Today I’m excited to welcome Aaron S. Jones to the blog as we kickoff the Flames of Rebellion Book Tour presented by Storytellers On Tour! This week we’re showcasing his Dark Epic Fantasy novel, Flames of Rebellion, book one in The Broken Gods series – a series which he describes as the perfect tale for fans of Abercrombie and Gwynne, so what’s not to love here?! I can’t wait to hear what readers have to say about this one, so stay tuned for some fantastic features from our Roadies – it’s going to be an awesome week.
Aaron S. Jones stopped by for a chat where we discuss how this story of his came to fruition, his extensive research on historical rebellions, what he believes makes for a good story, what lies ahead, and more! Keep scrolling to learn more about the book and author, check out the awesome interview, and enter to win yourself a signed hardcover copy Flames of Rebellion (for all you UK readers out there)!
We’ve enlisted a group of wonderful and talented bloggers and Bookstagrammers to help us feature Flames of Rebellion. 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.
MAY 19TH – THE KICKOFF
Whispers & Wonder (IG: @whispersandwonder)
Beneath A Thousand Skies
I Can Has Books? (IG: @carrieicanhasbooks)
MAY 25TH – THE ENCORE
Queen’s Book Asylum
For more info, visit the official tour page at Storytellers On Tour.
A dying world. A broken mage. An oppressed people. The sparks of a rebellion. The world of Takaara is about to change but are the people ready for it?
A young, nomadic mage, Arden Leifhand, journeys across the harsh Borderlands searching for his place is the world. Taken in by a tribe of warriors, Arden discovers there may be more to him than the bullied outcast he had always thought he was.
Meanwhile, south of the Borderlands, Katerina Kane is thrust back into her old life of solving crime in Archania as she searches for the murderer of her lover. Archania has changed since she last worked a case and The Empire of Light is tightening its grip on the land. Through it all, rebellion stirs with the downtrodden citizens as the land teeters on the edge of war…
Born in the area of Birmingham that helped inspire Tolkien’s Middle Earth, Aaron S. Jones grew up with a love of fantasy. Inspired by his father’s interest in Lord of the Rings, Jones caught the fantasy bug and read anything he could get his hands on. Moving to the Middle-East and beginning a teaching career, Jones experienced a different world away from the green of the UK and has been able to mix in his experiences around the world with the time he spends in other worlds to write his debut fantasy novel – FLAMES OF REBELLION.
For fans of JOE ABERCROMBIE, SAMANTHA SHANNON, and JOHN GWYNNE, FLAMES OF REBELLION is the first part of THE BROKEN GODS trilogy.
Thanks so much for stopping by for a chat, Aaron. Since we already have your official bio, care to tell us about yourself in ten words or less?
A travel obsessed writer with a love of rebellion!
Give us an idea of how Flames of Rebellion came to fruition.
It had a strange journey but not one that I think is too dissimilar from other first-time authors. I started writing a novel which at the time was called Blood of the Heretic. I was just finishing my English Literature degree and was deeply in the First Law world created by the peerless Joe Abercrombie. I had just finished my dissertation on Milton’s Paradise Lost and wanted to create a story that had the gritty, grim feel of Abercrombie’s world fused with the epic, dramatic tones of Paradise Lost and the beauty of rebellion. As it was my first time writing, it was compete garbage! I worked on it on and off for around eight years and then eventually finished it and had a manuscript assessment by the wonderful Rachel Rowlands. The points she raised were similar to the conclusions that I had come to regarding the novel – which was a relief – and I ended up scrapping 99% of the novel and tightening the plot so that it centred around characters who each had a feeling of loss, or at least had been through enough pain that they felt as though they must finally stand up and fight. In just six months, I had thrashed out the first draft and then worked on tightening the plot and cutting out some unnecessary characters and eventually I had (with the help of editor Jon Oliver) a debut fantasy novel that I could be proud of.
Can you share with us something about Flames of Rebellion that isn’t in the blurb?
It features disgruntled citizens sick of being treated as second class who wish to rise up against the establishment. They dress in clothing similar to plague doctors during the Middle-Ages which was always something I saw as a strong visual aspect of the novel, and they see themselves as people who are looking to cleanse the world of the plague of leaders in Takaara.
Was there any specific research you’ve done or inspiration you’ve pulled from for this story of yours?
Lots of research into famous rebellions throughout history. History is full of rebellions, some successful and some not so successful. One of the aspects I tried to focus on after reading around the French and Russian revolutions is that there is often a long, drawn out series of events that builds to a stunning crescendo. People will only take so much before they are forced to stand up and do something about the horrible situations they are in and throughout history, this has often led to conflict when open, honest conversation has not been an option. I also researched the various empires that have grown throughout history and dissected the ways in which some choose to integrate the places they take over and allow them their traditions and their way of life to continue to some degree whilst others attempted to crush any sing of the old ways and force their own culture and way of living upon the unfortunate, new citizens of the empire.
What do you hope your readers take away from Flames of Rebellion?
I hope readers take away the idea that even in the darkest of circumstances, they can make it through to the other side. The novel has so many characters struggling with their own feelings, whether this is grief, guilt, loneliness, uncertainty, or just a sense of otherness from the rest of the world that they may feel disconnected to. But all of these characters have someone to lean on. There is strength in numbers, and no one is truly alone. That, and they should want to read the sequel!
What comes first, the plot or the characters?
This is the total chicken and the egg thing, right? I’d love to say plot but my characters end up dragging me on journeys that I had not planned and I end up having to shift things around and make changes to my plot when I discover that I’ve been led miles away from where I should be! I think when I first started writing I had to focus on characters as I feel that readers connect with characters. If George Martin wrote a book about Tryion Lannister and Jon Snow sitting in a bar chatting about their day then I’d read it. But there is no plot that would excite me enough to read it if I didn’t care for the characters. They make you care about the journey.
Do you have a favorite character you’ve written? If so, who? What about them sets them apart from all the others?
It’s so difficult to choose one! Cypher Zellin is fun to write. He is a serial killer who rose to become an investigator – a nicer way of saying torturer – for the royal family. I enjoy writing from his perspective as he delights in the dark side of humanity. He had a rough upbringing and chose to find happiness in the misery and misfortune of others. Not exactly a ray of sunshine but it is interesting trying to take myself out of my comfort zone and attempt to think like someone who is so disconnected to the rest of humanity. Katerina Kane is another who I love. She is strong, wise with experience, and even though she has had a tough life, she works hard to ensure a better world for others. She and Cypher are like two sides of a coin. I Have to also give an honourable mention to the minor character of Sir Dominic. A pompous knight who revels in the adoration of others – he has perhaps one of my favourite arcs across the trilogy…
What do you think makes a good story?
Characters we can care for. And logic. We need to be able to invest in characters and when they make a decision, whether it is right or wrong, we need to be able to at least see the logic in it. Honourable characters may sometimes do dishonourable things but we need to understand why. I think there has to be something that makes the reader look at their own world through the lens of the story. Fantasy is a genre that gives such a wide scope for exploring the issues of the day that it is inconceivable for me to think of writing a story that doesn’t touch on things like the abuse of power by those in charge, or the difficulties faced by minorities in a new country. Issues of identity, race, misinformation and more come through in my novel because that is what we are faced with in the real world. Fantasy is escapism, but it can also help us to look ourselves in the mirror and think about what we can do better.
If you could go back and change how you approached writing your debut novel, what’s the one thing you’d do differently?
I would have not been so hard on myself. Writing is fun when you allow it to be! I would have definitely told myself to limit the number of perspectives in the first draft. That led to a heavy load of editing! Also, to remember that you are not going to please everyone. It is great to get people’s opinions but not everyone is going to love your book and that’s okay.
Writing can be a stressful pursuit. Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
Write what you love. Get into a writing routine, even if it means just writing 100 words per day. Once you are in that routine, things get much easier. I find having a skeleton outline of a plot useful and then I dive into the character work. If you feel you have writer’s block, go read a book – even in a different genre – or watch a film, jump into a game or go for a walk. There is inspiration to be found everywhere.
Ok, let’s see what kind of person you truly are.
Coffee or Tea?
I am one of the weird British people who do not like tea or coffee… A hot chocolate now and then is good though!
Winter or Summer?
Summer. Easiest decision ever. I taught in the Middle East for two years (Qatar) and it was hot and sunny all year round. I’m definitely not a fan of miserable grey clouds and too much rain.
Physical books or Ebooks?
Physical books – especially with a gorgeous cover. I do get the odd ebook though. Usually I get an ebook when it is an author I’m reading for the first time and then I end up just buying the physical copy anyway.
Mountains or Oceans?
This is difficult! Love a good mountain – blame Tolkien and The Hobbit. Being close to water calms me so I will have to go with Ocean. I may change my mind on this though!
Beer or Wine?
Beer when I am out. Wine for a glass or two at the end of a long week.
Books or Movies?
I feel like I have to say books! I love the experience of sitting in a cinema and watching a movie though. I think I may have to bend the rules and just say both for this one!
Cowboys or Aliens?
Aliens. Far more interesting though I do like a good western.
Pie or Cake?
Cake. Ice cream cake preferably…
Rural or Urban?
Urban when I was younger but rural now. Love the peace and calmness of a rural location.
Work hard or Play hard?
Play hard! Work as much as you need to but make sure you enjoy it as much as you can.
Thank you again for taking the time have a chat, Aaron. Tell us what lies ahead for you!
It has been my pleasure! The sequel to Flames of Rebellion is released on May 14th. Paths of Chaos continues the tale of The Broken Gods trilogy. I am currently around halfway through writing the third book in the trilogy so I am hoping that I can power through and finish it sometime this summer and work on the editing and have it ready for the end of the year. I am also having a load of fun writing a standalone novel that is an Orc Murder Mystery. It begins with the human bride of an orc being murdered and a dwarven detective takes on the case to clear the orc’s name before all hell breaks loose. Apart from that I am having fun writing some short stories and might even enter the SPFBO for the first time this year which is both exciting and terrifying. Busy times but I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Enter to win a signed hardcover of Flames of Rebellion by Aaron S. Jones! One copy is looking to find its forever home.
UK Only • Ends 5/30
That’s all I got for ya! Be sure to keep an eye on the official Flames of Rebellion tour page over at Storytellers On Tour to see what the other bloggers and Bookstagrammers have to share!