Book Tour Q&A: Wings of the Storm by Aaron Bunce & Christopher Guhl
Today we're taking part in the book tour organized by Escapist Book Tours for Wings of the Storm by Aaron Bunce and Christopher Guhl! Continue reading for the book blurb and a Q&A with the author.
About the book
My name is Vayo, and I am a slave.
My people lived in Argia, the City of Light, before Nabonidus the Defiler swept across the land. He conquered, murdering and enslaving the other tribes. I was born after the fall, in a crumbling pit of despair and sadness.
Nabonidus crowned himself ruler of the land, building his new kingdom from the rubble of our fallen world. I live and serve them now, my head bowed, and my eyes down. That is, until a master servant chose me.
My new duty? Attending the King himself, serving the man that ruined my people. Desperate for blessings, I placed an offering to the Mother Goddess on my roof. Afterwards, I fell into a strange dream. One where I soared over the dunes on wings of radiant feathers. Shouts and screams startled me awake, and I watched as the King’s men carried my friend away. I followed, deep into dark tunnels beneath my fallen city.
Fleeing the horrors I witnessed below, I hid in the one place they would not think to look. Inside that forbidden temple and buried beneath the rubble of our broken past I stumbled upon a peculiar sight. A beautiful warrior, with her arms wrapped around a shimmering, blue egg.
Life as I know it will never be the same.
On to the interview...!
Thank you both 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.
Aaron: Something great, okay! I have started moving forward on a science fiction project that I have been worldbuilding. It is a passion project, one inspired by some of my favorite series and authors, namely Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov, but also the coziness of Firefly. It is a wonderful feeling to step back into a world that you haven’t worked on for a while, and I can’t wait to introduce people to that cast of characters.
Chris: I’m still super stoked that Nikki Massoud is narrating the audiobook for The Dunes of Aelaron trilogy. She’s a perfect fit to bring Vayo’s world to life. I’m listening to the audiobook for The Stardust Thief that Nikki also narrates, and she’s amazing.
What are you currently reading or what’s up next on your TBR? What made you pick up this book?
Aaron: I am currently listening to the audio book for Backyard Starship from my Brother-From-Another-Mother and all-around cool dude, Terry Maggert. It is a fun series about a guy who returns home after his grandfather passes away, only to discover he’s inherited more than just a farm in rural Iowa. Terry is a great storyteller and that series feels like everything I love about science fiction, with serial T.V. shows of the 80’s and 90’s. It is a lot of fun.
Chris: I’m trying my hand at multi-reading. I’m listening to the audiobook for The Stardust Thief, as mentioned above, but also reading No Land for Heroes, a gaslamp and western fantasy book by Cal Black. Next up is Shadow of the Gods by John Gwynne, I’ve heard great things about it and the cover is killer.
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?
Aaron: I wish I had more time to read these days, but writing consumes most of it. I am also an old-school gamer, but don’t have as much time for that, either. I am the head coach of local High School trap team, which my eldest daughter shoots for, and enjoy most outdoor activities. I also shoot primitive bow and arrow and thoroughly enjoy some woodcraft.
Who are your favorite current writers and who are your greatest influences?
Chris: I’ve got to call out Brandon Sanderson. His books kicked me into the fantasy genre and got me thinking I could write stuff like that too. Patrick Rothfuss as well. My prose won’t ever be as lyrical or beautiful as his, but his work inspired me. Aaron over here keeps pushing me to be a better writer too.
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?
Aaron: I love that there is so much of it. Since the dawn of indie publishing, we have seen a steady, and sometimes torrential downpour new authors and book series. With that said, we also have a wide spread of quality, as well, so we need to be a little more discerning while choosing new reads. But no, the availability of more publishing options means that more people can reach for their writing dreams.
What are your favorite types of stories? Of characters?
Aaron: I love dark stories, with intrigue, mystery, and thrills. It doesn’t have to be horror, but I find that I am drawn to stories with risk. I also love worldbuilding and deep histories, stories that hint at buried secrets, and the chance for adventure. Horror isn’t necessarily a genre to me, but a story element, and have found that it can be applied to many other stories with great effect!
How much do you plan when you write? What’s your writing process like?
Aaron: When I first started writing, I didn’t do much planning at all. You could say I was a hard-headed pantser (A write by the seat of my pants, writer), but anymore I have evolved. I world build ahead of time and find it necessary to storyline out ahead. It doesn’t just help keep the story from drifting, but also helps me control length, flow, tone, and wordcount.
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?
Aaron: This kind of blurs right into the last question. Pre-writing prep work is huge. My first series was a Grimdark Fantasy series called Overthrown. I love the characters, the world, and the story so much, but that was back in my early days, when I had some irrational notions. Namely, I wanted to produce massive books to challenge the likes of Tolkien and George RR Martin. I learned very quickly that it wasn’t necessarily the best path. I also learned that long stories weren’t necessarily the best direction, when length was the primary drive. Without a tight storyline, stories have a tendency to drift and swell. So much of that early writing was me introducing side characters and additional storylines, in an attempt to give the reader a broader view of the world. Cool? I think so, but not every reader loves 800-900 page books.
What do you think characterizes your writing style?
Chris: Fast paced with good twists and great dialogue. It’s nice that I’ve teamed up with Aaron. We really shore up each other’s weaknesses and bolster our strengths.
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?
Aaron: They say that, but in truth readers buy based off how the book looks, how catchy the title is, and the hook in the blurb. The indie movement has turned a lot of authors into marketing experts as well, so we spend a lot of time looking at how to get our books in front of the right people, and then making that book look like it belongs there, but also, stand out amongst the crowd. With today’s flooded market, cover art and titles have never been more important!
Can you give us an elevator pitch for your book?
Aaron: Vayo was born a slave. A cruel twist of fate forces her to serve the very man that enslaved her people. But after witnessing their cruelty, she hides in a forbidden temple. Buried beneath the floor she finds the body of a beautiful warrior, cradling an egg. When she tries to rouse the woman, her body disintegrates, and the egg starts to hatch. What happens next is legend...
How different is the final version of this book from the first draft?
Chris: Quite a bit, but the bones are still there. We changed course a little bit on certain plot points here and there, which altered some scenes more than we thought they would. It’s funny how big of an effect changing tiny details can have on a story. One thing can change several different scenes all throughout the book!
Can you tell us a little bit about your characters? What are your favorite kinds of characters to write?
Chris: I’m an optimist, so I enjoy characters that get hit with strife and keep pushing forward. They’re going to keep trying, keep growing. I don’t want someone that does the right thing all the time. We all make mistakes, and it’s important to show that your characters aren’t perfect. They can learn from their mistakes, but sometimes they don’t. It’s all part of their journey. I think Vayo encompasses that, and she learns from the other characters around her, from mentors like Nekane and Benat, to friends like Ander and Nerea, then even King Nabonidus and Prince Cyrus. They all impact Vayo, what she does, how she grows, but she takes those experiences and molds them to positively impact her own journey.
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?
Chris: I mean…Traba for sure. How crazy would it be to have a massive storm bird flying around? First thing I would do is have Traba fly me to go watch a drive-in movie. We’d eat popcorn and candy. It’d be great! She’d just have to keep those storms in check or else we’d ruin the movie!
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?
Aaron: Actually, yes! There is a proverb, written in one of the tribes’ holy texts. It is: As is light, so is dark, above and below. It is multilayered with the story, as in the creation of this world, there were created the tribes of the sun, and to achieve balance, those that dwelled below the ground as well. The Aelaronian tribes live in the world of light, while the Jund’un, their shadow-counterpart, lives below ground. But the proverb has additional meaning as well. In this world, they do not pass through seasons as we know them, but instead experience entire seasons of sunshine (Suna) and nighttime (Darka). Between the two, they are gifted a brief reprieve, (Eluna) a short but beautiful dusk.
Is there anything you can tell us about any current projects you’re working on?
Aaron: Chris and I are working on wrapping up Godseye, the exciting follow-up to Wings of the Storm. Once that is done, we plan to immediately move to work on the 3rd book in the opening trilogy, Wrath of the Undergods. Beyond that, I have a paranormal book that has long been in the works, as well as that secret science fiction series. I can’t wait to reveal more details about that one.
Chris: I’ve got a secret fantasy project I’m drafting in between work on this series. Then another fantasy novel outlined and ready to draft in the pipeline. There’s never really a shortage of ideas or things to work on, just getting the time to carry them out!
Thank you both 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?
Chris: Enjoy the ride. Life’s too short to waste time being negative or doing things you aren’t happy doing.
Aaron: Just to keep reading. The mind really is a horrible thing to waste, and there has never been more reading content to enjoy. This is the golden age of publishing.
And finally, where can you be found on the internet if our readers want to hear more from you both?
Aaron: I try to keep a diversified social presence. I have a website at aaronbunce.com, plus I am on facebook, twitter, and Instagram. As new series launch, I plan to use my blog more, as well.
Chris: My website is ChristopherGuhl.com, and I’m on Facebook, Twitter (@k_Guhl), and Instagram (@k_Guhl) as well. And I just started a TikTok recently! I had held off for so long, because I’m an idiot. It’s a super fun platform, find me @christopherguhlauthor.