Author interview Sebastien de Castell

Author interview Sebastien de Castell

Author bio:
Sebastien de Castell had just finished a degree in Archaeology when he started work on his first dig. Four hours later he realized how much he actually hated archaeology and left to pursue a very focused career as a musician, ombudsman, interaction designer, fight choreographer, teacher, project manager, actor, and product strategist. His only defence against the charge of unbridled dilettantism is that he genuinely likes doing these things and that, in one way or another, each of these fields plays a role in his writing. He sternly resists the accusation of being a Renaissance Man in the hopes that more people will label him that way.
Sebastien lives in Vancouver, Canada with his lovely wife and two belligerent cats


Hi Sebastien, welcome over at The Book Plank and for taking your time to answer these few questions.
SdC: I'm delighted to be here - thanks for having me.

BP: First off, could you give us a short introduction as to who Sebastien de Castell is? What are you hobbies, likes/dislikes?
SdC: When I was about fifteen years-old I read a book by Keith Tailor called "Bard" and decided that was the job for me - you know, travelling, performing, storytelling, and occasionally swinging a sword. Since no one was hiring for the position, I made up for it by doing everything from touring in a rock band to writing books to choreographing sword fights for theatre to...well, you get the idea. I don't really have any hobbies because when I get excited about something new I usually find a way to incorporate it in my career. Outside of that I love to travel and discover new things to learn.

BP: Traitor’s Blade is your debut book, when and where did you decide that you wanted to start writing and become an author?
SdC: It's always hard to pinpoint these things but years ago I was in the middle of a fencing match and realized I was writing a story in my head based on the bout (note to fencers: this is a terribly unwise thing to do in the middle of a match.) Later when I'd go jogging I'd still be making up stories in my head. Eventually in 2006 I just sat down and let the story I'd been writing in my head come out. That story became Traitor's Blade.

BP: What gave you the idea/inspiration to specifically write the story of Traitor’s Blade?
SdC: When I was studying history in university I read a passing reference to what was called the 'itinerant judges' of twelfth-century England - magistrates would travel from city to city and village to village hearing cases and dispensing verdicts. I kept thinking about how dangerous a job that might be if the local baron decided he didn't want you sniffing around in his business. That became the inspiration for the Greatcoats (though with considerably more swashbuckling than I suspect the itinerant judges had to do.)

BP: Traitor’s Blade is out this March, if you would have to sell you book with a single sentence, how would it go?
SdC: The Three Musketeers meets Game of Thrones

BP: If you look at other books in the same genre as Traitor’s Blade, where do you think that it separates itself from amongst the others?
SdC: A lot of readers find the voice distinct from most other fantasy. Falcio val Mond is a fun character to follow through the dark, corrupt world that surrounds him. For me as a writer, what I enjoy most about the series is taking these idealistic characters who really want to do the right thing and sticking them in a country which is utterly corrupt and full of intrigue.

BP: Writing a debut can be a daunting task, what was the most difficult part writing wise?
SdC: I think the hardest thing about your debut novel is moving on to the second book in the series. All of a sudden you have to live up to expectations you never had when writing the first one. That being said, I sent book 2 (tentatively titled Greatcoat's Lament) to my delightful editor Jo Fletcher recently and both of us are very happy with the book and I'll be very excited to see what readers think about it.

BP: Now that you have written your first book, do you feel that you have gained experience that you will be able to use in your future works?
SdC: Traitor's Blade was actually my second book (my first was a rather deranged, unpublished mystery novel that's probably best left on my shelf.) But I've written three novels since then and I think that over time you get to know what you do well that makes you a little bit different from other authors in your genre and you try to learn to bring that into subsequent books. I'll never really write like the authors I love, and trying to emulate them would just make for a bad replica of their work. Traitor's Blade really helped me understand what comes naturally to me and now I try always to let those things infuse my storytelling.

BP: If you look at the story itself, what was the hardest part to write?
SdC: There's a big part of the book set in a place called Rijou - the most corrupt city in the world - where Falcio is on the run, trying to keep a young girl alive despite everyone in the city hunting them. When I first wrote Traitor's Blade, I literally skipped that whole middle part of the book because I knew it needed to be a kind of deep and dark journey all in itself rather than simply a series of chase scenes and fight scenes. It was in the second draft of the book - after I'd given myself time to really explore what those chapters could be - when I wrote the entirety of Rijou.

BP: Besides the hardest part, which part or parts of the book did you enjoy writing the most?
SdC: There's a scene in the book where Falcio tries desperately to prevent a horse that's been driven mad from killing the girl Falcio's trying to protect. He starts saying anything and everything that comes to his mind in a desperate bid to somehow bridge the gap and reach out to this insane creature. It was a difficult scene to write but one that I found really emotionally rewarding.

BP: If you would be given the chance to retract your book and make a final last adjustment to the story, would you do it? And if yes, which part and why?
SdC: The thing I'm most proud of with Traitor's Blade is that I wrote the book I wanted to read - the one that I, as a fantasy reader, was looking for. So although I'm sure there will be things that others might very correctly say could be different or better, at this point I don't think I would want to alter the book. That opinion may change in future, of course, but right now? Nah - I'm not changin' a word of it.

BP: Traitor's Blade is the first in a series, have you mapped out how many volumes the series will run and can you tell us a bit more of what we can expect as the series progresses?
SdC: The Greatcoats series will be four books in total. I don't want to give out any spoilers, but what I can tell you is that Falcio and the other Greatcoats have always been trying to figure out what their dead King's plan was to stop the corruption that's been steadily destroying the country. In each volume of the series they uncover a little bit more of his designs until, in the final book of the series, they discover that all along he wanted to...sorry, you'll have to read the books to find out ;)

BP: Do you have any other projects that you wish to pursue in the near future now that Traitor’s Blade is being published?
SdC: I just recently delivered book 2 in the Greatcoats series and I'm in the plotting stages for book 3. I've also completed the first book in a new series called Spellslinger which is sort of noir-western-fantasy about a down-on-his-luck mage and the blackmailing thief and occasional murderer who is his business partner (and who also happens to be a raccoon.) It's fast-paced and surprisingly dark which makes it great fun to write.

BP: Everyone enjoys fantasy in their own way, what do you like most about reading and writing fantasy?
SdC: You often hear people say that fantasy is an escape but what I enjoy most about most about the genre is that you sometimes find a book that lets you bring that sense of wonder - of enchantment - back into your own life and that of the world around you. Fantasy can be enchanting in the best sense of the word.

BP: And just lastly, if you would have to give your top 5 favourite books, which would they be?
SdC: Hard to say if they're still my favourite books, but the ones that had the biggest influence on me are:

·         The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
·         Nine Princes In Amber by Roger Zelazny
·         Moonheart by Charles de Lint
·         Jhereg by Steven Brust
·         The Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay

BP: Thank you very much Sebastien and good luck with your future projects!!
SdC: Thanks for having me.

P.S. I looked up your running times on your site and I'm extremely jealous of your speed!

Thanks! Now you are making me blush :-)


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