Seth Skorkowsky’s debut novel, Dämoren, an urban fantasy featuring nasty monsters, modern-day knights, and a sentient pistol, was released in 2014 by Ragnarok Publications. Since then he has proven to be an incredibly prolific writer. Not only did he publish Hounacier, the second in his critically-acclaimed Valducan series, but he’s also released two hefty collections of stories featuring his hero, the Black Raven.
He graciously agreed to an interview with galleywampus, to celebrate the publication of The Sea of Quills.
J Wilbanks: Hi, Seth! Thanks for joining us.
Seth Skorkowsky: Thank you very much for having me.
JW: First things first – you have a new book out this week! You must be pretty excited. What can you tell us about it?
SS: I’m very excited. Sea of Quills is my second collection of stories following a thief called the Black Raven. They’re a pulpy throwback to the old fantasy tales where each story is a self-contained adventure. I regularly refer to it as a mixture of James Bond and the Gray Mouser.
JW: I read that you first envisioned this character back in 2008. What gave you the impetus to drag him out of your mind and expose him on the page after all that time?
SS: In 2008 I published my first Black Raven story, The Porvov Switch, in Flashing Swords Magazine. They picked up a total of six Black Raven stories, but went under after printing three of them. At the time we’d discussed makingthe first collection, Mountain of Daggers, and they advised me to get the total count up to 90,000 words. After Flashing Swords folded, I started work with Rogue Blades for it. Then a very large publishing house expressed interest, and it spent two years waiting on a decision before I retracted my submission to look elsewhere. All in all, the process was over five years of frustration before Ragnarok picked it up. By that time, I had twenty stories and had split the collection into two volumes.
JW: You’ve written The Sea of Quills (and its predecessor) to be a series of interrelated short stories. I love that format, and it reminds me of the shared-worlds of the 80s and 90s, like Liavek. But it’s not a commonly seen format. What led to you creating it this way?
SS: I love short fiction. So my original plan was to publish them like the old Conan or Fafhrd & Gray Mouser tales where they appear in different magazines and anthologies and eventually being brought together into the collection. It didn’t quite work out that way.
JW: Which of the stories are you most proud of in Sea of Quills? Which was the hardest to write? Which one is your wife’s favorite?
SS: I’m the most proud of The Noble Hunter. Some of the scenes in that one were floating around in my head for years before I found a good place to use them. It was also the hardest to write because I had to balance everything with its companion story, City Beneath the Kaisers, which I wrote at the same time. My wife’s favorite is Temptation’s Proposal. We both love masquerade balls (even our wedding was one) so she likes the setting and the villain in it is her favorite.
JW: The world you’ve built in Mountain of Daggers and Sea of Quills is rich with untold stories. Can we expect more?
SS: Definitely. I have plans for several specific adventures and hope to keep Black Raven stories as something I continue to write for years to come.
JW: You have another series, also published by Ragnarok. The first two in the series are already out. When can we expect the third book?
SS: The third novel is Ibenus. Currently I’m 75% through the first draft. The plan is to finish it up and have it ready for Ragnarok by the end of the year. Publication should hopefully be mid-2016, but that’s really an educated guess until I have it turned in. In the meantime, I have a pair of Valducan short stories coming out with Emby Press and Bloodshot Books that will take place before Dämoren and expand some on the world and the weapons.
JW: I love that you’re writing a female lead character! Is the process of building her character different from how you created your male characters?
SS: Yes and no. The biggest difference between Victoria and the heroes in the previous books is that we get to experience her growth with her. Dämoren and Hounacier both begin years in the past and then fast-forward to the present, bypassing the transition from everyday person to demon-slaying knight. Victoria’s journey begins after the events in Hounacier and we get to ride along with it.
JW: Thanks for being so forth-coming about your yet-to-be-written Ibenus! We’re very excited to read it. We love the Valducan series – it is a series, right? You plan to write more Valducan after Ibenus, yes? We have to have more, Seth!
SS: It is a series. I have some ideas for the fourth book, and began sprinkling seeds for it in Hounacier. Once I’m finished with Ibenus, I’ll have to see if I have enough to go ahead and start it, or possibly continue work on a different project that’s been mulling around.
JW: Okay, now for a fun question, just because I’m nosy. List three things you would NOT do for 10 billion dollars.
SS: 1: I would not leave my wife. Whatever escapades I can do with $10 billion would be no fun without her.
2: I would not give up gaming. It’s too much of my life to live without it.
3: I would never cut off my own legs and serve them at a formal dinner no matter who might attend it.
Sea of Quills is available to read today!