1) Please tell us about your book.
Bound by Fire is the first of a planned trilogy where a blacksmith's apprentice becomes entangled in a rivalry that's spanned over the course of several hundred years. The gods once reigned over the world, however to stay in touch with the humans that resided on it they elected a pure human from amongst them in order to be their liaison. This human would be responsible for passing the wishes of humans onto the gods and then the gods, in turn, would grant wishes as they saw fit. In turn, this man was the only human who was given the knowledge of the gods - he knew where each physically resided in the earthly realm and how to get to them. When this man's own family were subject to a plague that was sweeping across the world he pleaded with the gods to grant him his wish; but, they denied him and his wife and child eventually died. This began a chain reaction that would eventually lead to the death of the gods physical bodies and the beginning of a calamity that would soon change the world forever.
The story begins several hundred years after these events, and peace has somewhat returned. The story focuses on seven characters, each of them connected in some way. The main character, Ilian, is thrust into the remnants of this conflict and soon his life is changed forever as his father is killed before his eyes by a red-haired female assassin.
2) What inspired you to write this book?
This book was inspired by my love of fantasy, and my dislike for the peppy, ever-so-happy fantasy that keeps springing up. I wanted a gritty story, rife with deceit, treachery, and betrayal. Something where the main character isn't a knight in shining armor, a hero, nor is he some country bumpkin that will rise up and save the world. There's none of that in my story. The focus of the story is on selfishness, greed, and how the darkness of the human heart. I show that in book 1, but book 2 will really demonstrate how the events that have taken place, and will take place, can warp someone's heart.
3) Epic fantasy is tricky. On one hand, fans expect certain tropes in their epic fantasy, but, at the same time, people want something new and fresh. What distinguishes your work from other epic fantasies out there?
They say that anything you can think of has already been written. I don't exactly agree with that, because my characters and my world are my own. I'm bringing to the table a very character-focused fantasy novel that will delve into the darkness of their hearts, as well as a tale that doesn't necessarily focus on saving the world, or rising up to become a hero. In fact, there's a lot of anti-hero elements in this story which I think will be a nice change for many fantasy readers. It's gritty and I don't pull any punches. There's no healing magic to heal a gaping wound in your chest, and "arriving just in the nick of time" will never take place. I really wanted to break the chains of the norm and try to branch out into something new. Now, this doesn't mean the entire story is dark - as there's definitely humor in it, as well as some light-hearted moments, but this is an overall very "realistic" story in a sense.
4) Can you tell us a little about the nature of magic in your book?
Magic in my world is mostly dead. The only form of it left resides in the form of elemental weapons, which is a nearly lost art. Using the blood of the one that will wield the blade, the blacksmith then combines steel, blood and an element of their choosing in order to forge a weapon that can harness that element. Each weapon varies, as well as the power of each weapon as it depends upon the skill of the blacksmith that is forging said weapon. There are some other powers, those that the gods wield, but these are not powers that humans can harness. There is, however, one last city where an ancient order remains that has some small use of magic left over. This does not come into play until book 2, however, and the use of their magic is for a different purpose and is not used for combat.
5) All authors were readers first. What first drew you into fantasy?
There were many, but it all began with Tolkien. I was so enamored by The Hobbit that I soon found myself devouring all the fantasy books that I could find. Anne McCaffrey, rest her soul, was also a huge influence on me as well. I adored works by authors like James Clemens, Terry Brooks, and more recently David B. Coe, with some other popular authors like Robert Jordan and George R. R. Martin thrown into the mix. I couldn't list all the books that I've had the pleasure of reading over the years, but there are many fabulous fantasy authors who influenced me in a positive way to get where I am now.
6) Are there aspects and angles of this story that you felt were easier to accomplish because you were writing a YA book?
I really didn't even think about that until I finished the novel. My focus was writing the story the way I wanted to write it, not what age group or type of reader I wanted to aim for. I believe that, as an author, I shouldn't limit myself to saying, "I'm going to write for YA." That's just how it turned out, and I'm fine with that. I'll be sticking on the YA side for the rest of this series, but will most likely write an adult-oriented fantasy down the road.
7) This is the first in a series. Robert Jordan and George R.R. Martin, among others, have made some fantasy fans gun shy about series. Does Bound By Fire stand up by itself as enjoyable novel?
When it comes to fantasy novels I can certainly understand the disappointment that fans have had over the years. In fact, I was one of them myself. It's pure torture to have to wait 5 or more years just for the next novel in a series to come out. You end up spending more time waiting for a series than you do actually reading. My novel is written in a way as to where it flows into the next book at the end. I believe that it's definitely an enjoyable book on its own, but when writing a series it's simply inevitable that the reader will be left craving the next novel in the series. If that doesn't happen then I feel that I, as an author, have failed.
8) How many books are planned for the series?
There's 3 planned right now. I am committed to finishing this series, however, and am planning a 6 - 8 month release cycle. The next book in the series should be out by the middle of 2012, with the last one in 2013. While the story will end there, I do plan on expanding on my world rather than abandoning it as many authors seem to. I'll be adding a prequel, and likely cooking up a new story taking place after the original finishes. I have barely touched on the history of this world thus far and I feel that there's so much more to tell. I want to expand on it and really bring the world I've created to life for my readers.
Thank you for this opportunity to talk about my writing. I hope you've enjoyed the small glimpse into the world I've created, as well as what brought me here.
You can read more from Ronald at http://ronaldcraft.com/.
Bound By Fire is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.