So, we’ve had you on CR before, but for new readers let’s start with an introduction: Who is Sebastien de Castell?
I’m the guy who wrote that thing about the dudes with the really cool coats, and the one guy is like, “I’m the greatest swordsman who ever lived, but I don’t like to talk about it,” but the other one is like, “arrows are just as good as swords, and anyway, I’m better looking” and then there’s the narrator, who’s like, “Justice! Why can’t we have more justice!”
I think it’s called the “Great Cloaks” or “Grey Coats” or something.
Maybe it’s better to look up the bio I gave in our previous interview.
The final novel in your excellent Greatcoats series, Tyrant’s Throne, was be published recently. What can fans of the series expect from the finale?
When Saint’s Blood came out, all the reviews ended by asking the question, “after facing off against saint killers and duelling an actual god, who could possibly defeat the Greatcoats now?” In Tyrant’s Throne, readers (and Falcio) will find out that there are things in this world more dangerous than gods.
Ever since Traitor’s Blade hit the shelves, readers have been writing me asking how Falcio defeated Kest to become the First Cantor of the Greatcoats, and how Kest was able to beat the Saint of Swords in a duel. The answers to those questions and more are finally answered in Tyrant’s Throne.
Ultimately, though, the Greatcoats series has always been about whether idealism and heroism can truly be a response to cynicism and heartache – whether swashbuckling adventure really has a place in the world. We’ve watched Falcio, Kest, and Brasti fight for a dead king’s dream for a long time now, and in this final book in the series that dream comes up against the one opponent that Falcio never anticipated.
How did it feel to get to the end of the story? Any lessons learned over the course of writing it? Any surprises?
The best moment for me in the entire publishing process is when a box arrives at my door containing the author copies of my latest book. When that happens, I carefully open the box, take out one of the copies and place it on the mantle next to the other books in the series. When I did that with Tyrant’s Throne, I felt such a profound sense of . . . happiness, I guess. The story of the Greatcoats was complete; with the help and inspiration of so many wonderful people such as my wife, my friends, and, of course, my editor, the inimitable Jo Fletcher, I had written the swashbuckling series that was my answer to the tales of daring and adventure that helped to shape the person I am today. I can honestly say that I love every book in the Greatcoats Quartet, and if I’d never written another word after, I would still feel as if I’d had an incredibly fortunate career as a writer.
Any new projects readers should know about?
Spellslinger, the first in my six-book young adult series about magic, outlaws, and talking squirrel cats, just came out in May of this year. Shadowblack comes out in October and I’m currently writing the third and fourth books, Charmcaster and Soulbinder. It’s a tremendous amount of fun but it’s also reminding me of all the toughest parts of being a teenager, so I might need therapy after this.
There are also discussions ongoing about a second Greatcoats series, but contract negotiations can go on forever sometimes and, more importantly, I need to find the core of what that series will be about. The first series was all about idealism, and while I would want to retain the spirit of swashbuckling adventure, it’s important to me not to retread the same path twice.
What are you reading at the moment (fiction, non-fiction)?
I just finished reading Stephen King’s non-fiction book, On Writing – a depressing book in which he reveals why he’ll always be a better writer than me. Now I’m onto Daryl Gregory’s new novel, Spoonbenders, which will probably have the same effect.
If you could recommend only one novel to someone, what would it be?
There’s no such thing as the “one” novel, of course. The beauty of literature is that there’s always room for more voices, more ideas, and more stories. What does it really matter if the book that got me started was The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe? Should I tell someone with a completely different background and experience, who might not see themselves in those four very middle-class, very British characters, that they should react to the story the way I did? Maybe they will, which would be great as it’s a terrific book, but maybe there’s some new book out there from a debut author no one’s heard of that could become the most important book you’ll ever read.
What are you most looking forward to in the next year?
Shadowblack comes out in October, which will be exciting as it’ll be my third novel published this year! Considering it takes me an age to write a novel, I’m not sure how it was possible, and I think some form of time travel must have been involved.
I’m also flying out to the UK again in August for Nine Worlds, then to Finland for WorldCon, and finally to Scotland for the Edinburgh Literary Festival. I always love meeting readers of the books as well as fellow writers, so it’s going to be a fun trip.
Finally, and most importantly, this is a year in which I need to work on my writing process. When I wrote Saint’s Blood in 2015, I thought, “right, okay, nothing will ever be that hard again.” Then I started on Tyrant’s Throne and I honestly felt like I was going to break something important in my head getting that book just right. I need to learn to create my best work without turning my world (and that of those around me) upside down. So next time we chat, I’ll be this wonderfully mellow author who casually tosses off lines from his latest book with an easy grin on his face rather than the haggard hermit who keeps banging his head on the wall muttering, “It’s not right yet, it’s just not right yet.”
Sebastien de Castell’s Greatcoats series is out now, published by Jo Fletcher Books in the UK and US, and by Penguin in Canada. Spellsinger and the upcoming Shadowblack are published in the UK by Hot Key Books, and in the US by Zaffre.