The Dark Lord is dead, but Morrick fought on the wrong side…
Welcome to the Kickoff of the Dark Oak Book Tour presented by Storytellers On Tour! Today I’m thrilled to take part in showing Jacob Sannox’s dark epic fantasy novel a bit of love, even if it’s just for a spotlight for now. I’m already familiar with Sannox’s work as I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed The Ravenmaster’s Revenge, which I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys Arthurian Fantasy with a twist. So, this first book in his The Dark Oak Chronicles series is definitely towards the top of my to-read list. I cannot wait to hear what everyone thinks of this one, so stay tuned for a fantastic week ahead!
I had the honor of having a chat with Jacob about this beautiful book of his, his inspirations, what lies ahead, and more. So, keep scrolling to learn more about the book and author and check out the awesome interview!
Dark Oak is on sale for 99c/99p, so pick up your copy today!
We’ve enlisted a group of wonderful and talented bloggers and Bookstagrammers to help us feature Dark Oak. 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.
NOVEMBER 21ST – THE KICKOFF
Whispers & Wonder (IG: @whispersandwonder)
Kats Reading Corner
OneReadingNurse (IG: @onereadingnurse)
Living For Literature (IG: @living_for_literature)
NOVEMBER 27TH – THE ENCORE
Queen’s Book Asylum
For more info, visit the official tour page at Storytellers On Tour.
About the Book
Humanity has finally defeated the Dark Lord, but Morrick fought on the wrong side.
Though he was a slave, he is branded a traitor and must earn the trust of new lords in order to return to his family – if they are still alive.
Now that their common enemy is dead, the nobles begin to forget old loyalties, and Queen Cathryn’s realm looks set to plunge into war once more. But there are older and more terrible powers dwelling within the forest, and when they are awakened, Morrick will decide who lives or dies.
An SPFBO 2018 semi-finalist.
Dark Oak by Jacob Sannox
SERIES: The Dark Oak Chronicles (#1)
PUBLISHED: April 27, 2017
GENRE: Dark Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
Meet The Author
Jacob Sannox is a 37 year old writer from the sunny climes of Bedfordshire, England. In his spare time he is generally writing, thinking about writing or berating himself for not writing.
He loves to play the acoustic guitar, but wishes he was better at it, and he has recently taken up Dungeons & Dragons. This is dangerous, as he has a propensity for disappearing into fantasy worlds. Nobody saw Jacob Sannox between 2000 and 2010, during which time he was LARPing.
Do not judge him.
Thanks so much for stopping by for a chat, Jacob. Since we already have your official bio, can we have the MC(s) from Dark Oak introduce you in one sentence?
Silence. You wait for the desired introduction, but hear nothing. You shiver as a creeping sensation tickles your spine, and you feel hidden eyes, watching from the encircling trees.
Give us an idea of how Dark Oak came to fruition.
Good question. A novel is always the confluence of several ideas!
I’m a Tolkien enthusiast, and I like to write epic fantasy in the classic style, with the narrator as a fireside storyteller, who knows slightly more than the reader, but I didn’t want to rip off Lord of the Rings, so I didn’t write much fantasy until I had a story and creatures I felt were unique.
I suppose it started with wondering what would have happened if the orcs surrendered at the end of The Lord of the Rings, how would Aragorn and Gandalf deal with the dilemma of having thousands of surrendered enemies as their prisoners. How would they feed them? Where would they live? How would good characters cope if they didn’t have the resources to deal with the problem? With Sauron gone, how long would it be before humans turned on one another, just as we do in our own world?
I wanted to take a classic story of good and evil, where the humans are good and the monsters are evil, and have it transition into a world of grey ambiguity, where, without the war against the dark lord to unify them, the heroes turn on each other.
Dark Oak began in the style of a fairy style, written during my breaks from selling tyres, which was my day job at the time. It featured Morrick, a woodcutter (I was thinking Hansel & Gretel etc), conscripted and forced to fight for a dark lord, who is defeated on the first page. The woodcutter is sent home in disgrace and his family is subjected to a forced relocation, during which they are separated, and he angers a dryad while felling a tree. The story changed dramatically from there.
I also wanted to explore death and rebirth, as I’ve always had this funny feeling that the dead come back as trees. No idea why! Plus, and I may have made this up, but I’ve said it so many times I now believe it, I was once walking in woodland and, for a split second, thought I saw a small, childlike figure step out of the trunk of a tree, see me and quickly merge back into the bark. Hallucination? Lie? A dryad? You decide!
The characters emerged as I went along, and it became apparent that the novel would feature a set of the highest tier of society, a group of the lowest (almost undesirables) and a supernatural, almost indestructible group that thought society irrelevant. I wanted to explore various human characters and drives, but position them alongside the very different, alien motivations and priorities of sentient nature.
Finally, I wanted to indulge my secret desire to explore a world where humans are around, but no longer top dog!
Can you share with us something about Dark Oak that isn’t in the blurb?
Many readers’ favourite thing about Dark Oak is the mythical creatures I only alluded to in the blurb. Dryads, sylphs, oreads and naiads feature prominently, and I’m quite proud of how I portrayed them. They’re pretty unusual, and I tried to get into the mind of humanoid air, water, earth and trees!
Was there any specific research you’ve done or inspiration you’ve pulled from for this story of yours? If so, did you learn anything fun or interesting?
So much research. Dark Oak involves a road being built through a forest, and I was very concerned that it wasn’t realistic across the distances involved, so I spent time reading about ancient road building and then watching Youtube videos of a gent felling trees by excavating the roots before moving on to the trunk. Exchanged a few messages with him!
I also read a fair bit about mushrooms! And how to build fires that give off little smoke.
What do you hope your readers take away from Dark Oak?
An unsettled feeling, respect for nature and a strong desire to read book two, Age of the Dryad, in which things really get interesting! I’m working on The Devising, the final book of the trilogy, The Dark Oak Chronicles.
I suppose I want them to put the book down and have them not be sure for whom they are rooting, and what would constitute victory.
What comes first, the plot or the characters?
First of all comes some scenarios and dilemmas, which must be dealt with by people fulfilling certain character roles. I will sketch out a loose outline to give myself an idea of the book structure, and I’ll consider character arcs in combination with the plot. Last of all, the characters introduce themselves to me once I start writing…I might have known the role they would play, but not who they are, not what they like to drink or how they speak – that sort of thing. I might find during composition that a character might make an unexpected turn or respond in a way that surprises me, which necessitates a rewrite of the outline. So, I suppose I think of scenarios, roles of those who will deal with them and then the characters emerge through something akin to roleplay or method acting!
What do you think makes a good story?
Emotional resonance, prose that takes the reader’s breath away, truth/realism even under fantastical circumstances and an unpredictable plot. I like to make readers feel like they never know what’s coming next.
Personally, I like character-driven stories, even if characters introducing themselves is last on my list when writing a book. But then, I’d compare that to saying…there’s a company, here’s a job role and then, well, you have no idea who you’re going to employ until the interviews are done and even then, do you really know that person until they start work? Give a basic scenario and let the characters drive the narrative, I say!
If you could go back and change how you approached writing your debut novel, what’s the one thing you’d do differently?
I’ll level with you, if there is one thing that readers occasionally complain about, it’s that Dark Oak takes a few chapters to pick up speed. The back half of the book, once everything is in place, really tears along, and I think that is true of the whole of book two, Age of the Dryad, as well. Be patient, my children, all will become clear.
Writing can be a stressful pursuit. Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
It really can. There are times when I wonder why on Earth I put myself through it, thinking that all I’m doing is churning out rubbish and that my work in progress is drivel. I might get stuck on something and totally despair, but I have learned that if I just chill out, take a break and go to bed, I will generally wake up to find the fog has cleared and it all comes together, generally while musing on the issues in the shower next morning.
I guess, expect a rollercoaster and go easy on yourself! Sometimes the words flow and sometimes it’s like pulling out your own fingernails, but there isn’t much difference between what you produce on days when you feel like a genius and those when you feel your pen should be confiscated.
Have you read anything awesome lately?
I’ve just finished Joe Hill’s short story collection, Full Throttle. Loved that; in particular Late Returns, about the dead returning library books…
Two of the SPFBO finalists also happen to be favourites this year: We Men of Ash and Shadow by HL Tinsley (low magic, dark and is like Assassin’s Creed meets Gangs of New York) and Hall of Bones by Tim Hardie (Norse adjacent fantasy written in a style that reminds me of Robin Hobb). PL Stuart’s A Drowned Kingdom was a fascinating study of an unpleasant royal from his version of Atlantis, and at the moment I am thoroughly enjoying Children by Bjorn Larssen, his retelling of Norse legend from the perspective of the gods’ children. I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed Sarah Chorn’s Songs of Sefate books!
Thank you again for taking the time to have a chat, Jacob. Tell us what lies ahead for you!
I have a new writing space – a cold garage that smells of peppermint, as I’m trying to drive the spiders out! Over the next few months, I will be in there, wearing old man slippers and a bobble hat, tapping away on my laptop while I guzzle black coffee and attempt to finish off the third book in my other series, The Return of King Arthur. I’ve also started the final book of The Dark Oak Chronicles, and I can’t wait to finish the trilogy!