Six Rounds: with R.T. Cole
We are back for another six rounds of questions, this time with author and longtime friend, R.T. Cole.
You and I have been friends for many years, in fact back in the day, your family had moved into the same house that my family had once lived in. My favorite memory of you, is actually when we were in the same chorus class in high school. I have no musical talents, but we had a hell of a time in that class. Do you recall that?
Haha, how could I forget? I'm almost positive we made it a point to come up with a song or two for the class to learn, as a request, but kept getting shot down.
We never did get to pick a song for the group to sing, but I remember us rocking out to that Frank Sinatra medley.
I know we had a lot in common growing up, but I didn't know that writing was one of them. You recently launched your own website and revealed the cover to your forthcoming book that you're working on, "Genesis of War." Can you tell us about the book? What's the inspiration behind it?
Absolutely. The book is about a fantasy world, similar to Middle-Earth or Westeros, called Areon, that has been at peace for the past 60 years after a great war ravaged the land. A new war starts when a man named Kelbain declares himself a King and plans to destroy the other families of Areon. At first glance, it sounds very typical of any other fantasy story, but the antagonist has ulterior motives, and his character gets fleshed out along the way. That's one thing I always pride myself on with my characters: I don't want to have the rinse-repeat protagonists and antagonists, but something more to them that all readers can relate to.
As far as inspiration, I get it from everywhere! But with this story, I draw a lot of inspiration from Norse mythology, and other myths crop up here and there as well. Then there's Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter, which would probably seem the "obvious" pieces of literature that inspire me. However, and this may sound funny, but one of my biggest inspirations since the story's inception in 2001, is the X-Men comics. And that's because the story deals heavily with the theme of prejudice in the world, as well as people with extraordinary abilities. In Areon, there are people called Sages who display abilities, some may call it magic, that are either embraced or met with hate and scorn, depending on the character. That's something I wanted to explore, because if there's anything about the X-Men that I always loved, it's that they always fought to be accepted. They're not going anywhere, and neither are the Sages.
Those are some pretty eclectic inspirations. One of the most intriguing things about the X-Men is that their main antagonist, Magneto, is very sympathetic. With an open mind, one can easily see where his motivations come from. From what I see, the antagonist of your book has a similar dichotomy. Does the protagonist, have a similar counterpart in the X-Men world?
Just for reference: Magneto is my all-time favorite X-Men villain, if you want to call him that. I've always sympathized with him in a way. To me, he's that kind of antagonist who has the right intentions, but goes about it the wrong way. I think that description can be used for a lot of characters in different mediums. With that being said, Kelbain is NOT like that, haha. He's evil almost completely to the core. He may have a relatable ulterior motive, one that I can't go into right now, but on a scale of 1-10 in terms of evil, with Magneto being a solid 5 or 6, Kelbain is a 9.5! The reason why I mentioned him as a fleshed out character, is because I've seen lots of villains that are one-note, and there's not enough story around them to tell us any different. With Kelbain, I found myself enjoying the exploration of his mind, and how he thought about other characters and situations.
In regards to the protagonist, I consider my story to have one, but sometimes I think of it as three altogether. The story focuses on three brothers, traveling three completely different paths, but the major focus, I'd say, is on one of them: the youngest brother, Rudimere, or Rudi for short. I consider his counterpart in X-Men to be somewhere between the lines of Iceman and Cyclops, and I'll explain. He's like Iceman because he can seem immature at times, and constantly tries to prove himself; on the other hand, he's like Cyclops because he's thrust into a leadership role. The difference there is that Cyclops was trained for a long time to be the leader, but Rudi is technically thrown in just because of his family name. So, he has a lot to learn along the way and makes mistakes just like anyone else would.
Nice, I like it. Sounds like you've got the characters really fleshed out, and I could talk for days about comics and their infiltration in literature, however I want to know more about Areon. You compared the world to Middle-Earth and Westeros, both of which are characters of their own in the respected works. How does Areon differ from what's come before, and what can you tell us about the world that'll entice readers to the universe within "Genesis of War"?
It's true that I feel Areon is almost a character in itself in the story; but the biggest difference between Areon and those example is that Areon is known for being a place of magic and the extraordinary. Here's what I mean: When I saw The Fellowship of the Ring back in 2001, it changed my life. It changed how I viewed storytelling, how I viewed characters; Hell, that was when I figured out I have a soft spot for redeemable characters, hence my absolute love for Boromir; but that movie showed me something else: there could be more. As much as I love the film and the rest of the trilogy, one thing has always nagged me: If Gandalf and Saruman were such powerful wizards, why didn't they do more? Was that really the extent of their magic? It always bugged me! So, I set out to create a world in which magic was found all over, which then prompted me to create a magic-class system of my own. This eventually led to the similarities between the magic users of Areon and the X-Men, especially when it came to the idea of prejudice and persecution. It seemed to be a natural progression. But, I would say that the idea of expanding the scope of magic is what really led me to create the world of Areon.
Comparing to Westeros, the similarities seem to stand out when it comes to the different families that rule throughout Areon, as well as the drama. I don't claim to be able to weave a web of political intrigue like George R.R. Martin, but I tried to echo it just a little bit; enough to keep things real interesting and surprising. But I would also never claim to rehash what others have seen before. In Westeros, there is ONE King. In Areon, there are THREE. And let's just say that Kelbain would love to be the fourth. In Genesis of War, readers will come to understand that the four regions, simply the North, South, East, and West, play as much of a role as the actual characters. For instance, in the beginning of the story, three kings exist, but the West does not have a king because the two families of the region have never agreed upon one. So, these two families meet, one of them led by Kelbain, to talk about peace, and things... take a turn.
I could probably talk about all of this for days, but in the end, it all comes down to what I said about wanting to give MORE. There's magic in Middle-Earth; there's more in Areon. There's one king in Westeros, prompting a war for one seat of power; there's more in Areon, meaning a possibility of multiple wars for multiple seats of power.
I see how giving more can open you up to different possibilities than similar works in the the genre, and I want to get back to this, but a lighter question comes to mind. If you were living in the world of Areon, what magical ability would you want? Or what magic-class would you desire to be in?
That's a great question! Well, without divulging too much about the different classes that will be revealed in the book, I'd love to be an Elemental, controlling water, fire, earth, or air. Elementals are a sub-class under the Sorcerer class, and while most Elementals in Areon can only control one element, there are some who can control all of them. And I might get some looks for sharing the same abilities as Kelbain, but I think it'd be worth it.
Oh wow, that answer feels like a treasure trove of itty bitty bits of info bombs. We learned a little more of the magical class system, and their sub-classes. But more importantly, that Kelbain is an Elemental Sorcerer who has the rare ability to control all of the different elements. What about the little people that inhabit Areon? Are they born with these magical abilities, or is this something they can acquire? Are there other humanoid species in the world? And if so, are they also magic users?
Some are born with an ability, some can acquire an ability, in a way. But for the most part, these abilities were.. passed down. That’s probably the best way I can put it for now. Ahh, I wish I could say more on all of that! More is revealed in Genesis of War, I promise.
As for other humanoid species in the world.. That’s kind of up for debate as far as this book goes. For instance, and I’ll let you in on something because it’s apparent very early on in the book: Kelbain is the son of the man who waged war on Areon in the past. This man was known as the Demon Sorcerer, and was killed 60 years prior to the story. Many believe that he was so powerful, that he couldn’t have been human. I’ll leave it at that. Haha.
I love the intrigue and could ask you questions about the book forever, but seeing as this is the final question let's switch it up a bit. If you could choose any food in the world, which would describe your writing style and why?
To be honest, that's the most difficult question yet, haha. If I really think about it, I'd say my writing style is like lasagna, in the sense that when I write, though it's in third-person, I get in the heads of multiple characters in each chapter. Some call it "head-swapping", and from what I've seen, there are a lot of writers who do not like that style. I prefer it, because I want the readers to find out what all characters are thinking about specific situations, especially if it's integral to the plot. So, lasagna because there are multiple layers, or viewpoints, in each serving, or chapter.
MMM I love me some lasagna! Also, that's a great answer. Head swapping is such a difficult writing technique. R.T. Cole, thank you for your time, and I'm looking forward to "Genesis of War" scheduled for publication this Saturday, March 31st.