Today I am interviewing Ricardo Victoria, author of the new science fantasy novel, Tempest Blades: The Withered King.
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DJ: Hi Ricardo! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Ricardo Victoria: First, thank you for having me here. I’m a Mexican author and I currently live in Mexico, where I work as full-time lecturer and researcher. I lived in UK for three and a half years while I was working on my PhD on sustainable design. I’m married and I have three little dogs. I started writing during college, mostly fantasy short stories. But the real push to be a writer came around the time I was getting married, when a few friends and I, started a collective writers’ press called ‘Inklings Press’ to develop our skills. Then came the Sidewise nomination for a story I co-authored about time-travelling, spacefaring dinosaurs. The rest, it has been just work and writing. And toy collecting.
DJ: What is Tempest Blades: The Withered King about?
Ricardo: Mostly, it’s a story about second chances and learning to forgive yourself and move on. That may sound too philosophical, but that’s part of the core message. At the outset, it’s an adventure, told mostly from the point of view of the character that is filling the role of a mentor – probably the most dangerous job in a fantasy story. Fionn is a retired war hero who has an ability – called the Gift – which manifests differently in each person that has it; in his case, as a healing factor. Fionn has been living in seclusion after a mistake derailed his life. But when a friend asks him for help to find a missing person, he returns to the game – albeit reluctantly. He ends up becoming the leader of an eclectic group and mentor to a new generation of heroes in a race against time to stop an ancient evil that is hell-bent on world domination. And Fionn, while he might be feeling down, is not planning to die anytime soon. So, I’m basically taking the trope of the mentor dying on the adventure and turning it upside down while trying to tell an entertaining story. I hope I achieved it.
DJ: What were some of your influences for Tempest Blades: The Withered King?
Ricardo: Hmmm… I have several. Not joking. Starting with JRPGs -think Final Fantasy and Secret of Mana. Anime, lots of anime, but mainly Slayers, Ruronin Kenshin, Saint Seiya and Escaflowne. I also owe a great debt to Saturday morning cartoons from the 80s’ – such as Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors, TMNT, Thundercats, Bionic Six, Galaxy Rangers and so on. Writing wise, I think my main influence and inspiration is Sir Terry Pratchett, but also cosmic horror in the venue of the Cthulhu Mythos and Abomination by Gary Whitta, worldbuilding as in A Song of Fire & Ice, and mythologies and legendariums – Arthurian cycle, the fenian cycle of irish mythology, Mayan, Native American and Japanese creation myths, history books, mostly about medieval times, Ancient Rome and Greece and Alexander the Great. Also, I read a few books on the occult and all the books I have about astrophysics (my parents are chemists, so I have that influence as well). As you can see, there is a lot of things going on.
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?
Ricardo: Well, my main cast is formed by 6 characters that alternate POV’s depending the scene.
Fionn is the leader, a legendary warrior and an antisocial person that has developed an interest in interior design as a way to cope with his inner demons. He is the most loyal friend you can ask for. He is the owner of one of the titular Tempest Blades.
Harland is Fionn’s best (and only) friend and confident. He suffers from achondroplasia, and is a talker rather than a fighter, but when the chips are down, he is willing to go all the way for his friends and face any challenge regardless of the danger.
Gaby is a young woman trained at very peculiar school and has the ability to occasionally dream of things to come. She also has the Gift. Gaby is not only fearless, she is probably the best fighter of the whole group and the heart of the team.
Alex is Gaby’s best friend and a genius inventor with a motor mouth and anger management issues. He also has the Gift, though he has problems harnessing his power and suffers from some mental consequences as result of how he got the Gift.
Sam is a freefolk magic user of considerable ability with her own family issues to solve during the story (I won’t say more because it would be a spoiler Let just say that her joining the team marks a before and an after.)
Finally, you have Sid, a samoharo. The samoharo are a species that look like a cross between turtles and iguanas. Sid is a former ‘hunter’ now turned pilot and builder of the Figaro, the first jet propelled airship of the world. He is also Alex’s other best friend and a sarcastic complainer.
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?
Ricardo: I would say that Mekiri. She only appears for a chapter but she’s a fun character to write, because she is kooky and at the same time very insightful and straightforward. In a way, she is the Yoda of the story. Mekiri is a character I have had in the back of my mind since I started the earlier concept drafts of the story. She also delivers one of the best lines (in my opinion) of the book as it summarizes quite well the overall message. I will be returning to her at some point in later stories.
DJ: What is the world and setting of Tempest Blades: The Withered King like?
Ricardo: The world where everything happens is called Theia. Similar to our own world, but with a few changes. On Theia the atmosphere is more electrically charged, which means that flight has been dampened somewhat, beyond a few military vessels or dirigibles. On the other hand, people have learned to harness that extra energy and developed advanced electric engines. Magic is fueled by a particular form of background radiation and some technology – such as warptrains – hyperfast trains that cross the planet – have been developed to use this energy. Weather is similar to ours, but storms are more extreme. Population levels are below a billion around the whole planet, almost pre-industrial levels on Earth, due wars and how dangerous is to live outside cities or towns without proper protection -the fauna is a bit… savage. The world has five continents: Ionis, Auris, the southern Ouslis and the poles (in Theia they are rock covered by ice).
There are three dominant species in the planet, cohabitating in relative balance. Humans make up for the bulk of the overall population and live mostly around the equator. Their way of life is the dominant one around the planet and they have a great range of diversity. Freefolk are a near-human species that can harness magical energies. They usually live in the northern region of the planet, around and above the World’s Scar, a canyon that crosses almost 90% of the planet’s surface. They are semi nomadic – with a few cities around the globe – but millennia ago they were the dominant power. Finally, you have the samoharo, a reptilian species (with two races), a mix between iguanas and turtles. They are by far the most technologically advanced species in the planet, but they keep to themselves, living in the massive southern continent of Ouslis. It is rare to see a samoharo outside their lands. There are rumors of a fourth species, the akeleth, but no one has seen them since the three main species arrived on Theia more than 10-15 thousand years ago (none of the three are originally from the planet).
The technology is an eclectic mix of advanced technology – warp trains, an internet equivalent, 3D printing, nanomaterials, fusion engines – and low tech – swords, bows, few firearms, steampunk automatons. With magic blending between the two. Think Final Fantasy VIII and you will get the idea.
There are several religions, each species has its own and their own variations. What’s common among them is that is taboo to speak of religion outside temples, academic circles or your own family, as faith is considered something personal. What’s known is that there is a Heaven and a Hell (or at least dimensions similar to them) and that at the very least, two or three of the Freefolk gods are real beings and have interacted with mortals on several occasions. Samoharo are polytheist and the major human religion is similar to buddhism, about the ‘universe’s great spirit’.
Politically, the world is organized into different nations and systems. Western Ionis, where this novel takes place, is organized in a coalition of regions and city states under the banner of the Free Alliance – think Charlemagne’s’ Empire mixed with the European Union. Their elected leader is the Queen of the Emerald Island – daughter of the King that founded the Alliance over 150 years ago. The Alliance shares land with the Freefolk nation in a delicate balance. The world in is generally peaceful now, after the great war shook most nations. But like with anything in life, the peace is a fragile thing.
Man… I think I over explained – you can see I have given a lot of thought to the world. Most of the world-building explanations about my setting are posted at my blog.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Tempest Blades: The Withered King?
Ricardo: Writing it in general. But specifically, writing the interactions between characters. I believe that’s where the core of a story lies. You can have a great plot, but without good characters, it will fail. Creating the characters is where I find most of the fun. It’s like talking with old friends. And in world-building, as you saw in my previous answer. I really enjoy world building.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Ricardo: Hopefully, that they would like to know what’s next for the characters, and the world they live it. Maybe laugh at my lame jokes and hopefully relate to the message. And with any luck, I will have left enough bread crumbs for mysteries and theories of their own.
DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began writing Tempest Blades: The Withered King? 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?
Ricardo: Well, the first goal, of course, was to finish a whole book. And I had a peculiar challenge. One my friends, an avid reader and one of my beta readers, has grown disappointed with fantasy series that never get finished. Of having to wait for the next book to know how a particular arc ends. So, she dared me to get the whole arc in one book. Which is what I did. It doesn’t mean there won’t be a sequel. I envision Tempest Blades as a series of self-contained novels, interconnected in a larger continuity – think the MCU or the Discworld novels. The third goal was to write the kind of book I would love to buy from a bookstore and read and haven’t found so far. Regarding a message… well as I said before, my main message – which is mostly used as self-therapy of sorts – is to learn to move on and forgive yourself from your mistakes, and reconnect with people. Basically, learning to find and take second chances, because as long as there is life, there is hope. And if you can have the adventure of your life while doing it…
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 Tempest Blades: The Withered King that you can share with us?
Ricardo: A few. This one is basically the core message:
“Remember, the past is a lesson, not an anchor. The present is a gift, not a test. The future is an opportunity, not something to fear. All of us will arrive at our destination sooner or later. The difference lies in the path we take and with whom we choose to walk it.” – Mekiri
“There is a reason our swords are called the Tempest Blades. Like us, they can dwell within the Tempest itself, and harness it as long as it is to protect others. They are living weapons, not just tools.” – Fionn, explaining the nature of the Tempest Blades to Alex & Gaby.
“That’s why I believe that arcanotech is to magick what engineering is to quantum physics…” – Sam, when explaining to Alex the difference between her craft and arcanotechnology
“Aww crap.” – Alex, pretty much all the time.
DJ: Now that Tempest Blades: The Withered King is released, what is next for you?
Ricardo: I’ve been trying to make time to write the sequel (although the day job has put a brake on that), so that is my main objective for the next year, to get the first draft ready and start the arduous editing and rewriting process. Hopefully this time it will be smoother, knowing that my editor has my back. I even have already a tentative title and all. And if in the way I can sell a couple of stories, I will be happy.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
I communicate mostly through my website/blog and Twitter, but I do have other pages set up:
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Ricardo-Victoria/e/B01L0K1A02
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about Tempest Blades: The Withered King that we haven’t talked about yet?
Ricardo: Most of the core scenes of the story and the characters come from stuff I have dreamed. I have very vivid dreams, so I used them to put together everything.
DJ: Is there anything else you would like add?
Ricardo: Well, aside the novel there are a series of stories I’ve published – mostly through Inklings Press anthologies, that are related to the novel. They are like an expanded universe/continuity. Readers can find them listed here:
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
Ricardo: Thank you for inviting me.
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***Tempest Blades: The Withered King is published by Shadow Dragon Press and is available TODAY!!!***
Buy the Book:
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About the Book:
Fionn is the wielder of a legendary Tempest Blade, and he is blessed – or cursed – by the Gift. Though his days as a warrior are long over, his past leaves him full of guilt and regret. Life, however, has other plans for him, when he agrees to help a friend locate a missing person.
Gaby and Alex never expected to become heroes… until they met Fionn. As an ancient evil arises and consumes the land, Fionn must help them to master their own Gifts and Tempest Blades.
Together the three of them, and their friends, will chart a course aboard the flying ship Figaro to save the planet. Will Fionn’s past be an anchor, or will he overcome the one failure from his former life before time runs out?
In a world where magic and science intermingle, anything is possible.
Including second chances.
About the Author:
Born in the frozen landscape of Toluca, Mexico, Ricardo dreamed of being a writer. But needing a job that could pay the rent while writing, he studied Industrial Design and later obtained a PhD in Sustainable Design, while living in the United Kingdom. There, he did a few things besides burning the midnight oil to get his degree:
-Trained in archery near Nottingham
-Discovered whether Nessie was real or not (but won’t disclose his findings)
-Worked on a comic book store to pay for his board game & toy addiction
He is back now in Toluca, living with his wife and his two dogs where he works as an academic at the local university. He has short stories featured in anthologies by Inklings Press and Rivenstone Press. In fact, he was nominated to a Sidewise Award 2016 for the short story “Twilight of the Mesozoic Moon”, co-written with his arch-nemesis, Brent A. Harris . He has also won a local contest for a fantasy short story during college. But hey! That one doesn’t count, does it?
You can find his rants and other work– both fiction and opinion pieces here and from time to time on the Altered Instinct blog, www.alteredinstinct.com.
Tempest Blades, his first novel, has been in the works for quite some time. He really hopes you get awed by its kick-assery.
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