Please welcome Chris A. Jackson to The Qwillery. Pirate's Prophecy, Pathfinder Tales 31, was published on February 2nd by Tor Books.
TQ: Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?
Chris: I wrote a little in college and was thoroughly discouraged by the Short Story Writing course I took, so I didn’t really try again until many years later. I have, however, been a gamer (fantasy and SF tabletop role-playing games, for the most part) for about forty years. In graduate school, I created my own world and ran my friends through a two-year epic adventure. What I didn’t realize at the time was what great training this was in world building, plotting, and characterization. When we had finished, I had a stack of source materials about three inches deep. I hated to throw it away, so I decided, with the players’ permission, to novelize the adventure they played. The book turned into a trilogy. It was pretty rough in retrospect, but it taught me how to write. From there, I branched out into other stories set in that very same world.
TQ: Are you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid? What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
Chris: I’m a plotter simply because I don’t have the memory to be a pantser. I do sometimes write short stories with only a vague idea in mind, but for novellas or novels I have to have an outline. That doesn’t mean I always—or ever—stick strictly to the outline. The hardest part of writing, for me, is self-editing that first draft. I can correct errors like typos and clunky sentence structure readily enough, but all of the information in my head doesn’t always hit the page, so I often leave gaps in information that I can’t see. I solve this problem with beta readers. Fortunately, I have several very good ones.
TQ: Describe Pirate's Prophecy in 140 characters or less.
Chris: An unwelcome gift of prophecy, whispers of a devastating secret weapon, and pirates turned spies to thwart the machinations of devils.
TQ: Tell us something about Pirate's Prophecy that is not found in the book description.
Chris: The story is about hard choices. How far will you go, what are you willing or unwilling to do, in the course of your mission to avert a war? Pirate’s Prophecy is all about making those choices: fight or flee, kill one or risk thousands, lie or tell a damning truth.
TQ: What appeals to you about writing novels in the Pathfinder Tales?
Chris: Many things, actually. I had played Pathfinder for years before pitching myself as “the guy who can write pirate novels for Pathfinder” to James L. Sutter, so writing for a game I love to play is just too cool. Second, the Paizo folks are cool people to work for. Just look at their amazing message boards, fan interaction, and RPG Superstar competition, and you can tell they listen to their fans. Look at their iconic characters and game products and you can tell they are the most inclusive RPG publisher out there. On top of all that, working with Paizo’s editorial staff has been a pleasure. Sometimes you just click with an editor, and life is good.
TQ: Your bio at the publisher's site states that you live "on a sailboat in the Caribbean." Have any of your experiences with your sailboat influenced Pirate's Honor, Pirate's Promise and/or Pirate's Prophecy?
Chris: Quite a lot, but more from my youth than my current sailing. I worked with my father as a commercial fisherman off the coast of Oregon as a kid, then with the National Marine Fisheries Service in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska while in college. The experiences with heavy weather, ship handling, sailing tactics, wind, and sea, have helped to breathe life into the nautical aspects of my stories. I didn’t start sailing until later, and I’ve used some of that, especially navigating shallow channels strewn with coral heads (Yikes!). The experience that greatly influenced the creation of Celeste, Stargazer’s navigator in my Pathfinder stories, is standing night watch. Staring up at the night sky when you’re hundreds of miles from shore is hypnotic and awe inspiring in a way difficult to describe. That feeling is an integral part of her character. When Celeste gazes at the night sky, she hears the song of the heavens. So do I.
TQ: In Pirate's Prophecy who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?
Chris: The easiest, by far, has to be Snick, a secondary character and member of the crew of the Stargazer. She is a gnome rogue, and the ship’s engineer. She’s also a devilishly clever prankster, ingenious, and loyal to her friends until death and sometimes after. She’s just so much fun, I sometimes wish she was the primary character. *sigh* The most difficult, strangely, is Torius Vin. Why? Because he is the hub around which all the rest of the characters revolve. He is complex and problematic, passionate and emotional (though he hides his feelings under a mask of piratical bravado as often as not), and he is the one who has to make the really hard decisions. He’s the captain, after all.
TQ: Which question about Pirate's Prophecy do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!
Chris: This is a hard one. Okay, first let me explain that there was much discussion about the cover image for the novel. Once I saw it, I fell in love with it completely—the cover artist is Remko Troost, and the entire truly awesome image can be viewed here—but I was not without reservations. The question I have not yet been asked is: “Does the cover actually represent a scene from the novel?” The answer is, unfortunately, yes.
TQ: Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Pirate's Prophecy.
Chris: Here are a few:
Torius dealing with the Ostenso harbormaster:
Saying no to Lothera was like saying no to a summer squall. It would come anyway, and seem twice as violent for every ounce of resistance. Best to reef sails and run before the wind...
Vreva speaking to her feline familiar, Mathias, after his recon aboard a Chelish flagship:
“Well?” She glanced around, careful to keep her voice low. “Did you learn anything?”
*Yes.* Mathias leapt into her arms as she started up the street toward the Officers’ Club. *I found out that the Devil’s Trident has one badass tomcat ruling the bilges, and he didn’t like the atten¬tion I paid to his cadre of kitties.*
“Well, you get what you—” Vreva started to scratch him behind the ears, but her fingers came away bloody. “Mathias, you’re bleeding!”
*So is he, and it was totally worth it!* He flicked his tail and yawned, showing his teeth. *I think I’m in love. I just have to decide with whom.*
And here’s a taste of a little nautical mayhem: Close enough. “Slack sheets!”
The sailors obeyed, slackening the lines so that Stargazer’s sails flapped in the wind. The ship slowed, but not much.
“It’s gonna be close!” came a cry from the crow’s nest. Lacy Jane had a better vantage than anyone else aboard.
Torius held his breath.
The tip of Stargazer’s bowsprit shattered the brass lamp hanging from the galleon’s port stern corner post. Thillion swore loudly and inventively as glass showered the foredeck.
“Windy!” Torius admonished.
“You said leave paint!”
Torius braced himself. “This is gonna hurt!”
“Grapples away!” Grogul bellowed. Stargazer swept past the galleon’s stern close enough to spit on the weathered wood.
TQ: What's next?
Chris: I have another Pathfinder Tales pirate novel already submitted to Paizo for publication next year, and something a little different in the works for the one after that, the details of which I can’t reveal yet. As for other publishers, I’m writing a nautical fantasy novel for Privateer Press in their Iron Kingdoms game world that will continue the exploits of the same crew of scallywags in my Privateer novella, Blood and Iron. I’m continuing my own successful Weapon of Flesh series of magical assassin stories with Weapon of Pain releasing this summer, and Weapon of Mercy next summer. I’m also writing novels for a newly formed publishing endeavor, The Ed Greenwood Group. My first, Dragon Dreams, set in the contemporary fantasy/horror universe of Hellmaw, released in November 2015. I’ll be following up with a pirate fantasy, Queen’s Scourge, due to release in 2017, and a sequel to Dragon Dreams in 2018.
I’m also writing some short fiction. Legendary Games is putting out Legendary Planets, a seven-chapter, swords-and-planets-themed adventure for Pathfinder and D&D 5e. I’ll have a serialized short story in each chapter. Lastly, my short story, First Command, will be in the soon-to-be-released Women in Practical Armor anthology from Evil Girlfriend Media. Of course, there are always potential projects on the misty horizon. Readers can subscribe to my newsletter at jaxbooks.com for updates and announcements.
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Chris: My pleasure!
Pathfinder Tales 31
Tor Books, February 2, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 368 pages
Paizo Publishing is the award-winning publisher of fantasy roleplaying games, accessories, and board games. Pathfinder Tales: Pirate's Prophecy is the continuation of their popular novel series.
Captain Torius Vin and the crew of the Stargazer have given up the pirate life, instead becoming abolitionist privateers bent on capturing slave ships and setting their prisoners free. But when rumors surface of a new secret weapon in devil-ruled Cheliax, are the Stargazers willing to go up against a navy backed by Hell itself?
Pathfinder Tales 14
Tor Books, August 18, 2015
eBook, 368 pages
Paizo, May 14, 2013
Mass Market Paperback, 400 pages
Rough Seas A pirate captain of the Inner Sea, Torius Vin makes a living raiding wealthy merchant ships with his crew of loyal buccaneers. Few things matter more to Captain Torius than ill-gotten gold-but one of those is Celeste, his beautiful snake-bodied navigator. When a crafty courtesan offers the pirate crew a chance at the heist of a lifetime, it's time for both man and naga to hoist the black flag and lead the Stargazer's crew to fame and fortune. But will stealing the legendary Star of Thumen chart the corsairs a course to untold riches-or send them all to a watery grave? From award-winning author Chris A. Jackson comes a fantastical new adventure of high-seas combat and romance set in the award-winning world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.
Pathfinder Tales 24
Tor Books, August 18, 2015
eBook, 484 pages
Paizo, January 6, 2015
Mass Market Paperback, 400 pages
Torius Vin is perfectly happy with his life as a pirate captain, sailing the Inner Sea in search of plunder with a bold crew of buccaneers and Celeste, his snake-bodied navigator and one true love. Yet all that changes when his sometimes-friend Vreva - a high-powered courtesan and abolitionist spy in the slaver stronghold of Okeno - draws him into her shadowy network of insurgents. Caught between the slavers he hates and a navy that sees him as a criminal, can Torius continue to choose the path of piracy? Or will he sign on as a privateer, bringing freedom to others - at the price of his own? From fan-favorite author Chris A. Jackson comes a tale of espionage and high-seas adventure, set in the award-winning world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.
CHRIS A. JACKSON is the author of the Pathfinder Tales novels Pirate's Honor and Pirate's Promise. His self-published and small-press work includes the Scimitar Seas and Weapon of Flesh series, which have won three consecutive gold medals in the Foreword Reviews Book of the Year awards, as well as becoming Kindle best sellers. Jackson has also written a novella set in Privateer Press's RPG fiction line. He lives on a sailboat in the Caribbean.