Book Tour Q&A: The Headlock of Destiny by Samuel Gately
Today we're taking part in the book tour organized by Escapist Book Tours for The Headlock of Destiny by Samuel Gately! Continue reading for the book blurb and a Q&A with the author.
About the book
Some say titans are descended from giants. Others say they are risen from men. But there’s never any debate about where to find them. They will be in the center of a roaring crowd, beating the hell out of each other. From contenders like the Savage and Scott Flawless to pretenders like Richard the Living Portrait and Troll-Blooded Thom, a titan’s lot in life is the same: To wrestle for dominion and glory in the squared circle.
Van, a quiet titan from the brewery town of Headwaters, wants no part in this. He’d prefer to be left alone with a beer. But destiny has him in a headlock, and it is prepared to drag him into battles that will shake the land and change his world forever.
Step into the ring with this one-of-a-kind novel, brewed special for fans of epic fantasy, fans of professional wrestling from the Golden Era and beyond, or simply fans of a good tale.
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.
Thanks so much for having me. One recent thing that really made my day is tied to the fact that I’ve been setting up a booth and selling my books at local wrestling shows. As you know, my Titan War series imagines a world where professional wrestling and fantasy blend, and my hope was that people at local wrestling shows may find the books quirky or interesting enough to give them a shot (even though no one comes to a wrestling show anticipating on filling up their TBR list). I’ve been really pleasantly surprised with the level of engagement, and the recent thing that was really great is that a bunch of people came up to me at the latest show and asked for new books in the series. It’s always amazing to get that feedback and to have the chance to directly connect to an audience.
What are you currently reading or what’s up next on your TBR? What made you pick up this book?
I just finished rereading the first four novellas of the Murdorbot Diaries series and am excited to launch into the fifth. Martha Wells does an amazing job with a unique character with a unique voice. I love a good smartass and she writes that as well as anyone I’ve read. I also love the way she breathes life into machines/bots/systems and makes everything from spacecraft to newsfeeds into a contributing character in the story.
My reading generally rotates around fantasy, sci fi, crime, and literary fiction, with the occasional mystery and western mixed in. It is a constant delight to return to different genres and be reminded about what makes them so uniquely fun.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to start writing?
I’ve always been a huge daydreamer and massive reader but I never explored writing until about a decade ago. I had an incredibly vivid dream and woke up dying to tell someone about it. I started writing it down and a few weeks later I was following NaNoWriMo rules (with less of a time restriction) to get to my first novel. I loved it and never looked back.
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?
I don’t do it so much these days, but I have a long history with Tae Kwon Do. My father is an accomplished teacher and I spent a lot of time during my formative years training. It is a super interesting subculture and I met some fantastic people and learned enough about fighting to (hopefully) write it convincingly.
Who are your favorite current writers and who are your greatest influences?
My favorite current writers include Daniel Polansky, Scott Lynch, Leigh Bardugo, Susanna Clarke, Stephen King, David Mitchell (you didn’t put a limit on this, did you?), and Joe Abercrombie. I was hugely influenced by Elmore Leonard, Ian Fleming, David Foster Wallace, Salman Rushdie, and classic fantasy writers like Tad Williams (yes, I know he’s still putting out great stuff).
If you could collaborate with any one author, who would it be and why?
I would be so incredibly intimidated by collaborating with any of the fantastic authors I’ve been lucky enough to read. I guess in a dream world I would love to build a story with Marlon James. He touched on wrestling in Black Leopard, Red Wolf in a fantastic way and his storytelling is incredible. I’d love to hitch a ride on his process.
What is one book you want to shout about to the world? What about it makes you love it so much?
I think every fantasy reader should stand in marvel at Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora and Nicholaus Eames’s Kings of the Wyld. That’s some peak stuff there. J. Zachary Pike’s Orconomics slayed me. And Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace has a reputation of being onerous and pretentious. It is both those thing, but also the best book ever written.
What are your favorite types of stories? Of characters?
I’m consistently drawn to intelligent characters working the angles and sharpening their knives on each other. I love heist stories, mysteries, anything where smart people are making smart moves to thrive and survive.
How much do you plan when you write? What’s your writing process like?
I fall right in the middle of the planner/pantser debate, maybe a shade more on the planner side. I have an idea of major beats and turning points I want in a novel, and I plug the gaps as I go. Sometimes I know where a book is going months before I get anything on the page. Other times I’m walking and listening to music while frantically planning out the next chapter. I almost never sit down at the computer until I know what’s going on the page that day. The old “I let the characters tell me what comes next” has never worked for me.
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?
Headlock of Destiny was my sixth and its sequel The Piledriver of Fate was my seventh. In writing Headlock, I knew that the tournament structure and the nature of the story was going to force me into writing a lot of wrestling matches – a required “two men enter, one man leaves” beat. I was worried it would become repetitive, both for the readers and for me writing it. What I learned was focusing on a different element (ingredient?) for each match kept them fresh and interesting. One fight may focus on internal struggles, the next on the crowd, the headspace of invested fans/managers, the physical space, interference from other titans – there winded up being no shortage of variety that could be introduced into the “squared circle”. And I think this is true for other writing exercises. When you approach something that feels stale, try tackling it from a different angle, or picking one element and enlarging it.
What do you think characterizes your writing style?
I use pretty straightforward prose. In that manner, I think I’m pretty heavily influenced by Elmore Leonard, who famously insisted he cuts out all the words the readers would skip. I’m also prone, however, to moments of dramatic flair (aka purple prose) for key reveals, intros/outros, or just whenever I get bored. I think part of that is Robert Jordan influence.
How much of yourself do you write into your stories?
I’ve learned over time I need to consciously limit how much of myself goes into my stories. I’ve found the most effective way to do that (only effective way?) is by trapping my own tendencies in a single character or two – but not allowing every single voice to be that of a smartass who’s endlessly self-analyzing and avoiding conflict at all costs. A much better recipe is to think about experiences I’ve had and people I’ve been lucky to meet to allow a diversity of voices to thrive on the page. No one wants to read about me arguing with me.
What comes first to you when you’re writing, the world, the characters, or the storyline?
Fun question. Every book I’ve written has been characters first, then world, then storyline. For Headlock, it started with an idea of a massive, strong giant type, withering away hauling barrels at a brewery. Then I had to build out a world – what did everyone expect him to be doing that he wasn’t? Was this a world where giants slaved away as labor and used their massive size and strength to improve bottom lines? Or … was it a world where they wrestled in the middle of screaming crowds? Once I fell in love with a fantasy wrestling concept, then I crafted a story that brings our man Van to the center of it all.
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?
A friend finished my book and then texted me his favorite line, and I’ll share that because 1) I also liked that line and 2) what a cool thing for someone to do. It totally made my week. The line was: “If you really want to beat a titan, you don’t just dominate him in the ring. You go to his house afterwards and burn it to the ground.”
Is there anything you can tell us about any current projects you’re working on?
I’m working on another duology of Titan Wars books. This one will feature the one and only Scott Flawless, who you’ve had a chance to meet in Headlock. He’s… um… a truly obnoxious and arrogant individual, but I think if we stick with him for a bit following the events in the Van the Beer Man duology, we’ll see he’s got some interesting things to say.
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?
Thanks again for having me. I’d obviously be thrilled if any of your readers check out one of my books. I’ve got some other series if the idea of wrestling titans doesn’t grab you, including a series that follows a detective who finds lost children in a fantasy world and one following spies in a world that has just witnessed the return of dragons.
And finally, where can you be found on the internet if our readers want to hear more from you?
My website is www.samuelgately.com and I maintain a newsletter and social media accounts. Plenty of ways to reach me, so please don’t be shy!
Where to buy the book: