Joseph Daniel & Bryan Arneson - An Edge-of-Your-Seat Adventure in a World With Spiritual and Magical Depth
Bryan and Joseph met co-dming a series of roleplaying games, including a Pathfinder campaign that has run for two years. Joseph is the author of nineteen novels under various pen names, and Bryan is a professional game master and storyteller. As our Authors of the Day, they tell us all about their book, Graveyard Gods.
Please give us a short introduction to what The Raider and the Rapier is about.
The story follows a tomb raider who accidentally ressurects a murdered goddess. The goddess reveals a secret that could bring his murdered wife's soul back to the land of the living, and sets the tomb raider on a course to kidnap an emperor. Meanwhile, a knight promoted to lord captain sets out in search of the tomb raider, hunting him across pirate-infested seas. Readers are comparing the story to Indiana Jones and Pirates of the Caribbean.
What inspired you to write about a tomb raider, a tournament champion and a murdered goddess?
Well, when we were thinking about what sort of story we wanted to tell, we both really loved the idea of writing one of those classic adventurers, someone like Indiana Jones or Lara Croft, and maybe with a little MacGyver thrown in there for flavor. We wanted someone we could really take to some wild places or throw against incredible odds, so that was the seed of Edmond, our tomb raider. And those sort of characters tend to be very free-spirited and self-reliant, so who makes for a better foil to play against them than a by-the-book knight, a tournament champion who has benefited from the status-quo? Beyond that, we knew we wanted a world with spiritual and magical depth, something akin to the ancient Greek and Norse myths where the gods walked and talked and were part of people's everyday life. And the idea of this very earthy character, our tomb raider, traveling with a deity and bringing his mortal wits to bear against the conspiracy that murdered her, well, it was too exciting not to pursue and see where the story took us.
How did you two decide to start co-writing?
We have co-run a pathfinder/D&D campaign for a couple of years now, and it felt like a natural fit.
Besides writing, what secret skills do each of you have?
To start with, Joe doesn't seem to need sleep. Beyond that, his phenomenal storytelling extends into other areas, like the ridiculously fun games of Dungeons & Dragons that he runs. As for Bryan, he loves theatre and keeps about a half-dozen Shakespearean monologues memorized at any given time as a weird way of entertaining himself (his favorites come from Richard III).
Tell us more about the cover of the book and how it came about.
The idea behind the covers has always been to communicate the different things that motivate our two main characters. The first book has a crown sinking into the ocean as well as a rapier. Both of our heroes are in search of things they once lost, but intend to recover.
Did you plan from the start to make this into a series? How do the other books in the series tie in with this one?
We knew right away that the adventure we had for Edmond and Augustin wouldn't let itself be confined to one book or even a neat trilogy. Edmond is a rough character. He knows what he wants, but in spite of how clever he is (or thinks he is), he's a bit of a bull in a china shop, and that has consequences, even for the gods.
Tell us more about Edmond Mondego. What makes him tick?
Edmond is a man who is stuck in the five stages of grief. He refuses to accept his wife's demise, and so he's a man in mourning. But, of course, he hides it beneath audacious schemes and a single-minded focus.
Which character was the most challenging to write for?
Mirastious, the goddess. Unquestionably. She is so important to Edmond's quest and to the integrity of the world around her, but she's also deeply elemental. When we started, she was more of an idea or a force of nature than a person, and it took us a lot of interactions to begin to discover who she was under her godhood.
Why did you decide to add pirates into the mix?
Honestly, the pirates invited themselves. We knew we had a tomb-raider, a sort of treasure hunter, and a story that demanded travel. You don't go treasure hunting if there isn't a treasure to be found. So when supporting characters and groups started stepping into the story it only seemed natural that there would be these pirates. We don't want the reader too comfortable in their notion of pirates though. The Gilded Isles have some similarities with the age of sail, but they are definitely not the Caribbean.
Readers report that your descriptions made them feel like they are right there in the action - how did you pull this off?
Any time we manage to pull a reader in, we consider that a huge win. We like to use a scene-sequel structure like the sort found in Debbie Chester's Fantasy Fiction Formula. It's important for us to make it clear what our protagonist's goals are, and from there what obstacles oppose them. This sort of tension seems to appeal to our readers.
Co-writing, how do you make it work? Any interesting writing habits?
Communication is key. We are relying on each other to know where the story is going and to get it there together. So we meet every week or two and touch base by phone or email as we go. Before starting the book we had an outline that we wrote together so we both know where the characters are going and where they are going to intersect. Of course, there are some adjustments along the way. As we go, the story tends to develop in new ways. Often, it will develop in more interesting ways than the original plan. As for habits, Joe is a very down to earth and diligent writer, whereas Bryan enjoys drinking enough coffee to kill a small horse and blasting progressive metal as he taps away.
What are you working on right now?
Joe: Continuing the Raider and Rapier chronicles, and also preparing to launch a new series about a Prison Breaker.
Bryan: Continuing the Raider and the Rapier chronicles, and also working a pet project that has taken nearly a decade to develop.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
Joseph Daniel has his Horrendous Imaginings and The Secret Seven series available on Amazon Kindle, and you can see what he's up to at josephdanielauthor.com. This is Bryan Arneson's first series, but you can see what he's up to on Twitter @ArnesonAuthor or on Facebook at Bryan Arneson Author.