demons ravage his new home and the alliance between humans, dragons and fairies has fractured.
Time is short, for new threats and deadlier enemies are emerging…’
About the author;
Michael was born and raised in Ayrshire in the West of Scotland. Being useless at kicking a football around, he often resorted to imagining tales of magic and adventure in which he and his classmates would battle to save the school during their lunch hour. Fortunately for all, such embarrassing tales never made it out of his head and onto paper.
Like many young boys he quickly developed a love for daring knights who battled evil. When this was combined with endless hours playing Age of Empires and watching Lord of the Rings, a love for both history and fantasy was born.
He studied History at the University of St Andrew’s, dabbling in everything from Ancient Rome to Modern Scotland and a good deal of things in between. Graduating in 2014 he moved to London to pursue law and somehow decided it was a good idea to start writing a fantasy epic at the same time.
Let’s dive right in, I ain’t got time for niceties 🙂
What/who was your inspiration for The Dragon’s Blade?
It’s hard to boil it all down to one single creative spark but it all began with the sword. The Dragon’s Blade popped into my head, at least in terms of its look, when I was about nine years old on the way home from seeing Monsters Inc. It’s a strangely vivid memory. Throughout the years it has been a constant, even when so much else changed, and the legendary weapon I wanted my main character to use. A world and story has slowly built up around it.
As for Darnuir himself, it was a combination of inspiration from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, a philosophy question on memory loss and replacement, and the broad idea of exploring nature vs nurture.
Now that is an answer that begs more questions! So Darnuir is a man whose journey has been nothing short of unique and makes for very interesting reading. In terms of the ‘world’ that you created, did that form over a period of time, or did you already know what it would look like?
Like the story, the world building came in bits and pieces over the years. The plot, characters, setting and magic system all grew organically with each other. However, the map was in my head in a vague form for a very long time even if the finer detail wasn’t added until more recently. There was always going to be ten important mountains that tied together with the world’s magic and growing up on the coast of Scotland, with a mountain island that I looked out to every day, the roots of that aren’t hard to find. Even when I moved out for university I was still near the sea. Making the world essentially one enormous island with lots of mountains, cold snows, marshes and long summer days felt natural to me. I discovery write a fair amount of the time and so I have added bits and pieces to the world as I’ve gone along. The town of Torridon, for example, with its large crannogs out on the loch and oversized smoke houses, was added on the fly as I was writing. Characters and plots were about to converge and I needed somewhere for that to happen and it happily turned out to be one of my favourite parts of the whole book.
Mine too! So, from one fantastical world to another; the mysterious world of self-publishing… What persuaded you to self-publish your work instead of going down the traditional publishing route? Was it an easy choice or was there some deliberation process for you?
I’ve always liked to take charge and soldier on with something I’m interested in. Self-publishing appealed to me because I could move the book along quicker and at a pace I was happy with. As we know, traditional publishing generally takes a long time to break into. I was proud of my book and felt it had a strong premise on which to market it to readers. I felt that if I could make this first trilogy a relative success by myself then I’d have the experience, knowledge and confidence to approach a larger publishing house one day. Or perhaps I will remain indie. We’ll just have to see. It certainly wasn’t an easy choice. By going indie you are essentially giving up the idea of getting into most bookshops and will likely avoid an audiobook due to the high cost of quality production. I listen to a lot of audiobooks so that was a tough one for me. If I’m lucky I might be able to sell those rights one day.
Traditional publishing can seem cold from the outside – I wrote a piece on the London Book Fair to that effect – but everyone I’ve met who works in it has been incredibly open and friendly. The SFF community is especially welcoming. To anyone who is considering self-publishing I think you have to be honest with yourself as to what your goals are and what is important to you. If you desperately want your book on the shelves then going indie probably isn’t right. If, on the other hand, the idea of taking the reins and being more agile in things like prices and giveaways, and having the final say in everything, does, then consider it further. There are many excellent sites and books out there for better information such as those from Joanna Penn and Ben Galley.
Thanks for that Michael, I’m sure that will have given the budding authors out there some food for thought when it comes to the indie v traditional publishing debate. One positive of publishing your own works, is, of course, that you can participate in the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (SPFBO) 2016. It’s fair to say that The Dragon’s Blade has gone down a treat, especially the cover! How did you feel when you saw that The Dragon’s Blade had won best cover at SPFBO 2016? Also, what made you decide to enter into SPFBO 2016?
The cover has certainly gone down a treat – I’ll keep all my fingers and toes crossed for the book itself! I was genuinely taken aback when I saw the results because Timandra Whitecastle’s Touch of Iron was in the lead on the blog vote right until the end. I got very lucky to have such an incredible cover and can only hope the book lives up to the expectation it creates.
The honest answer for entering the SPFBO is the hope of getting some reviews from well-respected bloggers, if The Dragon’s Blade makes the final. I wasn’t aware of the competition until mid-way through last year’s contest. I met Ben Galley at the British FantasyCon and he educated me on the matter. After that, I followed it closely and hoped the opportunity would come up again. Aside from the chance for great exposure it brings the indie community together and lets both readers and authors discover each other in a way we might not otherwise have done. I really do hope it becomes an annual event.
As a reader, I too hope SPFBO becomes an annual competition! So where next for Michael R. Miller? How is the second book coming along? Have you got a release date slated yet?
Ah the second book…I keep promising people I am nearly finished, and I am, but it has been more difficult than the first. Second album syndrome? It will pick up right where book one finished and it’s pretty jam packed. I won’t give a precise release date yet but we’re looking at January 2017. Most importantly I want to get it right so if I need a bit more time I will take it.
Other than that I want to keep promoting the first book as much as possible and see about picking up some work in publishing in London.
Thank you very much Michael!
So there you have it, the ideas and the creative process behind The Dragon’s Blade: The Reborn King. I loved doing this interview and I felt that I could really get into his head and find out what made him tick while he was writing this.
I hope you enjoyed this interview,it it was my first so there will be some ‘clunkiness’ in and around the place (the interview) but I have a few more lined up and hope to share them with you soon.
As ever, thank you for reading. I would be most appreciative if you could hit the little ‘share’ button to whatever social media you prefer, because, well, you know, sharing is caring *cringe*