Interview with S.J. Hartland, author of The 19th Bladesman
17 Dec 2018
What can you tell us about your new release, The 19th Bladesman?
It’s about a young warrior bonded to ancient gods who knows he’ll die young and soon, without expecting praise from the lord who trained him. Kaell wants more than duty. More of his lord’s time, praise. Just more.
Even Kaell’s lord, though, is unable to save the young bladesman from the dark fate awaiting him. But if Kaell breaks, the kingdom breaks with him. And prophecy says the 19th bonded warrior will break.
The 19th Bladesman is full of ambushes, sword fights and reversals. It’s a story about betrayal, shattering loss and the price of power. At its heart, it’s also about fatherhood.
I wrote the first three books in the Shadow Sword series together, which was useful because you can start a tiny thread that won’t be pulled until the third book, for example … fantasy readers are very clever!
What or who inspired you to become an author?
I’m a journalist and have always written stories. But I was mentored by the amazing Dr Kathryn Heyman who taught me all that a journalist doesn’t know about writing. Turns out that’s quite a lot!
There are also a number of practice manuscripts in some dark corner on my computer. I partly wanted to write what I want to read, but mainly I just wanted to share my characters!
What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?
Top books? That’s across a number of genres. I always loved Frank Herbert’s Dune. I think I lived rather than read Stephan Grundy’s Rhinegold (and friends will tell you, didn’t shut up about how good it was). One of my long-time favorite books was The Count of Monte Cristo. I love my mentor Dr K’sStorm and Grace; the rhythm of the writing matches the waves. And here’s a really random one: In a Dark Wood Wandering by Hella S Haasse (another book you inhale rather than just read).
Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?
I write fantasy, so it would have to be George RR Martin and of course everyone would want me to ask: When is the next book coming. Ha ha.
What’s your favorite thing about writing?
The flow; the way you lose yourself in this other world. Sometimes I worry my characters are more real to me than everyone else!
What is a typical day like for you?
A typical day. Hmm. I design pages and am a sub-editor in the newspaper world. After work and on weekends, I try to squeeze in as much writing time as possible.
What scene in The 19th Bladesman was your favorite to write?
I was an early reader of Game of Thrones and remember thinking: What am I doing writing fantasy? This guy is so amazing. Then I read in a Qld Writers Centre magazine a quote from someone (and I’m sorry, I can’t remember who said it) but it was long the lines of: Write the book that only you can write.
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