Book Tour Q&A: The Delve by Dan Fitzgerald
Today we're taking part in the book tour organized by Escapist Book Tours for The Delve by Dan Fitzgerald! Continue reading for the book blurb and a Q&A with the author.
About the book
The sword wants what it wants.
The Deepfold mine has gone dark on the eve of war. Without its supply of brightstone, the Maer’s technological advantage over the humans will evaporate. A rising knight named Yglind has earned his Forever Blade and been sent on a quest to uncover the cause of the blackout. Joined by his trusted squire Ardo and a prickly mage named Aene, Yglind hopes to cement his legacy and the Maer’s chance at victory in the coming war.
Inside the Deepfold, they are plunged into a world of bloodshed and chaos. Unknown foes have slaughtered many of the miners, and a gruesome dragon stalks the dark tunnels. While taking refuge in the mine’s impregnable keep, Yglind and Ardo seek solace in each other’s arms and the courage to face the cruel forces arrayed against them.
With their civilization hanging in the balance, they strike out against the invaders as their quest hurtles toward its bloody end.
The Delve is a fast-paced spicy romantic fantasy, the first in the Time Before trio of linked standalones, set 2,000 years before the Maer Cycle trilogy and the Weirdwater Confluence duology. The series are independent and can be read in any order.
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.
I went out for a drink with my wife last night after the kids went to bed, and we didn’t even need a babysitter because they’re finally old enough we don’t worry about them burning the house down while we’re gone. It’s an amazing feeling!
What are you currently reading or what’s up next on your TBR? What made you pick up this book?
Currently reading The Witch Collector by Charissa Weaks because I’ve heard it’s a pitch-perfect example of fantasy romance, and I’ve got The Monsters We Feed by Thomas Riley up next, in part because We Break Immortals is so long I’m afraid of it, and also because Ash (Novelly Rooted) said the smut scenes are really beautiful. And oh yeah, some more SPFBO books will probably sneak in there (I’ve read 5 of the 10 finalists so far).
Who are your favorite current writers and who are your greatest influences?
Krystle Matar, Angela Boord, and Carissa Broadbent are my top 3 romantasy writers at the moment. I fell head over heels with A Lady for a Duke by Alexis Hall, a historical romance featuring a transfemme heroine, and will be reading his next book (Mortal Follies) as soon as it comes in through Netgalley. I want to give a shout-out to London Price as well, whose trans/enby romances are phenomenal, and J Calamy, whose crime romances are hot as fuck and emotionally complex. These folks have showed me different ways to imagine romance in books, and they have all impacted me in different ways.
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?
Same answer for both questions: I love how queer and romantic it’s become, and the sky’s the limit for that as far as I am concerned, with the caveat that stories of aromantic and asexual characters and relationships are hella important, and we need more of those as well. SFF gives unique opportunities to peel away some of our conventional attitudes about gender and sexuality, and I love the work being done in this field by so many amazing authors. I hope to contribute to this in my own small way.
How much of yourself do you write into your stories?
More than I thought! Writing, as it turns out, involves a lot of self-discovery, for me anyway. Why do I find myself gravitating toward certain types of characters? Why are the majority of my characters female or nonbinary, and why are so many of my male characters not traditionally masculine? A lot of that is me exploring my own identity through my writing. I can’t wait to see what I’ll discover next!
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 knew I wanted Luke Tarzian to design the covers for my first self-published series because I love his abstract, ethereal touch. But at the same time, I wanted a cover that undeniably says fantasy, even in thumbnail form. I needed a sword and a dragon, so you know it’s fantasy, but I also needed it to be sexy as fuck to match the book. Luke delivered on all counts. Whether or not the cover will catch the eye of fantasy readers accustomed to looking for a hooded dude with a sword remains to be seen, but I think it’s beautiful and eye-catching, and if it gets people to read the blurb, it’s done its job. I can’t wait to see what Luke comes up with for Wings so Soft, an owl-themed fantasy romance.
Can you give us an elevator pitch for your book?
A fast-paced, smutty dungeon crawl with vivid characters, heated action, and a gruesome dragon.
Describe your book in 3 adjectives.
Bloody. Smutty. Romantic.
How different is the final version of this book from the first draft?
I may be an outlier in that my first and last drafts are usually not wildly different—maybe 75% the same. I’ve come to a place in my writing (and writing short books certainly helps) where the larger arcs fall into place fairly naturally, so it’s mostly a matter of adding, removing, and rearranging bits to maximize the bigger narrative arcs, and most importantly, honing the themes and character arcs.
The biggest difference here is the character of Yglind, who was too much of an asshole in early drafts, to the point that he came off somewhat abusive. My beta readers and my editor were helpful in pointing this out, and I think I found a better balance in the final version. I needed him to be an asshole you could root for, an asshole you wanted to see change, so that when his change happens, it feels really good. I hope that comes through. But yeah, Yglind is still a bit of an asshole.
Can you tell us a little bit about your characters? What are your favorite kinds of characters to write?
I’ve described Yglind above. Ardo, his squire and lover, is very devoted to Yglind and wants to help him show the world the gentle, kind person he is in their private moments. Ardo turns out to have nerves of steel, facing down the most fearsome opponents without the benefit of armor or a big-ass sword. And he discovers some things about himself that surprise him, though I can’t share those here.
Aene, the mage, is a great foil for Yglind because she doesn’t put up with any of his bullshit and she’s not afraid to challenge him, though she does respect his prowess. Aene is a channeler, using her brightstone-powered gauntlet to channel stored spells and sometimes adapt them to the circumstances. She gets shit done, and when she sees something (or someone) she wants, she fucking GOES for it. She’s as hard-headed as Yglind in that way, and it was fun to write these two clashing throughout the book.
n your opinion, what kind of reader would like this book?
My ideal imagined reader is a D&D fanatic who loves smut. This book has hella ttrpg vibes—Aene even has magical scrying dice she uses to try to see the best path for the group. The book is bloody and violent, and I chose spice levels to match in the (numerous) sex scenes. There’s some bondage, a little gentle femdom play, and lots of other little titillating tidbits, all in the service of the developing emotional relationships among the characters. That said, it’s not hard to skip those scenes if they’re not for you, and the dungeon adventure should be fulfilling on its own.
What would you like readers to take away from this book?
We don’t have to choose between explicit violence and explicit sex in our fantasy books. We can have it all, and I hope it makes a rollicking fun read.
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?
Ooh! I have two, on the same theme. The first is from Yglind, when his thirsty sword is urging him to charge ahead without thinking of the consequences, and it sums up his attitude in the beginning of the book perfectly:
“The facts at hand are that I have a coward for a squire and a touch-me-not flower of a mage who’d rather stand around examining dead bodies than go off to make some new ones with me.” Yglind spat toward the corridor wall, but it fell well short. “Are we on a fucking Delve, or aren’t we?”
The second is from Aene, who wishes she were with Yglind at one point as enemies are closing in:
“Yglind might be a giant, gaping asshole—definitely was, in fact—but he was a giant, gaping asshole who had faced down a dragon twice without being killed.”
Is there anything you can tell us about any current projects you’re working on?
Why yes indeed! The other two books in the Time Before trio are in editing; Wings so Soft (August 2023) is a fantasy romance featuring an artificer who makes magical/mechanical owls and an owl handler, and Cloti’s Song (November 2023) is the story of a married throuple who considers taking on a fourth. Both are set after The Delve, as the Maer civilization of the Time Before collapses. Love and hope amidst tragedy is the unifying theme of the trio (each book is meant to stand alone, with some links connecting them, and connecting them to my other series).
Beyond that, I have drafted Unpainted (June 2023), a standalone fantasy romance set in the world of the Weirdwater Confluence, which even has a cameo of one character from The Living Waters. It’s an arranged marriage story set among the painted faces, and it might be my most gender-bendy book yet.
Finally, I’m drafting Jagged Shard, a spin-off of Laanda and Skiti from The Delve as they fight to carve out a new home for their people—and find a new dimension to their relationship—after the tragic events of the previous book.
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?
Read more queer romance. It’ll change your life for the better.
And finally, where can you be found on the internet if our readers want to hear more from you?
All my links are here: https://linktr.ee/danfitzwrites
Thank you so much for having me! I love you two to pieces. 💚
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