Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Nicholas Eames?
That’s a question I’ve wrestled with for many years, actually. “The Luckiest Man in the World”… let’s go with that.
Your debut novel, Kings of the Wyld, will be published by Orbit next month. It looks great, and I’m really looking forward to reading it. How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?
Kings of the Wyld is a fun, fast-paced fantasy novel that takes place in a setting where mercenary bands have gained the notoriety of rock stars. Between ‘gigs’ that include hunting monsters in the vast forest known as The Heartwyld or fighting them in crowded arenas, they drink to excess, party like madmen (or madwomen), and generally act like hooligans. The story follows a band called Saga, once the most celebrated mercenaries in all the world, who must reunite after decades apart to rescue the daughter of their leader, Gabriel. It’s the first in a series called The Band, but this and each of the following books will essentially stand-alone, since each will feature a different band altogether.
Also, as someone who treasures fantasy novels that appeal to those skeptical of the genre, I’d like to think this one, despite the myriad tropes within, may just be capable of that. Even the music references are subtle enough to be missed altogether.
What inspired you to write the novel and series? And where do you draw your inspiration from in general?
One day I just thought: wouldn’t it be fun to read a book in which mercenary bands acted, and were treated like, rock-and-roll bands. Determined to find such a book, I googled it, only to discover that no one had done it yet — at least not how I envisioned it — so I wrote it as fast as I damn-well could before someone beat me to it!
For this book, and the rest of the series, I draw most of my inspiration from music. For Kings of the Wyld, it was the stirring, rambling epics of the ‘classic rock’ era (think Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones). I’ll confess, I wasn’t madly in love with that music when I started (it was before my time, after all) but I’m in love with it now.
How were you introduced to genre fiction?
I started, as many did, with the Narnia Chronicles and The Lord of the Rings. By the time I was finishing high-school, such titans as Robert Jordan and George R.R. Martin were striding onto the scene, leveling the fantasy landscape and leaving something wholly new in their wake. I tried briefly to read regular fiction, but the stakes were so low that… *stifles a long and lasting yawn*. See? Even talking about it bores the heck out of me.
How do you like being a writer and working within the publishing industry?
I’ve wanted to be a writer for a very long time, so not having to mutter, “aspiring” whenever someone refers to me as one feels pretty damn amazing. It really is a dream come true, though not without its challenges. As for working in the industry… I have a feeling I got really lucky. I have an amazing editor, and the people at Orbit have gone above and beyond to make Kings of the Wyld everything I’d ever dreamed my first book could be. I mean… you’ve seen the frigging cover, right? And the map! Wait till you see the map…
Do you have any specific working, writing, researching practices?
I spend a lot of time in coffee shops, and tend to read a bit first before starting to write. Usually I’ll spend some time revising what I did the day before and then continue the story. And for these books, at least, I’ll throw on an album or a playlist relevant to the setting. 70’s rock for the first book, and for the second… well, you’ll see!
When did you realize you wanted to be an author, and what was your first foray into writing? Do you still look back on it fondly?
Although I enjoyed writing from a very young age, I didn’t really take it seriously until much later. If asked to pinpoint the exact moment, I’d say it was partway through reading Guy Gavriel Kay’s Lord of Emperors. It was (and still is) the most beautiful book I’ve ever read, and it made me wish I could write something that affected someone even half as strongly as it did me. That, and it’s a book about legacy, which made me consider what — if anything — I’d like to leave behind.
My first kick-at-the-can was a decade-long slog of writing, revising, submitting to agents and being rejected, and then repeating the whole process all over again with the same work-in-progress. That monstrous, beautiful, inevitably flawed book taught me a lot of lessons, and although it never rewarded me with a publishing contract, it was nevertheless responsible for helping me work through most — er, many — of my bad habits, and I will forever be indebted to it and its imaginary denizens.
What’s your opinion of the genre today, and where do you see your work fitting into it?
The amount of talent I see in the fantasy (and sci-fi) genre is truly staggering at the moment. There used to be (or so it seemed to me) this massive gulf of time between the release of books I was really excited about. Every month now there is usually two or three amazing authors dropping something new.
As for where my work fits in? That’s a tricky question. If you’ll permit me a moment of appalling hubris, let’s assume that if a Joe Abercrombie book and a Terry Pratchett book got drunk and slept together at an office Christmas party, Kings of the Wyld would come wailing into the world nine months later.
Do you have any other projects in the pipeline, and what are you working on at the moment?
Right now I’m finishing up book two of the band, which features a (mostly) new cast of characters and takes place about five years after the first book. Next up is book three of the series, and after that… who knows? I’ve got a few ideas vying for consideration, so we’ll see which one makes the loudest noise.
What are you reading at the moment (fiction, non-fiction)?
I’ve been mixing it up between fantasy and sci-fi, and these days I’m primarily reading female authors, since I realized that most of my favourite authors were of a certain type (a.k.a. they all looked like me). Branching out has been an immensely rewarding experience. A recent favourite was Lila Bowen’s (Delilah S. Dawson) Wake of Vultures, and next up is V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic, which I suspect is amazing.
If you could recommend only one novel to someone, what would it be?
See what I did there?
What’s something readers might be surprised to learn about you?
That there’s nothing surprising about me. Surprise! *Throws smoke bomb and yells “POOF!” but is still standing there when the smoke clears, coughing*
What are you most looking forward to in the next twelve months?
Attending some sort of book festival or con and trying to keep my shit together when I come face to face with the authors whose work I admire. Well, that and the next Star Wars movie, obviously.