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Monday, August 22, 2022

Interview with Dan Koboldt, the author of upcoming Heist Fantasy Silver Queendom

AUTHOR INFO: Dan Koboldt is the author of the Gateways to Alissia trilogy (Harper Voyager) and the Build-A-Dragon Sequence (Baen), the editor of Putting the Science in Fiction and Putting the Fact in Fantasy (Writer’s Digest), and the creator of the sci-fi adventure serial The Triangle (Realm). As a genetics researcher, he has co-authored more than 100 publications in Nature, Science, The New England Journal of Medicine, and other scientific journals. Dan is also an avid deer hunter and outdoorsman. He lives with his wife and children in Ohio, where the deer take their revenge by eating the flowers in his backyard.

Find Dan online: Website - Twitter

SILVER QUUENDOM links (Angry Robot / Tantor Media, August 23, 2022): Angry Robot, Amazon, Goodreads


Thank you for joining us, Dan, and welcome to Fantasy Book Critic! Before we start, tell us a little about yourself.

Thank you for the invite! Long time reader, glad to make an appearance here. Well, I like to tell people I’m a geneticist, avid bowhunter, and SF/F writer living in Ohio. I also edit nonfiction books for writers, the latest being Putting the Fact in Fantasy, which came out earlier this year.

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

How much time do you have? When I was a kid, my favorites were J.R.R. Tolkien and Frank Herbert… in addition to being great storytellers, they were incredible world-builders. That escapism is what I must have wanted (or needed). In my teenage years, I wanted big doorstopper books and long-running series, so I became a superfan of Robert Jordan and Raymond E. Feist. Also, two fantastic world-builders.

What do you like most about the act of writing?

I think my favorite thing is working in bits of humor. It’s not easy to do, but when I have a great joke or hilarious situation that makes me laugh out loud when I reread it, that’s a win.

Silver Queendom is a thrilling, fast-paced, and fun story. What came first, the world or the characters? And how did the story take shape in your head?

You’re kind to say so! I’ve heard a few reviewers make similar remarks, and that tells me I did something right. I started working on it several years ago when I wrote a few short scenes for an online writing contest. I wanted it to be snappy and attention-grabbing, so I wrote these tight scenes from the point of view of a grifter in a fantasy setting. The first of those was a jewelry heist, and all these years later, that’s the opening chapter of the book.

How would you describe the plot of Silver Queendom if you had to do so in just one or two sentences?

The Red Rooster crew only takes a job if they can get away clean. So when a stranger offers a fortune to boost a shipment of priceless imperial dreamwine, they know they should do one thing. Run.

Who are the key players in this story? Could you introduce us to Silver Queendom's protagonists and antagonists?

There’s Darin, who’s arguably the main character and the crew’s mastermind. He’s a great con artist but bad at almost everything else. He used to be with Evie, the team’s grifter, who grew up in luxury before her family fell on hard times. She knows how the high-borns think and operate in the Queendom, and that’s useful intel. They join forces with Kat, who handles most of their logistics. She also brews her own ale, which tastes horrible, but provides a useful cover for some of their jobs. Finally, there’s Big Tom, who’s effectively the crew’s bouncer. He’s a quiet guy and doesn’t say much, but he’s good to have in a scrap.

How much of yourself did you put into your characters? Which one reminds you most?

Well, my characters are all criminals so I probably shouldn’t admit very much here. In terms of outlook on life, I’m probably most similar to Darin. He’s a bit jaded and snarky, but he can also try to help people who are in a rough spot.

I liked the mysterious magic system known as Metallurgy. Can you tell us more about it?

Hey, thanks. I like it, too. The idea is that people with magical abilities – who are themselves pretty rare – draw their power through coinage metals. Silver is the most potent of these, and incidentally the most valuable metal. Using metal for magic decreases its purity, which adds an interesting twist to the idea that money is power. There’s also a tolerance effect for magic users; if they don’t use their abilities for a long time, it takes a physical toll when they do.

Silver Queendom made me realize how much I enjoy heist stories. Did you plot everything in advance, or did the heists (and their resolutions) „wrote themselves”?

Some of it I planned, and some of it evolved as the story came together. There are several heists in the book and they’re all fairly different, so I had fun figuring out how these characters wiht these abilities would pull them off.

What are your favorite heist stories (in any media)?

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo and Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch are two of my favorite books. I love a good heist movie as well, things like Ocean’s Eleven, The Italian Job, Inside Man, and Sneakers. I’m fascinated by true crime heist stories as well, one of my favorites being the Gardner Museum robbery in 1990.

Silver Queendom works as a standalone but it also leaves room for future explorations. Is there any chance for a sequel?

If the book does well, absolutely. I’d love to spend more time with these characters and this world.

What do you think characterizes your writing style in general?

Oh wow, this is making me take a hard look at myself. Yikes. I think that I try to write smart but light-hearted stories that don’t take themselves too seriously.

Cover art is always an important factor in book sales. Can you tell us about the idea behind the cover of Silver Queendom? And who’s the artist?

Oh, that’s a good story. When Gemma Creffield (editor at Angry Robot) asked me for input on possible cover designs, all I could come up with was a design featuring the Red Rooster Inn. It’s the home base for my main characters and ostensibly their cover. Angry Robot tried a design based on my suggestion, and it just didn’t work. I hadn’t thought about it, but a cover featuring a ramshackle old building is not very exciting. So we started over, and they came up with a few ideas based on silhouettes of characters from the book. We tried several different color schemes and styles. I’m just thrilled with how it turned out. Alice Coleman at Angry Robot is the artist, and really knocked it out of the park.

Have you written Silver Queendom a particular audience in mind?

I’m tempted to say anyone who reads adult fantasy, but I’ll add that the language and situations in this book are fairly clean and there’s not much gore, so it’s appropriate for younger readers (middle grade) who like to read adult stuff.

What’s new or unique about your book that we don’t see much in sci-fi these days?

I think the best answer is that my book has a found family. This isn’t a new or unique thing at all – I’m sure everyone who is reading this immediately thought of a found family story they love – but it’s an important aspect of the story.

What are you currently working on that readers might be interested in learning more about, and when can we expect to see it released?

Believe it or not, I have another book coming out in September. Deploying Dragons is the second title in the Build-A-Dragon Sequence, my science fiction series with Baen Books. It’s about a genetic engineer who goes to work for a company that sells living, breathing dragons for use as pets (or in the case of this book, as weapons). Think of it as Build-A-Bear Workshop meets Jurassic Park.

 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?

I’d like to close by thanking you for taking the time to read my book and to do this interview. For authors like me who aren’t currently bestsellers, book reviewers are worth their weight in gold! I really appreciate what you do for me and for SF/F literaturę. Thanks again.

Our pleasure :)



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