In anticipation of the release of the first book in his epic 18 part series, to be released by Oloris Publishing, I had a Q&A session with Jason R Jones, author of “The Last Pantheon” series.
1. We’ve spent a lot of time working on the text for ‘of spiders and falcons’ now. I’ve read it three times, and I can’t imagine how many times you’ve read it by this point. I know it’s changed a fair bit since my first read through. Do you have any thoughts on the process of preparing a text for self-publication versus with a publishing house? Or how the text has evolved since we’ve been working on it together?
The book started out as a story progressing with all the difficulty of bringing many people together, yet introducing them in their own element and setting. I struggled in self publishing as I wanted to put emphasis on each protagonist, to be fair to them and myself, without realizing that it twisted the reader all around. Sure, you can have a dozen protagonists, but each story needs to have a bit of focus, and in book one that is definitely James Andellis. His battles with the ogre, the wine, his past, and the resentments that accompany that blade he carries, they are the hidden struggle of book one. Bringing that to the forefront, that took some changes and reworking over several editions, and a brilliant editor (Robyn Stone-Kraft) before it truly shone through.
2. There are some awesome characters in your created world. I’m fond of Saberrak and Shinayne especially, and their interactions. (Gwenne and Lavress close in second place.) Which character do you think is your favorite? Or what do you like best about each of your main characters?
Each of the eighteen through the series are special to me, and hold a unique aura and speak with a voice their own. James is the voice of inner struggle, resentment, alcoholism, and survival. He reminds me of mens’ failures, of my mortal self, and that the best actions often came about from a bottle of wine, a resentment, and a bit of divine intervention. He is denial, courage, self-delusion, and great achievments…and his own worst enemy.
Shinayne is passion, little does she speak or do without emotion and invested spirit. She is critical yet accepting, soft yet deadly, cautious yet confident, royal and down to earth, all wrapped into one woman, reminding me often of my mother. She needs no one, yet does not want to be alone. She seeks the love and laughter of life, yet often times she is the laughter and love to others, yet does not realize how strong she is and how others depend upon her.
Saberrak is nothing but strength and common sense, reminding me of the men I grew up admiring as mentors. It is the way it is, mostly unchangeable, inflexible, and made of steel you dare not attempt to break, not to mention stubborn beyond most reasonable definitions of the word. I grew up with men like that, out in the country and in the Marines, at times, I am the same, just ask my wife. His reliance goes without stating, he knows his place, and is quick to judge.
Azenairk is truth and promise, the true spirit of unfailing loyalty. Against all odds, and words or proof to the contrary, he is pious to God and his family, even when it is not convenient. He is integrity, honesty, and relentless in his search for the deeper morals of friendship and courage, and he is what is best in a friend.
Gwenneth, well, she is a conundrum beyond Shinayne or James, and the opposite of the more direct Saberrak and Zen. Gwenneth Lazlette is the child that lost their dreams for power, the one that had to prove it all and did, but now has no direction. She is the reflection of wasted years, unbridled anger held deep within, and ability that is beyond arrogance and confidence. She knows not love and loyalty, only that she needs to be free of the prison she is now realizing she has allowed herself to become held within. Despite her reserved self, there is an inner desire to see, feel, and rise above everything around her, and to find more ways to be better than anyone who has entered her life. She is a stranger and competitor in everything, from small social situations to large scale arcane duels, and she is out to prove it, although she may not truly understand what that is.
3. Following up with the previous question, one of the strengths of the book is how the strength of the bonds between the main characters is portrayed. What are your thoughts on that? Which interactions come most naturally while you write? Which do you like writing most? Which relationship do you find most interesting? Is there anything readers can look out for in upcoming books (without spoilers!)
The five come together through fate, yet it is how each one of them fits with one another that keeps their course. Throughout the series, there are times and situations that will try and would break them apart, yet there is something there beyond normal friendship.
Most obvious, is Shinayne and Saberrak, and the most unusual. She should be repulsed, being so opposite a massive horned beast. He should not even notice her, so small and elegant. Yet her song entrances him, and his strength matches her skill, and the two become very close by the end of book one. Saberrak has no knowledge of women wielding blades or reason to trust in Shinayne, yet he does, and it pays off. Shinayne does not have any experience with slaves or escaped gladiatorial beasts, so her pessimism is understandable, yet she ignores it. They are very different, yet handle situations much the same, with action, caution, and quick judgement. Watch out when things try and come between them as the series progresses….
Perhaps it is my wicked side revealing itself, but Kendari of Stillwood is my most natural course of writing. He has a method, and attitude, and an anger toward most everything that does not go as he wishes. He wants glory and recognition, infamy and wealth, yet it is to be feared that puts the biggest smile across his face.
4. One major question that readers might have is – why 18? That is an incredibly ambitious plan for a book series. Any insight on that?
I am nothing short of ambitious, that is evident. When I took these notes from when I was a teenager, and laid them out in the garage in 2009, it broke into five parts. Each of those first four parts, had an outline that covered four books, so four chronological quartets. The ending, a great duet was outlined. So, it became eighteen. Let us not forget that in between each quartet, I have a small “revelation” to release, and that does not take into consideration all the other side novels my mind has dreamt up. I may need to hire writers in the far future….
5. What are your favorite parts, being careful to avoid giving too much away, from the first book? What should readers really be excited about?
There is a reason for everything, one person, one place, even a moment in time. James Andellis and his failure at Arouland will haunt him, likely forever. Yet, without that dismal drop into the wine bottle and self loathing, he would not meet who he is to meet. James seems to be hanging onto life by mere threads, yet without having been where he was, and all his suffering, he cannot be open to finding divine peace and accomplishing something greater than himself or the ogre. Every man will fail, but rising back up and becoming part of something, instead of against everything, that is heroism. And heroism, is perhaps the reason, for James Andellis.
6. Why should readers read your books? There are plenty of epic fantasy series out there. What makes this series so unique that fantasy fans should give it a try?
My series will delve beyond epic fantasy, big adventures, armies of nations, and monstrous hordes. The Last Pantheon is a last stand of forgotten or cast-off pagan beings, and it will bring to light the religious and mythological clash, the one where many fantasy novels dip their toes, but do not jump into. There was a time, in our history, when the believers in other Gods and Pantheons stood against the armies of One God. In out world, for almost all occurrences, the One God was victorious, and subsequently indoctrinated the conquered, killed those that would not convert, and put their beliefs to the pages we now call “mythology”. What if they were no myth, what if they had won or survived, what would this world be like today? The Last Pantheon is just that, the last struggle to stand and live, in a world where the worshippers of the Many Gods, are falling to extinction to the armies of the One God. There is no deeper way to epitomize freedom, than to stand for not just what you believe in, but for the existence of an entire divine worship that is about to become trampled into the pages of myth, forever.
The book is now available for pre-sale and will be released at the end of October.