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Monday, November 11, 2013

Interview with Steve Bein (Interviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Official Author Website
Order “Year Of The DemonHERE 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Review of Daughter Of The Sword and Only A Shadow 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Review of Year Of The Demon
Read Fantasy Book Critic's interview with Steve Bein
Read Steve Bein's Guest Post on Cool Samurai Trivia

Steve Bein
is an author who impressed me completely with his debut last year. He managed to combine several genres within Daughter Of The Sword and yet managed to make it unique as far as debuts go. The sequel Year Of The Demon showed further growth with characterization and past history and so Steve is back to enlighten us a bit more about his characters, the Fated Blades series and also exclusively reveals the title for the third Fated Blades volume.

Q] Welcome back to Fantasy Book Critic. Now that you are no longer a debut author, how does it feel with the release of the second volume of the Fated Blades series? 

SB: Actually, this book is another first for me—and a big one at that: it’s the first book I wrote on spec. When I signed the contract for Daughter Of The Sword, I signed a two-book deal. That meant Roc signed me for a second book that didn’t even exist. I know that happens all the time in the publishing world, but it had never happened to me. I took it as a vote of confidence in my writing, and that was enormously encouraging, coming from one of the biggest publishing houses in the industry.

Q] In Year of the Demon, the focus was primarily on only one Inazuma blade (and also a highly unusual mask) rather than all of them as was the case previously. Why this direction? And with the next book, will we get to read more of the remaining one? 

SB: I can only write what the story demands, and in this case it was the story of Glorious Victory Unsought—or rather, the continuation of that story, the beginning of which we saw in Daughter Of The Sword. In future books I’ll probably go back and see what Tiger on the Mountain has been up to, or what havoc Beautiful Singer has wrought, but those weren’t the stories that clamored for my attention in this book. We won’t see them in book three either, but that’s because we’ll follow rumors of a fourth Inazuma blade.

As for the long term, at some point I’ll have to write about some of Japan’s most tumultuous periods—the Mongols, the Onin War, the Meiji Restoration, the invasion of Korea. If Master Inazuma’s blades alter the course of destiny, then they’re certain to resurface in some of those stories. I don’t know what that future portends; I’m as curious as you are.

Q] With Year of the Demon, you introduced a new POV character, who will be coming back in the next book (hopefully). What led to her creation and is it possible to say that her story was perhaps a fabulous inversion of the Cinderella story with a cruel twist? 

SB: I hadn’t intended to write a Cinderella story, but having written it, in hindsight I couldn’t deny the similarities. Now I really like the fact that this is a dark and twisted retelling of an old story.

My Cinderella is Kaida, a young pearl diver in a village that clings to the outskirts of 15th century Japan like a barnacle. She has lost her mother, her father has remarried, and one of her new stepsisters is a sociopath. Of course no such word exists in her vocabulary—it would be centuries before the science of psychology is even invented—so all Kaida knows is that her stepsister plays wicked games and doesn’t seem to mind if someone might die before the game is over. Kaida is her newest plaything.

Her only hope is to leave her village, which is next to impossible. She lives in the back of beyond. Her people have little to trade and few outsiders to trade with. In effect, Kaida lives in a prison without walls. Cinderella would have a fairy godmother to rescue her at this point, but Kaida isn’t so lucky. I give her a bunch of ninja mercenaries to contend with instead.

Q] In our previous interview, I asked about Year Of The Demon. Continuing with that trend, can you tell us something about the third book that you recently announced? Perhaps a title or some plot hints?  

SB: The title is Disciple Of The Wind. Readers of Year Of The Demon will have some good guesses about what that foretells. In some ways it’s darker than Year Of The Demon (which, as you observed in your review for FBC, is darker than Daughter Of The Sword). But it’s always darkest before the dawn, and the dawn will come. I don’t want to say too much more than that, because it would involve spoilers for people who haven’t yet finished Year of the Demon.

Q] In this book, Daigoro goes through a whole lot of events that change a lot in his life. The way things end in Year of the Demon, I felt as if there’s more to come in his life. Any thoughts on this? 

SB: Oh, yes. Daigoro’s life will get much darker before it brightens again. I must admit he’s my favorite character to write. He’s the most fun to pick on. Maybe this sounds sadistic, but I enjoy making him suffer and watching how he reacts to that. Any time I give him something good in his life, it’s only so I can take it away.

In Disciple Of The Wind, he’ll face an enemy far more powerful than he can defeat on his own. His family is under a new and unexpected threat, and Daigoro still bears the enormous weight of bushido, the code of the samurai. He still has his father’s legacy to live up to—oh, and incidentally, we’ll get to meet his father in Disciple Of The Wind.

Q] Are there a certain number of books that you want to write in the Fated Blades series or will this be an open-ended one? 

SB: Disciple Of The Wind will be the third installment in what I’m thinking of as the Mariko trilogy. I plan to write more Fated Blades books, but not necessarily with the same cast of characters. I have other stories to tell, in other eras of Japanese history. We haven’t met Master Inazuma yet, so we don’t know how or why his swords have the power they possess.

We don’t yet know who killed Daigoro’s father; maybe that’s a story for Daigoro to tell, or maybe we’ll see it unfold through the eyes of other characters. I have something in mind for Professor Yamada, and one more loose end for Mariko to tie up, but for now my focus is on Disciple Of The Wind.

Q] Any updates in regards to your other works, that are “in the works,” namely The Hundredman’s War & The Raven Traitor: Book One of the Latterworld Wars? 

SB: I’m not actively shopping them around at this time. I want to see where the Fated Blades will take me before I start following other paths in earnest.

Q] Thank you for your time, and lastly any other advice for our readers & your fans? 

SB: First and foremost, my sincerest thanks to all of my fans. The thing I’ve enjoyed most from this journey has been contact with readers, be it by email, Facebook, or face to face at a convention or a signing. They’re picking up on elements in the books that I didn’t even see myself. That’s a wonderful thing, and something I think every author wants: for readers to take away something valuable from the book that’s uniquely theirs.

If I have any advice for readers—yours and mine—it’s to keep reading and to keep talking about what you’re reading. Word of mouth sells more books than anything else. That’s what we get instead of an advertising budget. So post links to FBC when you read something you like, and give your favorite books as birthday presents. I’m not saying my stuff; I’m saying whoever your favorites are, whoever those authors are that do something magical for you, be their advocate. Spread the good word about them. That’s what’s going to enable you to buy more books from that author in the future.

NOTE: Author picture courtesy of the author himself.



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