Tag Archives: epic fantasy

A Conflict of Brothers – Six Sentence Sunday

A Conflict of Brothers
The last excerpt I’ll be sharing from ‘Better Left Unspoken’. I finished revisions on the second draft this week, but it’s still very rough and in need of a serious edit. I’ll be letting it sit a few days while I finish ‘Air Ship, Ghost Ship’.
By the time they fought through, the invaders all dead, fled or captured, Vrims was gone.
King Lynan seized Berkh’s shoulder. ‘You have to find him!’
Berkh slapped his hand away. Lynan looked old beyond his years, aged by the events of a single morning. Berkh’s anger flickered and died as he stared into his brother’s grey face, his tired blue eyes.
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Interview with Shawn Wickersheim: Author of The Penitent Assassin

Shawn Wickersheim
Today we are welcoming Shawn Wickersheim to Flight of the Dragon, one of my very favourite Tweeps! Shawn lives in historic Woodstock, Illinois with his wife and children. You’ll have to excuse me if I gush a little (and I’m not usually prone to gushing) because Shawn’s book, The Penitent Assassin, is the best book I have read all year. Seriously.  

Thanks so much for joining us Shawn (long emphasis on the so – gushing, remember?). What genre do you consider your books? 

Fantasy. 

No, really?

Should I narrow that down a bit? I’ve been told The Penitent Assassin is ‘dark’ fantasy. Others have called it ‘high’, while still others have suggested ‘low’. Some have claimed it to be an ‘epic’. Eventually, it will become a part of a series, though it is a stand-alone book. Let me explain. I intend on writing a variety of fantasy novels all set in the same world and all connected to each other one way or another. Some will be “Mallor” books (Mallor is the main character in The Penitent Assassin), others will not, however when I’m finished there will be a completed story arc encompassing all of the books. I’m working on a series title right now and will likely reveal it when my next books are released.
Oh, I stumbled across the term ‘scoundrel’ fantasy last year after reading Joe Abercrombie’s The First Law trilogy. I like that term, but honestly, beyond ‘fantasy’, I don’t mind what people want to label my books, as long as they are reading them (and hopefully enjoying them!).

Oh, I’d just call it ‘high’ – or even ‘epic’ . I believe epic refers to the scale of the conflict and not, as is the common misconception, the number of books… oh wait, we’re here to talk about you, not my genre definitions. It looks like you have more than enough opinions already! (Psst! As for scoundrel lit, the Bloody-Nine wasn’t all that bad… No, really!).

Have you ever hated something you wrote? 

All the time. I am incredibly hard on myself when it comes to my writing. I often have to remind myself that it’s okay for first drafts to be crappy. In the past, I used to suffer from writer’s block after reading my horrible first drafts. I saw no way to make those early drafts better. But I pressed on. Now, I embrace the editing process. I love editing. I realize those crappy first drafts are just the means for me to get the basic story ideas out of my head so I have something to work on. I know, some people are probably reading this and thinking, “DUH!”, but I had to work past the idea of having to get it right the first time and just focus on getting it out. I truly love writing, but the real magic comes from the editing.

I’m not sure if we have the same problem or not. Possibly, but I think I take mine in a different direction – compulsive editing! 

What are your current projects? 

In The Rush of Betrayal, life should be good for foreign ambassador, Lord Ian Weatherall. He’s rich, he’s married to the local princess and their young son is heir to the throne. But all is not as it should be. Friends have mysteriously died, others have been financially ruined and his marriage is falling apart. There are rumors that many in the city are unhappy with the racial mix of their future king and some are calling for his removal. Suddenly, Lord Ian’s business ventures sour too. Is this all the work of one man bent on seeing him and his son destroyed, or is it a conspiracy by many to incite war against his native land? Will Lord Ian be able to uncover the truth in time, or will he fall victim to the worst kind of betrayal? Discover the answers when I release The Rush of Betrayal: Book One in June 2012 and Book Two later this year.
If you’ve read The Penitent Assassin, you’ll likely guess all is not as it seems and these books will also have quite a few twists and turns and surprises in them. (And if you haven’t read The Penitent Assassin yet, you still have a little time before the new books come out!) After these two books are released, I plan to begin work on a direct sequel to The Penitent Assassin. 

If you haven’t read The Penitent Assassin, you should go forth and read it immediately! Beg, borrow, or steal a copy (or even buy it, Shawn might prefer that), just read it! Say, where did this sword come from? Ahem *hides sword behind back*. 

You’re a tease, Shawn, waving the hint of two new books under my nose, like freshly-baked muffins recently gone from a room…. And I still find it ironic (or maybe it’s just convergent evolution) that my first book has betrayal in the title, and your second does, while your first has penitent and my second does! But Shawn’s are published and mine are not, so anyone reading this shouldn’t waste anytime looking for mine. Just go read The Penitent Assassin.  

What books are you reading now? 

I just finished Scott Lynch’s “The Lies of Locke Lamora”. I’ve been aware of this book for a while and it sat in my mental ‘to read’ pile for a good year and then in the span of a week, I had three or four people insist I read it. I’m glad they did. I truly enjoyed the world and characters Scott Lynch created and I just ordered the sequel from the bookstore where I work. I’m currently reading a couple of books right now, “The Sour Lemon Score” by Richard Stark and “The Fall of Billy Hitchings” by Kirkus MacGowan.

That’s right, I added it to my ‘to read’ list because of the discussion we had with Kirkus. And it’s still there… because I’m here, doing this interview, instead of reading. 
What do you do when you’re not writing? 

Think about writing . . . 

Hmm, is that better or worse than using one’s free time to interview people who think about writing?  

I am a stay-at-home dad with two young children and they keep me busy during the day. I work part time at a local independent bookstore most evenings and I drive for a bakery at night. In between, I write. That’s not to say I don’t have fun too. In my free time, I enjoy biking, reading, watching movies, fixing up my house and hanging out with my family. 

Oh gosh, is this how exhausted people feel when I tell them everything I do around writing? Oh, no, wait, that’s just sleep deprivation, never mind. Is there anything of you in any of your protagonists? I’ve read the Penitent Assassin and I’m kind of hoping maybe no… 

Mallor, from The Penitent Assassin, is a determined, stubborn and often single-minded man who hates to lose and refuses to quit until he gets what he wants and according to my wife . . . well . . . let’s just say when I set a goal for myself I can ‘sometimes’ get a little determined . . . and stubborn . . . and single-minded.

Also like Mallor, I’m fiercely loyal to my friends, very protective of my children and deeply in love with one woman. Fortunately for me, I’m married to the love of my life and she accepts me for who I am . . . even if I am ‘sometimes’ just a little determined . . . and stubborn . . . and single-minded. 

Thankfully you chose some of Mallor’s less violent qualities. I’m not sure if our protagonists would get along like a house on fire or try to kill each other.

Okay, how about a few fun questions and answers?What is your favorite color? 

It’s changed over the years, but lately, my favorite color is green. I find green to be a very relaxing and yet mentally stimulating color and since I’m remodeling my tiny home office this summer, I figure it’s time to paint it a color I like. 

I’m afraid to ask what the colour is that you don’t like that’s currently on the walls of your office. I’m thinking about some of the colours they always seem to paint hospitals… 

What is your favorite drink? 

Mt. Dew. Or milk. Wait, was I supposed to name something alcoholic? Some sort of cool mixed drink? Beer? Sorry, I work too often to really enjoy anything alcoholic anymore. 

Nope, non-alcoholic drinks are acceptable. It just means you’re not going to raid my liquor cabinet, which means more for me! 

If you were a car, what kind would you be? 

Probably some sort of sports utility vehicle or maybe a pick-up truck. I used to drive a big green Dodge Ram pick-up truck years ago, but gas got too expensive and I traded it in for something smaller. 

I always say a Lotus Elise. Don’t ask. I like the pick-up truck notion. We call them ‘utes’ here. We even have ‘ute musters’. 

Finally, do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? 

Thank you!

Like any author, I need fans and while I already have some great supporters, I can always use more. A lot more! So if you enjoy my books, please tell all your friends. You can also connect with me on-line on Twitter. You’ll find me @STWick. Or you can send me a friend request over on Goodreads. I’d love for you to add my books to your ‘to read’ list (Okay, I’ll admit it – I’d much rather you actually read my books and then add them to your ‘read’ list).

But in all seriousness, I appreciate you reading my books and I promise, I’ll try my best to keep writing the best books I possibly can.

Happy Reading! 

Thanks for joining us, Shawn, it was a pleasure. You can find out more about Shawn and his books on his blog (which he occasionally updates!) The Ink-Competent Writer (God I love that name!). His books are for sale at many online ebook sources including: Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble.
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or subscribe to my newsletter.

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Six Sentence Sunday – Better Left Unspoken

Better Left Unspoken

Another excerpt from my short story ‘Better Left Unspoken’. The story wasn’t working and I couldn’t quite work out why, so I’ve done a GMC chart and now, of course, I have to do significant revisions. Serves me right. This should stay, though.
Dirt floor, rocky uncut stone wall. Blue sky, hammering sun. The strange clacking continued unabated out of sight. Rope cut tight into Berkh’s wrists and ankles as he tried to turn his head.
A scream bubbled up his throat. Eyes bulging, he clamped his teeth shut against it.
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In other news, I’ve sent ‘Love Enough’ to Tor.com for consideration. Hopefully I’ll have a response before I have a second baby. Their response time is 9 months, and I’m not pregnant yet, so it’s even-odds!


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Clandestine Love – Six Sentence Sunday

Clandestine Love

 An extract from a 5000 word short story I’m working on – my third for the month and still ahead of schedule. Here’s hoping it stays that way! Had feedback on the first two stories from my writer’s group yesterday, so time to revise, finalise and submit them.Hopefully I can get them published somewhere and you can have the pleasure of reading the whole story!
The queen seized his elbow hard, leaving bloody fingerprints on his white shirt. ‘Berkh.’
That one word contained unfathomable emotion and entreaty, both a plea and a command. Old guilt welled up.
‘Not here, not where my brother might see.’ Berkh wrenched his arm from her grip.
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Review of The Penitent Assassin by Shawn Wickersheim

Penitent Assassin
Shawn happens to be a Twitter friend of mine (@stwick) but don’t think that’s influenced my review. I wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t the truth, and those of you who know me well know just how true that particular statement is – some of you to your regret. I don’t regularly review books, but I think I have pretty high standards. The Penitent Assassin is better than the latest Terry Goodkind book (The Omen Machine) and it runs rings around Sara Douglass’s last series (Darkglass Mountain).

Technically classified as dark fantasy, in my opinion it still counts as high fantasy. It ticks all the boxes, including a confrontation between good and evil. Looks like high fantasy to me – multiple books optional! So if you’re a lover of fantasy of any kind, you should definitely check this out.

The Penitent Assassin is dark and gritty and will take you on a rollercoaster ride through a vivid yet fantastical world of crime, drug-addiction and evil powers. This is a book that will take you by the scruff of the neck and shake you, and you don’t get to walk away until it’s finished with you. Around every corner lurks a new surprise. 

If you’re interested, don’t read the blurb. It contains a spoiler. I hadn’t read it until I was halfway through the book, and two lines into the blurb, I stopped. I knew immediately I didn’t want to finish reading the blurb because I could see it was about to ruin the maelstrom of tension and conflict building. Suffice to say, Mallor wants a magical artefact, the Armillae, for multiple reasons, some of which become apparent over the course of the book. It seems like everyone else wants it, too. We don’t know who is for Mallor, and who is against, and the wondering will keep you turning the page. 

Be warned; nothing is as it seems! Really, nothing. I’m not joking. The whole book takes place over a very short period of time – I forget exactly, a few days I think, definitely no more than a week – and the pace of the book is commensurate with so much action being crammed into such a short period of time.

I am not much of an indie author fan. Not because I think indie authors can’t be good, but because self-publishing provides an avenue for people who think writing is nothing more than putting pen to page, who know nothing about the craft of writing, to publish absolute crap. And those people clog the market and make it hard to find the proverbial needle in a haystack, because the needles are very few and far between, and the haystack is unbelievably huge. In fact, last year there were around 3,000,000 books published and a great many of them were self-published.

The Penitent Assassin is one of those needles you want to find. It’s solidly written and shows a dedication to the writing craft on the part of the author. If you take pleasure in not just an exciting and interesting storyline, but also a well-crafted book, this is a novel for you.

I give The Penitent Assassin nine out of ten. Just so you know, I don’t use a five star scale because I just don’t believe there is enough scope in it to do justice to every book. It costs $2.99 (a bargain by any measure) and you can find it here


I’m entered in the Best Australian Blogs 2012 Competition for both Flight of the Dragon and Somebody Has To Say It. If you like this blog, or Somebody Has To Say It, I’d be eternally grateful if you’d be so good as to stop by and vote for me here.

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Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting with us!