Tell us about Storm Dancer.
Demon-possessed siege commander, Dahoud, atones for his atrocities by hiding his identity and protecting women from war’s violence – but can he shield the woman he loves from the evil inside him?
Principled weather magician, Merida, brings rain to a parched desert land. When her magical dance rouses more than storms, she needs to overcome her scruples to escape from danger.
Thrust together, Dahoud and Merida must fight for freedom and survival. But how can they trust each other, when hatred and betrayal burn in their hearts?
What genre is it?
Dark epic fantasy.
What kind of readers will it appeal to?
People who like long, absorbing books with strong characters, gripping action and intense conflicts, and those who enjoy reading fantasy, horror or historical fiction.
Storm Dancer deals with dark and disturbing topics – war, rape, torture, betrayal, demonic possession and human sacrifice. Most readers are ok with that, but some have become so upset, they were unable to read on.
The hero is flawed. He needs to learn and grow, and he doesn’t win every battle against the evil inside him. If you like perfect, Persil-white heroes, Storm Dancer isn’t for you.
Although the moments of graphic violence are brief, they are intense. The sex is not explicit, but it happens, and some of it is not consensual.
I wouldn’t recommend the book to young readers or the faint-of-heart. You may want to download the free sample pages before you decide to buy Storm Dancer.
Complete this sentence for us: If you like ___________, you’ll love Storm Dancer.
Since I’m reluctant to predict what other people will love, I’ll rephrase this. If you like books by Dave Duncan, Gene Wolfe, Marion Zimmer Bradley, David Gemmell or Tanith Lee, you may like Storm Dancer.
You are an amazingly prolific writer; how many books have you authored? And how on earth have you managed it?
I’ve authored more books than I’ve had published. Many have been scrapped or are languishing in boxes of ancient floppy disks. In addition, there are dozens of half-finished, abandoned projects.
I can’t actually tell you how many books I’ve had published. Maybe forty. It depends on whether you count co-authored books, and books that were previously published in a different version, with a different pen name and different title.
How have I managed it? I write every day, and I’ve been writing for a long time. With practice, I’ve become not only a better writer, but a faster one.
Tell us about your instructional classes for writers.
The classes are one month long, each covering a specific topic: Writing Fight Scenes, Writing Scary Scenes, Villains, Pacing, Writing Style, Tightening a Manuscript, Writing about Magic and Magicians etc.
They’re for writers who have already mastered the basics of their craft and are ready to take their writing to the next level, as well as for professional authors who want to branch out and learn new skills.
Typically, there are twelve lessons with twelve assignments to do, and the authors can use them to work on a WiP. I give feedback to all assignments, often with detailed suggestions.
Students get most out of the classes if they are willing to put in time and effort, and if they are mentally ready to improve their writing. These classes are challenging and intense.
Writing a book is never easy, but other than that, what has been the toughest part – editing or marketing?
This may surprise you, but I enjoy both editing and marketing. As a trained publishing manager, with many years of experience as a publisher’s editor, I bring the professional skills to the job.
To me, the revising and editing of a book is an extension of the writing process. I love seeing a story improve with every layer of revision.
With Storm Dancer, the particular revision challenges were pacing and length. The early drafts dragged and were way too long. I had to cut subplots and tighten my prose to get from 350,000 words to 160,000, which is still a long book.
Tell us a bit more about yourself.
I’m a quietly eccentric introvert.
You’ve been everywhere. Where is your favourite place in the whole wide world?
There are quite a few spots on this planet where I haven’t been. True, I’ve travelled in many places, and lived in quite a few, mostly Europe and Asia. Living and working alongside native colleagues gives a much deeper experience and understanding than any tourist could gain, and some of the adventures have inspired my writing. Several of my fiction characters – for instance, Merida in Storm Dancer – are foreigners who try to make sense of their surroundings and need to decide which of their principles to sacrifice in order to fit in.
My home country is Germany – the former “West Germany” – the beautiful Bodensee region in the south west, close to the Swiss border.
I can’t say that one place is better than all the others. I adore the landscapes of some, the traditions of others; with some it’s the cultural heritage and with others the political system or the hardiness of the people I admire.
Currently, I live on the south coast of England, in the county of East Sussex. I love working out on the beach, or going for long walks along the windswept shore. History is alive here. The place abounds with Roman remains, medieaval castles, grand Regency architecture, Victorian cottages. Even the dilapidated parts are wonderfully atmospheric – perfect for horror fiction.
I like England… but I wish the weather was better.
Have you got a blog where readers can keep up with your work?
I don’t keep a blog – I’m too busy writing stories. I have a website here.
Where can we buy Storm Dancer?
You can get the ebook from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.
At the moment, I’m editing the Ten Tales anthologies. These are themed short story collections, mostly horror and fantasy, each containing ten stories by ten authors. Bites: Ten Tales of Vampires, Scared: Ten Tales of Horror, Beltane: Ten Tales of Witchcraft, Haunted: Ten Tales of Ghosts. Spells: Ten Tales of Magic, and so on.
Then there’ll be more books in the Writing series. The first two books – Writing Fight Scenes and Writing Scary Scenes – have already become steady bestsellers. They’ll soon be followed by more.
One of my works in progress is a sequel to Storm Dancer. However, this is a major project and won’t be completed soon.
I’m always writing short stories – mostly horror for the Six Scary Tales series, some fantasy, some humour, some historical. At any time, I have several dozen stories in progress.
I’m also revising some of my old fiction, and trying to get back the rights to my previously-published books, so I can re-publish them as ebooks.
Enjoyed this interview? Then check out our conversation with Jeremy Robinson