Today I am interviewing Geoff Habiger and Coy Kissee, the writing duo behind the new fantasy novel, Wrath of the Fury Blade, the first book of The Constable Inspector Lunaria Adventure series.
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DJ: Hi Geoff & Coy! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourselves?
Geoff Habiger & Coy Kissee: Sure. And first we’d like to thank you for offering to interview us. We’ve been “authors” for several years, with books published for role-playing games, and Geoff has a best-selling coloring and activity book about dinosaurs (Dinosaur Learning Activity Book). Wrath of the Fury Blade (and our supernatural historical fiction novel Unremarkable) are our first actual works of fiction that we have had published.
We’ve been avid (rabid?) readers since we can remember. Geoff tried to write fiction back in high school and college, but never got beyond a first draft stage back then. (Some of those drafts are still floating around somewhere on an old 5.25” floppy disk – lost forever do to the obsolescence of computers.) We both grew up in Manhattan….Kansas – not New York. (That’s the Little Apple, not the Big Apple for folks playing along at home.) That’s where we met, as we attended high school together. Geoff currently calls New Mexico home with his wife, son, and two cats. Coy resides in Lenexa, Kansas with his wife and one cat.
DJ: What is Wrath of the Fury Blade and The Constable Inspector Lunaria Adventure series about?
Geoff & Coy: The Constable Inspector Lunaria Adventures will be a series of books that focuses on Constable Inspector Reva Lunaria and her job as a Constable in the elven city of Tenyl. Basically, Reva is a cop in a city in a fantasy world that we have created. (In fact, the city and Kingdom of Tenyl originally started out as part of the campaign setting we created for Dungeons & Dragons.) The different “adventures” that Reva will experience all revolve around crimes committed in the city (generally the major ones, like murder, kidnapping, etc. – though the occasional clash with over-zealous adventurers also takes place). Wrath of the Fury Blade is the first adventure in which we introduce Reva, her new partner, Seeker Ansee Carya, and several other characters as they attempt to track down a serial killer stalking the elite members of the city. Of course, this is harder than it seems since Reva doesn’t like her new partner, gets “assistance” from the King’s Secret Police (the Sucra) who have their own agenda beyond just finding the killer, and must deal with some of her own personal demons.
DJ: What were some of your influences for The Constable Inspector Lunaria Adventure series?
Geoff: My biggest influence was (and is) all of the great crime fiction that is out there, like Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus series or PD James’ Inspector Dalgliesh novels. (Not to mention all of the mystery TV shows on PBS.) For me, the Lunaria stories are primarily crime fiction stories about murders and other violent crimes. They just happen to be set in a fantasy world. I’ve also been influenced by Terry Pratchett, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, and numerous others.
Coy: The plethora of police procedural TV shows that my wife and I watch on a regular basis, along with the Hawk & Fisher books from Simon R. Green.
DJ: Actually, where did the idea to co-author this book from? Have you done this before, or had you two been joking around with the idea and finally decide to give a go for real?
Geoff & Coy: We have worked together before on other projects – primarily related to our game company, Tangent Games. We have always loved playing games – board games, role-playing games, and card games, and we decided back in 2004 to make our own games. We have several supplements published for role-playing games, and have two card games (and an expansion) published through Tangent Games. When the ideas for these stories came about, it was only natural that we’d work together as we had done that so well through Tangent.
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?
Coy: Reva is an atypical female fantasy character. She’s not a damsel in distress, she’s not a princess looking for her prince, and she’s not a barmaid for the “real” main character to flirt with and/or conquest. She’s a cop, plain and simple. Her job is her life – and she’s good at it. She has high expectations of herself, and holds others to the same standard; unfortunately for them, in most cases, as she does not suffer fools. She is fiercely loyal to her family and to anyone who she considers to be a true friend (which to her means that they are the family she has chosen rather than the family she was given). She’s also got her own issues. She’s got a short fuse, and an often ineffective filter between her brain and mouth. I can’t speak for other readers, but I completely identify with Reva, since she’s basically a female elven cop version of me. I don’t know if Geoff intended that when he came up with the idea for her character, but I told him that explicitly during the editing process, which made it really easy for me to find her voice.
Geoff: (No, I didn’t start with Coy in mind when I first created Reva, but he’s right, she is him. LOL That does make it easier for me to write her character at times. (grin))
If Reva is very much like Coy, then Ansee Carya has a lot of me in his character. Ansee always sees the best in people, maybe naively at times, and has a habit of trying to not shake people’s branches and cause trouble. He tries to please everybody, which inevitably means that he sometimes pleases nobody. He is also curious and a thinker, trying to look at each situation in multiple ways before making a decision. Ansee is not a complete Boy Scout, as he has causes he is passionate about, such as how the half-bloods in the Kingdom are treated. (The Kingdom has several “Purity Laws” which define by law who is an elf, and thus a citizen, and who is not. Those that are “halpbloeden” (half-blooded) are shunned, ostracized, and abused with Royal approval.) This passion causes Ansee to sometimes lash out, which does lead to trouble for him.
DJ: What is the world of Ados and setting of The Constable Inspector Lunaria Adventure series like?
Geoff & Coy: The Kingdom of Tenyl, where the city of the same name is located, is located on the planet Ados. Ados was originally developed as a campaign setting for our role-playing games and has many unique and different cultures, people, and races. The inspiration for the Kingdom of Tenyl was actually Nazi Germany, as Geoff pictured elves as the epitome of arrogance and striving toward racial purity. (Elves goose-stepping along a grand boulevard filled with massive statues just didn’t seem all that far-fetched.) Tenyl has a hereditary monarchy with a King currently on the throne. While politics touch our characters lives in small ways, all of that is in the background for them.
Tenyl is located in the Northeastern part of the main continent, so it experiences weather similar to what you might find in the Atlantic coast of Canada with the same seasonal variations. The elves are obsessed with their ancestry and while they have “moved out of the forest” their cities reflect their woodland heritage. They have many different architectural styles, from massive trees grown and shaped though magic to become important buildings, to buildings more resembling the wood and plaster “post-and-beam” styles of Europe. One of the things we wanted to do was to make the city of Tenyl feel lived-in, so it has a variety of styles to reflect the stages of growth of the city as well as the status and power of the citizens in different parts of the city.
Ados is a world dominated by the gods, who actually use the common people as pawns in a great game they are playing. Religion doesn’t come to the front for this story, as neither of our main characters is very religious, but religion is ingrained in the world and the different societies and cultures. (Religion actually plays an important part of the plot in our second Lunaria Adventure book – Joy of the Widow’s Tears.)
Ados generally, and Tenyl specifically, is a world filled with magic. It is commonly used and found throughout the world, though its access is limited more for economic reasons than for its abundance. (As with many areas of power, those who have it and can wield it will try to control it, so magical items are considered expensive.) Most people get by with mundane, non-magical solutions to problems, but magic is prevalent throughout the society. In Tenyl, access to magic either comes from faith (praying to the gods) or through study at the wizard academy. (This provides another plot point as Ansee Carya is a sorcerer – a spell-caster who can tap the innate magical energies to cast his spells so he doesn’t have to study magic in the same way that wizards do.)
There are many other smaller ways that we have tried to make Tenyl feel like a living city, and not just a backdrop for our characters, from what the different neighborhoods in the city are called (they are known as “groves”), to their preferences in beverages. (The elves of Tenyl are obsessed with cacao (or chocolate) in the way that many Americans are obsessed with coffee. Reva adores nothing more than to have a cup of hot cacao in the mornings to start her day. We even mention that there are different ways in which cacao can be prepared, to show that the Kingdom is not isolated.)
DJ: How do you outline and break up who writes what? And I’ve also read that some authors who co-write books will edit each other’s chapters, too.
Geoff: We each have different strengths. I am more of the creative type, while Coy is much better at ensuring that content and characters stay true to what we have written. For Wrath, I wrote a first draft of the entire story, then gave it over to Coy for massive editing, because I can’t remember to write the word “that” to save my life, and I never met a comma that I either didn’t put where it didn’t belong, or left out where it was supposed to go. So once we had the drafts and first round of edits, we then sat down at our respective computers and got on Facetime to read the story aloud and to find all the other mistakes that we missed the first time through.
Coy: Geoff has done all of the writing. We go through the events of the book at a high level, then discuss in more detail as things come up. My role on our books is primarily editing and proofreading, but my other focus is to ensure continuity of character and story in order for the characters to always act in character. I also provide streamlining and polish to the overall end product. As I stated before, it was very easy for me to make sure that Reva acted in character, since I’d do whatever she did under the same circumstances.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Wrath of the Fury Blade?
Geoff: Creating a new world in which to play and geeking out at the different Easter eggs to role-playing games in general (and D&D specifically).
Coy: For me, it’s the collaboration. Geoff is a very creative person, and I am much less so, but our strengths complement each other very well. I have a very critical eye when it comes to the content that I consume for entertainment, from books and music to TV shows and movies, and I cannot count the number of times that, after I have finished with the product, I think “That was good, but it would have been so much better/cooler if they would have done this…”. By working with Geoff, I was able to put those types of thoughts into practice rather than just theory.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Geoff: For me I hope that readers will come away with a couple of things. The first is the strong characters that we have created – especially Reva. As Coy mentioned above she is not the “damsel in distress”, or the princess looking for her true love. I wanted Reva to be a strong and empowered woman and I think that comes through. She has her lighter moments, and is fiercely loyal, but I wanted her to be somebody that would be able to solve any problem that was thrown at her.
The second is the world we have created. As George Lucas did with the Star Wars universe, making it appear lived in and used, to the way that Ian Rankin makes Edinburgh and Scotland come alive in his Inspector Rebus novels, I wanted to make Tenyl seem alive and lived in. Some readers may find that we went over the top in Wrath, and maybe we did a bit, but I wanted the world that Reva, Ansee, and all the others inhabit to be real to the reader. I wanted them to smell the hot chocolate in the air when Reva walks into her favorite cacao house. I wanted them to understand how the idea of racial purity is a strong undercurrent for everybody living in the Kingdom. I might have overdone it, but with a fantasy setting that’s never been described before I felt that it was necessary to do more to describe the world, rather than less.
Coy: I’m hoping for a couple of things. First and foremost, <shameless plug> I hope that they enjoyed the book enough that they talk about just how much they enjoyed it to all of their friends, family, and complete strangers both locally and on the internet around the world in blogs, social media, and reviews on websites like Amazon and Goodreads </shameless plug>. Second, I hope that they will be talking about Reva as a strong female main character. She may be a woman in armor but that does not make her a “chick in chainmail”. Third, I hope that they will be talking about the genre. I don’t know of another book that is a police procedural story that is set in a non-modern fantasy setting. There may be others, but if so, I have yet to find one. Lastly, I hope that they will be talking about the world that we have built. Many years were spent making the land of Ados into a rich, detailed setting, and I hope that comes through to the reader.
DJ: Now that Wrath of the Fury Blade is released, what is next for you?
Geoff: We have a second series that features vampires in Prohibition-era Chicago. The first book in that series, Unremarkable, was released in February and I am nearly finished with the first draft of the second book in that series. In addition, I am about half way through the first draft of the next Constable Inspector Lunaria Adventure, Joy of the Widow’s Tears.
Coy: Geoff is working on writing the sequels to both Wrath of the Fury Blade and our first novel, Unremarkable. I am working on being the primary writer for a new, unrelated novel.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002BMERYK
Author Newsletter: (still in progress – but you can sign up on our website.)
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about Wrath of the Fury Blade and The Constable Inspector Lunaria Adventure series that we haven’t talked about yet?
Geoff: That Reva is a fun and exciting character to write, who is practical, no-nonsense, and not without her flaws, but whose strong will and desire to get to the truth will make readers want to come back for more.
Coy: There’s definitely more to come, so if you like what you read and want more, you’ll be happy to know that we have plans to extend this series at least into a trilogy, if not further.
DJ: Is there anything else you would like add?
Geoff & Coy: Just that we will be adding a lot of background information about Ados, Tenyl, and Reva and the other characters to our website in the near future. If you want to get more into the “nuts and bolts” of the world we’ve created that’s where you’ll be able to find it.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of both of your days to answer my questions!
Geoff: My pleasure. It was fun to explore Reva and Wrath of the Fury Blade with you.
Coy: Thank you for your time and for the opportunity to let us promote ourselves and our products to your audience. We truly appreciate it!
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*** Wrath of the Fury Blade is published by Shadow Dragon Press and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Nobel | Goodreads | Kobo
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The brutal murder of Lavalé fey Avecath, the King’s First Magistrate and advisor, interrupts Constable Inspector Reva Lunaria’s day off. The victim’s status makes this a high-profile investigation, bringing with it unwanted attention from Senior Inquisitor Ailan Malvaceä of the Sucra, the King’s secret police. The manner of the victim’s death makes this case even more intriguing. A body cut perfectly in half – from top to bottom – is a rare occurrence, even in a city filled with all manner of magic weapons. All of this would be challenging enough, but Inspector Lunaria must also deal with a new partner, Seeker Ansee Carya, who is clearly not up to her standards.
As Reva faces a growing body count, Senior Inquisitor Malvaceä undertakes his own mission to find the same killer, but with a very different agenda. Reva’s investigation takes unexpected turns as wild conspiracies, hidden addictions, and Dark Elf soldiers all threaten to distract Reva from tracking down the killer. Reva’s only hope of stopping the serial killer from cutting more prominent citizens of Tenyl in half is to figure out how to work with Seeker Carya and overcome her own weaknesses.
The writing duo of Geoff Habiger and Coy Kissee have been life-long friends since high school in Manhattan, Kansas. (Affectionately known as the Little Apple, which was a much better place to grow up than the Big Apple, in our humble opinion.) We love reading, baseball, cats, role-playing games, comics, and board games (not necessarily in that order and sometimes the cats can be very trying). We’ve spent many hours together over the years (and it’s been many years) basically geeking out and talking about our favorite books, authors, and movies, often discussing what we would do differently to fix a story or make a better script. We also loved playing games, generally role-playing games, but also board games and card games, and would spend hours talking about why a particular game was fun or not, and what made the games fun to play.
In the early 2000’s we decided to not just talk about games but to start making our own games. We created Tangent Games and began designing role-playing supplements (adventures, modules, and role-playing aids) to be used for Dungeons and Dragons (3rd and 3.5 editions). We also designed our first card game (called Bankruptcy: The Card Game!), which was a finalist for the Origins Award for best card game in 2007. We continue to work on game design, and still play games at every chance we get, but in 2010 we decided to start working on a novel together.
Unremarkable is our first novel and the idea for it was sparked on a trip to Chicago. Chicago is known for its gangster past and we began talking about famous events, like the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and how maybe the massacre of seven gang members might have been staged as a cover-up for something else. As we drove back to Kansas City the basic idea for the story was fleshed out, and on a trip to GenCon (the largest game convention in the US) a month later we fleshed out the full plot and characters. It took several years or starting and stopping to get Saul’s story finished and published, not least because Geoff got another story idea. In a world of magic and monsters (your typical fantasy world) how would the police solve crimes? That basic premise led Geoff to create the character of Constable Inspector Reva Lunaria and eventually the story that became Wrath of the Fury Blade, Geoff and Coy’s second novel. Geoff wrote drafts of both stories, often alternating between one and the other, and then Coy worked to polish off all of the rough edges. We work to our strengths and having collaborated for years on game design we work well together and make a very effective writing team.
Coy lives with his wife in Lenexa, Kansas. Geoff lives with his wife and son in Tijeras, New Mexico. They are currently working on sequels to both Unremarkable (called Untouchable) and Wrath of the Fury Blade (called Joy of the Widows Tears).