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Promise of Blood (Powder Mage, #1)
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DEC 2013 - Promise of Blood > Author Q&A with Brian McClellan

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Lisa | 296 comments Mod
Brian McClellan was kind enough to agree to do an author Q&A with us to go along with our December read of Promise of Blood. I'm definitely excited to get another month with interactions with the author, it's an excellent opportunity and I hope people take advantage of it.

Leave your questions here, and he will get back to answer them at his convenience.

* And a huge thanks to Brian McClellan for taking the time to answer our questions!

message 2: by Chris (new) - added it

Chris | 7 comments Look forward to this Q&A and am off to review the book for any questions I can come up with.

message 3: by Brian (new)

Brian McClellan (brianmcclellan) | 14 comments I definitely look forward to answering any questions anyone may have! I hope you all end up enjoying the book as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Mark | 41 comments Brian, are we getting more books set in this world?

Apart from the the ones in this series.

message 5: by Brian (new)

Brian McClellan (brianmcclellan) | 14 comments Yes! I'm under contract with Orbit for another Powder Mage trilogy after the first. It will take place about ten years after the end of book three.

Mark | 41 comments Brian wrote: "Yes! I'm under contract with Orbit for another Powder Mage trilogy after the first. It will take place about ten years after the end of book three."

Good, off to think of more questions.

message 7: by Chris (new) - added it

Chris | 7 comments Great to hear! Now have 5 books to look forward to reading.

Harry | 27 comments Have not read the book yet but I wanted to express my gratitude for you taking the time to answer questions from fans! Thank you :D

message 9: by Brian (new)

Brian McClellan (brianmcclellan) | 14 comments No problem at all! Interacting with fans is really one of my favorite parts of this job. Can be very rewarding.

message 10: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa | 296 comments Mod
One thing I found very interesting with your book is the level of interest I had in non-major characters. Some of them may have filled critical roles in how the story shaped, but when it came down to it, it was not their story, and so they were never focused on.

Ka-Poel is at the top of that list. She is still very mysterious. Then Vlora (who may have peaked my interest even more from having read The Girl of Hrusch Avenue. She is a very strong, independent character. The type of female character I love reading about) and even Olem made me want to know more about him.

My question is, are there plans to elevate any of these characters to more central (or prominent) roles in future books? I was hoping to see Ka-Poel mentioned in the blurb of book 2, but no dice. Since I really like the central characters as well, I'm not disappointed, but seeing any of these characters have larger roles would just increase my excitement. If this question too spoiler-ish, then I'll ask if there are any short stories/novellas planned for any of these characters.


message 11: by Brian (new)

Brian McClellan (brianmcclellan) | 14 comments Vlora was originally written as a more central character whose screentime ended up being cut. Olem and Ka-poel are both a blast to write and a lot of people seem to enjoy them.

Each of the characters you mentioned will have a greater role to play in future books, whether it be in books two or three, or in the next trilogy.

In terms of short stories, I've sold a story to Beneath Ceaseless Skies that tells the tale of how Taniel and Ka-poel originally met. That will be out in either January or February.

No plans for anything new beyond that, but you never know when I thought will strike me and I'll end up pounding out a story.

message 12: by Chris (new) - added it

Chris | 7 comments Ka-poel is one of my favorite characters from the book so it makes me so happy to hear will have more of a story in future works.

Taylor Davis (cooltay105) Hey, Brian. Absolutely adore PoB and your two short stories.

I'm just curious, will Verundish be making any more appearances?

message 14: by Dave (new)

Dave | 2 comments Do powdermages have magically-reinforced nasal septa or are otolaryngologists the wealthiest people in the Nine?

message 15: by Dave (new)

Dave | 2 comments Do you have a pronunciation guide for your books & stories? I'd love to know how the names are pronounced in particular.

message 16: by Brian (new)

Brian McClellan (brianmcclellan) | 14 comments Taylor,

Verundish has a small part to play in The Crimson Campaign. I wrote that part, and for some reason I found her very interesting and wanted to flesh her out a bit: hence the short story.


Being a powder mage isn't all fun and games. And right now I don't have a pronunciation guide. It's on my long list things I'd like to do in the future (including a Powder Mage wiki).

Taylor Davis (cooltay105) You aren't the only one who found her interesting! Can't wait for her appearance. Thanks for answering.

Caleb Ricketts (SgtBeavis) | 3 comments I just started reading your book a few days ago and also bought it for my friend for Christmas. I discovered this page today. It's an excellent book so far and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. I also have your two short stories on my Kindle to read once I'm done with PoB.

My question to you is, Where did you get the inspiration to write the Powder Mage Trilogy and how long did it take with revisions and all to write the first book?

Normally I don't like guns and stuff like that when I read a fantasy book but the minute I started reading this I was hooked! I've had it on my shelf for a while but just got around to reading it

message 19: by Brian (new)

Brian McClellan (brianmcclellan) | 14 comments Hey Caleb,

The inspiration came from far too many places to list, but mostly I wanted to create something new. I asked myself what happens when a medieval fantasy world enters their industrial revolution and then just kind of ran with it.

I wrote the first draft in about 6-8 months. I did re-writes and revisions with my agent for almost a full year after that (working off and on), and then once it was sold did the standard revisions with my editor.

Caleb Ricketts (SgtBeavis) | 3 comments Well you did a fine job on the book. I can't wait to get through it and read your short stories! I'm only on chapter 7 and am extremely excited for The Crimson Campaign!

message 21: by Mark (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mark | 41 comments Did you read much historical fiction to get the feel for the book?

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Michael (MichaelJSullivan) | 140 comments Hey Brian,
I was wondering where you are as full as "books in the can." I know you signed the second contract, but have you started writing it yet? I know there is usually a big delay between when we write books and when they actually hit the street.

message 23: by Brian (new)

Brian McClellan (brianmcclellan) | 14 comments Mark,

My favorite books of all time are Les Miserables and The Count of Monte Cristo, so I definitely tried to get the feel of those books into my own on some level. Beyond that, no. I wanted it to feel as much like an epic fantasy as possible (albeit with an early 1800s setting.


I'm still working on book three. It'll be done by the time book two comes out, and ss soon as I've finished that I'll move on to the next series.

message 24: by Joel (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joel (DeliriumTrigger) | 312 comments Mod
Would you say you are unfairly judged by the general public for having glorious red beardage? Have you ever been sneered at and called a "beardo"?

I need someone to share in my discrimination.


message 25: by Brian (new)

Brian McClellan (brianmcclellan) | 14 comments Joel,

To be honest, most people seem to love my beard. My wife is making me grow it longer.

Although, my high school band director recently came to a signing and told me I should "shave that thing." I shook my head at him.

message 26: by Mark (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mark | 41 comments Brian wrote: "Joel,

To be honest, most people seem to love my beard. My wife is making me grow it longer.

Although, my high school band director recently came to a signing and told me I should "shave that thin..."

good for you.

message 27: by Joel (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joel (DeliriumTrigger) | 312 comments Mod
You should have accused him of shaveism and publicly shamed him.

message 28: by Apollo's Crow (new)

Apollo's Crow (ApollosCrow) | 2 comments Hi Brian! Three things, if I might:

One - I have only read the first several pages of Promise, but I want to tell you that it grabbed me immediately. I was in B&N a while ago, just checking out what's new, and I recognized your name from Reddit. Started reading, and man. I fished around in my pocket for money, but alas. It has been at the top of my to-buy list since. So I can't speak of the book's quality as a whole, but speaking as a flailing and hopeful pen-wielder, I know how important it is to hook a reader from the first note, and you did that. Many congrats.

Two - Could you talk a bit about your path from English major to published fantasist? Did you ever consider self-publishing? How long did it take, roughly, to feel like you had a coherent, finished work that was good enough for the world to see? How many hours per day do you write? And the inevitable question - any advice?

Three - You live in Cleveland, and Cleveland is awesome. My lady and I were looking for an affordable vacation last summer and spent a week in your fair burg. It has everything I like in a town: good food, great beer, some culture, and some nature. Any suggested must-do spots for when we eventually visit again? How is it living there?

Sorry for the hefty post. Really looking forward to reading your work, and wish you the best. Thanks for being here, man.

message 29: by Brian (new)

Brian McClellan (brianmcclellan) | 14 comments Hi!

My journey was pretty straight forward. I graduated from school and finished my first novel right around the same time. I shopped that around a bit and didn't get any kind of response (though one editor told me he could tell I had talent and to send him stuff in the future). I wrote another book, which I didn't end up sending anywhere, and then I wrote Promise of Blood and was able to get an agent rather quickly, to my great delight.

When I'm working on a new manuscript, I usually write from two to six hours a day. If I'm on a deadline, that may go up to ten. That doesn't include editing, brainstorming, social media, or any of the other things on my daily list.

Cleveland is a great city. It gets a lot of flack, but for an old steel mill town it is rather fantastic. The food and the micro-brewery scene here is unrivaled, while it has one of the best urban park systems in the country. I'd recommend heading to Chagrin Falls. You won't find a more pleasant, quaint town anywhere in the US, with a variety of great restaurants from $6 subs to expensive steak/seafood places.

My advice would be to be realistic about your own failings. Know what you're doing wrong and work on fixing it and don't take criticism too hard.

message 30: by Apollo's Crow (new)

Apollo's Crow (ApollosCrow) | 2 comments Brian,

Yeah, I fell quite in love with Cleveland's beer scene. Luckily they carry Great Lakes Brewing Co. where I live, so I can still get a taste of it. Chagrin Falls eh? What a perfect name for a place. Duly noted.

Thanks for the reply and advice. Write on.

Steven | 1 comments Brian,

thank you for writing the book, the story itself is great, it throws you into chaos right from the start, with intrigue and mystery plus with some battle flavour all around, really made the reading experience intense. It made me eagerly awaits the next book on the series.

one thing that bug me though, is the attitude of powder mage towards the black powder. aside from what written, is there any more side effect when a powder mage inhale too much powder? will they be OD'ed?

since whenever i read about the powder mage trance after inhaling the powder, it reminds me of a junkie lol.

message 32: by Brian (new)

Brian McClellan (brianmcclellan) | 14 comments Steven,

I'm actually going to go with a "read and find out" answer to that. Wouldn't want to give anything away.

But it is definitely supposed to remind you of a junkie.

Jaylong | 3 comments Brian,

While reading your book I got that there was a lot left unsaid about the history between Taniel and Tamas. I know that one of the main reasons for the rift is in the book but the level of respect, professional recognition even, they each have for the other implies that they have worked together closely and frequently.

Do you plan on fleshing this out (dare I say "origins story"..no George Lucas leave this place ... You have no power here !) or am I completely off the mark ? haha

Extremely looking forward to the next installment.
Thanks for all the hard work !

message 34: by Brian (new)

Brian McClellan (brianmcclellan) | 14 comments Jaylong,

There are a ton of things I'd like to flesh out over the course of the next few years via short stories and novellas. How much of it will happen I don't know, but considering I'll be doing novels in this universe for the next four years or more, hopefully a lot!

Shane | 33 comments Brian,

Thank you so much for doing this Q&A. I would also like to thank you for creating this world for us to romp around in.

Okay, down to business:

1) Does Jakob being alive lessen the affect of Bo's gaes? If he was made into a puppet king by the surviving Royalists, would he be 'cured'? A 'King in Name Only', as it were.

2) This may have been answered in the book and I just missed it, but...Are Powder Mages able to push / bend / manipulate artillery or just small projectiles?

3) Are people going to acknowledge that Taniel made two "kill" shots from six miles away, or will that detail be overshadowed by the fact that it was Kresimir that he shot?

4) Speaking of Taniel Two-Snort, are we going to see an intervention in the next book?

message 36: by Brian (new)

Brian McClellan (brianmcclellan) | 14 comments Hey Shane!

For questions 1, 3, and 4, I'm going to tell you to just read and find out. I can't say any more than that without spoilers.

For question 2: yes, they can. Not done often, though, as it's quite a bit more difficult. Think of the effort it takes to throw a cannonball vs a musket ball.

message 37: by Matt (new) - added it

Matt (wagnmw) | 1 comments I am just finishing up the book and I am sad to see that you had to delay the second book but now I am extremely excited.

Andrew Obrigewitsch (BlazeStudios) | 57 comments Great idea to set this in a French Revolution style setting, makes it very interesting. Will you be writing another series set in a later time period like maybe with technology from the world war one era? Or some time before that but after the French Revolution?

William | 1 comments Hey Brian!
Fascinated by you're book and can't wait for the next in the series!
In you bio it says that you've an avid game (as am I) and was wondering if you got some of you're inspiration from Dishonored as I found quite a few similarities. If you haven't played it I highly recommend you do :)

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