Today marks the official kickoff of the Hollow Road Book Tour presented by Storytellers On Tour, and throughout the week we’ve got a great lineup helping us spotlight this incredible Fantasy tale! Hollow Road is Dan Fitzgerald’s debut fantasy novel and the first installment in his The Maer Cycle series, a story I cannot wait to dig into. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what our hosts have to say in the coming days, so be sure to keep an eye out for some incredible content.
Dan was kind enough to stop by to chat about what led to the creation of this book, his writing process, 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 Hollow Road. 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 and more.
SEPTEMBER 13TH–THE WELCOMING
Whispers & Wonder
The Writer’s Alley
Bookends & Bagends
Marian L Thorpe
The 13th Shelf
The Bookwyrm’s Guide to the Galaxy
Out of this World SFF Reviews
SEPTEMBER 19TH–THE ENCORE
For more about this tour visit Storytellers On Tour.
Legends describe the Maer as savage man-beasts haunting the mountains, their bodies and faces covered with hair. Creatures of unimaginable strength, cunning, and cruelty. Bedtime stories to keep children indoors at night. Soldiers’ tales to frighten new recruits.
It is said the Maer once ruled the Silver Hills, but they have long since passed into oblivion.
This is the story of their return.
Carl, Sinnie and Finn, three companions since childhood, are tasked with bringing a friend’s body home for burial. Along the way, they find there is more to the stories than they ever imagined, and the mountains hold threats even darker than the Maer. What they discover on their journey will change the way they see the world forever.
Travel down Hollow Road to find out which legends are true, and which have been twisted.
Meet The Author
Dan Fitzgerald is a fantasy writer living in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, DC with his wife, twin boys, and two cats. When he is not writing, he might be gardening, doing yoga, cooking, or listening to French music.
Find out more about Dan and his books at www.danfitzwrites.com, or find him on Twitter or Instagram, with the handle danfitzwrites in both places.
Thanks so much for stopping by for a chat, Dan. Since we already have your official bio, care to tell us about yourself in ten words or less?
Obsessed with language, nature, and finding beauty in unexpected places.
What’s a day of writing like in the shoes of Dan? Do you have any quirks, routines, or rituals?
When I’m writing and not editing, I write 500 words a day standing in the kitchen, after everyone’s gone to sleep, to the sound of the dishwasher running. On days when I’m not working, I add another 500 words in the morning while my kids watch cartoons. That comes out to roughly 500 words per day average, given that I’m editing some of the time, but I’m a teacher so I have more time to write in the summer. 500 words a day doesn’t sound like a lot, but it comes out to about 2 books a year if you stay consistent, which I do.
Give us an idea of how Hollow Road came to fruition.
I used to write crime fiction, but I started a fantasy novel about 20 years ago, because I missed playing D&D. It was about a failed mage taking the body of his mage friend home for burial. A couple of years ago I went looking for the story, but I couldn’t find it—it must have been on an old floppy disk that got corrupted. I was feeling like trying my hand at fantasy again, and I started from scratch. I was playing TTRPG again after a long hiatus, and though I enjoyed it, we spent a lot of time fighting monsters, and not as much telling stories. And there’s always this good vs. evil thing hanging over everything, when I don’t see the world that way. In my books, the line between good and evil, humanity and monstrousness, is decidedly blurry.
Can you share with us something about Hollow Road that isn’t in the blurb?
It has a scary undead creature called the Ka-lar, and another such creature is one of the POV characters in the third book in the trilogy (The Place Below). It also has fungus trolls, which sound really cute, but trust me, they’re not. I have the art to prove it. You might even get to see the character art for both of these during Timy’s end-of-the-week roundup…
Was there any specific research you’ve done or inspiration you’ve pulled from for Hollow Road?
I did a little research into cylindrical stone seals used by ancient Sumerians, after writing about cylinder scrolls in my book and wondering whether something like them ever existed. The ones in my book are quite different, but it was interesting to see the historical precedent. I also looked up a thousand little things about castles, sea travel, what wild boars sound like and how they behave when threatened, among countless others. I also pulled from my knowledge of languages (I’m a French teacher) to show how some of the characters learn each other’s’ languages. There are three languages described in the book: Islish, Southish, and Maer, but only one character (Luez) speaks all three, so there’s a fair amount of interpreting, translation, and the like, as well as some language-related magic.
What comes first, the plot or the characters?
For Hollow Road, the characters, definitely, along with a whisper of plot. I’m what writers call a “pantser,” meaning I write by the seat of my pants, rarely using outlines or planning far ahead. I knew the characters long before I knew the story. Curiously, though, for the second and third books, the story came first, though many of the characters continued from book to book. After what happened in Hollow Road, the search for the lost Maer Archive was the only place the story could go next, and the Maer legend of the Place Below was too good not to write a book about.
Do you have a favorite character you’ve written? If so, who? What about them sets them apart from all the others?
In Hollow Road, it’s definitely Sinnie. She’s just the right mix of strong and sensitive, serious and jovial, and she takes a stand when no one else would have. She’s a big hugger, and a crier at times, but when she gets that serious look in her eye, there’s no stopping her, and people don’t generally try. When she takes a life, she feels it and doesn’t let it go, and she does what she can to make amends. She’s also the first asexual character I’ve written, and I worked hard to integrate that identity without it being her main thing. I trust my readers will tell me where I could have done better.
What do you think makes a good story?
Something I haven’t heard or read before, told in words that quietly bewitch me. I am a sucker for great prose, and it can carry me through a book I might not otherwise read. I love prose that is sparse but can wax poetic when the occasion arises. And with story, people often say there are no new stories to be told, and I think that’s pure hogwash. There may be common elements in many stories, but there are always—ALWAYS—new stories to tell.
Is there one particular book you hold dearest to your heart?
This question is just cruel. I would have to go with Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, the book to which I lost my literary virginity. His prose hits me deep in the marrow, and his use of multiple perspectives was truly eye-opening for me as a sixteen-year-old. Also, despite its intensity, it’s short, and I strongly prefer shorter books, which is one of several reasons I don’t write epic fantasy.
Writing can be a stressful pursuit. Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
Your first book probably won’t be published, nor your second, and quite possibly not your third. There are exceptions, and that might be you! But many writers take decades to get published, and it takes experience to get your writing to that level. The experience of drafting a novel, editing it, having people read it, being really proud of it, querying it, getting rejected over and over, re-reading it and seeing that, yeah, maybe it wasn’t as great as you thought. But it’s still great! You wrote a book! And it doesn’t suck! And guess what—the next one you write will definitely be better. And so on.
I wrote 7 novels over the span of 25 years before I published one. A lot of folks will get there faster than I, but that was my path, and I did not give up. I kept writing, all those years, all those books. Some of that time I was writing books that probably had no chance of being published, though I had no idea at the time. But I got so much experience and so much practice! And now when I start writing a book, I know what I’m doing. It doesn’t mean everything I write is great, but the muscle memory is there, and I know how the process works. And that only comes with time and practice.
The other advice is to get on Twitter and Instagram right away. The writing communities on Twitter are so amazing, and if I’d had such a resource 25 years ago it might not have taken me this long. And Instagram is the most-used social media platform in the world, so if you’re not there, ask yourself why. When Shadow Spark (my publisher) told me I needed to get on Instagram, I groaned so loud it vibrated the windows of the houses across the street. Now I love it, and I’ve made some good connections there, and if any of my books ever catches on a little, I won’t be playing catch-up.
Ok, let’s see what kind of person you truly are.
Coffee or Tea?
Dark roast coffee in the morning; tea on cold afternoons.
Winter or Summer?
Winter because flannel shirts are my totem garment.
Physical books or Ebooks?
Don’t hate me when I say ebooks. I LOVE physical books, but honestly I prefer reading ebooks.
Mountains or Oceans?
Mountains all day long. Just read my books—the entire trilogy is set in the mountains!
Beer or Wine?
Beer, for sure. Especially sours. I could write an essay on how underappreciated sour beer is.
Books or Movies?
Books. I can look forever for a movie I really want to watch, but there are thousands of books I want to read.
Cowboys or Aliens?
Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven is my all-time favorite movie. So cowboys. By the way, the movie is really about writing and storytelling, so check it out if you haven’t!
Pie or Cake?
Cake, but take it easy on the frosting. Pie’s too sweet. Oh, and for the record: CHEESECAKE IS NOT CAKE.
Rural or Urban?
I live in Washington, DC for a reason.
Work hard or Play hard?
Play hard. I love my job but I love playtime more.
Thank you again for taking the time have a chat, Dan. Tell us what lies ahead for you!
Thank you for having me! It’s been a treat. The Maer Cycle is a low-wait trilogy. The Archive comes out in December, and The Place Below in March 2021, so no need to wonder if you’ll ever see the end of it. As you can imagine I’m quite busy editing those books, and I can’t tell you how excited I am for them (spoiler alert: I’m about to pee my pants I’m so excited). I’m also halfway through my draft of the next book, something totally different called The Living Waters. It’s less dark than The Maer Cycle, but also weirder. It involves painted-faced nobles, a log raft, a river with mysterious swirls, thin, long-necked river ogres, and beings made out of water. And it might just be set in a different part of the same world as The Maer Cycle, though it will surely be standalone, or part of a separate trilogy.
Enter to win one of three signed copies of Hollow Road, courtesy of Dan Fitzgerald!
US Only. Ends 9/20 at 11:59pm EDT.
That’s all I got for ya! Be sure to keep an eye on the official Hollow Road tour page over at Storytellers On Tour (https://www.storytellersontour.online/2020/08/14/tour-schedule-hollow-road-by-dan-fitzgerald/) to see what the other bloggers and Bookstagrammers have to say!