Meet my guest today, fantasy author Ryan Mueller, as he releases his debut novel, Empire of Chains.
- What made you want to become a writer?
When I was young, I always had all these story ideas in my head. I spent a lot of time putting them down in notebooks, usually in the form of imaginary video games. I was a huge fan of RPGs, so naturally my interests tended toward fantasy. Then, when I was ten years old, I first read Harry Potter. I knew from that point on that I wanted to be a writer. [Jamie’s Note: Great books Harry Potter. At least the first three or four times. My son was obsessed with them. I read him the first four nine times. They got a little old by then.]
2. What are your biggest literary influences? Favorite authors and why?
My biggest literary influences would be Brandon Sanderson, Brent Weeks, and Jim Butcher. They have a way of writing high-magic, high-action books that I love. My books have a few more quest elements than theirs, though. More recently, I’ve come to enjoy the works of Phil Tucker, who came in second place in last year’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off. Then, of course, there’s The Wheel of Time, which had its issues but will always hold a special place in my heart.
3. Tell us something about how you write? i.e. are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you have any weird or necessary writing habits or rituals?
I’m somewhere in between on the whole plotter/pantser thing. Recently, I’ve been more of a pantser, but I’m not sure that’s entirely accurate. I usually have a general mental outline of where I want the story to go. It’s just a very flexible outline that allows for me to come up with new developments as I’m writing. As far as writing rituals, I pretty much have to have music playing. Usually, it’s some Power Metal or Symphonic Metal. Some of my favorites to listen to while writing are Kamelot, Blind Guardian, Nightwish, and Epica. I also enjoy the pure cheesiness of the Power Metal band Gloryhammer.
4. Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book?
Empire of Chains is a book that has been with me for over a decade now. My first versions of it were terrible and clichéd with a horrible prophecy and a quest straight out of Tolkien fan-fiction. Since then, I’ve evolved as a writer, and I’ve made into a much more complex and interesting story. On the surface, it appears to be a story about overthrowing an evil emperor, but as you read it, you realize the so-called evil emperor isn’t so evil at all. He’s a man willing to do anything to save the world, and for me, those make the most interesting characters. I’m a big fan of anti-villains. That is, they fill the role of a villain in the story, but you could actually look at them as heroes from a different perspective.
5. What else would you like readers to know about you or your work?
When it comes to writing, I’m a big fan of magic and action scenes. Those scenes are the types that flow from my fingertips, and I write a lot of them. Part of the fun of fantasy, for me, is that the fantasy elements allow you to write much more interesting action sequences. You’ll see this love of action in everything I write, including the next three books of World in Chains, which I’ve already drafted and expect to have out by the end of the year, as well as my Sunweaver trilogy, which is already drafted too, and should be out shortly after the rest of World in Chains.
6. Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day?
Currently, my day job is in retail. I work in the Shoe Department of a large retail chain. It’s certainly not an ideal job, though when I’m cleaning up the department at night, I often have the chance to think about story ideas. I’m also going to school for Electrical Engineering at the moment. I still have two years to go. I won’t say I’m in love with the field, but I like it enough that I’ll be all right working in it if I don’t make “quit your day job” money as a writer.
7. If you could be transported to any fictional world, which would it be? Why?
For me, it would be the world of Harry Potter. It was the first fantasy world that really captured my imagination when I was younger. I’d love to go to Hogwarts, as long as it’s in the post-Voldemort era. (As a side note, Microsoft Word actually knows the word Voldemort. I find that amusing.)
Where can we find you online?
Empire of Chains
Five hundred years ago, powerful magic sealed Emperor Darien Warrick inside a ring of mountains fashioned by his own magic. For five hundred years, his subjects have been trapped beside him. Some say he’s evil and these actions were necessary. Others say he’s a man willing to sacrifice anything for the greater good.
To young noblewoman Nadia, he is nothing but a murderer. On the day Warrick’s executioner takes her mother’s head, Nadia dedicates her life to one goal: killing Warrick. She spends her days training with the castle guard, her nights poring over the notes her mother left behind. In them, she finds the location of the only spell that can defeat the immortal sorcerer. But it feels too convenient. If she is to succeed in her quest, she must figure out Warrick’s true motivations.
For young woodsman Markus, Warrick is the man who owns him. Markus has spent his entire life training to become an Imperial Guard, but it’s a future he can’t stomach. However, it’s the only option he has, or at least the only sane one–until he meets Nadia.
Reformed thief Berig doesn’t care about Warrick one way or the other. Berig would rather keep his head down and try to scratch out what meager living he can. But in a world like this, he’ll never get what he wants.
After all, Warrick has other plans.
The night Nadia lost her mother started like any other.
She and her mother were practicing their swordplay in the castle’s courtyard, evening sunlight glinting off their blunted blades. Nadia tried to ignore the sweat dripping into her eyes, focus on her footwork, and follow her instincts.
Her mother scored a hit on her chest. “You aren’t defending yourself well enough.”
“The sword is starting to feel heavy. I need a chance to rest.”
“Warrick isn’t resting.”
“I know, but—”
“I don’t want to hear your arguments,” her mother said. “If Warrick finds out what we’re planning, he will not hesitate to kill us.” She gripped Nadia’s shoulders, her touch firm but loving. “Both of us.”
Nadia had no response for that. She was only twelve, but she wasn’t stupid. She understood the dangers involved in opposing the emperor. They all did.
She hid her anger, though. Her mother had taught her to conceal her emotions. As nobility, they often had to speak with Emperor Warrick, and Nadia could not let slip that she intended to kill the tyrant.
“I know I sound angry,” her mother said, “but you’ve done well today. Perhaps we should wash up and join your father for dinner.”
After bathing, they joined Nadia’s father in the castle’s dining chamber, at a long wooden table draped in a red tablecloth. Magical torches cast blue light upon him as he sat alone, poking thoughtfully at some chicken with his fork.
“Is everything all right?” asked Nadia’s mother, taking a seat next to him.
“Oh, yes, everything’s fine.” He went back to his food, avoiding both their gazes.
“Father, are you sure nothing is wrong?”
He laid his silverware aside, leaving half his plate uneaten. His abrupt departure from the table caught Nadia by surprise. She tried to catch his attention, but he left the chamber, looking like a defeated man.
“Do you have any idea what might be bothering him?” Nadia asked her mother.
“I don’t know. I’ve never seen him like this before. Perhaps Warrick is making his life difficult again.”
“Warrick makes all our lives difficult.”
If Ryan has intrigued you, his book can be purchased below: