The Object’s author interview series continues with Paul Freeman, who’s here to tell us about his new book, Tribesman. Mr. Freeman also talks about why authors shouldn’t be afraid to self-publish, his experience on Authonomy (a popular online writer’s community), and is favorite scene from the new book.
Author of Tribesman
Winston: Tell us a little about yourself. What made you decide to be a writer?
Paul: Well I’m from Dublin Ireland. I like to think I am a warrior, adventurer, and zombie hunter. All in my own head of course, but hey, it’s a fun place to be. Tribesman is my first novel to be published, it is an epic fantasy based around love, loss, betrayal and of course adventure. I have also recently signed a contract with Spore Press who will be releasing a horror novel I wrote with three other writers called, Season of the Dead, in spring 2013. A little while ago I was asked to contribute a short story to a steampunk anthology being published by a new press, Kristall Ink. That anthology is now out, it is called Strange Tales From The Scriptorium Vaults. I’d never written steampunk before, so as well as a challenge, that was a lot of fun.
To answer the second part, I’m not sure if I ever made a conscious decision to be a writer, it just sort of happened. As a kid I was always making up stories, and games, it was just a natural progression I suppose.
Winston: Who are some of your favorite authors? Do you see some of their inspiration in your own work?
Paul: Oddly enough, although I do write fantasy, I don’t read all that much of it. Of the fantasy writers I’ve been inspired by I think David Gemmell stands out by a mile. I’ve also taken a lot of inspiration from mythology and ancient history. Anything to do with swords and magic and you have me hooked. I’m a big fan of Historical fiction, among my favourites are Bernard Cornwell and Robert Low. If even a touch of their style and class has rubbed off on me I will be more than delighted.
Winston: You’re a member of the HarperCollins writing community Authonomy.com. What was your experience like there?
Paul: I had a very positive experience on Authonomy. When I first joined and uploaded my novel, Taxi, I was very green, and new very little about the publishing world. Not just writing technique, but more mundane things like correct formatting, how to approach agents and publishers, or not to as the case may be. I made a lot of friends through the site, learned a hell of a lot from them, and realized there are thousands upon thousands of people just like me all over the world. I also learned that everybody has an opinion, and that while it is great to get advice, and share knowledge, knowing which to take and who to trust is key.
On a more practical level, to the best of my knowledge I am still the only person to have made the ‘editors desk’ with two books in the same month. In fact while on my way to the desk I was approached by three publishers asking me to submit Tribesman, one of them eventually offered me a contract. No offers for Taxi, although it received a very positive review from Harper Collins.
Winston: Tell us a little about Tribesman, how it came to be, and what kinds of readers would enjoy it.
Paul: Tribesman is an, old school, epic fantasy, with a grittier edge. I love adventure stories, and Tribesman is an adventure. A warrior banished from his homeland because of a dark deed, sets out upon a mission to rescue a merchant’s daughter. Along the way he meets a girl from a race of desert nomads, together they battle demons, men, and the warrior’s own dark god, bent on controlling him.
I like my heroes to be flawed, to forever balance on the edge between dark and light, and that is what Culainn is, a complex hero with a code of honour that may not always match the values of others. In real life bad things happen to good people, and good people do bad things, so it is in what I write.
I think anyone who enjoys a good story and seeks escapism, From Lord of the Rings fans, and Robert E Howard, through David Gemmell, to fans of Brent Weeks and George RR Martin will like Tribesman.
Winston: Describe your favorite scene from the book and tell us why it sticks out to you.
Paul: In Tribesman, the war god of the north, Culainn’s homeland, is called Morrigu. I based her loosely on a figure from Celtic mythology, The Morrigan. She can take any shape but prefers that of an old crone, or a dark raven. In one particular scene, Culainn is helping defend a town from an attack by an army of desert nomads. The besiegers break into the town and kill everyone but Culainn. He is in the town square surrounded by his enemies, when a raven swoops down and lands on a body at his feet. I have a really strong visual of that scene, I’d love to see it played out in film.
~ ~ ~ ~
Out of nowhere a raven swooped down and stood proud on top of a corpse at the warrior’s feet. It pecked at a gaping wound in the chest extracting a long crimson string. With the morsel hanging from its beak it flapped its wings and flew up to perch on the snarling warrior’s shoulder. He could see fear mixed with awe cross the faces of the nomads. The white sea parted then, leaving a gap for a dark shadow-like figure to float through. The mage. Culainn spat and waited.
“They fear you and what protects you,” the bald mage rasped, his emotions hidden. He brought a long tube up to his lips and blew into it. Culainn felt a sting on his cheek, like an insect bite. And then he was falling.
He tumbled through the darkness. An image materialized of a warrior armored in a chainmail shirt, his face a mask of horror covered in blood, his hair matted to his head in gore, his arms soaked red from his enemies. A sword in each hand, on his shoulder perched a raven, croaking a triumphant song of defiance. He knew the warrior, recognised the face that would strike terror into the hearts of all men. His name was death.
~ ~ ~ ~
Winston: You went with Cogwheel Press to publish Tribesman. How has your experience been with this small press publisher?
Paul: Pretty good. I went in with my eyes open. I understood a small publisher would never be in a position to give the same sort of marketing and distribution support as a major publisher. Obviously the ultimate goal would be to see the book on bookshelves around the world, but it’s a start and I realize most of the marketing will be down to me. However it’s a great boost to have a publisher albeit a small one prepared to put their money behind you, to have faith in you and your work. The contract I have is also a lot more generous than I would ever get from a major publisher, of course that is all relative, but yeah I’m happy with them. The small group of authors and editors we have are like a family, all supporting one another. Hopefully we can all grow together.
Winston: The publishing world has changed a lot in the past couple of years with advancements in self-publishing, so much that for the first time ever independent authors are attaining success. What’s your opinion on self-publishing? Yay or nay?
Paul: Yay for sure. I think it’s great that so much control is now in the hands of authors, they no longer need to stuff their jiffy envelope with reams of paper and wait six months or longer on a yes or no from an agent or publisher. It’s also great for readers. Now the market can decide what it likes, not a bunch of faceless executives following or inventing trends. On the downside, it means there are a lot of vanity projects that maybe would not have otherwise being published, but I think in time it will balance out and the quality will show. I’ve read some fantastic books by self-published authors, including Circle in the Woods, I might add. Eric Laing springs immediately to mind and several others. There’s a lot of rubbish out there too, but there’s a lot of rubbish put out by publishers also. I think the cream will rise to the top.
Winston: Where should our readers go if they want to learn more about you and stay updated on your new releases?
Paul: You can follow my blog for updates and occasional short stories I post, find me on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter, or be really nice and buy me on Amazon. At the moment Tribesman is only available for Kindle, but should be out in paperback by the end of November.
Winston: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us here at The Object. We’ll leave you with one final question related to our particular area of focus: do you believe in aliens?
Paul: Yeah sure. Maybe not as in little green men in spaceships, but I’m sure somewhere out there, there is a planet with life, maybe they are more advanced, or maybe on a par, or even behind us. But I’m sure there is life out there somewhere. It would feel kind of lonely otherwise.