So for the final Author Spotlight of the Fall Conclave Festival, I’m very pleased to welcome J.M.Sloan…
First, tell me a little about your book/ books and why you wanted to write it/ them
The Falls of Redemption trilogy is epic military fantasy, loosely based on Ancient Greek wars in the way that Game of Thrones is based on the Wars of the Roses. It follows two cousins in alternating point of view (POV) chapters. They both love the same woman, but face hurdles in a time of war that cause their pursuit of this woman to be complicated. That’s where the story starts, because then it becomes so much more – it’s the tale of one of these cousins who is taken against his will and forced to fight for a Spartan-like group of warriors, and then his journey when he’s must choose between the brothers in arms he has learned to love and the woman of his dreams. What I love about this series is the way the characters come first, with hints of magic behind a curtain at first, revealed slowly until BAM! The magic system comes out swinging.
What inspired you to write your first book and why?
I started writing the Falls of Redemption trilogy back in 2010 when I was waiting for the next Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire) book to come out. Those books were so amazing, I felt compelled to attempt to write a book that would touch and inspire people in the same way George R.R. Martin’s books did with me. This made it feel especially amazing when I found myself working at Telltale Games on their Game of Thrones title.
Are the experiences of your characters based in part on someone you know, or on events in your own life?
My grandma was always asking me to write about my military time and travels, so instead of writing a journal or memoir, I thought I would write a fictionalized version of my bootcamp experience. I had taken a class in my international relations MA program on the Peloponnesian War, and loved it. So it made sense to combine these two ideas – a military fantasy novel based on Ancient Greek wars, that in some ways tells my story of going through boot camp and the years that followed.
Of course, the book changed drastically and totally took on a life of its own, but you could certainly say my military time has greatly influenced my writing. In fact, my other books have strong military aspects – the little girl in Back by Sunrise loses her father to the military, and Allie Strom’s mom is in the military (kind of) in Allie Strom and the Ring of Solomon.
Out of all the characters you’ve created, who is your favorite to write? Is this character a main character or one of the side characters?
Allie, from Allie Strom and the Ring of Solomon is quite fun. She’s a strong, young, protagonist, who reminds me of a cleaner version of Arya Stark from Game of Thrones. She thinks she just wants to be a normal girl starting 7th grade, but situations dictate otherwise.
Is you book part of a series, and if so, how many will there be?
All of my books are series. Land of Gods is the first in a trilogy, or was meant to be. But now I have book 4 outlined, and it could be the start of a new trilogy, or it could be a standalone, depending on how long I want the book to be.
What are you working on now?
In addition to my 4th book in the Falls of Redemption series, I’m working on a modern necromancy series with Michael La Ronn. The first is going to be released exclusively on Instafreebie, so stay tuned!
Who do you look up to as a writer?
I am a humungous fan of Brandon Sanderson. He was another huge influence in getting me into writing, with his book Elantris and his Mistborn trilogy. On top of that, he does the Writing Excuses podcast, which is a tremendous help to all writers, and served as an inspiration to me starting my Creative Writing Career podcast.
Are there any books you think some of us should read, just because?
Of course everyone should read The Princess Bride, if for no other reason than to see how it differs form the movie. It’s an entertaining read. On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers is another favorite of mine, because it’s a pirate novel with magic – you can’t get much better than that!
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Remember that nothing is as simple as it might first appear, in a book, and that, if you think something make sense, you’ll probably soon find a reason for that. Enjoy the read!