J.B. Markes has had a fascination with fantasy stories ever since his aunt bought him a copy of the Legend of Zelda, an 8-bit RPG game. He now writes in the genre and likes to add unexpected twists and a touch of humor. His latest novel, Necrospect is no exception, featuring a necromancer as the good guy, a world where magic has serious side effects and an interesting murder mystery. As our author of the day, Markes gives us a behind the scenes look at Necrospect, talks about his top-secret skills and reveals what he is working on now.
Please give us a short introduction to what Necrospect is about
Necrospect is a fun fantasy read set at a magic academy, but at its heart is a character-driven murder mystery. It follows a young wizard named Isabel, who is dying slowly from a rare magical illness. She seeks out Gustobald Pitch, the resident necromancer, in the hopes of finding a cure. Gustobald is on his own quest to solve a high-profile murder, which he hopes will bring a good name to the field of necromancy. They decide to work together to solve the mystery.
What inspired you to have a necromancer as a main character?
Necromancers are usually the bad guys. No offense to necromancers. It’s just how it is. It’s about time they get a little respect, isn’t it?
Necrospect is a dark fantasy, but you also include a lot of humor – why did you take this approach?
Necrospect doesn’t take itself too seriously, and that’s its greatest strength. There are many scenes that would be impossible to arrange in a serious dark fantasy. It’s difficult to create art that defies tropes and satisfies expectations at the same time. Whether or not I succeeded, it was fun to write, and hopefully fun to read.
Why fantasy? What appeals to you about the genre?
It often disappoints me when I see Science Fiction and Fantasy lumped into the same category. Whereas science fiction explores hypothetical situations and the resulting consequences of those what-if scenarios, fantasy focuses on the greatness within all of us. We need these stories to remind us what we can accomplish if we look for the strength we didn’t know we had. I’m a fan of many genres, but I grew up on fantasy and I couldn’t imagine writing anything else.
How did the old 8-bit RPG video games inspire your writing?
I got my first Nintendo as a Christmas gift. My aunt bought me a copy of the Legend of Zelda, which I think she must have purchased at random, but that game changed my eight-year-old life. We didn’t have the internet back then, so I had to explore and figure out all of the puzzles myself. Sometimes late in the game I got stuck and couldn’t find the way forward, so I just left the dungeon and explored the game world for months and months. Looking back, I marvel at my own patience as a child. But it was all about the adventure, and not so much beating the game. When I have a great idea for writing (or when I’m stuck), I try to take it slow, let it develop, and appreciate the adventure.
Did you always know you wanted to be an author?
I didn’t. I’ve only been serious about writing for about five years, but I had a few close calls in my teenage years. There may be a few stories of mine gathering digital dust on a dead hard drive somewhere. I hope no one ever finds them.
Besides writing, what other secret skills did you have?
Those are top-secret. If you find out, please let me know.
Greed and prejudice are two recurrent themes in this book. Why did you find this important to explore?
With a necromancer hero, prejudice is just unavoidable. It’s the same in everyday life. We have a primitive urge to fear the other and shun what we don’t understand. As humans, we have the ability to rise above that, suspending our judgments, and learning to appreciate each other for both our similarities and our differences.
As for greed, in my setting magic is like a drug. It affects your judgment and gets you high. The more you cast spells, the more you want to cast spells. If a wizard lacks discipline, he or she will lose control and the magic will destroy them, and yet people seek it. The desire for power makes people do crazy things.
If this book should get a movie adaptation, which actors would you like to see in the roles of Gustobald and Isabel?
I’ve been asked this question a few times. I always come up with nothing. To be honest, I’m a fan of new faces and I wouldn’t mind seeing a brand new actor/actress in the leading roles.
What are you working on right now?
Gustobald and Isabel are keeping me busy. I’m almost finished with a first-draft rewrite on the sequel. I’m also polishing a few short stories (unrelated to Necrospect) that I’ll be releasing soon and putting the finishing touches on The Heretic Queen, the final book of my For Queen or Country series.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
I’m notoriously lazy with my social media, but I can be reached at www.jbmarkes.com or on Goodreads.