Thursday, February 22, 2024

Q&A with Joseph P. Macolino




Joseph P. Macolino is the author of the new novel The Battle for Erathal, the third in his Evorath trilogy. 


Q: The Battle for Erathal is the third in your Evorath trilogy--what inspired the plot of this new novel?


A: It sort of just made sense as the next step in the story, but understanding the first two books is essential to this answer.


Defeated at the end of book 2, Yezurkstal is more dangerous than ever because he is more strategic (and powerful) than ever. So when he returns to threaten the people of Erathal, the impact is that much more profound.


But beyond the primary plot of fighting for the safety of Erathal, you have the continued threads from before. How does Artimus and Savannah’s relationship develop? Have they made progress with governmental reform in the Elvish Republic? What about the friendship between Zelag and Cassandra; will that spark something more? And how is Irontail doing now that he is Chieftain of the Dumner tribe?


Evorath is as much about the drama of the individual characters as it is about the plot of world events, so when I said at first that it just “made sense,” I really mean to say that it just had to be this way.


Q: How did you create the world in which the stories take place?


A: If we’re talking about the literal sense, much of the world was created on an old Toshiba pocket PC during my high school and college days. Eventually, that transitioned to exclusively working on a laptop.


But more seriously, it stems from a childhood obsessed with fantasy and an overactive imagination. The world itself draws from heavy exposure to mythology, fantasy video games, and lots of reading.


But as I got serious about writing, it involved (and still involves) lots of studying on history, philosophy, religion, geography -you name it!


I believe stories write themselves if you have two things: good character ideas, and a good setting to put them in, so I spend a lot of time developing the setting (i.e., the world of Evorath).

Q: Did you know from the start that you'd be writing a trilogy?


A: It depends what you mean by “the start.” When I started on the first book in this trilogy, yes. But this goes back to my emphasis on world-building.


Because the truth is, when I started building the world of Evorath, I didn’t know I would end up writing any novels in the world. It was more just building a fantastic world full of all the elements I loved about fantasy.


As I fleshed out the world though, it came to the point that I felt I had to tell more impassioned stories from this world. So, I planned out an array of books spanning 1,000 years of Evorath history. This first trilogy is the earliest series I plan to release in the timeline of Evorath.


Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t novellas, short stories, or other ways I plan to tell some of the earlier history of the universe containing Evorath.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?


A: Heroes aren’t born, they are made. Yes, that may be a hackneyed platitude, but in this case, it works! No, that isn’t the only thing I’d have them take, but if they take nothing else, I think this one will do.


Why? Because when you dig into it deeper, it becomes so much more meaningful. The heroes of Evorath aren’t some hyper-virtuous, sanctimonious, self-righteous do-gooders. And in fact, no human is simply “good” or “evil” either.


Instead, what separates a hero from a villain is that, despite their shortcomings, personal challenges, self-doubts, and individual limitations, heroes stand up for those who can’t defend themselves.


In the world today, bad guys are winning because “good” guys are too lazy to act. We need more heroes who will stand up and recognize a world of injustice and oppression.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: The next series in Evorath! I’ve just started writing book 2 of the Legends of Evorath. This series takes place 60 years after the events of the Evorath trilogy. It will be more than three books, but I figure for now I’ll keep everyone in suspense on how many it will include.


Those characters who survived the first trilogy will be making appearances, but the perspectives shown in this next series will all be from characters of the next generation of Evorath. I think readers will enjoy seeing where some of these characters from the first trilogy have ended up so many decades later.


And more important, I hope the Legends of Evorath will help open up the larger world to readers and give them a small glimpse of what’s really in store.


There’s going to be over 30 novels in the world of Evorath and the legacy of these characters and events from the first trilogy will weave a thread of history that offers excitement and adventure.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: You are all worthy of love, appreciation, and respect. I appreciate each and every one of you taking the time to read this and to read books from new authors in general.


I hope that humans, as a species, can continue to grow and become more empathic and compassionate. This world of coercive violence and forceful authority leaves us all broken and depressed at times. But there is great human kindness in the world. The path won’t always be easy, but if you wish it, you too can be a hero for someone else in this world.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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