Today I am interviewing Auston Habershaw, author of the new epic fantasy novel, The Far Far Better Thing, final book in the Saga of the Redeemed series.
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DJ: Hi Auston! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Auston Habershaw: Hi, Thanks for having me! I’m an author by night, college professor by day. I’ve been writing professionally for about ten years now and have published about 16-17 short stories (in places like Analog, F&SF, Galaxy’s Edge, and others) and four novels. I also won the Writers of the Future Award in 2015. I live in Boston, Massachusetts with my wife, three lovely children, two cats, and a dog.
DJ: What is The Far Far Better Thing and then the Saga of the Redeemed series about?
Auston: The Far Far Better Thing is the culmination of the main character’s journey from cynical, selfish villain to…well…something else. As the title of the series probably indicates, this is a redemption story. Tyvian Reldamar begins the series as a smuggler, criminal mastermind, and vicious duelist, but has a ring placed on his finger that forbids him from doing evil things. This sets him off on a path fraught with danger and derring-do as he tries to have the ring removed and get his own life back, but in the process sees his life (and his nature) fundamentally changed. All this occurs as he is both master and pawn in a vast conspiracy that will change the nature of the entire world around him, involving revolutions, wars, magical cataclysms, and an awful lot of cool swordfights.
DJ: What were some of your influences for the Saga of the Redeemed series?
Auston: I have always, always loved antiheroes–the people who have no business (or even intention) of saving the day, but do anyway. I love to watch the character change and see that nascent conscience growing inside them. This probably all starts with Han Solo, honestly, but includes characters like Mad Martigan, Long John Silver, and, hell, even Shrek. There are so many.
Beyond that, I love plots and counter-plots and intricate world-building. Robert Jordan was a huge influence growing up, as was George RR Martin (first read it in the 90s, people!) and Raymond E Feist and Frank Herbert. I like to think I channel some of that into Tyvian’s world.
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?
Auston: Well, there are really four main characters.
Tyvian is the main character of all of them. He is brilliant and cool and terribly sarcastic. He’s also vain and selfish and snobby. He is a perfect mix of “oh, what an ass” and “oh, how cool is that,” kinda like James Bond, but in a 17th-century-esque fantasy world.
Artus is Tyvian’s sidekick that he picks up right at the start of the first novel. He’s a farmboy turned street urchin. He’s earnest and kind and loyal, but he’s also a hick teenager, so he’s also stubborn and naive and is constantly getting himself almost killed. He’s Tyvian’s conscience, but walking around outside of his body.
Myreon begins as Tyvian’s nemesis–she is a Mage Defender (basically a magic-wielding cop) who’s been trying to bring Tyvian in for years. She is a believer in justice and in doing what’s right, but she also has a temper and a soft spot for the downtrodden, no matter what the law says. She and Tyvian spend much of the series both at each other’s throats and also working together.
Hool, finally, is not a human–she’s a gnoll. Basically, she’s a 7-foot dog/lion/person creature who teams up with Tyvian (i.e. commands Tyvian) so he can help her find her kidnapped pups. Hool is straightforward, unfailingly honest, and also wildly savage. She is a killing machine, and if you stand between her and her children…look out.
DJ: Aside from the main characters in the story, who is a favorite side character or a character with a smaller role for in story? Why?
Auston: My favorite non-main character (and she really is very important, despite not getting quite as many scenes as others) is Lyrelle Reldamar, Tyvian’s mother. She is the retired Archmage of the Ether–one of the world’s most powerful sorceresses–and she excels at manipulation and predicting the future, so that much of the world is running according to schemes she has kept cooking for decades. She and Tyvian are estranged, but she does love him as much as he claims to hate her. Her scenes are just electric and I loved writing her.
For inspiration, I name all the powerful, brilliant women in my life–my mother, my wife, many of my friends and colleagues–who long ago taught me that the true mark of power is not just wealth or strength or aggression, but simply the subtle way we can get others to do what we want by convincing them it’s in their best interest to do so.
DJ: What is the world and setting of the the Saga of the Redeemed series like?
Auston: The West of Alandar (the region in which the books are set) is a loose alliance of nine nations oriented around a inland sea (the Sea of Syrin). The environment varies according to where you are, of course, but technologically and culturally it is set in a rough Reniassance-like period–rapiers, galleons, burgeoning commodities markets, complex nation-state-esque economies. There was a major war about thirty years before the start of the first book that, as a matter of necessity, meant that sorcery–long the exclusive province of either the Church or the Arcanostrum (a kind of wizards’ school)–was allowed into the secular and commercial worlds. So, by now you’ve got demon-powered locomotives and glowing rocks and lamps that never go dark and on and on and on. There are alchemists and thaumaturges on every street corner and hedge wizards plying their trade all over the place.
All of this is tightly regulated by the Arcanostrum through the Defenders of the Balance–a kind of international wizard-hunting police force–who make sure use of sorcery doesn’t get out of hand or violate any rules they have for its safe use. This also means that sorcery (the good stuff–the stuff that really works) is very expensive and really only available to the wealthy. So, while the rich send messages to each other via djinn and drink liquor that reverses the aging process, the poor are wearing the rags and plowing the muddy fields the same way their grandfathers were.
If this sounds like it’s ripe for trouble, that’s because it is!
DJ: How have the reviews been from readers, bloggers, and reviewers for the first three books of the Saga of the Redeemed series? Is there anything that your audience seems to be particularly enjoying or is eager to find out more about?
Auston: Well, everybody loves Hool. I think if there’s a consistent note I get, it’s that they just can’t wait to see what that terrifying and extremely frank gnoll is going to do next.
Overall the reviews have been excellent. I haven’t garnered a lot of interest from major press outlets (Locus, etc.), but on Goodreads and Amazon people have generally been quite complimentary.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing The Far Far Better Thing?
Auston: Man, there are just so many favorite things. I’d say that, ultimately, I’m going to miss writing Banric Sahand–the scenery-chewing villain of the books. He’s just so gloriously brutal, so agonizingly sadistic, that every one of his scenes was a pure delight. I giggled to myself every time I wrote him.
Of course, I did that with a LOT of my characters, so I guess maybe we should extend this to include all the characters, but that’s just too broad.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Auston: I’m really not sure. Some of my early readers noted that the end is just a little open–in other words, more could happen yet–and so maybe there will be people wondering if I’ll ever write more.
DJ: Did you have a goal when you began writing the Saga of the Redeemed series? Was 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?
Auston: This series started with the idea of seeing if I could realistically change an apathetic, selfish person into an engaged caring one and how long would that take. Tyvian, at the beginning, is the picture of privileged selfish behavior–he comes from money, he’s talented, well educated, smart, and he’s decided that the whole world is full of fools and he can’t see why he shouldn’t exploit them. I am, in essence, describing a kind of toxic white male privilege that plagues our society. As a white dude, I wanted to see what it would take for that kind of person to be a better person. And it takes a lot and it takes a long time.
Apart from this, I also depicted a world that was fundamentally unfair and cruel, where the poor suffered and died while the wealthy enjoyed incalculable splendors. How do you dismantle systems that do that? Do you even want to (because what often replaces those old systems is violence and chaos that, again, disproportionately affects the poor and powerless)? There is that, too.
DJ: I’m always curious when authors finish a series, how close to the original course they stayed when it is finally completed or if it ended up evolving and changing. Did the plot stay the same as you had first imagined it? How about the ending? The evolution of your characters?
Auston: I had originally imagined this as a much longer series of books. I had tentative plans for 6-7 books, which was obviously unrealistic as the more immediate realities of publishing came to the fore. The first book did okay, but certainly not well enough to sustain that many novels! So, while the general arc of Tyvian remained more-or-less the same, I had to truncate things into fewer books. It’s fine–it all worked out–but there were times when I regretted ditching entire storylines that I had initially hoped to explore. Basically, I just wanted more Artus and Tyvian and Hool adventuring across the West!
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 Far Far Better Thing that you can share with us?
Auston: One of my favorites is from Carlo diCarlo–the old secret-master of Freegate–who says: “Everyone is somewhere in-between what they ought to be and what they know they shouldn’t be. My father wanted me to be a soldier, I really ought to have been a jeweler, and I wound up a fat old thief with one eye. So it goes.”
Which I think is exactly right about most people. We are never quite what we really should be (or it never feels that way), but nor are we ever what we shouldn’t be. And so we live as best we can as the kind of person we’ve become, and that’s the same for everyone except saints and psychopaths.
DJ: Now that The Far Far Better Thing is released, what is next for you?
Auston: I’m working on another novel now–not a fantasy novel, but a time travel thing. Basically, I gave a time machine to a mob loan shark, had him owe someone a billion dollars, and now he needs to travel across time and space to steal it all. Should be fun.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
1Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Auston-Habershaw/e/B00O33E9NO/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
Author Newsletter: Subscribe to my blog, which serves as a newsletter and my primary web presence: https://aahabershaw.com/
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about The Far Far Better Thing and the Saga of the Redeemed series that we haven’t talked about yet?
Auston: That it’s funny! Honestly funny in many places! I love a good joke.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
Auston: Thank you so much for having me!
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*** The Far Far Better Thing is published by Haper Voyager Impulse is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
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About the Book:
Auston Habershaw’s epic fantasy series, The Saga of the Redeemed, which began with The Oldest Trick , comes to a powerful conclusion in The Far Far Better Thing.
War has come to Eretheria.
With Tyvian Reldamar feigning his death, the forces that still carry his banner are left to fight a vicious battle against the warlord Banric Sahand and the noble houses that flock to his side.
Led by Myreon and Artus, this band of freedom fighters and angry rebels is faced with an enemy the likes of which they’ve never faced before: one who will do anything, no matter how brutal, to secure victory.
Having had his fill of death, Tyvian tries to run away from the war fought in his name, but it just isn’t that simple. With his mother held prisoner, Artus and Myreon in grave danger, and Xahlven pulling the strings in the background, the ring drags Tyvian to return and set things right.
But how can one man fix a world this broken? And what will be left behind when the smoke clears? No one can say for sure.
Least of all Tyvian.
About the Author:
On the day Auston Habershaw was born, Skylab fell from the heavens. This foretold two possible fates: supervillain or scifi/fantasy author. Fortunately he chose the latter, and spends his time imagining the could-be and the never-was rather than disintegrating the moon with his volcano laser. He lives and works in Boston, MA.
Auston is a winner of the Writers of the Future Contest (2nd place in quarter 1, 2014) and has published stories in Analog, Galaxy’s Edge, The Sword and Laser Anthology, and Escape Pod, among other places. His fantasy series, The Saga of the Redeemed is available through Harper Voyager Impulse.