New Mark Smylie interview

The folks at Pyr have high hopes for the just released Mark Smylie's The Barrow (Canada, USA, Europe).

Here's the blurb:

To find the Sword, unearth the Barrow. To unearth the Barrow, follow the Map.

When a small crew of scoundrels, would-be heroes, deviants, and ruffians discover a map that they believe will lead them to a fabled sword buried in the barrow of a long-dead wizard, they think they've struck it rich. But their hopes are dashed when the map turns out to be cursed and then is destroyed in a magical ritual. The loss of the map leaves them dreaming of what might have been, until they rediscover the map in a most unusual and unexpected place.

Stjepan Black-Heart, suspected murderer and renegade royal cartographer; Erim, a young woman masquerading as a man; Gilgwyr, brothel owner extraordinaire; Leigh, an exiled magus under an ignominious cloud; Godewyn Red-Hand, mercenary and troublemaker; Arduin Orwain, scion of a noble family brought low by scandal; and Arduin's sister Annwyn, the beautiful cause of that scandal: together they form a cross-section of the Middle Kingdoms of the Known World, brought together by accident and dark design, on a quest that will either get them all in the history books, or get them all killed.

The Qwillery just posted an interview with the author and here's a teaser:

What inspired you to write The Barrow? Why did you choose to write Epic Fantasy? Are there any other genres or sub-genres in which you'd like to write?

Epic Fantasy (or its cousin, Swords & Sorcery) has always been my favorite genre; I’ll read or watch noir, mysteries, horror, science fiction, but the genre that always draws me back is fantasy. I appreciate world-building, and you tend to see that most in fantasy and science fiction. There’s a lot of different impulses going into The Barrow—the aforementioned themes of gender and sexual politics, a love of mythology and the language of fantasy nomenclature, some real world politics (the Balkan wars and the search for WMDs in Iraq, believe it or not), a fondness and nostalgia for roleplaying games. In fact a number of the scenes and settings are tips of the hat to old roleplaying game locations and tropes; when I first conceptualized the project, I thought of it as aiming for a “Dungeons & Dragons meets Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels or The Usual Suspects” kind of vibe. And the setting of the prologue is in fact a riff on the cover of the original first edition AD&D Player’s Handbook. Despite the gaming influences, you don’t need to be a gamer to appreciate the story, I don’t think. And indeed, despite the fact that it ties into the Artesia comic book series, no previous knowledge of the comics and graphic novels is necessary to read The Barrow. I wrote it for a general fantasy audience, assuming that the reader was new to the world and the characters. I’d like to think it walks the line between the heroism of high fantasy and the abject anti-heroism of modern grimdark. The world and the characters are marked by myth and magic, by gods and cults, but the adventure in it owes more to, say, Treasure of the Sierra Madre than Indiana Jones or the quest for the One Ring.

Follow this link to read the full piece!

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