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Monday, July 6, 2020

SPFBO: Semifinalist Interview with E.G. Radcliff

Official author website
Order The Hidden King over here (USA) or here (UK)

Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Before we start, tell us a little bit about yourself. 

I’m E.G. Radcliff, an author from Chicago, Illinois, and I write Young Adult fantasy fiction. I do have a few hobbies. I play goalie in a water polo club. I sing, both independently and in a choir. I love motorcycles. I do a lot of drawing, and while most of my art is digital, I’m doing my best to learn new traditional techniques as well. I have a weakness for InuYasha and My Hero Academia. I follow a number of wonderful webcomics, in which I find a lot of artistic inspiration. I like hiking, camping, and locating cool birds.

When and why have you decided to become an author? 

I’m not sure it was actually a decision. That is to say, I always assumed I had enough control over my life to deliberately choose my path, but in hindsight, it was simply a convergence of many events I didn’t recognize even as they were happening. I just wanted to take my writing to the next level, one thing led to another, and then I realized I had become an author somewhere along the way.

How often do you write? Do you have a set schedule for writing, or are you one of those who write only when they feel inspired? Do you aim to complete a set number of pages or words each day?

I write daily for as long as it takes me to complete at least 1,000 words, though I do usually produce more than that. If I’ve written for ninety straight minutes, I make myself take a short break to avoid wearing out. Wearing out happens almost undetectably for me, and it doesn’t give me writer’s block during that session--it just makes me hate my work, which means I’ll struggle to build on it later. 

What made you decide to self-publish The Hidden King as opposed to traditional publishing? 

At the time in my life when I wanted to publish The Hidden King, I was going through a lot of large-scale changes. I was moving, learning new routines, and generally lacking a lot of order. That combined with my natural eagerness (read: impatience) made it very important that I be able to set my own timelines, follow my own schedules, and be in control of my own editing, design, and release choices. Quality was important to me, so I made sure I jumped through the same editing hoops as a traditionally published author would have to. Overall, independent publishing was intimidating, but I have a brilliant team who worked with me through every decision.

One of the big challenges with self-publishing is finding readers. Was that your experience?

I think I’ll always wish I had more readers, but as a new author I’ve done pretty well. My genius business partner has done immense amounts of research into book marketing, and my social media accounts, though relatively young, are growing. The more people I reach through targeting ads, using Amazon and social media algorithms in my favor, and attending in-person events (though not, of course, during the pandemic), the more readers I reach. It helps that I own the Mythic Prairie Books imprint; I’ve even had people query me in the hopes that I would act as their publisher. My business family is currently too small to support that, but attention, even in that form, is beneficial.

Why did you decide to enter SPFBO?

I was very happy to discover the SPFBO6 contest via some book blogging contacts on Twitter. It sounded like a fun opportunity so I jumped into the fray. I usually avoid contests--between the fees and the time drain I’d rather focus on writing and marketing--but this one felt different. Since entering at #102, I’ve discovered a passionate group of fantasy book bloggers who love what they do and it feels like the best party on the block! I’m happy to be here. 

For those that haven’t read The Hidden King, can you tell us a bit about it?

The Hidden King is a fast-paced YA novel inspired by Irish fae folklore that blends magic, found family, love, loyalty, and a whirlwind of self-discovery. A young man must discover, through no easy means, who--and also what--he is.

What was your initial inspiration for The Hidden King? How long have you been working on it? Has it evolved from its original idea?

I had a huge number of stories in my head before I started writing The Hidden King, and one night, they all mixed together in a particularly wild dream. I woke up with the setting and the characters firmly in my head. I couldn’t not write--it was like the opposite of writer’s block, it was writer’s rush--and once I started, I couldn’t go back.

When I published it last year, I’d been working on The Hidden King for about two years, though effort was sporadic in that first year. The main idea hasn’t changed, but the first draft clocked in at about 150,000 words (compared to about 76,000 now). There was a lot of material there, since I’d pretty much written everything that crossed my mind. I had to try and whittle the plot out of those 150,000 words after the fact. Can’t say it’s a strategy I recommend, nor is it one I intend to repeat.

If you had to describe The Hidden King in 3 adjectives, which would you choose?

Gritty, character-driven, grounded

Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers will sympathize with them?

Áed is the main character of The Hidden King. He’s intensely loyal to and affectionate with the people he cares about most. That said, he has a breaking point; if he or his loved ones are threatened, it is extremely dangerous to be on the wrong side of his reaction. His most identifiable characteristics are his fire-red eyes and his hands, which are damaged from a traumatic event in his past. He’s extremely adept at reading the emotions of others.

Ninian is Áed’s partner. A bit more inherently chaotic than Áed, Ninian combines ancient noble heritage with the gritty life of a gang member. He resorts to sarcasm especially when he’s hurt, but his care for Áed and Ronan is profound. He cracks his knuckles too often to be healthy.

Ronan is the eight-year-old boy who Ninian found abandoned as a young child and who was subsequently taken in by Áed and Ninian as something between a son and younger brother. He’s inquisitive and clever, easily intimidated, and immensely attached to both Áed and Ninian.

Boudicca is the woman who accepted Áed and Ronan into her home in their hour of need. She’s headstrong, warmhearted, and willing to break the rules if she doesn’t think they’re fair. She’s a healer by trade, and even skillfully dabbles in a spot of magic. She wears lots of warm-colored long dresses, loves a good party, and has a bit of her own sad past.

Alright, we need the details on the cover. Who's the artist/designer, and can you give us a little insight into the process for coming up with it? How does it tie to the book?

My cover artist is Micaela Alcaino, and she’s simply brilliant. We went through a few rounds of potential cover drafts before settling on the current version; I wanted something gritty but elegant, something that highlighted the themes of fire, Celtic influences, and kingship.

Would you say that Coming of Aed series follows tropes or kicks them?

The Hidden King definitely follows a few pretty familiar tropes. I’m a firm believer that tropes exist because, when executed well, they make good stories, and so I saw no need to avoid them at the cost of the story I wanted to tell. I attempted to use my character development and even the prose itself to make the common patterns fresh and keep them engaging. I did do my best to avoid condescending to the reader with cookie-cutter or cliche relations between main characters, and Áed, Ninian, and Ronan in particular interact in ways I haven’t often seen in YA literature. The next book in the series, The Last Prince, adheres to fewer tropes than The Hidden King, simply because the story led me to them less often.

Can you tell us about your editing process? Do you proofread and edit your work on your own or hire professionals?

I go through a few rounds of self-guided edits, starting with large-scale plot-level alterations for pacing consistency, loophole elimination, and arc engagement. When I’ve finished a couple passes myself, I send the manuscript to my developmental editor, the brilliant Kelsy Thompson. After reading through her analyses, having a bit of discussion, and implementing changes, it’s off to the line editor, then the copy & proof editor. I like to hire different editors even if one individual is capable of offering all the services I need, because the more perspectives I can get, the better. Between the line and copy editing stages, I send drafts to my wonderful beta readers, which, though not technically editors, still offer invaluable feedback.

Can you name three books you adore as a reader, but that make you feel inadequate as a writer/in awe of the craft? 

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas, A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin, and Carry On by Rainbow Rowell.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on preparing The Last Prince, prequel to The Hidden King, for an August 6th release. When that’s out, I’ll immediately start working on the as yet-untitled Book Three, which will complete The Coming of Áed trilogy/series.

Thank you for taking the time to answer all the questions. In closing, do you have any parting thoughts or comments you would like to share with our readers? 

Thank you to all the book bloggers who love to read, and who welcome indie authors to SPFBO. You’ve created a wonderful community of readers and authors of which I am delighted to be a part. Once a SPFBO, always a SPFBO!

Interested readers can take a look at the series here: 

I have also posted some of my drawings on my Instagram page @egradcliff. I even decided to do my own illustration of the map for forthcoming The Last Prince, a snippet of which you can see on IG (a full-color map can be downloaded from The Last Prince front matter). I love maps!

You may already have these contact details, but just in case you don’t I can be found in the ether at:



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Order HERE


 Click Here To Order “Barnaby The Wanderer” by Raymond St. Elmo
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