Today I am interviewing Andrew Claydon, debut author of the new fantasy novel, The Simple Delivery, first book in the Chronicles of the Dawnblade series!
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DJ: Hi Andrew! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Andrew: Firstly, let me thank you, DJ, for offering to interview me. This is my first interview as an author, so it’s really exciting.
So about me, I’m an independent author from Somerset in the United Kingdom who has just published his first book. I grew up a lover of fantasy and sci-fi in any form; films, television, books, whatever. I’ve also always been quite creative. Over the years I’ve tried multiple times to write a book, as it’s always been a dream of mine. My failing was self editing. I’d write a couple of chapters, go back over it, assume it made no sense and scrap the idea for a while. During lockdown I got that writing itch again. I’d started seriously at the gym just beforehand, weight lifting. With that comes a bit of mental discipline. As I started to write again, I was able to keep pushing myself on, ignoring the idea to edit too early and get my first draft finished. If I can push myself to do one more set on the squat rack I can certainly ignore those negative voices in my head. Finally, I had a first draft done. It was rough, but I saw the potential in it and so did others who read it. That was enough to give me the drive to keep working and get my book published, which I am massively excited about. It’s been an amazing journey so far.
DJ: What is The Simple Delivery about?
Andrew: It’s about a boy called Nicolas. I say boy, he’s just turned 21, but I’m thirty nine so that seems pretty young to me now. He is your atypical village boy and he is comfortable being just that. He has no big dreams of adventure or seeing the world. He is happy with his life as is. If I just let him do that, it wouldn’t make a very interesting book. Nicolas’s bubble bursts when he gets chosen to go and deliver a message. He, obviously, doesn’t want to go, but he’s in a situation where he has no real choice. He consoles himself with the fact that at least it’s a simple job. It is, until one near death experience changes everything, and suddenly he finds his life spiraling out of his control as he goes on an adventure to save a kingdom from a necromancer and a horde of vampires.
DJ: What were some of your influences for The Simple Delivery and the series?
Andrew: This could be quite a long answer. If I were to narrow it down I would say that the film Willow would be one of my biggest influences. It’s fantasy, but at times it can be light as well as serious, fun as well as action packed. That was the tone I went for with the world I built and how I wrote the story. There are serious moments of course, but also some tongue in cheek moments to balance it out. I think another influence would be Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I always loved the interplay between the characters, the banter. That’s something I hoped to replicate in my dialogue. Beyond that, there are just so many others; Warhammer games, Marvel, Skyrim, Conan to name a few. I think some of my influences are apparent in the book as I like to include little nods, or easter eggs, to my various influences. Sometimes it might just be a bit of dialogue that makes you think ‘hang on…’, or the name of a character. Some people will notice them, some may not. But for me it’s fun to include them anyways.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?
Andrew: So Nicolas is obviously the focal point of the book. He isn’t worldly, which sometimes comes off to other characters as stupidity, but he’s just naive. He likes his routine and the bubble he is in. He knows exactly what to expect from his day. He doesn’t know about the outside world because he doesn’t need to know. You could say there’s an anxiousness to him that is comforted by this routine, so he struggles when he is thrust out of it. This usually manifests as making a fool of himself. But also, he’s got a lot more going for him beneath the surface than he gives himself credit for. This begins to show as the book, and series, progresses.
Another main character is Auron of Tellmark. He is your quintessential professional hero. He is a shameless self promoter and may come across as arrogant at times, but it’s more a complacency because he’s pretty much seen, done and slayed it all. Yet he does these things because of a strong sense of right and wrong. One of his main habits is to tell stories about his past exploits to anyone who will listen. Sometimes these will be pertinent to what they are doing at the time, sometimes they are just him bigging himself up. He acts as Nicolas’s mentor on this adventure.
DJ: Aside from the main characters in the story, who is a favorite side character or a character with a smaller role in the story? Why?
Andrew: I think my favorite character in the book is Shift. They’re a shapeshifting thief who Nicolas meets later on in his journey. They are confident and sassy, pretty much the opposite of Nicolas. As you can tell by the pronouns I am using, they are also gender non-binary. Having a non-binary character wasn’t a concious choice when I started writing them, but I was halfway through the book and writing ‘her’ and ‘she’ regarding someone who could choose their shape at will and it seemed really wrong, so I went back and made some changes. I have gotten some really good feedback on their character from the people who have read the book already, making a big deal of something I just thought was natural. They are also really fun to write, as I like their playfulness.
DJ: What is the world and setting of the Chronicles of the Dawnblade series like?
Andrew: The name of my world is Etherius. It’s your quintessential fantasy world. There are varying climates and cultures. It’s quite a diverse world, full of different species, many of which you usually associate with fantasy, such as orcs and dwarves. The area the story focuses on is the Kingdom of Yarringsburg, in which Nicolas’s village is located. It’s a very human-centric Kingdom for the most part. But as the books progress I look forward to opening up the world for the readers and exploring more of the diversity and history in it, which is important to the overall arc of the series. I wouldn’t say things are peaceful in Etherius. There is more of an uneasy truce. We all don’t really get along, but making nice is better than fighting each other. As things go we will see exactly how uneasy things are.
DJ: The Simple Delivery was actually done via Kickstarter! How was that process for you? What were some of the challenges you faced running a crowd-funded project? Would you do it again?
Andrew: I actually really enjoyed the Kickstarter experience. I did a web course before going into it on how to run a successful Kickstarter, but even then I only kind of dipped my toe in the pool. As a brand new author I knew that I didn’t have a large back catalog to tap into or fanbase and I hadn’t used any of my distribution channels before, so I wanted to be sure that I could walk before I could run. I think one of my biggest worries was being able to fulfill my orders, especially from outside the UK. I was really surprised at the reaction to my campaign. I made over double my goal and less than half the contributors were people I knew. That was a real result for me. And now I’m more confident and a bit wiser, I’m happy to really delve into it again. I think it’s a great tool for authors who need help with production costs as well as a great way to get your name out there and drum up some early interest. I’m already planning my campaign for book 2 which will launch in a couple of months, with more rewards and greater reach.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing The Simple Delivery?
Andrew: Dialogue. That’s an easy one. I love making my characters interact with each other and the world around them. I also like having a lot of fun with it, like how the other characters react when Nicolas does something daft. You can do so much with dialogue and a simple conversation between two characters.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Andrew: Hmmm, I’d love to say they are just talking about how amazing it is. But really I think it’ll be the characters and their interactions. The story is obviously important, but the characters as the ones who make it so. I also think the humor will be a talking point. When I got the book back from the proofreader she told me that my book was responsible for her ‘guffawing’ for the first time in her life. I was really pleased with that. Humor can be so subjective. What I think is funny someone else might not, but it’s good to know I at least made one person laugh.
DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began the Chronicles of the Dawnblade series? The Simple Delivery is only the first book, but is there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?
Andrew: I think the takeaway, especially from book one, is that even the absence of natural ability doesn’t define you or what you can achieve. Push yourself, put in the effort and who knows what your limits are. This is something we will see continue throughout the series. But there is also the notion of companionship. Nicolas has no experience of the outside world, but then he meets, and ends up traveling with, these diverse people and faces danger with them and even though they are all very different, a bond forms. One which will grow as the series progresses.
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from The Simple Delivery that you can share with us?
Andrew: I’ve got quite a few, but here are four of my favorites.
It was so simple and obvious, he couldn’t believe he hadn’t thought of it sooner. He would simply tell The Oracle he didn’t want to be chosen. Surely the man would have no interest in choosing someone who didn’t want to be chosen? Where was the sense in that?
‘Ah,’ Auron nodded sagely. ‘The universal symbol for bugger off or die. How quaint.’
‘Where did that come from?’ Auron eyed him suspiciously. ‘Been at your mothers romance novels, have you?’
There was another human in here? Twelve vampires raised their noses and sniffed the air around them as Nicolas tried to spot this human. If they were trapped, maybe he could help them escape somehow with a diversion or…Then it clicked. The human in the room was him. At that exact moment of realization twelve heads turned in his direction, fangs bared and hissing wildly.
DJ: Now that The Simple Delivery is released, what is next for you?
Andrew: Now that book 1 is out it’s time to work on publishing book 2, should be out later this year. I already have the cover and beta reads done and the editor booked in. The next step will be the kickstarter launch in the next month or so. Beyond that, I am currently writing book 4. I’m loving how my characters and the series are progressing from book to book. I want each to be a self contained adventure, but building towards something much bigger. It’s going to be a wild ride writing the series and I hope the readers have that same ride when they read the books.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Author Newsletter: www.andrewclaydonauthor.com/newsletter/
Facebook: Andrew Claydon Author
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about The Simple Delivery and the Chronicles of the Dawnblade series that we haven’t talked about yet?
Andrew: That it is going to get much bigger. The first book is almost a self-contained adventure, but really it’s the tip of a very large iceberg. My characters don’t know this, but they will learn it soon enough. There will be a point where the fun ends and the real battles will begin.
DJ: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Andrew: Just to thank you again for the interview. One of the things I’m still getting used to about author life is self promoting. It doesn’t always come naturally, unlike with one of my characters. So it’s been great to have an opportunity to talk about myself and my work.
DJ: It was my pleasure! Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
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***The Simple Delivery Man is available TODAY!!!***
Buy the Book:
Amazon | Goodreads
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About the Book:
Just because you’re chosen, doesn’t mean you want to be
Nicolas loves his village life just the way it is, everything as it’s supposed to be.
When he is chosen for a task, he finds himself going out into a world he knows little about and feels completely unprepared for. His only comfort is that all he has to do is deliver a message. That should be pretty simple, right?
One near death experience later, Nicolas finds himself in a world of heroes’, villains’, magic and far too many undead creatures for his liking.
Caught up in events he can’t control, he must, with the strange companions he meets along the way, foil a plot that may destroy his Kingdom as he knows it, maybe even the world. Thousands of lives are in the hands of someone who has never even picked up a sword, but at least he knows not to hold it by the pointy end.
About the Author:
Hey there guys!
So, a bit about me then. I am a Fantasy Author due to release my first book this year…exciting times. I’ve always been a fan of Sci/Fi and Fantasy. Some of my favourite films are from those genres; Conan The Barbarian, Willow, Predator (obviously), Aliens. I’m an avid reader, which has given me a passion for the world building that goes into a book and inspired my passion to create my own worlds, and a passion for that new book smell…I have a problem.
I have written bits and pieces here and there for years, but finally decided to knuckle down and chase the dream. My hope is that my books draw people into their worlds like other writers work does to me (how bad is it when you are engrossed in a book and someone tries to start a conversation lol).
Also in my spare time I play Warhammer 40,000. I enjoy both the painting and gaming sides of the hobby.
I have a degree in both History and Psychology and Black Belts in several martial arts styles, all of which I try to use to inform my writing. I also have an odd sense of humour, but I’ll let you find that out for yourselves when you read…