Interview with Marcus Pailing

What are you working on next?
My latest novel, 'Kingdoms in Crisis', is now available on Smashwords - a few months later than intended, unfortunately. I am pleased with the finished product, so I hope my readers will be, too.

'Kingdoms in Crisis' will be followed by 'Irondale', which continues the story in the first book to some extent, but will be OK to read as a standalone. The first draft of 'Irondale' is about 50% completed, but I have had to put it on a back-burner because of pressures at work. I hope to get back to it soon, and will be aiming for a 2016 release. I have also started working on a couple of other projects, of which more at a later date!
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I was brought up on 'classic' children's literature. The first book I really remember was Charles Kingsley's 'The Heroes', which my father used to read to me in bed at night. I suppose it must have had a profound impact, because I grew up passionate about Greek mythology and Ancient History ... so much so that I took my university degree in Ancient History and Archaeology.

In terms of the books I was able to read for myself, my greatest loves were the re-tellings of legendary and mythical stories by such luminaries as Roger Lancelyn Green, Rosemary Sutcliffe, Henry Treece and Geoffrey Trease. Lancelyn Green's 'The Adventures of Robin Hood' was my absolute favourite book until I was around ten years old. At that time I first read 'King Solomon's Mines', which set me off on a crusade to read as much Rider Haggard as I could. Then, when I was eleven, I discovered 'The Lord of the Rings', and the rest is history!
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I was around six or seven years old, and decided to turn my hand to novel writing. My first effort was a story about two cowboys, Jim and Roger, who were inspired by a pair of identical plastic gunslingers in my toy box. I don't recall much about the plot (if, indeed, there was one); but Jim and Roger both had wives / girlfriends (whose names I can't remember), and they seemed to be in action all the time.

In fact, all I can really remember about the novel is the episode when one of my protagonists was hanging off a cliff. In order to convey the breathless excitement and danger of the situation, I ran all my words together (or, rather, I ranallmywordstogether).

I know that, later, I began a novel about the English Civil War, which was loosely inspired by the French TV series 'The Flashing Blade'; and I wrote a Doctor Who adventure, then a space opera inspired by 'Star Wars'. Needless (but sadly) to say, I have no idea what happened to those priceless manuscripts ...
What do you read for pleasure?
This is easy: historical fiction! At least, I would say that HF is my primary genre for pleasure reading. After that comes fantasy, and I read very few other genres regularly (although I love the detective novels of Boris Akunin, and recently I succumbed to Lee Child's Jack Reacher novels, and thoroughly enjoyed them).

But I do read historical non-fiction for pleasure, too, so long as it's Ancient or Medieval - I don't read much about Modern History.
Who are your favorite authors?
There are so many authors I admire. As I write fantasy, I suppose I would have to say Tolkien (as his books played such a large part in my decision to write in the genre); but I am also a fan of Robert E. Howard. David Gemmell is always fun to read. Of the more recent fantasy authors, I think Scott Lynch is superb. I became very excited by the first of Rothfuss' 'Kingkiller Chronicles', but was hugely disappointed by the second, which appeared to be little more than a re-hash of the first, with no actual plot development. I really got into George R.R. Martin's 'A Song of Ice and Fire', although I would not put myself amongst his most rabid fans. There are some writers where it seems heretical not to be a passionate follower, but I have to say that I have often found myself disappointed. (I won't dare to mention who they are, but I do believe that everyone should be entitled to their opinion, and should be allowed not to care for a book that others have declared to be a masterpiece.) Hm, who else? Joe Abercrombie is getting better, the more he writes. I actually thought the original 'Blade Itself' books were poor, but his subsequent books were much better. Brian Ruckley is good, too; and I've recently enjoyed the 'Gallow' books of Nathan Hawke.

I also read a lot of historical fiction - more, in fact, than I read fantasy. Probably my favourite authors in that genre are Sharon Penman and Bernard Cornwell, for the quality of their research as much as for the quality of their writing. I've also enjoyed Giles Kristian, Robert Low, Robin Young, Tim Severin, and a host of others.

I could probably list another 20 or 30 authors whose books I have enjoyed; but these are my 'tops'.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
I cannot put my finger on a favourite, as such. There have been so many books that I have loved, and so many that have influenced me in various ways.

This might appear to be terribly predictable (for a fantasy writer), but if I had to choose one book, I suppose it would have to be 'The Lord of the Rings'. I haven't read it from start to finish for about twenty years; but in terms of childhood influences, and the way my interests developed since my early teens, it was probably the most influential book I have ever read.
Describe your desk
Perhaps I shouldn't answer this one! It's messy.

Actually, I have two desks. My PC sits on one, and that's surrounded by mounds of paper. But I have another, because I always write, initially, by hand (the 'old-fashioned' way). At the moment, that desk has two piles, one for each of the books I am currently working on. But there are also various other piles, of correspondence, school-work (because I hold down a 'proper job', also), and a few books ... oh dear!
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Ha! I wouldn't use the word 'inspiration'. It's more of a deep-seated need to earn money. Unfortunately I have to maintain a 'day job', which, for the time being, requires me to get up before 6am every week day. Don't get me wrong, I love my job (I really do); but I do sometimes have a utopian dream where I don't have to get up every morning. This means, of course, that I can only write in the evenings and at weekends.
Published 2015-10-11.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Kingdoms in Crisis
Series: The Count of Trall. Price: $1.79 USD. Words: 114,180. Language: British English. Published: October 11, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
Kingdoms in Crisis sees the return of the Count of Trall. Once again he finds himself pitted against feuding nobles, vengeful princes and murderous rogues, striving to rescue Hograth from the brink of disaster.
Questions of Allegiance
Series: The Count of Trall, Book 6. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 57,290. Language: English. Published: March 23, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Fantasy » Historical
Two short stories and a novella. Derian is a stable-lad in the royal castle of Gerroch. When the King and his court arrive at Gerroch, Derian encounters the famous Count of Trall for the first time. Youthful curiosity and a lack of common sense combine to put the lad in great danger as he overhears a terrible secret.
Conspiracy of Silence
Series: The Count of Trall, Book 5. Price: Free! Words: 8,900. Language: English. Published: December 30, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Historical, Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
Derian is a stable-lad in the royal castle of Gerroch. When the King and his court arrive at Gerroch, Derian encounters the famous Count of Trall for the first time. Youthful curiosity and a lack of common sense combine to put the lad in great danger as he overhears some terrible secrets.
The Withered Rose
Series: The Count of Trall, Book 4. Price: $1.49 USD. Words: 97,970. Language: English. Published: September 8, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Fantasy » Historical
The daughter of a prince and niece of a king, Atela is the most eligible young woman in the kingdom of Hograth. She has always known that her husband will be chosen for her, and she trusts that her father and uncle will select a good match.
Fields of Battle
Series: Fields of Battle, Book 3 · The Count of Trall, Book 3. Price: $1.79 USD. Words: 290,420. Language: English. Published: October 30, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
Two great armies clash in Gilderaen. The south of Gilderaen reels as the massive army of Hussania sweeps into Barrowgrar, in the wake of a welter of treachery, treason and assassination. The only man who can prevent total Hussanian victory is Kieldrou, the Count of Trall. Yet, with rebellion brewing back in Hograth, the outcome of the war does not seem so assured …
The Demon's Consort
Series: Fields of Battle, Book 2 · The Count of Trall, Book 2. Price: $1.49 USD. Words: 150,960. Language: English. Published: October 29, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
Deep in the heart of the Great Og dwells a mysterious sect known as the Brotherhood of Sheoleth. The priests of this cult have been following the Count of Trall, pursuing a centuries old feud. When the priests of Sheoleth strike, Kieldrou must leave the fate of the southern kingdoms for a while, choosing instead to follow his devil-worshiping foes, even if it leads to his death.
The Death of Kings
Series: Fields of Battle, Book 1 · The Count of Trall, Book 1. Price: $1.79 USD. Words: 250,510. Language: English. Published: October 29, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
In the northern kingdom of Luourn the young king, Raegin, languishes in a dungeon, his throne usurped by his own kinsman, Rothgar. Saved from a lingering death by a loyal friend, Raegin escapes from his stolen kingdom and seeks refuge on the island of Trall. From there, Raegin must face some startling revelations, and a journey beset by danger,before he can finally return to reclaim his kingdom.