One of my favorite parts of being an independent author is discovering other talents like myself to enjoy. As a reader, I try to partake in a fairly broad spectrum of work to help myself grow as a writer. And being a part of the independent circle of writers, I like to be aware of what my contemporaries are doing. Being a sci-fi and fantasy author however, I do tend to read more of those genres than anything else.
That’s how I discovered the books of Sean R. Frazier.
Sean’s “The Forgotten Years” series has quickly become a favorite of mine. Between the interesting take on how the traditional fantasy tropes are turned upside down, to the fairly unique approach to magic in his world, there’s a lot here to love and be inspired by. I’ve personally already read the first three books in the series and rather enjoyed them. The final book in the series, "Ascent into Light", just released on August 1st, and I’m expecting my copy to arrive any day now.
While we wait for Amazon to deliver my copy of Sean’s new book, he was nice enough to sit down with me (virtually, of course) to discuss “Ascent into Light” and “The Forgotten Years” series as a whole in the first of what is going to be a new recurring feature of fellow indie author interviews here on my blog. Matt: Sean, thanks for joining me and agreeing to be my guinea pig.
Why don’t you start by telling us a bit about where the idea for “The Forgotten Years” and Cor’il Silvermoon came from as a whole?
Sean: The main idea for "The Forgotten Years" really came from me sort of wishing our mundane world held more magic and wonder. What if dragons lived among us but we simply never saw them? What if, maybe, our history was a lie and the existence of mythological creatures had been covered up? This was my idea over twenty years ago, and it was very rough.
Cor’il’s inception was nothing special. I need a meek, naive character to be thrust into a world he was never meant to be a part of. His first iteration was a bit different from how he finally turned out, however. Both versions were wandering aimlessly without a home but the first Cor’il was on a mission to gather help to defend Kuranthas from invaders.
M: Your books are all fantasy, at least so far. Do you mainly read fantasy, or are you all over the map with your favorite genres? And which authors are some of the biggest influences in your own writing, whether they be fantasy or not?
S: Fantasy is definitely my go-to genre to read. I’m a huge D&D geek and cut my teeth on the Dragonlance/Time of the Twins books, but horror and sci-fi have had their places on my shelves as well. I used to devour Battletech books, and Stephen King was really my first love of reading--back in junior high school.
M: I'm also a huge D&D nerd, so I can relate. The Moonshae trilogy are still some of my favorite fantasy novels.
We get used to certain races like elves and orcs being standard fare in most fantasy tales, but you took a different approach with your series, at least initially. Why the choice to introduce these races gradually?
S: When we get our first view of Cygil, it’s still largely pristine, with humans being the dominant people. I felt it best to introduce the other creatures and races gradually to give the reader the same feeling those people would have--something was amiss but not necessarily something to be concerned about at first. Through the course of the story--and sometimes the characters’ actions--conditions worsen, which shows just how terrible the Realm was before everything was reconciled 200 years ago.
Basically, the reader gets to discover the same things the characters discover, rather than throwing it all out there at once. And, yes, the iconic races are there. It may feel mundane and archetypal, but I did it with a purpose. I needed the reader to feel a sense of familiarity before everything went sideways and deviated from the normal fantasy everyone’s used to.
M: Your take on magic is different from anything I’ve read before. Where you did the idea for “Threadweaving” come from, and do you feel it’s important to keep expanding on what can be done with Cor’il’s powers for each new novel in the series?
S: Creating a unique magic system is supremely difficult, given how much fantasy is out there. I get the idea that many readers grow tired of the same mechanics of traditional spells and wizards. And I can’t even say "The Forgotten Years’" magic system is truly unique. Some readers may compare it to Robert Jordan’s system from The Wheel of Time (and there certainly are similarities, but the systems aren’t identical).
When I originally envisioned the Threads and my magic system, there were a lot more rules involved and it really bogged down the story with over-complicated ideas. I refined the system and, in the process, it became far more flexible and interesting. For example, the way Dalinil and Cor’il use magic is very different. Cor’il himself uses the Threads in several varying ways--even using spells occasionally (in the form of short words). What I feel I’ve done is started with something unconventional and given it variety. The way a character uses the Threads can be unique to them--especially if nobody has taught them how to harness their abilities.
Cor’il’s magic evolves through the series as he matures and learns more about the world around him. Dalinil’s ability grows as well, but he never achieves what Cor’il does. Not only did I feel it necessary to grow Cor’il’s abilities, but also to display Dalinil’s roadblocks. The ultimate goal was to show the difference between the two while also conveying the potential for the future. The world, magic, and Cor’il himself all evolve with one another, always tethered. There is, in fact, room for even more evolution of the magic system.
M: Admittedly, Jordan's work is something I haven't read yet due to the commitment involved. That's a lot of books. There’s a fairly diverse cast of characters that weave their way in and out of the series as it rolls along, even to the point that it seemed like you switched main characters for book three. Was that a conscious choice, or just the way the story happened to lead you?
S: I started the series with an “Iron Man” frame of mind and ended up with "The Avengers." Somewhere along the way, however, I did make the conscious choice. Being a pantser, there are elements of what I write that evolve organically, without intention while some elements are intention. "Descent Into Madness" definitely has a different focus and the overall story makes a big shift because of it. "Ascent Into Light" continues along those lines, and I think it will keep readers wondering until the very end.
M: As a fellow pantser, I know exactly what you mean. This is how I usually end up writing trilogies when I intend to write a stand-alone novel. The recently released “Ascent into Light” wraps up the series. As a writer with a trilogy in progress, I know how daunting it can feel sometimes to have a series in progress, yet also how rewarding it is when people keep coming back for more of the same characters. Are you sad to see “The Forgotten Years” go, or are you looking forward to moving on to new projects?
S: A bit of both. I’ve spent years with the characters of "The Forgotten Years" and, during this time, they’ve become more than just characters to me. It’s strange to say, but I have several imaginary friends that exist within a made-up reality. I’ve done things to these people that I’ve felt guilty about, and I’ve taken joy in their triumphs. I will forever miss hanging out with them on a daily basis because, even if I wasn’t actively writing them, I was always thinking about them.
I may never see them again. Certainly, if I do, it won’t be the same.
That being said, I’m waist-deep in my new WIP and, I’ll admit, it’s helped me rebound from such a turbulent, now ended, “relationship.” I’d probably be lamenting more if I didn’t have a rebound WIP to dive into.
M: I'm working on the final book of my own fantasy trilogy now, and I can certainly relate to those mixed feelings. That being said, I couldn’t help but notice that you have a special edition for “Ascent into Light” as well. What can readers expect to find aside from the alternate gorgeous cover?
S: I made the Chaos Edition primarily for myself--to compile "The Forgotten Years" bits and pieces I’d accumulated throughout its journey. Included within is full-color character art, a new map, and some other refinements, plus a look into my next project.
I understand it’s considerably more expensive than the standard books, so it’s sort of a collector’s item, I guess? This is why I’ve chosen to personally sell the book instead of through Amazon. I didn’t want people stumbling across the price and passing out.
M: What are you working on next?
S: My current WIP is "Mage Breaker", a science-fantasy project. It’s an idea that’s been demanding my attention since I began "Descent Into Madness". Meanwhile, my comedy fantasy project is sitting in the corner, accumulating dust. I hope to get back to that one soon, though. I’ll most likely have to read what I’ve written just to figure out what’s happened.
M: Sean, thanks so much for joining me, and I’m looking forward to finishing up the series. It’s been a wonderful journey.
S: Thank you for doing the interview! I shout into the void a lot about my writing but it’s always nice to have specific questions to answer!
I'm personally excited to discover the conclusion to "The Forgotten Years" saga. My copy of "Ascent into Light" arrived while Sean and I were talking, so I'm going to go dig into it now. If you're new to the series, you can click on the pictures below to head directly to their Amazon pages and grab your copies now!