Today I’m excited to welcome Samuel Gately to the blog as we kickoff The Headlock of Destiny Book Tour presented by Storytellers On Tour! This week we’re showcasing his Epic Fantasy novel, The Headlock of Destiny, book one in the Titan Wars series – an adventurous romp with flavors of classic wrestling and booze (I kid you not). I don’t know about you, but I was a massive WWF (yes, before its name changed) fan when I was younger, and as soon as I saw that glorious belt above battling behemoths on the cover, I was smitten. 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.
Samuel stopped by for a chat where we discuss how his book came to fruition, what he hopes readers take away from this story of his, his favorite children – er, characters he’s written, the road ahead, and more! Keep scrolling to learn more about the book and author, and check out the awesome interview!
We’ve enlisted a group of wonderful and talented bloggers and Bookstagrammers to help us feature The Headlock of Destiny. 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.
JUNE 9TH – THE KICKOFF
Whispers & Wonder (IG: @whispersandwonder)
Beneath A Thousand Skies
Cover to Cover
JUNE 15TH – THE ENCORE
Queen’s Book Asylum
For more info, visit the official tour page at Storytellers On Tour.
Some say titans are descended from giants. Others say they are risen from men. But there’s never any debate about where to find them. They will be in the center of a roaring crowd, beating the hell out of each other. From contenders like the Savage and Scott Flawless to pretenders like Richard the Living Portrait and Troll-Blooded Thom, a titan’s lot in life is the same: To wrestle for dominion and glory in the squared circle.
Van, a quiet titan from the brewery town of Headwaters, wants no part in this. He’d prefer to be left alone with a beer. But destiny has him in a headlock, and it is prepared to drag him into battles that will shake the land and change his world forever.
Step into the ring with this one-of-a-kind novel, brewed special for fans of epic fantasy, fans of professional wrestling from the Golden Era and beyond, or simply fans of a good tale.
Samuel Gately is a writer of novels and short stories in the fantasy genre. Most have spies in them. Samuel lives in Oak Park just outside Chicago with his wife, daughters, and terrifyingly fluffy dogs.
Thanks so much for stopping by for a chat, Samuel. Since we already have your official bio, care to tell us about yourself in ten words or less?
Father, husband, writer, reader, drinker, former athlete, football fan, dog-lover [the hyphen makes that one word]
Give us an idea of how The Headlock of Destiny came to fruition.
Headlock is my sixth book, and for each of them I’ve tried to bring atypical influences into the world of epic fantasy. This one was born of the idea of cramming the oddities and ceremony around professional wrestling into a swords-and-sorcery type environment. What if wrestling weren’t just real, what if it shaped the fate of nations as champions met in combat amidst roaring crowds, all while wearing tiny spangly shorts and leaving character props outside the ropes?
The book’s concept really began with a character, a reluctant giant hauling beer barrels around instead of crushing skulls like everyone expects a being of his size and strength to do. When it came time to pry him from his comfortable life, I wanted to force him into a silly world of violence to see how he fared. Professional wrestling seemed like a fun fit.
Can you share with us something about The Headlock of Destiny that isn’t in the blurb?
I didn’t cram the word tournament into the blurb (which is already maybe a bit overstuffed) but this is really a tournament story. I’ve always been a fan of tournament stories, specifically thinking back on reading Piers Anthony’s Apprentice Adept series as well as movies like Bloodsport. The titular Headlock of Destiny is a single-elimination, two-men-enter-one-man-leaves-type tournament. I’ve even got a couple brackets in the book so you can track our hero’s progress and wonder about those battles happening off the page, where the likes of titan Grim Tidings squares off with Jaygan the Dragon Reynolds for example.
Was there any specific research you’ve done or inspiration you’ve pulled from for this story of yours?
Firstly, I watched a ton of old wrestling matches and promos. I took a lot of inspiration from old wrestling characters and archetypes, especially those I had been super into as a kid. And along the way I learned a ton of respect for the storytelling that happens inside and outside the ring. There’s a reason certain elements of wrestling bleed throughout our culture. Almost everyone I know could immediately recognize a Macho Man Randy Savage impression. Because the man was a goddamn genius at capturing your attention and rewarding it with an awesome sort of lunacy.
The other area of research/inspiration has to do with the setting for the first part of the story. I’m from Wisconsin and I have several good friends in the La Crosse area. It is a wild town with a huge brewery and the stories I’ve heard (and very occasionally been a part of) are fantastic. I wanted to give the main character a home that shaped him, and what better place for a titan who ends up fighting under the name of Van the Beer Man than (a fantasy version of) La Crosse, Wisconsin.
What do you hope your readers take away from The Headlock of Destiny?
It’s meant to be a fun book with a big heart, and I hope that resonates with readers. I might not have had the courage to write this book if it weren’t for The Kings of the Wyld by Nicholaus Eames. There’s a ton of cynicism in fantasy these days, and that’s great, I love that too, but KotW rocked my world, and I immediately wanted to create something in that same vibe. I want readers to nod along and smile, maybe even laugh out loud every once and awhile. And then quit their dayjobs and join one of those “become a pro wrestler camps”.
Do you have a favorite character you’ve written? If so, who? What about them sets them apart from all the others?
Which of my children do I love more than the others, you ask? It’s hard to choose, because they’re all garbage. No, I kid. Panam Manley, a titan in Headlock, was insanely fun to write. He owes an inspirational debt to Randy Savage and David Lee Roth, a fine pair of upstanding citizens. I really like Cal Mast from my Spies of Dragon and Chalk series because he’s got a hard and bitter edge that drives him to make a fool out of everyone he encounters, which is a good time when it works and when it fails. But I’ll land on Abi Yellen from The Fire Eye Refugee because she’s got a great depth and incredible caring to her, which delightfully (at least for me) contrasts with her outwards appearance of only being interested in fashion, popularity, and other seemingly shallow pursuits.
Writing can be a stressful pursuit. Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
Take the time to savor praise when you get it. If you’re like most writers, you don’t have to worry about setting aside time to feel bad about poor reviews, DNFs, and those friends who always express interest but never make it through your book. Dwelling on the negative will happen whether you want it to or not. Balance it out and be good to yourself. When a good review pops through one of my social media feeds or shows up on a platform, I try to take a screenshot and revisit it when I’m ready to truly appreciate how awesome it is when other enjoy your crazy stories. Self-care, people! And don’t let those goalposts move too quickly.
Ok, let’s see what kind of person you truly are.
Coffee or Tea?
Tea. My parents instilled a lifelong hatred of coffee in me, a product of far too many long roads trips which began with a mug of coffee spilled in the poorly ventilated car.
Winter or Summer?
Summer. Who chooses winter?
Physical books or Ebooks?
I prefer physical, but I am a lazy man and it is hard to argue with the convenience of one-click access to sequels.
Mountains or Oceans?
I cannot choose. I love both and feel like declaring a preference will somehow cost me something dear.
Beer or Wine?
Beer, perhaps as evidenced by the fact I wrote a book heavily featuring beer and mocking wine drinkers. I took some hits on review blogs for that. SMDH – wine drinkers, so sensitive.
Books or Movies?
Gotta go with both. Books cut me deeper but I love the power a movie has and the way a good movie can bring many artists together (directors, technicians, storytellers, actors, musicians, etc.).
Cowboys or Aliens?
Great timing on this one. I just read True Grit and it completely floored me. So cowboys. For now. And I count Mattie Ross (from TG) as a cowboy.
Pie or Cake?
Meh. Pie I guess. At dessert time I’m more likely to order another whiskey.
Rural or Urban?
Grew up rural, all about the urban now. We’ll see if the pendulum swings back. I want a walkable world (which might be why I write epic fantasy?) so I prefer cities.
Work hard or Play hard?
Play hard. Work sucks. Writing is okay, but more of a necessary evil to get stories out into the world. Work is just evil.
Thank you again for taking the time have a chat, Samuel. Tell us what lies ahead for you!
Thanks so much for having me. Right now I’m wrapping up the process of getting Headlock out in audio format, read by the amazing Sean Slater. So anyone wants to hear more about that can visit my website and/or sign up for my newsletter. After that, some big decisions about what comes next – will be another sequel in one of my existing series, but I’m not 100% sure which one yet. If anyone wants to nudge me one way or the other, I’m all ears.
That’s all I got for ya! Be sure to keep an eye on the official The Headlock of Destiny tour page over at Storytellers On Tour to see what the other bloggers and Bookstagrammers have to share!