Well, today’s an important day for us here at the blog because we’ve been kindly invited to host the Legacy of Light Blog Tour for today, courtesy of Matthew himself, which we’re all very excited about and can’t wait to get stuck into. So, you’ll be with me, and Matthew, for the first part of the day, where’s he’s agreed to answer some of my questions with hopefully some answers to your own questions …
… And, if you weren’t aware, Matthew is the author of the epic – no, really, it is very epic – fantasy series, The Legacy Trilogy.
My review for Legacy of Ash and synopsis:
A shadow has fallen over the Tressian Republic.
Ruling families — once protectors of justice and democracy — now plot against one another with sharp words and sharper knives. Blinded by ambition, they remain heedless of the threat posed by the invading armies of the Hadari Empire.
Yet as Tressia falls, heroes rise.
Viktor Akadra is the Republic’s champion. A warrior without equal, he hides a secret that would see him burned as a heretic.
Josiri Trelan is Viktor’s sworn enemy. A political prisoner, he dreams of reigniting his mother’s failed rebellion.
And yet Calenne Trelan, Josiri’s sister, seeks only to break free of their tarnished legacy; to escape the expectation and prejudice that haunts the family name.
As war spreads across the Republic, these three must set aside their differences in order to save their home. Yet decades of bad blood are not easily set aside. And victory — if it comes at all — will demand a darker price than any of them could have imagined.
My review for Legacy of Steel and synopsis:
A year has passed since an unlikely alliance saved the Tressian Republic from fire and darkness, at great cost. Thousands perished, and Viktor Akadra – the Republic’s champion – has disappeared.
While the ruling council struggles to mend old wounds, other factions sense opportunity. The insidious Parliament of Crows schemes in the shadows, while to the east the Hadari Emperor gathers his armies. As turmoil spreads across the Republic, its ripples are felt in the realms of the divine.
War is coming . . . and this time the gods themselves will take sides.
And last, but by no means least, the conclusion to the trilogy, Legacy of Light, comes out on 19/09/2021 (be sure to grab a copy, it’s great) and can be purchased at The Broken Binding and all other great places you can buy books … here’s the synopsis to give you a taster:
Warfare, myth and magic collide in Legacy of Light, the spectacular conclusion to Matthew Ward’s acclaimed Legacy trilogy.
For the first time in many years, the Tressian Republic and the Hadari Empire are at peace. But war never sleeps.
In Tregard, Empress Melanna Saranal struggles to protect a throne won at great cost.
In Tressia, Lord Protector Viktor Droshna seeks to harness forbidden power to restore all he’s lost.
As the sins of the past are once more laid bare, every road leads to war. Darkness gathers, alliances shatter and one final battle looms. What hope remains, lies within the light.
And now, the Q&A:
Thanks for agreeing to the interview, Matthew, it’s nice to have you here!
So, here we are, sitting at the end of the Legacy trilogy … congratulations! What a ride it has been, how do you feel?
It’s an odd feeling, truth be told. Even when I see the books on the shelf, it takes a moment or two for it all to sink in. I mean, I remember writing them – and it’s certainly been a long road to get to this point – but now they’re here it feels like they always have been. I think it’s partly the long gap between handing in final edits and publication… or possibly it’s that I now exist outside space/time and therefore lack a proper frame of reference for cause and effect.
Or maybe I’m just tired.
(Might be all three.)
You’d be forgiven for being tired, Tressia is no place to relax … not for long. Is there anything you’d change about your writing process looking back?
Not especially. My writing process is relatively straightforward – very much a ‘start at the beginning, and when you reach the end, stop’ kind of deal. There are bits and pieces here and there I wish I’d got to grips with sooner (the start of Legacy of Light gave me far more trouble than it should, mostly because I was dithering), but overall it all came together relatively painlessly.
Following on from that, what are you most proud of in the series?
That people don’t hate it?
Actually, I’m writing this before more than a handful of folk have read the third one, so let’s not jump to conclusions.
Joking aside, I’m chuffed that it really does read like the tragedy it was meant to – lots of nice peaks and valleys on the old emotional rollercoaster. It’s no way a series that’s steeped in gloom, but there’s weight and consequence to events, and none of the characters leave the trilogy quite how they entered it. That’s what I primarily wanted to achieve, and I’m super-happy with the result.
What piece of advice have you found most useful in your writing career?
I’m going to weasel out and recite two.
The first basically boils down to ‘Write the story you’re passionate about’ which is from my agent, John Jarrold. It’s crucial, otherwise you’re not writing something you want to read, and if you don’t want to read it, why should anyone else?
The second is J Michael Straczynski’s maxim of ‘Get it done’. Doesn’t matter how many ideas you have or projects you start, you’ve not really achieved anything until something’s finished. It doesn’t matter how flawed you think a thing is, get it finished – then you can start beating it into a proper shape.
A great piece of advice … another person for me to look out for! Thanks for that. What piece of advice would you give back to someone?
That most writing advice is so grounded in personal experience – and therefore so specific – that it’s useless. Writing’s an intimate, personal thing. What works for one person isn’t going to work for another, so the further you get from broad guidance, the more likely it is that the advice either won’t be helpful or – even worse – may be accidentally destructive. Half the business of learning to write is working out what works for you.
None of the above is meant to suggest that people knowingly give bad advice – they’re telling you what worked or didn’t work for them, which is invariably a generous thing to do. If that advice is helpful, great, but often your circumstances, personality and opportunities are going to be so different that you’ll need to pick it apart and rebuild it before it’s of any use.
All that said, I think the two pieces cited earlier are universal: write with passion, and get it done.
Has finding something new to write about, meeting new characters and stories, been harder or easier now you’ve got a trilogy under your belt?
Oh, there’s always more to write about. As I scribble this I have something like eight series proposals that I could starting drafting tomorrow, if I wanted or needed to. It helps that the settings are quite divergent, but I think there’s an infinite amount of ‘What about Story A, but in Setting B?’ and ‘What if Character C was more like Character D?’ waiting to be scribbled.
The Legacy Trilogy’s a bit odd, simply because there are so many characters and plots rushing about, and I think my first port of call when writing something – at least for the foreseeable future – is going to be ‘Is this a bit too similar to that bit in Legacy?’
I’ve certainly broadened what I’m comfortable writing about over the course of Legacy, so that’s opened up a little bit more variety in my brain. We’ll have to see if it translates to something similar in the writing.
If you could recruit any character from another book series to star in the Legacy Trilogy, which would you choose and why?
Honestly, I wouldn’t. I’ve done my share of writing other folks’ IP, and it’s just not the same as making something new. Merging the two just doesn’t sit right.
Which of the ecliptic cast of the Legacy Trilogy would you hope were stranded on a desert island with you if you were ever unfortunate enough to get into that situation?
That’s an interesting one. Anastacia would be practical, self-sufficient and entertaining, but she’d probably insist on being treated like a queen, and I think there are enough challenges on a desert island without introducing a monarchy. Viktor’s approach to problem-solving would likely prove a little too exciting. No, I think Kurkas is probably your best bet. Good earthy common sense, and all that.
And it’s not like the Raven won’t be there anyway. Just watching. Waiting.
My absolute favourite thing about your books are the large-scale, epic battles that flit around POV mid-fight – it really gives that cinematic effect … is this something you’d say comes easy to you, something you spill onto the page, or do you find comfort in plotting, dialogue or exposition?
Dialogue generally flies by, especially when they’re characters I know well. Action scenes are a never-ending source of twiddling, because I always feel like there should be a fast, crisper way of telling the reader what’s going on.
But honestly, I kind of have to write the battles the way I do, because it’s the only way I can be certain they make sense. I just can’t be doing with even the appearance of characters teleporting around the action depending on where they’re needed. Happens a lot in films, recently and I find it distracting. I’m not quite at the ‘drawing detailed moment-to-moment maps’ stage, but I have to make sure I’ve got a grip on the cause and effect.
I can thank Bernard Cornwell for that, I think. He’s just so precise about how everything comes together.
Your book features a diverse and large mix of characters, going through a lot of different, personal battles … which has been your favourite character to write?
I’d say I most prefer either the ones who learn and change or the ones who stubbornly refuse to do so, but that’s most everybody in the story, so it doesn’t really help. I love where Sevaka’s ended up, given where she started, as well as character like Josiri and Apara find their feet and their confidence. But Ana’s the most fun to write. She goes from ‘speaking truth to power’ to ‘giving power a clap around the ear and warning it never to do that again’ really fast. She’ll always someone to watch… from a safe distance.
Without really needing to mention it, we’ve all been affected in many different ways by the pandemic, how has this affected your writing?
Honestly, it hasn’t made a great deal of day to day difference – there’s a keyboard, a list of jobs to get done that day, and it proceeds pretty much as it always has. Certainly, launching two books in lockdown and a third on what may be the precipice of another has likely not done wonders for the sales figures, but there comes a point and you just have to let that go.
Let’s call it like it is: I’ve been in a hugely privileged position compared to folk who’ve had to leave the house and soldier on through as normal through all of this nonsense. I can’t even begin to imagine the pressure healthcare professionals have been under over the last couple of years, and then there are the other key workers on whom the rest of us rely on a day to day basis. Teachers. Retail workers. The emergency services. The list goes on. Without wanting to sound too grandiose about it, civilisation rests on the shoulders of a huge number of people we often take for granted. It’s my hope that maybe we’ll do so less in the future, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
What book have you been reading yourself lately, is there anything you’d recommend?
The last thing that crossed my desk was Becoming a Writer, Staying a Writer by J Michael Straczynski (I was fortunate enough to receive a copy for review), and I’d recommend it to anyone wanting to get to grips with writing. It’ll be more useful for those just starting out, but there’s plenty to be had there for everyone, I think.
That name again, I’ll be sure to add that book to my ever-growing tbr. Is there anything else that you love to do other than writing? Any secret hobbies we don’t know about?
Oh, I don’t think I have any secrets – I put them all on display on Twitter in the hope of passing for a functional human being. There’s the Lego, the London Underground ephemera, the videogaming (although that’s in decline as I take on more videogame projects for clients – alas, hobbies that become jobs stop becoming hobbies.)
Lastly, what are you working on right now? We’re all eager to hear it, and I’d understand if it was veiled in secret, but is there anything you can tell us?
Alas, there’s nothing I can talk about at the moment, but there are always new worlds to explore. I’m sure one’s just around the corner …
Well, if that wasn’t a tease, I don’t know what is. Whatever is next, we’re all looking forward to it. As much as I’d like to press you for more information, I know when to stop.
Thank you again, Matthew, for letting us be a part of your blog tour … watch out on the FanFiAddict blog for the rest of today, we’re not done with this tour yet!