Today marks the official kickoff of the The Wrack Book Tour presented by Storytellers On Tour, and throughout the week we’ve got a great lineup helping us spotlight this incredible Epidemiological Fantasy tale! The Wrack is John Bierce’s most recently published standalone novel, one that definitely sparks interest during these harrowing times. This one definitely caught my eye, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing what our hosts have to say in the coming days.
John was kind enough to stop by to chat about his fascinations that led to the making of his book, SPFBO, and what lies ahead for him, 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 The Wrack. 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.
AUGUST 2ND–THE WELCOMING
Whispers & Wonder
Armed with A Book
Olliespot SFF Bookreview
The Sword Smith
Spells & Spaceships
Out of This World SFF Reviews
The Coycaterpillar Reads
Fantasy Book Critic
AUGUST 8TH–THE ENCORE
For more about this tour visit Storytellers On Tour.
Plague has come to the continent of Teringia.
As the Wrack makes its slow, relentless march southwards, it will humble kings and healers, seers and merchants, priests and warriors. Behind, it leaves only screams and suffering, and before it, spreads only fear.
Lothain, the birthplace of the Wrack, desperately tries to hold itself together as the plague burns across it and its neighbors circle like vultures. The Moonsworn healers would fight the Wrack, but must navigate distrust and violence from the peoples of Teringia. Proud Galicanta readies itself for war, as the Sunsworn Empire watches and waits for the Wrack to bring its rival low.
And the Wrack advances, utterly unconcerned with the plans of men.
Meet The Author
John Bierce is a history buff, fantasy and science fiction lover, and fan of talking about himself in the third person. He also has a background in the earth sciences, and has been caught licking rocks before. For science.
Thanks so much for stopping by for a chat, John. Since we already have your official bio, care to tell us about yourself in ten words or less?
I have been known to lick rocks for science before.
What’s a day of writing like in the shoes of John? Do you have any quirks, routines, or rituals?
It generally involves a LOT of procrastination before I get to work, then me staying up to absurd hours working. I have terrible work/life balance- I usually push myself super hard until book release, then crash hard for a few weeks when I finish a book. Trying to get better about that, though.
Also, I sometimes write while standing.
Give us an idea of how The Wrack came to fruition.
I was fascinated with the Black Death as a child, and that grew over the years to a general interest in epidemiology. I’ve known for a long time that I wanted to write a novel about a plague, but I definitely didn’t expect to release it in the middle of a global pandemic. I’ve definitely had a few friends blame me for COVID-19. (Jokingly, of course.) Along with it just being a story I wanted to tell, my goal was to try and get people thinking about the fact that pandemics are still a very real threat to us. Which, uh… has proved redundant. It’s definitely part of a greater message as well, though, that for all our technological and scientific advancements, we’re still at the mercy of nature’s whims.
Can you share with us something about The Wrack that isn’t in the blurb?
The Wrack is loosely structured as a novel-in-stories: Many of the individual chapters are standalone short stories that explore the titular plague of The Wrack.
Was there any specific research you’ve done or inspiration you’ve pulled from for The Wrack?
I’ve been reading about epidemiology for years, but I did almost a year of dedicated reading and research on epidemiology and plagues in preparation for The Wrack. Read probably a couple dozen books and countless articles specifically in preparation for The Wrack. (Mostly non-fiction, but a handful of novels as well.)
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?
I think nail-biting about covers it! I’m checking and rechecking the Weatherwax Report (the blog The Wrack was assigned to) multiple times a week. It made it past the first round, at least!
What comes first, the plot or the characters?
Neither and both? I generally do a lot of early worldbuilding and have a few scenes and tidbits about characters figured out when I start writing, but I’m definitely a discovery writer in a lot of ways.
In terms of importance, I try to keep plot and character balanced. Good plots should arise naturally from good characters making decisions in response to their worlds.
Do you have a favorite character you’ve written? If so, who? What about them sets them apart from all the others?
Oooh, that’s a tough one. Probably either Ivrahim from the Wrack or Talia from Mage Errant. It’s close, though- I genuinely love writing most of my characters.
What do you think makes a good story?
I don’t think there’s any one thing that makes a story good- I think it’s a huge variety of qualitative metrics whose individual importance varies wildly from reader to reader. I think the only thing you can say about all good stories is that they earn their outcomes, that a good story does the work to justify what happens to the plot, world, and characters over its duration.
Is there one particular book you hold dearest to your heart?
Not one in particular, too many to name. Terry Pratchett is my all-time favorite author, though, and he’s got more books close to my heart than any other author.
Writing can be a stressful pursuit. Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
Write daily, read voraciously. Every successful author ever is going to give you some variant on this advice, because there’s really no shortcut there to making it as an author. Countless better authors have elaborated on the first half, so I’d just like to add something to the latter half- when I say read voraciously, I mean both within and without your chosen genre. If you aren’t extensively familiar with the genre you want to write in and its conventions, you’re going to annoy and fail to satisfy genre fans. If you don’t read extensively outside your genre, you’re not going to have enough to bring in from outside, and it’s going to feel stagnant, and won’t do enough to help the genre grow and change, as all genres fundamentally must do over time.
Ok, let’s see what kind of person you truly are. (This or that, no explanations required, but commentary is always welcome!)
Coffee or Tea?
Either, but pu’er tea is my favorite.
Winter or Summer?
Summer- I actually skipped winter entirely this year by traveling.
Physical books or Ebooks?
No real preference, honestly, but given that I was traveling full-time up until the pandemic broke out, I’ve been reading nearly exclusively ebooks for the last year.
Mountains or Oceans?
Both. Mountains for most of my life, but I’ve spent a lot more time at the sea this last year. (My current apartment is a block from the beach in Da Nang, Vietnam.)
Beer or Wine?
Beer, especially stouts and porters.
Books or Movies?
Cowboys or Aliens?
Aliens, though I love a good western.
Pie or Cake?
Pie, especially pumpkin or strawberry rhubarb.
Rural or Urban?
Grew up on a farm in Kansas, never intend to live in the country again. Nice to visit, but I need my takeout and bookstores and such.
Work hard or Play hard?
Both! I’m not much for moderation!
Thank you again for taking the time have a chat, John. Tell us what lies ahead for you!
As of this writing, I’m doing the last bits of work on preparing Mage Errant book 4 to send off to my editor, and it should hopefully come out in August. Mage Errant is currently planned at six books, the last of which I’d like to have released by this time next year at the latest. (Hopefully sooner!)
Enter to win one of five physical copies of The Wrack!
That’s all I got for ya! Be sure to keep an eye on the official The Wrack tour page over at Storytellers On Tour (https://storytellersontour.online/2020/07/01/tour-schedule-the-wrack-by-john-bierce/) to see what the other bloggers and Bookstagrammers have to say!