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Spirits Of Vengeance Release Interview with Rob J. Hayes (interviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)


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Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of Spirits Of Vengeance                    Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of Pawn’s Gambit                                Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Never Die                                                  Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Along The Razor's Edge              Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Lessons Never Learned          Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of From Cold Ashes Risen                          Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of City Of Kings                                    Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Where Loyalties Lie                        Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Fifth Empire Of Man            Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Heresy Within                       
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Colour Of Vengeance         
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Price Of Faith                          Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of It Takes A Thief To Catch A Sunrise
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of It Takes A Thief To Start A Fire
Read Fantasy Book Critic interview with Rob J. Hayes
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Mini Q&A with Rob J. Hayes
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Read Fantasy Book Critic's Best Laid Plans Series Interview with Rob J. Hayes
Read Fantasy Book Critic's SPFBO Aftermath Q&A with Rob J. Hayes
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Post COK interview with Rob J. Hayes
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Never Die Release Interview with Rob J. Hayes
Read Fantasy Book Critic's The War Eternal Trilogy Release Interview
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s Pawn’s Gambit Release Interview                           

Q] Welcome back Rob, this year looks to be the year of the Mortal Techniques books with two novels and a short story. Was that a planned move?

RJH: Hey there! Thanks for having me back.

Yeah, it does seem to be the year of the Mortal Techniques for me, much like last year was the year of The War Eternal. It was planned as so far as I was writing Spirits of Vengeance while I was getting Pawn’s Gambit ready for release. I usually take a good 1-2 years after finishing a book before I release it, giving me plenty of time to get the editing and cover done. Also plenty of time for me to re-read the book until I hate it and am sure it’s actually terrible.
But this time I decided to expedite the process and get Spirits of Vengeance ready in just 8 months. It felt like a rush and I don’t recommend it. Back to the slower schedule for me. But it’s allowed me to release two Mortal Techniquesbooks this year, so it’s probably worth it.
Q] With both Pawn’s Gambit and Spirits Of Vengeance, you not only explored different aspects of the Mortal Techniques world (gods & spirits) but also different lands (Hosa & Ipia). What lead you down these different routes with both these titles?

RJH: When I decided to expand the world beyond Never Die, I knew I wanted to explore different things within the world. I’d already created the four major nations and I definitely wanted to delve into those, partly to keep the world feeling fresh to readers, and partly because it gave me a chance to dive into a slightly different setting.

As for the Gods and Spirits, it felt very natural after setting up both loosely in Never Die. I’ll probably scale it back with future novels and have at least one focusing mostly on the human aspect again, but I also felt like I needed to have a book centered around the gods and their meddling in the mortal realm and yokai and spirits have always featured heavily in the Mortal Techniques even from the beginning. So I definitely felt the need to expand upon them. Also, there’s so many cool and creepy yokai to draw inspiration from. I heartily recommend readers of the Mortal Techniques to do some reading around real life yokai stories.
Q] Spirits Of Vengeance is an incredibly complex story that is viscerally different from both of its preceding volumes. It’s longer than both of them significantly and manages to combine elements from both of them. What lead you to its inception?

RJH: Sure. So I have a friend called Mihir, and he really liked Never Die and saw that a bunch of other readers really liked it too, and he just kept bugging me to write a sequel. I did. And then he kept bugging me to write another. So I bounced a few ideas of him, and he really seemed to like the idea of a wandering spirit hunter kinda like a Mortal Techniques version of a Witcher. So I wrote it. :D

The 3rd Mortal Techniquesbook was almost very different. Originally I intended to set the whole thing within Heiwa Academy, the school for children with dangerous techniques. I wrote about a third of that book, but just couldn’t seem to get the tone right. It stopped feeling like a MT book. So I scrapped the idea and decided to give the spirit hunter idea some attention. I knew I wanted Kira in it. She was introduced in Pawn’s Gambit and I resonated strongly with her and really wanted to explore and expand her as a character. I struggled to find a good story for the 2 characters for a while, then I had the idea of the Onryo, these mysterious and powerful spirits. It all pretty much fell into place around them.

Q] Spirits Of Vengeance has four different main characters (of the heroic kind), can you talk about their intriguing pasts a bit and why you decided to focus the story via them?

RJH: So I’ve already mentioned Kira. Sometimes you write a character and they just kind of speak to you. Kira flew onto the page with an energy in Pawn’s Gambit, and it was something I wasn’t ready to leave behind with that book. Even before I finished writing PG, I knew I wanted Kira to be a character in the next book.

Yanmei was kind of similar. I first introduced her in Never Die in a very small part. But I wanted her to have a bigger role.

It’s hard to answer this question without spoilers, so I’ll say this. There are a few major themes running throughout the Mortal Techniques series of books. One of these is redemption. And another is a counterpoint to that, trauma and passing on trauma to others. Even from their creation in the previous books, both Kira and Yanmei gave me the perfect opportunities to explore those themes. They have both suffered. They have both been the cause of suffering. But neither of them are evil. And while they both gave me the chance to explore these themes, they also gave me a chance to explore them from different angles with each of them.

Guang was another form of this. In some ways, his character and journey are very similar in concept to Yanmei, but different in such key ways that it makes them different. It’s kind of like, they both have the same destination, but the journey is so different because one of them is driving there and the other is flying there.

Haruto does a good job of bridging it all because he is a man torn between two conflicting worlds, trying to do right by both of them. And because he actively takes on the trauma of others.

I’ll stop there before I get into spoilers.
Q] Yanmei has been one of my favourite characters since the time I met her in Pawn’s Gambit. The readers get to see an older Yanmei in this book. I love her character and I hope that maybe you can write more stories about this amazing warrior with a heart of gold. What are the odds on this happening?

RJH: Never say never. People kept asking for a Century Blade story so I wrote one.
Q] Spirits Of Vengeance has quite an interesting past to its main plot and you have released a short story called The Century Blade. Can you tell us how and why you came to write this prequel?

RJH: As I said, people kept asking for it. But mostly it’s because the Century Blade’s past is important to the story told in Spirits of Vengeance. I had that in my mind and then I woke up one Sunday a few months back and the story was just there in my head. I pretty much ran to my computer, sat down and bashed it out. I’m not supposed to work on weekends (for my sanity), but my wife-not-wife was very supportive and kept bringing me tea.

Q] So far you have written three standalones in this world. Will you be writing more books set within this world? I believe the epilogue points to something intriguing down the line.

RJH: I have more stories planned. More standalone stories. They will continue to tie into all the others and the world, but all stories in the Mortal Techniques world will remain standalone books. I can’t say when the next one will be out, I haven’t started writing it yet because ALL the other books I have to write. :D

Q] Spirits Of Vengeance is your first hardcover release ever and many congratulations on that. The cover is sizzling and is there any chance for book collectors to have the previous editions matched via the Hardcover editions?

RJH: It’s on the cards. I’ll keep people posted.
Q] What are you currently working on?

RJH: The final two books in The War Eternal series, and a super secret project that I’m not talking about. Also a card game. And at least two other book series that will be released at some point in the future.

Q] Earlier this year you had revealed that the War Eternal trilogy would be becoming a series. What will the future duology be focusing on? When can Eska fans expect to read book 4?

RJH: So book 4 of The War Eternal series is called Sins Of The Mother and it will be releasing next year (2022). It jumps forward about 20 years after the events of From Cold Ashes Risen, and as the title suggests, it has a focus on Eska’s children. It is still written from her point of view though. She is older, grumpier, but just as Eska as ever.
Q] Will the remaining books follow the quick release pattern of their predecessors?

RJH: I’m hoping so. Sins Of The Mother is already written and is now in the editing process. Book 5 (Death’s Beating Heart) is planned and waiting for me to finish another project I’m currently working on. I’m hoping to release both books next year, maybe a couple of months apart. Hopefully!
Q] On your Patreon page, you have posted the prologue to your new, secret project. What can you reveal about it? Is there a title to it?

RJH: Nothing. There is a title.
Q] What are you reading currently and are there any titles that you have loved from the recent past?

RJH: I’ve just finished an ARC of The Bladed Faith by David Dalguish, which I loved. It’s kind of like Final Fantasy meets Green Arrow. I’m yet to pick my next read, I like to have a day or two to digest before beginning something new. Other than that, I recently listened to Empire’s Ruin by Brian Staveley and that was spectacular. And I read the Earthseed duology by Octavia Butler which was heavy and important.
Q] Thank you as always for your time Rob, I wish you all the success for Spirits Of Vengeance. What are you looking forward to for the remainder of 2021?

RJH: Cheers! Thanks again for having me. For the remainder of 2021, I am mostly looking forward to a holiday.

NOTE: All pictures & art courtesy of Rob J. Hayes himself.

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