Marcus Lee - A Tale of Conquest Set in a Dystopian Land

Marcus Lee - A Tale of Conquest Set in a Dystopian Land

Marcus Lee is the father of an epic son and now an author of the legendary fantasy trilogy ‘The gifted and the cursed.’ Although he has lived in London his entire life, he has also lived in a thousand worlds thanks to his love of fantasy. Writing hasn't always been a serious hobby for him... but it has always been there, lurking in the shadows, serving him well when called upon. Over the years, Lee has written many short stories, as well as poetry. He'd like to think, that even if they were never intended to be published, they were nonetheless warmly received by the intended recipients. Then in 2019, he was inspired to write not just a short story, or poetry, but a book. Then, suddenly, one book turned into a trilogy and a labour of love, and it was a love he wanted to share with the world.  The pandemic that put his career in sport on hold, also gave him the opportunity to lavish time on his alternative hobby, or, if demand dictates, his new career. As our Author of the Day, Lee tells us all about his book, Kings and Daemons.

Please give us a short introduction to what Kings and Daemons is about

I’ll try not to give too much away, even though there is so much to tell. Kings and Daemons is the first book in The Gifted and the Cursed trilogy. The title of the series explains the books’ unique twist; What the gods give with one hand, they take away with the other, for if you are gifted, you shall also be cursed.

It’s a multiperspective, Dark Fantasy novel with a plot full of ambition, revenge, love, betrayal and tragedy. Add to that incredible battles, dark kings, darker heroes, believable gifts, curses, characters with incredible depth and much much more. Overall I firmly believe it’s an original, spellbinding tale that readers will absolutely love.

The blurb.

Over fifty years have passed since Daleth the seemingly immortal Witch-King, and his army conquered the Ember Kingdom.

Now, with the once fertile lands and its enslaved people dying around him, the Witch-King, driven by his insatiable thirst for eternal youth, prepares his forces to march on the prosperous neighbouring Freestates. It will be the beginnings of a conquest that could destroy nations, bringing death and destruction on an unimaginable scale.

Then, when a peasant huntress whose rare gift was concealed from birth is exposed, it sets in motion a chain of events that could alter the destiny of generations to come.

What inspired you to write a dark fantasy romance set in a dystopian land?

I’ve read so many fantasy books throughout my life and visited worlds that others imagined, so I always wanted to create one of my own for others to enjoy. After writing lots of short stories over the years, the love of my life (yes, I’m a hopeless romantic) inspired me to write a book, and then that turned into a trilogy as it took on a life of its own.

As for why a dark fantasy romance in a dystopian land, well, I think that the two genres of dark fantasy and romance work incredibly well together. The romance element of this book isn’t heavy, and yet against such darkness, it shines with an incredible light without having to go into great detail. Likewise, the dystopian backdrop provides an amazing canvas for the gift that Maya possesses to be portrayed in a breathtakingly colourful way.

Tell us more about the life-draining force of the Witch King.

There is a wonderful, sad, but also dark back story about how he came to be, and how he discovered his gift, but I won't spoil it for the readers. However, he maintains his eternal youth with a force which is subtly vampiric in nature. He slowly draws the very life from the land itself, and thus over time, crops fail, trees become diseased, fish float dead in the rivers. Subsequently, he also feeds off of the misery of his subjects. Like a parasite, he gives nothing back, and as the land dies under his dominion, it has less to sustain him. Thus he is forced to seek new realms to conquer to maintain his semi-immortal and youthful life.

People have compared your work to that of David Gemmell, James Barclay and Suzanne Collins.  Who are some of your favourite authors that you would like to name as influences?

I think you named one already. I bought all of David’s books and loved most of them. Going back further Ursula La Guin, Susan Cooper, Tolkien, Terry Brooks … the list goes on and on. There are lots of modern authors I enjoy too, and fantasy has evolved so much, but I believe we are most influenced in our youth; hence the choices I have made.

Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?

I am heavily involved in the ‘world’ of sport, so I am rather proficient in my chosen field. Yes, I’m a little vague, simply because I like to keep my ‘two lives’ very separate. Other skills, well I’m always trying to improve as a father, and as my son is about to become a teenager, I need to up my game there. I’m a pretty decent cook, can play a mean game of pool, darts and table tennis (misspent youth) and am a bit of a greek mythology know it all.

What is the hardest thing about being a writer?

As an indie writer, there are lots of hard things. The writing is the easy part for me. I finished my 500k word trilogy doing a few hours a week in around a year. So the hard part is everything else. Top of the list would be cracking the marketing of the book, and that is something I work on every day, often with little success. So, I turn to people like your good selves, to try to help me raise my profile and the book as well.

Readers say this is a real page-turner - making them read on until the early morning hours.  How did you pull this off?

I was advised never to read reviews, but I have to admit to ignoring that advice, so it was good to see such positive feedback. As for causing sleep deprivation, I think it’s because the first book moves at a great pace. It’s full of peril, and there are so many cliffhangers for the multiple characters who begin the story miles apart. So, often you want to know what happens, with Maya, but then you have to read about Kalas before you can find out. During this time there’s a cliffhanger for Kalas, and so it continues… thus it’s hard to put down.

Which character did you find the most challenging to create?

I would say Daleth, the Witch-King was challenging. He has to be dark and evil, yet people aren’t born that way and aren’t always dripping in malice every breath they take. So, I wanted to show both sides of the good/evil divide with him. Then again, I’ve tried to do that with all of my characters, especially as the trilogy continues. In war, even the ‘good’ get their hands terribly dirty, and no one can escape the stain it leaves on the soul.

Does writing about surreal worlds and enigmatic scenes present any particular problems?

I think fantasy actually gives us a canvas which is blank and thus easily painted upon. We are limited only by our own imagination. I wanted to create something ‘believable’ and consistent, yet readers of this genre have a huge capacity for acceptance as long as there is continuity. So, no, I don’t think there were any particular problems other than staying ‘true’ to what I wanted to write.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?

This trilogy grew organically. Before I put quill to parchment, I knew where the story would start, and also where it would finish. Yet, everything in between was driven by my imagination on the day, at my keyboard, in the shower, on the school run or at the gym.

Who are you speaking to in the book? Who do you imagine your audience to be?

I think this book could reach so many across a broad range of fantasy tastes.

Low/High fantasy: It’s more of a medieval-esq fantasy world. So, don’t expect elves and dwarves, yet there are obviously Daemons, and I won’t say what else. Thus readers of low and high fantasy would enjoy it.

Epic Fantasy: It’s a trilogy about conquest, involving sieges, battles, quests, so fits into the epic category.

Dark Fantasy: Oh yes, Daemons, dystopian world, dark kings, darker heroes.

Romance: There is a romantic subplot, yet it isn’t ‘heavy’ so someone who doesn’t like romance shouldn’t be put off. Yet nonetheless, it is touching and is an integral part of the story, driving decisions that wouldn’t otherwise be made. So, yes, lovers of romance will enjoy it too.

Sword and Sorcery, Action-adventure, Young Adult, it ticks all those boxes and much more.

Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?

I wish I could be a full-time writer and have an ‘average’ writing day, yet currently, I am a long way from that.


What are you working on right now?

Most of my free ‘bookish’ time is currently spent getting books two and three ready for publishing. Once they’re out there, and the trilogy is completed, then I already have another series in mind. Tristan’s Folly should be out next month, although I’ve enjoyed adding to the plot recently, putting the deadline back. The End of Dreams will follow early in the new year.

Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?

I’d be delighted to interact more with the growing reader-base. It is so motivational to hear how people enjoy the book, or even to discuss the reason behind a character's actions. So, readers can reach me on:-