Author Spotlight: M B Castle (THE NEW CROWNED)
M. B. Castle is a Brazilian fantasy and sci-fi writer. Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1998, he began writing screenplays at the age of sixteen. At seventeen, he began working on his first book, THE NEW CROWNED, an epic fantasy novel, volume one of THE ETERNAL SAGA, published on August 1st, 2021.
Synopsis of THE NEW CROWNED:
“Three kingdoms. Three royal heirs. Two wars.
Following ancient tradition, the Three Kingdoms have been experiencing new transitions of power, with the old handing over their crowns to the young. But for this new generation of rulers, a grave danger is emerging. After centuries confined to their Eternal Halls, the Eternals—also known as Time Thieves—have returned to haunt the continent. Wielding an arcane, powerful form of magic, the Eternals target the royal heirs, whose blood fuels their power. To survive, the New Crowned have no choice but to unite and face the Eternals. But Randyll Damenkrye, King of Ereven, decides to conquer the other two kingdoms, instead of aligning himself with them. Queen Myla Gravermel of Venar and Daryan Dandevar, son of King Thrystan Dandevar of Aerner, must then deal not only with the Eternal threat, but also with the consequences of King Randyll’s ambitions.
‘The New Crowned’ is the first volume in “The Eternal Saga”.
Welcome to the Hive, M B Castle. Let’s start with the basics: dazzle us with an elevator pitch! Why should readers check out your work?
I believe everyone should read fantasy, especially epic fantasy, because it gives you the chance to travel to an endless collection of amazing, otherwise unreachable places. A fantasy reader has journeyed to Narnia, Middle-earth, Hogwarts, just to name a few, while the rest have only been to Earth. And what makes The New Crowned one of those books that take you to places and characters you spend the rest of your life glad to have known is the fact that it has all the elements that make fantasy truly epic: a world filled with history, different races, peoples and cultures, and a plot that makes you cheer and laugh at some points and gasp and cry at others. And magic, of course. Magic like no one’s ever seen before.
Tell us a little something about your writing process – do you have a certain method? Do you find music helps? Give us a glimpse into your world!
I have two different writing processes. One is for before I actually sit down to start writing the book, and the second takes place before every new day of work. The first one consists of me breaking down what the journeys of all the major characters of that book will look like. After that’s done, I write a summary for every chapter in the book. Only then do I sit down and start writing the book. Some authors prefer to skip all that and just write the book as they go along, but I am definitely a planner.
The second method doesn’t relate much to the writing itself, it’s more of a pre-writing warmup, but a very important one. Before every new day writing a book, I read. Not too much, but enough to sharpen the mind. One chapter, two. It might be the only way to warm up the mind, and to me that is essential. As far as music goes, it’s a no for me. I love music and have tried to write and listen to it at the same time, but it just messes up my concentration, so silence is the way to go for me.
Speaking of worlds, what inspires your worldbuilding? Do you have a magic system/s? If so, can you tell us a bit about it?
There are a lot of things that inspire my worldbuilding. Real life history, real life places, history and places from other fantasy books. Religions, mythologies, even maps, fictional and otherwise. For me, being a worldbuilder means constantly looking everywhere for little pieces to create a world that feels authentic. Basically everything works for that. Even as I’m watching a bit of the Olympic Games, in my mind, I think: “My world could have a similar event, where different peoples gather to compete.” From there, I develop an idea, and then all of a sudden my world just becomes more and more. All it takes is that mentality of looking for inspiration in everything you see and experience.
What (or who) are your most significant fantasy/sci-fi influences? Are there any creators whom you dream of working with someday?
I would say that my two biggest influences in fantasy are The Lord of the Rings and A Song of Ice and Fire. The former was what got me into the genre, made me love it, and the latter was what made me mature as a fantasy fan. Consequently, both helped shape me as an author. Middle-earth was this epic, incredible place, full of great people and adventure. The story was the perfect execution of the concept of good versus evil, light versus darkness. Westeros was a more realistic, grim place, though just as epic. In Martin’s story, anyone could be good and anyone could be bad. In fact, most of them were a mix of both, as is the case with most people in real life. It made the characters seem even more real, and easier to identify with.
So now, as a writer of epic fantasy, my goal is always to build a world and a story that feels magical and thrilling, but at the same time as real and convincing as possible. A world and a story where a king could be a villain instead of a hero, and the villain could succeed instead of the hero. Where characters might be heroes in some eyes, and villains in others. Just like in real life. But as much as I love and admire these men, I truly do not see myself working with them as something I would wish to happen (have happened). To me, writing is kind of like what hunting is to a tiger. Doing it by myself is the only way I know, at least in terms of books. However, I would give anything for the opportunity to have just a single conversation with Martin, no matter the topic, just as I would give anything to have had that opportunity with Professor Tolkien, before his passing.
We see such varying opinions from authors when it comes to the time of editing their books. How have you found the editing process? Enjoyable, stressful or satisfying?
I enjoyed the editing process. Maybe it’s because The New Crowned was the first book I ever wrote, but I really did. I did say before that, for me, writing a book is a one-man job, but only when it comes to the writing itself. When the editing process began, it felt good to have other people (I had multiple editors work on The New Crowned) help turn what I wrote into a proper book. However, it wasn’t all flowers, of course. And that’s because it takes a lot of patience to properly edit a book. Sometimes my editors would point out mistakes or inconsistencies in the story that required a good deal of work and brain breaking to be fixed. That’s part of it, though, whether you like it or not. But the best part about the editing process is the end, not because you’re eager to get it done, but because that’s when you realize the story’s actually whole. After all those different drafts, all those re-reads and fine tuning, it’s when you finally get what you’ve been envisioning for so long, and that’s an amazing feeling.
We always appreciate a beautiful book cover! How involved in the process were you? Was there a particular aesthetic you hoped they’d portray?
I actually designed the book cover myself. I know that’s not something most people recommend for indie authors, but after several tries with multiple book cover designers who all failed to capture the vision I had for the cover, I simply decided to see it done myself. After many, many hours on Photoshop, I achieved precisely the result I was looking for, so in the end I was pretty satisfied.
Can you tell us a bit more about your characters? Do you have a favourite type of character you enjoy writing?
The New Crowned has a great many characters, a storytelling style I learned from George R. R. Martin and his A Song of Ice and Fire series. In my opinion, nothing makes a fictional world feel as real as having the stories in it told by several different people, each with a different perspective, made so by their culture, their history, their experiences, their upbringing, etc. It’s not just a single point of view, which allows you to better understand that world you’re visiting, but at the same time makes you wonder all the more. This is what I truly love. I do not have a favorite type of character to write. I have a favorite type of story to write, stories filled with different characters, causes and goals. In The New Crowned, my readers can choose which of the main characters they want to see win and which they would prefer to see lose.
The world shifts, and you find yourself with an extra day on your hands during which you’re not allowed to write. How do you choose to spend the day?
If I could not write for the day, I would read. As I see it, writing and reading should always go together in a writer’s life. If you don’t read, you won’t reach your full potential and perform at your highest level. So I am always reading, and not as much as I would like, as writing does take up most of the day, mine at least. So with a full day just to read, I would grab a book, sit back, and just enjoy myself, as I often do when I’m not in the process of writing a book.
One of our favourite questions here on the Fantasy Hive: which fantastical creature would you ride into battle and why?
What a fantastic question! I would probably choose a dragon (how cliché, I know), but not just any dragon. I’d go for Balerion the Black Dread from A Song of Ice and Fire, because that would make me a badass Targaryen, and who wouldn’t want to be a badass Targaryen riding into battle?
Tell us about a book you love. Any hidden gems?
As I’ve talked more than enough about The Lord of the Rings and A Song of Ice and Fire, I’ll mention a fantasy series that has maybe touched my heart even more than those two. It’s The Kingkiller Chronicle, by Patrick Rothfuss. While the story might not be considered as epic and grand as the likes of The Lord of the Rings, at least in obvious terms (it does not have major battles, magic quests and whatnot), the books shine in a unique way within the genre. You can feel Rothfuss’ passion from beginning to end throughout the story. Some of its most memorable moments, for me at least, were moments that can happen anywhere in real life. Moments such as a musician’s performance at an inn, a boy and a girl crushing on each other, a university student getting in trouble with his professors. Typical, mundane experiences made magic and epic by a genius author. Those are books I’ll always love and go back to.
Can you tell us a little something about your current work(s) in progress? Have you any upcoming projects which you can share?
I am currently in the early process of writing the sequel to The New Crowned, the second volume in The Eternal Saga. The title is still a secret. If all goes well, it should be ready by 2023 (but from what I’ve learned from Patrick Rothfuss and George R. R. Martin’s experiences, I prefer not to make any promises).
Finally, what is the one thing you hope readers take away from your writing?
I hope my writing does for them what fantasy has always done for me. I hope it becomes a way for them to escape the Earth for a little bit, whenever they need to. For them to visit epic new places where they’ll learn new things, laugh, cry, and just feel. I hope my writing inspires them, as many books have inspired me.
Thank you so much for joining us today!
Thank you again for this opportunity! All the best to you all!