Interview with R.S. Ford (HANGMAN’S GATE)
Thanks for joining us today, Richard, and thanks so much to you and the guys at Titan for sending me a review copy of Hangman’s Gate. I really enjoyed reading it and it was great to jump back into The War of the Archons! Thanks also for agreeing to answer some questions for us. So… with no more ado:
If you had to put together a zombie apocalypse kill squad made up of fantasy fiction characters, who would they be?
Ooh, good question. So, every squad needs a leader; someone driven and clever who’s invaluable when backed into a corner. The man who immediately springs to mind is Ryhalt Galharrow from Ed McDonald’s Blackwing series, he’d be more than capable in the role. Killing zombies principally requires a mad axeman, someone with death in the eye, a tank who will tear through the ranks of the undead without compunction. The Deathwalker himself, Druss the Legend, would be indispensable here. Gemmell’s all-but-indestructible warrior was a peerless killer in his prime, after all. To join him I’d pluck Sláine MacRoth from the pages of 2000AD (if comics count), another axe-wielding psycho who’s impossible to kill. And the glue holding this motley crew together, none other than Ferro Maljinn, from Joe Abercrombie’s first Law books – because who wouldn’t want a devil-blooded daughter of demons on their zombie-slaughtering team?
In Hangman’s Gate I noticed the Shengen Empire has a lot in common with the classic world. Was this always the plan? What made you choose that particular culture?
I wanted a culture dedicated to discipline and martial prowess. One that would follow a single leader, or in this case Emperor, without question. Ancient Rome and dynastic China both leapt out as the most inspiring, so the Shengen Empire is a loose amalgam of the two.
Sticking with historical parallels, I really like how in Hangman’s Gate the Archons draw power from human worship. Will this play a pivotal role in the trilogy’s finale? Or is that information top secret?
Yes, in many ways this will be key to how this whole thing winds up. Beyond that, I can’t really say any more.
So Iron Tusk… he’s mean. How much fun did you have creating him? (Lots, I’m guessing. It certainly came across that way when I was reading 🙂 )
Yes – who doesn’t love a scenery chewing warlord? But he is essentially the human embodiment of a god of war, so what else is he going to do? Killers gonna kill!
I was really impressed with how much content you managed to fit into 400 odd pages (which isn’t massive in today’s market). Was it a challenge to tie up all the various threads? Was there any heavy editing involved, or did the story take care of itself without much need for the page scythe?
Actually, book one (A Demon in Silver) had a lot more cut from it than Hangman’s Gate. For the whole series I wanted to keep the story streamlined and it was never going to be a 700-page epic. Each volume is as tightly-paced as I can make it, with the fat well and truly trimmed off.
What did you love most about writing Hangman’s Gate?
With this book I’ve taken a few of the secondary characters from book one and put them front and centre. I loved exploring their backgrounds a little more, and having the opportunity to explain heir motivations. This book expands on the notion that everyone is the hero of their own story.
What frustrated you the most about writing Hangman’s Gate?
As always I’m frustrated by the general grind of thrashing out a first draft. I find it a laborious process, but the result is always more than worth the effort. I know many writers who love the actual ‘process’ but many of us find it extremely difficult. Then again, if it was easy everyone would be doing it, I guess.
If you could go out drinking with one character from Hangman’s Gate who would you choose?
Who else but Ctenka? He certainly knows how to have a good time.
I hear you have an excellent agent 😉 For those of our readers out there thinking about submitting to agents, can you give us one ‘do’ and one ‘don’t’?
Always read the submission guidelines. Most agents will have these on their website, so blanket bombing them with a cut and paste email just demonstrates you haven’t done your research. Agents appreciate this kind of thing.
Never react in a negative manner to rejection. Always take it on the chin. The book industry is a very small community, and if you get a reputation for being an argumentative prat it will follow you around forever. This is a subjective business and you’ll be rejected at some point, usually frequently. Don’t take it to heart – learn from it.
Almost there! For fans of the series (like me) how goes the work on book 3, and is there a rough release date yet?
The Spear of Malice is shaping up quite nicely (I’m quite far into the ‘thrashing it out’ stage) and it will be released in June 2020.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. It’s always great to get an insight into the minds of our favourite authors here at Hive HQ. We wish you all the best with the book release and can’t wait to see how it all ends in book 3!
R.S. Ford is the author of the STEELHAVEN trilogy and the WAR OF THE ARCHONS. Book 2 of his latest series, HANGMAN’S GATE, is available now.