Today marks the official kickoff of the The Part About the Dragon Was (Mostly) True Book Tour presented by Storytellers On Tour, and throughout the week we’ve got a great lineup helping us feature Sean Gibson’s Comic Fantasy novel! I’m a sucker for some fantasy infused with some great humor, so this is one I’ve been really looking forward to. I can’t wait to hear what our hosts have to say in the coming days, so be sure to keep an eye out for some incredible content.
Sean was kind enough to stop by to have a chat about how The Part About the Dragon Was (Mostly) True came into fruition, what he thinks makes for a great story, and what lies ahead. So, keep scrolling for the tour schedule, more info about the book, the interview, and the giveaway to snag yourself a copy!
We’ve enlisted a group of wonderful and talented bloggers and Bookstagrammers to help us feature The Part About the Dragon Was (Mostly) True. 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.
JANUARY 20TH – THE WELCOMING
Whispers & Wonder
Kats Reading Room
Fantasy Book Critic
Queen’s Book Asylum
Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub
Through Novel Time and Distance
JANUARY 26TH – THE ENCORE
Queen’s Book Asylum
For more about this tour visit Storytellers On Tour.
PURCHASE DIRECTLY FROM THE PARLIAMENT HOUSE
Sure, you think you know the story of the fearsome red dragon, Dragonia. How it terrorized the village of Skendrick until a brave band of heroes answered the noble villagers’ call for aid. How nothing could stop those courageous souls from facing down the dragon. How they emerged victorious and laden with treasure.
But, even in a world filled with epic adventures and tales of derring-do, where dragons, goblins, and unlicensed prestidigitators run amok, legendary heroes don’t always know what they’re doing. Sometimes they’re clueless. Sometimes beleaguered townsfolk are more hapless than helpless. And orcs? They’re not always assholes, and sometimes they don’t actually want to eat your children.
Heloise the Bard, Erithea’s most renowned storyteller (at least, to hear her tell it), is here to set the record straight. See, it turns out adventuring isn’t easy, and true heroism is as rare as an articulate villager.
Having spent decades propagating this particular myth (which, incidentally, she wrote), she’s finally able to tell the real story—for which she just so happened to have a front-row seat.
Welcome to Erithea. I hope you brought a change of undergarments—things are going to get messy.
Meet the Author
Sean Gibson is not a professional mini biography writer (if he were, this would be much more compelling). Instead, he’s a marketing professional by day, hangs out with his amazing wife, son, and daughter by night, and writes somewhere in between. He holds a BA in English Literature from Ohio Wesleyan University and an MBA from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, but he really wishes he had been able to matriculate at Hogwarts (he would have been in Hufflepuff for sure). Sean is a fan of sports teams from Detroit, a distressingly large number of bands that rose to prominence in the 1980s, and writing in the third person. He currently resides in Northern Virginia, and, given how much he hates moving, and given that his house has an awesome library, is likely to remain there for some time.
In addition to The Part About the Dragon Was (Mostly) True, Sean is the author of The Chronicle of Heloise & Grimple as well as The Camelot Shadow and its prequel short, “The Strange Task Before Me.” He has written extensively for Kirkus Reviews, and his book reviews have also appeared in Esquire.
Follow him on Twitter @Gibknight, but only if you’re really bored and enjoy tomfoolery.
Thanks so much for stopping by for a chat, Sean. Since we already have your official bio, care to tell us about yourself in ten words or less?
I write weird and ridiculous things. Also, I smell terrific.
Give us an idea of how The Part About the Dragon Was (Mostly) True came to fruition.
Like all good stories, it began with too many margaritas, the snorting of unicorn horn dust, and a strange proposition from a leprechaun. (Spoiler alert: I agreed and only have minor regrets.)
Actually, Heloise, the narrator of the book, originated from a writing exercise I began about 6 years ago. We had just moved into a new house—which meant a new, longer commute—and I had two young kids. So, writing time, like sleep and the ability to think coherently, was in short supply. I could only manage to carve out small chunks of time during the ride-sharing portion of my commute: 15-minute blocks of sweet solitude in the backseat of a stranger’s car.
The last book I’d written at that point, The Camelot Shadow, was a research-intensive, intricately plotted Victorian fantasy thriller that took a long time to draft—not the kind of thing one can do efficiently when writing in brief spurts while on the go. So, I started thinking about what kind of story I could write in short bursts. That begat the serialized story The Chronicle of Heloise & Grimple, which I featured on my blog and involved an audience participation element in voting on what course of action our heroes would choose from time to time.
It turned out that Heloise’s episodic adventures were perfect for writing during the commute, so I set about writing a proper Heloise novel, which ultimately became The Part About the Dragon Was (Mostly) True.
And for that, reading community, I am sorry.
Can you share with us something about The Part About the Dragon Was (Mostly) True that isn’t in the blurb?
It’s really a love letter to high fantasy. I’ve been hooked on fantasy since my early teens and I love it deeply—but, I also love Monty Python, the Zucker Brothers, and Tina Fey. And, let’s face it—there are a lot of creaky, hoary old tropes in western fantasy written by a fairly similar-minded group of white dudes that need a little tweaking and reworking (or twerking, if you will). My favorite part of the book is upholding the spirit of those adventures while simultaneously pointing out their absurdity.
Also, I’ll send a signed copy of the book to the first person who emails me to tell me they found the Ghostbusters quote embedded within a bit of dialogue.
Was there any specific research you’ve done or inspiration you’ve pulled from for this story of yours?
Like the origin of 57% of the jokes in the book, most of the inspiration was pulled from my ass.
What do you hope your readers take away from The Part About the Dragon Was (Mostly) True?
My biggest hope is that the deeply embedded themes of subverting the patriarchy and dismantling systemic racism manifest subconsciously in readers’ psyche and result in them taking action to form a utopian society the likes of which even the Wyld Stallyns themselves could not have created with their music.
But, I don’t want to be too ambitious with a book that emphasizes the scatological. Really, I just hope that readers laugh and feel a few minutes of joy. If you love fantasy books and D&D and satire, I hope this bit of silliness gives you a little endorphin rush to get through the day.
What comes first, the plot or the characters?
Definitely the characters—if you don’t like spending time with this crew of misfits, you won’t like the story no matter how engaging you find the plot. And, in a story like this, the plot really exists as a collection of ridiculous set pieces that either put the characters in positions of tension opposite each other or, on a few occasions, give them opportunities to shine and show off their particular skills and abilities. That’s not to say that there is no plot arc, mind you, but the plot itself exists to satirize and subvert the typically taut high-fantasy adventure narrative.
Do you have a favorite character you’ve written? If so, who? What about them sets them apart from all the others?
It’s a toss-up between the narrator of The Part About the Dragon, Heloise the Bard, and bookseller William Upton from my Camelot Shadow series. They’re two sides of the same coin, and both as close to “my” voice as I’ve ever used for characters—or, at least, extremely confident and exaggerated versions of my own voice.
Welcome to the inside of my head. I don’t recommend you stay for very long.
What do you think makes a good story?
I think the only universal rule of making a good story is don’t make Nazis the good guys. Whether a story is “good” or not is extremely subjective and super personal. For me, a good story just makes me want to keep turning the page. Maybe because it’s funny, maybe because it’s suspenseful, maybe because it’s full of delightful period detail…it could be any number of reasons. But, something about it scratches some itch in my brain.
If you could go back and change how you approached writing your debut novel, what’s the one thing you’d do differently?
Pick up the pace. I still love my first book, The Camelot Shadow, immensely. It’s chock-a-block full of pseudo-Victorian dialogue, Arthurian lore, secret societies, and magic. But, the first half of the book is like watching a drunk slug moonwalk a marathon. Like, it’s entertaining here and there—I mean, it’s a drunk slug! And it’s moonwalking!—but, come on, dude—WRAP IT UP AND GET TO THE POINT ALREADY. Thankfully, the second half makes up for it. I think.
Writing can be a stressful pursuit. Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
I’m a weirdo. Writing is how I relax. That said, the best advice I’ve ever heard is from my favorite fantasy author, R.A. Salvatore, who says that if you can stop writing, you should stop. Just walk away. It’s frustrating and draining and hard and very rarely works out the way you want it to. If you can’t stop, though, if you can’t just let the desire to tell stories go, then you’re a writer, so pour everything you’ve got into it.
Ok, let’s see what kind of person you truly are.
Coffee or Tea?
Coffee. Preferably an iced mocha. Yes, I’m THAT person.
Winter or Summer?
Winter. Way more dramatic from a storytelling standpoint—it’s hard to worry about the end of the world when it’s bright and sunny. Plus, as a curly-haired man who lives in a very humid area, summer can sock my duck.
Physical books or Ebooks?
Physical books, with a caveat: being able to read in the dark with one hand is CLUTCH when you have young children who do not sleep well, so I’ve read like leventy-billion more books than I otherwise would have thanks to ebooks since my kids were born.
Mountains or Oceans?
Mountains. I once got sunburn just from putting on a pair of sunglasses.
Beer or Wine?
Books or Movies?
Books. Unless we’re talking about Ghostbusters. Then Ghostbusters, always.
Cowboys or Aliens?
Aliens. Tentacles are way sexier than Stetsons.
Pie or Cake?
Cake. And preferably from a grocery store. I am 100% a product of my Midwestern suburban upbringing.
Rural or Urban?
Urban. As long as you can make the occasional getaway to the rural.
Work hard or Play hard?
Work hard. I’m obviously a lot of fun at parties.
Thank you again for taking the time have a chat, Sean. Tell us what lies ahead for you!
Thank you for having me! I have a lot of lies ahead of me, because I can really tell some whoppers that…oh, wait. You said, “what lies ahead” for me. My bad. Well, over the course of the next few weeks, I’m super psyched to be doing the #shelfiecharitychallenge—I encourage everyone to check it out on Twitter (https://twitter.com/Gibknight/status/1346193502401560576) or Instagram. The idea is simple: post a shot of my book on your bookshelf and tag your favorite charity; we’ll be making donations to three charities when the challenge ends on February 15. The audiobook version of The Part About the Dragon was just finished and should be available by the end of February. Our audiobook reader, Haley Catherine, is AMAZING and I think people are going to love it. Bonus: she’s a fellow D&D nerd, makes her own dice, and is an unbelievable singer. In fact, I worked with her and a buddy of mine, Josh Little, to create “The Dirge of Skendrick,” a song whose lyrics appear in Chapter 12 of the book. Notwithstanding the pedestrian lyrics, it’s an absolutely incredible song that belongs on your playlist—you can buy it at seangibsonauthor.com, with all proceeds going to benefit Impact Justice (impactjustice.org), a fantastic organization working to realize a more humane and restorative justice system. (25% of the royalties I make on the book will also be donated to Impact Justice—so, you can feel good about buying a bad book.)
As for what’s next story-wise…good question. First, we need to solve this whole pandemic thing so I can commute again and actually get some writing time. If the people demand more Heloise, well, then, be careful what you wish for. I have a couple of other things in the hopper too—stay tuned to the website for updates. But, rest assured I’ll keep trying to scratch the itch in your brain.
Enter to win yourself a paperback of The Part About the Dragon Was (Mostly) True by Sean Gibson! One of three copies are ready to find their forever homes!
(Ends January 27th, US Only)
That’s all I got for ya! Be sure to keep an eye on the official The Part About the Dragon Was (Mostly) True tour page over at Storytellers On Tour (https://www.storytellersontour.online/2020/12/20/tour-schedule-the-part-about-the-dragon-was-mostly-true-by-sean-gibson/) to see what the other bloggers and Bookstagrammers have to say!