Hello, you dashing lot! I haven’t run an author interview for a long time.. but, as they say, good things come to those who wait! And this interview with Brian Lee Durfee is proper interesting, I kid you not! So, settle in, all nice and tight and let’s do this! FYI- all sorts of book and social media links will be peppered throughout this post… do not be afraid to click on links and images- they all open in a new browser window for your comfort! 😉
Welcome to Cover to Cover, Brian! A great pleasure to have you! To kick off this Q&A, tell us a bit about yourself? Who is Brian Lee Durfee?
I am an artist and writer who was raised in Fairbanks Alaska and Monroe Utah. I currently live in Salt Lake City. As for the art; I’ve done illustrations for Wizards of the Coast, Tolkien Enterprises, Dungeons & Dragons, and many more. My art has been featured in SPECTRUM: Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art #3 and Writers of the Future Vol 9. I won the Arts for the Parks Grand Canyon Award and the painting is in the permanent collection of the Grand Canyon Visitors Center-Kolb Gallery. I am also the author of the fantasy series The Five Warrior Angels published by Simon & Schuster’s SAGA Press.
I think after writing, reading, painting, and watching the Oakland Raiders (I am a huge football fan), travel would be my next favorite passion. Hong Kong was a favorite of mine. Alaska. Switzerland. Austria. Scotland. England. Northern Italy blew me away—it’s like stepping onto another planet.
On a side note, I still work in Law Enforcement for my day job. I actually put together the first-ever-in the-history-of-the-world Comic Con inside a prison. Me and James Dashner (author of the Maze Runner) put together a program for the inmates at the Utah State Prison which included writing classes, watching the Maze Runner movies, panels on writing and publishing and other creative endeavors, plus I gathered many book donations for the prison’s 6 libraries (we got thousands of books & comics donated btw).
Wow, Brian! The Comic Con inside a prison sounds unbelievably cool and all the stuff you managed to squeeze into the agenda and the books that were donated! *mind blown* how awesome!
You are a fantasy author. Did you always know fantasy was the genre for you? What do you most enjoy about writing in this genre? Equally, is there anything in the genre that you find the most difficult?
The Sword of Shanarra by Terry Brooks was the first book I ever read that got me jazzed about reading. I was about 12 years old and knew by 100 pgs into that book that I wanted to write a fantasy series of my own someday. Tad Williams Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series were the first books that made me fall in love with words and how they sounded and how they could be put together to create great art.
My editor at SAGA Press bought my book specifically because I was the first writer he had ever read that reminded him of Tad Williams. In fact, Tad gave us a blurb that will be on the cover of bk#2 The Blackest Heart. That my literary hero gave me a cover blurb is still pretty staggering.
Did I always know fantasy was the genre for me? Well, my first attempt at writing a novel was a huge epic horror novel (btw, it will never be published as it sucks—I consider it my practice novel). I have ideas for both a sequel and prequel series to the The Five Warrior Angels. I also have ideas for a space opera series. I also want to do a series of police procedurals similar to Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series. But we shall see what comes next. As for fantasy, specifically, I enjoy world building. I enjoy the complexity and challenge of creating a landscape/cultures/religions etc that readers haven’t seen before. Which, in turn, is also the most difficult part of the process.
I am always intrigued with authors’ writing routines. When I read something truly epic, I try to imagine the author writing the very words that manage to blow me away. This happened when I read The Forgetting Moon– I thought, damn, this is some proper, complex and great fantasy! So, can you tell us about your writing routine? Do you lock yourself away? Do you sit in a crowded place? Do you keep a structure around your writing routine or do you just sit down and write when the inspiration strikes?
Thanks for the kind compliment. I pride myself on making the series as complex and layered as possible. In fact, don’t ever skim over any of the semi-lengthy descriptions of forests or cathedrals in any of my books…many clues to many mysteries are hidden in the simplest of places.
I write mainly on the weekends Fri, Sat, and Sun. I sometimes write at night after my day job working with felons. I have a spot in my library and I listen to a lot of classic rock turned up LOUD whilst writing; Queen, Prince, Journey, Heart, Fleetwood Mac, Foreigner, Metallica, Billy Joel, Elton John, REO Speedwagon, Genesis, Springsteen, Kid Rock, Mellencamp, Bon Jovi, Pat Benetar, The Eagles, Santana, Motley Crue, Phil Collins, Green Day, Stevie Nicks, Bryan Adams, Def Leppard, Annie Lennox, Tesla, Duran Duran, U2, Styx, Tom Petty, Van Halen,…well you get the picture. I fall asleep every night to Sade. So smooth.
The Forgetting Moon has a very wide and varied cast of characters. Who was your favourite character to write about?
Nail, Gault, Liz Hen, Spades, and the dog Beer Mug are my favorites. And I am speaking here of things that happen in both The Forgetting Moon and The Blackest Heart. Nail reminds me a lot of myself at seventeen. Gault is a war-weary knight (due to my many years in law enforcement my older self relates to him). Liz Hen, as a character, is annoying as hell (which is fun to write) but she really starts to redeem herself near the end of book two. Spades is just a purely evil killer and fun to write. And I like to give all the real heroic scenes to the dog Beer Mug.
Plot twists- I love them! Everybody loves them… What has been your experience with incorporating plot twists into your books?
Oh man, I love plot twists. Did you ever watch that show LOST?! I want to have as many plot twists as that in my series. Some of the plot twists in The Five Warrior Angel series are twists I thought of when I was just a twelve year old boy dreaming of being a writer someday. The fact that I am able to finally put some of those twists into bks 2 & 3 is remarkable. The suprising thing is, many of those plot twists I thought of as a kid, still work. Granted, I did kick some to the curb cuz they were absolute shit.
Is there a topic, plot, a character that you have decided to never write about because you find it too cliché, or too boring, or too out there?
Nope. Nothing. In fact the more outlandish or controversial the idea, the more I wanna find a way to make it work. And cliché’s? Who cares? I love the orphan farm boy with a destiny cliché. Why? Because I can relate? As someone who was adopted and knew nothing of his biological heritage for 95% of his life…I always considered myself a wayward bastard with a destiny.
What, for you, is the most difficult part of being an author and how do you overcome it?
Nothing is difficult. I reckon I wish I had more time to write all the novels I want to write.
If you had an opportunity to co-author a book, would you do it? If, yes, which author would you choose and why?
I would co-author anything with Stephen King. Or if George R. R. Martin doesn’t want to finish A Song of Ice and Fire I would gladly finish it for him. Kinda like how Brandon Sanderson finished Wheel of Time for Robert Jordan.
The Forgetting Moon is the first book in the The Five Warriors Angels series, book #2 The Blackest Heart is expected to be published in February 2019 (UK), I believe. Can you tell readers in your own words and through your own vision, what it is that they can expect from these books and the whole series?
I promise non-stop heart-pounding adventure. The whole series is gonna thrill readers, then break their hearts, then make them go WTF JUST HAPPENED! But all in a good way. I love the long epic films like Braveheart, Gladiator, Dances With Wolves, and long epic novels like Lonesome Dove, Shogun, The Stand, Pillars of the Earth, Game of Thrones, Eye of the World, etc. As for The Five Warrior Angels; my goal was to write large, bold, epic, in-your-face fantasy novels in the mold of George R. R. Martin and Steven Erikson but with the literary dash of Pat Rothfuss and Tad Williams and a mix of quest adventure similar to Robert Jordan or The Fellowship of the Ring. With The Five Warrior Angels, I just want to do my utmost to create something that could compete in the same league as those classics. I want to write a fantasy full of great characters and non-stop adventure that also says something about the dangers of war, religion, prophecy, faith, and fanaticism.
What’s next for Brian Lee Durfee?
I am halfway through writing The Lonesome Crown volume 3 of The Five Warrior Angels. BTW The Blackest Heart should be out in the USA Feb 26. Not sure when it will be out in the UK.
I’ve checked Amazon UK and the expected publication date also shows 26th of February! Going to be a big day for you, Brian! 🙂
Thank you so much for taking time to answer my questions, all the best on publishing the second book on the series and a great time writing the third! 🙂