I recently had the honor to correspond via social media and email with Michael G. Manning
, author of the December Book Cover of the Month
, Betrayer’s Bane
. I’ve already posted the review for that, and you can check that out here
. I’ve also interviewed Amalia Chitulescu, which you can read here
. I’ve mentioned how much I enjoyed Bane, and I actually just finished the first book in the Embers of Illeniel trilogy before posting this blog. I’ll post my review for The Mountains Rise
version), in time (there are other reviews scheduled to post first, and I try to respect the order in which I read books). I’m a huge fan of the series so far, and I can’t wait to finish it. That makes me all the happier I had a chance to interview Mr. Manning.
Without further ado, here we go:
You have quite a few projects out there, and I understand some (if not all) of them are related. Can you explain how Embers of Illeniel fits in with other projects you have out and other projects you have coming?
My first series, was Mageborn, starting with ‘The Blacksmith’s Son’ and finishing with ‘The Final Redemption.’ It was five books in all, and during the course of it I frequently referred back to hidden memories that were trapped in the main character’s mind. So, once I had finished it, I felt a strong need to go back and write the story of what had been haunting Mordecai throughout those books.
So my original series was Mageborn, with Embers of Illeniel being a prequel set two thousand years before it. I also have a sequel series, ‘Champions of the Dawning Dragons.’ It takes up where Mageborn left off, following the children that were born during that series.
At the moment I have finished Mageborn, and Embers of Illeniel, and the last book of the sequel series, Demonhome, is due out later this year. I have a stand-alone book also, ‘Thomas,’ that is based on an old roleplaying game campaign I was in.
What was the inspiration for the series?
I was bored. I went on a Kindle binge and read eighteen books in a single week and found myself without anything interesting to read. So, I sat down and made a mental list of the things I was looking for in my hypothetical perfect book. When I had finished the list, I realized that I had already read everything remotely similar, so I just said to hell with it and started writing.
Betrayer’s Bane was the best book I’ve read so far in 2017. What do you think are the things that made that book so great?
Pain and suffering. One of my biggest complaints about books, movies, and TV shows, is that very often everything is sugar-coated. There’s almost always a happy ending, and it’s rare for anyone of importance to the story to die. Since I already knew this was going to be a dark story, I decided to go all out, though at times I wondered if I had gone too far.
Tyrion is such a compelling character. How did you come up with him? What made you decide to write a series focused on him with that series? I understand (at least I THINK) Ileniel happens generations before the Mageborn series. Is that true? If so, what made you decide to go so far back in the world you’ve built?
Again, there were numerous veiled references to this story in my first series, so it felt almost compulsory for me to come back and write it.
I think Tyrion himself is so interesting because he starts out as a perfectly ordinary young man, perhaps even kinder and gentler than most, but his experiences gradually warp and shape him into the monster he eventually becomes. It’s like watching a train wreck in slow motion, it’s horrible, but you just can’t look away.
How did you feel when you finished that series?
Relieved. I don’t think readers always realize that all the same emotions they experience while reading a book affect the author as well. The main difference is that it takes us weeks and months to get them all down, so we suffer the same trauma in an extended drawn out sort of way. That’s fine when it’s a light-hearted novel, but when it is something like this—well it can be agonizing. Day after day you’re forced to repeatedly live out the same pain. I thought I might lose my mind before finishing it.
Bane was the first book I’ve read from you, and it has me going crazy trying to see what happens after the epilogue. For those like me, what book can I jump to to find out?
You should start with ‘The Blacksmith’s Son,’
and then follow it through the entire Mageborn series. Once that’s done you can read ‘Thornbear,’ which is the first of the sequels.
As you know, I discovered Betrayer’s Bane when I selected it as my Book Cover of the Day. It went on to become the December Book Cover of the Month. First, congrats to both you and Amalia for winning. I’ve spoken about what I think makes the cover stand out on my blog, but I’d like to know your thoughts about what made the cover work for you. Why do you think that cover stands out?
Well, the cover represents a particularly traumatic scene in the book, the death of one of the more lovable characters, although it’s done with a bit of artistic license. I think that’s what makes it a great cover. It perfectly captures the raw emotion that I tried to embody throughout the story.
What did you think about the cover when Amalia showed it to you?
I’ve never been disappointed with her work, so naturally I was pleased. Not only does she have great artistic sense, but she always arranges the less obvious elements perfectly as well as picking fonts that fit the theme.
Can you walk me through the process of creating the cover from your point of view? What did you ask Amalia for? What was she like to work with? What was your goal for the cover?
I’ve been working with her for a couple of years now, but in each case I merely describe the scene I think would fit best on the cover. She takes it from there, and usually within a few weeks she has something to show me. Thus far I’ve never had to request a major change after that point, just minor refinements. She has excellent taste. As always, my only goal for the cover is to evoke a feeling in the viewer, something that will entice them to examine the contents.
Bane was, as I said, a great book. It was so good I went back and bought book 1 of Elleniel (audio version). If there are any new readers out there, where would you recommend they start reading your work?
My preferred reading order would be the order I wrote them in, starting with the Mageborn series. After that I’d alternate the prequels and sequels, starting with the first of the prequels, ‘The Mountains Rise.’ I switched back and forth between the prequel and sequel series, so there are hints about each in the other. I know that sounds confusing, but if you look at the publishing dates just follow them chronologically.
Even if you don’t, you can’t go wrong just reading each series on its own.
What’s your newest released project? Please tell us about it.
The latest thing I did was release a short novel called, ‘Thomas.’
It’s actually something I wrote before I started publishing, but I never took the time to finish it. After Betrayer’s Bane I needed something light to cleanse my palate and wash away the evil that had sunk into my bones. It’s a great book that has nothing to do with any of my other work, being based on a roleplaying game I was in with some friends.
The main character is a boy named Thomas (funny how that works). He starts as an orphan and the mystery of the tale revolves around his origin, although most of the story itself doesn’t directly relate to that. I think anyone that enjoys fantasy would like it, even though the main character is a cleric, which is uncommon in the genre.
What are you working on next?
Currently I’m working on ‘Demonhome,’ the last book in my sequel series. It follows Matthew, the son of the protagonist in Mageborn, as he travels to another dimension to try and find his missing father. I’ve hinted at it before, but there will be some science fiction elements introduced there that I think will be fascinating.
I thank you again for all of your time. You’ve created a fascinating series that I highly recommend to any fans of action fantasy. (Disclaimer, this is a dark story.)
I’ve purchased the Audible
version of The Silent Tempest
, which will allow me to complete this trilogy, and I can promise I’m moving straight on to Mageborn
. I’m very high on this series and this author at the moment. I hope a few of you try him out.
Thanks for reading,