Today I am interviewing Levi Jacobs, author of the new fantasy novel, Beggar’s Rebellion, first book in the Resonant Saga.
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DJ: Hi Levi! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Levi: I’m a cultural anthropologist who decided he loves epic fantasy too much to get a PhD, and supports himself selling fruit at a roadside stand in the North Dakota oil fields.
DJ: What is Beggar’s Rebellion about?
Levi: Beggar’s Rebellion is a story about internal and external revolution. I set the magic up to have only those warriors who can overcome their personal problems be able to access its full powers–so my main characters (of course) are examples of that kind of warrior, though they come from different sides of the conflict (a colonial conquest centered around harvesting a recently discovered magic-inducing herb).
DJ: What were some of your influences Beggar’s Rebellion and the series?
Levi: I didn’t realize it at the time, but Frank Herbert’s Dune was a big one–the interplay of foreign colonists and indigenous peoples, the conflicts centering around spice as it becomes integral to the galactic economy, those all show up in epic fantasy form in the book. A more direct and integral influence is Brandon Sanderson, who not only more or less taught me how to write via his podcast, but whose books rekindled my love of epic fantasy, and especially the clever ways his magic systems tie into his plot reveals and character moments. Hopefully I’ve pulled some of that off in Beggar’s Rebellion.
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?
Levi: Yes! Tai Kulga is an orphan of the war to colonize his people, his father a lighthaired colonizer and his mother a sex worker, who learned to take care of himself on the streets. He is one of the last of his people to discover the secret to accessing magic without the inducing drug (that internal battle I mentioned earlier), but has to hide his powers on the streets in order to escape being targeted. Instead he sells blackmarket herbs and tries to help other orphans survive.
Ella is as different from him as possible: from the colonizing culture, raised with money, educated, a woman, and yet–they share this desire for something more. This unsettled feeling with the life they were given. It ends up leading both of them on that inward battle as outwardly they join forces against the colonists destroying Tai’s people.
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?
Levi: People love Aelya–she’s Tai’s partner in crime, a foul-mouthed one-armed street thug girl with a heart of gold but a penchant for hitting before thinking and a healthy mistrust of authority. She just ends up getting all the good lines in her scenes, and works to draw Tai out of his shell.
DJ: What is the world and setting of the Resonant saga like?
Levi: There’s this thing, called worldbuilder’s disease? I had it for about four months, when I started designing the series. Which is to say, I know WAY too much about the setting–for instance, that the planet orbits a binary star system, one star being like our sun but the other shining in a different spectrum that nourishes an entirely different kind of photosynthesis, that in turn fuels magic in the same way that calories fuel regular human metabolism. Because the planet is tilted, the poles get more of this star’s light (as the stars rise opposite each other in winter–think of the Alaskan summer sun, but in winter there is a bright star that is up just as long as the summer sun), meaning they grow more of the magic plants, and the people there have more experience and ability with magic. Which doesn’t stop them from getting colonized by the technologically advanced people from the equator, but…
Am I rambling? I wrote 40,000 words of this before I put a word down of the actual story. I think I’ll leave it there.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Beggar’s Rebellion?
Levi: The ending. Things came together with a bang, and suddenly the words were just flowing out of me. I normally try to write two thousand words a day, but those last few chapters I was doing more like four or five thousand, just entirely lost in the story. It was awesome.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Levi: Either: the very very epic way it ends, or the way our two main characters (no spoilers) do or do not hook up, or maybe the death of a different beloved side character.
DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began the Resonant saga? Beggar’s Rebellion 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?
Levi: Hm. I think goals with messaging or themes can be dangerous, because you end up forcing characters or plots to go particular ways to prove a point (and making up a story about why you’re right doesn’t end up very convincing anyway). So I shy away from starting with any themes, but seems like they organically come up. In Beggar’s Rebellion I would say it’s about overcoming guilt and learning how to let go of the past. In the sequel, Pauper’s Empire, that I’m just now finishing, themes were more along the lines of racism and accepting responsibility. I never really know where it’s going to go until it goes there.
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 Beggar’s Rebellion that you can share with us?
Levi: In true Frank Herbert style, I actually start each chapter with an in-world quote from a person or in-world text. One of my favorites is the one that heads the last chapter: No flower blooms without roots, listed as a proverb of Tai’s people.
DJ: Now that Beggar’s Rebellion is released, what is next for you?
Levi: Book two! Which is likely just releasing as this interview goes live. With book three coming out a month later. I set a crazy fast release schedule for the first three… the next ten or so I have mapped out will take a little longer! Hoping to release three to four a year though.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Levi-Jacobs/e/B07NWWTMFR
Author Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/c3GrIT
Website: www.topnewfantasy.com (my book review site)
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about Beggar’s Rebellion and the Resonant saga that we haven’t talked about yet?
Levi: That it is epic in all the best ways: Epic battles. Epic magic. Epic plot twists. Epic struggles, inward and outward. And revealing just the beginnings of a truly epic world.
DJ: Is there anything else you would like add?
Levi: I would add that Beggar’s Rebellion is just 99c! So you’re not risking much in picking it up. Have a read, and let me know what you think.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
Levi: Thank you, DJ, for inviting me on!
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*** Beggar’s Rebellion is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
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About the Book:
The Councilate controls everything except the truth. I have nothing save my discovery—but with this shall I destroy an empire.
Tai Kulga lost the rebellion and his best friend on the same day, stripping him of his will to live even as a strange power flooded his bones. When the friend returns as a spirit guide, it feels like a second chance—but his friend is not who he was, and the Councilate is not done oppressing his people. When trouble with lawkeepers lands Tai’s surviving friends in a prison camp, he must go underground to find the last of the rebels and convince them to break his friends free.
Along the way he meets Ellumia Aygla, runaway Councilate daughter posing as an accountant to escape her family and the avarice of the capital. Curious about the link between spirit guides and magic, her insights earn her a place among the rebels, and along with Tai’s power help turn the tide against the colonialists.
But as the rebels begin to repeat the Councilate’s mistakes, Tai and Ellumia must confront their own pasts and prejudices, before the brewing war turns them into the monsters they fight.
About the Author:
Levi Jacobs is the author of the near-future science-fiction novel ACHE, as well as the fantastical Resonant Saga and forthcoming Water of Night series. He has received the Colorado Gold award in Speculative Fiction, taken first place in The Zebulon Fiction Contest for Science Fiction, and had shorter work published in Spark: A Creative Anthology, Jungle Crows and Perihelion SF. Hailing from North Dakota, with much of his formative years spent in Japan and Uganda, Levi has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and sells fruit in the oil fields to make a living. Learn more at http://www.levijacobs.com.