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An Interview with Author Nathan Crowder

Cover art for Of Rooks & RavensOne of my regular writing compatriots is now also one of my compatriots in publishing. Razorgirl Press, who published Brass and Glass, will be releasing Nathan Crowder’s Of Rooks & Ravens at GeekGirlCon this weekend. Here’s Nathan’s blurb for the book:

Ravensgate is a magical place, located on the edge of a vast dead lake between the Vale Lands and the Caliphate of Dust. But what makes it magical, what powers its undead army and necessitates its college of necromancy, could also prove to be the city’s doom. When an ancient, forgotten God returns to conquer Ravensgate, Preston, a young academic, is forced to flee the only home she’s ever known.

In the company of her father’s uncompromising colleague Yuri Vostov, she undertakes an unlikely and dangerous mentorship. Bound by fate to the nation she’s been raised to view as an enemy, Preston soon finds herself preparing for the inevitable return to her dead home. For within the doomed towers of Ravensgate, she’ll be forced to confront the transformed father–and destiny–that await her there.

Of Rooks & Ravens is a decadent slice of Gothic epic fantasy and discovery, seasoned with undead armies, questions of identity, and man-eating songbirds.

Taking wing September 30th from Razorgirl Press.

I wanted to know more, so I asked Nathan a few questions!

DV: Let’s start with a bit of an introduction. Who are you and what are some of your previous writing highlights?

Nathan Crowder: I’m a veteran of the Great Geek Uprising of the mid-80s, in which I won the Bronze Star of Fringe Culture and the Purple Heart of Schlock Films. I’ve written screenplays, comics, short fiction, and numerous novels, several of which are set in the shared super hero-world of Cobalt City—Greetings from Buena Rosa is a particular favorite of those. My short fiction trends towards horror, and my story “Fishwives of Sean Brolly” in the Cthulhurotica anthology visibly squicked Felicia Day out in a video review, so I’ll always have that.

DV: How would you elevator pitch Of Rooks & Ravens?

NC: Of Rooks & Ravens is about a sheltered academic forced from Ravensgate’s college of necromancy, the only home she’s ever known, when an ancient god reawakens. Preston falls into an unlikely mentorship with a tactician / strategy professor colleague of her father in a foreign land as she prepares to return to Ravensgate to set some things right.

DV: Of Rooks & Ravens is part of a triptych rather than a trilogy. Can you explain what that means for folks who may not have read a triptych-structure series before?

NC: Of Rooks & Ravens was originally going to be a three-part novel with two other big narratives, but in the process of putting it all together, I decided that I’d rather have each of the three books focus on one of the arcs. Ultimately, all three are about the fall of Ravensgate and what comes after, but thematically, and pacing-wise, each really had its own tone. And rather than them being sequels of each other, they all kind of happen at the same time. So, less trilogy than three views of the same story. That said, I’m in no rush to finish the triptych, and this book in particular lends itself to a great jumping off point for a whole other trilogy that deals with the fallout of this book. That trilogy is tentatively called A Conspiracy of Feathers, and I’m hard at work on the next one—A Thrush Among Vipers.

DV: You’ve called Of Rooks & Ravens “Gothic high fantasy”. Tell us more!

NC: I don’t really read Gothic literature. I’m kind of aware of it, and I know some of the tropes. And I’m a big horror geek, so there’s a bit of thematic overlap. It wasn’t until my editors started talking to me about the book that I heard it referred to as Gothic. But it has the tropes. A dark city of the dead in the high, remote mountains, on the shore of a dead lake. Necromancers running the college, undead soldiers all over the city, science in defiance of religion, dreams and nightmares, occultism, the Aristocracy. Also, the mentor figure, Yuri Vostov, is a visual combination of a young Peter Cushing (Hammer Film era), and Steerpike from the BBC Gormenghast miniseries, which both have heavy Gothic elements.

DV: What’s next for you on the writing front?

NC: Other than wrapping up the next Cobalt City novel, which should be done in a few weeks, I’ve got the trilogy sequel for Of Rooks & Ravens lined up. Thrush Among Vipers is going to further explore the Caliphate of Dust and the deep intrigue of the Scholar’s Tower. The trilogy is going to steer hard into the idea of fantasy/espionage. I’ve even built a bit of a conspiracy wall to help chart out all the factions that are at play. It should be a fun time.

To learn more about Nathan Crowder, visit him at nathancrowder.com!

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