Robert Kroese - Fast-Paced Sword-and-Sorcery Adventure

Robert Kroese - Fast-Paced Sword-and-Sorcery Adventure

Robert Kroese's sense of irony was honed growing up in Grand Rapids, Michigan - home of the Amway Corporation and the Gerald R. Ford Museum, and the first city in the United States to fluoridate its water supply. In second grade, he wrote his first novel, the saga of Captain Bill and his spaceship Thee Eagle. This turned out to be the high point of his academic career. After barely graduating from Calvin College in 1992 with a philosophy degree, he was fired from a variety of jobs before moving to California, where he stumbled into software development. As this job required neither punctuality nor a sense of direction, he excelled at it. In 2009, he called upon his extensive knowledge of useless information and love of explosions to write his first novel, Mercury Falls. Since then, he has written 22 more novels. His latest book is The Brand of the Warlock.

Please give us a short introduction to what The Brand of the Warlock is about.

The Brand of the Warlock is a fast-paced sword-and-sorcery adventure about an ordinary man, named Konrad, who has a chance run-in with a sorcerer which basically ruins his life. Having been thrust into a world he doesn't understand, Konrad must fight enemies both ordinary and supernatural to get his revenge on the sorcerer.

What inspired you to write this book?

One of the book series I enjoyed most growing up was Roger Zelazny's Amber Chronicles. I wanted to write something that had that sense of fun and adventure. I mixed a little Count of Monte Cristo in for added fun.

Tell us more about Konrad. What makes him tick?

Konrad is a decent, hard-working guy who has some really awful luck. But he never gives up, and he keeps moving forward. And he keeps his head and his sense of humor.

Why did you decide to become a writer?

I'm not sure it was ever really a decision. I've always written stories, since I first learned how to write. The reception to my first novel, Mercury Falls, led me to decide to write fiction full-time.

This is the first book in your sword & sorcery series The Counterfeit Sorcerer. How do the other books in the series tie in with this one?

The series tells Konrad's story as he learns more about his world and faces bigger and badder threats. The series is very episodic, with Konrad facing a different challenge in each. I wanted the series to be sort of like a Dungeons & Dragons campaign, with a bigger monster to face at the end of each book.

Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?

I'm an amazing bullshitter. Wait, that's just writing, isn't it?

The book contained a couple of twists - did you plan them out before you started writing?

Sometimes the twists are planned; sometimes they're as much a surprise to me as the reader. If I ever find myself writing something where I think, "The reader is going to know exactly what happens over the next ten pages," I know it's time to do something different.

Why Fantasy? What drew you to this genre?

I grew up reading fantasy and sci-fi as a kid. I enjoy those genres because of the sense that anything can happen. As a writer, I bounce back and forth between fantasy and sci-fi, and I had just written a fairly hard sci-fi series requiring an insane amount of research (the Iron Dragon trilogy), so I figured it was time to do something a little less constrained by reality.

Even some people who don't like fantasy enjoyed this book - how did you pull that off?

As one reviewer said, "I hate fantasy and magic and all that crap... but Kroese does a terrific job." I think what some people don't like about fantasy is that magic becomes a crutch for poor storytelling. If the author doesn't know how to get the plot from Point A to Point B, they just throw in some magic. Magic just becomes whatever it is that the plot requires; there are no real rules or limitations to it. And at the other extreme, there are books that lay out the rules of magic so laboriously that it's not even really magic anymore, but rather a sort of alternative technology. I try to walk that line between magic being a deus ex machina and magic being so mundane that it's no longer wondrous. In any given situation, there's a possibility that magic might be the solution, but it's also always possible that magic will make things even worse....

What advice would you give to your younger self?

"Life is going to be harder than you expect. Don't give up." If you prefer writing advice, replace "life" with "writing novels."

Do you have a set of rules for your world? Is there a process you go through that helps define these?

The rules develop along with the plot, the characters and the world. The only unbreakable rule is not to violate the rules you've already established (although it may turn out that the rules are incomplete or misunderstood...)

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

Is writing in bed interesting? I have a monitor hanging from the ceiling over my bed, because I've found writing lying down is better for my back. When I'm actively writing, I aim for 2,000 words a day. I get my word count in and then allow myself to do other things. Sometimes I even get out of bed.

What are you working on right now?

I just finished The Book of the Dead (book three in this series), and am about to start book four. I'm hoping to have all five books done by January so I can take a vacation.

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

All my books are on Amazon. My website is and I'm on Twitter at @robkroese.