Today I am interviewing Brian McClellan, author of the new epic fantasy novel, Sins of Empire, first book in the Gods of Blood and Power series.
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DJ: Hey Brian! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Brian McClellan: Hi there! I’m a thirty-one year old author living on the side of a mountain in Utah. I’m a full-time author, writing flintlock epic fantasy for Orbit books. In my books, my heroes include soldiers, government agents, convicts, and everything in between–all of them operating in a world something akin to our Napoleonic era. There’s magic, flintlock rifles, bayonet charges, duels, gods, sorcerers, political intrigue, and massive battles.
DJ: What is Sins of Empire about?
Brian: Sins of Empire is the first novel in my next trilogy. This is the second series to take place in the Powder Mage Universe, and a new entry point for curious readers looking to explore that world. While my first trilogy dealt with a very old-world, European-style conflict, this second one has more of a new-world feel to it on the largely-unexplored continent of Fatrasta. There are vast frontiers, native populations, technological advancements, and unknown sorcery. Sins of Empire begins with the discovery of a sorcerous object of ancient origins, and follows the consequences of its unearthing as this new world grapples with old secrets, and powerful people maneuver for a coming conflict.
DJ: What were some of your influences for Sins of Empire?
Brian: It’s hard to talk about Sins without talking about my first trilogy (because that’s what set the stage for the world). My initial influences were Count of Monte Cristo, Les Mis, Three Musketeers. These were my favorite adventure books as a child, and I wanted to combine them with my favorite genre–epic fantasy. Throw in the visual influences of shows like Sharpe’s Rifles and Fullmetal Alchemist, and I had a book to write! Sins, to me, is the extrapolation of the world I initially created. I started in the old world, and I wanted to move toward something new. What happens when I explore the results of colonialism and industrial greed?
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?
Brian: I have three viewpoint characters in this book, beginning with Lady Vlora Flint. Vlora is a mercenary general, jaded from her participation in two major wars and the politics surrounding them. When her country demilitarized after the latest conflict, she took the cream of the crop of the soldiers and formed a mercenary company, crossing the ocean to seek fame and fortune in Fatrasta. She’s a bad-ass, take-no-prisoners commander, whose only governing principle is the success and safety of her men. Vlora is, in some ways, the old reader’s connection to the last trilogy. She was a minor character that caused major plot points, and I had always wanted to tell her story. Ten years later, I’m doing just that.
Michel Bravis is more of an everyman. He’s a domestic spy for the secret police of Fatrasta. He’s young, but experienced, and trying to work his way up the ranks of the secret police while holding on to his humanity. He’s a conflicted character who wants to do well at his job but doesn’t particularly like hurting people–which is a fairly common task for the secret police.
Ben Styke begins the novel as a convict in the labor camps of Fatrasta. He’s a giant of a man, almost seven feet tall, a hero of Fatrasta’s war for independence who was sent to the camps for disobeying orders a decade before the beginning of the book. He’s now bent and broken and old, a shadow of his former self, and he’s released in order to further the goals of a wealthy, mysterious benefactor. Ben my favorite character to write because his moral compass is so incredibly skewed. Readers are going to love him, and at the same time say to themselves, “This is not a good person!” Which is always fun.
DJ: What is the world and setting of the Gods of Blood and Power series like?
Brian: The Powder Mage world is very much an analogue to our own history. I wanted to take the Napoleonic-era, with political and industrial revolutions, and create a fantasy world of it. While the action in Sins of Empire all takes place in a single city, this is very much a part of a lived-in, mostly-explored world. The new, open frontiers of Fatrasta are a bit of a novelty to an industrializing people who feel as if they’ve already conquered the globe.
DJ: The Gods of Blood and Power series, will take place in the same universe as your previous series, The Powders Mage trilogy, but will there be any type of crossover between the two series? Any easters eggs readers of first series might pick up that those who haven’t wouldn’t?
Brian: I already mentioned Vlora, but you’ll see a handful of old friends, as well as plenty of references to the events of the last trilogy. But again, this is meant to be a new series, with its own characters and conflict.
DJ: Something I love about the Powder Mage trilogy was all the novellas and short stories you wrote and published in between novels. It must have been an incredible amount of work! Is this something you plan on doing for the Gods of Blood and Power series as well?
Brian: I certainly hope to. Sins of Empire took me much longer to write than any of the books of the original trilogy, and when you’re behind on a deadline your publisher does not look kindly to you self-pubbing on the side–which is why I haven’t put out a new novella in over a year. If I can get the second book wrapped up and turned in on time (mid-May of ‘17), I intend on getting at least one novella out before starting on book 3, and this one will be set in Fatrasta.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Sins of Empire?
Brian: Exploring a different continent of a world I thought I already knew pretty well. Also, Ben Styke.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Brian: I won’t mention too much, because spoilers and all that. But at the risk of being repetitive, I think Ben is going to be a favorite among readers.
DJ: What was your goal when you began writing the Gods of Blood and Power series? Sins of Empire is only the first book, but is there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?
Brian: I don’t really write books with a meaning in mind. I write to entertain. This is a way for people to get out of our world and into someplace full of magic and adventure for ten or fifteen hours or so, and I wouldn’t press them with anything more than that.
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from Sins of Empire that you can share with us?
Brian: “This isn’t about revenge. This is because you’re an asshole.” – Ben Styke
“You don’t want to live through a revolution. By the end, half the people you’ve ever loved will be dead.” – Lady Vlora Flint
DJ: Now that Sins of Empire is released, what is next for you?
Brian: I’ve got book two to finish, and then three to write. I’ll always have side-projects going on, be they novellas or new worlds. I’m working on the writing for the Powder Mage RPG right now too, and that will be released in August.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Brian-McClellan/e/B009IA053A/
Author Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/IMsOH
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about Sins of Empire that we haven’t talked about yet?
Brian: I want them to go and enjoy themselves.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
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*** Sins of Empire is published by Orbit and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Nobel | Goodreads | Kobo
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A new epic fantasy series from highly acclaimed fantasy author, Brian McClellan, set in the same world as The Powder Mage trilogy.
A world on the cusp of a new age…
The young nation of Fatrasta is a turbulent place — a frontier destination for criminals, fortune-hunters, brave settlers, and sorcerers seeking relics of the past. Only the iron will of the lady chancellor and her secret police holds the capital city of Landfall together against the unrest of an oppressed population and the machinations of powerful empires.
Sedition is a dangerous word…
The insurrection that threatens Landfall must be purged with guile and force, a task which falls on the shoulders of a spy named Michel Bravis, convicted war hero Mad Ben Styke, and Lady Vlora Flint, a mercenary general with a past as turbulent as Landfall’s present.
The past haunts us all…
As loyalties are tested, revealed, and destroyed, a grim specter as old as time has been unearthed in this wild land, and the people of Landfall will soon discover that rebellion is the least of their worries.
Brian McClellan is an epic fantasy author. He studied writing under Brandon Sanderson and Orson Scott Card and was an honorable mention in the Writers of the Future Contest.
Brian is an avid player of video games and reader of epic novels and history. His hobbies include making homemade jam from local berries and tending to his hive of honeybees. He lives in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife, two dogs, and cat.