John is a graphic designer by day, and graphic designer by night (depending on the client), but most importantly, he’s a writer at heart. His dreams include writing for a living, experiencing virtual reality on a Matrix-esque level, and flying unaided (or possibly via really sweet jetpack).
John writes all genres but prefers Dark Fantasy over most anything else. This is due in part to the fact that he likes it the best, and because it’s awesome.
John prefers blue cheese over cheddar, cats over dogs, and will attempt to answer any question with sarcasm whether appropriate or not.
He completed his first novel The Glass Thief in 2017 and you should buy it. Or don’t. He’s not the boss of you.
John, thank you for agreeing to this interview. We have seen an uptick in dark fantasy or grimdark novels being written over the last several years. What factors do you think have led to widespread interest? What draws you to this genre of literature?
I think people enjoy the rawness of grimdark and dark fantasy. That’s what drew me toward the genre: the fact that heroes don’t always need to be a beacon of light in white armour. They can save the day from the shadows, or even fail to save the day if that’s where the story goes. A lot of things in life don’t go the way we plan and thus unhappy endings greet us at the end of those paths. Grimdark explores those areas, with an added touch of fantasy for entertainment. A lot of people are starting to recognize that entertainment value.
Your debut novel, The Glass Thief, is a unique fantasy world that reviewers have praised while demanding a sequel. Give us the rundown of your story and what you believe makes it different from other dark fantasy novels.
The Glass Thief revolves around the story of a young man Del Kanadis, who’s one of the best thieves around, but whose freedom has been stripped away by a power-hungry king. Del must do the king’s bidding for his freedom and so he’s willing to do whatever to whomever in order to achieve that.
I wouldn’t say The Glass Thief is too different from other dark fantasy novels, but it does focus on the rogue-like character who typically takes up the sidekick roles in other fantasy books.
In The Glass Thief, your main character, Del Kanadis, could be called a rogue or a rascal in comparison to the typical hero. Why did you choose him to be the central character? What were you hoping readers would discover through his eyes?
I chose a rogue over the typical knight in shining armour because I found they have so many layers to work with. So many flaws you can explore, and so many decisions along the way that balance with an ever-shifting moral scale. Del Kanadis is a selfish and severely flawed character when we first meet him, willing to do whatever it takes for his freedom. But there’s also the tiniest flicker of an altruistic flame deep down inside. The struggles of his childhood pushed that flame so far down that even Del himself doesn’t believe it exists anymore, and I really enjoyed taking the reader along on a journey where Del (with the help of some unlikely friends) discovers that flame is worth stoking, and that sometimes–most times–it’s worth doing something to benefit someone else over yourself.
Del still has some tragic flaws, but his story is told over three books, and each book brings him closer to the truest version of himself he can be.
The realm of fantasy has played with the concept of the elements (earth, fire, water, air) and magic since its birthing in a variety of different ways. Speculate for us a bit. Why do think people continue to be fascinated by something that science has explained away for generations?
Fantastical magic grounded with just a dash of reality makes for some really fun stories. I’ve always loved elemental magic, and even though science has myriad explanations for each of the four, there are core and primal feelings associated with each elemental that I like to develop in my magic systems. Water is soothing, calm and peaceful. Air is light, carefree, and soars where it wants. Earth is grounded, patient, stoic and strong, sometimes even a little stubborn, and fire burns with ambition, consuming what it can to grow in strength, or merely survive. Even in our own scientific reality, the elements have good and bad associated with them. Water can nourish or flood. Air allows us to breathe but can twist into a vortex of destruction, etc. So, I think with people understanding this, implementing them in fantasy makes it feel that much more real to the reader.
You have also written short stories included in the three Phoenix Quill anthologies Heroes, Monsters, and Scoundrels. What is The Phoenix Quill and how did it grow into the community it has become? Do you have a favorite short story from the three anthologies?
The Phoenix Quill is an online writing group on Facebook. I started it in December 2014 after being dissatisfied with several other writing groups I frequented. I wanted an exceptionally welcoming atmosphere without the competition, cliques, or negativity associated with some of the other larger groups. It now has over 800 members and I think that’s the reason for it. There’s enough judgement in writing as it is, and people don’t need more piled on while they’re trying to hone their craft.
What can we expect from you in 2019? Anything else you would like to add?
I’m really hoping to get The Glass Crown, the sequel to The Glass Thief out by the end of 2019.
It has been a pleasure, John! Please tell us where fans can find you online or in the upcoming year at events.
Thanks for taking the time to interview me!
I’ve renounced my online presence in 2019 for personal reasons, but readers are welcome to follow my Amazon page for updates and new releases as they come. I may return to Twitter and Facebook one day, but I don’t have any plans for that in the near future.