I caught up with Nicholas Eames, author of the bestselling fantasy series The Band and winner of the David Gemmell Morning Star Award for Best Fantasy Newcomer in 2018. The first two books in the series, Kings of the Wyld (2017) and Bloody Rose (2018), have become well loved not only for the fun-filled adventures and tug at your heartstrings moments, but the dynamic and comedic characters as well. Read the interview below to hear about how he started writing and the importance of erection scenes.
Did you always want to be a writer?
Pretty much. High school is when I started. I remember when I was in English class, instead of doing English homework I was writing a book. And then I got in trouble for it, but the teacher was a supply teacher and he happened to know Ed Greenwood, who is a huge creator in Dungeons and Dragons. He created this universe called Forgotten Realms, and he lives in Cobourg [Ontario] to this day. He works in the library there. Ed used to come by the gas station of my old supply teacher, so he took these three chapters that I had written and gave it to Ed, and a few months later the chapters came back to me fully edited along with a letter that said, “You’ve got the fire of a good storyteller.” That was a pretty big inspiration for me.
If the creators of Dungeons and Dragons approached you about doing a campaign based off of your books, would you do it?
Probably, yeah. You’d have to pick which book you set it in, because I think the settings are very, very different in each book–especially the third one, which is nothing like the first two whatsoever [spoiler!]. People have approached me, but it’s such a time-consuming thing that I don’t think I’d be able to do it anytime soon. I’ve played D&D with my setting; I just used D&D rules, just took the elves out and exchanged them with Druins.
How do you go about writing a woman’s perspective? Especially in your second book Bloody Rose?
I don’t think there’s that much of a difference. I actually wrote it in a male’s perspective and then switched it, because it actually does affect how everyone acts around them. Ultimately, whether you’re writing about a male or female or someone from a different race or religion, it’s just empathy. You just have to empathize with that character about what they’ve experienced in life until you started writing them, and then write as honestly and genuinely as you can until that moment onward. I don’t think their gender affects that much, it depends on the world you put them in. If they are in a world that gender matters then it’s going to be different, but in mine it doesn’t matter much.
It’s popular for most fantasy authors to take the serious route in their series. Why do you think you chose a more comedic and fun perspective on adventures in The Band series?
When I read authors like Scott Lynch and Joe Abercrombie, I noticed they had humour in their books. Not a ton, but a little bit. It made me think that there was room for humorous fantasy. When I started to get it published, the first publisher that took it on wanted most of the funny parts out. They wanted Moog taken right out of the book.
Did they want the erection scene cut out too? (from Kings of the Wyld)
Oh, the erection scene totally got cut out. My agent wanted that gone the moment she read it, and I said, “Sure, sure.” But then all my friends were like, “You gotta keep it.” So I asked her: what if I take a few words like “gesticulating” out? And then she was okay with it. But, anyways, the first publisher said, “Take it all out, call it the war band and take out this music stuff.” Luckily, Orbit was interested at the same time and they said, “We love everything, just make it bigger,” so I went with them instead. Nowadays, I think you are seeing a lot more humour in fantasy. Grimdark fantasy was the first time that we didn’t have cookie cutter characters, so we were so happy to have these realistic characters even though they are all assholes. Now in fantasy you can see characters still be assholes; but loving, caring, and funny, and all that kind of stuff.
What’s the biggest piece of advice you have for writers working with editors?
My advice would be that they are pretty much always right.
Except for the erection scene?
Except for the erection scene. One time there was an agent who almost took me on, that also said no, that wanted all my airships changed to giant eagles. He made me change “Slow Hand” because Slow Hand is Eric Clapton’s nickname. He said, “Every person knows that.” And I’m like, “Nobody knows that.”
I didn’t know that.
Exactly! He was an older guy that loved ‘60s music so he got every reference, and he thought it was way too much and I had to assure him. Trust me over here: 0.1% of people know or have ever heard “Slow Hand” in their life. He did not believe me.
Although it’s his first series, Eames has already proven himself as a fantastic fantasy writer and we eagerly await his next book in The Band series. Catch him on Twitter for updates and to see some great fan art for the series.