Wednesday, June 20, 2012

PR Special Edition: Paul S. Kemp Interview + Giveaway!


Poisoned Rationality Special  Edition

Welcome to another Poisoned Rationality Special Edition! Today we have Paul S. Kemp, author of The Hammer and the Blade, the first book in the Tales of Egil and Nix forthcoming from Angry Robot Books June 26th.  Stay tuned after the interview for a chance to win!

Synopsis:  A pair of down-at-heel treasure hunters and incorrigible rogues. Egil is a priest, happy to deliver moral correction with his pair of massive hammers. Nix is a sneak-thief; there’s no lock he cannot open, no serving girl he cannot charm. Between them, they always have one eye open for a chance to make money – the other eye, of course, is on the nearest exit.  Nix's idea?

Kill a demon.
Steal the treasure.
Retire to a life of luxury.

Sounds easy when you put it like that. Unfortunately for Egil and Nix, when the demon they kill has friends in high places, retirement is not an option.


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Let's start with the easy question! Have Egil and Nix been percolating in your mind for a long time, just waiting for a moment to wreak havoc on your life or did you have an idea and they fit the bill for it?
You know, I’ve been writing a kind of hybrid sword and sorcery fiction for a long time, in the form of my Erevis Cale novels from Wizards of the Coast (they’re a bit more “high magic” than typical sword and sorcery stories). But I’d wanted to write a pure sword and sorcery novel for a long time, ever since I first fell in love with the work of Howard, Leiber, Brackett, and Moorcock. In that sense, I suppose the tales of Egil and Nix have been percolating a long time.
Could a pair of adventurers like Egil and Nix ever really retire? What would they do with all that spare time? (please say that Egil is secretly a master knitter or Nix likes to collect flower pressing or something :D)
Ha! No, you’re exactly right. They couldn’t retire. Busy hands on those boys, and idleness would ill-suit them. Besides, they don’t really want to retire. Its just that part of them wants roots, a home, a bit of security, but alas, that’s just not their lot. Their friendship will have to be home and roots enough, as I fear calamitous adventures are likely to find them whatever their desires.
THE HAMMER AND THE BLADE has a much more old school fantasy adventure feel to it, the kind that gets the heart pumping as the (quasi)heroes find their lives at stake once more and makes you wonder if maybe they should re-think their priorities in life. Was this the sort of books you grew up enjoying? Did a young Paul secretly wish to run off and be a sneak-thief like Nix?
I grew up enjoying them and still enjoy them today (I’m thinking here of Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories, Howard’s Conan tales, Brackett’s John Stark stories, etc.). There’s something pure in them, primal, an unabashed, unselfconscious kind of storytelling that’s just a joy to read. They are, for lack of a better phrase, ripping yarns, and I think we can always use more of those. I tried to do something akin to that in The Hammer and the Blade. I hope I managed it.

As for wishing to be a sneak thief: Oh, yeah! I alternated between wanting to be the Gray Mouser and Aragorn (from The Lord of the Rings). Two sides of the personality warring there, I suppose.
Will there be more adventures with Egil and Nix? Will Egil ever meet a foe that his hammers can't face down?
Indeed! The next tale of Egil and Nix is entitled A Discourse in Steel and will release in July 2013. I’m hoping for many more after that.

Have you seen Egil’s hammers? I’m not sure a castle wall could long hold the ground in front of Egil. ;-) (PR: um yeah, those things are a BEAST)
You write in expanded universes a lot (Forgotten Realms, Star Wars), how different was it to write a novel from scratch for you? Are there any tricks you found while writing in the expanded universes that helped you in THatB?
Well, it’s different in that with an original novel I’m creating the setting entirely from scratch (whereas with an established tie-in setting, I tend to pick a launch point and create new things on top of what already exists). That’s more work, of course, but also a helluva lot of fun. It’s different, too, in that there’s no underlying brand to prop you up and prevent a fall. Meaning, when I write a Star Wars novel or a Forgotten Realms novel, it’s going to sell at least X, because so many folks love the setting. With an original world novel, there’s no floor and if a book falls down (in terms of sales), it can fall a long way.

So, you know, please buy the book. It’s awesome. I promise.

I can’t say I learned any tricks specific to writing tie-in that translated to original work. The process for me was much the same: create compelling characters, give them an interesting voice, establish intriguing villains with believable motivations, mix well, and rock and roll.
If I promise the information won't fall into enemy hands, can you tell us one weakness and one
strength of both Egil and Nix?

Nix is riddled with self-doubt, though he hides it well. Egil cannot forgive himself.
What was the hardest part about writing THatB? The easiest?

Let me preface this answer by saying that I’ve never had more fun writing a novel than I did writing The Hammer and the Blade. I’ve had fun writing all of my novels, but this one was a particular joy. In that respect, the whole thing was “easy.”

That said, some of the scenes with the villain were hard because they were distasteful. At the core of this novel is a very dark, nasty secret and writing about it was sometimes difficult.

The easiest part is Nix’s narrative voice and dialog. It’s enormously fun to write.

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Thank you Paul!  I can't wait to see what mischief--that is adventures these two get up to in the sequel A Discourse of Steel

Wanna know more?  Check out Paul's website, read my review and head over to Angry Robot's page for Paul!


Want to see why Nix is my new love of life?  Need some handy dandy tips on how to thwart your Risen Demon?  Here's your chance!  I'm offering one commenter a copy of their very own by answering one simple question:  Did you want to be a sneak-thief as a child?


  • Please leave your email address as well, so I can get a hold of you.  
  • Open to any as long as the Book Depository ships to your point of origin.  
  • Tweet this giveaway once daily for extra chances to win (please at reply to @PRationality so I can keep track)
  • Contest Ends June 24th, 2012 11:59pm EST