Book Tour Q&A: The Monsters We Feed by Thomas Howard Riley
Today we're taking part in the book tour organized by Escapist Book Tours for The Monsters We Feed by Thomas Howard Riley! Continue reading for the book blurb and a Q&A with the author.
About the book
The morning before he found the dead body, Jathan Algevin thought he had his whole life just the way he wanted it.
He knows his city inside and out, and doesn’t bother carrying a sword, trusting his wits and his fists well enough to get by, hustling extra coin by ratting out loathsome magi to the law for execution.
He and his sister, Lyra, have watched out for each other ever since the day they were orphaned by a bloodthirsty rogue sorcerer, and now they finally have steady work, good friends, and the freedom to spend every night laughing at the bottom of a bottle.
But nothing lasts forever.
When he stumbles across a brutal murder, Jathan discovers a strange crystal lens that opens his eyes to an invisible world of magick and terror lurking just beneath the surface of his own, making him question everything he thought he knew.
But will gazing into this new arcane realm lead Jathan to save lives, or help destroy them?
With dangerous people hunting for the lens, monstrous lies unraveling his life, and a hidden underworld calling to him, it is only a matter of time before his whole world comes crashing down.
Will he find the answers he is looking for, or will he only find a monster needing to be fed?
Rated-R Dark Fantasy Noir in a city of hope, lust, and brutality, where swords are banned, and magick is just as likely to get you killed as it is to save your life.
There are always things about ourselves that we don’t want to see. There are always things we can’t stop doing no matter how hard we try. We all lie. We all have secrets. We are all feeding monsters.
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.
The new baby has finally started sleeping (mostly) through the night and that is amazing, and I’ve managed to solve a rather difficult writing hurdle in a project I’m working on.
What are you currently reading or what’s up next on your TBR? What made you pick up this book?
I'm looking forward to starting Legacy of Brick and Bone by Krystle Matar because I’ve heard good things.
Okay, before we get going, can you please tell readers a bit about yourself?
Thank you so much for having me. My name is Thomas Howard Riley. I am the author of rated-R epic fantasy books (and now also non-epic fantasy as well). I am a former swordfighter and lead guitarist, and a still active superfan of Fantasy/SciFi, history books, and comics. I live in a wasteland metropolis in the middle of the desert. My wife and I have 7 cats, 2 babies, and an undisclosed number of swords. I love to read and listen to music and plan the emotional destruction of my characters.
Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of reading/writing? Do you care to elaborate?
I’ve read SFF books all my life. I also enjoy reading history and science books, and sometimes I just look at maps for hours. I am a former sword fighter. I also play guitar and build things for cats to sit on. I am an extreme Led Zeppelin fanatic and I love 8 bit Nintendo games and comic books.
Writing is often a hard and lonely affair in the best of circumstances. How do you achieve a good work/life/writing balance?
*nervous laughter* With two new little ones in the house it definitely hasn’t been easy. I wish I could get as much sleep as I should. But one of the best things I did was train myself to jump in and out of the creative headspace at a moment’s notice, so I could fill every little in-between moment with writing. I used to only be able to focus creativity after a long uninterrupted preparation time. Now when I get a 5 minute break at work, I can jump in and write a paragraph or two . It definitely helped take the pressure off.
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?
The Monsters We Feed is my second novel. I would say there are two key things I learned coming into this book. Firstly, I really benefited from taking the time to really think about what I wanted this story to be and how I wanted it’s concepts and themes to be developed before I ever put any words on the page. I am a fairly sparse plotter, but knowing what I wanted the story to be, even if I didn’t know precisely how I’d get there was vital. I also learned from my debut how to be extremely efficient at revising? And inserting new characters/plotlines/twists that I come up with on the fly. So if I realize halfway through I need to add something, I have a much more clear idea of how to go about setting up, referencing it, foreshadowing it, etc. It made for an extremely fast editing process.
Do you usually write to background noise, music, etc. or do you prefer silence?
I always write to music. It is almost like having a soundtrack for the creation itself, and the right emotional music can impact my prose in real time while I’m writing. I have some music when I draft, and when revising I choose certain music depending on which atmosphere I want to augment for a given scene. Almost always instrumental, or instrumental-heavy music. I have an immense music library. With so much variation I always have something that will inspire the words. I also listen to music when I read.
What made you want to write in Fantasy? Do you write (or plan to write) in any other genres?
I love inventing entire worlds from scratch. It would have been much easier to write in our world, but it would also have been limiting. I want to make everything to my own design, from the languages to the plate tectonics. I have no plans in any other genres.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m definitely a hybrid. I will throw together some ideas and try to game out some worldbuilding and plots and character arcs in advance, but I follow a very loose outline, so sometimes conversations and action can take things in unexpected directions. But having an enormous worldbuilding encyclopedia in the background makes for some amazing connections when combined with ideas discovered along the way. The two play off one another and I end up with ideas that are far better than if I had relied on either method alone.
What are your favorite types of characters?
Morally grey neurotic non-heroes who are their own worst enemies.
How much of yourself do you write into your stories?
That is tough to answer. I’d say more like pieces of myself blow up into charicatures of themselves and those then into characters, and life experience certainly informs how I present the characters I wrote. And every so often I include actual true events into the mix. Like how I am a wizard for instance.
For those who haven’t read The Monsters We Feed, give us the elevator pitch.
Jathan stumbles across something that opens his eyes to a dangerous world of magick hidden within his own, leading him down a path of obsession, turning him against his friends and family, and uncovering a secret world of corruption, hidden magi, and sorcerer serial killers that threatens to unravel his world and kill everyone he knows.
What do you think is the overarching theme of the novel?
*we are all ruled by our obsessions
*people must overcome themselves to overcome their obstacles
*being an outcast doesn’t mean you aren’t going to be something great
*the people you find along the way become your family & sometimes they are the most unlikely of people
Were there any specific challenges with writing The Monsters We Feed? Or, did you find anything to be easier?
This book went from the first germ of an idea to becoming a completely written draft on about 5 weeks. It This is VERY unusual for me as I normally need a lot of time for ideas to percolate when I’m drafting. But this story just seemed to fall into my lap out of nowhere. The characters and the world they inhabit just flowed from the first word. It may sound odd, but as a writer it was a transcendental experience.
Do you have a favorite quote from The Monsters We Feed that you can share with us?
I’ll drop the one from which the title is derived:
“Our secrets and lies are the monsters we feed. You should know that. Every time you tell a lie you are giving it a little piece of your soul to eat. The older the lie the bigger the piece. Then one day you have nothing left. Then the lies eat you.”
What can you tell us about what’s coming up next for you?
I am very far along on in writing the sequel to my debut, as well as the first book of a loosely related side series. I am also working on a prequel novella and a secret stand alone project as well. I hope to have all release dates spread out later this year and early next.
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?
Thank You for having me. Happy reading!
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for us! Where can you be found on the internet if our readers want to hear more from you?
I am on twitter @ornithopteryx and as Thomashowardriley on Instagram.
Where to buy the book: