A writer or a storyteller? A poet? An artist who has chosen to paint with words, Robert Cano began a journey some years ago which has finally culminated in finding himself in a position to see the journey gain momentum. Having spent many years studying the art of the written word, he now seeks to share his worlds and mind.
A magus with a staff in the shape of a pen and a sword of paper, he weaves his magical worlds. The world of Arduil awaits you.
Robert, thank you for agreeing to this interview. You have two publications under your belt with more on the way. Writing grimdark or dark fantasy allows you to delve deep into the shadows of the human psyche. What draws you to want to explore the bleaker side of human existence?
Truly, I think what first brought me down the path was trying to piece together my own past, which in its own bleak darkness had left me with many questions and no answers. In writing, I found catharsis as I explored these darker sides of humanity, and I also found the stories that could help tell others about those same things. I’ve always seen the search for answers as the reason behind logic and understanding, and for me, understanding of self had to come first.
In 2018, you released your first story, The Suffering. Could you give us some insights into this tale and what message you were hoping to deliver to readers?
The Suffering (TS) is a story about a princess. Before the story takes place, and for many centuries prior, a war had been going on (still ongoing as of the upcoming The Shadow Cult) between the Fae race and the Satyr race. While they don’t figure in the princess’s tale, they provide a backdrop for what the world is like.
As we delve further into TS, what we see is a princess struggling to survive in a rather inhospitable area of the world, already wounded. There are villains, but who the true villains are is a tough thing to answer, for Devani’s true endgame, as far as she can see it, is to survive and make it home in one piece. The gods, however, have different plans for her.
How is your second publication, The Dark Archer, related to The Suffering? Give us a breakdown of the storyline and the main character’s journey in The Dark Archer.
The Dark Archer (TDA) begins, literally, in the following moments after we finish the epilogue of The Suffering. I consider TDA to be a spinoff of TS, although directly connected. The reason I initially wanted to tell the story of the princess in TS, however, was to provide a backstory for a character who would be playing a very heavy role in future stories.
With The Dark Archer, we get to explore more of the world with Bene, who was the former captain of Princess Devani. He was the reason she lived to see her struggle. I suppose in some ways, his hope of saving her caused her suffering. This is important in understanding the enmity between the two of them in TDA and beyond. Without spoiling anything, the basic story of TDA is Bene seeking a way to find his death. He wishes to die, but cannot. He can only suffer, regardless of his choices. Should he feed on life, he suffers, feeling everything – the horror and pain and anguish of losing one’s life and soul – or should he not feed, his hunger and thirst cause him to feel absolute agony and torment. I think in such a predicament any of us would want to find death as well. But what if you were immortal and ending your life was not that simple?
This is what I explore in TDA. In a real sense, I explore depression – in mental state, physical anguish, etc., despite being good at his core…and at the center of it all, he is a wraith. You find out how in the book. Hint: it’s not pretty.
Perception and reality are two different things. Through storytelling, we often see select viewpoints of the character, which may not always be the truth of the events taking place around them. How do play with the concept of perception to immerse your readers?
I try to look at the world through the perception of my characters. In many ways I think I inserted myself into Bene, and although I didn’t mean to, for those who know of my past, it is easy to see. But the world is as cruel as it is beautiful, and for all the horror I may inflict on my characters, I take the time to appreciate the little things, the beauty they see and how they see it, the world as they make it. I write from the standpoint that life is messy and ugly and vicious at times, but always there is hope.
I think my characters, they search for this hope, sometimes not knowing or understanding what it is they are truly seeking. In the end, all of us begin to lose that which we value most. Doesn’t matter what ‘that’ is, we eventually lose. So then, what happens when we have all the power but are yet powerless? And then what happens when what hope we held onto has been completely stripped from us? Were one to look closely, one would find all these questions throughout TDA, and in the smaller part, TS.
I think it is safe to say that many readers will find Bene in The Dark Archer to be a unique, complex character. How much forethought did you put into his creation, so he might be relatable to readers on multiple levels? Can you describe the process of what you did to bring him to life?
It all started with a short story I wrote for an anthology. It was called Reyvyn’s Dance. In the story, a character named Reyvyn had to save the world from Venyri, an Elder who sought the end of all things. There was another character there, who trained Reyvyn in her magic, a character named Shayanna. Those who have read The Suffering will certainly recognize the name. And so this began the trail toward discovering who Shayanna was and how she came to be.
When I had some trusted friends read the very first beta of TS, they pointed out that I could make it into a full novel, easily. I gave this some serious thought but eventually came to the conclusion that I wanted a story told only from her perspective, with all of the missing parts there to add a certain levity. However, my readers also wanted to know more about the captain… and Bene’s story was birthed.
What can we expect from you in 2019? Anything else you would like to add?
The story continues from The Dark Archer with The Shadow Cult, the second of three parts to the story that begins in TDA. TSC is more about relationships, trust, and the power of the old world long forgotten. The darkness of The Spine figures prominently in this, although we do get to see some old friends from The Suffering.
It has been a pleasure, Robert! Please tell us where fans can find you online or in the upcoming year at events.
Thanks for having me! You can find me at my blog www.shadowyembrace.com where I post randomness and poetry from time to time, along with personal thoughts or commentary or ideas.
For digitally signed copies and some swag, go to OWS Ink.
Don’t forget to check out the interview with John Hartness, too!