After finishing up Rob May’s fantasy book Dragon Killer, I had the chance to ask Rob a few questions about the book and himself. As someone who enjoyed the book (see my review here), I was anxious to learn about his inspirations for Kal. I hope you enjoy getting a bit of insight into this book and it’s author.
Q: Who do you think is the ideal reader for Dragon Killer? And why might this potential reader enjoy the book?
A: I didn’t actually write Dragon Killer to appeal to fantasy fans, or for readers looking for a female protagonist. At its heart, the book is a pacy, tense, thriller, with lots of twists and turns along the way. So if you like GRR Martin, but you want something faster, or you think Lee Child should write about dragons more often, then you’ll probably enjoy this!
Q: Kal is such a great female character – she’s funny, strong, vulnerable and mysterious, which isn’t really the typical combo that you see in fantasy books. Did you set out to purposely write her so different from others or were you simply inspired by someone in your real life?
A: Originally I wanted to write Kal the way Ian Fleming envisioned James Bond – an ordinary person who experiences extraordinary things. She’s pretty tough, but even so she sometimes only scrapes through some situations by sheer luck. Kal’s character grew in the telling of the tale – writing about her battling through a violent, random world made me realise she would have to be pretty guarded a lot of the time, and able to shrug off hardship with a sarcastic joke.
Q: Your dragon fire is another thing you don’t normally see in fantasy books. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen this exact concept – how did you come up with that?
A: Originally there wasn’t even going to be a dragon in Dragon Killer! The idea was to subvert fantasy stereotypes, and anyone who’s read the book will know that the title has several meanings, and I could have easily sidestepped the dragon’s appearence. In the end, though, I knew I had to deliver on the promise in the title … but my dragonfire had to have an non-magical explanation. I always loved Philip Pulman’s mulefa in The Amber Spyglass, who actually have evolved the use of wheels, so I tried to think of a way that dragons could have developed their fire over millions of years.
Q: Are the three books currently available in this series all that we’ll see of Kal, or is there more to come for her?
A: There’s a lot more to come! But the current trilogy has a complete story arc, so the next phase of Kal’s story will be completely new and different. I’m planning an epic series where Kal is just one character in a larger cast, The story will be told through several viewpoints. The scope will be bigger, the stakes will be higher … and not everyone will make it through to the end … (ed. note: now I’m really excited for this!)
Q: I know you’ve mentioned that the breakfast kitchen scene with Kal is your favorite – why is that?
A: It’s a brief glimpse into Kal’s everyday routine, and I tried to use it to develop her character a bit. She lives in a small apartment in a busy city, but as she says in book 3: “I like it here; the rent is cheap.” Kal is disciplined (she exercises every day) and has simple pleasures: strong coffee and fresh eggs every day. I like this scene because that’s also my own routine, and I know it keeps me grounded no matter what the day brings. (ed. note: okay, I get it now. If I’d know this before reading, I probably would’ve enjoyed the scene more.)
Q: Who is your favorite character in this book? Any other favorite scenes other than the breakfast one mentioned above?
A: Gron Darklaw is the villian, and at first he comes across as a violent brute. But towards the end of the book, I tried to tear down and rebuild his character in order to set up a more dramatic finale. I really had fun writing his tragic story, and sometimes wonder how the book would have ended if a certain tipping point had gone another way …
Q: I see that you have a sample of the book up on Wattpad – do you normally put a full work-in-progress up on the site before releasing it on Amazon? Or just a sample? If a full copy of the WIP, do you let reader comments shape the story or just kind of use it as a way to garner interest in the work?
A: I post on Wattpad as I write, and I interact with readers right up until the book is finished. Dragon Killer eventually scored over a million reads (I was halfway through book 3 when that happened), and without Wattpad I would never have had the motivation to write. But trying to come up with a new chapter every week, and trying to keep an audience interested, can really force the creative juices into action!
Q: Do you write books in any genres other than fantasy/sci-fi?
A: I have a sci fi trilogy that I’m finishing up now, and a modern thriller that I started writing for a change of pace. I want to do a romantic horror story with vampires, ghosts and ghoulies soon too. I read all genres, so I don’t want to restrict my writing either.
Q: What future projects can readers look forward to from you?
A: Lethal Planet, the final part of the Alien Disaster Trilogy, will be out in the summer. Then I’m going to continue Kal’s adventures in what is provisionally titled Knights of Arkadia.
Q: Who are some of your favorite fantasy authors?
A: I have a soft spot for Terry Pratchett and David Eddings – when I was a teenager I read and reread all their books until they fell apart.
Q: What are some of your all-time favorite fantasy books?
A: Although I haven’t read it for years, Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series was the only thing for me that ever came close to the grandeur and scope of The Lord of the Rings. I might revisit it one of these days!
Q: What’s the best way for readers to keep up with what you’re doing and learn about new releases?
A: I’m trying to post more often on Facebook, and not just plugs for my books! I share what I’m watching, reading and doing on there too. I’m desperate for friends, so please click here >> http://facebook.com/robertwilliammay
Q: Anything else you’d like to share or mention?
Big shout out to Rob for taking the time to answer all of my questions! I definitely suggest you pick up Dragon Killer – especially since it’s on sale right now! And don’t forget to leave your own review of it over at Goodreads.
And if you’re interested in seeing what he’s up to on Wattpad and maybe get a sneak peak at some new works, find his page here.