An interview with Bryan Cole, author of fantasy novel Beginning of Arrogance
Paladins are nothing but trouble. Stories about paladins are everywhere, noble warriors riding magic steeds into battle against terrible foes. Champions of their gods. Heroes to everyone, except those who already have everything. Paladins are notorious for upsetting the balance of power, to the detriment of any who don’t worship their deity.
So when Krell is called to service by the capricious god of the seas and skies, ReckNor, those with wealth and power can’t help but be concerned. ReckNor hasn’t called a paladin in years, and his nature is ever-changing and erratic. The fact that Krell is also an uneducated nobody with a stubborn streak as wide as the sea turns their concerns into fear.
All of which matters less than the threat clawing its way from the waves, ready to turn the ocean red with spilled blood…
Excerpt from Beginning of Arrogance
Krell’s sword struck the pell.
His heavy breathing couldn’t disguise the dull thunk from the blade as it hit, bits of wood breaking off. Krell twisted his wrist and pulled, disengaging the blade. He struck again, the blade sliding along the wood, leaving a fresh scar. Once again, he failed to cut through the post.
Krell recovered his stance, his shield raised as Olgar taught him while his sword moved back into proper striking position. His next strike was high and carved another sliver of wood. Without waiting, Krell swung again. The sword hit lower than Krell wanted. He pulled back into the proper stance, and his next strike was on target, carving deep into the wood.
“All right, lad, I think we’ve seen enough,” a voice said from somewhere ahead of him.
Krell took a step back from the pell. An unsteady step, he was forced to admit. The sun was still high in the sky. Sweat ran into his blue eyes, causing him to blink in irritation. He glared at the wooden post. No more than halfway through. His chain mail armor was heavy on his shoulders.
He looked over at the town council, seated at a long table under an awning. They had comfortable chairs for the most part, and were sipping on what looked like cool drinks in the shade. Krell wondered how much attention they were actually paying to this test.
Amra Thort was the leader of the town council, and owner of one of the largest fishing fleets in Watford. She was a formidable- looking woman with steel gray hair, whose hands bore the signs of hard work done many years ago. People in the town respected her, Olgar had told him.
Seated next to her was Daylan Plintform, a wealthy merchant who owned many trading and fishing vessels. His long face was handsome, but he always looked irritated, even when he wasn’t. Olgar detested him, but refused to explain why. He was popular in town, since he paid for numerous festivals and banquets when the catch was good.
An Interview with Bryan Cole
-What inspired you to become a writer?
Two principal factors played into me beginning to write. First, it was my friends who heard the stories that I tell and told me that I should write them down in a book, seeding the idea. The second aspect was that I wanted to read a story very much like Beginning of Arrogance but couldn’t find it anywhere. I read a lot, but I never saw a world with the consequences of divine entities being provably real represented the way that I thought they should be. So, with the encouragement of my friends and a desire to read a great story, I set about creating it.
-If you could visit your book’s world for a day, what one thing would you do?
Almost certainly arrange to receive magical healing. All the little aches and pains, crooked teeth, skin blemishes, and other minor health defects (including potentially major ones!) would be wiped away in a single moment. Many years ago, I was fortunate enough to visit and swim in the Dead Sea. I have a vivid memory of just how amazing my skin felt as we departed and wondered out loud if that was why there are so many skin care products. Magical healing is that, but for every element of your physical being. Plus, seeing a divine miracle first-hand would be pretty neat as well!
-It’s two in the morning. What does your protagonist reveal in confidence? (Don’t worry, we won’t tell.)
Krell would reveal that he’s afraid of being a failure as a paladin. He’s completely lost, with no idea how he should behave or what is expected of him. ReckNor, the god of the seas and skies, is singularly unhelpful in this regard, leaving Krell free to choose his own path. Krell is afraid that the only thing that makes him special is that ReckNor called him as a paladin, and if he messes that up, then ReckNor will cast him out, and he’ll be an uneducated nobody with a lot of enemies.
-Which of your characters would you go out for drinks with?
Verbena. She’s smart, witty, and charming if she wants to be. She’s also a sophisticated drinker, not one who would get intoxicated or rowdy. I also know how much she knows about magic and magical theory (since I’m the author), so it would be a fascinating conversation to have in that respect. I would contrast this with Dorn and Kraven, where an evening spent with them would lead – at best – to a massive hangover. At worst you might not survive the evening at all!
-You’re in a tavern, and a dwarf challenges you to a duel. What do you do?
Ha! Bryan curls up into a ball and shouts “I surrender!” or something similar. Krell, on the other hand, would ask why. He wouldn’t necessarily understand the point of dueling, nor any of the rules that would need to be followed. Once it became clear the dwarf refused to back down, Krell would shrug and kill him immediately. Choices have consequences and contesting a paladin of ReckNor makes those consequences very severe and very quick! It’s also a good example of Krell’s general “Never give up and never think things through” mindset. It also reinforces the chaotic aspects of ReckNor, so is entirely in character for him.
-Is there a genre you could never write? Which and why?
Horror. I certainly will have horrific elements in my books, but the idea of watching or reading horrible things happening to people and being scared or tense the whole time is not something I take any pleasure in. No judgement for those of you that are fans of the horror genre, but for me I just don’t like it at all. Any horror elements included in my work are there to show our heroes being heroic and our villains being villainous, not for the purpose of making people afraid as the goal.
About Bryan Cole
Bryan is an avid reader, and has loved the fantasy genre since he was a child. His love of stories of mighty knights, terrible dragons, and noble steeds has inspired him for decades.
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