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Thursday, January 21, 2021

Interview with Sean Gibson, author of The Part About The Dragon Was Mostly True

Order The Part About The Dragon Was Mostly True over HERE

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Sean Gibson is not a professional mini biography writer (if he were, this would be much more compelling). Instead, he’s a marketing professional by day, hangs out with his amazing wife, son, and daughter by night, and writes somewhere in between. He holds a BA in English Literature from Ohio Wesleyan University and an MBA from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, but he really wishes he had been able to matriculate at Hogwarts (he would have been in Hufflepuff for sure). Sean is a fan of sports teams from Detroit, a distressingly large number of bands that rose to prominence in the 1980s, and writing in the third person. He currently resides in Northern Virginia, and, given how much he hates moving, and given that his house has an awesome library, is likely to remain there for some time.

In addition to The Part About the Dragon Was (Mostly) True, Sean is the author of The Chronicle of Heloise & Grimple as well as The Camelot Shadow and its prequel short, “The Strange Task Before Me.” He has written extensively for Kirkus Reviews, and his book reviews have also appeared in Esquire.

Follow him on Twitter @Gibknight, but only if you’re really bored and enjoy tomfoolery.


FORMAT/INFO: Published by The Parliament House (December 15, 2020), The Part About The Dragon Was Mostly True is available in ebook and paperback format through all retailers. The book is 308 pages long. Cover design by P. Williams.


Thank you for joining us, Sean, and welcome to Fantasy Book Critic! Before we start, tell us a little about yourself. 

Thanks for having me! Metaphorically speaking, I hope. I taste terrible, so would recommend against consuming me in any way. I do smell nice, though. I’m also incapable of giving straightforward answers in a Q&A context. But, I digress.

I’m a husband and a dad and a guy with a job, and somewhere in between all that, I write stories. They’re usually fantastical in nature, whether absurd (like my Heloise the Bard stories) or dramatically Victorian (like The Camelot Shadow). In addition to books of all kinds, I’m a fan of sports teams from Detroit (woe is me) and a distressingly large number of bands that rose to prominence in the 1980s. I live in the Washington, DC, area and have a ridiculously awesome library in my house that I never get to spend time in. I am very much looking forward to retirement in 25 years or so…

Do you have a day job? If so, what is it? 

I’m the Director of Client Service and Internal Communications for a big corporate law firm. And while it may be hard to believe, it’s even more dangerous and exciting than it sounds!

Who are your favorite current writers and who are your greatest influencers? 

Currently, I gobble up everything I can from H.G. Parry, Sam Kean, Robin Sloan, Signe Pike, David R. Slayton, Vaughn Entwistle, Joseph Ellis, and a little-known up-and-comer named Brandon Sanderson (I’m pulling for the kid, though I’m not sure he’s going to make it in this industry). My greatest influences include Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Bram Stoker, Arthur Conan Doyle, Tina Fey, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Stan Lee, Raymond Feist, Christ Claremont, Gary Gygax, and the inimitable R.A. Salvatore.

Serious writing takes not only a story to tell, but the craft of writing to tell it well—can you comment on your journey as a writer? 

“Lost at the on-ramp” would probably best describe my journey as a writer. Still, getting lost has its advantages, and I get where I’m going eventually.

What do you think characterizes your writing style? 

Bad puns, dad jokes, and too much dialogue. 

How would you describe the plot of The Part About the Dragon Was (Mostly) True if you had to do so in just one or two sentences? 

Everyone thinks they know the famous tale about the brave band of heroes that slew the fearsome red dragon that terrorized the village of Skendrick. It turns out, though, that’s not exactly how things went down…the truth is that adventuring is a lot messier and stinkier—and a lot less heroic—than you’d think, and you’re about to get a very absurd first-hand account.

What was your initial inspiration for The Part About the Dragon Was (Mostly) True? How long have you been working on it? Has it evolved from its original idea? 

Heloise originated from a writing exercise I started up when we moved into our current house about 6 years ago. With two young kids and a new (lengthier) commute, I was having a lot of trouble finding time to write. I decided to try writing during the ride-sharing portion of my commute, when I’ve got 15-18 minute chunks of quietude in the backseat of a stranger’s car. Needless to say, that’s not much time and allows for no research time, so I started thinking about what kind of story I could write in short bursts. That begat the serialized story The Chronicle of Heloise & Grimple, which I featured on my blog and involved an audience participation element in voting on what course of action our heroes would choose from time to time. 

It turned out that Heloise’s episodic adventures were perfect for writing during the commute, so I set about writing a proper Heloise novel, which ultimately became THE PART ABOUT THE DRAGON WAS (MOSTLY) TRUE. The first draft took about a year to write in those bite-sized chunks.

If you had to describe it in 3 adjectives, which would you choose? 

Absurd, sarcastic, gassy

How did you come up with the title?

I really hate titles. They’re like tension headaches: the harder you focus on them, the worse they get. At one point, this book was called, “A Bunch of Poop Jokes and a Few Poorly Choreographed Fights.”

The best way to deal with them is to stop concentrating and relax as best you can. Then, when you’ve done that, just pick an untrue statement about the story and add the word “mostly” to give you lots of wiggle room. 

How does it tie with the plot of the book?

It’s an aptly tongue-in-cheek way to refer to the dual narrative of the legendary tale and how things actually went down. 

How many books have you planned for the series? 

…what is “planning” and how do I get some? 

This is an open-ended series that could go for as long as people feel like reading about Heloise and her wacky adventures. So, this one’s on you, reading public.

With this particular group of companions, I’d anticipate 3-5 books, but Heloise is a long-lived character and her adventures will continue beyond that.

Who are the key players in this story? Could you introduce us to The Part About the Dragon Was (Mostly) True’s protagonists and antagonists?

Well, the book is interesting in that the protagonists are often their own antagonists. They have a hard time getting out of their own way. But, the main characters to know are: 

Heloise the Bard: As egotistical as she is talented (and boy, is she talented), half-elven Heloise is, by her own account, the greatest bard in all of Erithea. Many years ago, she penned a now legendary ballad about a brave band of heroes that saved the village of Skendrick from a vicious red dragon. Turns out she did a heck of a PR job for those heroes, though, and finally lets us in on how things actually went down. 

Nadi Ghettinwood: The elven leader of our heroes, Nadi is smart, competent, tough, rational, and level-headed, all of which makes her a total anomaly compared to her ridiculous adventuring companions. 

Rumscrabble Tooltinker: A half-dwarf, half-halfling prestidigitator whose perpetual (if borderline psychotic) cheerfulness constantly buoys (and occasionally annoys) the group. 

Whiska Tailiesin: A foul-mouthed Ratarian wizard who’s got power to burn and many an axe to grind, not to mention a proclivity for eating stomach-turning dishes.

Borgunder Gunderbor: The proverbial gentle giant, rock giant Borg is slow, but by no means slow-witted. He’s not much of a fighter, but he can sure take a punch.

The Dragon: Well, let’s not spoil anything. Suffice it to say, the dragon we meet is not exactly what you’d expect. 

How did you select the names of your characters?

A drunken orgy with a malfunctioning Speak & Spell. Mistakes were made. But, fun was had.

Does your book feature a magic/magic system? If yes, can you describe it?

“Haphazard” is probably the best descriptor for the magic system in the world of Erithea. There’s a Dungeons & Dragons flavor to it, but magic’s primary purpose is to do whatever needs to be done to help create the most absurd circumstances possible in a given scene. 

Cover art is always an important factor in book sales. Can you tell us about the idea behind the cover of The Part About the Dragon Was (Mostly) True? 

Parliament House’s publisher, Shayne Leighton, is also an amazing cover designer, and all I had to do was leave it in her capable hands. She came up with a brilliant design that conveys the satire, humor, and manic energy of the book. 

Have you written it with a particular audience in mind? Who’ll enjoy it? 

This book is for fans of Terry Pratchett, Monty Python, The Princess Bride, and anyone who wishes Liz Lemon from 30 Rock had written a bunch of fantasy sketches for TGS. D&D players whose games end up being as full of ridiculous non sequiturs as they do dramatic battles will also dig this, I think. Or, at least, relate to it.

What are you most excited for readers to discover in this book?

Deconstructions of some very time-tested fantasy tropes. Look, I love classic, Tolkienesque fantasy as much as the next person, but it’s a lot of fun to take the toys so many luminary authors have made and break them. 

That, and the sheer volume of flatulence jokes one can pack into a single chapter. 

Can you, please, offer us a taste of your book, via one completely out-of-context sentence.

“This option was greeted with boos, hisses, and a cry of ‘sign me up!’ from one man who sheepishly declared that he thought the Alderman had said to assemble “randy, horny pillagers” instead of a “band of hearty villagers.” Given the slim chance that a group of men in need of erotic fulfillment would deter the dragon, most of the villagers agreed that it would be good to hear the second option.”

What’s your publishing Schedule for 2021/2022? 

Hopefully not empty? I tend to do most of my writing during my commute; with no commute in 2020 (thanks, pandemic), I got no writing done. So, until things normalize, I’m way behind schedule on, well, everything. I’m hoping that by the time we hit 2022, I’ll have made some progress on a couple of things that are in the works. 

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 for asking such great questions! 

The world’s a crazy place. Be kind and give each other grace. And if you’re bored, come hang out with me at I’ll bake cookies, and you’ll even be able to make charitable donations to a wonderful organization called Impact Justice in exchange for more Heloise shenanigans AND an amazing song from The Part About the Dragon Was (Mostly) True. 

NOTE: Many thanks to Justine, Timy & the Storytellers On Tours for giving us an opportunity to take part in this tour.


Writer's Block said...

Excellent interview!

Fantasy Book Crritic said...

Thank you :)

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