Fantasy/Sci-Fi Focus (FSF): Hey man, how’s it going? It’s a big launch tomorrow. First never before released book in a long time. How’s that feel fo you?
JMD Reid (JR): It’s exciting in this nervous way. It has been a year, I believe, since Diamond Stained’s publication. So it’s a big thrill to get out its companion series, Mask of Illumination.
FSF: I’ve read this novel and I can say that it’s definitely something special, and anyone that loves reading about badass female characters will find their new favorite series. Can you talk just a little about Founauri and why you think she’s such a great character to read about?
JR: Foonauri is a broken character looking to fix her life. That’s always a character people like to read because we want to believe that we can make ourselves better. In addition, she’s going to have to work for her skill. Earn it.
FSF: The Illumination Saga in general has been a very different type of work than your massive epic The Storm Below. Was there a specific intent to do something completely different with this series, and what do you hope readers get out of it?
JR: I wanted to do something different than Storm because I wanted to try a different sort of fantasy. See how it would do in the market. See which one worked. But I also wanted to have a world full of interconnected stories and characters that were building to something greater across a large amount of books. Something that readers could sink their teeth into.
FSF: And it’s definitely achieving that. I love how this massive epic series comprising 13 novels (or more) has grown out of a short story. When you write Dual, featuring the first appearances of Obhin from Jewels of Illumination and Lady Founauri, did you already have this direction in mind for the characters or did that come later?
JR: When I finished Dual, I had an idea that Obhin and Foonauri would leave Qoth together and that their relationship would implode. There is nothing to hint at their future in the short story, but it was in my mind. I kept thinking about what would happen to them next. I had always planned on writing novels in this world. I had a few other starting places, such as Mutilated’s story, but when I was thinking about it, Obhin and Foonauri just had to be told, so they provided the basis for exploring the world and its metaphysics. Especially to set things up for the greater story being told while telling their own stories. And there is more. Maybe not with Foonauri, but Obhin and Avena have more in store for them.
FSF: That’s awesome. I wanted to talk about another major re-release happening. Fallbrandt is going to be hard launching The Storm Below series as a massive 5 book omnibus box set. How does it feel to you to see your first major work getting the huge push that it deserves, and how do you feel about that landmark first series now that you’ve written so much since?
JR: It’s a big thrill to have The Storm Below released. It was my first ever book series. My first story that I ever finished writing. I’m so proud of it. I think it’s amazing, so I am glad that a wider audience will get to read it. As for how I feel about it now, I wish my prose was cleaner. There’s a lot of…not mistakes, per se, but just newer writer things. Things that I am better at now. But I still love it. Still love the characters of Ary, Chaylene, Zori, Guts, Estan, Esti, Captain Charele, and all the rest.
FSF: With The Storm Below hopefully giving a much broader audience a taste of your sprawling epic fantasy, it will be leading directly into what seems to be your most ambitious project yet. Tell people what they can look forward to with Shadow of The Dragon.
JR: Shadow of the Dragon is an epic quest fantasy in the vein of the Belgariad by David Eddings. It is about Euddan and Vounee. Euddan is a farm boy with a power he doesn’t know he has, and Vounee’s the daughter of a cruel wizard who is preparing her for a dark ritual. Childhood friends, when the spell begins, Euddan is unable to stand by. He interrupts it to save Vounee and disrupts the plans of a cult dedicated to bringing about the return of the Dragons and the destruction of the Gods. Forced to flee their village, Euddan and Vounee are thrust into a quest that will change the world. They’re joined by companions like Dhaua and Thaaph, a pair of living plants, Zai who can see the future, and more. Hunted by Tshar Ruan, a wizard-warrior with a pack of enchanted dogs, Euddan and Vounee will have to learn their new powers fast if they have a chance of survival.
FSF: Sounds amazing. How many books do you expect this series will end up being at the end?
JR: 10 or more. I’m writing book 5 as we speak. Wyrms of Regret which introduces a few new characters that may or may not be joining the party.
FSF: Very exciting and I’m stoked to have involvement in getting this one out there. I’ve read the first one and your world building and description is fantastic.
FSF: You’ve also just submitted some of your most hilarious work to me for Wine and Where To Find it, a pseudo standalone/conclusion to our Cider & Ale books which will be released as a box set in a few weeks. How did you feel writing this one in particular and about wrapping up the series?
JR: It was a nice change of pace. Something fun and light-hearted. Though I wish all my knowledge of Australian slang didn’t just evaporate from my head while writing it.
Really enjoyed writing the climax between Paul and the villain. Just letting the ideas flow through me with very litlte planning, my mind making connections to different aspects of the story.
FSF: Well I have a vodka loving Russian sea otter, and something about a talking shrimp working their way through my crazy mind right now. Not sure which one will be victorious yet.
JR: Oh, no. That sounds interesting.
FSF: They always are! But shifting completely away from writing for a moment, you recently had the opportunity to interview one of your literary heroes for the Authors In Focus Podcast. Can you talk a bit about that experience.
JR: Yeah, I got to talk to Steven Erikson (author of Malazan Book of the Fallen). It was such a fun interview. We talked about his writing progress, inspiration, and more. He had some great takes and advice for newbies. He was a great guy to have a conversation with.
FSF: He’s a legend. One of my favorites as well. I’m going to leave you with one last question. What are your hopes for the next year? Both for yourself as a writer, and for the world in general?
JR: For me as a writer would be to finish Shadow of the Dragon and get the publishing on it started and to start work on the next Illumination Cycle series. Not sure which one I’ll work on. As for the world, well, I don’t like talking my politics, but we’re heading into a dark future and I don’t see much sign that it’s going in the right direction. So, hey, mabye something will change.
FSF: It’s important to hope for the best. Thanks for taking the time. It’s always great talking with you and wishing you all the best on the launch!