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Sunday, March 28, 2021

Cover Reveal Q&A: Sailor's Gambit by Jed Herne (by Mihir Wanchoo)

Today we have the pleasure of hosting Jed Herne, Aussie fantasy author, co-host & founder of the Wizards, Warriors & Words podcast & an all-round lovely person. Previously we had the pleasure of hosting the cover for The Thunder Heist. Jed joins us today to reveal the cover for a prequel novella that's set in the Thunder Seas world. He talks about what sort of a

Q] Hi Jed welcome and thank you for this lovely opportunity to host this cover reveal. How have you been in 2021? 

JH: Well, I had my appendix explode at the end of January, so that made for an interesting start to the year! But after recovering from that, things have been excellent, and now I’m back to full health.

I’ve written 50,000+ words so far in 2021, and I’m really enjoying all my projects. My Wizards, Warriors, & Words podcast (which I co-host with Dyrk Ashton, Michael R. Fletcher, and Rob J. Hayes) has also started to take off, which has been nice.

So all up, it’s been a great beginning!

Q] I loved the cover for Sailor’s Gambit. It hearkens back to the adventure fantasy covers of the 1970-80s. What were your pointers for your artist when you were starting out? What were the main things that you wished to focus on in it?

JH: Thank you! I wasn’t consciously aiming for that kind of classic fantasy feel, but I certainly see the similarity now that you’ve pointed it out. I’m glad that it ended up that way.

This is the third cover I’ve designed with Ramon Ignacio Bunge (who also did the covers for The Thunder Heist and Fires of the Dead).

Sailor’s Gambit is very much an action-packed novella. You know that kind of breathtaking, pulse-pounding feeling you get during a story’s climax. I basically wanted to have the entire story be that. One reviewer mentioned that the story felt like Mad Max on sea, with relentless, non-stop pacing. That made me grin. That’s the exact kind of experience I was aiming for.

As such, I wanted the cover to feel super dynamic and exciting, conveying a sense of conflict and action.

Many of the scenes would’ve made good cover art. But the one we went with (of Kef fighting a winged mutant on top of a crane) is probably my favourite part of the story. Dramatizing that scene on the cover clearly shows readers what they are getting into.

Probably the trickiest aspect of the cover was communicating the feel of the story’s world. The Twisted Seas is a fantasy series, but it also has guns, motorboats, and a heap of industrialised technology that is rarely found in the genre. In other words, it has more in common with The Gutter Prayer than The Lord of the Rings.

We tried to show this by having clearly modern-tech elements on the cover (like a crane, and a cargo ship), while also having Kef hold a whopping great sword.

Nothing says fantasy like swords…

Q] Could you tell us about the inception of Sailor’s Gambit & the world within? What was/were your main inspiration(s) for it?

JH: Sailor’s Gambit is set in the world of the Twisted Seas. In this world, monsters rule the lands, which has forced humanity to set up their civilization on the high seas.

People live in city-ships made from hundreds of boats all lashed together. Water-breathing Gillers farm seaweed, and winged mutants deliver messages between city-ships. Alchemists toil to support their cities. Salvage crews race to collect ancient items that falls from the debris field that orbits the planet. Plus pirates seek to turn this all to their advantage …

Our main character, Kef Cutmark, is one of those pirates. She’s young, she’s headstrong, and she’s desperate to prove herself. She’s not a pure or noble hero. But that just makes her more fun to write.

Q] I believe this story is set in the Twisted Seas universe. Is this a prequel or sequel to the main story?

JH: This is a prequel to The Thunder Heist (Twisted Seas # 1), set 10 years before the first book in the series. You can read it before or after Twisted Seas, and it will not have a big difference on your experience either way. If you do have the choice, though, I would recommend reading The Thunder Heist first, but it’s up to you.

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 Sailor’s Gambit?

JH: I write fast-paced fantasy books set in unique worlds, with characters who are rarely powerful, but who make up for their deficiencies with sharp wits. If you’re looking for the standard medieval European fantasy settings, the stuff I’ve written probably won’t be for you.

As much as I love that setting, I enjoy exploring different eras and places, with the aim of hopefully adding something new to the genre. If you like The Gutter Prayer, Mistborn Era 2, or any of the other more ‘industrialised fantasy’ or ‘arcanepunk’ books out there, you’ll probably like my stuff.

As for the pitch of Sailor’s Gambit, the blurb probably does the best job of that:

Monster-infested seas. Flying mutants. And a young smuggler desperate to show her worth.

Kef Cutmark wants to be the greatest pirate in the Twisted Seas. But first, she’ll need to prove herself.

Her Captain has given her a simple mission: to smuggle a valuable container across the seas. It should be easy. But before she can reach her destination, enemy soldiers seize control of Kef’s cargo ship. Outnumbered and outgunned, with less than three hours until the soldiers sail the ship across a hostile border, Kef will need all her wits to survive.

Because this isn’t just about her life – it’s about her pride. And that’s something she won’t surrender easily…

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

JH: Sailor’s Gambit is a 70-page novella. Like I mentioned before, it’s a fast-paced, white-knuckled, action-packed read, with awesome set pieces, clever problem solving, and a witty main character – all set in a unique ocean-bound fantasy world with industrialized technology. (An oceanpunk world, as I like to call it).

Essentially, it’s all the things I love about fantasy, mashed up with all the crazy sequences from my favourite action movies; part Mad Max, part Mission Impossible, part James Bond.

And because it’s a novella, you can read it in one sitting! So it’s a great palette cleanser between longer reads.

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

JH: Thanks for having me, Mihir!  You can read Sailor’s Gambit for free (yes, free!) on my website here.

Then, if you enjoy it, you can check out its sequel, The Thunder Heist (the first proper novel in the Twisted Seas series). I wrote Sailor’s Gambit as a kind of sampler for The Thunder Heist, so if you like the main character, the action, and the world building in Sailor’s Gambit, then The Thunder Heist will be right up your alley as well.

Happy reading!



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