Welcome to BookView Interview, a conversation series where BookView talks to authors.
Recently, we interviewed Bryan Cole about his writing and his recently released debut novel, Beginning of Arrogance, a stunning epic fantasy that features well-developed and grounded characters with fully formed backstories, a twisty plot that is full of surprises, and loads of magical intrigue. (Read the review here .)
Bryan Cole is the author of the Paladin’s Journey series. New to the writing world, he spent years working in the enterprise software space, focused on quality assurance and delivery of software applications. Which is weird, because that has nothing to do with writing fiction.
For that, we need to go back – way back – to his first experience with Dungeons & Dragons. His friend Chris brought over the box set for Myth Drannor, eager to play. Together, they realized they had no idea what they were doing, because neither of them owned a copy of the Players Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, or the Monster Manual.
From those incredibly awkward beginnings, a lifelong passion for epic science fiction and high fantasy adventure was born. Everything from his grade 4 teacher letting him stay after school to play a video game where you were the wizard on a quest, defeating monsters by answering math problems, to some truly memorable movies like Willow that showed him a world bigger and more exciting than the real one.
Of course, Star Wars and Star Trek have had a major influence on him. Want to get in good with Bryan? Lead with a Star Wars meme. From one of the good movies. Otherwise, your plan will backfire.
Bryan is also an avid gamer, and enjoys video games, board games, and tabletop roleplaying games.
These days, he lives in Toronto with his wife and daughter, and his adorable cat.
Do you find writing therapeutic?
Yes – immensely so, and much to my surprise. I spent decades in the enterprise technology space, delivering presentations and discussing deeply technical aspects of software development and delivery. I tremendously enjoy my job for the most part, which is true of all jobs. When I began writing not for business reasons but for my own purposes, I found that I could spend hours letting my imagination run wild as I committed words to the page. Or rather, words to the document saved in the cloud! I found it immensely relaxing, rewarding, and enjoyable, which is something I would never have guessed about myself. Which, in hindsight, it should have been obvious to me that I would enjoy writing because I had previously enjoyed creating presentations and reports. Now, in addition to that, I can spend time writing the further adventures of Krell.
What does literary success look like to you?
I imagine every writer has their own definition of success, and it is important for me to realize that I have a number of advantages. I can afford to write, as a hobby or part time activity, without worrying about my mortgage or car payments or anything else. That definitely shifts the bar for me, and I define success as holding the finished copy of my book in my hands. It was such a spectacular feeling of joy and happiness that I have a hard time describing it – possibly the fifth or sixth most enjoyable moment of my life! Bearing in mind that list includes things like getting married, the birth of my child, and other notable events.
How often you read?
Constantly. I cannot imagine there is an author anywhere who is not a voracious reader. I’m also extremely eclectic in my reading material, ranging widely between politics, history, technology, science, current events, climate change, pop culture, youtube influencers, fashion trends… anything I can get my hands on. I have that personality that allows me to spend hours and hours on the Wikipedia chain of linked articles, letting me learn a little bit about a lot of different things. But notably, the two loves I always come back to are science fiction and, of course, fantasy.
Does your family support your career as a writer?
I think it was a surprise to them as much as it was to me that I enjoyed writing so much, and that now I am a published author! Another way of answering this question is yes, very supportive. Having that network of people that you love, that want you to succeed, is very comforting to have. My daughter, in particular, loves these sorts of stories, and definitely enjoyed reading the book herself.
After the writing’s finished, how do you judge the quality of your work?
I can’t emphasize this enough, you get a quality check from third parties, most importantly from a professional editor. For myself, I tremendously enjoyed the editing process, and must have completely edited the book, from the first page to the last, more than twenty times before I sent it to an editor for a professional review. The feedback from my editor was fantastic, and included things like “This character is dead, and probably should not be talking” and other glaring inconsistencies. The real value of the feedback from others is in gaining clarity on the characters and their actions. Some of my beta readers were confused by some of the actions that the characters took, and that highlighted to me that the thoughts and assumptions in my head were not being conveyed on the page. No matter how much you read your own work, you need to get other people to read it and point out the flaws. Of course, after the work is published, the quality of the work comes from the reviews you get, and I feel fortunate that the initial wave has all been exceedingly positive!
What inspired the premise of your book?
I’ve read countless stories set in fantasy worlds where the gods are tangibly real, with priests, clerics, and paladins representing their divine power in mortal form or even occasionally seeing them walk the world as mortals themselves. Yet rarely do I see people portrayed as deeply religious, catering to the whims and requirements of the gods themselves. So often the worlds written seem to be filled with people who are agnostic or even atheist. I came up with the idea of a Paladin’s Journey by wanting to see a world where the background of the world is filled with people who deliberately and consciously recognize that the gods are real, and they need to pay homage to them. In many cases, or else!
Which scene or chapter in the book is your favorite? Why?
Chapter Sixteen. It introduces some of the consequences of magic in the world, the important role that it can play, and three additional characters that are going to be increasingly important to the series. It is also a moment of abject failure for my protagonist and shows how he deals with that failure. For me, personally, it is by far the chapter that I would reread the most out of my whole book, though any page with Callodan Koramir on it is a close second!
How did you decide on this title?
Krell, the protagonist, is young and has been chosen as a paladin. He’s supremely convinced that he is special and destined for something great, and that sure and certain belief hopefully shines through. Most of the supporting and background cast of characters would say he is arrogant, and this trait will persist throughout most of the rest of the series. This is only the beginning for Krell, and hence, Beginning of Arrogance. I’m really pleased with the cover art as well! That cocky grin, combined with the many signs of wounds he’s taken and the reflections of multiple enemies closing in on him says a lot about his personality!
What’s next for you?
A lot, as it turns out! I joke with my wife that I am solidly in the middle of my mid-life crisis. A new car, a new job, and now a published book to my name! The next major steps as it relates to book writing is book two, where the survivors from book one deal with the consequences of their actions. That’s an important theme that will be present throughout, that everyone should be free to choose, but the consequences of those choices are yours to deal with. As I write this the first draft is nearing completion!
Categories: BookView Review Interview