Friday, December 15, 2023

6 Books with Bradley Beaulieu

The author of Twelve Kings in Sharakhai, Bradley P. Beaulieu's novels have garnered many accolades and most anticipated lists, including two Hotties–the Debut of the Year and Best New Voice–on Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist, a Gemmell Morningstar Award nomination for The Winds of Khalakovo and more. Brad's influences include J. R. R. Tolkien, George R. R. Martin, Robin Hobb, Guy Gavriel Kay, Glen Cook, and C. S. Friedman. He adores cooking, yoga, and currently lives in Racine, WI with his wife, kids, and a smattering of pets.

Today he tells us about his Six Books:

1. What book are you currently reading?

I'm currently reading The Heroes, by Joe Abercrombie. I really enjoy Joe's style in general, but I'm particularly digging this reimagining of a WWII siege movie. I'm also digging (read: taking notes on) Joe's economical style. It's spare but extremely evocative. It's quite something, really, the visual and emotional impact he manages to wring out of so few words.

2. What upcoming book are you really excited about?

Recently released but "upcoming" for me, I'm quite curious to read Red River Seven, by A. J. Ryan (Anthony Ryan's thriller pseudonym). Just check out the first line of the teaser: A man awakes on a boat at sea with no memory of who or where he is. He's not alone - there are six others, each with a unique set of skills. None of them can remember their names. All of them possess a gun. It sounds cool and right up my alley for non-genre fiction. I'm really looking forward to it.

3. Is there a book you're currently itching to read again?

I recently drafted a letter for a book club that picked The Dragons of Deepwood Fen for their subscribers, and in it, I talk about my love of dragons, coming across them for the first time when I read The Hobbit in third grade, and more. Along with my final episode playing The Shire Adventures with Gregory Wilson on his Twitch channel, it really has me hankering to re-read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

4. How about a book you've changed your mind about - either positively or negatively?

Related, in a way, to my comment about Joe Abercrombie's spare writing, I initially bounced off of David Gemmell's Legend. I'd never came across Gemmell in my high school years (when I was reading that sort of fantasy heavily), but his name kept coming up when writers talked about people who'd influenced their own writing, so I decided to give Legend a try. I didn't much care for the spare and somewhat distanced way he wrote his characters, but when I tried again recently, I appreciated it more. Though written not so long ago, it was a different time, then. The prevailing writing style was different, too, and that's partly why I bounced off of it the first time. But that's part of the enjoyment of reading, isn't it? Getting to see the world through a different lens, not just via the story itself but the writer's very approach to it? 

5. What's one book, which you read as a child or a young adult, that has had a lasting influence on your writing?

Stephen R. Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant The Unbeliever had a profound impact on me. More used to lighter fantasy up until that point, the darkness in Donaldson's writing, while unpleasant at times, had a gravitas to it that spoke to me. It somehow made the story feel more real and more relatable (though not always in a good way; readers of Thomas Covenant will understand). And maybe the effect it had on me was partly because it was a portal fantasy. It felt like the things happening to Covenant could one day happen to me.

The darkness in that series carries through to a lot of my work. It's hard to escape at times. I have to remind myself to keep things lighter, add more humor, more joy, that sort of thing. Because even if there is darkness in a story, it's hard to appreciate unless you can see the light, too.

6. And speaking of that, what's your latest book, and why is it awesome?

My latest book is called The Dragons of Deepwood Fen, and I think its awesomeness stems in large part from the two main characters and the way their stories intertwine. While the book is epic and the cast quite large, our main protagonists are Lorelei Aurelius and Rylan Holbrooke. Lorelei is an extremely sharp and intuitive inquisitor in service to the empire. She's also agoraphobic, which presents some interesting problems for her along the way. Rylan, meanwhile, is the bastard son of the Imperator, the leader of a vassal state known as the Holt. He's also a thief out to right the scales of injustice in the Holt. Lorelei's dogged determination and Rylan's sneaky ways meet in spectacular fashion when they both try to unlock the mystery of why Aarik Bloodhaven, the leader of a group of freedom fighters known as the Red Knives, decides to meet with the Hissing Man, the ruthless head of a religious cult known as the Chosen. The Knives and the Chosen have always been sworn enemies, so why are they suddenly making nice? The answer, Lorelei and Rylan soon learn, may have dire consequences. As Lorelei digs deeper, Rylan becomes the focus of her investigation, but even as their game of cat and mouse begins in earnest, both see that Lorelei's home city of Ancris is under threat, and that what they do next will have massive implications on the empire, the Holt, and the world. In the end, Dragons is a story about the hidden costs of power, both to those who seek it and those it's used against. I felt like Rylan, a thief from the Holt who led a privileged life, and Lorelei, a smart young woman in a place of power, were the perfect characters to explore those facets of the story. I can't wait for you to meet them. 

Thanks, Brad!

POSTED BY: Paul Weimer. Ubiquitous in Shadow, but I’m just this guy, you know? @princejvstin.