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Monday, June 7, 2021

Dark Sea's End Release Interview with Richard Nell (Interviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

We have the pleasure of welcoming back Richard Nell today. Richard has recently released Dark Sea’s End, the first book in his new trilogy Beyond Ash And Sand. We chat about how and why he started writing this new trilogy set in the same world. The difficulties in such an approach and what he’s writing next. So read ahead and enjoy…

Q] Welcome back Richard, thank you very much for granting us with your time. How are things with you? How did you deal with 2020?

RN: My pleasure, happy to be here. Things are…strange, but good. Sitting in one’s basement playing with ideas and imaginary characters and worlds remains as bizarre and wonderful as ever, and isn’t much impacted by events in the outside world. But I miss seeing friends and family as much as I once did, and hate the “new normal of 2020-21”.


Q] For some authors, it is easier writing their second series set in the same world, while for others it is more difficult. How was your experience and did you learn anything from writing your debut trilogy that helped you in writing Dark Sea’s End?

RN: Certainly easier for me. Partially because I’ve had so much time with (some of) these characters and stories, partially because this book is smaller and more straightforward in terms of plot. I’d say ‘and because writing just gets easier with practice’, but so far that’s not really true…

Q] Talking about Dark Sea’s End, what inspired you to write this new story and title it “Beyond Ash And Sand”?

RN: I always knew there was more to the Ash and Sand world to tell. Our own history is long and complicated, and so it is with this. I won’t ever write a particular series longer than a trilogy (I like endings!), but I could almost certainly create another two or even three such trilogies without exhausting this world’s possibilities.


Q] Dark Sea’s End deals with some pretty serious themes. I really loved how it focused on religion and how religions influence civilizations easily. Was this theme something that you particularly wanted to explore or was it just a byproduct of the particular type of the story you wanted to write?

RN: I am rather obsessed with cultural belief - whether we call it religion, custom, or tradition. Any belief that inspires dramatic behavior is always something I find fascinating, particularly if it clashes with reality. As long as that’s true, I suppose, you’re going to see the theme keep creeping up in my books!

Q] Zaya had a small cameo in the previous trilogy while getting a major role in this book. But what made you decide to keep Ruka off the POV character list? Will he get a POV role in the future books?

RN: A character like Ruka brings a lot of dramatic baggage - basically I didn’t want him to overshadow the rest of the story, or to confuse new readers. However, do not worry, you have not seen the last of Ruka, son of Beyla, and he will certainly get his own POV in the future.

Q] How many books are you planning to write in Beyond Ash And Sand?

RN: This will be another trilogy.


Q] What can you tell us about the next book in Beyond Ash And Sand series? Will it be set immediately after the events of Dark Sea’s End? Will it be another standalone?

RN: The next book (as yet untitled), will primarily cover the fall-out in the ‘new world’ after the events of book one, and follow Ruka’s journey back to help them. So, no I don’t think it will stand alone. I intend to have it ready in 2022.


Q] Will we see any of the current characters (that are alive) back? Will there be different POV characters in the sequel books?

RN: Yes to both but that’s all I’m saying…


Q] Would you happen to be involved in any other writing projects?

RN: After completing the Ash and Sand trilogy, I’ve been allowing myself to experiment with quite a few projects! My next release may very well be a fantasy ‘progression’ story, totally unrelated to the Ash and Sand world, with quite a bit more humor, a Diablo-esque feel, with a talking sword, and a baby dragon… No questions!


Q] In epic fantasy, some authors like to put an emphasis on characters or worldbuilding; others on storytelling. Where do you fit in this picture and what do you feel are your strengths as a writer. What areas would you like to get stronger in, especially in future books?

RN: I definitely care more about ‘showing’ plot and character than worldbuilding, though of course it depends on the story. For me the best worldbuilding is extremely deep, complex, realistic, and in the background, shown with the minimum amount necessary to tell the story in a satisfactory way. Obviously that’s a hard thing to do and balance.

It’s hard to know your own strengths and weaknesses but I think my success has been in managing that balance reasonably well. Where I always want to improve is in creating that complexity in the background, really making my ‘world’ seethe with obvious life, so that the characters and the plot feel like just another piece of a giant, beautiful puzzle, with the barest of interference to the book. A man can dream…

Q] What books are you currently reading? Which recent titles and authors would you like to give a shout out to?

RN: I’m always tearing through indie books. A few recent reads I thought were great were Michael Fletcher’s Black Stone Heart, Sarah Chorn’s Seraphina’s Lament, and the entirety of Will Wight’s Unsouled series. Very different books, but you won’t go wrong with any of them.


Q] Thank you for your time Richard, we look forward to your next book(s). All the very best for SPFBO as well.

RN: Thanks very much as ever. Great questions, and I’m just excited to share the new book with readers.



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