Greetings, ladies and ghouls – this week we’ve got another author interview with the stupendous Robert Cano, whose dark fantasy magnum opus (so far, anyway) is set to launch next week! Introducing The Dark Archer…
All he wanted was the safety of his princess. What he received was eternal torment.
Bereft of a soul, a wraith who should have no ties to humanity, Bene wants nothing more than release from his twisted existence. Trapped between life and nothingness, he hopes to reclaim his soul and find the death he so desperately desires.
Bene finds rare solace in the company of Feorin, a satyr war hero who chose exile over continuing the centuries long war with the Fae. He doesn’t look at Bene with fear or contempt, but rather hope. If a wraith can find a path to redemption, perhaps he could as well…
Tell us a bit about yourself and your writing.
Hello, I am Robert Cano, author of The Suffering and the upcoming novel The Dark Archer. The Suffering is a novella which acts as a bit of an introduction to the world and to a character who plays a large yet largely unknown role in the upcoming series. She’s kind of like a shadow… always there. The Dark Archer is my first full length novel release set in that same world, and it explores the world much more, and through different sets of eyes.
What inspired (or lured) you into the craft?
Well, I got my start with poetry. Back in high school I had a teacher for my Language Arts class that everyone hated and I ended up loving. It was a challenge, to be sure, but the assignments she gave us really forced us to think outside of the box.
Here’s an example: one of the assignments she gave us was to read a book (I cannot for the life of me remember which book now), and then write a poem that told the story of the book. I did this. And while I have no idea what I wrote or what it was about, I do remember that the teacher asked me if she could keep it, that it was really good and exactly what she had been looking for. I think it was then I realized that I had a gift. I wouldn’t really explore that gift for a couple of years, but, you know.
What’s your writing routine (or lack thereof) like?
My writing routine really hinges on music. I need to listen to music with little to no lyrics. Something classical or electronic with layers to drown out the busy-ness of my mind. I have ADD (minus the hyperactivity). The music really helps me focus my writing and my story by drawing the more scattered aspects of my thought process toward the music. My wife will laugh at me sometimes because I’ll be jamming, swaying to the music as my fingers move a hundred miles an hour, and she knows I have no idea I’m doing it.
From where or whom do you draw your inspiration?
My inspiration comes from so many places. Tolkien is probably my biggest inspiration for writing fantasy. Orwell for science fiction or dystopian worlds. Steinbeck (particularly Of Mice and Men) for the emotional elements. I love the writing style of Thomas Harris, who wrote my favorite book of all time (Hannibal). I read Anne Rice, John Grisham (I mean come on, who else could actually make reading about law or lawyers as interesting as he does? With apologies to Harper Lee).
But aside from this I also love to draw inspiration from the minds of artists. There is something to be said about looking at a drawing or computer rendering of something and using that to expand and explore more of your world. How to incorporate it, or an idea spawned from it. I use Pinterest a lot for this. I have a board called “Inspiration” for just such things. I also use life. I love to people watch, and will pull ideas from conversations or things I see. What is funny, and what is the reaction of those around? It’s sometimes about the little details.
Personally, I have a love/hate relationship with writing. What’s yours like?
Love/love, I’d say. If I could quit my day job to focus on writing and putting my stories out there for the world to enjoy, I’d be doing that. That’s my main goal as I continue to press on.
What genres do you prefer to read/write?
I love to write Fantasy and Science Fiction. On top of my fantasy series, I’ve actually begun a sci-fi series as well… although it has not been released. And it’s a really hard read. Less because of the skill of the author and more because of the nature of the content. Let’s just say I’ve been told that if/when it gets published, this book needs trigger warnings all over it.
For reading, I love reading everything. As noted above, I read classics, and I love King, Rice, Martin, Harris… just to name a few. But I’ve found a great community of indie authors who have some serious skills as well, and many of their stories are amazing. I’ve found myself lost in the world of Joshua Robertson. And I’m so freaking excited for Shawn Cosby’s Blacktop Wasteland, it cannot get here fast enough.
How did the idea for The Dark Archer come to you?
The Dark Archer actually came about soon after I had written The Suffering. I had sent The Suffering to a couple of friends who looked it over and had some thoughts. One of the main ideas was that there was a LOT of story in The Suffering for me to explore. I agreed with this. Then they suggested that I expand out that story telling some of it from the point of view of her captain.
For those who’ve read The Suffering, this doesn’t really work. I would have had to redo everything from the bottom up, and I really wanted to keep the entire story from her perspective, as it showed a more gradual growth and change in the MC that didn’t hit until the end of the book. However, a light turned on in my head. What is this captain’s story? What happened to him after he was separated from the princess? I got to dig into that a bit in The Dark Archer.
I understand you’ve weaved quite the fantastical web of lore for this series. Can you tell us a bit more about the creatures in your mythos?
The creatures, huh? They were fun. One of the things I have a passion for is ancient culture. Mythology, lore, legends, religions, etc… I love all of it, and what I tend to do is find something that resembles what I see in my mind and then use a term that may or may not be known, and then I twist it to my purposes.
A prime of example of this would be kinnara of India. Much like the harpies of Greek myth, the kinnara are predominantly female, with bird feet and bottom half of their bodies, while the human bits are reserved for the top of the torso and head. The wings are reminiscent of that of an ostrich, or chocobo, if you’ve played any Final Fantasy games.
But what I did was twist that into a flying creature that was still part human and part bird, both male and female, and much bigger than what a kinnara appears to be. I think sometimes I have too much fun with this part of world building.
What do you think readers will enjoy most about TDA?
Well, The Dark Archer is an emotional journey. It’s about coming to grips with the horror of self, and then seeking a way to overcome it. But this is not as overt as one might think. I like to work in layers, letting the story be told through the eyes of my characters who likely don’t often realize why they’re actually doing something.
If you think about our motivations, they’re not always so obvious, even to us. Why do we do what we do? What are our goals and how are we actually going to attain them? Most of the time, we are flying by the seat of our pants. Once Bene has a quest, he’s all in, but why is he doing it? What happens if he gets his wish? If he doesn’t? Does he even think about these things? These are questions I asked when writing it.
At the end of the day, however, I would have to say that The Dark Archer is a journey. Yes, everything above is in there, but it’s also a bit of an action flick, and maybe a bit of suspense. There’s wonder and awe, but also darkness and despair.
Which brings me to the tone. The overall tone is pretty dark. But the darkness I search out in this book is that of sorrow and despair. It is what I would say is the overall theme…
What did you enjoy most about TDA?
I absolutely loved writing this book. And I think that after it was done and edited, what I loved about it was coming to the realization that Bene’s story was, in a very real sense, my story. I was actually shocked to discover this. But I also love that. It means those who might read it deeper might just find something that on the surface they might never have found. Layers, right? 😉
Any hints as to what’s next for Bene in works to come?
Oh you are asking for much, haha.
But I could clue you in a bit. Bene will come to a realization. And this realization may come too late… hehehe.
Time for the WP&S Triple Threat: give us your coolest place, weirdest food, and best book.
I would have to say my favorite place I’ve been to is Sri Lanka. From the people to the culture (and yes, the food), it was amazing in every way. In many ways that trip changed my life.
Weirdest food? Probably monkey brains. It was actually quite good, but even to this day it feels weird.
For best book? Hannibal.
Coffee or tea?
Tea. Something warm and soothing and calming. I don’t do that iced tea stuff. And coffee gets a big no from me. Growing up with asthma, it was one of those things I was forced to drink. I’m glad I grew out of that asthma…
Red or white?
Depends on my mood really. Some reds I love. Chianti or Merlot. Perhaps a sweet red, like a Lambrusco.
But I also thoroughly enjoy some whites, especially Rieslings. My favorite wine of all is Blue Teal Riesling from my home of NM. That wine is amazing.
Tropical or chilly?
I prefer mountains to beaches. So I guess chilly? I love getting lost in the mountains. The scent of the pine trees. The pleasant sounds of owls or the haunting calls of the elk resounding off the forest itself. Nothing else comes close for me.
Handwritten or typed?
I do a bit of both, actually. I have a tendency to write on my laptop as often as possible, but sometimes I just get tired of staring at a screen and I’ll pull out my notebook and get to scratching the paper with some ink.
And finally: what’s your guiltiest pleasure?
Sometimes I listen to Selena Gomez. Of my own volition. There, I said it… Seriously though, I don’t really know. I’m of the geeky variety where I take pleasure in taking pleasure of anything I come to love. Even if it’s weird or strange. And sometimes especially so.
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