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Thursday, April 11, 2019

EXCLUSIVE COVER REVEAL: Quill (The Cartographer series #1) plus Q&A with AC Cobble (by Mihir Wanchoo)

Today we are super excited to exclusively reveal the cover for QUILL, the first book in the Cartographer series by A. C. Cobble. AC is the author of the Benjamin Ashwood series that is complete at six volumes. I first came to know of this book thanks to cover designer Shawn T. King, who is the genius behind several amazing indie covers such as Never Die (Rob J. Hayes) with art by Felix Ortiz, Endsville (Clay Sanger), & We Ride The Storm (Devin Madson) with art by John Anthony Di Giovanni,  and many more...

We are also glad to have AC answer a few questions about this new book and series as well as the world within. AC also talks about his collaboration with Shawn to create the stunning cover seen below. So without further ado, here is the gorgeous cover for QUILL (The Cartographer Series #1) and its description:

(click to see high-res version)

Official Book Blurb: The fate of empire is to crumble from within.

A heinous murder in a small village reveals a terrible truth. Sorcery, once thought dead in Enhover, is not. Evidence of an occult ritual and human sacrifice proves that dark power has been called upon. Twisting threads of clues lead across the known world to the end of a vast empire, and then, the trail returns home.

Duke Oliver Wellesley, son of the king, cartographer, and adventurer, has better things to do than investigate a murder in a sleepy fishing hamlet. For Crown and Company, though, he goes where he’s told. As the investigation leads to deeper and darker places, he’ll be forced to confront the horrific specters rising from the shadows of his past. When faced with the truth, will he be able to sacrifice all that he has known?

Samantha serves a Church that claims to no longer need her skills. She’s apprenticed to a man that no one knows. Driven by a mad prophecy, her mentor has trained and prepared her for a battle with ultimate darkness, except, sorcery is dead. When her life is at stake, can she call upon an arcane craft the rest of the world has forgotten?

AC Cobble, the author of the best-selling Benjamin Ashwood series, crafts worlds of stunning-depth and breath-taking adventure. In Quill: The Cartographer Book 1, a pair of unlikely investigators walk a deadly path into the past, uncovering secrets best left alone.

The fate of empire is to crumble from within. Do not ask when, ask who.

Q] Welcome to Fantasy Book Critic. To start with, could you tell us what inspired you to be a writer in the first place, and why you choose to go the self-published route? Anything else you’d like to share about yourself and your past?

ACC: Hi Mihir, thanks for having me! My origin story, so to speak, is a little bit different from a lot of other authors. For one, it was never my dream to become one. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved books since I can remember, and my room as a child was filled with over-flowing bookshelves, but books were never things I thought I could write myself. I was solidly on a “business” career path, and it wasn’t until I was in my early 30’s that I was inspired to start putting words on paper. I believe I’d recently read some really terrible fantasy (we all know the stuff) and told myself that even I could write a better story! I already had some characters and story concepts in mind that bounced around in quiet moments. Eventually, that disdain for bad fantasy inspired me to write my own. I can only imagine, my stories are inspiring others in the same way ;)

I chose to self-publish because when I did my research, I saw the odds were against ever finding a traditional publishing deal, and even if I did, there was almost no chance of earning enough income to support my family. The contracts publishing companies offer new authors are tragic, in my opinion. Self-publishing guaranteed my book would be available and it offered a glimmer of hope that this could be a career, even though I wasn’t expecting that to actually happen. It seemed a smart decision on all fronts, and it’s worked out better than I could have hoped (I’ve been a full-time author for 18 months now).

And on that note, prior to The Cartographer Series, I wrote the Benjamin Ashwood Series. It’s complete after 6 books and for a limited time only, Book 1 is available for FREE to Amazon Prime members in the US and Australia. A bit random on the geography, but hey, you take what Amazon gives. That series has gained hundreds of thousands of fans, so I encourage you to check it out while waiting for June 1st when Quill (The Cartographer Book 1) releases!

Q] I loved the cover for QUILL. What were your main pointers for your cover designer as you both went through the process of finalizing it? What were the main things that you wished to focus on in it?

ACC: On the cover, I worked with the extremely gifted Shawn T. King. I was familiar with his portfolio and really liked a lot of his recent work, so I had faith he could bring my sloppy, half-baked vision to life. I sent him a sketch of what I was thinking, and some of that even found its way into the final version.

The concept of the compass in the center with the sword and quill is original. Almost everything else changed. The actual layout of the symbol is far different from my terrible version, and as we were kicking around ideas, I changed the name of the entire book because this one looks cooler! It was Shawn’s idea to bring in the subtle map background, and if you look reeeeally close, you can see it’s an actual map of a country in the book, and you’ll find the full-size map on the interior! So, hats off to Shawn for such an awesome, and appropriate, idea.

Q] Could you tell us about the inception of QUILL & vis-à-vis The Cartographer Series and what was/were your main inspiration(s) for it?

ACC: I drew ideas from a lot of places in building the world for QUILL. The real genesis though is a loose interpretation of 1750’s colonial Britain. Around the time I was brainstorming what would come after Benjamin Ashwood, I was fortunate enough to spend some time in London, Singapore, India, and of course I live in the US. That’s the colonial government and three former colonies. In Singapore, I went to a museum exhibit on colonial rule, and it really got my wheels turning. I spent a lot of time considering the implications for these cultures before/after colonial rule, and I did a great deal of research on the time period. None of QUILL is meant to be historically accurate or a direct reflection of that period, but it did inspire a great deal of this world.

Q] This book and series seems to be a nautical fantasy story. There aren’t many of those in the fantasy genre but there have been memorable ones by Paul Kearney, Rob J. Hayes, Robert V. S. Redick, Robin Hobb etc.). Where would you say your story falls on the spectrum?

ACC: I have to admit, I haven’t read all of those authors, but I think it’s safe to say there is a lighter nautical theme in my book. There are ships, airships, and even pirates, but they are set pieces rather than elements that drive the story.

Q] One thing that I loved about the cover is that there’s a map in the background and given the title of the series. Is it safe to say cartography will be a strong focus in this series? Will you be having extra maps for these books?

ACC: Yes, there is a map in the background on the cover, and it is one crafted by the talented Soraya Corcoran for the book. I will have three of her maps included in QUILL, and very likely a few more will be commissioned before this series is complete! The protagonist of the tale is a cartographer, and while most of the focus is on his other adventures, there are several times he brings out the quill and parchment. With a cartographer as a character, I wanted to make sure this story was well-mapped! Also, there’s an idea around maps that I find really inspiring, and I feel the concept holds true for telling fantasy stories. In cartography, the lines of the map are where knowledge meets imagination.

Q] Can you tell us more about the world that The Cartographer Series is set in and some of the series’ major characters? What are the curiosities (geographical, mystical, etc.) of this world?

ACC: As I mentioned, the world is very loosely based on a 1750’s colonial Britain. It’s not meant to be directly analogous, but much of the style of the book is drawn from there. In addition to that, I’ve added layers of technology largely based on the magical possibilities of the world. Essentially, there are two types of magic. Sorcery, aka dark magic, the magic of the underworld. This is of course what our bad guys use, and in this world, sorcery involves rituals and ceremony to contact and then compel spirits from the underworld. Think pentagrams and blood. Then there is life magic, where druids or shamans negotiate assistance from the spirits of life. Think of a primal communion with nature. As far as magic, sorcery is the one which gets all of the screen time in Book 1. There’s also a healthy dose of combat with primitive firearms, swords, and fists. This story has multiple points of view, but primarily follows two main characters and what happens after they are tasked with investigating a mysterious murder in a small village.

Duke Oliver Wellesley, son of the king, cartographer, and adventurer, has better things to do than investigate a murder in a sleepy fishing hamlet. For Crown and Company, though, he goes where he’s told. As the investigation leads to deeper and darker places, he’ll be forced to confront the horrific spectres lurking in his past. Samantha serves a Church that claims to no longer need her. She’s apprenticed to a priest that no one knows. Driven by a mad prophecy, her mentor has trained and prepared her for a battle against a terrible darkness. A darkness that everyone knows is impossible.

Q] So for someone who hasn't read any of your novels, how would you describe the type of stories that you write, what would be your pitch for The Cartographer Series?

ACC: My stories have a similar feel to the fantasy I grew up reading. Robert Jordan, David Eddings, Terry Brooks, Tolkien, and so on. I like to think I’ve taken their strong foundation and built a modern structure on top of it. My characters are not Chosen Ones, but that doesn’t mean they are not heroes. If you enjoy regular people, battling through fantastic, complex worlds, facing extreme danger, on their way to save the world, then you’ll enjoy QUILL: The Cartographer Book 1.

Q] You will be releasing QUILL in June. Could you give us a progress report on book 2 and outline your plans for the series as a whole?

ACC: Yes, QUILL will be up for pre-order for a June 1st release. Currently, the series is drawn out as a trilogy with a story thread in mind to extend it if people really enjoy the books. Book 2 will releasing in December and the conclusion in June 2020.

Q] So what can readers expect from this book/series and what should they be looking forward to according to you?

ACC: For readers of my Benjamin Ashwood series, I’ve been describing it as if Ben and Amelie had a baby, and that child spent summers with Uncle Rhys. For those who haven’t read Benjamin Ashwood, that means expect an adventure. Intrinsically good people, who also know how to have a good time, traveling the globe to battle the forces of darkness.

Q] In closing, do you have any parting thoughts or comments you’d like to share with our readers?

ACC: A lot of readers were a bit disappointed that I ended the Benjamin Ashwood series. They wanted a spin-off, and I told them I needed to write this story first. I think once everyone gets their hands on QUILL, they will understand why. I’m really excited for this book to go public and can’t wait until June 1st! In the meantime, if you haven’t read Benjamin Ashwood yet, go ahead and take it for a spin! If you have any other burning questions about me or my work, you can find me on Reddit doing an r/Fantasy AMA on June 6th!

Official Author Website
Pre-order QUILL over here

About The Author: AC Cobble is the author of the Benjamin Ashwood and the Cartographer series. He was born and raised in Tennessee but currently resides in Texas with his wife, their three children, and his wife's dog. In addition to writing, he escapes by reading, eating, drinking and traveling. Benjamin Ashwood is a classic sword & sorcery fantasy that begins with a young man leaves his village with mysterious strangers. The six book series is completed in English and available in all formats, books 1-3 are available in German, and the rest are coming soon! The Cartographer is a thrilling ride packed with dark ritual and action & adventure. The first book in the series will be available in eBook and print on June 1st, with audio to follow soon after!

NOTE: Shawn T. King picture courtesy of Laura King. AC Cobble photo courtesy of the author himself. Benjamin Ashwood series pic courtesy of The Fantasy Hive.


IM Redwright said...

Love how the cover looks pretty simple and even so it's really beautiful


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