This week’s featured author, Brian Lee Durfee, is an accomplished artist and writer. Raised in Fairbanks, Alaska and Monroe, Utah, he has created illustrations for Wizards of the Coast, Tolkien Enterprises, Dungeons & Dragons, Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust (Denali National Park) and many more. His art has been featured in SPECTRUM: Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art #3 and Writers of the Future Volume 9. He won the Arts for the Parks Grand Canyon Award and has a painting in the permanent collection of the Grand Canyon Visitors Center-Kolb Gallery. Brian is the author of the The Forgetting Moon and The Blackest Heart, volumes one and two of The Five Warrior Angels series, published by Simon & Schuster’s SAGA Press in August 2016. Brian lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The jacket copy from The Forgetting Moon describes the book as follows:
A massive army on the brink of conquest looms large in a world where prophecies are lies, magic is believed in but never seen, and hope is where you least expect to find it.
Welcome to the Five Isles, where war has come in the name of the invading army of Sør Sevier, a merciless host driven by the prophetic fervor of the Angel Prince, Aeros, toward the last unconquered kingdom of Gul Kana. Yet Gault, one of the elite Knights Archaic of Sør Sevier, is growing disillusioned by the crusade he is at the vanguard of just as it embarks on his Lord Aeros’ greatest triumph.
While the eldest son of the fallen king of Gul Kana now reigns in ever increasing paranoid isolationism, his two sisters seek their own paths. Jondralyn, the older sister, renowned for her beauty, only desires to prove her worth as a warrior, while Tala, the younger sister, has uncovered a secret that may not only destroy her family but the entire kingdom. Then there’s Hawkwood, the assassin sent to kill Jondralyn who has instead fallen in love with her and trains her in his deadly art. All are led further into dangerous conspiracies within the court.
And hidden at the edge of Gul Kana is Nail, the orphan taken by the enigmatic Shawcroft to the remote whaling village of Gallows Haven, a young man who may hold the link to the salvation of the entire Five Isles.
You may think you know this story, but everyone is not who they seem, nor do they fit the roles you expect. Durfee has created an epic fantasy full of hope in a world based on lies.
Tell us about your most recent release.
The Blackest Heart, Volume 2 of The Five Warrior Angels, is coming out on June 5, 2018.
Who or what was the inspiration behind it?
The epic fantasies of Tad Williams, Robert Jordan, George R R Martin, and even the westerns of Larry McMurtry (Lonesome Dove)
What was the biggest challenge you faced writing this book and how did you overcome it?
I only had eighteen months to write book two. I had my whole life to write book number one.
What other novels have you written?
The Forgetting Moon, Volume One of The Five Warrior Angels.
Have there been any awards, productions, videos or anything else of interest associated with your work?
It is for sale at every Barnes & Noble in the country and on Amazon.
What else are you working on?
Now I am working on book number three. Its title is, The Lonesome Crown, Volume Three of The Five Warrior Angels.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I have a full time job at the State Prison in Utah so I write in the evenings and weekends.
Tell us about your path to publication.
I wrote one very long epic horror novel first. Sent query letters out to one hundred different New York agents and got one hundred rejection letters back. When I finished my fantasy novel I only targeted the six best agents in New York that dealt with epic fantasy. I got offers of representation from two of those agents. I signed with my agent and he got me a three book deal with Simon & Schuster’s Saga Press.
Do you create an outline before you write?
A very vague outline. But yes, I do have one for the entire series.
Why do you write?
Because I love it!!!!!
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
When I wrote my horror novel, I thought it was the greatest thing ever. Now when I read it, it hurts my eyes. I reckon I have just evolved as a better writer.
What is the single most powerful challenge when it comes to writing a novel?
Some days you don’t want to write but you plow ahead anyway. Other days you are dying to write and you cant escape your day job.
Is there anything you want to make sure potential readers know?
You won’t be bored reading my novels. And pay attention to EVERYTHING in the story. It all matters.
Do you have another job outside of writing?
I am a Sergeant at the Utah State Prison. I’ve worked in the mental health Unit, Gang Unit, Intake Unit, and now, in programming, I run all the prison libraries and teach creative writing courses to the inmates.
Describe a typical day.
Work at prison. Write in the evenings. Watch football on Sundays!
Would you care to share something about your home life?
I am very OCD about my book collection. Over three thousand books. Most signed. And all in mint condition.
What motivates or inspires you (not necessarily as regards your writing)?
Movies and great TV shows inspire me. I love The Sopranos and The Wire and epic shows like that. I love epic movies like Braveheart and Dances With Wolves.
How do you pick yourself up in the face of adversity?
I’ve always realized I hit the cosmic lottery by just being born. Everything after that is Amazing.
Do you have any pet projects?
Yes. I put on a mini Comic Con at the State Prison with my writer friend, James Dashner (The Maze Runner). I hope to do it annually with more writers and guests each year.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
Stephen King, Motley Crue, and the Oakland Raiders.
Brian, Thank you for taking time to participate in my author interview series, The Write Stuff. Brian elected to submit an excerpt from The Forgetting Moon. Before I give our visitors a taste of it, I’d like to take a moment for a Lightning Round, because of the insights it often provides. I encourage you to stay with us after the excerpt, so I can provide social and book buy links.
My best friend would tell you I’m … the smartest person they know!
The one thing I cannot do without is… The Oakland Raiders. I am seriously obsessed with football. The world stops during a Raiders game.
The one thing I would change about my life: I would have started working at the prison when I was twenty-one because I could be retired by now.
My biggest peeve is: anyone touching my book collection!
The thing I’m most satisfied with is: I reckon book number two, The Blackest Heart. It is KILLER!!!!!!
The Forgetting Moon excerpt:
Trust is fleeting, while betrayal is timeless. Alas, life is crowded with lies. So be bloody, be brave, be happy. For at the end of every tale, nobody is who they seem to be…
Book of the Betrayer
15th day of the Fire Moon, 985th year of Laijon
Sky Lochs, Gul Kana
In her panic, the woman had fled with the boy to the very edge of the glacier, a thin boning knife buried hilt-deep in her back. All that remained of her passing—a broad bloody smear that led over the lip of the ice to the loch waters five hundred feet below.
The small boy, kneeling alone on the precipice of the ridge, stared up at Shawcroft with big calf-eyes, piercing green orbs that gaped wide and vulnerable against the seemingly bottomless drop beyond. The boy wore roughspun breeches, soft woolen boots, and a crude elk-hide coat fit for a child, his tiny hands bare and red from the cold. Wisps of blond hair fluttered in the crisp breeze. Perched against the sunlit backdrop of the loch and the lofty, snow-covered mountains, the child appeared the very essence of innocence and purity. No more than three years old, if that. And despite the horrific injuries of the woman who had carried him this far, there was not a drop of blood on him.
All his life a soldier for the Brethren of Mia’s cause, and Shawcroft’s heart had never ached more than it did now.
“Don’t move!” he called out over the deafening roar of the mammoth glacial river thundering somewhere far below. The sharp ridges of the surrounding crevasses and crags and heaps of ice magnified the immensity of the roiling water’s thrum. He could feel the glacier shifting under his leather boots as he carefully moved forward, knowing the ice could shear off at any moment and send both he and the boy plummeting to a violent, crushing death. Struggling not to stare at the red trail of blood that had led him here, Shawcroft stuffed his gloves into the buckled front closure of his fur-lined tunic and adjusted the cloak around his chest, longsword a barely noticed weight in the baldric looped over his shoulder.
As he reached forth and helped the child from the edge, the plunging barrenness of the spacious air beyond seemed to pull at him with an immense, near-irrepressible force as he heard the hollow clomping of the two beasts coming up behind him.
The boy’s small hand in his, Shawcroft turned and blinked against the stark brilliance of the maze-like landscape he’d just travelled through, beautiful in its own way, a hard-edged white beauty that tore at the eyes and scoured them raw. And shimmering darkly, two shadowy forms materialized out of that opaque brightness and glided toward him.
He knew what they were.
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