Tyvian Reldamar—criminal mastermind, rogue mage, and smuggler of sorcerous goods—has just been betrayed by his longtime partner and left for dead in a freezing river. To add insult to injury, his mysterious rescuer took it upon himself to affix Tyvian with an iron ring that prevents the wearer from any evildoing.
Revenge just got complicated.
On his quest to get even, Tyvian navigates dark international conspiracies, dodges midnight assassins, and uncovers the plans of the ruthless warlord Banric Sahand—all while running from a Mage-Defender determined to lock him up. Tyvian will need to use every dirty trick in the book to avoid a painful and ignominious end, even as he discovers that sometimes even the world’s most devious man needs a shoulder to lean on.
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Could you please tell us a little about your book?
Answer: THE IRON RING is a fantasy novel about a criminal mastermind—Tyvian Reldamar—and his quest for revenge against his former partner. The catch is that, in the aftermath of surviving his partner’s attempt to eliminate him, Tyvian winds up saddled with an enchanted ring that zaps him anytime he tries to do something evil. This complicates things, and it leads the vain and arrogant Tyvian to ally himself with some very humble and filthy people just to survive. It forces Tyvian, very much against his will, to take a long hard look at himself.
There’s a lot of intrigue, a lot of swordfights, and a lot of sorcery that drive the book—it’s a fast paced adventure with a deeply flawed character at its heart. I like to say it’s a bit like James Bond freelancing in a high-magic fantasy setting.
Who or what is the inspiration behind this book?
Answer: I’ve lived with the characters in this book for a long, long time. Tyvian first hit the page in the mid 90s, when I was in high school. The world slowly coalesced around him, but I didn’t have anything for him to do, precisely. He started out as a kind of idealized self—Tyvian is smart, handsome, talented, deadly, genteel, he can dance, etc, etc. He was the guy I wanted to be, but couldn’t be (who can, right?). He was a fantasy James Bond.
Thing is, that’s not enough—a perfect character that can do everything is boring, right? Well, over the years, I realized that a guy that thinks so highly of himself (even if he’s right much of the time) is really far from perfect. He’s a narcissist. He’s blind to his own flaws. He’s a jerk. He’s selfish. He has difficulty trusting people. He’s alone. Tyvian is like this for a reason, and the persona he has meticulously crafted around himself is, in a lot of ways, entirely false.
I guess, more than anything, the thing that inspired this book is the exploration of what it costs a person to become their idealized self. How much of the “real you” do you need to shave off to be what you think is perfect? How badly does that mess you up?
In the last year have you learned or improved on any skills?
Answer: Probably the biggest thing I’ve learned how to do is to become more strategic about how I edit a novel. It used to be I’d work my way through a draft, sit on it for a month or two, and then go back and sort of haphazardly hack at what I didn’t like. It was like amateur whittling—I’d keep shaving, sometimes without a real plan, just aiming for some perfect idea in my head. The problem with that is that it takes lots and lots of drafts.
Now I’ve got it down to a more systematic process. I have a series of passes I make over a novel, each focusing on a particular aspect of the book. The first things to nail down are all the character arcs—where do my characters start, how do they change, and where do they end? Then I get the big plot sequences squared away—where do they go and when and why. Then comes pacing—what can I lose, what should I keep, how long is this taking? Then I get to polishing the details. The last thing (and I mean the last thing) is worrying about the specific language I’m using. I can’t spend time quibbling over a turn of phrase if this whole scene is going to wind up on the cutting room floor, so I don’t worry about it until the very end.
Do you have any rituals you follow when finishing a piece of work?
Answer: I write all my novels in several word files split apart in five chapter increments. I don’t append any page numbers and I don’t count words until I’ve got the whole draft finished. Then, when I’ve got the whole thing done, I copy/paste everything into one big file. Then (and only then) is it a “whole book.” Then and only then do I really see how long the thing is.
Come to think of it, this is probably a bad habit (I always write things too long!), but I think it’s important to not worry about length to start with. You need to tell the story first before you can see what parts to leave out later.
Is there an author that inspired you to write?
Answer: I’ve got a lot of influences in terms of style and story. The big ones that come to mind are Robert Jordan, Neal Stephenson, and William Gibson. Jordan, for me, is where fantasy, as a genre, took shape in my mind. His world was so real to me that I wanted to live there, and I just ate it up. Stephenson is mind-blowing as a stylist and as a researcher (man, do I learn things when I read him). Gibson is just an incredibly beautiful writer who manages to deal with heady topics in manageable and entertaining ways, which is huge. I wish I could say I actually write like any of those guys—I try, believe me—but they are some of my idols.
What are you currently working on?
Answer: The third book in the Saga of the Redeemed is what is occupying all my time at this point. I’ve got a May deadline and I need to shave about 30,000 words from the book (about 100 pages or so) to get it the right length. It’s taking some doing, but I think I can pull it off. Probably.
Do you have any advice for writers or readers?
Answer: Writers: Submit! I probably wasted about a five years sitting on things that I might have sold had I just had the confidence in myself. If your craft is strong and you are writing things you really think are as good as what’s out there, just submit it. Yeah, you’ll get rejected, but so what? Keep submitting. You can’t hit a home run if you don’t get in the batter’s box.
Readers: Review! If you like a book, let people know. There is so much stuff out there that it is hard to know what is good and what isn’t. Let people know. It will help your favorite authors succeed, which means they’ll be able to write more stuff, which means you’ll be able to read more of the stuff you like. Everybody wins!
What do you feel has been your greatest achievement as an author?
Answer: Aside from becoming a published author (which sort of goes without saying), my greatest achievement has been being selected as a winner of the Writers of the Future Contest. I won in the first quarter of 2014, and it’s a pretty big deal. It’s an international scifi/fantasy short story competition that’s judged by some really big names in the field (judges have included/currently include Larry Niven, Anne McCaffrey, Dave Wolverton, Brandon Sanderson, Brian Herbert, and on and on and on…). That people like that selected me from among the mountains of entries and saw fit to give me an award means an awful lot to me. It means I’m not crazy—that maybe I actually am pretty talented. That’s nice to think.
What do you feel sets this book apart from others in the same genre?
Answer: Tyvian is the selling point, here. I mean, I could tell you that this is a world where magic is basically the same as technology, but there are other folks out there who have that, too. I could tell you I’ve got elaborate cultures and cityscapes, but other people have that, too.
No, what my book (and this series) has that other people don’t is a jerk of a ‘hero’ who you love at the same time as you hate. Basically, I’ve put the villain in the hero’s chair—Tyvian should be the guy twirling his moustache as he’d ties the damsel to the train tracks. Instead, he’s being forced into being noble and he hates every minute of it.
…Or does he?
That right there—that’s the selling point.
You know the scenario – you’re stuck on an island. What book would you bring with you and why?
Answer: Oh, there’s a list of possibilities as long as my arm, but I’ll just go with my old stand-by: I’m pretty sure I could read Gibson’s Neuromancer for the rest of my life. I’ve read that book dozens of times and it still resonates with me. The style and the language are just so damned beautiful and the story just so powerful I can’t put it down. “The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.” Damn that’s a good line.
Thanks very much!
Auston Habershaw is a science fiction and fantasy writer and author of The Saga of the Redeemed (part one to be released by Harper Voyager in February 2015). You can find links to his stuff through Amazon or Goodreads (see the links to your right!). He got second place in the Writers of the Future Contest in the first quarter of 2014 (Volume 31), so he presumably has some idea of what he’s doing (though not the *best* idea, obviously). He’s also an English professor, a pretty good storyteller, and a big time geek. This blog is for him to discuss and explore some of the crazy ideas that are usually kicking around in his head, throw out some of his homemade RPGs for people to use or see, advertise his budding writing career, and see just what this whole ‘blog’ thing is about. Enjoy!
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