Shadows at Nightfall by Brett Armstrong: Author Interview, Tour, and Giveaway with Celebrate Lit.
About the Book
Book: Shadows at Nightfall
Author: Brett Armstrong
Genre: Christian, Epic Fantasy
Release date: September 14, 2021
The shadows of Jason’s past have caught him. Having stepped into the Quest of Fire, Jason is pursued by a league of assassins formed of pure darkness. To his horror he discovers these creatures also were contracted to eliminate Anargen and his friends as they sought to understand the Tower of Light’s oracle. To unravel the mystery of who wants him dead and how he fits into the ages old quest, Jason must travel the lengths of the Lowlands. In the Ziljafu deserts a secret awaits him that will shake him to his core. He’ll have to move fast and cling fiercely to hope, as Anargen’s story twists down a bleak path to almost certain failure.
The creatures of darkness in the Lowlands have long waited for men to spurn the High King’s laws. With few concerned for the light and everything falling apart around them, Jason and Anargen will face the shadows of night’s falling as their world hangs in the balance.
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Did you have an “aha” moment where everything came together?
I think my biggest “aha” moment was when I finally understood what Count Eidolon is up to and how his schemes fit together. Some plot points from an earlier draft didn’t connect the dots thoroughly enough even though the overall arc for the characters and outcomes made sense. I spent a fair amount of time trying to sort out Eidolon’s past and his goals and why he is doing what he’s doing and how that is playing out. Once I did, I was super excited. I was also surprised to realize how far back into the history that world his roots reached. A character who figures prominently elsewhere in the Lowlands’ history was pretty formative for Eidolon’s character developing and the tension and lesson within that character’s rash decisions creating a monster who would terrorize future generations seems like a pretty compelling story. At least one that I would really like to tell someday.
Are you working on your next book already? What can you tell us?
Quest of Fire has seven books planned in total. Four novels and three novellas. Right now, we’re two novels and one novella in, so the next book is the second novella. The novels tell the big picture story and can be read in sequence on their own but the novellas give extra insights into events from the preceding novel as well as the following novel. So, there’s lots of foreshadowing in this next novella. It’s set in Anargen’s time and features one of his friends who disappears from Shadows at Nightfall and shows what he was doing, along with a few new characters who play into the series in the next novel. I tentatively titled the novella Quest of Fire: Desperation, because there’s a civil war going on in parallel to the events of Shadows at Nightfall and its outcome becomes a major driver of the central conflict for the rest of the series.
In terms of themes, each book so far has a character who comes of age in some way. Desperation continues that along with the journey of discovering the cost of following the High King and the tension of having to make that choice when victory in the circumstances not only isn’t assured but seems impossible. Every time I get deeper into writing out the series the more I feel like I’m discovering the Lowlands one step ahead of the reader and I hope they have as much fun exploring them as I do. Which is good, because Desperation is set to release this September and the next novel (which I’m also working on) is supposed to release in September 2023.
What authors would you say influence your writing?
William Shakespeare, HG Wells, Jack London, Thomas Mallory, George Orwell, JRR Tolkien, and CS Lewis are among the deceased authors who heavily influenced me. Of those living, Suzanne Collins, Timothy Zahn, and several of my fellow Christian fiction writers whose works I’ve enjoyed including Morgan Busse, Patrick Carr, Jason Joyner, and Paul Regnier. Really, every story you read becomes a part of the fabric of who you are as a writer. Some pieces are bigger than others, but they all contribute in some way.
What famous author do you wish could be your mentor?
Going with living authors, I would love to have a chance to talk with Timothy Zahn. He writes Sci-Fi but I think he makes some incredible characters. It’s not just the reality or relatability of the characters, but in their personalities and back stories he builds elements of who each character is that creates tension for the story at large, which I think is super impressive. And does a great job with worldbuilding and introducing realistic mechanics and concepts around fantastical story elements. I’d really like to hear what goes into how he handles both.
What’s your favorite writing snack?
I don’t often have snacks when I write because I’m usually doing it in the night around 11 pm or 12 am. But I will say my favorite treat is the pumpkin cupcakes we make every so often. I’m a fan of pumpkin things in general but these are probably the greatest baked good mankind has come across (admittedly my very biased opinion). I forget now where we found the recipe and my wife and I tweaked it some to suit our tastes, but I’m happy to share it if anyone wants to try them. Talking about them makes me really want to have one now…
When did you write your first book? Is that first one published?
I guess that depends on how you classify books. When I was in high school, I wrote a 20 page story for a Creative Writing class assignment. That story was the seed that became The Gathering Dark, Quest of Fire‘s book 1. The first novel length story I finished is still in search of a publishing home. I finished it while in college. Not long after finishing my undergrad degrees I finished my first published novel, Destitutio Quod Remissio.
How long, on average, does it take you to write a book?
Oof! It depends on when you start counting. From idea to publication has averaged about five years for most of my books. Though actually writing them once the story arc is fully formed in my mind and I have the core themes starting to shine through, that usually takes about a year. I’ve done it faster and I’ve done it much slower. That’s probably the most consistent estimate I have.
I usually feel guilty for how long it can take for an idea to become a book. To quote Ian Malcom in Jurassic Park, “Life finds a way.” And in my case, it finds lots of ways to keep me busy away from writing. At least from those times when I’m not allowing myself to be distracted or slothful anyway. But I sometimes have to remind myself, it’s also been my experience that the Lord kind of keeps the book back for me until it’s ready. I rewrote The Gathering Dark several times over the years before it was published (which all told from the initial idea to final form was 2006 to 2019). Along the way I lamented and got frustrated with how it was progressing, but I’m glad it didn’t happen when I wanted it to, because the story that it became and the editing it received and the beauty that’s in the story now. Those wouldn’t have been there if I had been totally in control.
What has influenced you the most as a writer?
Sometimes I have the tendency to overcomplicate things. To take questions with a ready and easy answer and try to find a less obvious answer, even if the easy answer is the truest. I’m going to try not to do that here and go with the clearest source of influence in my life, my faith in Christ. It’s the defining element of me as a person and factors into every facet of my life, writing included. Perhaps writing especially, because at one time I had decided to give up writing not just as a vocation but as a hobby, as anything. I was really sure in college that I had to be an engineer. Writing was just a distracrion. But over the course my middle years in college the Lord opened some doors and showed me some things about myself and eventually I realized that the Lord had made writing a part of me and that it should be used for His glory. So, to the degree I’m able, inspite of my flaws and shortcomings as a person and writer, I strive to do as this quote from Shakespeare’s Henry V eloquently puts it: “O God! Thy arm was here, and not to us, but to Thy arm alone, ascribe we all.”
Do you write in one genre or several?
I definitely write across multiple genres. My first published novel, Destitutio Quod Remissio was called, “a perfect blend of history and mystery,” by one reader. Then my next book released was dystopian sci-fi. And with Quest of Fire I’m deep into epic fantasy. I’m part of an upcoming novella collection and the overall link between the stories is a portal fantasy, but my portion reads almost like a sci-fi thriller. And I’ve participated in two devotional collections now as well. At one time, I insisted to myself I would only do certain genres, but now, if the Lord leads me to a story and that story unfolds as sci-fi, historical, fantasy, or even romance–where He leads me, I’ll try to follow and hopefully not stand between what He would have me do and the story’s unfolding.
What genre would you choose to write that you don’t already?
I tend to be pretty verbose, probably too much so (thank you for sticking with me this far!). I always assumed that would trip me up if I ever tried to write a children’s book. My wife and mom have both asked me to and for a long time I just couldn’t imagine it working out. But over the years reading to my son, I realized children’s books are even more diverse in style and nuance than I imagined. So, I have a couple stories for young kids in draft. I didn’t really see it coming but I hope they get finished and kids and parents both have their hearts stirred.
About the Author
Brett Armstrong has been exploring other worlds as a writer since age nine. Years later, he still writes, but now invites others along on his excursions. He’s shown readers haunting, deep historical fiction (Destitutio Quod Remissio), scary-real dystopian sci-fi (Day Moon and Veiled Sun), and dark, sweeping epic fantasy (Quest of Fire). Every story is a journey of discovery and an attempt to be a brush in the Master Artist’s hand. Through dark, despair, light, joy, and everything in between, the end is always meant to leave his fellow literary explorers with wonder and hope. Always busy with a new story, he also enjoys drawing, gardening, and spending time with his wife and son.
More from Brett
The Lowlands are on the edge of dramatic changes. In every era, warriors for the High King must rise to keep the light burning and hold back the beasts of the darkness that most believe only myth. But those creatures of lore have long waited for the hour of shadows to arrive and with it all the horrors they have schemed.
The protagonists of Quest of Fire saga—Anargen and Jason, don’t realize how great a change is upon them. Anargen’s experience in defending Ordumair from the Grey Scourge and his army of werebeasts have opened his eyes to realities of the Lowlands, but neither he nor his friends nor even their mentor Sir Cinaed understand the Oracle they found within the vaults of Ordumair. It foretold a looming struggle against the forces of darkness that gave rise to the Grey Scourge. The question of how to stop it as the shadows lengthen all around divides the group.
Jason has been running from the darkness in his past so long he only looks to his next step, never what’s coming ahead. He certainly didn’t see stopping at the Black River Inn to hear old Cinaed the Storyteller tell tales of a long past knight named Anargen as life-changing. Until he witnessed the old storyteller do battle with a creature straight out of his stories. Now he feels himself being drawn into the Quest of Fire as Anargen was, but his new found purpose is far from the safety and ease he’s been hoping for.
One of the most exciting aspects of writing Shadows at Nightfall was showing through sweeping epic fantasy the way Anargen does not forsake his allegiance to the High King. The Quest of Fire saga is in part a story about storytelling and that is reflected in the way Jason is shaped by the tale of Anargen’s failures and faithfulness. Much like the Apostle Paul’s exhortation that “…these things were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.” (1 Corinthians 10:11) Though not the only spiritual theme woven into the stories, Shadows at Nightfall invites readers to journey with these characters to the brink, risking their lives, growing from the examples passed down to them, and find there the greatest gain.
“You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.” —2 Timothy 2:1-4
Through the Fire Blogs, March 17 (Author Interview)
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 17
Texas Book-aholic, March 18
Inklings and notions, March 19
For Him and My Family, March 20
deb’s Book Review, March 21
Simple Harvest Reads, March 22 (Author Interview)
By the Book, March 22
Locks, Hooks and Books, March 23
Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, March 24
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 26
Artistic Nobody, March 27 (Author Interview)
Blogging With Carol, March 28
Library Lady’s Kid Lit, March 29
Guild Master, March 30
To celebrate his tour, Brett is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card, copy of Shadows at Nightfall, and digital extras (exclusive map and music)!!