Today, on what is traditionally Indie Wednesday around here, I have the great pleasure to welcome Luke Taylor, author of The Muiread, to Bookwraiths, as he has bravely volunteered to answer a few questions about life, writing, and his new series The Ageless Duel.
Hello, Luke. Welcome to Bookwraiths. Thanks so much for sparing some time to answer a few questions.
Thank you for reading The Muiread and I look forward to your review, and thank you for your desire to read it!
Who is your favorite fantasy author? How have they influenced your writing style?
That’s a question with two answers…when I was a child, my mother would read Stephen R. Lawhead to me before I went to sleep. I would visualize the stories, and most of them were Celtic, and that has always been a part of my soul. From the classicist medieval fantasy textures to the lyricism of epic songs or prophecies. But my favorite fantasy author is Brandon Sanderson. He’s the Tolkien of his generation. His stories are such a rich investment. I’ve learned a lot listening to his lectures, but my writing style is more influenced by non-fantasy writers and it changes for every book. For The Muiread, it was really what felt natural to me, and I was unconscious of other styles, because I felt what I was doing so strongly.
What was the inspiration behind The Muiread? How long did it take you to develop the idea and put it down onto paper?
The inspiration was, in essence, built upon years of loving Star Wars and thinking about writing a story about Mandalore The Immortal and playing games like Medieval II: Total War and loving the whole Teutonic aesthetic, but also, having strong Scottish heritage and loving Scotland, wanting something that was ultimately blending several things that were personal to me, such as a love of Akira Kurosawa films and many characters Toshiro Mifune played, as well as films like Gladiator and Braveheart, and then, so many spiritual things and thoughts of Creation and immortal creatures, of the eras of stone carvings and mythical creatures and on and on, all shown as if Derek Cianfrance filmed it. So, I’m sure you can read the book and pick out specific pieces of inspiration, but, as a pastiche of so many things combined to be something whole and complete with such a strong narrative voice and identity to me, it was incredibly simple once the ball got rolling, which happened when I was in the store, and I had been struggling to actually start the book, though I felt it brewing, and I saw the advertisement for Outlander, and it was the way the photograph suggested leaving where you are and going on a journey, and later that night, I had a dream where I was riding on a horse, that slow clip clop pace, in the Scottish Highlands. Ultimately, because I couldn’t go in real life, I wanted to go via the book, and I closed my eyes and The Muiread, in all of its depth, became something very real to me. It took four years to put pen to paper, but many of the things I drew upon stretch back to when I was a child.
The best book you have ever read is ______? Why did you love it?
That’s the Bible! Believe what is says or not, it has no equal! There’s so many different ways you can read it and always get something out of it or see something in it that’s beyond your comprehension. It has every different kind of story/narrative you could imagine and it never gets old. It’s amazing too, because your experience changes as you get older. The book doesn’t change, but you change. It remains the same as it was before you were born. That’s something beyond profound.
Why all the different dialects in The Muiread?
I wanted the story to have a sense of the arcane, as if it’s very old, and, truly, I wasn’t going to stifle any of my loquaciousness or cut back any of my love of poetry or ye old thou’s Shakespearean stuff, because, I knew that that was the story, and I was just being honest to myself and the story. And so, with the different actresses and actors I “cast” for the roles, I wanted to honor their unique vocal qualities and accents. Everyone has enjoyed the dialects so far once they get into it. Also, I know that if you choose to do anything, you have to go all the way, and it was just very natural for the story and the setting and the characterization.
The novel is broken up into different parts with different narrators; what were you hoping to achieve by this writing style?
It was important as far as distance and perspective to be shoulder height, eye to eye, immersed in the world, like the opening sequence of Derek Cianfrance film The Place Beyond The Pines. First person was essential for that, and then, to gain more perspective and build the depth, third person in Part Two, but the distance is still very tight. But because it’s third there’s more grandeur and it makes the story bigger. Part three is back to the same narrator as part one, part four is third person again, just like part two, and part five is first person, but from a different perspective that parts one or three, and really, when you’re sunk into the visual, it’s very simple. But it wasn’t going to be told any other way, since it’s not inherently traditional, but it’s still very simple and linear and doesn’t require a glossary or a dictionary to consult the world building or the lore. It makes perfect sense when you read it.
Any real world inspirations for this fantasy world?
Scotland!! And then the actors and actresses, of course. I made them all as real as I could and followed the parameters they gave me. There’s also a very Colorado-like setting in the end, but, I wanted the world to be easy to understand because it’s so much like our own. I guess I wanted to say, it is our own. This is a story of something that really happened long ago in the long lost mists of time, in steel and stone and all that jazz. It’s very accessible to visualize and to listen to, to imagine yourself in there with the characters, next to them. So, Scotland, my dream, real actors and actresses. And then there’s the creatures.
Favorite fantasy movie ever? Why?
I have to say either Braveheart or Gladiator, and I know they’re both “historical” but there isn’t much historical truth in either one of them, and they’re very much the dreams of wonderful filmmakers. So, either one of those for sure! But again, I like a very realistic sort of fantasy. I am quite the fan of Frozen for a great many reasons, and that’s obviously a different flavor of fantasy. But one of my best friends asked me if I wrote the story before watching Frozen, which I did, but strangely, there are a few parallels there. But that’s how things have always happened to me. I feel them long before I see them confirmed in other things that register with me. And that’s really cool!
The cover art for the book is very unique. Was it difficult to find the right cover to capture the essence of this story?
I’ve had mixed feedback on the cover, either love or hate, but it really does communicate the essence of the story with that gothic archway being a gateway into this arcane story, with the mist, steel, stone, and that grayness that covers a few of the characters. It also feels a bit lonely, I think, and the new cover includes many of the elements from the story and has a much different feeling but still communicates the essence of the story because, really, I think a good story can have tons of different artistic interpretations. I think it should, absolutely. Originally, because I’m such a fan of Michael Whelan, I wanted to have a classic oil painting cover, but then, I realized this wasn’t that type of story, and it needed more realism and grit, not so much flourish and color.
Have you felt any pressure to be more active on social media to promote your book? And if so, how do you feel about adding that to your other tasks as an author?
Well, I’m on Goodreads, I love it, and I treat it like a website. It can be terrible to think you have to be on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and on and on because those things take up so much time. Goodreads is wonderful because it’s worldwide and it’s all about books. It’s a community. Anyone can friend me or send me a message or use the provided link to buy my books on Amazon. It doesn’t get better than that! There was no pressure to go on Goodreads and connect with fellow authors and readers, but some people have asked me, do you have a website? And I keep thinking, there’s no point when there’s Goodreads! It’s so much better!
Best advice you received when beginning your writing career?
My father told me to be true to the story in my heart and to write it regardless of what anybody thinks, says, or does. There’s a quote by John F. Kennedy that says virtually the same thing, and that’s always in me.
I’ve read you are a musician. Tell us a bit about that, and does it help you at all with your writing?
Yes! I have been writing songs for years and songs are really just poems, so, I am always lyrically-minded and with The Muiread I didn’t hold back. Eternity speaks only in rhyme and whenever a character speaks in rhyme or iambic pentameter you can know that Eternity is speaking through them. It’s not hard, it’s not anything I stressed over. It’s like breathing to me. Also the character of Caoimhe is very much based off of a true friend of mine who plays the tinwhistle, and she wrote the song Caoimhe plays to Miora. It’s called Rabhadh, which means “A Warning.” So, that’s a real song. Also, I was listening to Trivium’s album “Shogun” practically the whole time I was writing, and, if you listen to the album and read part five, you’ll get the inspiration, how the two can fuse together and create something.
Favorite musical group or artist? Why?
That’s hard! I have to say Muse is number one, but I’m also a fan of older U2, of Queen, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Bruce Springsteen, Pink Floyd, Supertramp, older Coldplay, The Killers, Keane, Norah Jones, Evanescence, and far too many bands and artists to list. My favorite metal band is Trivium, they just really speak my language musically and I find them very inspirational for battle scenes, but whatever I listen to I listen to the album all the way through. So, for The Muiread, it was “Shogun” on a loop.
How do you define success as a writer? Sales? Adoration? Creative satisfaction?
Two parts, firstly, being true to the story in your heart, and then, that story actually speaking to someone else, blessing them, entertaining them, or giving them something to think about. But really, if I write the story I know is in me and stay true and not let anything get in the way, that’s a job well done. When people give it high ratings and say why, or come up and tell me how awesome this was or that was, that’s really cool and I’m thankful I could give that to them. But none of that happens without being true to my heart. I’m not writing about vampire doctors in space just because I think it’ll make money. I’m not that kind of writer.
What projects can your fans look forward to in the near future?
There are some hardcore fans of Evening Wolves that will see me hopefully get back to working on Shatterpoint Bravo and Leopards, which would be the 3rd and 4th books of that series, and the end of that series. Also, fans of my YA fantasy Vault of Dreams have been ecstatic about Vault of Dreams and then the announcement of my next YA fantasy, Charis and The Book of Storms, which is a pirate book set in 1903, best described as The Book Thief meets Pirates of the Caribbean, but for some reason I keep thinking of it like Mad Max: Fury Road on the water. Whatever it is or isn’t, I’ve already started writing and researching and I must say I love it and will have tons of fun with it, but it’s really written for those who want it and need it, and I’m thankful to be in a place where I can write what’s in my heart and there’s a bunch of people out there who receive it like a room full of hungry diners.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
In the end of the Age, a champion has arisen. Blood has been spilt and nations torn asunder at the hands of The Warrior Who Knows No Defeat. So too, in the end of the Age, a venemous contender ascends; a foe of death and darkness, of hatred and hunger. Of Ageless Evil. For the end of the Age reveals secrets and forges destinies; interlocking hearts and minds, spinning Eternal tapestries in the stars. The end marks the path of conflict in steel and stone. The Duel begins.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Luke has been writing since the age of seven and knew that, no matter what, he would be writing forever. His first “books”, were stapled together, carefully illustrated, and contained some sort of linear plot line and realistic character development, so much so that his parents knew there was more to his latest “creation” than met the eye.
Currently, he is taking a break from writing and binge reading all the great books he has on his tbr pile, so if you see him on a park bench in the greater Seattle, Washington area drinking a 20 oz. cup of dark roast and reading feel free to wave.