Hi, everyone! Happy Easter to those who are already on a chocolate binge, to those who will be, and to those who couldn’t care less. I hope you’re at least managing some time for all your most anticipated reads…Speaking of which, I come bearing gifts!
I’m very excited to premiere a new blog feature today of all days (best comeback since Jesus? Not that I went anywhere, lol). Not because there’s anything special about Easter but because I’m really happy about the reception this feature has gotten from the authors who have kindly agreed to join me on the blog in April.
I couldn’t have asked for a better author to premiere this feature either. Today, I bring you Zack Argyle, who graciously agreed to talk about his just released (today!) novel, Stones of Light, the sequel to his character-driven fantasy debut, Voice of War.
So what is this new feature you ask?
OUT NEXT! is a blog feature bringing you some of the best stories in the bookish world. Every month, authors come to the Wyrm to talk about their latest books, intent on gracing us with some of the most exciting new releases in the community. Sit back, relax, and hear from the megaminds (yes, this is a reference to a fantastic movie) creating the stories we love to explore. Let this feature be the Guide to your (next) favorite author/read!
Meet Zack Argyle
Zack Argyle was raised with a wonderful family motto: don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story. What better way than to write fiction? He spends his days writing code and his nights writing epic stories about family, love, loss, friendship, and pain all intermixed with a heavy dose of the fantastical.
Visit his author’s website: https://www.zackargyle.com/
📃 Hi, Zack, welcome aboard the Wyrm! Thank you for being here to discuss Stones of Light, the second installment of your fantasy trilogy Threadlight. This story really shines bright through many ways, one of which its characters. So, for introduction’s sake, can you ask your main characters to introduce you and the book?
Laurel leans forward with a bitter glare. “Zack’s an overly happy grounder that has absolutely no care for the safety of my people.”
“Give him a break,” Chrys says. “He’s a good family man. Two kids, a brilliant wife. He’s just trying his best.”
Alverax raises a brow. “Really? Have you been in the same books as me? He literally had me wandering the desert naked in Voice of War.”
“Stay focused,” Laurel says with a glare. “We’re talking about book two. Stones of Light is about revenge.”
“No,” Chrys says, shaking his head. “No, it’s about family, survival, and what we’re willing to do for those we love.”
Alverax stares at them both. “And here I was thinking it was about the new dangers threatening to destroy the entire world as we know it!”
📜 Put all of those together and we get an exciting story as much about character connection as high-stakes worldbuilding. As does your blurb, ending with the killer line: “Together, they doomed the world…now, they must save it.”. All three of the main characters begin this book having suffered profound transformation, now forced to deal with consequences outside their control. How does change and agency play into their separate and combined journeys?
I love that you bring this up, because a big theme in the series is how people deal with feeling “out of control”. Chrys plans. Laurel abuses threadlight. And Alverax flails. But in the end, they all learn to deal with the chaos and become what the world needs them to be.
📃Those character journeys are just one of thestrengths of the book. You built complex characters by combining their compelling journey with intriguing worldbuilding. How does character growth affect the storyline?
Character growth is a difficult balance in a series. If they overcome their struggles too quickly, you have to backtrack, which is frustrating. And if they overcome them too late, it’s also frustrating! You can’t really write a satisfying storyline without character growth being central. I particularly enjoyed writing Alverax’s storyline for Stones of Light, because it involves personal growth in several areas and ends in an interesting place.
📃 I feel like an author’s writing style has to be so much more pinpointed, attentive, and compelling in a shorter novel (well, by modern epic fantasy standards…) such as Stones of Light than a 700-page chunk. It’s no easy feat drawing readers in with shorter-length stories, but you’ve managed to do so by building a world of gripping characters and magic. Did you find any challenges/advantages in “writing more but less”?
Yes! Growing up, I wrote a lot of poetry, and later, in high-school and university, I did a lot of songwriting. The ability to tell stories in as few words as possible is something I love, and so writing a 350 page novel is a HUGE effort for me. Honestly, Voice of War would have been better with another 100 pages. But I’m really happy with how Stones of Light turned out, even though it’s shorter than Voice of War!
📜 One of my greatest loves in fantasy fiction is exploring the magic systems in a book, and I loved the one you built into this world. This trilogy is named after it, the magic of threadlight. For new and old-timer readers alike, can you walk us through your magic system?
Everything in the world is connected, and some—known as threadweavers—are able to see and manipulate these connections, called threads. One critical thread is called your corethread; it connects you to the ground (in-world explanation for gravity). The base types of magic users are Sapphire threadweavers and Emerald threadweavers, named after the color of their glowing eyes and veins while threadweaving. Sapphires can push on threads (e.g redirecting an incoming arrow, or jumping unnaturally high) and Emeralds can pull on threads (e.g walking up walls, or summoning items from across the room). If you’ve read Voice of War, you know there is more to the magic, and if you’ve read Stones of Light, you know even more!
📃 Oh! I really love how your magic system melds scientific principles with pure magic. Why did you choose it as the name of the series?
I decided on Threadlight as the series title because of how crucial the magic is to the entirety of the series. From the first chapter of Voice of War, to all of the reveals in book two, and everything I have planned for the finale, it plays a key role in everything!
📜 Call me shallow, but I am absolutely in love with the covers for this series! You did an amazing job choosing your cover artist, as evidenced by the awesome cover reveal you did back in January. How was your experience with looking for, and working with, your cover artist to create Stone of Light’s masterpiece?
So I loooove fantasy art and spent a long time scrolling Instagram, Reddit, and Artstation finding artists. I reached out to 20-30 of them and created a spreadsheet with their prices, including some of the most popular illustrators currently. This is exactly how I met Ömer Burak Önal, who I’m convinced will be the next big fantasy book illustrator (have you seen Patrick Samphire’s new cover?). Ömer was just starting out, has a bit of broken English (he is from Turkey), but was responsive and amazing to work with. I created a Pinterest board with inspiration images and gave him ideas on how I wanted the coloring, and he ran with it. I remember getting the black/white sketch early on and nearly peeing myself with how good it looked. I shipped him a copy of Voice of War and plan to do the same with Stones of Light after the release.
📜 Hear hear. Nothing awes me quite the way SFF illustration does! But Stones of Light didn’t only get a fantastic cover. It has already gathered high praise from early reviewers who have also read and enjoyed Voice of War. How do things amp up from the previous book to this sequel? And without giving too much away, what can readers expect from the third installment?
While I call the series Epic Fantasy, there is not much epic in scope about Voice of War. It’s pretty centralized to the three main characters and their experience in the world. But then the ending happened. Book two takes the promises of epic scope and runs with it. There are new locations, new cultures, new creatures, expanded magic, and world-threatening enemies.
📃 Raising the stakes; I have to approve! Before you go, any current/future projects you’d like to tell us about?
I’ve begun writing book three, currently Untitled, and the only thing I’ll say about that one is that the first chapter is going to rip your heart out. I’ve also begun plotting out a standalone novel featuring a husband and wife heist team that I’m really excited about. The current working title is “The Day the Clouds Fell”.
I think I speak for the community when I say you had me at “rip your heart out” :’ ) (And also: Husband-wife heist team!!)
More about Stones of Light
ℹ️ Released today (April 4, 2021)! | Genre: Fantasy | Series: Threadlight #2
The coreseal is shattered and a new darkness is coming.
Chrys swore to never again let the Apogee take control but, in a moment of desperation, he gave in. Now, he will learn what the Apogee truly wants.
In Alchea, Laurel will do anything to get her threadlight back, even if it means working for the leader of the Bloodthieves. But she has no choice…a life without threadlight is no life at all.
To the west, Alverax travels with the Zeda people to the large port city of Felia, where they seek refuge after the fires in the Fairenwild. But he shattered the coreseal, and no one quite knows what the consequences will be. They only know it won’t be good.
Together, they doomed the world…now, they must save it.Synopsis
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