What better way to spend Valentines Day than reading a dark fantasy series that has a found family trope and incredibly imaginative creatures? Author Christer Lende is releasing the conclusion to The Beast Hunters of Ashbourn trilogy this Valentines Day so I grabbed that opportunity to have a chat with him about his books.
The Beast Hunters Blood Oath is the follow up to The Beast Hunters and The Beast Hunters Dark Sovereign, featuring an orphan girl Ara who’s taken in by two wisecracking beast hunters Khendric and Topper. In this finale, Ara and gang face an ancient evil that might bring about the end of humanity if they don’t vanquish it. Christer was kind enough to have a chat with me about the world of Ashbourn.
Q. The Beast Hunters Blood Oath is out today, the final instalment in the Beast Hunter of Ashbourn series. How are you feeling?
A. Honestly and luckily, sort of confident. This is by far the best book in the series (though I know this won’t be true for everybody), so I think most of the people who liked the first and second will just have a blast with this one. And I think the prologue will let the readers know what kind of story they’re in to.
Q. When did you first get the idea for the series? What inspired you to start writing?
A. The world is really inspired by The Witcher world, and the characters by Mistborn. The whole thing was actually gonna be one short book I wrote in my summer break to post on this website where you could sell your books (it was self-publishing, but I didn’t know at the time). How naive I was . . . because it turned into a brick of a book over 700 pages over two years. But that isn’t what inspired me to start writing. Once in the library, two friend of me and I did our preliminary math course to become engineers, and I had the idea to write “Gamer of Thrones”-like stories with ourselves in there. That way, we would screw each other over and it would be fun. We all wanted to do it, but I was the only one who did – and here we are today.
Q. How has the self pub journey been? What made you opt for self publishing?
A. It’s honestly been amazing. I’ve connected with so many people and sold more book than when I was published by a smaller publishing house, which in the end wasn’t a very pleasant experience. I opted for Self-publishing because I felt I was doing all the work anyway, and others got to reap some of the benefits. I was also not pleased with the speed that it went. I had all books ready to go, yet it moved too slow for me (though this is very normal for any publishing houses, and not just the one I worked with).
Q. The world is not the typical medieval Europe based that we usually see in fantasy. The characters even use guns. What inspired you to write such a world? What research did you do to build it?
A. No, exactly – gunpowder exists. When I first added pistols I didn’t think much of it, other than that it would set the world apart from The Witcher and other similar worlds. I’ve given it some more thought and gunpowder is fairly new to the beast hunter world, and it was developed by a beast hunter. That’s why only Khendric really has one, though there are other beast hunters that have too. I’m dabbling with the idea that only beast hunters get to have them, because they need them to kill beasts, which the whole human race agrees is a good thing, while soldiers of any state and kingdom are not allowed to have them to wage war on each other. Whether this will be upheld is a different story.
Q. Dialogue, especially the verbal sparring between Khendric and Topper plays an important role in the books. What’s your process for writing dialogue?
A. A lot of people have praised the banter and dialogue in my stories, which I am sooo grateful for. I don’t really have a process when I write them, but I practice dialogue every day, and I love talking to people. It’s a skill I’ve sought to master, and I think that is what is reflected in my writing. What is so lovely with the dialog that I write is that then I am in total control of what everyone says, while in the real world, there are more minds at work, so to speak.
Q.The characters in the books are really fresh and vibrant. Are they inspired from real life people? Who’s your favourite character in the books?
A. Wow, thank you so much!! That really made me smile. They are not inspired from real people, but instead characters from Brandon Sandersons’s Mistborn series. Ara is heavily inspired by Vin – short name, insecure, then grows, and Khendric is inspired by Kelsier – confident, great mentor, competent. In the first story I wrote, I based all the main characters on my friends, which seriously made it really easy to write them with incredible nuance, so that’s a shortcut for character creation, I guess, and I can’t wait to dive into that story again. Ooooooh, my favorite character will have to be Koradin. I explain why at the end of the book, in the “Author’s note.”
Q. Let’s talk about the fight scenes! There are a lot of awesome fight scenes in the books. What was your process of writing those scenes?
A. Hard work, actually. Fight scenes were my biggest crux when writing. From the start, my weakest points were fighting scenes and my strongest were dialog. So I had a really good friend of mine pick them apart, destroy them, and harass me about them, until I got better. So the real answer is: practice.
Q. Which scene did you have the most fun writing?
A. I had the most fun writing the scenes between Khendric and Koradin (the king), because it felt like two immovable mountains facing off against each other. They’re both playing the game hidden within conversation and they both know it. In the final book there are some truly emotional scenes, and while I didn’t have fun writing them, I still loved and hated the emotions they made me feel.
Q.What was the most challenging part of writing these books?
A. The final showdown, for sure. So many things to consider, so many things have to make sense, and it has to be a satisfying conclusion, but I also didn’t want it to be all roses, there are some thorns too. Planning this final phase took the longest.
Q. What’s your snack of choice while writing?
A. Chocolate . . . oh my god I love chocolate.
Q. Ara, Khendric, Topper- choose 1 to be your ally, rest will fight you. Who do you choose?
A. Either Khendric of Ara. Ara delivers brutal strength and destruction, but if Khendric gets past her, then she’s dead. If I have to choose, I think I’ll go with Khendric.
Q. If you could have any creature from your world as a pet, what would it be?
A. I think I’d have a rapler, so I could harvest their leaves and sell the world’s greatest tea.
Q. With the amount of dangerous creatures looking for unique ways to kill you, it’s a wonder people live past the age of 20. What is the secret to a long life in Ashbourn?
A. Haha, this is a really good question. Knowledge is the greatest weapon against these creatures and apparitions, for sure, but a good amount of professional and capable beast hunters is also a good safety. Perhaps there should be a university of school to educate people to become beast hunters.
Q. Who are your literary inspirations?
A. Brandon Sanderson for sure, and Larry Correia also. I really like Andy Weir too.
Q. What is the most memorable thing that happened in your journey as an author?
A. Up until now, it has to have been when The Beast Hunters won “Best in Fantasy” in the Indies Today Awards, which had me in tears. I hope I get to feel that feeling again.
Q. Are you planning to write more books in this world?
A. Actually yes. I have a fantastic storyline for a fourth and fifth book, but I don’t know when I’ll get to it.
Q. What advice would you give to someone who wants to self publish a book?
A. Hmm, I’m not sure I’m the one to give advice, but I have been both traditionally published and gone the self pub route. I can tell you this: it’s a LOT less stressful to do it yourself. It was seriously mentally draining at times, though I can’t say this is always the experience. If you’re a neurotic person, I wouldn’t recommend going the traditional route, as it’s quite brutal.
Q. What are you currently working on?
A. I am working on a FANTASTIC science fiction series, where I’ve written two and half books in the series. I also have to finish a manuscript for a Norwegian movie, and help the wonderful people at Gellyberry Studios on their game Ethyrial, Echoes of Yore.
The Beast Hunters Blood Oath is out today on Amazon.
About the Author
Christer Lende is an Award Winning author who began writing in a library, which sounds fitting, only he was supposed to be there working on his engineering degree. He is a professional screenwriter, working with the Norwegian movie producer behind “One Love”, “Who Killed Birgitte” and “All about my Father” Bjørn Eivind Aarskog, together they are eveloping the manuscript for a Norwegian thriller. Bjørn hired Christer after reading The Beast Hunters, trusting Christer could bring his vision to life.
Christer lives in what Norwegians call a city, but people from actual cities would call a town. Of proud Viking blood, he honours his ancestors by
heroically sitting in front of a computer writing Fantasy and Science Fiction books. He believes in writing a little bit every day, through weekends, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, even his own birthday. When he’s not writing, he takes care of his two dogs and tries to broker peace with his girlfriend. He’s often found at a gym, trying to compensate for his height issues, or lazily playing video games.