You can find our review of the book HERE and as you can see we absolutely loved it so when we knew we would meet Luke we had to grab him for a chat.
This is a world dying.
A world where wild magic leaks from the corpses of rotting gods, desperate tyrants battle over fading resources, impassive shapeshifters marshal beasts of enormous size and startling intelligence, and ravenous demons infest the northern mountains. A world where the only difference between a hero and a killer lies in the ability to justify dark deeds.
But even in this world, pockets of resistance remain.When two aging warriors save the life of a young rebel, it proves the foundation for an unlikely fellowship. A fellowship united against tyranny, yet composed of self-righteous outlaws, crippled turncoats and amoral mercenaries. A grim company, indeed…
Geek Syndicate – Fantasy novels are normally really hard to get into, and there is a lot of world building, but with yours within the first couple of chapters you destroy a whole city, do you think that your background as a video gamer and programmer and that sort of environment has influenced your style of writing for the reader?
Luke Scull –I think I tend to write with action in mind, so I am always looking at every chapter to advance the story, but also to have some action whether that is conflict between the characters, epic fights, amazing scenes of magical carnage…I tend to visualise the events and write about things that I want to see happen, or what I would find amazing to be witness to. I thought that the flooding in the first chapter was something…..I have never seen that done before, most fantasy novels build up the body count slowly…but why not open the book and kill 50,000 people, so yeah.
GS – It was a great opening to the book, and I think for me there is a lot of world building in normal fantasy novels but you seem to have found a middle ground, a middle road to world building and character building but introducing the characters in a very quick way so we get to know them but at the same time delivering a spectacle in each chapter, so how did you decide what you were going to deliver in each chapter?
LS – Essentially I started writing the book without a plan in mind, but after the first two chapters I took to plotting a bigger paragraph about what happens in each chapter. When it came time to write that chapter I thought ‘How can I can I make this the most interesting piece of writing possible’? getting in as much world development, action character conflicts, character development, and make it exciting for the reader without kind of over doing it….and you have to pace yourself when you are writing, you can have a fast pace, but if it is non stop action then the reader just think ‘Ahh, this is too much’. So for me personally, I have read lots of fantasy, there is a place for slow pace fantasy, but personally I tend to prefer my fantasy hard, fast and brutal. It is what interests me as a reader, so that is what I write.
GS – Have you got a plan of all the characters, because there are quite a lot of characters that interact together?
LS – Yes. That is why it is important to do a basic plot skeleton before you get too into the manuscript, so that you know what the major plot turning events are going to be, and then you can define what the character arcs for that particular book are going to be.
GS – Because in the book you find out someone is related to someone else, so you have all that plotted out?
LS – Yeah, I mean some writers like to take the guarding approach where they make it up as they go along. I think if you do that, you leave yourself open to lots of re-writes. I re-wrote very little of The Grim Company, I plotted it, I wrote it, one month of editing.
GS – So, how long until you thought of the concept of The Grim Company till today, where it is launching in a London bookshop?
LS – I began writing The Grim Company in June 2011, I was agented by September 2011, the manuscript was auctioned and sold in April 2012, so that is ten months between beginning writing to selling the trilogy, and then nine months before launch which is very quick by standard of the printing industry.
GS – Do you know where you are going with the next stories?
LS – Yes I have the basic trilogy mapped out, I will hopefully take it in an unexpected direction, contributing something new to the fantasy genre, whilst giving readers what they want. I think there are lots of authors who try to subvert the reader’s expectations, which is ok.
GS – One the things I liked as well was that you are not scared about killing off the main characters. It’s not like ‘oh, he’s the hero’ or anything, ‘he has to stay’, It’s like ‘Him, oh no, him, we’ll get rid of him’.
LS – Yes, I think main character deaths have to elicit an emotional response from the reader, you can’t just kill them off willy nilly because nothing will be gained from that except shock value. I think it is important that characters have an arc, and if they have completed that arc, and they no longer have a place in the book, and it makes sense for them to die
GS – Exaclty! It makes sense, that if the character is still in there, and you think why are they still alive, it makes the book seem less believable.
LS – It is pretty fantasy where actions have consequences, a character makes a bad decision and they suffer the consequences of that, and a horrible death may be among those consequences.
GS – You have got a map of the landscape, and how important do you think it is. A lot of fantasy novels have maps in them, how important is it to have a map, and do you feel like you need to expand what is in there at the moment?
LS – I think that a map is important to a novel if the novel depends on lots of travelling, and the reader is asked to track the movements of particular characters. In the case of The Grim Company where you have characters going to different places, in different cities it is important. Maybe for fantasy novels set on a smaller scale it is not as important. The map that we currently have is of a small region of a much, much larger world, so my hope is that after the initially trilogy we will expand the world, and we will bring in exotic places that are very different to the standard medieval setting that we currently have.
GS – So once you have done the trilogy then, you are going to expand the world?
LS – Assuming I receive a popular response, and people are buying and enjoying the books, then yes I would love to do more books in the series.
GS – Any thoughts about where you might take it?
LS –I do have some thoughts, but I’m not going to spill them here because that would be highly inappropriate.
GS –What was the hardest thing for you to write during the first book?
LS – Yeah, I think that the middle of the book is always the most difficult. You are taking the plots that have been introduced, and you are doing something with them, so they become an ending, so that is really when you have to give some thought about how you want the characters to develop, and how you want that arc to finish…..with the first few chapters they were difficult because I was finding my way as an author, finding my voice as it were. So I think that the first few chapters of any book are always the most difficult, the middle is also a bit of a slog, by the time you are past the middle and on the final bit then you tend to breeze by.
GS – Where did you actually get the idea for the story?
LS –I have been a games designer for about…six to seven…eight years perhaps and over the course of that time I have had lots and lots of ideas that I thought would be awesome to utilise but never had the opportunity to put into practice. So lots of the characters and concepts for The Grim Company I have had stored away for years.
GS –Multimedia projects seems to be very young in the industry right now, sometimes you get novels that are TV programmes, that are graphic novels, that are video games, so building on what she said, do you see yourself, or do you see The Grim Company being able to be visualised in video games?
LS – Yes, in the future perhaps there is a possibility….with being a lead games designer, and having numerous contacts within the industry, the potential for a game is possible, we will see how well the books do. I have dozens of potential people that I can potentially hire, and contact to help me create a video game, I could even act as a lead designer/writer/producer on a particular game based on the series…..so yes.
GS – Would you ever do a graphic novel?
LS – I can’t draw….
GS – But if you got somebody in maybe, would you see it as a graphic novel?
LS –Possibly, I have never been much of a comic person, and have never really been into graphic novels, but potentially yes.
GS – So, you are on your selling pitch now….you have got one paragraph to sell the trilogy to new readers what would you say?
LS –I would say that The Grim Company collects very thing that you love about modern, gritty realistic fantasy and marries it to a high magic setting, you know really evokes some of the authors that were popular in the 90s. You have a blending of modern gritty fantasy with a more high fantasy approach, and that is a fairly unique thing to boast.
The Grim Company is out now from all bookstores!
Source: The Grim Company
Reporter: Darkphoenix1701, Montoya