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Monday, December 2, 2019

The Moon Fall Series Spotlight Q&A with James Rollins (by Mihir Wanchoo)


Official Author Website
Read A Paean To Myrillia (The Godslayer Chronicles World And Series Analysis article)


Just over a fortnight ago, Entertainment Weekly broke the news about James Rollins returning to the fantasy fold in a big way. The article and some digging spoke about how Devi Pillai & Tor Books were able to procure this new series amidst some tough competition from other publishers. I’ve been following Jim’s career since the turn of the millennium when I was first introduced to his Rollins’ writing side. Soon afterwards I became acquainted with his Clemens books which quickly became my favorites.

However in 2006, the Clemens books took a hiatus and now after 15 years, in 2021 we the fans will get a brand new saga from the brilliant mind that has given us such gems in the SIGMA series, Godslayer Chronicles & the Banned & Banished saga. We are glad to have Jim over today to chat about the Moon Fall saga and how he came back to the field where he can truly let his imagination reign. So read ahead to find our more about the Moon Fall saga and what readers can expect from it.

Welcome back to Fantasy Book Critic James. Thank you for your time. It’s been over a decade since we had you over for some questions. Since then you have racked up many an accomplishment. What would you say has been your most fun thing in this past decade?
JR: Thanks, Mihir. It has been a busy decade—both writing-wise and personally. During the first decade or so of my career, I was writing a fantasy novel (under “James Clemens”) and a thriller (under “James Rollins) every year. Then these past ten years, I’ve still been doing two books per year, but it’s been a thriller and some “other” project: stand-alone novels, middle-school fantasy adventures, co-written projects. So, I’m exciting as I start my 21st year as a published author to return to my roots, to writing a fantasy novel and thriller every year. As to what has been the most fun over the past decade, personally it’s been getting to know many of my readers over a longer breadth of time that can only come from writing for so many years. I’ve made many enduring friendships, some that started as email exchanges and have evolved to staying at each other’s houses.

Just a few weeks ago, the fantasy landscape was rocked by the EW announcement about your triumphant return to the realms of fantasy. Can you walk your fans about how this return was initiated?
JR: I’ve never fully strayed away from fantasy. Many of my “other” projects have had a distinctly fantastical edge: from the middle-school adventures of Jake Ransom to a co-written trilogy of novels that dealt with vampires. But there’s been a unique story that’s been building for 7-8 years. It started as an idea that got imbedded in my head, and once that happened, I had a hard time dislodging it. The only way to address it was to begin building that world, populating it, layering its history, even consulting a few scientists. Eventually it became too large to ignore and I knew it had to be written.

All your fantasy fans (yes we Clemens fans are outnumbered by your Rollins ones) have been patiently awaiting you to return to your fantasy roots since 2006. However, you are writing your new series under your Rollins pseudonym, what lead to this shift?
JR: Mostly for the sake of transparency. It’s been a poorly kept secret that James Rollins and James Clemens are indeed the same person. Its mentioned at every book-signing and comes up often during discussions online. So, it seemed disingenuous after so long to pretend this new series was not being written by me and publishing it under the Clemens penname. Also from the sake of practicality, it’s easier to keep everything under one name versus schizophrenically splitting my writing into two artificially constructed camps.

From what has been revealed so far, it’s pretty obvious that this book is an amalgam of many genres. It has many aspects that make your titles so alluring: 
- A vast character cast of both antagonistic and sympathetic folks, 
- An environment that plays a central factor within the story, 
- A magic system that’s unique and yet complex as well 
What would you say is compelling about this story and why you choose to write this for your comeback?
JR: The storyline drew me for many reasons. The setting is unlike any seen in fantasy before, so the challenge of breathing life into this world was undeniably compelling. But it’s also the characters that always draw me in. I was living with Elena (from the “Banned and Banished” series) for years before setting her story to paper. Same with Tylar from the “Godslayer Chronicles”  It’s when you know those characters so well that they go from whispering in your ear to demanding to be heard that I can’t help but write them and share them with the world. For this new series, it wasn’t just one character clamoring in my ear, but a whole diverse and unique cast. How could I not write them into existence?


Was the writing process any different for this new book and did you face any challenges with this genre shift especially after having written the SIGMA thrillers as well the horror tinged Sanguine books over the last decade?
JR: Not really. There are unique challenges in every genre, and one of my joys of writing is to mix and merge genres. My Sigma thrillers are part historical mystery, part scientific speculation, and part adventure fiction. Even for my fantasy novels under James Clemens, I drew upon my veterinary background to make the “creatures” in my books as realistic as possible. And for this new series, I take a similar approach—but in a much more extreme and challenging way.

You know I’m probably one of the (if not the biggest fan) of your Godslayer Chronicles. So I have to ask this question on behalf of all of those who are waiting for the next book(s) in the saga? What can you reveal about the future of Myrillia literally & figuratively? When can we expect to read God Sword?
JR: Like I mentioned, I can’t ignore those characters demanding for their stories to be told. In the background, I’ve been continuing the story of Tylar ser Noche. The rough draft for the third book in the “Godslayer” series (tentatively titled God Sword) is finished, as is about half of the fourth book. My longterm plan is to finish all five books before putting them out in the world.

I’d like to see the entire remainder of the Godslayer Chronicles all published en-masse, or at least spaced close together, like 4-5 months apart. As big and complex as this series becomes, I think it would be best to be consumed more quickly than spaced a year apart. That’s why I’d like to get the entire five books written before starting the publication conveyor belt. What year will we see that happen? It’s hard to say until I get a better feel on balancing a thriller and fantasy per year and see how much extra time I have to work.

How will your writing schedule be for the next few years? Can fans expect a fantasy & thriller release every year similar to what you did from 1999 to 2006?
JR: That is the plan—both for this new series and beyond.

Can you share something about the book that’s not mentioned in the blurb and why fans of your previous works should be excited for this new story?
JR: Hmm, I’m somewhat under some restraint on what I can and can’t reveal. But I will offer one bit of extra information. I mentioned above that I love to create fully realized creatures in my books. For this new series, I’m working with a brilliant graphic artist to create biological sketches for the bestiary of this series. Those sketches will be part of each novel as one of the characters in the new series is a naturalist who will be journaling the quest, revealing in stunning detail the beauty and horrors of this new world.


What are your currently writing? What will be next for you under your Rollins name?
JR: My next Sigma thriller, The Last Odyssey, comes out next March, which marks a major turning point in the series. And I’m currently writing the follow-up, tentatively titled The Savage Zone.

Thank you again for taking the time to chat with us, Jim. 2021 can’t come soon enough for The Starless Crown’s release? Anything else you have going on right now that you'd like the world to know about?
JR: Not that I’m at liberty to speak about right now. But stay tuned (and yes, that’s a hint)!

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