the Little Red Reviewer

Interview with Bradley Beaulieu, and give away!

Posted on: August 22, 2015

Twelve-Kings-of-Sharakhai-final-sm2

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Bradley Beaulieu, author of the Lays of Anuskaya (The Winds of Khalakovo, The Straits of Galahesh, and The Flames of Shadem Khoreh) is about to release a brand new epic fantasy novel called Twelve Kings in Sharakhai.  The first in a new trilogy, Twelve Kings in Sharakhai follows the story of Çeda, a young woman who flaunts the laws of immortal kings and finds herself drawn towards the secrets of her own origins. A sprawling, complex story in a vibrant and richly drawn world, the new novel hits bookstore shelves on Sept 1st. Click here for a preview.

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Brad was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about the new series. Also, I’ve got not one, but two copies of this book to give away to two lucky readers! See the fine print at the bottom of this blog post for details.

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Let’s get to the interview!
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Little Red Reviewer: This is the second time you’ve written of ships that don’t sail on the water. In your Lays of Anuskaya trilogy, the multi-masted ships sail the winds. And in Twelve Kings, the ships sail the dunes of this desert land. It’s even possible to surf over the dunes. For this non-ocean environment, what  made you decide that ships with sails should be the primary method of long distance travel?

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Bradley Beaulieu: What made me decide on ships? Well, when it comes down to it, I just love ‘em. I’ve taken several sailing tours on tall ships on Lake Michigan, a few out of Milwaukee harbor and once out of Navy Pier in Chicago. I think it’s such a cool time in our history, the age of sail, being trapped in such a tight community for weeks or months at a time, then stopping in a new, unexplored land, then hopping back to go back to the place you know. I’ve got a very romantic view of it, I’ll admit.

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And, well, I also just wanted to weird the world up a bit. I wanted some unique aspects to the great desert in which Sharakhai sits. I wanted there to be a unique flavor to the commerce of the world, how people communicated over long distances, and so on. It’s essentially the same reason I did it in The Lays of Anuskaya, though the specific incarnations of ship travel, as you mentioned, are different. It’s been a lot of fun exploring this aspect of the world. (And I’ve yet to have a really rousing ship-to-ship battle, but believe me, that’s coming!)

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bradley B

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LRR: I love the world of Twelve Kings in Sharakhai. This is a desert culture, so staying protected from the sands and winds is a big deal, as is ensuring water and food supplies, and the clothing and activities of the characters reflect this. The terminology has an Arabic feel, with characters wearing turbans, thawbs, and hijabs, and visiting the bazaar. Can you tell us about the research you did the ensure the terminology and contextual activities matched the world and culture you built within the novel?

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BB: I had done a fair bit of research into ancient Persian for The Lays of Anuskaya. Things like their clothing, artwork, cuisine, weaponry and armor, their approach to war. I carried a lot of that over to Twelve Kings in Sharakhai, but I hadn’t really looked deeply into nomadic culture. The desert tribes of the Shangazi Desert are nomadic, sailing or occasionally riding from place to place around the desert, visiting traditional locations for hunting, for gathering needed supplies like water, food, and wood, and for gathering with the other tribes for holy days and to trade stories, to marry off daughters and sons, and so on. I looked more carefully into Bedouin culture for this, trying to steep myself in their clothing, artwork, tattoos, dances, and more.

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One of the things I’ve really enjoyed doing is keeping a Pinterest board for inspiration. This can be found here:

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https://www.pinterest.com/bradbeaulieu/twelve-kings-in-sharakhai/

From Brad's Pinterest board

From Brad’s Pinterest board

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It’s great to have one place to save the images that sparked something in me when I first saw them. It’s been an endless source of inspiration for me as I wrote the first book and as I write Book 2 in the series, With Blood Upon the Sand.

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I also have a playlist on iTunes that I’ve been using since the first pages of Twelve Kings were being written. There’s a lot of doudouk music, which I really enjoy. Artists like Lévon Minassian, Yeghish Manoukian, and Armand Amar are on the list. I also have a great soundtrack from Bab’ Aziz – The Prince That Contemplated His Soul. And one more favorite is called Marrakesh Chillout Lounge  from various artists. It’s very modern, but with a Middle Eastern flare to the songs.

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LRR: The plot offers us a number of flashbacks to both Çeda’s and Emre’s past. Which did you develop and/or outline first? their present day time line, or the flashback timeline? Did you run into any challenges with the presentation of both timelines?

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From Brad's Pinterest Board

From Brad’s Pinterest Board

BB: I started with a prologue. That prologue ended up being rather large. (It has now become the first two flashback chapters, showing Çeda with her mother just before…well, before something terrible happens to her.) Initially I had planned to include only that prologue and tell the rest of the story moving forward from Çeda’s pit fight in Chapter 1 and onward. That is, in fact, how the first draft ended up.

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But when I showed it to a few beta readers, it became clear that I needed to tell more about Çeda’s life before we see her in that opening scene in the pit. I didn’t want to front-load the story with it. I wanted those scenes to accent the story, not become it. So that’s when I started to fill in more about her and her past, writing flashback scenes from various parts of her life, telling how she came to live with Dardzada the apothecary, how she grew up with Emre, how she became a pit fighter. All that is essential to who she is, and I thought it important to those things to the reader first hand.

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From Brad's Pinterest board

From Brad’s Pinterest board

I didn’t have any challenges, per se. No more than I normally have in choosing which scenes to write in a novel. But it’s tricky with flashbacks. They not only need to pull their own weight; they also need to have some sort of bearing on current events. So that was a bit tough to find the right parts of her story to tell, but I muddled through as best I could.

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LRR: As I write the questions for this interview, I’m about halfway through my ARC of Twelve Kings in Sharakhai. I won’t know what happens at the end for a few more days at least, I have no idea if this story ends on a cliffhanger, or what. So I’ll ask you! Does Çeda’s adventure end at the end of this novel? Or are there more adventures for her in store? [I finished the book the other night. And that ending? WOW!]

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BB: There’s more in store for young Çeda. There’s a pretty major change in her life in this book, and the next book is a lot about exploring that change. My current plan is for this to be a six-book series, but we’ll see how things go. The actual number of books may vary from that goal, depending on how the story progresses through the next few books.

 

US Cover Art

US Cover Art

LRR: I love the cover art! Not only is it painterly gorgeous, but It impresses upon the reader the depth and scale of the metropolis of Sharakhai, and offers context of the culture. As an author, how much control do you have over cover art? How do you feel about the cover art chosen for this novel?

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BB: Yes, I love it too. I think Adam Paquette (who also did the cover stunning windship art for The Winds of Khalakovo) did a wonderful job. I love that he captured the kings’ palaces, the walls around them, the bazaar and the amber cityscape. And Çeda, crouching and looking over Sharakhai, hits just the right notes for me.

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Just how much control an author has really depends on the publishing house. I’m really pleased that DAW and Betsy Wollheim, the publisher and editor-in-chief (not to mention my editor), have a view that the author has the most intimate view of the story and so is an invaluable resource. That’s not to say that the author has the reins. Betsy was still the art director, but I was happy to have a part to play in it, helping to come up with the initial vision for the cover and providing feedback on sketches and the near-final artwork. A lot of authors don’t get that, so I feel fortunate to be with a publisher that solicits my input.

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From Brad's Pinterest board

From Brad’s Pinterest board

LRR: I’ve been lucky enough to hang out with you at the ConFusion science fiction convention in Dearborn Michigan. What Conventions or other bookish/fandom events have you got on your 2015/2016 calendar?

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BB: I have my book launch next month at Boswell Books in Milwaukee [Sept 8th, 7pm, click here for more info]. I’ll have a few more local signings as well. I’m hitting New York ComicCon in October, and later in October, I’m really excited to be heading to the UK for Gollancz Fest, FantasyCon, and in between those two events, a few signings in London and nearby cities. My last event this year will be World Fantasy, my favorite convention (for hanging out with authors and for networking). I’m sure I’ll hit ConFusion again next January too. See you there?

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LRR: You bet! Any chance I can rope you into a short LARPing game on Friday night? You’ll need a jacket with six shiny buttons.😉

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LRR: Along with Gregory Wilson, you run the Speculate! podcast, where you’ve hosted such luminaries as Bill Willingham, Ed Greenwood, Martha Wells, Brenda Cooper, Patrick Rothfuss and more.  What’s this podcast all about? And of all the methods to communicate with fans and other writers, why podcasting?

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BB: When it comes down to it, Greg and I started Speculate! to scratch our itch of reading and talking about books we love. It’s turned out to be many more things than just that, but that’s the core of it: two fellow writers talking the nuts and bolts of writing and the business of writing with other professionals (and more than a few luminaries) in the field of speculative fiction.

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We chose podcasting largely because Greg had some experience with it. He’d done a few before and was interested in starting up another. I hadn’t yet done a podcast, but after hashing it back and forth for a while with Greg, I thought it would be a great way to keep up on reading and to network with other writers, editors, artists, and more.

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LRR: hopefully this last question will be an easy one!
Fill in the blanks: If you enjoyed _________,  ________ and ______, then you’ll love Twelve Kings in Sharakhai!

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BB: If you enjoyed Peter V. Brett’s The Desert Spear, Trudi Canavan’s The Magician’s Guild, and Saladin Ahmed’s Throne of the Crescent Moon, then you’ll love Twelve Kings in Sharakhai!

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 * * * *       * * * *      * * * *

Give away fine print:

  • Due to the increasing costs of international shipping, this give away is US only.
  • To enter, leave a comment below. Make sure you leave me some way to reach you – your twitter handle, your e-mail address, something.
  • I have an Advanced Reading Copy and a Hardback to give away. If you have a preference, mention it in your entry.

>Give away closes on Saturday Sept 5th at Midnight Eastern time. I will contact the winners shortly afterwards.

19 Responses to "Interview with Bradley Beaulieu, and give away!"

Yay! Give away!

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That’s great that the publisher allowed some control to Bradley Beaulieu for the cover art of Twelve Kings in Sharakhai. I’m a little surprised that not all authors get that same treatment. And I loved reading Peter V. Brett’s The Demon Cycle series. I’m in! My email: thehafan (at) outlook (dot) com

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A hardcover would be most nice!

@locolobo79

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What a great interview. Thanks so much. About to start reading this and very excited to get started.
Lynn😀

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Heard a lot of good things about this one and would love to win a copy.

@nelswadycki

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Too abd this is not international but, oh well, I already preordered the book anyway😉
I really like this interview and I can’t wait to read this book.

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Looking forward to this one!

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I keep trying. This sounds absolutely stunners, I’d love that hardcover copy, please please. You’ve got the e-address.

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Red, I see my name “Richard” that shows takes me to the old blog. How can I- or do you – update that?

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It appears to be at my end, since Broken Bullhorn is the umbrella blog for Tip the Wink.net Rats.

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I am SO looking forward to reading this book! Those photos are really a great way to pull us into the built world. To be fair, I’ve already ordered a copy, but if one of the giveaway copies is signed, I’d love to have it. It never hurts to have a to-be-lent copy of an awesome book. ~ @mangoheroics

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Really enjoyed The Flames of Shadam Khoreh and would definitely be up for another book by Bradley P. Beaulieu. My preference is hardcover to semi-match the set I bought during a Kickstarter campaign by the author. (minusbar@gmail.com)

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I would LOVE to win this book! Bradley P. Beaulieu is a new author to me — haven’t read anything by him, but this interview opened up a whole new world of books that have now climbed to the top of my TBR pile.

My preference is hardcover, but if that’s already taken then the ARC is fine, too.

Please contact me through twitter: http://twitter.com/NadineBrandes

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Slight preference for the hardback, but either would look great in my library!

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[…] Bradley P. Beaulieu? And that I’m hosting a give away of Twelve Kings of Sharakhai? Click here for more […]

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I’ve heard some great things about this one, would love to win a copy. I probably have a preference for the Hardcover, but either would be great. (free books=free books=wonderful in any format)

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I’d love to win a copy!

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I’m beyond excited to read this! I love that Bradley used Pinterest for inspiration. I mean, let’s face it. Pinterest is normally a female driven social media tool, so go Bradley! And either edition is fine with me. Thank you! @tammy_sparks

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FTC Stuff

some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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