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Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Exclusive Cover Reveal + Q&A: The Crew by Sadir Samir (interviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

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Preorder The Crew over HERE
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Today we have the absolute pleasure of revealing for Sadir Samir’s debut epic fantasy-comedy The Crew. Sadir is an author who lives in Sweden and has previously worked as a game writer and a producer. So get to know Sadir a little more and find out all about what makes The Crew so unique….
Q] Welcome to Fantasy Book Critic Sadir. For starters, could you tell us a little about yourself and your background? tell us what inspired you to write and describe your journey to becoming a self-published author.

SS: Thank you! Firstly, let me say it’s an honor to have Fantasy Book Critic host my cover reveal. I’ve been following this blog for years, so I’m stoked to be here.

In terms of my background, I was born in the Middle East before my family moved to Sweden where I still reside to this day. I still have strong ties to my heritage and speak Arabic fluently.  
I’ve always dabbled in a variety of creative fields growing up, knowing I wanted to tell stories for a living even though not certain exactly what path to take. That road led me to study theater in high school and then do a short stint in TV & movie production where I specialized in script writing. Watching the advancement of video game development and the amazing potential of the medium made me switch focus and pursue a career in that field. These days I work as a writer & narrative designer, and I’ve now been in the games industry for over a decade.

Writing has always been with me in some shape or form, but I started writing seriously around 2015 with the actual aim of becoming an author. I decided to go indie because it felt like the right choice for me. I worked as a producer for many years and picked up a lot of skills in how to manage projects and in a sense run a business. Another big factor is the amount of support and encouragement you get as an indie author, and I don’t think you can find a warmer and more welcoming community.
Q] Many writers have a muse, who directs their writing, and others do not seem to be affected the same way. Which group do you fall into? What is your main motivation and source of inspiration?

SS: Funny you’d ask that; I had a blog once called “there is no muse” where I used to write posts and updates about my writing journey. The reason I went with that name was to remove any excuses for not writing and working on my craft. If I seriously wanted to become an author, I needed to sit my butt down and produce words on the page like the professionals do it, regardless of the presence of a muse or not. That was true then and it is true now. But what I found out over the years is that the muse does in fact exist for me, it’s just that I need to sit down and start typing to actually summon her, not the other way around.

When it comes to motivation, for me it comes from the desire to create stories that will affect people, and for The Crew specifically, I want the readers to experience an exciting adventure full of humorous weirdness. Just the thought of someone reading my book and laughing makes me happy.
(Cover art by Love Gunnarson)

Q] Let’s talk about the stunning cover for The Crew. Can you reveal how you and your cover artist worked together to create it?

SS: The concept was clear to me right from the get-go. The book’s called The Crew, so I wanted my ragtag group of misfits front and center. This is their story after all. The next pointer was to convey the Arab-inspired fantasy setting. Placing the Bone Lord’s ziggurat in the background was a stroke of genius from my brilliant artist Love Gunnarson. It makes it clear this isn’t your typical European medieval milieu. I had some short descriptions for the members of the crew to help kick things off, but my artist was free to make his own interpretations and go wild. He was adamant he wanted to read the book before getting started, and I think that intimate knowledge of the characters and the story really elevated 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?

SS: The first time I saw the final cover my head exploded from sheer awesomeness. I knew in my gut that my artist would absolutely nail it since I know him very well and we’ve worked together on a couple of video games, but he honestly delivered beyond my wildest expectations. He’s a master of his craft and it shows. I think the title along with the cover makes it extremely clear what this book is about, and I honestly couldn’t be happier with how it all turned out. Now I just need to get it framed so I can stare at it every day!

Q] Let’s talk about The Crew; Dyrk Ashton called it “Kings of the Wyld meets Deadpool”.  What lead you to write this fantasy-comedy story set in a desert city?

SS: To answer that question, I must first tell you a bit about the previous novel I wrote which was a 500+ pages grimdark epic fantasy. Unfortunately, I was not satisfied enough to consider that book for publication. I don’t think it sucked, but it wasn’t great, and that doesn’t cut it. However, there were elements from that story that my beta readers all reacted very positively to; especially one of the main POVs who’s a drunken frogman wielding a big sword who has a tragic background. The readers felt the character was exciting and brought something different that they usually haven’t seen. Most often when you write your first novel, you don’t have your author voice; that mystical thing that is YOU on the page. My dear frogman character was the genesis for finding my voice.

So, when I started writing The Crew, I fully leaned into my own brand of quirkiness and simply went it. I didn’t know I was writing a comedic fantasy adventure since I didn’t have a plan going in. 99,9% was all made up on the fly as my fingers danced across the keyboard. I showed a couple of the early chapters to some friends and their reception compared to my first novel was night and day. That’s when I knew I had something.

Q] Can you tell us more about the world that The God Dust Saga is set in and some of the story’s major characters? What are the curiosities of this world?

SS: The story takes place in a desert region called Harrah with seven city-states, each one ruled by an autocratic Bone Lord. Together they form The Seven, a fickle alliance formed to oppose a mighty empire called the World Government. However, The Crew mainly takes place in the city-state Akrab where the Bone Lord’s former Spymaster is putting together a group of bad people to bring her down. The city is on the verge of a civil war between the demon and human population, and much of the friction is a result of the Bone Lord’s actions.   

The first one recruited to the crew–and our protagonist–is Varcade, a rogue warrior with a set of abilities making him a powerful ally and key to bringing down the Bone Lord.  There’s also a demon marksman; a puppet master who uses exploding corpses (and his mother who insists on coming along); a demon revolutionary who wants to kill all humans, and some others I won’t give away.

The magic system revolves around the bones of dead gods; more specifically snorting them to unlock a variety of bizarre and powerful abilities. But there are some serious consequences of consuming too much God Dust… Stay away from it, kids!      
Q] What would be your pitch for The Crew?

SS: A crazy sellsword is forced to assemble a crew of other unstable individuals to assassinate a tyrannical ruler in an Arab inspired desert city.  

Q] So what can readers expect from The Crew and what should they be looking forward to according to you both?

SS: Hopefully they’ll experience a fantastical and action-filled adventure with a healthy dose of weirdness and fun. I’ll also go out on a limb here and say it’s quite different from other books in the fantasy genre.
Q] The Crew is the first book of The God Dust Saga. How many books are you planning to write in this series?

SS: I intend to wrap up this story arc in a trilogy, and then branch out into the rest of the God Dust world with a couple of standalones introducing readers to new characters and settings. Believe me when I say I have big plans for the God Dust Saga as a whole.
Q] In closing, do you have any parting thoughts or comments you’d like to share with our readers?

SS: I can’t put into words how excited (and terrified) I am to finally release The Crew into the world and share this story with everyone. Hopefully all you wonderful readers will give a debut author like myself a shot and come along for the crazy ride going forward.

Mihir, my friend, thank you for having me. It’s been a blast.


Preorder The Crew over HERE

 Kings of the Wyld meets Deadpool in this action-packed fantasy adventure set in an Arab-inspired landscape.

Varcade fled to the deserts of Harrah to escape his past as an Educator, a member of an order of zealot warrior-monks that aims to shape the world according to their sacred Teachings by force. Varcade makes his living as a reckless sword-for-hire, caring only about himself, until his self-centered lifestyle is turned on its head when he is contracted to recruit a misfit team of unruly assassins and take out the mighty Bone Lord of Akrab.

But the Bone Lord is aware of the plot and sends her band of Dusters to stop them; individuals who have gained bizarre and lethal magical powers by snorting the pulverised bones of dead gods. Hunted by Educators and Dusters in a city-state where an escalating conflict between the human and demon population threatens to boil over in a civil war, will Varcade and his ragtag crew save Akrab from the cruel Bone Lord, or will they make things even worse? 



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