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Tuesday, February 8, 2022

SPFBO Finalist Interview: Ben Galley, the author of The Forever King

Book links: AmazonGoodreads

AUTHOR INFO: Ben Galley is an author of dark and epic fantasy books who currently hails from Victoria, Canada. Since publishing his debut Emaneska Series, Ben has released a range of novels set in strange, unforgiving worlds, including the award-winning weird western Bloodrush and standalone novel The Heart of Stone. He is also the author of the critically-acclaimed Chasing Graves Trilogy and new Scalussen Chronicles.

When he isn’t killing off hordes of fictional beings, or arguing the finer points of magic and dragons, Ben enjoys exploring the Canadian wilds and sipping Scotch single malts, and will forever and always play a dark elf in The Elder Scrolls. One day he hopes to live in an epic treehouse in the mountains.

Ben can be found on Twitter or vlogging on YouTube @BenGalley, or loitering on Facebook and Instagram @BenGalleyAuthor. Or just go to for all Ben's info.

Publication Date: December 01, 2020 Publisher: Page Count: 666 (jell yeah!) Cover design: Pen Astridge Original and map illustrations: Ben Galley

Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Before we start, tell us a little about yourself.

Hello! Thanks for having me. I’m Ben Galley, an author of epic, dark fantasy. I’ve been writing since I was old enough to hold a pencil, and publishing since 2010. I started out with the Nordic Emaneska Series, and have since published the Scarlet Star Trilogy, The Heart of Stone, Chasing Graves Trilogy, and now the Scalussen Chronicles. After spending twenty-something years in the UK, I’ve now come to bother British Columbia in Canada with my presence and mischief.

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

I’m proud and somewhat constantly befuddled to say that I’ve been a full-time writer since 2015. On the side, I also help other authors to self-publish and market their books. In the last few years I’ve also written for an emerging and local tabletop gaming company.

Who are some of your favorite writers, and why is their work important to you?

I’ve got to hark back to the authors that not only instilled a rabid love for fantasy in my early years but also inspired me to get into writing professionally. Those would be a strange collection of classics like JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, and Brothers Grimm back in the day, to Robin Hobb, Patrick Rothfuss and Joe Abercrombie as I was growing up. I’m also a massive fan of some weird fiction such as Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief and practically anything Neil Gaiman pens. American Gods was the book that drove me to jump into my debut novel The Written.

What do you think characterizes your writing style?

Even though I jump between genres, from norse, to weird west, to grimdark and back, I normally focus on two main things: 3, 4, or even 5-dimensional characters, and unorthodox worlds that ideally feel so real they make you feel like you’ve wandered through a portal. I also enjoy focusing on multi-POV casts, twisting tropes and blending mythologies, while always seeking to try something that either hasn’t been explored or challenges me personally. Additionally, I always seem to include animals or creatures. And magic. Fucktonnes of magic.

In this place, we usually ask people what made them self-publish their book as opposed to traditional publishing. You Sir, however, are a self-publishing veteran and expert. So tell us if you consider traditional publishing at all at this stage of your career?

Thank you! It’s an interesting question, and one that involves a load of different factors. I do approach publishing from a professional or entrepreneurial standpoint, meaning I try to think as a business as well as a creative. I’ve always said I’ll do whatever is best for my books and to get my stories out there, so I would absolutely consider pursuing opportunities such as trad publishing deals for certain future series I’ve got planned. There are benefits to the trad road just as there are self-publishing, so hybrid publishing is often a way to get the best of both worlds. There are many examples of authors who do both to great success, such as Michael J. Sullivan or Anthony Ryan. It can be difficult to attain, but after doing everything myself for 11 years now, it would be interesting to work in partnership with a publisher instead. I do tend to like creative control, so there’s something I’d have to deal with!

What do you think the greatest advantage of self-publishing is?

Definitely the overlord-level of control you have over all the aspects of your books and business, which suits my nature. While this can be an enormous double-edged sword if admin and marketing or business is not your bag at all, but I seem to enjoy it to almost sadistic levels when it comes to stuffing my to-do list to bursting.

On the other hand, is there anything you feel self-published authors may miss out on?

Financially, it’s the almost exact reverse of traditional publishing. Not that advances are guaranteed or, on average, as large as they used to be, but in the case of an advance, you get an injection of income upfront which can help support you to write more, or even go full-time. And of course, cover design editing, and admin are all taken care of. (If you’re paying for these instead of your publisher, make sure you’re not falling into the trap of the various “publishers” out there that will take all your money for a shoddy product. Also called vanity or package publishers). Self-publishing is the other way around: you pay to get the book created upfront and then build up the income over time. However, the royalties are much higher on the self-pub side, up to 70%, so that’s the upside.

Why did you enter SPFBO?

I’ve entered the SPFBO every year that I had a suitable book since the very first SPFBO back in 2015. The Forever King is my third entry and second finalist spot. In 2015 I was beaten (fairly and squarely) by the eternal frenemesis of mine Mike McClung to the top spot by 0.25 of a point. This gave me a terrible and vengeful thirst to take the title for myself and one day claim my rightful place as a master of the SPFBO. Perhaps 2021 will be the year! In all seriousness, it’s a wonderful competition, a great way to discover more fellow authors, and to gain a good amount of visibility along the way.

What would you do if you won the SPFBO?

There’s a certain bottle of whisky at the local liquor store I have my eye on. I’ll probably take that for a spin… But otherwise, I’d be enormously happy and humbled that The Forever King resonated so well with the bloggers, and run a hideously large giveaway so everyone can celebrate me.

How would you describe the plot of The Forever King if you had to do so in just one or two sentences?

(Full disclosure: I read this question as a challenge of how much I could fit into two sentences, so challenge accepted!)

The Forever King is my take on the chosen one trope with a fierce female protagonist by the name of Mithrid Fenn, set in a dark norse world where magic is banned by a benevolent empire. Against her will, Mithrid finds herself on a relentless path of revenge that will drag her north to the frozen wastes, where a rebel called the Outlaw King raids the fringes of the empire.

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

The Forever King is both a sequel to my previous Emaneska Series and a fresh entry into the world through the eyes of Mithrid. As the world, its history, and the current events were already set up, Mithrid was the main driving force for TFK. I wanted to write a strong and fierce protagonist whose sole goal is revenge, as well as a character I could use to twist the chosen one trope into something original. Mithrid stops at nothing to get what she wants, even to her own downfall, and her entry into the world of Emaneska was the perfect vehicle to start a new chapter. And like the strong character she is, Mithrid definitely led the story in her own way, opening up new ideas for the whole trilogy I thought I had planned out.

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

Magical, brutal, and… dragony.

Is it part of the series or a standalone? If series, how many books have you planned for it?

The Forever King is the first in the Scalussen Chronicles, which will be three books in total. The second book, Heavy Lies The Crown, is already out and the third book is currently underway.

Who are the key players in this story? Could you introduce us to The Forever King’s protagonists/antagonists?

Aside from Mithrid Fenn, a young cliff-brat that is thrust into a war she didn’t know existed, we have a mix of new and familiar characters from the Emaneska Series. The cast ranges to about 30-40 named characters. One of the main ones is Farden, who is the main protagonist of Emaneska and a mage who is cursed with power and immortality as well as a whole host of personal demons. The more notable characters are a man-eating minotaur called Warbringer, a mad dragon called Fleetstar, and as for antagonists, the demon king with a grudge Gremorin, the emperor Malvus Barkhart with a dream of utter control, and his unexpected advisor, a certain Loki. This character is a different take on the usual or existing portrayals of the trickster god that I think people enjoy.

How did you select the names of your characters?

A lot of my character names come from the particular mythology, historical periods, or geographical locations that inspire me. For The Forever King, many of the names come from Scandinavian, Proto-Germanic and Celtic roots. I also have two methods that never fail me: randomly mashing the keyboard to see what happens, and mumbling randomness out loud to find a name I phonetically enjoy. Once I’ve built up a few, my own rules of naming conventions, such as titles, family names, and cultural indicators start to emerge.

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

Hell yes it does. Magic is always a key part of my stories and worlds. My magic system, in its most basic forms, is based on the certain arrangement of words, and to a more granular extent, the flow of sound. It is a “song” that the gods left to mortals before withdrawing into the skies. A song that acts like radiation in the way it infuses into the earth, flora, and fauna. The people of Emaneska learned how to arrange and formalise spells, and through training, magic can become intrinsic. Especially if you carve a spellbook into a mage’s back. That’s what’s called a Written mage, just like Farden.

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

Of course! Firstly, I wanted to echo the style of the Emaneska Series, and let’s be honest, just ended up just copying the borders exactly. I also wanted to feature Mithrid in her most badass state, with her weapon of choice — an axe — in one hand and her own brand of magic in the other. It hints at the cover of the first book in the Emaneska Series: The Written.

Which question about the book do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Good question! Without anything spoilery, I wish somebody would ask more about the stranger races of the frozen north, such as witches and lycans. Not quite a specific question, but they have a lot of intrigue about them that I’ve explored in notes, but not in the books. The witches have the powers of potions and alchemy, whereas the lycans become stuck in their wolf-state, and have complex social interactions.

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

“Of all the sights to wake up to, the immense sapphire snout of a dragon hovering inches from one’s face is likely one of the most terrifying and trews-ruining.”

What’s your publishing Schedule for 2021/2022?

Right now I’m putting the finishing touches to a book I’ve co-written with David Estes called Demon’s Reign. All I’ll say is Avatar meets Venom. At the same time I’m writing the third book in the Scalussen Chronicles: To Kill A God. After that, it’s another Demon’s Something Yet To be Confirmed book, and a serial story on my Patreon page.

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?

Thanks for having me! It’s been great fun. If you’re a fellow writer, keep on writing. If you’re a reader, then keep on reading, and thank you for your support of us mad, head-in-the-clouds authory types. If you want to connect with me, all my links are at Cheers!



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