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Author Interview: R.J. Barker

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Today I am interviewing RJ Barker, author of the new fantasy novel, King of Assassins, final book in the Wounded Kingdom trilogy.

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DJ: Hi RJ! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

RJ Barker: Oh, no problem, it is a joy to be interviewed by you. I’m quite tired after having been away for a week so if some of my answers don’t make sense that’s why. Although, to be fair, quite often I don’t make sense when I’m awake.  

DJ: For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

RJ Barker: I’m English, I live in the north of England (or Stark country, if you learn your geography through GoT) which is unanimously agreed by all English people to be the best bit of England. I collect old taxidermy that’s gone a bit wrong and have a wonderful wife and little boy. Since Age of Assassins has been released it’s been a bit of a whirlwind. I’ve been shortlisted for: The Kitschie Golden Tentacle, the Gemmel Morningstar and the British Fantasy Society’s Best Newcomer and Best Novel awards. I’ve also been a judge in the James White short story award. I love to read (unlikely I’ll make it to the US in the near future but if I do my readings are fun) and I love to write but mostly I like people.

Erm, I am also enthusiastic.

DJ: What is King of Assassins and then the Wounded Kingdom trilogy about?

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RJ: So MANY things. In the most basic way each book is a murder mystery and as a trilogy it’s the story of the assassin Girton Club-Foot. We grow with him, from quite a simple view of the world in Age of… to a much more nuanced understanding in King of… and the lynchpin of his world is the relationship he has with his teacher, Merela Karn. But, like with all books, there’s huge amounts of subtext, ideas about power and who holds it and the price that’s paid, of redemption and forgiveness, of friendship and familial love. There’s loads going on in the books but I think it’s important to make things accessible so you can ignore all the subtext and allegory and just read an exciting story with lots of battles.

DJ: What were some of your influences for the Wounded Kingdom trilogy?

RJ: A Huge influence was The Chronicles of Morgaine by C.J. Cherryh which is also based around a platonic m/f friendship. A lot of people have pointed out similarities to Robin Hobb’s Farseer books but, although I have read them and undoubtedly they are stored in my mind (and Robin is fantastic) they weren’t a conscious influence on Girton, the tone was much more influenced by C.J. Sansom’s Shardlake books about a lawyer in Tudor England. Also, a whole lot of history books too (probably written by people with the initials C.J. as it seems to be a theme.) Also, Patrick O Brian and American crime writers like James Lee Burke and Robert Crais. Continue reading

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