It’s a big day for the Foreworld Saga. The Mongoliad: Book Three is out, rounding out the adventure story that began last year. This is a big one, nearly as long as the previous two volumes put together.
Also, Seer—the latest of the SideQuests—is out today as well. This time, we follow Andreas on an adventure in the Pyrenees shortly before the events of The Mongoliad.
Over the last few weeks, we’ve been busily prepping a bunch of PR material. Here’s a quick list of those articles and where you can find them.
Cooper Moo and Erik Bear on “The Twelve Steppe Program” [via Boing Boing].
We love gallows humor — the darker the better. Bonus points if you have the presence of mind to wisecrack in the face of certain death. You may recall this most excellent exchange on the eve of the Battle of Thermopylae:
Native of Trachis: “The Persian arrows are so numerous they block out the sun!”
Spartan Dienekes: “Good. Then we will fight in the shade.”
It’s not that we make light of situations we “can’t handle”. Rather we are accepting the challenge while giving fate the finger. Gallows humor is a perfectly legit tool for dealing with death, divorce, and all manner of dereliction – even addiction.
Joseph Brassey on the “Nine Most Memorable Fight Scenes In Literature” [via Huffington Post].
There’s a quote in an old fighting manuscript from the fifteenth century fencing master Fiore de Liberi that my first instructor liked to drill into me over and over and over. It goes, roughly; “Train slow, because anger will give you speed in the fight.” My first teacher drilled me with it so often because like any enthusiastic student with a sharp, pointy thing in his hand, I was prone to energetically trying to replicate what he was showing me at light-speed. That’s not really conducive to learning how to do anything properly. Learning any sort of physical motion effectively requires you to calm down and understand the pieces of the movement, then practice them until they’re programmed into muscle memory, then you should be able to replicate it effectively when you’re in the adrenaline-driven insanity of fight or flight mode. It’s also a good way to avoid cutting your own ear off.
There is another lesson I took from this quote, however: Sword fighting, and its pursuit, is about passion.
Ben Rhodes interviews Cooper Moo [via Fanboy Comics].
BR: The thing that most impresses me with The Mongoliad is that you guys have made the Mongols and the Shield-Brethren sympathetic and interesting characters. Was this a conscious decision or a result of writing in groups?
CM: Thanks for the compliment – this was a conscious effort. History is written by the winners. No doubt the Mongols felt they were destined to rule the globe, just as every other world power thinks at some point. To write something more interesting than basic “black hats vs. white hats” or “east vs. west,” we needed fully developed characters on both sides. This way the reader gets invested in both story lines and has to wrestle with their own internal conflict at the end of the series.
Nicole Galland is interviewed at Night Owls Review [link].
To be honest, my “difference” was only partly about gender; it was equally that I was not practicing Western Martial Arts with them, that I was 3000 miles away and had never met any of them in person for the first 6 months I was involved. Even when I went out there and we all worked in the same room together, the difference was less about male-vs-female and more about tone, specifically martial-vs-anything-other-than-martial. The guys created the project specifically IN ORDER TO write the martial-prowess material. For me, those bits are a lot of work, but relationship-oriented scenes, especially involving humor, come naturally.
Nicole also offers a piece on the delightful inventiveness of secret histories [via Suvudu].
After staring at a blank piece of paper for quite a while, I decided there wasn’t much of a difference. History is full of secrets, so what does it matter if the secrets of any given story are far-fetched or not? I was ready to argue that The Mongoliad is every bit as “truthful” as any historical novel you’ll ever read. (In some ways, more so, because we’re honest about how much reality we are inventing.)
Then I realized that such thinking is a terrible disservice to the magic inherent in “secret history.” I don’t mean that a secret itself has to do with magic – there is no overt magic in The Mongoliad, for example (although Book 3 hints at certain mysteries to come). It is the very existence of a secret – any secret, really – that opens the trapdoor for magic to slink in.
Mark Teppo talks about “Building the Library of Violence” [via io9]
Wildly inaccurate portrayals of sword fighting in the media are nothing new. Recently John Clements dropped by io9 to debunk modern sword fighting, and Martin Page and Guy Windsor talked to IGN about the problems with sword fighting in video games. These guys know sword fighting. Me? I’m just a writer, trying not to embarrass himself on the page when it comes to a bit of the hack and slash. I’m the showrunner for The Foreworld Saga, a secret history of the Western martial arts, and one of the writers of The Mongoliad. I’ve been party to writing a few sword fights, and I’ll let you in on a little secret: they are an incredible pain in the ass to write.
UPDATE: Joe and Cooper interview each other for Fade into Fantasy [link].
Cooper: This sword-fighting group eventually included most of the authors for The Mongoliad – including you, obviously – and the rest is history. Alternative history, in fact. So the answer to the question how did I come to be an author on The Mongoliad is — writing & fighting. And blind-ass luck.