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Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Companion - Cover Reveal and Q&A with Luke Matthews


Pre-Order Companion: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

About the author: An unabashed geek, Luke Matthews is a fervent reader, cinephile, comic book fan, and video game nut, and he has been an avid board gamer since he was a young boy. A life filled with so many hobbies doesn’t lend itself to easy devotion to a craft, and that struggle is no better exemplified than with his current passion, The Chronicler Saga.

Luke lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wondeful wife, the two perpetually surrounded by a menagerie of crazy animals. For insight on his secondary passion – upgrading his vast board game collection – check out www.pixelartmeeple.com. Find more of his words at www.geekerific.com and www.chroniclersaga.com.

Contact Luke via e-mail at luke(at)chroniclersaga(dot)com.


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

Thank you so much for having me! A little bit about me: I live in the Pacific Northwest with my wife of 22 years and our menagerie of dogs and cats. My preferred pronouns are he/him. Aside from being a complete SFF nerd my whole life, I’m massively into hobby board gaming, and we have a library of over 200 games. One of my major hobbies is modifying and upgrading them.

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

Not anymore, no. On the good graces of my wonderful wife, I left the video game industry after a decade to be a house-husband and write full-time.


We are excited for book two of The Chronicler Saga! Can you tell us a bit about where we left off and what’s to come in case anyone has some catching up to do? (SPOILER ALERT for Construct!) 

Rather than re-cap the story here, I’ll let you know I’ve included a “Previously in The Chronicler Saga” section at the beginning of Companion, and I intend to do so for every book I write. You’ll also be able to find that recap over at ChroniclerSaga. I hope I’ve made catching up easy for everyone.

As for the future: Companion focuses on the divergent paths of the main characters left at the end of Construct. There are three concurrent storylines: One following Eriane and Samuel, one following Jacob, and one centered around another character who I don’t want to spoil at the moment (but readers will know as of the first line of the book). Each is following their own path toward investigating the murder of the Queen Consort that Samuel witnessed in Construct, all from different angles.

Each story has a very different feel not only from each other but from Construct as a whole. I wanted to focus on very divergent struggles and character angles with each. So, all in one book, you’ll get quests of self-discovery, reinvention, and rebirth.

You published Construct in 2014. Have you worked on the sequel for six years or simply needed to take a break from the world?

The short answer is… neither. I’ve had a rough time of trying to get back to Companion over the last few years, and there’s really no short or easy way to describe my situation. I’ll boil it down by saying this: A lot of things happened in my life over the last six years, and I let Companion languish for a while when I really shouldn’t have.

The bulk of the book (around 65%) was finished in 2019, with the entirety of the editing and finishing touches happening throughout 2020. It’s been a long, arduous road, and one that I hope I don’t repeat with further sequels. I’ll do my best not to make readers wait another six years.

Do you typically write in long, protracted sessions or in quick bursts? Or another way altogether?

When I’m working on my first drafts, I flip-flop between time-based sessions and word-count goals. Typically I’ll sit to write for roughly 2 hours or 1000 words, and if I’m in a groove at the end of that I’ll just let that groove play out for however long it can. If I’m in a particularly ambitious mood, I might do two or even three sessions in a day.

When I’m truly committed to drafting like I was in 2019, I just try to grind away at it every day. Consistency is key.

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

The original idea was actually a sci-fi story based on an android capable of feeling emotions who had escaped a facility where they were destined for destruction. 

That original idea came to me in my last year of college in 1998. The first thing I ever wrote about it was a story proposal for Wizards of the Coast back in 2003, for their Eberron campaign setting, which was also when the idea morphed from science-fiction to fantasy. I didn’t really put words to paper in the current incarnation until 2012.

So yeah, you can see that it has evolved quite a bit.

How many books have you planned for the series? 

Either 4 or 5. I know that sounds weird, but I put it that way because whether or not book 4 is the end of the series kind of depends on where book 3 ends up. The “plan”, if I can call it that, is for 4 books. But we’ll see...

Who are the key players in this story? Could you introduce us to The Chronicler Saga’s protagonists and antagonists?

The main protagonist in the first book is Samuel, a sentient automaton called a construct who wakes after a partial memory wipe and must find out who he is and why he’s being pursued. Along the way he meets Eriane, a young girl who can use her adeptitude (the word for magical abilities in this world) to affect metals most think are impervious to magic, and Jacob, a wandering vagabond with the ability to translocate (basically teleportation). While those three are the primary characters who carry forward into Companion, Construct also introduces Mane and Pare, Eriane’s surrogate family.

The antagonists in Companion aren’t quite as prevalent as Colton and Bales were in Construct, but our two main forces now are Phaera Mericault, a marshal in the Royal Interdictor Service who’s a constant thorn in Jacob’s side, and Harlan Proctor, an ambitious agent for the Sovereign Assessor’s Office, the agency tasked with “regulating” constructs. And the central desert in the Sovereignty known as The Drain plays an important part.

How did you select the names of your characters?

Off the top of my head, if I’m being honest. Samuel’s name was born of his “original” name, Aesamaelus (which was a fabrication out of thin air), and how he comes into his name is part of his introduction in Construct. The rest of them? Almost entirely randomly, at first. 

Sometimes they evolve while I’m writing. For example, I had two characters in Companion named Vellah and Vellestaria. They never interact, so I never really associated them with one another. It wasn’t until my editor pointed out that I referred to both of them, at times, as “Vel”, and that was very confusing, that I changed Vellah to Myrah.

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

It definitely features magic, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a “magic system”. That phrase tends to be used to describe more Brandon Sanderson-style hard magic, where the rules are tightly defined and adhered to.

Magic in The Chronicler Saga is more loose, based on the manipulation of a life force dubbed khet. Virtually anyone with khet sensitivity can develop the ability to manipulate it, but the strength of that sensitivity varies wildly from person to person, as do the abilities it fosters.

I’d call it a “soft” magic system. I have basic rules in my head, but I’m not prone to forcing the magic to adhere to a set of strict rules. I do try to keep things internally consistent, though, to avoid really stretching credulity.

Cover art is always an important factor in book sales. Can you tell us about the idea behind the cover of Companion?




The covers on both Construct and Companion are taken directly from scenes in the books. I’ve always been frustrated by covers that have nothing to do with the text they’re meant to represent, and one of the benefits of self-publishing is the ability to hire my own artists and act as designer and art director for my covers. Construct’s cover depicts Samuel passing a landmark from the book called the Bleeding Pine, and the Companion’s depicts Eriane in a contemplative moment immediately after a particularly stressful encounter.

My original cover artist, Carmen Sinek, was unavailable to work on Companion, so I was forced to seek out a new partnership. This amazing new cover was painted by Livia Prima, a phenomenal artist out of Indonesia who’s done work for WotC and other game companies. I hired her through her studio Polar Engine, whom I suggest everyone check out if they like this style of fantasy art.

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

Definitely an adult fantasy audience. There’s a lot of violence and swearing in my books, so they’re probably not appropriate for young kids (although I read way worse stuff as a young teen). They’re not pointed at a specific subgenre like Weird West or LitRPG, but the inclusion of guns does tip them a little bit into Flintlock Fantasy. I like to call it “Magicpunk”.

What’s your publishing Schedule for 2021/2022? 

Schedule? I like your optimism. 

Companion is set to release on March 2nd, immediately after which I’ll begin outlining the sequel. I would love to have book 3 released toward the end of 2022, but I make no promises. That’s what I’m shooting for, though.

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? 

During the editing process for Companion, I re-read Construct several times to ensure I maintained continuity. During that re-read process, I found a lot of small, niggling issues with Construct, little typos or grammatical errors, or things that bothered me with the prose. So, I took on the task of revising it and have released a Revised Edition that’s available right now.

If you’ve read the original, there’s no pressing need to re-read the Revised Edition. All the changes are minor and primarily made at the sentence level, so it is structurally the same book as before.

With the opening of the pre-order period for Companion, I’ve also put Construct on sale for 25% off. The sale will last until Companion launches on March 2nd. Companion will also be on sale for 40% off the cover price through the pre-order period and for a short while after.

I’m hoping two books for six bucks will give readers an easy entry into The Chronicler Saga.

Thank you for talking with me! My road to publishing these books hasn’t always been easy, but I am planning to work hard on the next book and try to avoid another excessively long wait between installments. I hope everyone enjoys the world I’ve created and loves following the exploits of Samuel, Eriane, and Jacob as much as I love writing them!

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