Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Author Interview - Cameron Johnston (The Traitor God)

Well, it's been a log time since my last interview on this blog (more than 2 years as a matter of fact). I guess it's time I do a few of this.

So I'll start with interviewing 'Cameron Johnston', the author of 'The Traitor God'  which is his debut being published today from 'Angry Robot'.

Without further ado -

1) Would you please start by telling us a bit more about yourself?

Hi, I'm Cameron Johnston, author of The Traitor God. I live in Scotland, with my wife and an extremely fluffy cat. I'm an enthusiast of archaeology, history and mythology and love exploring ancient sites and camping out under the stars by a roaring fire. I am also one of those people who have more books than shelves - clearly the answer is to acquire yet more shelves.

2) So, 'The Traitor God' is your debut novel. How does it feel to see your words in print for the first time?

It's a surreal and wonderful thing to hold your own book in your hands and know it will be in bookshops and libraries all over the world. The library-going kid me from many years ago would be incredibly happy with me right now.

3) Among a sea of epic fantasy novels out there, what would you say makes 'The Traitor God' different?

It's part blood-soaked murder mystery and part grimdark urban fantasy Lovecraftian apocalypse. Big magic, bigger monsters, and the unfortunate magician landed right in the middle of it. It's something that little bit different.

4) Care to divulge a bit more info about your protagonist 'Edrin Walker' beyond the info we got from the book blurb? What do you think will make the readers root for him?

Most of the magi who rule the city hail from the nobles houses and come from old money and power. When Walker's Gift for magic was discovered he was living as a gutter-rat running the streets of the slums, and he has never forgotten his lowly origins. Nor have the other magi. What true friends he ever made he is utterly loyal to, and he would do anything to protect them, or avenge them...

5) Can you tell us a bit about some of your influences regarding this novel?

I would say there are three main streams of influence melded into The Traitor God: old pulp swords and sorcery fantasies like Conan, Elric and Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Hellblazer's John Constantine and film noir, and the cosmic horror of writers like HP Lovecraft and Arthur Machen.

6) From your author bio on Goodreads, we get that you are a student of Historical European Martial Arts, can you tell us a bit about this vocation of yours?

Mostly, I get to play with swords. A large part of it involves going back to the surviving period manuscripts and using those to practice and learn the old swordplay and techniques and why they worked so well. I have done german longsword, Scottish broadsword and a also little quarterstaff work.

7) Read any good books lately?

I've had a really good run with reading great books recently. Some of my highlights have been Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames, The Bitter Twins by Jen Williams, Blackwing by Ed McDonald, Age of Assassins by RJ Barker and Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky.

8) As a new writer, publishing from a major publisher, would you please say something to the aspiring writers out there?

This will be a long one!

Firstly, a while back I was exactly where many aspiring writers are right now, writing away and sending stories out and not getting anywhere fast. It’s not enough to just keep on writing the same old thing in the same old way. I kept on writing new things and tried different points of view and techniques to improve my skills, got feedback from other writers and readers and used that to improve still further as I got a few short stories published in small magazines. Don't get disheartened if you are just starting out or deep in the slog of submissions - like any other art it takes time to learn and online writing forums like https://absolutewrite.com/forums/ are a great resource.

Secondly, if you want your novel trade/traditionally published then it is not always enough to have a good book, you need to have something different or a fresh take to make it stand out. If twenty people are offering chocolate cake for sale on a table and you rock up with yet another chocolate cake, customers are not exactly going to be enthused even if it is a perfectly good cake. It's exactly the same if you are writing another Lord of The Rings or A Song of Ice and Fire. Having an editor really like your book is not enough, you also need to interest the marketing team who quite possibly won't have read it all. If they can't figure out how to sell and advertise your book then they won't pick it up. Think up an easy sales pitch to go with your novel if you can, something like The Dinosaur Lords by Victor Milán is a great example of a golden pitch that makes editors sit up and the marketing team's eyes gleam: Jurassic Park meets Game of Thrones. Knights riding dinosaurs! Now that's a chocolate cake with added sparkly sprinkles.

9) Please do tell us about your future projects? May I expect more books featuring 'Edrin Walker'?

Funnily enough, right about now Angry Robot have given me the go-ahead to say that there will indeed be a book two! It will end Edrin Walker's duology with some world-shattering revelations, dastardly tricks, and epic magical confrontations.

About 'The Traitor God' -

A city threatened by unimaginable horrors must trust their most hated outcast, or lose everything, in this crushing epic fantasy debut.
After ten years on the run, dodging daemons and debt, reviled magician Edrin Walker returns home to avenge the brutal murder of his friend. Lynas had uncovered a terrible secret, something that threatened to devour the entire city. He tried to warn the Arcanum, the sorcerers who rule the city. He failed. Lynas was skinned alive and Walker felt every cut. Now nothing will stop him from finding the murderer. Magi, mortals, daemons, and even the gods - Walker will burn them all if he has to. After all, it wouldn't be the first time he's killed a god...

The books is being published on June 5, 2018 from Angry Robot.

About Cameron Johnston -

Cameron Johnston is a Scottish writer of speculative fiction (usually a mix of fantasy and horror) and a member of the Glasgow Science Fiction Writers' Circle since 2010.

He is also a swordsman, gamer, enthusiast of archaeology and history, a fine ale drinker, builder of LEGO, a cat-slave, and owns far too many books to fit on his shelves. 

Links - Website, Twitter, Goodreads

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