Tom Lloyd is a British Novelist best known for his Twilight Reign series, comprised of The Stormcaller, The Twilight Herald, The Grave Thief, The Ragged Man, The Dusk Watchman as well as the collection The God Tattoo: Untold Tales from the Twilight Reign. His new novel, Moon’s Artifice, begins a new series in a brand new world. You can find him at his webiste TomLloyd.co.uk/, on Facebook and on Twitter as @tomlloydwrites.
Tom consented to answer some questions about his new work.
1. Where did the story of Moon’s Artifice begin? Did you start with a character, the setting, or something else?
Tom Lloyd: You’d expect me to remember, but the truth is I can’t. In the way that the Empire of a Hundred Houses is a monster that absorbs other cultures, a variety of ideas became co-opted by it before they were strong enough to exist as stories in their own right. The empire itself was once an idea for a short story, about the self-important ruler of a village of 100 houses, but as for Moon’s Artifice… it’s like certain characters managed to edit their past from history. All I remember is the desire, when I’d just finished Stormcaller and was despairing of selling it, to do something different – try a different type of fantasy story and see how I found writing that. From somewhere the name Moon’s Artifice cropped up but I remember spending quite a while just working out how that fitting into the story!
2. The novel has a limited number of points of view, but has a story that reaches toward apotheosis. Do you personally consider the novel to be Sword and Sorcery, Epic Fantasy
or something else?
Tom Lloyd: For me, Swords and Sorcery means bearded wizards and muscle-bound barbarians, so I don’t really see it as such. We’ve got a small band of heroes, if you’re looking at things that way, but they’re not on some classical quest and the main character is a policeman mostly trying to do his job. I think Gollancz describe it as S&S for the simple reason that it usefully informs the reader about length, scale, no of characters, magic etc., and Moon’s Artifice is certainly no epic fantasy and that’s a distinction worth making all by itself, given the Twilight Reign. I’d like to coin the term Hood and Dagger because for me it’s more of a fantasy action/conspiracy thriller – a bit of mystery, a bit of death, a bit of a nod towards the hooded man covers that get used once in a while for fantasy books…
3. What did you learn from writing the Stormcaller series that you applied to writing Moon’s Artifice?
Tom Lloyd: How to write! I re-wrote Stormcaller a dozen times perhaps, trying to develop a voice, and that process continued right throughout the series. It’s hard to even pick the two apart – I applied everything I learned because that’s all the writing skill I’ve got!
Tom Lloyd: Yeah, my goal was to make sure I made things easier for the reader this time around so ten nation-hegemonies of ten nations each probably wasn’t the best start… But this time around I don’t have a cast list, just a collection of names so I can keep track of national styles. On top of that I’ve got the Orders of the Gods laid out (plus a wheel so I can work out who’s in ascendency at any time of day, a detail that no reader at all gives a damn about but as the author I HAVE to get right) and a list of all hundred houses in their national groupings. The most vital thing is the map through, the reminder of what districts are where given the characters spend so much time walking around the city. The plan was always to make it clear for the reader in the text so they wouldn’t need a glossary or map etc, so I’m glad the only discussion I had with my editor was whether the Orders of the Gods would look pretty on the end papers (they would, but it’d have been rather expensive so we’ll wait for the tenth anniversary collector’s edition maybe ;0) )
5. What real world cultures and settings inspired your design of the Lesser Empire?
Tom Lloyd: Initially it was VERY Japanese, but as soon as I returned to the idea I turned that down because a) I didn’t want to constrain myself artificially when the point is to make stuff up and have fun with it, and b) it’d mean a hell of a lot of research to get things accurate, something I’m too lazy for. So there’s a bit of Japan in there, a bit of India and China, with the Communist-Capitalist post-war divide overlaying it all. I didn’t want to get into ideology, but I’m constantly fascinated by the greater and lesser conflicts of the Cold War, it’s a fairly unique and distorting situation.
6. What’s your favorite creation inside of this world?
Tom Lloyd: Hard to pick one, but since I started smoking as a teenager, I’ve loved looking up at the stars and the lights of planes mingling with them. To this day, I still find a clear night sky one of the more beautiful things ever. The idea of divine constellations orbiting the world, clear enough to light a path and regular enough to show the casual observer what month and week it is, is what stands out in my mind.
7. What’s next for you and your work?
Tom Lloyd: The follow-up book is called Old Man’s Ghosts, where we have the consequences of Narin’s and Enchei’s actions coming back to haunt them. Kesh is, so to speak, a ticking time bomb, and at the start of the novel, time’s just run out.