Interview with Tom Stacey, author of Exile

About the Author

Tom Stacey

Tom Stacey is an English author of the fantasy novel, Exile. Tom was born in Essex, England, and has lived there his whole life. He began writing at school, often taking responsibility for penning the class plays, or writing sketches with his friends. While attending university to read history, Tom developed his writing by creating several short stories, some of which would later become to basis for his debut novel, Exile.

Tom self-published Exile in summer 2014 and is currently working on the sequel as well as another unrelated novel. He earns a living as a video producer in London in the day and writes at night, a bit like a really underwhelming superhero.

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Q & A with Tom Stacey

A&RBC: Where did the concept for Exile come from?

Exile began as a series of short stories that I never intended to bring together. I wrote a short story called ‘The Soldier’ while I was at university and after a friend told me it was good, I put it in a drawer and forgot about it. I wrote another short story almost a year later about a hunter in a forest in winter and then another about two small boys exploring an abandoned mountain lair, and it all started clicking into place. I realised that, with minimal effort, these stories could exist in the same world. Since I had already written the opening chapters for three of my main characters, I began to seriously consider it as one novel-length story. Originally I wanted to write one book, but it quickly outgrew itself. At the moment, I’m planning three.

A&RBC: Which one of the characters was the hardest to write?

Probably Riella. It might seem silly, but I was nervous about being able to write a woman well. So many male authors nowadays do it flawlessly (and some still don’t) and I didn’t want to mess it up. Turning my hand from short stories and sketches to a novel-length manuscript meant that there were many challenges I had to face and overcome, but getting Riella right was something I sweated on. I didn’t want her to be stereotypical in any way, not a damsel in distress or even a Xena-style warrior woman. She’s turned out as one of my favourite characters, and I like to think I’ve achieved what I set out to do, at least a little bit.

A&RBC: Where is the setting for Exile? Is it a place you are familiar with?

It is set in an invented land: the continent of Daegermund. Most of the story takes place in Veria, chief nation of a mighty empire, and Dalvoss, a hard steppe country to the north. I have a map somewhere that I plan to get drawn professionally, so I can post it online or include it in the next book. As a reader, I am very familiar with the landscapes that crop up in historical fantasy stories again and again: forests and rivers and deserts and snow-capped mountains, all grand settings. I hope that I’ve done them justice in my writing. I’ve always thought that David Gemmell had a talent for describing winter scenes. Hopefully I have gone some way to emulating that.

A&RBC: What do you want readers to take from Exile?

I just want people to have a good time. I write to entertain and because it entertains me. I don’t think I’m qualified to try and teach people anything or educate them, I just want them to feel something for my characters and care about what happens next. If they take anything, I hope it’s a fierce desire to read my next book!

A&RBC: What has been your biggest achievement as an author?

Nothing incredible achieved yet, but my favourite moment so far was when I got my first review from someone who doesn’t know me personally. They gave me five stars on Amazon and it was really quite heart-warming. Also, watching people go out of their way to promote your work for no hope of reward is amazing and shows you the depths of kindness in the reading community. It’s not an achievement as such, but something I’ll always remember. Hopefully the biggest achievements are to come.

A&RBC: What has been your biggest challenge as an author?

Marketing. It takes you away from what you want to do (i.e. write), and it is the main advantage the traditionally published have over the self-published, in that they have someone else to do their marketing for them. Marketing is a black art and you never know what is going to work until it does (or more often, doesn’t).

A&RBC: Are you an avid or occasional reader? If so, what is your favorite genre of books?

I am an avid reader. I don’t think a serious writer can be anything else. Stephen King said if you want to be a writer then you ought to read a lot and write a lot, and it makes sense. A producer has to be a consumer as well or how can you understand your market? My favourite genre is probably fantasy or historical fiction. At the moment I am reading Steven Pressfield’s Gate of Fire and it is absolutely excellent.

A&RBC: What new project (s) are you working on?

I am working on the sequel to Exile. It has a tentative title but I won’t share it with you just yet. I am also working on a short story called Tomband an unrelated thriller/adventure novel called Flotsam.

A&RBC: Where can readers find you?

You can find me on Twitter @StomTacey, or my book’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/exilebook), I’m on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8323943.Tom_Stacey) and I also have a website at www.tomwrites.co.uk. Check it out.

About the Book:

Exile 4

On the fringes of the Verian Empire, two small boys stumble upon a strange altar, buried in the heart of a mountain. There they awaken a horror unseen for generations, that will descend upon the realm of men while it is at its weakest. For Veria is a nation at war with itself, only recently recovered from a bloody rebellion, and the time of heroes has passed. The empire is in a state of chaos, and while its ruler, the Empron Illis, rids the land of his remaining enemies, unseen forces are gathering at the borders. However all eyes are turned inwards. The Empron is not a well man, and there are whispers among the common folk that his advisors are spies; demons that only wear the flesh of men.

Yet there is hope…

In the distant mountains, a forester who has buried his past learns that he has not been forgotten, and that his crimes have sought him out at last. But he is no simple woodsman. He is Beccorban the Helhammer, Scourge, Burner and the Death of Nations, and his fury is a terrible thing.

For when all the heroes are gone, Veria will turn to those it has forgotten, before all is lost.

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