Today I’m excited to kick off the A Time of Ashes Book Tour presented by Storytellers On Tour! This upcoming week we’ll be showcasing Ru Pringle’s Fantasy tale, A Time of Ashes, the first book in the Fate and the Wheel series. So, stay tuned for some fantastic features from our Roadies across blogs and social media. I’m looking forward to hearing what everyone has to say about this one – it’s going to be a great week.
Ru stopped by for a chat about how this story of his has come to fruition, the research involved, his favorite characters he’s written, what lies ahead, and more! So, keep scrolling to learn more about the book and author, and check out the fantastic interview!
Also, A Time of Ashes and its sequel, Hunting Gods, and the first two novels in his Sci-Fi The Seed series are on sale for 99c/99p on Amazon throughout the duration of the tour – time to stock up on some summer reads!
We’ve enlisted a group of wonderful and talented bloggers and Bookstagrammers to help us feature A Time of Ashes. 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 23RD – THE KICKOFF
Whispers & Wonder (IG: @whispersandwonder)
Beneath A Thousand Skies
Katt Powers (IG: @kattwritesworlds)
Book and Nature Professor
JUNE 29TH – THE ENCORE
Queen’s Book Asylum
For more info, visit the official tour page at Storytellers On Tour.
A quest through a thousand worlds. An aeons-old foe. Not even the gods can help. It’s killing them, too.
IN THE YEARS BEFORE THE CORRUPTION CAME, Murrin Kentle lived in a world where the largest island could be walked across in a day, and humans traded and fished in bladeships made from the bones of the gigantic and bizarre sea monsters patrolling its stormy, bottomless oceans. As a truthkeep of the Brotherhood of the First Mind, it’s been his duty to fight the decay of knowledge with religious fervour. A fervour he has increasingly struggled to maintain.
Before the Corruption came, Sheehan hahe Seeheeli was a carefree countess of the Shi’iin. Amphibious and fiercely matriarchal, her people have maintained an uneasy coexistence with the human scholars dominating the islands. Then an emissary of the gods brings news of an impending catastrophe. Now, she and Murrin must embark on a desperate voyage in the hope of salvation, although both the subject of their search and the path they must take remain stubbornly obscure.
Before the Corruption came, a wild young man named Coll grew up in a desert town, consumed by rage over what was done to his mother. His thirst for retribution will set in motion a train of events not even the gods could fully have foretold.
NOW THE CORRUPTION IS HERE, and nothing in Murrin’s world, nor any of the worlds of the Sundered Realm, will ever be the same.
Ru Pringle began his writing career at the age of 18, paying university bills by writing features for outdoor and climbing magazines. After a stint as an environmental scientist, he became a full-time writer, gradually veering towards travel journalism. He has also worked as a tree- and vineyard-planter, footpath builder, roofer, joiner, plumber, yacht crewperson, youth hostel warden, mountain and trail guide, oil-painting salesman, cook, sound engineer, and didgeridoo and mandolin tutor.
His first two books were published in the summer of 2018: A Time of Ashes and Hunting Gods, the first parts of the fantasy / SF epic Fate and the Wheel. A dark near-future thriller, October Song, followed in October 2018, then the irreverent music-themed SF comedy Surfers and two-part epic space opera The Seed in 2020. He is now in the final stages of editing a fast-paced science fiction thriller.
He lives in the southwest Highlands of Scotland.
Meet the Author
Thanks so much for stopping by for a chat, Ru. Since we already have your official bio, care to tell us about yourself in ten words or less?
Writer and musician who likes to explore.
Give us an idea of how A Time of Ashes came to fruition.
It began with a weirdly vivid recurrent dream several years before I started to write anything significant down. After that it developed a life in its own, morphing into something massive and grotesque, almost unrecognizable from the original concept, the characters developing lives of their own until I had to put them on the page to exorcise them. This series is quite complex, with a lot of story threads and different characters, so it took years to edit. I kept thinking it was ready, then re-reading and finding whole passages I wanted to change. I lived on a small and very windy island in the Western Isles of Scotland during the first drafts, and I remember writing passages with hurricane-force winds howling outside. The walls of the house would move – visibly.
Can you share with us something about A Time of Ashes that isn’t in the blurb?
So much that isn’t in the blurb … It’s an existential quest story, and a lot that’s in it is not what it seems, particularly at the beginning. On one level it’s about its characters discovering that the world they inhabit is very different from what they thought it was. I’ve always enjoyed stories that make their reveals slowly, and this is what I’ve aimed for here. Hopefully readers will be making discoveries that upend their view of the world(s) I’ve created right to the end of the series.
Was there any specific research you’ve done or inspiration you’ve pulled from for this story of yours?
Quite a lot of it. For example, I had to swot up on metallurgy and various kinds of weaponry, its manufacture using methods available to characters in the story, and what the effects might be of the depleted states of energy that exist in the worlds they live in and encounter in the first book. Energy not behaving as science (such as it is in the worlds of the book) states it should is a fundamental part of the plot for the series, but readers might have to wait a bit for an explanation, although hefty clues are there by the end of book 2.
What do you hope your readers take away from A Time of Ashes?
A desire to read more! Also that it’s possible to prevail against the most horrendous odds in the most bewildering circumstances if you just keep doggedly moving forwards. Not to give up.
What comes first, the plot or the characters?
I’d hope both are equally developed and important. IMO it’s crucial to for a plot to come out of the characters, rather than the other way round. I see well-observed characters as very complex but internally consistent algorithms: it’s really obvious when a writer’s tried to shoe-horn their behaviour into a pre-existing plot. They start doing or saying things that don’t ring true, and if characters’ behaviour isn’t convincing, the most stellar plot won’t convince either. I know I’ve got a good character when they refuse to behave: I’ve had to make major plot changes because I know the character I’ve written wouldn’t react to something the way I originally wanted them to. I’ve learned to just go with this: some of my favourite parts of my own books are a result of seat-of-the pants writing when characters wouldn’t do what I wanted them to. In Hunting Gods, the second of the Fate and the Wheel series, I’d planned to kill off a major character – but they refused to die! I found myself cheering. There’s also a very dark turn in that book when another major character turned out to be far nastier than I originally gave them credit for. For me, this kind of thing is what makes writing fun. It feels like juggling chaos.
Do you have a favorite character you’ve written? If so, who? What about them sets them apart from all the others?
I have several. If pushed, I’d say my favourite character in the Fate and the Wheel series (so far) is Homollon. I like the stoicism which comes from being a kind of hairy, eight-legged battle tank surrounded, and persecuted, by lesser beings he could individually crush in an instant if he chose. But I’ve also very much enjoyed my time particularly with Murrin, Coll, Sheehan – and Oliént and Droolias, who turned out to be my favourite villainous double-act. To say neither Oliént nor Droolias are very self-aware would be an understatement, but they have an instinctive understanding that each complements the other in ways whose sum almost makes a complete person. Oliént is a study in patriarchal entitlement: an uber-narcissist whose eventual encounter with Sheehan pushes him close to understanding how empty he is. In some ways Sheehan is Oliént’s mirror-image, from an entitled and somewhat predatory matriarchy, but unlike Oliént she’s capable of empathy and self-development. Coll’s past has given him a burning and somewhat inflexible sense of justice, which he tends to exercise to tragicomic extremes. I enjoyed writing the interplay between him and the world-weary and relatively wise, though very fallible, Murrin. Murrin has a bit of an impostor complex: he’s slow to acknowledge how physically strong and smart he is, to the exasperation of most of the people trying to keep up with him. Now I think about it, Elegy, a somewhat formidable posthuman in my – yet to be published – latest book is perhaps my overall favourite. She’s done horrendous things in a former life, but has found a way to live with herself by doing penance, and remains chirpy and upbeat. But Homollon, Coll, Murrin and Sheehan run her very close.
What do you think makes a good story?
All kinds of things. That’s what makes reading exciting: different books have completely different styles and strengths. I’ve read books with no plot at all, which are captivating simply because of the prose. Others with limited character development which were still page-turners because of the pace and plot. A truly transcendent story needs to shine in all aspects: prose, plot, character and world-building.
If you could go back and change how you approached writing your debut novel, what’s the one thing you’d do differently?
Wow, that’s a difficult question. Mainly because mistakes made writing it were the foundation for improving my writing, and without them I wouldn’t be (for better or worse) the writer I am now. I’m pleased with my first book, but it needed staggering amounts of editing and re-editing: basically several re-writes. Knowing what I do now, I’d be able to write it in 1/20th the time. I’ve also found it interesting – and, retrospectively, a little sobering – how much social and societal norms have changed. There were a few bits of early drafts of my first book where I thought: ‘good grief, how did I think that was okay back then?’ It’s noticeable how much more male-centric stories written by men tended to be, even ten or twenty years ago. Particularly in military scenarios, almost all characters tended to be men in a way that now seems plain odd. I’m so glad that’s changed. These days I love writing female characters, if anything more than male ones. I think what’s changed most for me is a confidence that I lacked before, rather than the clear and welcome change in the zeitgeist. That confidence has come with life experience at least as much as writing experience.
Writing can be a stressful pursuit. Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
Just that you need to prepare to be stressed out of your mind. I’ve never suffered writers’ block, fortunately, but the industry being what it is, you need to get very used to disappointment, and be either obsessed with writing for its own sake or mentally very robust, or both. The stats are bleak. I think I’m correct in saying most authors barely sell into three figures, which is something I find horrifying. People generally make more money from writers than writers do from writing. Unless you’re near the top of the luck scale, you’ll need another job to bring money in.
Ok, let’s see what kind of person you truly are.
Coffee or Tea?
Neither – yuk!
Winter or Summer?
Physical books or Ebooks?
Mountains or Oceans?
Beer or Wine?
Books or Movies?
Cowboys or Aliens?
Pie or Cake?
Rural or Urban?
Work hard or Play hard?
Thank you again for taking the time have a chat, Ru. Tell us what lies ahead for you!
Well, I’ve just bought a small yacht with my partner – all kinds of interesting things planned to do with that, and I’m hoping to do a good chunk of future writing aboard. Brexit has, unfortunately, more or less killed prospects for most touring musicians based in the UK, so I’m hoping sailing might fill its place. Book-wise, I recently finished a far-future SF thriller which is with my agent ATM. It’s my first 1st-person narrated book, and a lot more linear than my others to date, but I’m pleased how it turned out, so fingers crossed …
That’s all I got for ya! Be sure to keep an eye on the official A Time of Ashes tour page over at Storytellers On Tour to see what the other bloggers and Bookstagrammers have to share!