Blog Tour – Q&A with Ed McDonald
Welcome everyone to my stop on Gollancz’s blog tour for Ravencry. This is book two in Ed McDonald’s immense Raven’s Mark series and it is most certainly a contender for Book Of The Year 2018 on Always Trust In Books, you can read my glowing review here. I have done a Q&A with Ed before and it is a lot of fun. Ed McDonald is honest, cool and sincere and this Q&A will definitely have you wanting to pick up these books. By the way… if you haven’t already heard of this series then you are not reading enough and you need to pick up Blackwing as soon as you finish reading this post. You can thank me, Ed and the book community later :D. Enjoy the Q&A and make sure to visit all the other blogs on this tour for plenty of additional content for Ravencry.
28.06.2018 / Gollancz / Dark Fantasy / Hardback / 432pp / 978-1473222052
About Ed McDonald
Ed McDonald has spent many years moving between different professions, cities and countries, but the only thing any of them share in common is that they have allowed him enough free time to write. He currently lives in London, a city that provides him with constant inspiration. When he’s not wrangling with misbehaving plot lines he can usually be found fencing with longswords, rapiers and pollaxes.
For Ryhalt Galharrow, working for Crowfoot as a Blackwing captain is about as bad as it gets – especially when his orders are garbled, or incoherent, or impossible to carry out.
The Deep Kings are hurling fire from the sky, a ghost in the light known only as the Bright Lady had begun to manifest in visions across the city, and the cult that worship her grasp for power while the city burns around them.
Galharrow may not be able to do much about the cult – or about strange orders from the Nameless – but when Crowfoot’s arcane vault is breached and an object of terrible power is stolen, he’s propelled into a race against time to recover it. Only to do that, he needs answers, and finding them means travelling into nightmare: to the very heart of the Misery.
RAVENCRY is the second book in the Raven’s Mark series, continuing the story that began with the award winning epic fantasy BLACKWING.
Thank you Ed for taking some time to answer a few questions about Ravencry, the second novel in your Raven’s Mark series. Could you give us your own personal overview of the story we will experience in Ravencry?
Ravencry kicks off four years after the events in Blackwing, and while Galharrow is seemingly on the up, nothing stays calm for long. More than one conspiracy is rotting the framework beneath him, and a ghost in the light-network known as the Bright Lady seems to herald the coming of dangerous revolution. But home concerns are not Galharrow’s only worries, as the Deep Kings eyes are once more turned to striking back at the Range.
Or in short: there’s more swords, more magic, more going into the Misery to sort stuff out, more Nenn, and more monsters!
What was your initial inspiration for the Raven’s Mark books and the characters within?
At first, I wanted to write books that felt real – that felt like the characters within those worlds could genuinely exist, and to do that I knew that they needed to be different to modern day people. Initially I wanted a lot of historical accuracy, but as I was writing, I just found that the more random fun I flung into the book, the more I was enjoying writing about it. A lot of the really random stuff – The Misery, Darlings, Nenn – came about just through an idea on the spur of the moment. I find that’s the most fun way for me to write.
Can you give us a few details about type of fantasy you explore within your novels?
I think that Blackwing and Ravencry can be classified in a lot of different ways, but some of the tags that most often get attached are: epic, romantic, heroic, hopeful, thriller, steampunk (there isn’t any steam), noir and grimdark.
Is there a particular area, element or character in Ravencry that you especially enjoy writing about?
I enjoy writing about all of the characters and I don’t know if I could pick one – if I didn’t enjoy them I’d change them so that I did.
The location that I like to write the most is the magical wasteland known as the Misery. It’s like the resultant aftermath of a magical cataclysm and nothing there makes sense. There are ghosts, there are weird creatures, and even the compass directions change constantly – the land itself hates you and wants to kill you. It’s incredibly fun to write because nearly anything can happen there at any time.
What sort of challenges did you face when writing the follow up to the first book, Blackwing?
The hardest thing about writing a sequel, for me, was making it “the same, but different.” You want to bring readers with you from the first book, and that means that you can’t go totally off-piste and give them a completely different experience. So if what was fun in the first book (and therefore is what’s drawing the readers back in) is that they enjoyed the Misery, the romance plot, and the high-stakes then it’s necessary to put all those experiences on the table for them to enjoy again – but at the same time you can’t just repeat the first book. The story, world and characters all need to move on and evolve. That can be really tricky, but hopefully I’ve got it right.
Had you always planned to become an fantasy author?
I’ve always wanted to, and I’ve always been working towards it in one form or another. I set myself a goal of getting a book published by the time I was 50, and that felt realistic. I managed it at 35.
Are there any authors that influence how you approach your own writing?
We all stand atop the shoulders of giants, and without them I doubt any writer would have got very far. For me, it’s Robin Hobb, Glen Cook, Joe Abercrombie, Bernard Cornwell and Daniel Polansky.
How long did it take you to plan and write Ravencry compared to Blackwing?
I think that Blackwing took 11 months, plus editing, while Ravencry was done in about 9 months. Once you have a deadline you really feel the pressure to produce. With hindsight, I wish that I’d spent an extra month on Ravencry before submitting it, as it required a lot of editing to get it into shape – whole characters and plot lines had to be totally rehashed. I’m happy with the end result though, and hope that readers will be too.
Can you tell us in five words what being an author/writer means to you?
Sharing wonderful daydreams with people.
Did you take the time to celebrate finishing your novel this time around? (That sword you had made last time was really cool!)
I think that when Ravencry hits shelves I’m going to have a barbeque but it has all come around so quickly I don’t know that I’ve even had time to think. The third book needs to be turned in by 1st December, which sounds a long way off now but really isn’t.
Have you got a hobby/activity you do to wind down from all the writing?
I like to run. I find that it clears my head a lot, and it’s the best way to deal with stress in all its forms. It’s also, handily, where I seem to work through problems in plots.
Finally, have you read a book/article recently that you would personally recommend to the readers of this post?
I very recently finished Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell and enjoyed it a lot. It’s a fast paced, light-hearted run through some wizardy shenanigans with a talking squirrel-cat and a feisty cowgirl slinging playing cards around. Great fun, and very much worth a gander.
Thank you Ed again for these answers. As I keep saying, I have been waiting patiently yet obsessively for Ravencry to grace my presence and it is finally time. It was great to get stuck into Ed’s phenomenal writing and brilliant characters once again and to see where he is taking this extremely enigmatic story. If you haven’t read Blackwing yet then you’re in serious trouble! You are banned from reading until you have read it and procured yourself a copy of Ravencry. I mean it :D. I hope you enjoyed the Q&A and make sure to check out my full review, link is at the top of the page.