Interview with Author Ross M. Kitson

20 Aug

Darkness Rising Book Two: Quest

Welcome to The Tarasphere! Today’s post is putting the spotlight on author Ross M. Kitson and his novel, “Darkness Rising Book Two: Quest”. I am so excited to get the chance to speak with him!! Let’s find out more about his new release.

A brief description: Darkness Rising Book Two: Quest is the concluding part of Prism Volume 1, an epic fantasy series that mixes traditional heroic plotlines with contemporary dialogue and adventure. In this book we pick up the story with Emelia, the Wild-mage, wounded by a demon and her companions, Jem and Hunor, racing against time to get her to Jem’s old mentor in the mountains. Elsewhere Vildor, the undead lord of the vampyrs, plots to acquire the blue crystal and he begins to lay a trap that may end the companions’ quest before it even begins.

Time for the interview!

What was your favorite part of the book?

I’m certain a lot of people say this, but I really enjoy writing the bad guys. The main baddie in the series is a vampyr lord (a ghast) called Vildor, who is resurrected in Book One (although it is only described in retrospect in this book). He’s an undead sorcerer, utterly despicable, but amusingly charming at the same time. One of the chapters in the book has him discussing his centuries as a desiccated skeleton in the ground with a barbarian princess that he’s planning to eat. Kind of a cat like playing with its food.

What was the hardest part to write in the book?

The hardest part for me are the rewrites. When you first create a book and go through the self-editing part you trim the novel down to your vision of it. Then when your beta readers, or your editor, cast a new spin on it and you rewrite a section it becomes really difficult changing your concepts of it. One scene , where one of the MCs, Jem, returns to the ruins of his childhood house took ages to get right. I’m happy now that it’s one of the most poignant moments in the book.

What do you wish was different about the book?

That it was on George RR Martin’s TBR list? No, seriously, I’m really happy with it. My initial wish was that book’s one and two, which form volume I, were one massive complete book, like I’d originally visualised. The first volume was split mainly for print- it was too meaty in retrospect- and it’s taken a while to get used to the idea. It did mean that I had time for additional material to be added to Book Two, which has meant it is a far better work.

Who are your favorite authors? Favorite books?

There’s so many to mention! Of the books that I’ve read which I consider real page turners, then it’d have to be Scott Lynch, George RR Martin, Margaret Weis, Tracey Hickman, Philip Pullman, Roddy Doyle, Bryan Talbot, Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore. Favourite books? Watchmen and V for Vendetta by Alan Moore; His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman; Adventures of Luther Arkwright by Bryan Talbot; Dragonlance Chronicles by Weis/Hickman.

What sparked the idea for your novel?

I considered the premise of mental illness in a fantasy world one day when I was driving home from work. It then generated an idea that the mental illness could be linked to magic in some way, and the story sort of grew from there.

How personal is your writing?

It varies a lot. There’s parts where you inject a lot of yourself into your characters, drawing on personal experience or emotions. Other parts I feel like an impassive observer, especially when I’m doing crap things to the characters.

Are you a plotter or a pantster?

A pantster? Hmm, not certain.  Essentially for the Prism series I created a framework of key events and plot, and then I fleshed it out with the characters. I then mashed it all up by having the characters relationships as sub-plots, which actually then shifted the skeleton of the plot. Just when I had it nailed I decided to write some story arcs for minor characters, which then grew and became major characters. Having now written book five in draft (one left to go!!!) it’s all nailed down- at least until I screw it around more with book six.

What is your writing routine?

Sporadic and opportunist. I work as a doctor in the UK and work varies from busy to crazy. I tend thus to write at weekends and evenings, usually pretty late on as I have three kids. Saying that, most of the plotting and ideas are generated during the day, when driving or walking around, so I do the stereotypical carrying a notepad. By the time I write it’s kind of ¾ done in my head already.

Which comes first? The character’s story or the idea for the novel?

I’d say the idea for the whole series (although that is based around a character). The idea combined with the character and the whole plot, about undead sorcerers, ancient artifacts, gems of magical power, shape-changing druids, fallen empires etc., were a backdrop to the journeys of the three main characters.

How did you choose the genre you write in?

I have always read fantasy and loved its variety and versatility. I was a mad DnD player as a youth and thus the focus of my creativity was always in that area. It seemed a natural extension to write in that genre. Having said that I’ve an MG/YA contemporary sci-fi/steampunk novel cooking for the autumn, and I’ve written straight fiction short stories tucked away on my hard-drive for the future.

How did you come up with the title?

Originally it was Dreams of Darkness Rising, which was trimmed down to Darkness Rising. The following volumes are Echoes of Empires Lost and Whispers of Worlds Reclaimed, both of which I think will be shortened.

What project are you working on now?

I’m editing and re-writing parts of book three (Empires Lost: Secrets) hoping for a yuletide release. I’m also tweaking my MG/YA sci-fi book, The Infinity Bridge, possibly for the autumn. I’ve also got some shorts in anthologies coming out. The first is a fantasy piece with the guys from Skull Dust Circle, which should be soon (Gary Vanucci is putting it together). The second is a steampunk story in an anthology by a new imprint called Kristil Ink. That’s undergoing an edit at the mo.

Are there certain themes you like to address in your writing?

I do enjoy themes of mental illness and perception (probably from my psychiatry days) and they sneak into both the Prism series and Infinity Bridge. In the Prism series I also like exploring how characters relationships can have significant impacts upon their worlds, both in positive and negative ways.

What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?

Read a lot, write a lot, constantly seek evaluation of your work and don’t be too arrogant to take the advice.  Don’t be disheartened on the way, and don’t be afraid to do your own thing and self-publish your work. Immerse yourself in social media, but not at the expense of your writing.

Oh, and write erotic fiction.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

When I spilt volume one into books one and two, the original story structure designed to run over the two books felt a little disjointed and book one’s ending abrupt. Some of the reviews of the ‘split’ book criticized it for being patchy and jumping about, with characters that seemed to go nowhere.  You kind of want to respond to those reviews, but I’ve always been told to avoid commenting on any review.

The biggest complement was two friends who have never read fantasy read my book and were hooked.  Now they love the genre!

If you could have dinner with three people, dead or alive, who would they be and why?

Bit of a soppy one to start with, and that’d be my granddad. He died when I was eight and so I never got chance to know him as an adult. I know he’d be fascinated by both my day-job ( I work as an Intensive care specialist) and my writing.

Second up,  and thee choices will seem very tame compared to some inspirational characters that I’m certain the other authors you interview would choose, I’d have lunch and a few beers with Alan Moore and Tom Baker. Alan I’d chose because his work has delighted and inspired me from his early days in UK comics and I’m certain his sarcastic take on the world would be a good laugh. Tom Baker because he was the defining Dr Who of my life, and he’s as mad as a barrel of frogs.

Mr. Kitson was so lovely as to gift us with an excerpt. Enjoy!

Excerpt:

The warmth of the day leached swiftly from the dented metal panels. Dusk smeared the surface a ruddy red, recalling the day months ago when the machine was spawned by the forge in the Ebony Tower.

Two knights stood guard, immobile as the enormous excavator behind them. In contrast, Vildor was a streak of motion. His robes rippled like liquid night.

Vildor came to a halt by a huge wheel, each of its broad spokes wider than his gaunt waist. He rested his head against the metal, as if he were listening to some sound deep inside the construct.

“You and I are so alike, my beauty,” Vildor said. “Your cold lifeless metal is unfeeling and uncaring. You have a singular purpose that none may oppose. Aah, how you suck warmth from the night air like a greedy babe. A mirror image to me, like the moon on the water at night.”

“It is the future, my lord,” said one of the knights.

Vildor slid his face along the wide panel, over the furrows and the rivets and the bolts. With a flourish he turned and paced towards the knight, whose demonic face remained as impassive as the machine he guarded.

“The future, you say?” Vildor said. “In truth what know we of the future? I stood on this ground five hundred years ago. I severed the Empire’s head much as a farmer would a tasty chicken. The fools genuinely thought they would last forever. And now? Now they are ash and dust, charcoal ghosts and memories on the breeze. A pair of fools—greed and ambition.”

“M—my lord, I meant no affront.”

“And none was taken. For this machine is like me in that respect. I am the future. From the dust-choked depths of antiquity I have risen and my future is as chill and mechanistic as this wonderful construct. And cold, so very cold, an absence of heat and life so profound that millennia in the damp soil may not even compare. Mine is a future of ice and iron, of steam and smoke fed incessantly by the rape of this nature, this life force that irks me so.”

The knights bowed in awe and respect. Vildor turned to observe a knight and a girl walk through the desolation of the central square and around the excavated hole. In the distance the fires of the trolls’ camp threw a hellish glow against the grandiose buildings.

“Good evening to you, Darklord Jüt. I am flattered you find time to attend me personally,” Vildor said.

“The honour is mine, great one. I have selected this girl for your… ah, feast this eve.”

The girl was slim but powerfully built, her body taut like a coiled snake. She had braided brown hair and her figure was barely concealed by doe skin and furs. A spiral tattoo weaved like ivy up her arm and neck.

Vildor slowly approached, and touched her soft skin. She flinched at his touch.

“A barbarian girl. The braids would imply a high caste,” Vildor said.

“Indeed, great one. She is a young princess of the Garashi tribe. Fierce warriors and now productive slaves,” Jüt said. He tugged on the chain that bound her wrists.

Vildor tutted and gestured at the girl. The iron chains turned a dirty brown colour before crumbling into a shower of rust.

“You have chosen well. Barbarian has ever been a most succulent taste. Tell me my dear, do I repulse you?” Vildor asked.

The barbarian snarled at him and replied in her own coarse tongue.

Vildor touched the girl’s forehead. A tiny flicker of light illuminated her face.

“What—have—you done?” she asked.

“It’s so tedious being showered with tribal phlegm and not understanding a word,” Vildor said. “A tiny spell, just so we’re singing from the same sheet, eh? Don’t look so surprised. Not all my spells invoke death, pain, disease or worse. Most of them do, but not all. That one draws on the Demon Duchess Sirgos. You can’t have abject terror without language after all.”

“Lord Vildor, I must excuse myself. I have matters to attend to at the Ebony Tower. Master Xirik wishes to speak with you,” Jüt said.

“He wishes to? Well, who am I to refuse my most treasured disciple, eh? Inform Xirik I will see him in my chamber,” Vildor said, with a touch of irritation. “Now what do you make of this magnificent machine, princess? Your enslaved kin were quite particular to its grandiosity.”

The barbarian girl curled her lip.

“I think it an abomination, unnatural as you are, mage.”

Jüt went to strike her, but halted as Vildor raised his slender hand. He chuckled, stroking back his long black hair and then replied.

“Unnatural? Your words please me greatly, princess. I abhor nature. Never has a more fickle mistress been painted with such exuberant colours, never has such a whore as Nolir been inadvisably adored. She revels in death with every pulse of her foul heart. Feckless. Cruel. Only the strong survive her cruel pageants. She perpetuates a chain of devouring and consumption where no quarter is given to the weak and infirm. If that is nature then I bask in my unnatural form.”

“Your words are twisted and poisonous, wizard. You speak with the cunning of Abral, the snake god.”

“I speak with my own tongue, girl, and it is far from forked. You barbarians fascinate me. Such passion, such life. It flares like wood cast upon the fire, sears like the magma of Pyrios. Yet for all that vitality your race is stagnant.

“When I graced the younger lands of what would become Trimena, two and a half thousand years ago, your barbarian ancestors trod the plains of Foom. They were like you in every way. Same garb, same tattoos, same defiance. Two millennia of squabbling like angry children and here you stand, an anachronism. A creature of yesterday. Widen your eyes, savage princess, and see the future of this land. It looms impassive and inspiring, its fires now still but eager to begin belching the destruction of your beloved earth once more. The future is hard and cold; steel not wood, malleable and mighty, not brittle and rotting with the kiss of time.”

The barbarian princess, her face flushed, went to strike Vildor again. He casually caught her wrist and bent it back until she buckled with a whimper. His cloak opened out like a blooming black rose and the girl was swallowed by shadow.

Great stuff. Here’s some more about Ross:

During the day I work as a doctor specialising in intensive care and anaesthesia in Manchester in the UK, but at night I transform into a twisted creature of fantasy, scribing epic tales of mystical worlds and nurturing migraines from excessive screen time. My main hobby in life are three bonkers children who use me as the world’s skinniest climbing frame and get more excited than I do about the books I’m writing, even though they are not allowed to read them. My first two books in my epic fantasy series are out now on Kindle, and the print editions aren’t far behind.

Ross M. Kitson

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5 Responses to “Interview with Author Ross M. Kitson”

  1. writermirandastork August 20, 2012 at 9:01 am #

    Fantastic interview! The excerpt sounded brilliant, and I can’t wait to start reading the first book! (Which I’ve got but not had a chance to read yet). I thought the choices for the ‘guests at dinner’ was so lovely, great choices.

    Also, ‘writer erotic fiction’ made me giggle. 😀

    Like

  2. trishmarie August 20, 2012 at 11:12 am #

    I agree with Miranda – great interview Tara! It’s amazing to me that Mr. Kitson is a Doctor – just proof that if writing is a passion, anyone can make time for it! 😀

    Like

  3. MG WELLS (@MG_WELLS) August 20, 2012 at 8:42 pm #

    Brilliant Interview Tara and Ross! I met Ross via Twitter and adore him, his passion, his kindness and ProPic, which always brings a smile to my face every time I see it. It’s so fantastic to learn more about you, Ross. Wishing you much health, prosperity and success! Thanks for sharing, MG

    Like

    • tarawood21 August 20, 2012 at 8:46 pm #

      Thanks so much, MG! Glad you enjoyed it! It was so much fun getting to know Ross a little more! I hope to be doing more interesting interviews like these for a while. I love learning about authors and their works. Stop back by anytime!

      Like

  4. jennymilch August 21, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

    Such a great premise, Ross. I enjoy reading the bad guys, so it’s good authors enjoy writing them!

    Like

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