Interview with Peter V Brett, Author of ‘The Demon Cycle’ Book Series!
If you don’t know what The Demon Cycle is all about, there are currently four books in the series; The Warded Man, The Desert Spear, The Daylight War and the recent release The Skull Throne. Or, check out my first interview with Mr. Brett after the release of The Desert Spear. Yes, I haven’t reviewed all of them, but I’ve got a hardcover of each book prominently displayed on my bookshelf next to a limited edition print of the Brayan’s Gold novella still in the plastic covering it came with. My affection for this series is strong, to say the least.
I’m happy to present to you my interview with Peter V. Brett! He was kind enough to give us some insight into the creation of Skull Throne and does a damn good job of teasing what’s in the works as he’s finishing the Fifth and final book in The Demon Cycle series.
WPR: Arlen and Jardir are holding the Mind Demon captive and a trip to the core seems to be coming, how long do you anticipate the trip of that magnitude to take?
Peter V. Brett: Longer than any of those involved would like.
It felt like children and babies (born or unborn) get a lot of casual mentions in The Skull Throne. Are you having baby fever, or do you think being a dad impacts your vision on The Demon Cycle?
No doubt having a young child (and a lot of friends with young children) has had an effect, but I think it’s more than that. Pregnancy and babies are the natural result of adult relations, but seldom shown in fantasy fiction.
One of the things that often dissatisfied me about the genre when I read as a fan was the disconnects with real life. Secondary characters always default to male. No one in fantasy ever has to go to the bathroom. Or has anything other than hetero, fade-to-black sex. No one is ever pregnant—unless it’s a protag’s wife who is subsequently threatened/killed to give him incentive to fight the bad guys he would otherwise avoid. I try to bring those things more in balance with reality in my books. No one was pregnant for the first few books. Now it feels like everyone is. Such is life.
There are some mentionable deaths in The Skull Throne, these are not cheap side characters, but have a real impact on the story. Is this your way of forcing Leesha more into the leadership role and decreasing her “outside influences”?
It was a factor. Leesha was being groomed for leadership from day one, but it was difficult for her to shine on her own. A smart person who makes good public policy is never going to get as much attention as someone who can throw lighting bolts or beat a demon to death with their bare hands. That said, the deaths in Skull Throne were less about her and more about the characters in question fulfilling the story arcs that I had planned for them from the start.
I just got caught up on the Conan Red Sonja crossover comics from Dark Horse, and then it clicked in my head I completely forgot about your run on the character Red Sonja: Unchained! Have you always wanted to do comic books?
Definitely. From before I wanted to write novels. Comics were my first love and my dream job when I was younger, but I discovered I was too much of a control freak to make collaborative work my full time career. The Sonja project had a lot of ups and downs as I learned my way around the medium from the creative side and was subject to much heavier editorial influence than in my own work. I really enjoyed it overall, learning a lot in kind of a trial by fire and ending up with a work that I think has a lot to be proud of. I look forward to doing more comics in the near future.
Would you want to adapt stories from the Demon Cycle into graphic novel format?
It’s in the works, but it might be a while, as I have the last book in my series coming up and that has to be my priority. Once there is something to announce I will shout it from the rooftops.
I know you’ve mentioned that your daughter is into comics and she likes Hawkgirl. I showed my 5 year old daughter who Hawkgirl was and she has been pretending to be her during our “Superhero fights”. What do you think makes Hawkgirl so easy for us Dads to get our kids into?
My daughter (Cassie) is more interested in animation than comics at this stage (she’s not yet 7), but superheroes are always a theme in the Brett household. Cassie goes through phases with different characters. For a while it was Merida. That turned into Wonder Woman. Then she was obsessed with Batgirl. Then she wanted to be Zatanna. Then Catwoman. Then Hawgirl. Now she wants to be a Jedi.
But really what’s not to like about Hawkgirl? She has wings and can fly, she’s not afraid of anything and she’s got power enough to hang with the top dogs in the Justice League. The only thing I don’t care for is the fact that she’s a grown adult woman going by the title “girl”. That has always been an uncomfortable trend in comics.
How much of a break are you giving yourself before you start working on the next book in the series, The Core?
Break is long over. I am back in the weeds. I turned in a 104 page outline of the book to Random House, and am now in the process of slapping muscle and veins onto that skeleton. It will be a year at least until I have a final draft. Likely more. This is the last book in the Demon Cycle, so it may end up being longer than the others in order to close off all the existing story arcs in a satisfying manner.
I remember you saying something to the effect that your productivity actually increased during writing The Skull Throne and the previous books, what do you think lead to that?
I think I’ve found my footing. The Warded Man was written in my spare time over the course of seven years. Perhaps 25% of The Desert Spear was written before the series sold and I began writing full time. I had a hard time adjusting from writing whenever I felt like it in between regular work and family time to working on a daily schedule while also managing a small business and dealing with new parenthood.
I was better at it by the time I finished The Daylight War, and was able to approach Skull Throne in a much more organized, confident, workmanlike fashion. Many of the things that used to really stress me out about writing got easier once I’d been around the block a few times and knew what to expect. I also made some lifestyle changes, incorporating regular exercise and scheduled writing time into my days. And it doesn’t hurt that Cassie is in school now.
We’ve seen some pretty amazing fan art, cosplay, and so many warded equipment from fans of The Demon Cycle. Has there been anything that stood out above the rest that made you awestruck at how your work has had such an impression on people?
I just ran a new contest and the winner’s entry really blew me away:
Readers have designed custom jewelry, made short videos, climbed mountains to photograph themselves holding my book at the peak. Some have even tattooed themselves with the symbols from my stories. No shit.
It’s surreal sometimes, to have people from six continents and all walks of life share in my work and come together to discuss it, or just share their gratitude or gripes with me. Fantasy fans in particular seem to have a real passion and creativity that continually amazes me.
I have to ask…Can you please not go all Game of Thrones on our favorite characters in the next book? Please? I don’t know if I can take any more major deaths. ha ha.
I’ve been getting this a lot, and it always frustrates me. I have incredible personal and professional respect for GRRM, but we’ve created this myth that he was the first/only author to ever kill major characters. This is decidedly not the case.
But even if it was Martin who changed the game for a generation of fantasy authors, I don’t know that I would want to change it back. A hero’s path is fraught with peril, and only the real fear that they may fail keeps us invested in their trials.
So gird up. Not everyone is going to make it to the end of The Core.
What has been the most fulfilling aspect during writing The Skull Throne for you?
The readers. Always the readers. I have ups and downs like all creative folk, sometimes taken with my own brilliance, and other times waiting for the fraud police to kick in my door and drag me back to a cubicle. But every day, I receive messages, fan art, etc. from people who remind me that I have touched their lives in some way. There is nothing better to humble me when taken with myself and drag me out of the dumps when I am tempted to wallow.
When do you think we’ll get a teaser for The Core?
I already know what the teaser will be, but I haven’t written that chapter yet, so it will be
a while before it exists at all, and then I’ll probably wait for some significant event or progress before I drop it. It’s in the works, though, and is going to feature something I have never before seen in fantasy fiction. I am pretty psyched about it.
Staying on the subject of the last book in this series, Book Five The Core is closing the story of: Arlen, Jardir, Rojer, Leesha, Renna, Inevera, Abban, etc. Do you have plans for a different series set in the same universe with their offspring picking up the next steps in the war or will this be everything we get from the world?
I have at least one more stand-alone Demon Cycle novel planned. It takes place in
Tibbet’s Brook at the same time as the events of The Core, but is a self-contained tale. I also have plans for a new ongoing series taking place 15-20 years after the end of The Core starring (you guessed it) the aforementioned babies.
Thanks to Peter V. Brett for doing this interview with us, and thanks even MORE for that info on what’s going on with the end of the series! If you haven’t started reading The Demon Cycle, you can buy them on Amazon from our link below!