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Tuesday, February 14, 2023

SPFBO Interview: Thiago Abdalla, the author of A Touch of Light


Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

AUTHOR INFO: Thiago is the author of the Ashes of Avarin series composed of 'A Touch of Light', the prequel novella 'A Prelude to Ashes' and the upcoming novels: 'A Shade of Madness', 'A Twist of Faith', and 'A Promise of Dawn'.

He was born in Brazil but grew up in the fantasy worlds from the stories he kept in his mind. He has inhabited everywhere from Middle-Earth and Azeroth to the planes of Dominaria, Ravnica and Tarkir. No matter the medium, what kept him coming back was always his love for story.

He could never wait for the next world to dive into, so, after being (indirectly) urged on by the (printed) words of Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence, Patrick Rothfuss, N. K. Jemisin and many, many others, decided to create his own.

Publisher: The Alterian Press (March 1, 2022) Page Count: 456 (Kindle edition) Cover art: Alejandro Colucci


Q&A

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

I’m Brazilian and started to write only a short while ago. I’ve always loved fantasy, especially fantasy that makes you work a bit for the answers because it makes it all the more satisfying when you find them. I’ve got hobbies that range from Magic: the Gathering, playing electric guitar, to the NFL and MLB

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

I do. I work at a bank

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

Mark Lawrence is the main one. I love how intelligent his writing is and how his prose feels so poetic. His worldbuilding is also often overlooked and his characters are some of my favorites in all of fantasy.

Joe Abercrombie, Patrick Rothfuss and N.K. Jemisin have also written some of the most incredible and inspiring stories I’ve ever read

What do you think characterizes your writing style?

I’d say I prefer to show you the world instead of sitting you down and telling you. I love a learn-as-you-go style of narration because it keeps up the mystery of the world and gives you what you need only when you need it, so it becomes easier to avoid info-dumping. I do, however, like to leave clues in plain sight and not call attention to them. I think it gives my books re-read value and like to imagine the readers find value in that as well.

You won’t find me describing blades of grass, but I try to make my battle scenes as clear as possible to give the reader a good sense of what’s going on.

What made you decide to self-publish A Touch of Light as opposed to traditional publishing?

Time to market was the main one. Self-publishing gives you incredible flexibility and allows you to publish multiple books a year, whereas in trad, there’s a schedule and you rarely, if ever, are allowed to publish more than one book a year.

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

I see self-publishing and trad as two paths to the same goal, which is putting books readers will love in their hands. The speed of self-publishing is a major advantage in my opinion, but I think I’d say the greatest advantage is flexibility. Your budget is in your hands, so you have the flexibility to define a strategy that can be fluid from month to month. This is an advantage, but can be a huge risk as well.

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

I actually think both paths have more similarities than people think, but the power of a major publishing house marketing you is something that is very hard (and expensive) to emulate for self-pub authors.

A Touch of Light is one of three SPFBO finalists available in audiobook format. Can you share your experience producing it and a reflection if it was worth it?

100% worth it. I absolutely fell in love with Kevin Kemp’s narration and knew the moment he sent me the sample that he would be my narrator for the entire series. Audiobooks are a market of their own. They are expensive to produce, but I believe debut novels are about reaching as many readers as you can before thinking about returns, and audiobooks widen your reach.

Listening to your world being brought to life with all the different voices and nuances is a joy that can’t be explained. It’s an incredible experience and I’m eternally thankful to Kevin for providing me such an expert level of narration.

Why did you enter SPFBO?

Because I saw the SPFBO 7 finalists use a frogicorn as their profile image on Twitter and got jealous.

The real reason is that it’s the greatest way to get recognition for self-pub authors in my opinion. Its impact cannot be overstated, and I’m incredibly grateful to Mark Lawrence and all the blogs who keep it going every year.

What would you do if you won the SPFBO?

Well, I’d be very happy, then I’d probably jump around the apartment when no one was watching, then I’d maybe cry a few happy tears. I’m incredibly happy to be a finalist, though. It really is a big step for a debut author.

How would you describe the plot of A Touch of Light if you had to do so in just one or two sentences?

Three POVs showing the story of a land split between worshipping life, and preaching the need for death. Ambitions and old scars between nations could prove to be the downfall of either side, though.

What was your initial inspiration for A Touch of Light? How long have you been working on it? Has it evolved from its original idea?

I’ve always had a very personal way of reacting to death. I don’t usually cry. I wanted to explore this. Explore how an entire made-up culture would react if they feared death so much, some of them found a way to live forever. What if they declared war on death? What if they believed that if you die, it’s because the goddess discarded you and you are unworthy?

I started working on it in 2020, and the idea evolved, but never really changed from its original essence.

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

Unique, Twisting, Intricate.

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

It’s part of a four-book series (plus a free prequel novella)

Who are the key players in this story? Could you introduce us to A Touch of Light’s protagonists/antagonists?

A Touch of Light has three main POV characters: Adrian, a prince seeking to bring his dead loved ones to worthiness (and give them a chance of being revived in the future), Lynn an elite warrior who was part of an order of griffin riders, but has gone rogue, and Nasha a hunter who is part of the southern clans who do not worship life like the group of nations known as the Domain. Nasha can feel others’ emotions and has trouble keeping control.

All three go through struggles involving a changing world that is challenging their beliefs of life and death.

How did you select the names of your characters?

I sometimes use a naming reference book, other times I pull names from real life and twist them up a bit. And some other times, names just pop into my mind. There‘s no real set process, to be honest.

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

Yes! The magic system is based on emotion and has a few variations. The main one is a bond between elite warriors who ride griffins and the griffins themselves. The warriors share an emotion with the griffin, sending the griffin the emotion and getting strength and speed in return.



Cover art is always an important factor in book sales. Can you tell us about the idea behind the cover of A Touch of Light and the artist?

The artist is the incredible Alejandro Colucci. The idea behind the cover was to have both life and death depicted in the same image, and to have an image that would show you a little bit more the more you look at it. I really love the end result.

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

I’m not sure I have one haha. I always enjoy talking about the themes and theories with people and I feel like the main questions I anticipated have been asked.

What’s your publishing Schedule for 2022/2023?

A Shade of Madness, the Sequel to A Touch of Light will be released on January 24 2023 and I hope to finish the series by the end of the year, or early 2024 at the latest.

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 just like to thank the unending support I’ve gotten from this amazing community. I’m always happy to chat about anything book or fantasy related and really appreciate the interaction! I hope to bring everyone great stories for years to come.

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