Today I am interviewing Ken Scholes, author of the, Psalms of Issak series, whose first four book are being re-released in a bundle for Nook, Kindle, and Kobo on August 15. The first volume of the Psalms of Isaak, Lamentation, was published by Tor in 2009 and the fifth anf final volume, Hymn, comes out in December.
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DJ: Hey Ken! Thanks for agreeing to do this interviews! 🙂
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Ken Scholes: Thanks for interviewing me, DJ. My name is Ken Scholes. I’m a speculative fiction writer among other things. I broke into print back in 2000 through the short story market and then, after winning Writers of the Future, I started writing novels. My series, The Psalms of Isaak, is what I’m best known for – I’ve been working on it for over a decade and the final book comes out in just a few months.
DJ: What is Psalms of Issak series about?
Ken: The world’s largest, most important city is suddenly destroyed and a key group of witnesses to that city’s fall are pulled into a labyrinth of intrigue as war erupts and various factions seek to solve the mystery of Windwir’s destruction. As the series progresses, the characters learn that they are part of a larger world – and a broader web – than they realized as they are changed by their experiences. Of course, it starts with a king finding a metal man weeping in an impact crater and goes from there….
DJ: What were some of your influences for Psalms of Issak series?
Ken: I was heavily influenced by more writers than I could list – Bradbury certainly at the top of that list. And in the early years of the series, watching Ron Moore’s re-imagined Battlestar Galactica, J.J. Abram’s Lost and Joss Whedon’s Firefly all had impacts on me when it came to storytelling. I was also influenced a great deal in my early years by Dungeons and Dragons and a host of other TSR role-playing games.
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?
Ken: I have a good-sized cast of characters. Rudolfo, the Lord of the Ninefold Forest Houses, who is a hedonist and a scoundrel king more interested in rebuilding the library than he is in fighting the war. Petronus, the lost Pope of the Androfrancine Order who faked his assassination and went into hiding, only to return years later at the sight of Windwir’s smoke on the horizon. Jin Li Tam, forty-second daughter of Vlad Li Tam, a spy for her father’s banking concern suddenly forced to ally with the Forest Houses. Neb, an orphan who is promised to be more by the mysterious Marshfolk. As the series progresses, we meet other characters along the way. But I don’t typically write with quirks or habits to gain reader sympathy – I just try to write them true to the emotional landscape of the story they’re in.
DJ: What is the world and setting of The Psalms of Issak series like?
Ken: The series starts out in the Named Lands and as it progresses, readers grow to learn more about the world and universe it’s set in as they move through the books. I think we finally get the world’s name at the end of the third book, Antiphon.
Within that world, I have theocracies that are egalitarian and monarchies and a secular monastic order that are patriarchal. Technology is controlled and often mistaken for magic. And of course, in the beginning – for less than a page – things are peaceful. From there forward, it’s war and intrigue and mystery.
DJ: How have the reviews been from readers, bloggers, and reviewers for the first four books in The Psalms of Issak series? Is there anything that your audience seems to be particularly enjoying or is eager to find out more about?
Ken: It’s picked up great reviews – and even a few awards – in a few languages. I’m told that I tell a lot of story with not a lot of words and that my characters feel like real people solving real problems in a real place. I suspect fans are glad to know the final installment is just a few months away.
DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began writing Psalms of Issak series? There is still one more novel to come out, 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?
Ken: My goal really was to practice writing my first novel. And really, the Psalms of Isaak originated in a short story that started with the singular goal of me selling a quirky story about a mechanical oddity to a magazine. I think it would be hard to attach a message or meaning to the series but I do think it’s a good exploration of how we face adversity and trauma and I think it’s a very different sort of series.
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 The Psalms of Issak series that you can share with us?
Ken: The one that comes to mind first and foremost is “Change is the path life takes.” I’ve seen that to be true again and again. I even have people quote it back to me when I start to whine about all of the changes in my life.
DJ: I believe that final book is being released later this year? This is perfect timing for a bundle to be released!
Ken: It is! The other books came out between 2009 and 2013 so it’s been a while. This puts the series back in front of people with just enough time to read the first four and pick up the final volume. And most folks who love the series usually plough through the books rather quickly.
DJ: What is next for you?
Ken: I don’t know. I’m also a musician so I’m working in that world a bit and have recently started a band. I’ve also gone back to a dayjob, bought a house and moved recently, so I’m adjusting to a lot of change. I have a few non-fiction books – one on my Adventures with PTSD – that I’d like to tackle. And I’m thinking of writing for a younger crowd as my girls slide into the tail end of elementary school. We’ll see what the future holds.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: Yes
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about The Psalms of Issak series that we haven’t talked about yet?
Ken: I think we covered it.
DJ: Is there anything else you would like add?
Ken: No – thank you for interviewing me!
DJ: You are quite welcome! Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
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*** Psalms of Issak series is published by Tor and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Nobel | Goodreads | Kobo
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This discounted ebundle includes: Lamentation, Canticle, Antiphon, Requiem
“Ken Scholes creates vivid characters, a world thick with detail, and wonders we’ve never seen before.” —Orson Scott Card
The Psalms of Isaak series take place on an Earth so far in the distant future that our time is not even a memory; a world where magick is commonplace and great areas of the planet are impassable wastes. But human nature hasn’t changed through the ages: War and faith and love still move princes and nations. Soon all the Kingdoms of the Named Lands will be at each others’ throats, as alliances are challenged and hidden plots are uncovered.
Lamentation — An ancient weapon has completely destroyed the city of Windwir. From many miles away, Rudolfo, Lord of the Nine Forest Houses, sees the horrifying column of smoke rising. He knows that war is coming to the Named Lands.
Canticle — As the feast honoring General Rudolfo’s first-born son begins, the doors of the hall fly open and invisible assassins attack. All of Rudolfo’s noble guests are slain, including Hanric, the Marsh Queen’s Shadow. And on the Keeper’s Gate, a strange figure appears, with a message for Petronus, the Hidden Pope.
Antiphon — The ancient past is not dead. The hand of the Wizard Kings still reaches out to challenge the Androfrancine Order, to control the magick and technology that they sought to understand and claim for their own.
Requiem — Who is the Crimson Empress, and what does her conquest of the Named Lands really mean? Who holds the keys to the Moon Wizard’s Tower? Hidden truths reveal even deeper truths, and nothing is as it seemed to be.
Ken Scholes is the award-winning author of the internationally acclaimed five volume Psalms of Isaak series, published in the US by Tor and over 50 short stories.
His short fiction has appeared in various magazines and anthologies for the last decade and is now collected in two volumes, Long Walks, Last Flights and Other Strange Journeys and Diving Mimes, Weeping Czars and Other Unusual Suspects, and Blue Yonders, Grateful Pie and Other Fanciful Feasts, all published by Fairwood Press.
Scholes has an eclectic background that includes time logged as a soldier, sailor, musician, minister, nonprofit executive, public procurement specialist and label gun repairman.
Scholes is a native of the Pacific Northwest and makes his home in Saint Helens, Oregon with his twin daughters. He invites readers to learn more about him and his work at www.kenscholes.com or to track him down on Facebook.