Today marks the official kickoff of the Shadow of a Dead God Book Tour presented by Storytellers On Tour, and throughout the week we’ve got a great lineup helping us spotlight this incredible Fantasy adventure! Shadow of a Dead God is the first installment in Patrick Samphire’s Mennik Thorn series, a story that I’m very much looking forward to showcasing during this year’s Self-Published Fantasy Month, so stay tuned! Patrick was kind enough to stop by to have a chat about his book, writing for adults versus a younger audience, and his experiences with SPFBO, so keep scrolling for the tour schedule, more info about the book, and the interview.
We’ve enlisted a group of wonderful and talented bloggers and Bookstagrammers to help us feature Shadow of a Dead God. 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, and more.
JULY 5TH–THE WELCOMING
Whispers & Wonder
Beneath a Thousand Skies
Susy’s Cozy World
Out of This World SFF Reviews
I Can Has Books?
Woven From Words
Under a Pile of Books
Foals, Fiction & Filigree
The Paperback Voyager
JULY 11TH–THE ENCORE
For more about this tour visit Storytellers On Tour.
A dead god. A brutal murder. One second-rate mage.
It was only supposed to be one little job – a simple curse-breaking for Mennik Thorn to pay back a favour to his oldest friend. But then it all blew up in his face. Now he’s been framed for a murder he didn’t commit.
So how is a second-rate mage, broke, traumatized, and with a habit of annoying the wrong people, supposed to prove his innocence when everyone believes he’s guilty?
Mennik has no choice if he is going to get out of this: he will have to throw himself into the corrupt world of the city’s high mages, a world he fled years ago. Faced by supernatural beasts, the mage-killing Ash Guard, and a ruthless, unknown adversary, it’s going to take every trick Mennik can summon just to keep him and his friend alive.
But a new, dark power is rising in Agatos, and all that stands in its way is one damaged mage…
Patrick Samphire started writing when he was fourteen years old and thought it would be a good way of getting out of English lessons. It didn’t work, but he kept on writing anyway.
He has lived in Zambia, Guyana, Austria and England. He has been charged at by a buffalo and, once, when he sat on a camel, he cried. He was only a kid. Don’t make this weird.
Patrick has worked as a teacher, an editor and publisher of physics journals, a marketing minion, and a pen pusher (real job!). Now, when he’s not writing, he designs websites and book covers. He has a PhD in theoretical physics, which means that all the unlikely science in his books is actually true. Well, most of it. Well, some of it. Maybe.
Patrick now lives in Wales, U.K. with his wife, the awesome writer Stephanie Burgis, their two sons, and their cat, Pebbles. Right now, in Wales, it is almost certainly raining.
He has published almost twenty short stories and novellas in magazines and anthologies, including Realms of Fantasy, Interzone, Strange Horizons, and The Year’s Best Fantasy, as well as one fantasy novel for adults, SHADOW OF A DEAD GOD, and two novels for children, SECRETS OF THE DRAGON TOMB and THE EMPEROR OF MARS.
Thanks so much for stopping by for a chat, Patrick. Since we already have your official bio, care to tell us about yourself in ten words or less?
Dinosaur hunter. Armchair adventurer. Good intentions, but mixed outcomes.
What’s a day of writing like in the shoes of Patrick? Do you have any quirks, routines, or rituals?
I don’t really have a typical day anymore. For the last few months, we’ve had kids at home 24/7, so it’s a matter of trying to snatch time for writing in between everything else. My only ritual is to make some really good green tea, put on music, and try not to get distracted by social media.
Can you share with us something about Shadow of a Dead God that isn’t in the blurb?
One thing the blurb doesn’t really get over, in my opinion, is that there’s a lot of humour in the book. Much of that humour comes from the main character, Nik, who has a snarky outlook on the world, but there is also a degree of satire in the story as well. I mean, mostly it’s a cool fantasy mystery about mages, dead gods, and murder-ghosts, but it’s still fairly funny in places.
Shadow of a Dead God is the first novel you’ve written for an adult audience – was there anything different in the planning/research for this book as compared to that of Secrets of the Dragon Tomb or The Emperor of Mars?
I’ll tell you a secret. I avoid research like I avoid idiots who won’t wear masks in public. There’s a reason I write fantasy and science fiction, and it’s not so that I can spend my days researching! (Obviously there is research involved, but if I can make shit up, I will.) Secrets of the Dragon Tomb and The Emperor of Mars were pulp science fiction set in the Regency era on Mars. There is actually a fair amount of science in there, but I used to be a physicist, so I kind of had a handle on that already.
Shadow of a Dead God is a secondary-world fantasy in a vaguely Mediterranean setting, so there was a little research there, but, again, most is made up because it’s a different world.
Despite the differences between the books and despite the different audiences, I don’t think there was a great deal of difference in either the planning or writing of them. I’m of the opinion that there isn’t a much difference between middle grade (kids’) fantasy and adult fantasy, other than you can have more swearing, sex, and explicit violence in adult fantasy.
With middle grade, you tend to be seeing through the eyes of a child, and with adult fantasy you tend to be seeing through the eyes of an adult. But every character is going to have a different outlook and understanding of their world anyway. When you write, you have to put yourself inside you character’s head and look out, and it doesn’t really change the process whether you’re looking out from a child or an adult. The key, I think, is not to think “I’m writing from the point of view of a child” or “I’m writing from the point of view of an adult” but to think “I’m writing from the point of view of this individual person, with all their quirks, personality, limitations, abilities, and attitudes, and this is how they see the world”.
I see you’ve entered the nail-biting marathon of SPFBO! I know it’s still early in the competition, but how are you finding the experience so far?
So far, I’m loving the experience! Like you say, it’s still in the early stages and most books haven’t been eliminated yet, so there’s plenty of time to enjoy being part of it. I really love SPFBO. When I discovered it a few years ago, it opened my eyes to just how good self-published fantasy could be. Discovering authors like Rob Hayes, Dyrk Ashton, Josiah Bancroft, Alicia Wanstall-Burke, ML Wang, and a bunch of others made me really understand that the best self-published fantasy is every bit as good as the best traditionally-published fantasy.
I’m really enjoying discovering books from this year’s competition, too. Right now, I’m reading Tuyo, by Rachel Neumeier, which is also in this SPFBO, and it is fantastic. I hope it does really well. But it’s not the only great book in this year’s competition. I have several friends who’ve entered, too, and I’m rooting for all of them.
Obviously when my judging group starts to eliminate books, I’m going to get really, really nervous, but right now, I’m just enjoying connecting with other authors and reading their books. It’s all fun, until we start to bleed.
What comes first, the plot or the characters?
Both. And setting. I tend to develop using a kind of accretion method. I suck in lots and lots of disconnected ideas and elements, some character, some story, some setting, a bit at a time. I drop some, add new ones, mutate others. I genuinely don’t think I could come up with characters separate from plot or setting, or vice versa, because they all have to work together and they all influence each other.
That said, when I’m reading, I can cope with an ordinary plot or setting if the characters are great, but rarely the other way around.
Do you have a favorite character you’ve written? If so, who? What about them sets them apart from all the others?
They are all my babies! I think, whether you want it or not, you always end up putting a bit of yourself inside every character, even the contemptible or pathetic ones, and you have to feel some sympathy for them in order to write them meaningfully. Books are basically just lots of versions of yourself arguing with each other. It saves on therapy, anyway.
But! I really do like the protagonist of Shadow of a Dead God, Nik Thorn. There is a lot of me in him, but that’s not the reason I like him so much. He’s what I think of as a beaten-down idealist, someone who has principles and wants to live by them, but who struggles to do so in the face of a very corrupt and often uncaring society. He’s also generally out of his depth and outclassed.
What do you think makes a good story?
Man, if I knew that… I think a good story has to be emotionally satisfying, in whatever way that might be. Whether it’s dystopian science fiction or romance or grimdark fantasy or humour or thriller, it has to hit the particular emotional resonance and conclusion that a reader is looking for. Personally, I like seeing characters face insurmountable odds and overcome them. I’m not particularly a fan of overpowered heroes destroying everyone (I was never particularly interested in Superman, for example). But that’s my particular preference, not a judgement of what is good or bad in general.
Is there one particular book you hold dearest to your heart?
I don’t think I will ever lose my love for Lord of the Rings. I still remember my father reading it to me while I lay in bed as a kid and feeling that whole, rich, wonderful world enfold me. As an adult, I’m not sure you ever slip so completely into a fantasy world as you do as a child, and with a world so vivid and deep, it’s probably an experience that will never be matched. I’m always hoping, though.
Writing can be a stressful pursuit. Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
Here’s what I think every beginning author needs to understand, and which I didn’t understand for too long: there are no rules for writing. There aren’t really any guidelines, either. There are tools in a box that you can take out and use if they help you and leave in if they don’t. If any writer tells you that there is a particular way that a story has to be written, they are only telling you what works for them. That goes for things like not using passive voice as much it goes for telling you you have to write every day. Great, if that works for your story and your way of working. But if it doesn’t, dump it.
Ok, let’s see what kind of person you truly are.
Coffee or Tea?
Tea. Tea is the nectar of the gods. Coffee … no.
Winter or Summer?
Summer. But I should clarify that I live in Wales, and Welsh summer is rarely that hot. In fact, it often rains a fair amount. We spend part of our summer in Michigan, too, and I find that generally way too hot. I spend a lot of time in front of AC units. God knows how I would cope with many parts of the world.
Physical books or Ebooks?
Ebooks. For convenience, storage, and the ability to read at night without waking my wife.
Mountains or Oceans?
Both. Woodlands in preference to either, though.
Beer or Wine?
Wine, if I have to. Cider, though, if I have a choice (that’s hard cider to Americans).
Books or Movies?
Books. I enjoy movies, but if I go a month without seeing a movie, I’m not bothered.
Cowboys or Aliens?
Aliens. Super advanced, civilised ones, though, not Xenomorphs or Predators or anything like that.
Pie or Cake?
Rural or Urban?
Both, in their place. I’m a city boy by upbringing, but I love nature, too.
Work hard or Play hard?
Neither. I’m way too lazy.
Thank you again for taking the time have a chat, Patrick. Do you have anything coming up in the future that you’d like the world to know about?
Nothing! I’m not making any plans right now. I mean, I’ve hardly left my house for months…
Thanks for having me on your blog, Justine! I’ve enjoyed it.
Enter to win!
Grand Prize: One physical copy of Shadow of a Dead God (US/CA/UK/EU)
Runners-Up: One of ten ebook copies of Shadow of a Dead God (International)
That’s all I got for ya! Be sure to keep an eye on the official Shadow of a Dead God tour page over at Storytellers On Tour (https://storytellersontour.online/2020/06/06/tour-schedule-shadow-of-a-dead-god-by-patrick-samphire/) to see what the other bloggers and Bookstagrammers have to say!