Today it’s my pleasure to host Justin Lee Anderson, author of The Lost War which is the first book in the Eidyn Saga, out now in paperback by Orbit!
This interview is posted as part of the Wyrd & Wonder Month hosted by amazing ladies, check out all the content on Twitter!
Justin was a professional writer and editor for 15 years before his debut novel, Carpet Diem, was published in 2015. He wrote restaurant and theatre reviews, edited magazines about football and trucks, published books about fishing and golf, wrote business articles and animation scripts, and spent four years as the writer, editor and photographer for an Edinburgh guide book.
Justin now writes full-time and is a partner in his own publishing company. He also writes scripts with his wife Juliet, who he met through the BBC Last Laugh scriptwriting competition.
Connect with Justin Lee Anderson
This sensational epic fantasy follows an emissary for the king as he gathers a group of strangers and embarks on a dangerous quest across a war-torn land.
The war is over, but peace can be hell.
Demons continue to burn farmlands, violent mercenaries roam the wilds, and a plague is spreading. The country of Eidyn is on its knees.
In a society that fears and shuns him, Aranok is the first mage to be named King’s Envoy. And his latest task is to restore an exiled foreign queen to her throne.
The band of allies he assembles each have their own unique skills. But they are strangers to one another, and at every step across the ravaged land, a new threat emerges, lies are revealed, and distrust could destroy everything they are working for. Somehow, Aranok must bring his companions together and uncover the conspiracy that threatens the kingdom—before war returns to the realms again.
Welcome back to the Asylum, Justin! Take a seat by the fire, have a glass of beverage of your choice, and tell us something about yourself that’s not in your bio!
Thank you for having me! I’ll have some of this Lagavulin. Something about me that’s not in my bio? Hmm. I recently discovered I have an oral allergy to oranges. My entire life I thought orange juice made everyone’s mouth sting and had a metallic aftertaste. Apparently that was just me. Who knew?
Huh. That’s a weird allergy to have. I didn’t know that was a thing, though I don’t know why I’m surprised.
Me neither! Apparently some people can have it to all citrus fruits, but it’s just oranges for me. Ruined Old Fashioneds for me, though, which is annoying.
Aw. I’m sorry!
So, it’s been a while since we had the pleasure to chat. How is life treating you here in the Asylum?
Since I was last here it’s been quite a rollercoaster, hasn’t it? Global pandemic, war in Europe, everybody’s skint… We’re certainly living in interesting times, aren’t we? I’d definitely tolerate a bit more ‘boring’ for a while. The last decade has been pretty stressful. In fact, can we go back to 2007, before it all fell apart, and try again?
Oh yeah, it definitely was a rollercoaster. Ugh. I’m not sure I’d want to go back to 2007 personally. I just graduated high school then. I had a couple of good years after that. Then again, I might make smarter choices starting with a different major at university.
I suppose if we really wanted to get it right, we’d have to go all the way back to prevent the roots of the financial crash in 2008, which is basically Bill Clinton, so that goes back to when I was in university. I could live with that, I enjoyed my university years!
Heh, university was good for me, better than high school, that’s for sure. I did a lot of writing back then. Screwed up my hand too thanks to that. But I also finished the draft of my first Fantasy novel, which I wanted to make into a trilogy. It never happened. Tinkered a lot with it, but eventually let it go.
But we are not here to talk about my non-existent writing career. Yours certainly had a few interesting years in a positive way. The Lost War won SPFBO 6, then it got picked up by Orbit. Can you tell us about the process? Was it difficult to switch from self-publishing to trad publishing? Where there any changes?
Oh, huge changes. It’s been a hell of a ride and I’ve loved it, but compared with self publishing, where you’re very agile and books come out as soon as they’re ready, there is *so much* waiting. And timescales are measured in years, not months. It’s two years since I won SPFBO with Lost War and the Orbit edition is coming out shortly. That two years has felt like a lot of treading water with me not releasing anything, despite the fact I had a first draft of The Bitter Crown (book 2) within months of SPFBO ending. It’s exciting to have The Lost War coming out again, but I think I’m even more excited for The Bitter Crown. It’ll be the first completely new book I’ve released in four years!
The upside is, of course, the huge support team you get from a publisher like Orbit. Editorial, marketing, sales, all the stuff I always hated – there are people to do it, and to support and advise you on doing it too. And of course they just have access to markets I didn’t have on my own. Mostly, I just can’t wait for these books to be out and in the hands of readers. I think that’ll feel like properly getting going again!
I’m pretty sure your readers are just as excited! I remember when you released The Lost War, we met that year at BristolCon. Sorry, I couldn’t take a review copy then! As life would have it, later it was a finalist in SPFBO and a shiny new edition is currently on its way to me. Life has strange ways, huh?
Mad, isn’t it? If you’d told me five years ago I’d be here now, on a 4-book publishing deal for The Eidyn Saga with one of the biggest SFF publishers in the world, I’d have been gobsmacked.
And look at you, the shiny new version of The Lost War is being released as a paperback on May 16, 2023. Congrats! If you could launch a release party with your MC(s) present, how would that go down?
Thanks! Well, they’re all drinkers, so… Glorbad’s likely to overdo it, and Nirea will keep pace with him. Get Meristan on the whisky and he’ll talk Samily’s ear off all night, which she’ll regret in the morning. Aranok could go either way, merry or morose, but keep Allandria around him and it’s more likely to be merry. And Vastin, well, he’s young. A few too many beers and he’ll be rolling, but he’ll bounce back quickly. The biggest worry is probably Aranok and Glorbad butting heads, but hopefully Allandria and Nirea can keep them under control!
Uh oh, sounds like a noisy business! I wouldn’t be a pub owner anywhere near that group 😂
If you were a character in your book, how would you be described? And what your profession/role would be? How long do you think, you would survive in that world?
Ooh. Probably as the sickly academic. I’d be the one always reading and looking pale because my latest chronic pain had flared up so I couldn’t get outside. In fact, I’d probably be fully addicted to opium. I suspect I’d die of an early overdose.
Yikes, that’s not a good look 😬
We’re not all made for medieval hardship, sadly! God bless the NHS.
What was the inspiration behind the worldbuilding/magic system? You live in Scotland, did that play any part in your creation?
Very much. Eidyn is entirely based on Edinburgh’s history and mythology, and the etymology of its place names. The inns in the book are almost all real pubs that either did or still do exist in Edinburgh. My magic language is Gaelic, because I wanted it to be inherently Scottish too.For the magic system, I wanted something that limited my draoidhs’ abilities, so that they weren’t just like little gods wandering the earth, so they’re limited by their own energy, which is spent in using magic. If they use too much, they just run out of energy and collapse, until they can sleep and recover – or find another source of energy!
Sounds logical to me. Also, reading your answer it occurred to me that Pete McLean based Ellinburg on Edinburgh as well. Funny how a real city can inspire two so very different fantasy worlds.
There’s a funny story about that. I first properly met Pete doing a Cymera panel with him and Anna Stephens a few years back. We discovered in the course of the panel that we had both based our settings on Edinburgh and our stories in the immediate aftermath of a war – and that hadn’t been planned by Cymera, it was just a coincidence!
Hahaha! Man, I wish I was there. I really would love to meet Pete.
He’s a good guy!
That he is! Speaking of panels, what are your plans for 2023? Any particular events you plan to visit?
Yes, quite a few! I’m doing a Reddit AMA on r/Fantasy on May 17th, and then there’s the UK book launch at Argonaut Books in Edinburgh on May 18th. I’ll be at Fantasy in the Court at Goldsboro Books in London on May 25th. I’m doing a panel with Sebastien de Castell at Cymera, in Edinburgh, on June 2. And then I’ll be at Fantasycon in Birmingham in September and Bristolcon in October. That’s all that’s booked at the moment, but I’m working on a few other things too. I’ve got an events page on my website that I keep updated with what I’m up to: https://justinleeanderson.com/events/
Busy, busy, busy. I’ll definitely see you at BristolCon!
BarCon for the win! 🙂
While you are locked in here for eternity, we will allow you to invite one visitor (fictional and otherwise) – who would you invite? And no, they can’t help you to escape.
Hmm. Seems harsh to pick any of my family over the rest, so I’ll go for someone else. Ooh I’m going to want some good food. Maybe Edinburgh chef Tom Kitchin could come in and feed me now and again?
Um…I’ll see what I can do.
We’ve got the budget for that, right? 😀
Suuuure… Let me just go and check if I won the lottery recently. Oh wait, I don’t do the lottery. Ooops. Hey, we have a pet demon, it might be fun to see if it can play fetch! I can’t guarantee Tom Kitchin will stay in one piece though…
Well then, it was a pleasure to have a chat with you! Please allow these nice attendants to escort you out. We hope you’ll enjoy your stay in the Asylum! Any last words?
I don’t know why you are acting all so surprised. You should have seen this coming *shrug*
Grab a copy of The Lost War by Justin Lee Anderson and keep an eye out for The Bitter Crown, coming in December 2023!
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