Interview: Nick Brown
Bookdragon’s Nest recently caught up with Nick Brown (author of the Agent of Rome Series) to ask him about his recent venture into fantasy, Marik’s Way.
1) Firstly, what are you currently reading Nick?
Answer: As usual, I’m reading one fiction book and one non-fiction. The fiction is the first in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series – I’m only a few pages in but it’s very atmospheric and compelling so far. The non-fiction is the autobiography of Andre Agassi – it’s written in the present tense and also very engaging.
2) Did you take any particular inspiration from any fantasy books or authors whilst writing Marik’s Way?
Answer: Not consciously. However, in recent years, one of my friends has introduced me to authors like Joe Abercrombie and Patrick Rothfuss, which has reignited my interest in fantasy. The basic concept of Marik, however, was to do a fantasy version of Jack Reacher – the lone warrior who ends up helping people during his travels. Like Agent of Rome, this concept opens up endless possibilities.
3) Marik is very heroic and the world he exists in is hard and cut-throat, that much so his life seems to take unexpected (yet realistic) turns as he tries to solve other people’s problems. How fair do you think it would be to label the book grimdark?
Answer: There are definitely elements in there: some gritty scenes, dark humour and lots of violence. Having said that, the story probably shares a similar tone to my Roman books which is basically just how I write: I love adventure stories and always try to keep my narratives swift and engaging. It’s important to me to include some humour and also create characters that readers want to follow. I pretty much write something that I myself would like to read.
4) Historical fiction requires so much research to ensure the writing is factually correct and that all the tiny little details are on point. Was fantasy easier to write by comparison?
Answer: In general terms, yes, although this new world also has to form a coherent whole. That requires a lot of thought but the exciting part is that you can take influences from everywhere: history, other fantastical tales … and the imagination, of course. Now I can be sure I won’t get emails pointing out my historical errors!
5) Did the fantasy setting give you more freedom compared to the limitations of writing about a fixed period in history?
Answer: Absolutely. As well as this first tale, I was able to drop in certain ideas and locations that I can use if there are future books. Having said that, I actually did enjoy working within the real ‘parameters’ of history with my Roman novels. Blending fact and fiction can be a lot of fun.
6) Is there any advice you could give to authors thinking about taking the self-publishing route?
Answer: Honestly, I think it’s still preferable to go the traditional route but that can be very hard to access. Having done both, I miss some of the support of a publishing house but it’s also nice to be in total control and be able to get something out there on my terms. Advice: I would say do your research and think carefully about what’s right for you. If publishers don’t seem interested, self-publishing is a great backstop.
7) Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you when you start writing?
Answer: With Marik, I very much wanted to write freely and I did virtually no preparation. However, I then had to do quite a lot of editing to ensure the story flowed well and that all the various settings, peoples, concepts etc made sense. I wouldn’t have tried this as a new novelist but I’m relatively experienced now so felt confident with this approach. Although I didn’t write a great deal down, I did quite a bit ‘in my head’; I knew what I was going for.
8) Without wanting to give anything away, I though the cellar fight scene was one of the most intense points of the book. What was your hardest scene to write?
Answer: Good question. I enjoy writing action and combat scenes, especially refining the language so that the sequence flows well and has a real impact. Describing landscapes and people is something that doesn’t necessarily come naturally to me so I have to work quite hard on certain passages.
9) Stay out of trouble, that’s Marik’s mantra. Can we expect to see him in more trouble in the future?
Answer: I would say so! As I’m sure you’ve gathered, that’s pretty much the concept of the story. Because of his past failures, Marik doesn’t want to go home or get involved in difficult situations. But at heart, he’s a good guy, and he often gets roped into helping those in need.
10) Lastly, how can new readers discover more about you and your work?
Answer: I am a regular user of Twitter (@randomrome) and also have a Facebook page (Nick Brown-Agent of Rome). I post all kinds of book-related stuff and always enjoy contact with readers, new and old.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions Nick, and good luck with the new book!
Marik’s Way is available from amazon and can be purchased here.