This weeks Thursday Throng interview is with Martyn Stanley, the author of the Deathsworn Arc fantasy novels. Martyn Stanley has always always been fond of epic fantasy series, fantasy adventure novels and similar. The Deathsworn Arc is a different take on epic fantasy though, it’s written by an author with a keen interest in science, atheism and pragmatic morality. The science, the atheism and the moral questioning within the framework of ‘pragmatism’ bleed through into the world of Torea, and the epic fantasy adventure series ‘The Deathsworn Arc’.
A key element of any good fantasy novel is the ability to make the characters truly believable, even if they are outside of the normal human experience. Elves, dwarves and dragons seem commonplace inside the world of the story and the reader doesn’t question them. Martyn has created a great set of characters and personalities that are wholly true to themselves and the story.
This is a typical fantasy novel; bunch of local tough guys are given a task to fulfill by a ruler and go off to rid the land of an enemy (in this case a dragon). As such you sort of know what to expect and when; this could detract from the story, but it doesn’t. Martyn blends characterisation with location and the bigger, broader questions of life in a blend that keeps the reader interested from the beginning. He also delivers some wonderfully unexpected ‘punches’ at just the right intervals to make them read to the end.
The Martyn Stanley Interview
What is one thing that no-one would usually know about you?
I’m a fairly open person, I don’t think there are any particularly noteworthy things that people don’t generally know about me. One thing I suppose that is only known and noticed by those very close to me is that I have a very strange birth defect, which effects both little fingers. I have generally long fingers, but my little fingers are both tiny, barely reaching past the middle knuckle of the next finger and the bone at the tip on both of them is underdeveloped, so the nail bed and nail hook over, making them look a bit like little claws. They look pretty horrible to people who’ve never seen them before but I’m so used to them it doesn’t bother me from an aesthetic point of view, though they do hinder my guitar and piano playing, as on the guitar they are impossible to press with, rending me essentially a three fingered guitarist and meaning certain chords I simply cannot play and on the piano it means I can stretch further with my ring finger and it makes playing certain chords challenging. Thankfully I’m so bad at playing musical instruments anyway; this hindrance does not have a terrible impact upon my life.
Are the names of your characters important to you?
Yes, I believe names are very, very important. I believe they impact upon how people perceive people and can shape people s personalities and destinies. It’s been proven for example that statistically people are more likely to marry a partner with the same first name initial as they have. People with the name Lawrence are statistically more likely to be lawyers, when you tell someone a name it conjures an image in their head of that person.
How did you choose a title for your book?
The title for the series ‘Deathsworn Arc’ is a reference to something which will happen in book four, when three of the characters will become ‘Deathsworn’. I can’t reveal too much about this at the moment, but it’s something which confers advantages and disadvantages to the characters involved. The title ‘The Last Dragon Slayer’ is a reference to one of the characters; though in reality he probably isn’t the main character. I set out to write it with an idea in my mind of what kind of story it was, but as I got into the characters and got a better feel for who they were, the story deviated from what I’d originally intended – I like the story better for it though. It’s far more interesting and different, because I allowed myself to stray from the well-trodden path of traditional fantasy novels.
Have you ever wished that you could be or do anything else instead of writing, and if so what?
I don’t really consider myself a writer yet. I’d love to get paid enough for writing that it was my main source of income, but that’s something I think a lot of people aspire to. The other job I would really have loved is a professional video games designer. I love designing rules and systems and telling stories; and video games are another great way of telling stories. Playing video games is something I always enjoyed, but to play a game you are constrained by the choices the video games creator gives you. When you write you have a lot more freedom, you have total freedom – except of course if you write rules into your world you need to either stick to them, or write a good reason for them to be broken.
What is the single biggest challenge you faced when writing your book?
Finding time. I never really had long bouts of writers block, when I did down to write it flows very easily. Getting enough time to sit down and write was by far the hardest part. A close second would be proof-reading and correcting the work. It’s amazing how big a blind spot you develop for your own mistakes. To get a piece of work perfect without using third party proof-readers is very, very difficult.
What was the most important thing you learned at school?
I didn’t thrive at school. I don’t think school was an environment which was conducive to me achieving my full potential. I suppose many people feel like this though. I was born in the summer so was one of the youngest in the year, I found school difficult, at both an academic level and a level of social interaction and relationship building. I never really felt like I fitted in at school. I wish I could go back and do it again, and do it better – which is partly why I started studying for a degree part time. I used to think the brain had a certain capacity for learning and that you should only learn important, useful things – now I’ve come to believe the brain is a muscle with unlimited capacity for improvement.
Where can you find out more about Martyn and get a copy of The Last Dragon Slayer
You can also meet Alan online on Goodreads at goodreads.com/author/show/6545672.Martyn_Stanley
Why ‘The Thursday Throng’?
These posts are called The Thursday Throng in honour of the throng that waits eagerly outside the book store when a new author is doing a book signing event or appearance. On this website it takes the form of a ‘Meet the Author‘ online event with some information about our author’s latest book and an interview. If you would like to take part in the Thursday Throng then why not visit Thursday Throng Author Interview Guidelines to find out more.
If you would like to see all the Authors who have been featured on The Thursday Throng you can click here: womanontheedgeofreality.com/2012/06/17/the-thursday-throng/