Today’s guest, Martin Bolton, is a rather special author. I’ve had the opportunity to work with him before during his time as a Musa Publishing author, and I even reviewed his first novel, The Best Weapon, part of a series he’s co-written with David Pilling. I adored the book, and I’m about to begin their second novel, The Path of Sorrow, recently self published by these amazing authors.
In the meantime, please give Martin Bolton a warm welcome and enjoy his words of wisdom.
1. You wrote a guest post for me back in February of 2012. Can you talk a bit about where your writing career was at that point in time?
If I remember rightly (and I’m not promising anything), Mr Pilling and I had released The Best Weapon with Musa Publishing and were releasing the sequel, at that time entitled Sorrow, as a series of shorts stories. We had begun working on the third and final book of that trilogy.
The third book will be called The Flowers of Spring. However, we got side tracked and began writing another standalone story, also set in The World Apparent, so work on The Flowers of Spring is only just getting under way again now. The novel we were side tracked with is now half finished, but we decided we should complete the trilogy before working on anything else, otherwise it gets confusing (not least for us!).
2. You’ve recently published the sequel to your debut novel,The Best Weapon.Can you tell us a bit about the sequel, The Path of Sorrow?
The Path of Sorrow was initially entitled Sorrow. It was first released as a series of short stories with Musa Publishing. We have restored it to its original state and released it as a full length fantasy novel. As I mentioned, it is the second in a trilogy. This trilogy is really a chain of events which will culminate in utter chaos in the third book.
The Path of Sorrow begins with the brutal massacre of a peaceful tribe. Only one is left a live, by mistake. He is a young boy named Sorrow, and he is greater than the sum of his parts. The boy is vulnerable, not least because rumours of his potential power spread, and soon the vultures begin to circle. But where Sorrow treads, hope follows. Here’s the synopsis:
After the cataclysmic events of The Best Weapon, an uneasy calm has descended over the world. The Winter Realm and the Old Kingdom are ruined by war, while the people of the southlands have retreated to their deserts and jungles, to lick their wounds and wait for better days.
Fulk the No Man’s Son is now the lord of Silverback, and commander of the surviving Templar knights. Considered a heretic by many of his followers, he struggles to contain his unearthly powers. His half-brother Naiyar has returned to the deep jungle of his youth, where he prefers to live alone, isolated from his tribe. Both men notice the stars shift in the sky, and become aware of the rising of a new god.
On a remote tundra in the heart of the great continent of Temeria, a peaceful nomadic tribe is attacked at night and wiped out by a mysterious enemy. There is only one survivor, a boy named Sorrow. Hunted by Templar Knights, bloodthirsty pirates and an army lead by an increasingly desperate slave-turned-sorcerer, Sorrow’s chances of survival are slim. He finds an unlikely saviour in the form of Bail, a ruthless assassin, and the pair realise they must stay together to stay alive…
The Path of Sorrow is Book Two of The World Apparent tales, and continues the story of the half-brothers Fulk and Naiyar.
3. What’s the most interesting thing you learned about writing while working on your second novel?
It was interesting writing the second book having taken on board a lot of lessons we learned whilst editing the first book. I felt a bit more confident with my writing style. Things like structuring sentences and not making a complete balls of the grammar and also point of view seemed to come a bit more naturally.
Part of the process of writing The Best Weapon, as it was the first book, was the world building. While there is always world building involved in writing fantasy because you’re always exploring new parts of your world, we had laid the foundations in The Best Weapon, so it was nice to get on with writing characters and action in a ready made environment. Hopefully that comes across in the book. It was a lot of fun to write.
The Best Weapon was the first book we wrote together, so we spent time planning or mapping out what we would each write and how it would fit together. With The Path of Sorrow, co-writing with David was now completely natural, so we didn’t have to think about that at all.
4. How do you balance writing, life and marketing?
It’s difficult, sometimes I’ll sit down to write and end up on social media, or writing a blog, or emailing someone like you to talk about interviews, features or reviews. Then I realize hours have gone by and I’ve done no writing at all.
As far as life goes, I could do with drinking less and writing more, but a Cornishman needs his beer. I live with my girlfriend and we have a pretty active circle of friends in a city where there’s always something going on, so I have to be disciplined and say ‘no’ to things.
I work full time at the Environment Agency, where I am never safe from Mr McMantooth, who tempts me via instant messenger with offerings of booze in the sun. He will always catch me at a weak moment on a Friday lunchtime and try and lure me to the pub. Why won’t he just let me live? And why can nobody else see him?
I play football two or three times a week too, and I feel even more sleepy after that! So my writing time is restricted to a few evenings a week and as many weekends as I can keep to myself.
5. What’s your favourite marketing method & why?
Lately, Pilling and I have been publicising our arguments. This is a lot of fun. All our writing was born from drunken ranting and spitting bile at one another until we’re hoarse from shrieking, so we thought we may as well share it on our blogs. So far we have argued about George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire and Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Chronicles, and called each other every evil, slanderous name under the sun at the same time.
This is a perfect means of promoting our work. If our books turn out to be unsuccessful, at least I’ve been able to publicly hurl abuse at Mr Pilling and take my best shot at besmirching his name permanently, so he’ll be damned to see out his hopeless existence where he belongs; right next to me, in misery and squalor. So, for me, it’s a win win situation.
6. Where would you like to see your writing career in 5 years?
In five years, I will have written two or three more fantasy novels with David Pilling, assuming we don’t get bored of it or run out of ideas, but I really can’t see that happening. Hopefully we’ll have sold a few as well.
I would also like to put together an anthology of short stories in various genres, but mostly in no genre at all. But I don’t have time for that yet.
Obviously, I would like to be a best selling fantasy writer with cultured eyebrows and a legion of screaming fans. I’d like to be drowning in a vast ocean of fan mail and money and newspaper clippings depicting my insufferably smug visage. But I would be very happy just to sell enough books to retire from my day job and while away my days writing and winding up my seven children and my enormous dog in my enormous garden in the country.
7. If this were the last interview you ever did, what would you want people to remember about it/about you?
I’ve tried my best and failed at many things in my life. I’ve tried to be a good human being, and I haven’t always succeeded. I’ve tried to be better, in every way, and still often found myself coming up short. But I’ll keep trying until I die, and when I do, remember I did it all without ever caring what anyone else thought of me. I did it without fear, without hesitation, and I never gave up. So remember me, or not, I’ll die knowing that if I never achieved anything in my life, it wasn’t for want of trying. Not only that, but I laughed my arse off along the way.
I leave you with the advice my mother gave me: don’t let the bastards grind you down.
Previously he concentrated on his artwork and writing small pieces of nonsense for the amusement of his friends, before deciding to do some serious creative writing. The first two volumes of The World Apparent Tales, written in collaboration with David Pilling, are now available on Amazon.
His work is inspired by authors such as Robert E Howard, Joe Abercrombie, Bernard Cornwell and H.P. Lovecraft.
You can purchase Martin Bolton’s novels on his Amazon author page.