EXILE: a novel of the Bloodforge
by Tom Stacey
Publication Date: June 16, 2014
Genre: Fantasy, Historical
Epic fantasy from an exciting new talent
A gripping tale of heroism and the darkness within
On the fringes of the Verian Empire, two small boys stumble upon a strange altar, buried in the heart of a mountain. There they awaken a horror unseen for generations, that will descend upon the realm of men while it is at its weakest. For Veria is a nation at war with itself, only recently recovered from a bloody rebellion, and the time of heroes has passed. The empire is in a state of chaos, and while its ruler, the Empron Illis, rids the land of his remaining enemies, unseen forces are gathering at the borders. However all eyes are turned inwards. The Empron is not a well man, and there are whispers among the common folk that his advisors are spies; demons that only wear the flesh of men.
Yet there is hope…
In the distant mountains, a forester who has buried his past learns that he has not been forgotten, and that his crimes have sought him out at last. But he is no simple woodsman. He is Beccorban the Helhammer, Scourge, Burner and the Death of Nations, and his fury is a terrible thing.
For when all the heroes are gone, Veria will turn to those it has forgotten, before all is lost.
Q&A with the Author
1) Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I wish I could say I had led a remarkable life, but I haven’t really. Not yet, anyway. I was born and raised in Essex in England, educated there, and then I went to University at Royal Holloway in Surrey, studying history.
After that I made my way into the media industry, working as a freelance camera operator and sound recordist, before finally securing a job in corporate video production. I still work as a video producer today and write in my free time.
2) Where and when did your writing journey begin?
I’ve always written: short stories, comedy sketches for friends, school plays, etc. I didn’t being writing in earnest until I got to university. There I wrote a short story called ‘The Soldier’ about a wounded warrior waking up on a battlefield littered with the dead, and not remembering who, or what he is. A friend read it and told me how good it was, so I promptly put it away in a drawer and forgot it existed.
3) Who are your favorite authors and how have they influenced your writing?
Hands down my favourite author is David Gemmell. That’s not to say he is the best writer of those I read regularly, but something about his stories keeps pulling me back in – I probably read Waylander and Legend once a year. They’re simple, but full of morals and universal truths, like standing up for what you believe to be right, protecting the weak, and so on. Gemmell remains my key influence in anything I write.
Outside of the realm of fantasy, I am also a big fan of Wilbur Smith, Bernard Cornwell, and Conn Iggulden. All of these are masterful writers, and have a lot to teach anybody who wants to be an author. Bernard Cornwell writes historical fiction like no one else I’ve ever read, and Iggulden is very much his successor in that respect. Wilbur Smith is, of course, the master of the action scene, and his graphic descriptions of human behaviour really stuck with me. When the Lion Feeds is the first book I recommend to anybody who wants a real page-turner.
4) What does a typical day in your life look like? And how does your writing routine fit into your day?
A typical day for me begins around 7am. I get up and go to work in Clerkenwell in London, which is mostly office-based, and then I get home around 7.30 in the evening. I go to bed quite late so I try to get some exercise in and then some writing, but it’s a bit of an as-and-when at the moment. I need to make more time for it!
5) How did you come up with the idea for your novel?
A year or so after I wrote ‘The Soldier,’ the writing bug had got back into me, and I ended up writing several short stories that started to look like they could be stitched together. These stories, ‘The Soldier’ amongst them, became Exile.
6) What do you think sets your novel apart from others current on the shelves?
I think I’ve got great characters that people can relate to. They feel like human beings and don’t necessarily fit the typical fantasy tropes we are all so used to seeing. I like to think I can keep people guessing. There’s also an undercurrent of horror in my book, which might rule it out for younger readers. I wanted people to feel a real sense of dread at times and focused on building iconic villains that wouldn’t look out of place on a cinema screen.
7) Which character in your book is your favorite and how much of yourself is reflected in that character?
My favourite character surprised me more than anything. I started out thinking I would like the soldier, or the warrior, or the young hero. Instead, I ended up really liking Riella. To describe her as a damsel in distress would be entirely misleading, but she is a delight to write. I feel like I know her.
Unfortunately I wouldn’t say there is much of me in her. I think the character most like me is Loster. Loster is afraid of everything and is constantly at war with himself, striving to be something more than he is. I was very much like that at his age.
8) Which scenes in your book did you have the most fun writing?
There is a scene where Callistan, the amnesiac soldier, returns home to his family and then…well I won’t give it away, but that sequence was a lot of fun. I had injured myself snowboarding so was locked up in a chalet in the French mountains writing that one.
Also, Beccorban’s opening scene where he is hunting in the forest was a lot of fun to write. I felt like I was there in the snow with him, wrapped up against the cold. Hopefully I got some of that across in the writing.
9) What do you hope for your readers to take away after reading your book?
I’d hope they want to read the next one, to find out what happens to the characters I’ve introduced them to. I hope they’d take away a sense of adventure, of excitement, that they’ve spent time in a place they’d like to return to.
10) What are your hopes for this novel?
I just want people to read it really. When I finished it, I had the high hopes of getting a book deal and it hitting the shelf of every bookstore, topping the bestsellers list, getting optioned for a film or a TV show, and all of that – what first time author doesn’t secretly think they are the next big thing? Now that reality has had time to set in, I’ve realised that all I’ve ever wanted is for people to read it and enjoy it. One day I hope to be on a train or a plane or whatever and see someone reading one of my books. As long as they’re not scowling, I’ll feel like it was all worth it.
11) What do you have in store next for your readers?
I’m currently about halfway through the sequel to Exile, which takes place a little less than a year after the first book. If you think it’s difficult to write a novel, let me tell you that writing a sequel is ten times harder. Now there are rules to follow, rules that I established and have since forgotten.
Other than that, I also have another unrelated novel I’m a good way into about a man on a desert island, and a short novella-length story about an amazing find on an archaeological dig called Tomb.
*Available on Kindle Unlimited*
About the Author
I am from the wild lands of Essex, and have been all my life.
I’ve always been a student of history. My first history teacher at secondary school taught me that there are only five letters in the word history that matter: ‘story.’ Ever since then I’ve been hooked.
I’m somebody who loves to read. I love Bernard Cornwell’s earlier works like the first Sharpe novels and the Warlord Chronicles. I’ve experienced the can’t-put-down quality of Wilbur Smith’s Courtney novels. I’m a big Conn Iggulden fan (Emperor and Conqueror series) and love A Song of Ice and Fire – who doesn’t?
Arguably my favourite author is the late David Gemmell. His simple historical fantasies really struck a chord with me when I was younger, and encouraged me to write my own stories.
I like stories about heroes, or things that make you scared to turn the page, stories that leave you feeling empty or that you’ve left friends behind in the epilogue. A writer is someone who can reach out from a page of prose and grab your attention and not let go until your heart is beating faster or aching with loss.
If my own stories can make even one person feel something like that then I will consider myself a success. If they don’t, I’m going to keep writing them anyway, so you might as well read one of them!
FOLLOW THE ENTIRE EXILE TOUR HERE
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