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Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Cover Reveal Q&A: Jackal Of The Mind by Madolyn Rogers



Q] Welcome to Fantasy Book Critic Madolyn. Can you tell our readers how you came to be a published writer?

MR: I’ve loved writing stories since I was a little girl, and have been working on my current series in my spare time for years. My writers’ group encouraged me to publish, but I did not want to try traditional publishing for a variety of reasons. Finally, I was inspired by friends who have self-published to try that route. I’m so glad I did—I love being part of the self-published fantasy community, and have found it to be a really warm, welcoming, and supportive environment.
 

Q] Let’s talk about how Jackal Of The Mind came to fruition? What was your inspiration for this fantasy story?

MR: My first book, The Copper Assassin, followed a young noble named Gorgo as he tried to stop an indestructible golem from assassinating the leader of his city, Wyverna. At the end of the book, he found himself in an uncomfortable position, conscripted into the city government, where he serves as a menial clerk. For the sequel, I wanted to explore how he would deal with his new situation and what he would do next. In particular, I was interested in the consequences of one of the dramatic moments from the first book, in which Gorgo had to wage mental combat with the witch Wakár, who can possess others’ minds. I thought that experience would leave him mentally scarred.

So as the second book opens, Gorgo is haunted by dreams of that combat, and his overriding motivation is to hunt down Wakár and free himself from her. I have always been fascinated/horrified by mind control, and the book plays with some of those ideas. Along the way, Gorgo has to grow, form new alliances, and learn to trust people.
 
Q] The artwork for Jackal Of The Mind is very striking. Who is the artist and how did you develop the cover with them (did you leave them to their own choices or did you have a specific image in mind)?

MR: I worked with the same artists who did my first cover, Polar Engine Studio in Indonesia. They do amazing work. I gave the artist the basic concept for the cover—I knew I wanted it to feature the book’s villain, Wakár, and I wanted her to have a monstrous jackal at her side and be in a desert setting, with a wyvern in the sky. From there, the artist created all the stunning detail of the scene. I am thrilled with the way he realized the concept.
 

Q] This is listed as book II and so is this a direct sequel to The Copper Assassin? Or can readers jump in to this book without reading its predecessor?

MR: Jackal Of The Mind follows the same main character as The Copper Assassin, picking up his story about two months after the last book ends. But it’s a separate adventure from the first story, and I tried to write it in such a way that it could be read as a stand-alone. That said, I think people will enjoy it more if they have also read the first one, as many characters recur in this one and several incidents from the first book are mentioned.
 
Q] Can you share something about the book that is not mentioned in the blurb and why fans should be excited for this new story?

MR: One of the things I really wanted to do in this story was develop Gorgo’s character more. The first book has a breakneck pace, taking place over five days, so in this one, I gave Gorgo more time and space to grow. His relationships take center stage and have a lot of nuance. They span the gamut from his friendship with a very determined six-year-old; his sword training with a man who was once possessed by Wakár and may not be trustworthy; an uneasy “frenemy” alliance with a ruthless smuggler; and a romance with an enigmatic sorceress. I’m really pleased by the depth of emotion and character development in this one. There’s also a lot of action and sword-fighting, so I hope it strikes a good balance!
 
Q] Can you tell us more about the world that The Tales of Wyverna series is set in? What are the curiosities (geographical, mystical, etc.) of this world?

MR: The series started with the concept of a society of outcasts. In a medieval fantasy world, all the people rejected from their own countries—rebels, criminals, sorcerers—flee and establish their own culture, which eventually becomes the city-state of Wyverna. Wyverna is a coastal city, and its people survive by piracy. As a result, they become feared and powerful. I love writing about this vibrant culture that is a melting pot of different groups that often clash, with many different types of magic co-existing. Oh, and there are dragons—Wyverna gets its name from the wyverns who live in the mountains behind the city.
 
Q] For someone who has not read any of your novels, how would you describe the type of stories that you write?

MR: In one way I think I write somewhat old-fashioned fantasy novels, classic sword-and-sorcery. My style was influenced by series like Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and Gray Mouser, and Zelazny’s Nine Princes in Amber. I love a world filled with magic and fantastical happenings. But my books also have modern elements—for example, men and women have equal status in Wyverna, so there are lots of powerful female warriors and leaders, including the leader of the city, the Warlord. Wyverna society is also very open and accepting of different sexualities, races, etc. Above all, I like to tell character-driven stories that delve into the emotional journeys of the characters. I want them to feel like real people, even when wild things are happening to them.
 

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

MR: I would like to mention another project I’m involved in, the upcoming anthology The Alchemy Of Sorrow, put together by Virginia McClain. This is a collection of fantasy and sci-fi stories exploring the landscape of grief and hope. I contributed one of the 13 stories. The stories tackle themes like loss, recovery, redemption, and sacrifice, and were written by an incredibly talented group that includes many SPFBO finalists and best-sellers. Having read them all, I can say these stories are really something special, taking a variety of creative approaches and packing an emotional punch. I’m so excited to be part of this amazing project, and I encourage people to check it out when the anthology comes out this fall.

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