Featured this time on the Roaring Mouse is a self-published book by US author Jeremy Laszlo. I discovered this book when I met Jeremy on Twitter. At the time Jeremy had published it on Smashwords, but now its available on Amazon kindle. Jeremy is going great guns on the series (Blood and Brotherhood Saga) - he has his third book out now!
As with many stories based around a journey (which is a frequent feature in the fantasy genre) we learn about the world of Thurr as we accompany the group. There is a great degree of detail in Jeremy's description of the world, most notably in his concepts of patron gods and magic. I really enjoyed the taster of magic we got in this first book and am certain it will play a larger part in the future books.
What stands out for me is the intimacy of characterisation in this book. The characters feel very genuine. Their relationships are detailed and realistic, especially those between the brothers and the evolving relationship between Seth and Sara. This latter dynamic took me back (a good few years) to my adolescence, with that awkward sense of developing emotion, the feeling of uncertainty, and a great sweetness to interaction. It makes for some great comical moments--there is a fantastic scene where they are shopping, and another where Sara has bought some lingerie. Simply great.
But where the books stands out is as a first part of a fantasy series. It hits all the right spots: good characters, a sense of anticipation, well structured world and logical magic. The action is well written and not excessive. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I asked Jeremy some questions about the book, his writing and himself.
Me: What have been the biggest challenges in self-publishing for you?
Jeremy: I think the biggest challenge for me were all of the unknowns that come with self-publishing. There is so much to do, and so many details to handle that I had never even thought of before publishing my first book. I had done tons of research, but even that did not really prepare me for what was to come after publishing The Choosing. I guess overall however, the biggest challenge has been marketing and self promotion. It has all really been trial and error for me, and I am constantly adjusting my approach and learning what works and what does not. Though I have garnered a modicum of success, I always feel there is more I should be doing and other avenues I should be taking to promote my work. Unfortunately however my time is limited being that like you and most other Indie Authors I work a full time job, have a family, and write as well as market my own books. So it is a constant struggle to balance all of my responsibilities, leaving marketing and promotion as the last on my list of things to do.
Jeremy: I think that much of my writing draws from my own personal experiences. I like the fact that you were able to put together that scene with an experience that you believed I have had in my own life. To me that makes me feel that I have written it correctly, in that it feels real enough to make you question that connection. I do relate to that scene personally, as I have experienced something quite similar. In my case I was 22 preparing to leave for war. I was leaving behind a wife and my eldest daughter who was only 6 months old at the time. I was unsure when or if I would see them again, and I worried for their safety and well being in my absence. It was an emotional time filled with uncertainty, and that is what I tried to bring across in the scene where Seth and Garret are leaving their home to attend the choosing ceremony.
Me: What especially attracts you to writing fantasy?
Jeremy: I think there are probably more reasons than I could even think of that draws me to the fantasy genre, however I can name at least a few. When I was younger I was assigned a book report and read The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks. It was the perfect introduction into fantasy and ever since reading that book I was hooked, but for me at least I think it goes deeper than that. Growing up my family was well below the poverty line, and life was at most times a struggle at best. To say I did not have a good childhood would be an understatement with moving constantly, a mom and step dad who struggled with alchoholism and depression, and a family budget that at times required eating the same thing nearly every meal for weeks at a time. Fantasy for me was an escape, and one that I could get for free from the library at school. I spent several years inside books as a way to escape my life until eventually I was on my own at 16. Today I realise that everyone, in every aspect of life needs an escape from time to time, and fantasy books have always worked well for me, it is by far my favorite genre.
Me: I see you have released the third book in the series, The Changing. How many books will the series run to? Will you remain with fantasy when it's concluded?
Jeremy: Yes I am very excited, Book 3 of The Blood and Brotherhood Saga, The Changing, was published April 23rd and thus far the feedback from my readers has been amazing. As for an overall lenght of the Saga, it would be a lie to give you a definite answer as the story is always evolving. However, since it's inception I have always imagined it to be a 12 book saga with 4 trilogies, although at this point I am beginning to think that 12 was an under-estimate.
I do have plans for a couple of different books bouncing around in my head that are outside the fantasy genre, however even if I stray from fantasy I think I shall always return to it.
Jeremy: Every good book I have ever read has inspired me to an extent, if not then I don't believe the book was worth reading. There are a few authors however that have inspired me more than others. Terry Brooks of course was my introduction to fantasy, and I have followed his work ever since that first page of The Sword of Shannara. I have always been a huge fan of Edgar Allen Poe as well. I love the dark surealism of his writing, and have read all of his published works several times. Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman are also among my favorite authors for their work with the Dragonlance books and how they can follow multiple story lines so flawlessly within the confines of two covers. Last, but not least, I would mention David Farland and his Runelord series for its originality and wonderfully vivid descriptions.
Me: Your work has wonderful detail in it , especially in descriptions of the settings. How much background work did you put into developing the world in which the Blood & Brotherhood Saga is set?
Jeremy: To be honest I think my life has been the background work to describing the things I see vividly in my imagination. I have been fortunate enough to see a large perspective of the world during my years in the United States Marine Corps. I have seen with my own eyes and touched with my own hands, mountains and jungles, deserts and forests. I have visited buildings in every architectural style dating back to Ancient Rome. Though these landscapes and creations of man have given me an immense palate to paint from, it was my father, James, who taught me the importance of detail. When I was little I would sit with my dad and we would draw together. Though he would never admit it, he has a natural talent for drawing. I wanted so bad to draw like my dad that for years I worked to perfect the art myself. Over those years I trained myself to really look for the details in items so that I could recreate them on paper from memory. However while in the military I suffered an injury to my dominant wrist that required several surgeries. Though I still enjoy drawing, I admit that my ability has suffered and with that the quality has diminished to a degree, and as such I don't spend as much time practicing the art anymore. Even so, however, though I may never draw a masterpiece worth mention in any museum, I can still paint the masterpiece with written words for my readers to imagine as they journey with me through the world of Thurr.
here to go there. It involves answering a few questions about his book and then you can win a gift card.
So, if you need to read his books before you enter, they can be found at the following links:
The Choosing (US)
The Chosen (US)
The Changing (US)
And for UK readers:
My Amazon review for the Choosing is just here!
And Jeremy's awesome website is http://www.wix.com/jeremylaszlo/author