Q&A With Edward Cox
Greetings everyone and welcome to my Q&A session with the exceptional fantasy author Edward Cox. Edward caught me off guard with his complex and intricate yet entertaining story-lines that explores some great characters. The set is now complete so I took that chance to ask Edward to tell us a little bit about his work on the series. It was a pleasure to have Edward on my blog and I hope you all enjoy the Q&A. Pick up this series as soon as you can, it is fantasy that will keep you engrossed for days.
Released via Gollancz 2015-2016
About The Relic Guild Trilogy
“Magic caused the war. Magic is forbidden. Magic will save us.
It was said the Labyrinth had once been the great meeting place, a sprawling city at the heart of an endless maze where a million humans hosted the Houses of the Aelfir. The Aelfir who had brought trade and riches, and a future full of promise. But when the Thaumaturgists, overlords of human and Aelfir alike, went to war, everything was ruined and the Labyrinth became an abandoned forbidden zone, where humans were trapped behind boundary walls 100 feet high.
Now the Aelfir are a distant memory and the Thaumaturgists have faded into myth. Young Clara struggles to survive in a dangerous and dysfunctional city, where eyes are keen, nights are long, and the use of magic is punishable by death. She hides in the shadows, fearful that someone will discover she is touched by magic. She knows her days are numbered. But when a strange man named Fabian Moor returns to the Labyrinth, Clara learns that magic serves a higher purpose and that some myths are much more deadly in the flesh.
The only people Clara can trust are the Relic Guild, a secret band of magickers sworn to protect the Labyrinth. But the Relic Guild are now too few. To truly defeat their old nemesis Moor, mightier help will be required. To save the Labyrinth – and the lives of one million humans – Clara and the Relic Guild must find a way to contact the worlds beyond their walls.
About Edward Cox
Edward Cox began writing stories at school as a way to pass time in boring lessons. It was a hobby he dabbled with until the late 80’s when he discovered the works of David Gemmell, which not only cemented his love of fantasy but also encouraged a hobby to become something much more serious.
With his first short story published in 2000, Edward spent much of the next decade earning a BA 1st class with honours in creative writing, and a Master degree in the same subject. He then went on to teach creative writing at the University of Bedfordshire. During the 2000’s he published a host of short stories with the smaller presses of America, where he also worked as a reviewer.
Currently living in Essex with his wife and daughter, Edward is mostly surrounded by fine greenery and spiders the size of his hand. The Relic Guild is his first completed novel, and it is the result of more than ten years of obsessive writing.
The Q&A Section
Thank you Edward for taking some time to answer a few questions about your brilliant fantasy trilogy. Could you give us your own personal overview of what we should expect in within your Relic Guild Trilogy?
Monsters, magic and mayhem. Epic adventure that takes an eclectic cast of characters across realms of wonder and through surreal planes. Intrigue and peril. A split storyline separated by forty years, where old foes return, mysteries run deep, and nothing is as it seems. The Relic Guild is a clandestine organisation, a small but powerful band of magickers with a sworn duty to chase away the bad things in the shadows. But sometimes the shadows hide more than the Guild can handle.
What was your initial inspiration for the series?
Location was the initial inspiration, I think. My brain started building a world with a huge city hiding at the centre of a gigantic labyrinth, populated by a million denizens. I imagined a dingy existence where the populace were cut off from the rest of civilisation, cut off from other worlds and realms, and couldn’t escape. How did they survive? What were the origins of this place? Who would police this society? What would happen if evil from the outside world got in? And the story started growing from the answers.
Of course, at this stage, I had no idea that I was staring down the barrel of a three book story. It was supposed to be one, The Relic Guild, but halfway through writing it I realised that The Cathedral of Known Things and The Watcher of Dead Time would be following. The trilogy has scope.
Can you give us a few details about the style of fantasy you explore within your novels?
I’d say Epic Fantasy with a touch of Heroic Fantasy, though my favourite term came from Allan Stroud, who said The Relic Guild Trilogy is Mythic Fantasy. I didn’t use a medieval or historic model for the world building – not that I have anything against it; I’ve always read and loved that setting, and will continue to do so. At that time, I just felt that I had nothing original to add to it. As a result, the Relic Guild universe carries a degree of evolution, where magic is used to power technology and weapons. Magic is pervasive in society and provides the energy by which the populace survives, like electricity or gas. It was quite refreshing to write an adventure where heroes and villains could carry magically powered guns.
Is there a particular element or characters in The Relic Guild novels that particularly enjoyed writing about across the series?
The evolution of magic and discovering how that impacted on the world building and story was very rewarding. As for the characters, there are one or two shady people of ambiguous morality, Hamir being the most obvious example, I think. He’s embroiled with our heroes, but it’s never entirely clear whose side he’s actually on. Getting inside his head was a joy to write. Maybe that says something about me.
What sort of challenges did you face when writing such an intricate and labyrinthine fantasy series?
The split storyline was a head-bender. One tale told in two threads separated by forty years. Plotting and planning, making sure both threads ran parallel to each other, one informing the other without repeating information, or the future thread slipping up with spoilers on the past, was occasionally maddening to write. But I got there in the end, and readers really appreciated it, which is always the main goal. My anchors for the split threads were the characters Clara and Marney; they spend much of the trilogy in different times but their individual stories bear similarities. Once I got these two running side-by-side, the plot’s path became much clearer.
Had you always wanted to become a fantasy author?
I’d say so. I seem to have a mind for magic, and have done since I was a kid. Fantasy is the first thing I think of when a story idea comes, and I can’t imagine that I’d want to write anything else, but you never say never, right?
Are there any authors that you look up to as a writer that helped shape your work?
Wow, this could be a big list. Tad Williams remains a giant in my eyes, whose work continues to inspire me. Angela Carter and Joanne Harris always remind me to up my writing style game – love their use of language. You know, I could carry on and on and on here. The truth is, just about everything I’ve ever read or watched or heard and enjoyed filters into my brainbox and inspires the way I think and approach stories.
How long did it take you to plan and write the entire series?
Well, The Relic Guild began life as a university project, so if I start from there, from the moment I wrote the first note in my notebook, and end at the publication of The Watcher of Dead Time, I’d estimate around eight years, maybe nine. A big chunk of life well spent.
Can you tell us in five words what being an author/writer means to you?
Storytelling is everything to me.
Did you take the time to celebrate finishing your novels?
Yes and no. I mean, I allow myself to feel that sense of enormous achievement that comes with finishing a novel (the best feeling), and I’ll try to take a break. But then the doubt creeps in and I start wondering if the thing I’ve written is just a big pile of dog poo, and I want to take it back from my editor or agent. I can do better next time! Plus, the idea for the next novel already turned up to bug me a quarter of the way through writing the last novel, so I start that to take my mind off worrying. I don’t think writers are very good at taking breaks from what they do.
Have you got a hobby/activity you do to wind down from all the writing?
Reading, always. Catching up on movies and TV (I’m hideously behind what everyone is watching). Spending time with my wife and daughter keeps me balanced. I like playing computer games, too. I’m utterly useless at them, as my flailing progress through Skyrim would prove, but I do love getting lost in a good game.
What is next for you?
I’ve finished a new novel, which is currently with my agent. And I have a short novel called Bone Shaker out with NewCon Press next year. Looking forward to people reading that one. Monsters, magic and mayhem! And now I’m well into writing the next thing.
Finally, have you read a book/article recently that you would personally recommend to the readers of this post?
I’ve read a lot of great new releases in fantasy over the last year, so here’s a list of ten books off the top of my head, each one worthy of your eyes!
⦁ Godblind by Anna Stephens
⦁ The Bitter Twins by Jen Williams
⦁ The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton
⦁ The Ember Blade by Chris Wooding
⦁ The Deathless by Peter Newman
⦁ The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli
⦁ A Pocketful of Crows by Joanne Harris
⦁ Witchsign by Den Patrick
⦁ The Wounded Kingdom series by RJ Barker
⦁ The Witchwood Crown by Tad Williams
I could list more, but that should keep you busy for now.
The pleasure is all mine!
Thank you Edward Cox for those brilliant insights into a cracking epic fantasy series that will take even the most seasoned fantasy readers on a great journey. It is great to see a huge series become whole and Edward Cox will always be one to watch in my eyes. I am enjoying these Q&As more and more because of authors like EC. Authors who shine bright with infectious passion and enthusiasm for both their own work and the genre it occupies. Thank you for coming by to celebrate EC’s phenomenal series and make sure you seek out copies as soon as you can.