Our interview today is with Andy Peloquin, acclaimed author of Blade of the Destroyer (The Last Bucelarii: Book 1). I had the pleasure of reading an early copy of this dark fantasy last year, and it was fantastic! I found this piece, creative, gritty, and beautifully dark. I know fantasy addicts will love it!
Like many of you, I’ve been eagerly awaiting its release, and (also like many of you) I’m thrilled that the wait is finally over: Blade of the Destroyer hits Amazon tomorrow! Make sure you pick up your copy and attend the launch party, which I will participate in hosting!
Here’s the synopsis:
The Hunter of Voramis is the perfect assassin: ruthless, unrelenting, immortal. Yet he is haunted by lost memories, bonded to a cursed dagger that feeds him power yet denies him peace of mind. Within him rages an unquenchable need for blood and death. When he accepts a contract to avenge the stolen innocence of a girl, the Hunter becomes the prey. The death of a seemingly random target sends him hurtling toward destruction, yet could his path also lead to the truth of his buried past?
Needless to say, I was delighted at the chance to sit down with Andy in our London office last week to discuss his passions, his technique, and his story.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up? When did you decide to become a writer?
I don’t really remember what I wanted to be as a child. I think I had all the classic desires: fireman, policeman, etc. But I never really thought about my “dream job”. I found a love for writing at the age of 10 or 11, but I only really got into it around 15. I took it up as a “profession” at the tender age of 25.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I started writing my first book at the age of 16, but it was the classic testosterone-fueled action story expected of an adolescent male. I started In the Days: A Tale of the Forgotten Continent at the age of 18, but only finished it at 25.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Stop trying so hard! I remember I really struggled to impress girls/women, going to ridiculous lengths to try to get them to laugh, talk to me, etc. Once I stopped trying so hard, things happened much more easily. (I know this has nothing to do with writing, but heck, it’s the advice I’d give!)
Which writers inspire you?
I find the writing style of Brandon Sanderson impressive. The way his stories flow almost make me forget that I’m reading, and it feels like I’m there. His worlds are also incredibly well-written, with more depth and development than I think I could ever match. For characters, I find Scott Lynch’s writing to be both highly amusing and a great look at how to make characters interesting, lovable, relatable, and still completely entrancing.
It’s common knowledge these days that Shakespeare used to write naked, as he found it “liberating to the creative juices.” Have you ever tried that?
Never naked, but one of my very favorite scenes in Blade of the Destroyer was written while under the influence. Loved it!
Give us an insight into your the Hunter. What does he/she/it/yo/peh/per/thon/jee/ve/xe/ze/zhe do that is so special?
First off, he’s a near-immortal assassin, and how many of us can claim that? He’s an intense, highly intelligent, driven character, and he has talents that most of us dream about. And yet he deals with the same c**p that we all deal with: insecurity, fear of being alone, a struggle to find his place in the world, a desire to be near others, a need to feel useful, etc. He’s the most human version of a totally inhuman character, and I think that’s what makes him such an awesome character to both write and read.
How did you come up with this story? What drew you to it?
The story started out as a piece of prose I wrote for a competition years ago. It was from the POV of the person being hunted, and he was totally terrified of this implacable, inexorable thing chasing him. When I started writing again, I read it over and realized, “Heck, this could be an AMAZING story.” That piece of prose remained the prologue to the story (which has, sadly, been cut), and it gave an insight into just how terrified people are of “the Hunter”, this legendary, never-seen assassin who cannot be stopped.
What were the hardest and easiest things about writing this book?
The easiest thing about writing the book was writing it. Story-telling comes naturally to me, and it really took a life of its own. But the hardest thing was making it something other people wanted to read, and something they could relate to. It’s hard to paint the picture in your head in words that will help the reader to see the same picture in the same way. That, for me, was really the biggest challenge, and one I think I managed–thanks, in large part, to the help of people who helped me to sharpen it up and make it the wonderful thing it is today.
Tell us more about this series as a whole.
This series is going to follow the Hunter on his journey through the world of Einan. I want to stay away from “End of the World” scenarios, and there is no way the Hunter is going to be anything but what he is: a cynical, bastard, take-no-s**t, kill-you-before-you-kill-me assassin/anti-hero. That being said, he will undergo a good deal of character growth and development, and there may be a bit of softening of the hard edges.
Rumors abound of Jane Austen’s notorious love for drinking and getting into brawls at the local pub. In fact, it’s said by some that she came up with the idea for Pride and Prejudice while sprawled out in a pool of her own blood and urine one fateful Autumn night. Have you ever gotten into a bar fight?
No bar fights for me. I’ve felt tempted to get into one, but probably not the best for my writing career. Hard to write with swollen knuckles, broken fingers, and a headache!
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I’ve seen AMAZING strides of progress in my writing in the last year or so. I’ve participated in an awesome writers’ bootcamp that has helped me sharpen my writing skills a lot, and I’ve grown a lot–both as a writer and a person. I’ve come to realize that the greatest stories are about characters, and the setting and actions do not matter AT ALL if you have a good character.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
My mind is a curious thing. I’ve started writing a book with nothing more than just a title, and it has developed as I write. I like to have at least 50% of the plot written out–at least the first half of the book. Over the first week or two of planning the story, my mind will come up with the rest as I walk, drive, work out, or sleep. I don’t really worry about when I’ll figure it out, because I know I always will.
What’s more important to you: characters or plot?
Characters, 100%! Plot is important, don’t get me wrong, but you can make any story amazing with the right characters.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say? Do you hear any of them purely in your head?
I don’t have as much interaction with my readers as I’d like. I read all of the reviews I get in order to see where people think my writing is lacking, thus helping me improve it in the future. My beta readers are the “hold no punches” type, and they’ll say it like it is every time. My writing is MUCH better because of their feedback.
Do you let the book stew–leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?
Six weeks to two months is about the time between edits/drafts. I’ll either write the rough draft of the next book, put the final touches on the last book, or work on something new. I have the whole drafting/editing thing down to a pretty fine science.
Tell us about this remarkable cover and how it came about.
The cover is ENTIRELY the creative genius of Mrs. Alvi Story–also one of my favorite sisters. She came up with the concept, and I really only had to add a few touches. I’m artistic when it comes to putting words on a page, and that’s about it.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I HAVE to have gum and the right music, or else it just feels off.
What does your family think of your writing?
I think they’re all proud of me for following my passion. I’d love to hear my parents’ feedback about some of the things I’ve written–sort of the dark direction I’ve taken with my books. But all of my family is very supportive!
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
The dark and twisted come very naturally to me. I can easily dream up horrible things to happen to people, and it’s easy for me to write it. The hardest stuff for me to write is the happy, gooey, emotional stuff. And don’t ever ask me to write romance or sex scenes–I just can’t do it. 😀
If you could have any accents from anywhere in the world, what would you choose?
I’m a sucker for German. I wish I could speak German, but I would die happy if I could walk around speaking in a German accent.
Andy Peloquin: Lover of All Things Dark and Mysterious
Andy Peloquin–a third culture kid to the core–has loved to read since before he could remember. Sherlock Holmes, the Phantom of the Opera, and Father Brown are just a few of the books that ensnared his imagination as a child.
When he discovered science fiction and fantasy through the pages of writers like Edgar Rice Burroughs, J.R.R Tolkien, and Orson Scott Card, he was immediately hooked and hasn’t looked back since.
Andy’s first attempt at writing produced In the Days: A Tale of the Forgotten Continent. He has learned from the mistakes he made and used the experience to produce Blade of the Destroyer, a book of which he is very proud.
Reading—and now writing—is his favorite escape, and it provides him an outlet for his innate creativity. He is an artist; words are his palette.
His website (http://www.andypeloquin.com) is a second home for him, a place where he can post his thoughts and feelings–along with reviews of books he finds laying around the internet.
He can also be found on his social media pages, such as: