With the Gemmell Awards ceremony closing in, we're going to be picking up the ante with our 2014 interviews, and today we're chatting with the author of the Legend-nominated The Daylight War, Peter V Brett. So let's get to it...
Alex: Tell us a little about your Legend-nominated title, The Daylight War.
Peter: The Demon Cycle is a series of five books telling the life stories of a group of characters during a pivotal turning point for humanity. After centuries of peace, demons have returned to the world, rising each night to prey on humanity. Immune to mortal weapons, the demons have torn down a once-advanced civilization, reducing its inhabitants to a scant few on the brink of extinction, huddled in fear behind ancient symbols of protection called wards.
In The Daylight War, the third book of the series, we meet a young woman who seems to hold fate in her hands, Jardir’s First Wife Inevera. She has seen the future, and guided events for decades, putting her husband in power and shaping the coming battle. She means to give him the power to unite humanity and defeat the demons once and for all, no matter the price.
Alex: The Daylight War is the third in the Demon Cycle, which will be five books. What made you want to go beyond the trilogy with this series?
Peter: The series was originally pitched as a quintet, and I have always worked with that arc in mind. But because I was an unproven author, my US publisher, Del Rey Books, only contracted me for three books initially, and other large publishers like Voyager in the UK, Heyne in Germany, Bragelonne in France, and Fabryka Słow in Poland followed suit. This led to a mistaken assumption by some that the series was meant as a trilogy, a misconception I battle to this day.
My second contract was for another three books, for a total of six, but my intention is still to finish the main series in five, followed by a stand-alone story set in the same world with many shared characters. It will not be necessary to have read the main series to enjoy the stand-alone, or vice versa.
Alex: You've also written a novella and a number of short stories based in the same setting. What was the inspiration for these, and to veer away from the novel format for a while?
Peter: One of the pitfalls of writing epic fantasy with a lot of point of view characters is the roads not taken. Frequently there are gaps of time in which characters have adventures I do not have time to explore in the main books without losing some of the focus. The novellas allow me to tell some of those lost tails without diluting the novels.
I usually work on the shorts in my “down” time, when I am feeling a little burnt out on a novel and need a break, or when I have sent the novel to my test readers/agent/editor for commentary. Large epic fantasy novels can be very draining to write, and take years (at least for me) to finish. It’s nice and mentally refreshing to work on something that I can finish in a few weeks and share with readers.
There are currently two novellas, The Great Bazaar and Brayan’s Gold, though in Europe these are usually published in one volume. The short story Mudboy is currently being expanded to novella length as well.) These books act as companions to the series, stand-alone stories that can be enjoyed independently or as part of the larger mythos of the Demon Cycle.
My plan is to do one Demon Cycle novella between each novel, so there will be at least three more to come.
Alex: You take on a new POV character in this title in the shape of Inevera. Was this something that had been planned from the start, and what was the impetus for this?
Peter: One of the most interesting aspects of the Demon Cycle, for me at least, is the exploration of the different characters who are key players in this pivotal moment in human history. I am a believer in the old adage that you never really know someone until you walk a mile in their shoes. It’s been interesting to introduce characters as antagonists in one book, and then explore the world from their perspective in a subsequent volume.
Inevera was a terrifying character in The Desert Spear, seeming always in control and knowing far more than she lets on. It’s clear she is a manipulator, but her true motives are always suspect.
In The Daylight War, we see her life starting in a place of innocence and evolving over time. After reading, many people who once thought her a villain began rooting for her to succeed.
Alex: And the inevitable final question... how is work going on book four for the series, and when can we expect to see it on a bookshelf near us?
Peter: I started formal work on Skull Throne after my world tour to promote Daylight War last year, and so far the manuscript is at a little over 166,000 words. I have written 21 of a planned 30 chapters, and am adding an average of 5,000 words a week. I’m hoping to have it done by the end of this summer.
After the book is done, there will also be 6-9 months of beta-reads, edits and production before it's out on shelves/online, so I expect a release in early 2015.
You can read more on my website: http://www.petervbrett.com/2013/10/04/skull-throne-update-you-do-the-math/
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