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Monday, April 19, 2021

Exclusive Cover Reveal Q&A: The Horns Of The Hunter by Frank Dorrian (by Mihir Wanchoo)


Official Author Website
Preorder Horns Of The Hunter over HERE 

Today we have the pleasure of having Frank Dorrian over for the cover reveal of Horns Of The Hunter. Frank has had a varied career including mental health, Operational analysis and Thai boxing. Frank’s Liverpool roots have informed a lot of his worldview and inspired him to write about the darker side of fantasy fiction. Frank reveals what inspired him to write about a mythological fight between gods set in his world. Why he chose Felix Ortiz & Shawn T. King (the new dream team as he calls them) and more about the book below. So read ahead and enjoy…
Q] Welcome to Fantasy Book Critic Frank and thank you for your time. How have things been with you in 2020-21?

FD: Thanks for having me! 2020-2021…a crazy time for almost everyone, I think. I’ve been extremely fortunate that the situation in the UK has let me spend more time at home with my family and focus on my writing. I’m very lucky to be able to find a lot of positives over the last year, though I think being a natural hermit helps!

Q] Can you tell us about the inception of Horns Of The Hunter. What prompted you to write about the legendary Luah Fail deities? 

FD: It has been quite a long standing one! The basic idea came from a chapter I wrote in The Shadow of the High King, where one of the characters mentions a feud between two of Luah Fail’s gods – Cu Naith the Warrior and Luw the Hunter. I had this image of two giants fighting on a mountainside that really stuck with me over the next few years, but I kept pushing it aside to work on other projects. In 2020 I ended up needing a break from what I was working on and decided to throw the opening to Horns of the Hunter on the page as a palette cleanser. The idea was to take the week off and write a 5000 word short story about these two feuding gods and submit it to a magazine. Two months later I had a full length manuscript sitting with alpha readers.

Q] The Horns Of The Hunter cover by Felix Ortiz & Shawn T. King is stunning to say the least. Can you reveal how you worked with both of them to create it? Did you give them an outline to work off on or did you leave them to their own choices after revealing your thoughts?

FD: I had a great time working with Felix and Shawn on the cover, they’re both awesome fellers and a breeze to collaborate with. Initially, I reached out to Felix with the general concept (two celtic-looking giants warring on a mountainside) and some (pretty nitpicky) details on certain aspects of the characters’ appearances to make sure they were in keeping with their in-book descriptions. Other than that, though, I made it clear I was happy for him to let his imagination run rampant. It was a ton of fun watching the concept evolve into its final form as Shawn came onboard to handle the design work, and the two bounced ideas back and forth. Shawn’s typography work was all off his own head, though, outside of a huge nod of approval from both Felix and I. I absolutely love how Shawn tied the typography into the title of the book – the little horn effect in the letter ‘o’ – I think it tops off the overall theme and adds another level of character to the cover.

Q] What was your first reaction when you saw it? How does it hold up (in your opinion) to what the main story is about?

FD: I was blown away, to be honest, as Felix has this innate knack of capturing other people’s imaginations alongside his own, its enormously impressive. Shawn’s design work just totally completes it, too. They’re the dream team. It’s been a long time since I last put a book out, so it was quite an emotional moment! In terms of holding up to the story, personally, I think it’s perfect. Horns of the Hunter is the tale of Naith and Luw’s struggle against one another, and, while there’s other scenes in the book that would no doubt have made for an awesome cover, it only felt right that their conflict take centre stage.

Q] Let’s talk about Tales Of Luah Fail, you have so far written different types of books (sprawling dark, epic fantasy, origin novellas and now a story about feuding gods). What prompted you to go back in time to write this specific story and do you plan for more such tales?

FD: I was nearing the end of writing a 300,000 word-long first draft, of what is probably the darkest thing I’ve ever written and probably ever will write. Between working fulltime and my family commitments, it took a long, long time and took a hell of a lot out of me mentally. It was, literally, grim work, and that project almost completely broke me as a writer. I felt the need for a bit of a change, and as I said above, the image of Cu Naith and Luw fighting had always stuck with me. I threw the opening to the book on the page and it just flowed – it was the most fun I’d had writing in years and the story just spilled out of me.

I ended up finding there was way, way more to the tale than I’d first imagined, that there was history in the history. I do indeed have more planned for the series! I’m writing book 2 at the moment – King of Embers – and I’ve got the gist of book 3 and some notes on it rolling round my head. I’ve gotten some spin off tales for it planned too, that may or may not be part of the series. I have not decided as they are quite a way off being penned, but I’m having a lot of fun with Tales of Luah Fáil.

Q] What was the inspiration for The Shadow Of The High King? Where did the idea come from and what compelled you to see it through to the end?

FD: When it came to writing The Shadow of the High King back in 2014, I was very influenced by a short story I wrote as a kid about a wandering mercenary who got caught in the middle of a town being attacked by a mysterious force. At that point in time I was devouring the major grimdark fiction of the day, Joe Abercrombie and Mark Lawrence in particular, along with the Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell, all of whom were huge influences on my style. I was also enormously inspired by the Dark Souls series of games (they are one of my major loves, I’m covered in tattoos of the games’ characters). I think, more than anything, the joy of getting back into writing fantasy after a 10 year hiatus was what drove me to see it through, mostly. I forgot how much fun writing was, and I really wanted to see if other people enjoyed my writing too.

Q] Can you tell us more about the world that this story as well as your past books are set in and some of the saga’s major characters? What are the (geographical, magical, physical) curiosities of this world?

FD: The world of Horns of the Hunter is, essentially, a younger, more magic-infused version of the world that forms the setting of my other works, TSOTHK, To Brave the End, and Scars of the Sand. In HotH, sorcery is more commonplace, though I would say it remains a fairly low-magic world compared with other fantasy settings. Some curiosities of the world in HotH that I found most interesting would be the vast swamp full of marrow-sucking leeches (very fun part of the book to write), and the ruined, otherworldly landscape of Golga, filled with massive pits lined with the dead.

The world itself is run through by (literal) veins, filled by what the people of Luah Fail call Earthblood, which is where the world’s magic is sourced from. This remains the same in the later world of the Weaving Shadows and Blackshield Dogs series, though sorcery is infinitely more rare a gift.

As for the characters, the main characters of HotH are Naith and Luw. Anyone who’s read my works featuring Harlin (TSOTHK and Scars) will possibly recall them (or may know Naith as Cu Naith). Naith is like… this huge, swaggering, arrogant douchebag – totally obnoxious to almost everyone around him, and utterly convinced of himself being the greatest warrior in the world. Which, to be fair, he is. Still Luw is more the more mild-mannered, thoughtful character of the pair, gentle and considerate where Naith is rough, violent and ignorant. They’re a pretty big contrast to each other throughout the entirety of the book, which I think worked well into the mythological theme I was running with in HotH.

Aside from those two, there is also Sile, the central focus of their feud and one of the primary characters of HotH. Hers is another name people who have read my other work might recall. I won’t go into too much detail on her, that’s something better left to the story itself to tell, but she’s very much an enigmatic, fiercely independent sorceress, and I had a hell of a lot of fun writing her character.

Q] How many books are you planning to write in the Weaving Shadows series as well as the Blackshield Dogs stories? 

FD: The Weaving Shadows will be a trilogy, with perhaps a companion/inter-novel novella (like a book #1.5) that’s floating around my head. Book 2 of the trilogy is currently at a 1st draft. It’s been a long time since I first put TSOTHK out there (nearly 5 years at this point), and a lot of people have been asking where #2 is. It was the project I mentioned earlier that I had to step away from. It is coming though, I promise. I’m planning on doing a rerelease of TSOTHK (you heard it here first) once the trilogy as a whole is written, done and dusted. They will be released in pretty rapid-fire succession.

The Tales Of The Blackshield Dogs series will have about six books in total, each book detailing the origins of characters who will play a pivotal role at some point in the Weaving Shadows trilogy, finishing with the origin tale of Arnulf, the Black Dog himself. It’s been a while since I’ve had time spare to work on the series, which is upsetting as I love writing it but the 3rd book is in the works, currently at about 10-15% completion and the 4th is pretty much planned out, which is something I don’t usually do (I’m a pantser).

Q] What are you reading currently? Are there any current authors or books that you would like to give a shout out to?

FD: I am reading a sci-fi book at the moment! Big Red by Damien Larkin. It’s about an Irish soldier stationed on a Nazi-founded New Berlin on Mars, questioning his role in a genocidal war against an alien race while he tries to piece together his memories of a disaster that affected his battalion. It’s good stuff, I’m not usually one for sci fi, but its kept me reading into the night.

In terms of shoutouts, I recently finished Dragon Mage by ML Spencer. Absolutely fantastic book, it’s a modern day classic and one everyone should pick up.

Pawn’s Gambit by Rob Hayes is another book I would like to give a shout out to. I read an ARC of it while I was recovering from surgery back in January, and it’s one of the most intelligent stories I’ve read in a long time. Really admirable stuff.

I would also like to give a shoutout to Exile, by Martin Owton. I ended up in hospital over Christmas 2020, and Exile kept me company through some pretty miserable nights. Great little book, I’m looking forward to sinking my teeth into the follow up.

Q] In closing, do you have any parting thoughts or comments you would like to share with our readers?
FD: Yes – thanks for having me on Fantasy Book Critic! Also, a major thank you to anyone who decides to check out Horns of the Hunter, I hope you enjoy them


Preorder Horns Of The Hunter over HERE

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: An age of myth. A bitter feud. A storm of legend.

It is the closing days of the Enkindled King’s wars for Earthblood, and a cycle of violence and hatred sparks a bitter feud in his shadow.

Náith, the Warrior. Luw, the Hunter. Cast aside and burned by their lover’s betrayal, the two find themselves trapped in a bloody struggle for the affections of Síle, the Maid of Mael Tulla.
Cherished as a healer and bringer of verdant life to barren lands, Síle stands as a mystery unto all – even those who would claim her heart. For one so gentle and kind, secrets and bloodshed swarm about her like flies upon a corpse.

Consumed by hatred and heartache, both Náith and Luw will take the darkest of trials and challenge death itself, unaware of the true game being played.

A storm beyond imagining waits for the Warrior and the Hunter. One that will decide the fate of Luah Fáil.



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