Book Tour Q&A: Eleventh Cycle by Kian N. Ardalan
Today we're taking part in the book tour organized by Escapist Book Tours for Eleventh Cycle by Kian N. Ardalan! Continue reading for the book blurb and a Q&A with the author.
About the book
It has been a thousand years since the last Seed abandoned their duty. The mists are closing in. Finally, the Morning Bell tolls. A new Seed is born, but is it too late?
The rot eats away at mortals. The Witnesses pray so that they may not turn into one of the forgotten. And the constricting mists infect the lands with fear.
But there is more to this tale than just the Elders and their Seeds. Four mortals will have a part to play in Minethria’s fate. A farmer girl with only love in her eyes. A warrior born to the life of a refugee. A highborn stuck between the realm of gods and men. And a woman running into front lines and away from home.
Will the cycle finally be completed? Or will the mist swallow all?
“A seed is born and the evil is slain, so doth another cycle commence. Yet the last Seed born hath turned traitor, and the mists which had been pushed back, returneth.”
On to the interview...!
Thank you so much for joining us for this Q&A! We’ll start off with one of our standard podcast opening questions–tell us something great that’s happened recently.
This entire month has been surreal. Honestly, the amazing support and attention have blown me away more than anything else. Petrik Leo’s review jumpstarted what could essentially bring my book to the hands of many readers and I just feel humbled.
What are you currently reading or what’s up next on your TBR? What made you pick up this book?
Gunmetal gods is my current read although to be honest, I haven’t been able to get much reading done this past month. And it’s important to support other authors and just make sure to keep reading and keep your writing sharp!
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to start writing?
I was never academically gifted. I was just average. But the one thing I always could supposedly do well was right. And my imagination had a life of its own quite often. Around early 2017, I decided to write as a hobby on /r/writingprompts (on reddit), and to my very pleasant surprise, people just kept wanting more of these short stories I wrote. I very quickly realised that I really enjoyed writing, and that I could potentially make a career out of it. Here we are!
How do you spend your free time when you’re not reading or writing? Do you have any hobbies or interests that you can talk to us about?
Mostly spending time with my girlfriend. I also love being a dungeon master for TTRPGs! But other than that, I do love video games. I have become more selective in what I play, but it is indeed games like Dark Souls and Hollow Knight which have birthed Eleventh Cycle.
Who are your favorite current writers and who are your greatest influences?
Mark Lawrence hands down will always have a special place in my heart. His prose feels the most iconic to me. But as of recent, I am most excited for Pierce Brown’s Red Rising series to be completed!
If you could collaborate with any one author, who would it be and why?
Hmmm. There is a certain hubris to say I’d love to work with Mark. While I love his work, it doesn’t necessarily mean we’d work well together. I think I’d love to work with a more recent author in memory, and that being Nathan Hall. I wonder what world we could create together! (His book is also Dark Souls inspired)
What is one thing that you love about the current state of SFF and what is one thing that you wish you saw more of?
Definitely the indie scene. To be more specific, I absolutely love how the indie scene invites innovation and allows for more risk from authors. I feel as if the trad world is so risk adverse that they don’t take a gamble on a book that is just different. What is a shame is that quite often, the trad publishers wait for Indie authors to prove that their gamble works when they publish independently and then they snatch that author up. Worse still, is that many writers with fantastic books can’t afford the indie route either way which does cost a few thousand.
What is one book you want to shout about to the world? What about it makes you love it so much?
Oh god. I can’t possibly pick. I’d obviously say anything written by Mark Lawrence, but I also want to give a spotlight for books not as well known. An Altar On The Village Green was most certainly one of my favourite reads. And its fitting that the book was also inspired by Dark Souls. Highly recommend it.
What are your favorite types of stories? Of characters?
I think I love broken characters the most. It is very apparent in my own writing that I love very raw and unfiltered emotions. A character that is fighting some sort of demon (figuratively speaking) is always so compelling.
How much do you plan when you write? What’s your writing process like?
I really am a pantser. I plot nothing. I think the only things which I jut down is when I have an idea that I don’t want to forget, or if I need to make sure that I keep the lore of a universe consistent.
Is this your first book? If so, what lessons have you learned from writing it? If not, what lessons did you learn from writing earlier books that you brought into this one?
Not my first. However, I will say it is my first actual passion project. Unlike The Fantastically Underwhelming Epic, Eleventh Cycle was a book that I really poured everything into.
And I think one important lesson I learnt was having good lifestyle habits. I can see how proper sleep, exercise, and meditation has a correlation to when I write well. Otherwise, I would say to remember that you should always write a story that means something to you first before you focus on if it will appeal to a mass market.
What do you think characterizes your writing style?
Good question. Especially with Eleventh Cycle, there is a lot of emphasis with writing beautiful scenes in spite of it being a grimdark novel. I put in a lot of effort to really make each scene feel like a beautiful painting.
How much of yourself do you write into your stories?
I wouldn’t say much of myself into my stories, but rather my reality. How I think people grieve, how I feel family can be complex, how people lie and cheat despite being good people. These are all aspects I feel speaks to the raw reality we live in and I try to insert that into my work.
What comes first to you when you’re writing, the world, the characters, or the storyline?
A bit of everything. It turns into a kind of jumble? Sometimes I have a character idea that I pocket for a future series. Sometimes the world starts taking shape and by extension, a storyline which compliments that world.
They say to never judge a book by its cover, but a cover is still a marketing tool that helps sell books. Can you tell us about the idea behind the cover of your book?
I think the idea of “Never judge a book by its cover,” is deceptive. The cover is the first thing a potential reader sees, and it needs to be something that draws them in. This is a good cover. But to be honest, I believe that a good cover adds to the experience!
My cover includes an Elder Guard, a three armed being that was once mortal, and failed to become an Elder Knight. They have three arms to speak towards the asymmetry. And it also speaks of a failure to be complete. They cover their single arm with a dazzling cape as if to hide this failed ascension. And more than that, each time one of my readers opens the book, they are making the active decision to make their way past this guard to enter into an uncompromising world and I think (or hope) that that adds to the experience.
Can you give us an elevator pitch for your book?
I’ve pretty much just marketed as a “A book inspired by Dark Souls,” but for the non-gamers out there, I’d say “A grimdark that finds beauty in the most grim of moments.”
Describe your book in 3 adjectives.
Dark, cathartic, and beautiful.
How different is the final version of this book from the first draft?
Not so different. I did add the epigraphs in the final draft. But the book as a whole is pretty identical to the original. There are some differences like the akar used to be called Ungar but that’s an actual demographic in the german language so I changed it to stay respectful.
Can you tell us a little bit about your characters? What are your favorite kinds of characters to write?
There are 5 characters in total.
One character is a newly born higher being. A seed. They need to be instilled with an idea so they are ready to set out and save the world from the evil. At the moment, they have no real grasp on anything.
Dalila is a young girl whose world is very small indeed. She lives at her parent’s farm.
Nora is a frustratingly stubborn soldier. She had ran away from home and what she deems to be the cult of the witnesses and now serves in the Clerian army.
Chroma is an akar, my take on the “orc” type of race. He was born and is raised in a refugee camp, and has to combat the idea of belonging to a long line of warriors and yet, not being able to partake in the traditions of his people as said refugee.
Erefiel is a knight. Son to the famous zerub, White-Hawk, he has a habit of helping people who need his help. All because he was starved of love from a young age.
If you could choose one worldbuilding detail (a place, ability, or creature, for example) from your book to exist in the real world, what would it be and why?
I think the inspired is one of my favourite parts of the book. I’d love it if our art could manifest real, touchable magic. Then again, good art is magical in its own right and does move mountains.
In your opinion, what kind of reader would like this book?
If you can stomach true grimdark, I’d say it could be of interest to you! It is really made for people who want something emotionally raw, about people living in an indifferent world with rich prose and worldbuilding.
What would you like readers to take away from this book?
If anything, I want it to be cathartic. I want readers who are going through a tough time to read the book and think “If they could do it, then so can I!”
Do you have a favorite quote from your book that you can share with us? What about this quote in particular makes it your favorite?
I have several!
“Then learn to love yourself, learn to believe in life and to help others because you want to. You are like Igura’s compassion, aimless and alone you wander the world and fill your self-worth by making sure that others are happy. You give more and more of yourself until there is nothing left, like Mimir the Mad. You want to heal the world? Start by forgiving yourself and opening yourself up to the possibilities again.”
I just think this is a message more people need to hear. Learn to love yourself, instead of helping others in hopes of being loved.
Is there anything you can tell us about any current projects you’re working on?
I am currently writing book 2 of Mistland, as well as another Sci-Fi project with robotic angels and devils in a post-apocalyptic future! It will certainly be something to look out for.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for us! Do you have any parting thoughts or comments you’d like to leave for our readers?
If Eleventh Cycle has caught your attention and you have ordered a copy, just know that I am eternally grateful. If not, I hope you find another book more to your tastes that you will enjoy!
And finally, where can you be found on the internet if our readers want to hear more from you?
I am on twitter under ArdalanKian. Or on Instagram under @ardalan.writes
You can also find me on my website to sign up for my newsletter so you never miss out on news! www.kiannardalan.com
Where to buy the book:
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/eleventh-cycle-kian-n-ardalan/1142234086
Silverstones Books: https://silverstonesbooks.com/product/eleventh-cycle/