Today I am interviewing Richard A. Knaak, author of the new urban fantasy novel, Black City Dragon, third book in the Black City Saint series.
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DJ: Hi Richard! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Richard A. Knaak: Well, I’ve written some fifty novels and around two dozen shorter pieces, not to mention manga, comics, gaming material, and more
DJ: What is Black City Dragon and then the Black City Saint series about?
Richard: Black City Dragon is the third novel in my series, which takes place in Prohibition Chicago. The series follows Nick Medea, once St. George of dragon fame, who has been the guardian of the ever-shifting gate between our world and Feirie since he unwittingly slew its original sentinel, the dragon. Worse, in the struggle, his blood mixed with the dragon’s, meaning they are one now…but not allies, save by necessity. Nick has to call on the dragon’s power at times, which also means the potential for the beast taking over, as happened in Chicago in 1871.
That same incident froze the gate — invisible to human eyes — near Lake Michigan. Since then, Nick has been trying to stem the incursions of the worst of Feirie’s creatures, the Wyld. Unfortunately, in addition to all his other troubles, including the dragon’s constant attempts to trick him, Nick also has to contend with the queen of Feirie’ ambitions and, worst of all, the constant reincarnation of his lost love, the princess Cleolinda, the woman he saved from the dragon in the process. Although they don’t remember their past, each incarnation is drawn to him…and, eventually, each incarnation dies violently. Nick blames himself for that, but in Black City Dragon, he learns that there’s another reason. Part of it is vengeance spread across the sixteen centuries since Nick and the dragon and part if it is the culmination of something more sinister involving both worlds.
Oh, did I mention that the title does NOT refer to Nick’s eternal companion?
DJ: What were some of your influences for the Black City Saint series?
Richard: Well, obviously a lot of it had to do with the legend of St. George and the dragon, which has always fascinated me. Another influence is my love of history in general and my particular interest in Prohibition Chicago. I’m originally from the area and grew up on the stories of that time.
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? (aka What makes them compelling?)
Richard: Well, I’ve mentioned Nick Medea aka St. George. His current name is purposely twisted from Nicomedia, the ancient land where he ‘died’. He was actually executed by the Roman emperor Diocletian — or Diocles, as Nick knew him when they were friends — only to discover that the dragon’s blood in him, combined with the magic of the gate, brought him back. He can die, but it takes a lot, especially as the dragon works to heal him (for the dragon’s own sake). Nick has a lot of chips on his shoulder, but, of late, he’s begun to find his lost humanity
Claryce Simone —- she’s the latest incarnation and, at first, a pawn of Oberon, the ousted king of Feirie who’s seeking to reclaim his throne from his treacherous queen. She proves every bit as capable in her own way as Nick and refuses to stay back. Through circumstances, she’s beginning to learn a lot about her past lives and their fates, learning more, in fact, than even Nick knew. Her fate is not only bound to his, but is his, in some ways readers will discover.
Fetc — a canine-looking shapeshifter exiled to the mortal world for failing to, of all things, kill Nick. He now owes Nick his life and is something of a friend. Even still, he cannot always be trusted, despite his ofttimes humorous ways and obsession with mortal slang. Fetch doesn’t maintain enough magic in the mortal world to be able to change ot his original self and generally can only speak near Nick or other magical characters.
The dragon — A primeval force. Very inhuman. Generally, he is trapped inside Nick, a bodiless spirit that can grant his power when Nick demands it. Sometimes it’s his magic-piercing vision, other times, his strength. On a rare occasion, the dragon manages full release. He is always taunting or teasing Nick, who returns the favor. They almost always at odds.
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?
Richard: I try to add different characters in each book, with some reoccurring as the stories demand. In this novel, there are several I could name, Detective Allejandro Cortez is the overall favorite. A lone, honest detective of Mexican origin, he is a very devout man with a loving wife who may be something of a witch. Cortez, part of the first wave of families from his country to call Chicago home, fought for his position, well aware that he’s also the one his superiors will send when they think failure will give them the perfect fall guy. He knows there’s something odd about Nick, but, in some ways, the two are each other’s closest things to friends. Cortez keeps getting close to the truth, but, thus far, hasn’t found out.
DJ: What is the world and setting of the the Black City Saint series like?
Richard: Prohibition Chicago, of course, but if you read close, you’ll notice that the historical events are not always in sync. Sometimes that’s the result of direct use of these sinister cards from something called the Clothos Deck. Other times…
We also see Feirie, which tends to look like a sinister forest surrounding the court of Her Lady, as everyone calls the the queen. It is said that if you say her name, she will notice you, which few want.
DJ: How have the reviews been from readers, bloggers, and reviewers for the first two book of the Black City Saint series? Is there anything that your audience seems to be particularly enjoying or is eager to find out more about?
Richard: Honestly, the series has been my most acclaimed work. I’ve been reviewed favorably from sites such as Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and the Historical Novel society to bloggers all over. Of course, I’ve had unfavorable reviews, too, but the good ones have far outweighed the bad. I’m very happy that people enjoy Nick’s world.
Ironically, one of the things most pointed out is the dragon himself. His snide, sarcastic personality has its many fans. He often jabs at Nick at just the right time or acts very innocent in matters he clearly can’t be. I have to admit, I have fun watching Nick and him spar throughout the stories.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Black City Dragon?
Richard: Delving deeper into the actual truth concerning NIck’s past and his changing attitudes because of it. One part of Nick’s curse I haven’t mentioned is that Diocles’s ghost must perpetually follow him. Diocles, who found Christianity before his death, can only appear in consecrated places. Despite himself, Nick is drawn to those places, which means he has to confront the ghost. It seems that Diocles can’t find rest unless Nick truly forgives him for betraying him. Thus far, Nick just hasn’t been able to. Thus far.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Richard: Besides the dragon? That Nick is growing inside and that the world in which he exists has more surprises in store for the reader.
DJ: Did you have a goal when you began writing the Black City Saint 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?
Richard: I think one theme of importance is redemption. Nick is a very unsaintly saint, a mortal compared to the archangel Michael — who does also appear on occasion in the series, much to Nick’s frustration. Nick is still human, despite everything.
DJ: I’m always curious when authors come close to wrapping up 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?
Richard: The main idea of the story has stayed fairly consistent, but it’s also spread in directions I didn’t imagine. Nick’s world has become more real, more three-dimensional, than I expected. It’s still growing and changing, too, which is important.
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 Black City Dragon that you can share with us?
Richard: From the dragon: Ever the fool running in…just what started this whole thing between us, oh noble sain…
DJ: Now that Black City Dragon is released, what is next for you?
Richard: Among other things, I’m working on projects for my Rex Draconis epic fantasy saga — Shadows of the Dragon Moon is the next in that and will see release sometime in the middle of the year, I think. Also plotting another novel in my long-running Dragonrealm series. Of course, I’m also jotting notes on Black City Angel, next in this world, and other related stories to it.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Richard-A.-Knaak/e/B000AP5ZFA/
DJ: Is there anything else you would like add?
Richard: I hope everyone enjoys the series!
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
Richard: Thanks for having me!
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***Black City Dragon is published by Pyr and is available TODAY!!!***
Buy the Book:
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About the Book:
A historical urban fantasy set in Prohibition-era Chicago, which combines action, mystery, and romance against a backdrop of gangland wars and the threat of supernatural horror.
For sixteen hundred years, Nick Medea has guarded the gate between our world and Feirie, preventing the Wyld–the darkest Feirie of all–from coming into Chicago to find human prey. But since he defeated Oberon, more and more Wyld have been slipping through. Nick and his Feirie companion, the shapeshifter, Fetch, have been busy hunting them down.
Nick keeps coming across the Dacian Draco, the sign of his ancient enemy Galerius, including a tattoo worn by a human thug. Unfortunately, every trail ends as if years old. Claryce, Nick’s reincarnated love, has narrowly escaped two attempts on her life, and when Nick sees her wearing a broach with the Draco on it, he knows they must look more deeply into her former lives.
With Wyld and gangsters wreaking havoc in Chicago, Nick and Claryce must confront the secrets of their pasts if they are to have any hope of finding out Galerius’s plans before it’s too late to stop them. Nick will need the help of all his friends, both human and Feirie, and the powers of the dragon within him, to keep Galerius from endangering the gate, Chicago, and all of humanity.
About the Author:
Richard A. Knaak is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Legend of Huma, WoW: Wolfheart, and nearly fifty other novels and numerous short stories, including works in such series as Warcraft, Diablo, Dragonlance, Age of Conan, the Iron Kingdoms, and his own popular Dragonrealm. He has scripted comics and manga, such as the top-selling Sunwell trilogy, and has also written background material for games. His works have been published worldwide in many languages.
His most recent releases include Black City Demon — the second in his new urban fantasy series from Pyr Books, Reaper’s Eye for the Pathfinder series, and a new edition of his novel King of the Grey. He is presently at work on several other projects, among them continuing Knights of the Frost for the Dragonrealm, Black City Dragon — the sequel to Black City Demon — and more. The entire Turning War trilogy (Dragonrealm) — Dragon Masters, The Gryphon Mage, and The Horned Blade — will be released from Permuted Press in the summer of 2017 starting in July.
Currently splitting his time between Chicago and Arkansas, he can be reached through his website: http://www.richardallenknaak.com where often more immediate information about his work can be found. While he is unable to respond to every e-mail, he does read them. Join his mailing list for e-announcements of upcoming releases and appearances. Please also join him on Facebook at @richardallenknaak and Twitter.