Today marks the official kickoff of the Guild of Tokens Book Tour presented by Storytellers On Tour, and throughout the week we’ve got a great lineup helping us celebrate the audiobook release of this incredible and unconventional Urban Fantasy adventure! Guild of Tokens is the first installment in Jon Auerbach’s Guild of Tokens series, a story I have read in the past and had a blast doing so! Recently, Jon stopped by to have a chat about his book, the art of storytelling, and what lies ahead for him, so keep scrolling for the tour schedule, more info about the book (and audiobook!), and the interview.
You can read my review of Guild of Tokens here.
We’ve enlisted a group of wonderful and talented bloggers and Bookstagrammers to help us feature Guild of Tokens. This is what we have going on, so make sure to check out each and every one throughout the week for some brilliant content, including reviews, interviews, guest posts, and more.
*NOTE*: In celebration of this tour and the one-year anniversary of the publication of Guild of Tokens, Jon has made the ebook available for $0.99/99p, so be sure to pick yourself up a copy!
JUNE 21ST–THE WELCOMING
Whispers & Wonder
Dream Come Review
I Can Has Books?
Armed With A Book
Cosmic Lattes and Books
The Coycaterpillar Reads
The Sword Smith
Fantasy Book Critic
Woven From Words
Out of This World SFF Reviews
JUNE 27TH–THE ENCORE
For more about this tour visit Storytellers On Tour.
She wants to level up her humdrum existence. But her next quest could spell life or death.
All Jen Jacobs has achieved in life is loneliness. So when she stumbles across a real-life game of epic quests on the streets of New York, she jumps at the chance for some excitement and gold tokens. Little does she know that the items she strives to collect hold a darker purpose…
After a particularly harrowing quest pairs her up with Beatrice Taylor, a no-nonsense and ambitious mentor, Jen hopes she’s on the path to becoming a big-time player. But as she dives deeper into the game’s hidden agenda, she realizes Beatrice has her sights set on the Guild, the centuries-old organization that runs the Questing game. And the quests Jen loves are about to put both of them in grave danger.
Will Jen survive the game before powerful forces cut her real life short?
Guild of Tokens is a thrilling new twist on conventional urban fantasy. If you like determined heroines, gritty cityscapes, and vampire-free adventures, then you’ll love Jon Auerbach’s rollercoaster tale.
Jon Auerbach’s love of fantasy began at the tender age of six, when his parents bought him the classic 1977 animated version of The Hobbit (the less said about the recent trilogy, the better). His passion for sci-fi developed from nights watching Star Trek: The Next Generation and from his dad’s old paperback copies of Foundation and I, Robot.
Jon writes in both genres and hopes to pass on his stories to the next generation, including his kids, who have their own copy of The Hobbit that they lovingly call “the Bilbo book.”
Thanks so much for joining us, Jon. Since we already have your official bio, care to tell us about yourself in ten words or less?
Attorney by day, writer by early morning/late night.
What’s a day of writing like in the shoes of Jon? Do you have any quirks, routines, or rituals?
In the days before COVID-19, I would drop my kids off at school and then grab a Honey Badger from Gregorys Coffee (cold brew, almond milk, and honey) and then write before work. That ritual fueled most of the writing of Guild of Tokens. Now that I’m at home and helping to supervise the kids’ schoolwork, I can’t really carve out that morning time, so I’ve had to adjust and write at night, which is much harder. I’m hoping when things get back to “normal,” I’ll be able to write again at my favorite table in the corner, but it will probably be awhile before that happens.
Give us an idea of how Guild of Tokens came to fruition.
The book grew out of an idea I had for a flash-fiction piece: what if there was a section on Craigslist called Quests? I wrote 1000-word story about someone completing their first five Quests and that became the prologue of the book. From there, I spent a good deal of time trying to figure out how to grow a story and characters around that premise before it came together in a cohesive manner.
Can you share with us something about Guild of Tokens that isn’t in the blurb?
I wanted to give a nod to my favorite things in pop culture without the references knocking you over the head. So if you like Easter eggs, there are plenty to find. I even made a list of them on my website, some of which I’ve now forgotten! Also, I’ve hidden a map in one of the later chapters that proves I wasn’t just making up one of the plot’s more intricate puzzles/mysteries. Let me know if you find it!
I’ve read Guild of Tokens in the past, and absolutely loved it. As someone who traveled to New York City for work on a daily basis, reading your book was such a wonderfully immersive experience. The hunt takes us all over the city – did you travel to each of the general locations as part of your research for your story?
Thank you! I’d say it was about 50-50. Having lived in New York City since 2008, I used that to build a good foundation of realism and I inserted locations that I’ve been to frequently (the Met, the pocket park on East 53rd Street, the coffee shop that has a secret wall that opens into a speakeasy). But other scenes grew out of extensive time spent on Google Street View and still others from local news articles or even those Wi-Fi kiosks that display random facts about the city. There’s one scene later in the book where Jen and Beatrice travel up to Inwood (at the very north end of Manhattan) and there happens to be a big staircase leading up from one street to the next. I had them go up that staircase to get where they were going, with the original intention of adding realism, but then I realized that the staircase itself could be part of the plot if I got creative enough. In the second book, Jen ventures beyond New York City, to least Boston and Washington, DC, which are cities I’ve also spent a lot of time in and lived in, so I’m trying to bring a similar level of immersiveness.
What comes first, the plot or the characters?
Usually the plot, and then I’ll form the character enough such that they drive the plot forward or if it’s a side character, enough that they’ll introduce new conflict for the main character. Originally, the character of Beatrice was going to be a one-off mini-villain at the end of the first part of the book, and so she didn’t really have any personality other than “she’s bad!” But then I took a break in the middle to write a short story prequel about her and that really added depth that has served the main story well.
Do you have a favorite character you’ve written? If so, who? What about them sets them apart from all the others?
Beatrice is definitely a favorite, and I’ve enjoyed writing her backstory in the three prequel short stories that make up Guild of Tokens: Origins (which you also listen to on my podcast, FYI!). In book two, I introduce a new foil to Jen, Emma, who’s one of the (if not the) youngest member of the Guild. She’s got a complicated past, plus she probably has the coolest fight scene in the books so far. Giving these characters that deep history makes them more enjoyable to write (although it’s a lot of work!).
What do you think makes a good story?
I was listening to a talk recently by a well-known comic book writer, and he said that something he tries to do is introduce asymmetrical moments into his stories, moments where you expect the story to turn one way or a character to make a particular choice, but instead it goes in a different and unexpected direction. That really stuck with me. I think it’s about creating a balance between what’s expected in a particular genre but presenting in a new and fresh way such that the reader can’t see where you’re leading them until they get there.
Writing can be a stressful pursuit. Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
It’s all about setting short-term goals that can turn into long-term goals. You’re not going to sit down and bang out a novel in two weeks if you’ve never written before. I look at how long it took me to go from writing flash fiction to releasing Guild of Tokens and it was six years! There were a lot of starts and stops, but all along the way I was learning and working on craft and learning about how to tell a story. I’d say the most actionable piece of advice is to write every day, even if it’s only 100 words or even a sentence. You build your own momentum by showing up and doing the work and eventually you’ll get to “The End.”
Ok, let’s see what kind of person you truly are.
Coffee or Tea?
Tea is for sore throats.
Winter or Summer?
Physical books or Ebooks?
Normally I’d go with ebooks, but being at home the last few months has made me appreciate physical books more.
Mountains or Oceans?
Beer or Wine?
Beer. Another casualty of being home is that I started ordering craft beer.
Books or Movies?
Hmm, a tie. Books for everyday entertainment and movies for the weekend.
Cowboys or Aliens?
Aliens. Although I am partial to Back to the Future, Part 3.
Pie or Cake?
Rural or Urban?
Work hard or Play hard?
Both, but not back-to-back.
Thank you again for taking the time to chat with us, Jon. Do you have anything coming up in the future that you’d like the world to know about?
I’m currently in the middle of writing book two of the series, Guild of Magic, which should be out this fall. And I’m dipping my toes into the comic-writing pool to see if I can bring the series to a different medium.
Enter to win one physical copy (international) and one audiobook code (US/CA/AU/UK/EU)!a Rafflecopter giveaway
That’s all I got for ya! Be sure to keep an eye on the official Guild of Tokens tour page over at Storytellers On Tour (https://storytellersontour.online/2020/05/22/tour-schedule-guild-of-tokens-by-jon-auerbach/) to see what the other bloggers and Bookstagrammers have to say!