Book Tour Q&A: Seekers: The Winds of Change by Troy Knowlton
Today we're taking part in the book tour organized by Escapist Book Tours for Seekers: The Winds of Change by Troy Knowlton! Continue reading for the book blurb and a Q&A with the author.
About the book
After an assassination attempt that could lead to an all-out war, Tyras and Oren, two young Seekers of the Argan Empire, are each given secret missions in an attempt to thwart the coming chaos. Both tasks require the Seekers to venture through the war-torn continent of Tiarna where the young men face mortal danger, horrible monsters, and hostile groups – all challenges Seekers are trained to combat. Luckily, the two Seekers also find guidance, friendship, and romance along the way. However, powerful and mysterious forces are conspiring behind the scenes and both Tyras and Oren will have to overcome a host of obstacles, including their own inner demons, in order to maintain a glimmer of hope for success. With war imminent and the unknown ahead, will the Seekers triumph, or will they be swallowed by the turbulent, relentless Winds of Change?
Set in a new, masterfully created high fantasy world, Seekers: The Winds of Change is perfect for fans of An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir and We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faisal.
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.
Thank you for hosting this Q&A and being a part of my blog tour, I appreciate it! Recently, I finished the last of my classes to earn a bachelor’s degree in History. This was a fulfilling milestone to achieve on the heels of my debut novel’s release back in July. My current WIP (the sequel) is coming along nicely, and, other than that, I’ve just been busy teaching the students in my hospital’s x-ray program, as well as adjunct at the local community college.
What are you currently reading or what’s up next on your TBR? What made you pick up this book?
Currently, I’ve got two books that I’ve been going back and forth between, though my day job and my writing has hindered the amount of free time/reading time I’m allotted each day. That being said, those two books are Curse of the Mistwraith by Janny Wurts and The Last of the Atalanteans by P. L. Stuart. I picked up the former due to numerous recommendations, chiefly from Matthew Higgins of Hobbit Hole Books. I was gifted the latter by P. L. Stuart himself after reading the first book in his debut series: A Drowned Kingdom, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Taking into account what I’ve read so far of each, both books have been absolutely fantastic.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to start writing?
I’ve always been a creatively-minded person, drawing fantasy maps since I was a kid. I was inspired by the beautiful maps present in fantasy novels like Lord of the Rings. I also played a lot of fantasy-inspired video games like Warcraft and the Elder Scrolls. These settings made me want to create my own, where I could tell whatever kind of story I wanted to. I was always an avid daydreamer, too, so I would dream up all sorts of different scenarios (a giant battle here, an underground treasure hunt there). Eventually, I grew up and appreciated the storytelling aspect of media more, noticing things like character development and central themes. As I found ones that resonated with me, I yearned to create something like that, something I could share with other people. Eventually, with no formal writing experience or knowledge of the craft, I started writing. I watched all sorts of youtube videos on plot, characterization, archetypes, tropes, worldbuilding, etc. As I struggled through it, I started talking about it at work, which led me to discover that one of my co-workers’ sister was a freelance editor with a master’s degree in creative writing. Her influence helped shape me into something that may resemble a writer.
How much do you plan when you write? What’s your writing process like?
I do a lot of outlining in my head before sitting down to write a chapter. Typically, I’ll daydream the chapter beats on long drives, or on my daily commute. The good stuff usually sticks and acts as my initial outline. From there, I’ll get a sense of the main themes of each chapter as they relate to the novel as a whole. Many of these larger chapter-spanning concepts will have been bullet points of the novel’s strucutre that I’ve worked out when planning the overall plot for the novel before writing it, but some come organically as I get deeper into the story.
As far as my process, I write the story chronologically, from chapter 1 to epilogue. Google Docs is my word processor of choice. I write on my laptop during downtime at work, on my desktop when at home, or on my phone if the mood strikes me and I don’t have access to my laptop or desktop. Music and a caffeinated beverage somehow always get my creative juices flowing and I think it results in my best writing, or at least my most productive writing.
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?
This is my first book. Going through it as a self-pub indie author, I’ve learned a lot about the “ins and outs” of all the different aspects of creating a novel, including concept art, cartography, interior design, cover design, print dimensions and distribution, and a bevy of other intricate, complicated processes. I’ve also improved my lexicon over the course of the drafting/editing stages. I find that I don’t get stuck on finding the right adjective or rhythm of dialogue as I did in the beginning. I’ve also learned about several marketing strategies to help find readers, with book blog tours such as this one being an excellent example.
What do you think characterizes your writing style?
I will typically begin a chapter describing the setting in a manner slightly more poetic to the rest of the chapter, trying to pick the right words to evoke the right kind of emotion. I’ve been told through feedback that the chapters are fast-paced, the action is frenetic, and the characters are a highlight.
How much of yourself do you write into your stories?
Quite a bit. I like to think I’m a fairly witty, sarcastic person, albeit in a somewhat wholesome way. Both my POVs share some of that fast-talking wit.
What comes first to you when you’re writing, the world, the characters, or the storyline?
The characters. I’m a firm believer that without the characters, there’s no story. I had the map of Tiarna drawn out long before I developed the characters, but, before Tyras, Oren, and the rest of the cast of characters were worked out, it was just a blank slate of possibilities. In many ways, the world and storyline have been shaped by the type of growth I want for my characters.
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’ve always been a sucker for covers with fantasy city backgrounds. As a child, I’d look at them and imagine what it’d be like to scale the stone towers, stroll down the imposing walls, or look out through a palace window. I wanted this kind of thing for my novel and gradually formed an image in my head of Tyras in the foreground looking at Damarel, the famed “City of a Hundred Oases” towering like a world wonder in the distance.
Can you give us an elevator pitch for your book?
Two high fantasy, Indiana Jones-esque artifact hunters go on separate, whirlwind adventures as they become embroiled in mysterious, deadly machinations with world-shaping consequences.
Describe your book in 3 adjectives.
Fast, Emotional, Fun
How different is the final version of this book from the first draft?
As I received feedback from my editor, proofreader and beta readers, I reworked backstories, added more heft to others, and even built up a later chapter by about 800 words to elevate it. I’ve bent and reshaped quite a few things, “killing some darlings” while remaking others into a stronger, more compelling narrative.
Can you tell us a little bit about your characters? What are your favorite kinds of characters to write?
The core tenant I have when creating my characters is to make them feel real. This doesn’t necessarily lead to morally gray characters, as my two POVs have strong moral foundations that I believe make them relatable and easy to root for. They are, however, fallible and, as such, they make a lot of mistakes along the way. They also have plenty of “skeletons in the closet” and existential issues they are forced to deal with over the course of the novel. Those are the characters I love to write: good people who make mistakes, deal with complex moral and philosophical problems, face existential issues/inner demons, all while continuing to try and live their lives.
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 artifacts of the lost kingdom would be pretty cool to have. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have a staff that can dispel storms?
What would you like readers to take away from this book?
First and foremost, I want readers to have fun while reading this book. Second, this book deals with a lot of tough issues including: bridging cultural/societal gaps, navigating a changing world, and finding meaning in life. If this kind of coming-of-age adventure speaks to anyone in that sense, I’d be beside myself with joy.
Is there anything you can tell us about any current projects you’re working on?
I’m roughly 17k words into Seekers’ sequel. This is going to be a bigger story (with a bigger word count). Besides the main four book series that I have planned for Seekers, I’ve also got plot ideas for two standalone novels and a couple of novellas.
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?
I just want to take a moment to thank all of you for taking the time to read through this interview and spend some of your valuable time getting to know me and my novel. My greatest joy is sharing stories and, hopefully, impacting people with those tales. It’s my drive to continue writing, and it’s just begun. Take care. I wish you all the best!
And finally, where can you be found on the internet if our readers want to hear more from you?
The easiest way to find me is through my author website: www.troyknowlton.com, which has links to my social channels, including: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tiktok.