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paulgoatallen
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The Next Superstar in Epic Fantasy is... Ken Scholes!

I finally finished Ken Schole's debut novel, Lamentation, and the hype – that this guy was the next Robert Jordan – is more than justified. The novel, which is the first of a five volume series called The Psalms of Isaak, blends the very best of epic fantasy storytelling with the deep, thought-provoking themes of some SF/Fantasy classics, namely Walter M. Miller, Jr.'s A Canticle for Leibowitz.

 

The novel isn't being released until February 17, 2009, but please mark this date on your calendars.  If you only read one fantasy novel in '09, make it this one!

Paul

 

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Lamentation/Ken-Scholes/e/9780765321275/?itm=1

"There never can be a man so lost as one who is lost in the vast and intricate corridors of his own lonely mind, where none may reach and none may save..." – Isaac Asimov, Pebble in the Sky
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Jon_B
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Re: The Next Superstar in Epic Fantasy is... Ken Scholes!

Looks fascinating - from poking around the net, it seems to be somewhere between fantasy and scifi, with an interesting relationship between magic and technology (or is it technology-based magic?  Brings to mind Arthur C. Clarke's oft repeated quote) - can you tell us more about the world and basic plot, if you have that info?  I was a big fan of A Canticle for Liebowitz so thats very promising.  Is this book post-apocalyptic as well?  Is it also about religion?  The name of the series certainly suggests so..

 

 

 


 

 

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qarae77
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Re: The Next Superstar in Epic Fantasy is... Ken Scholes!

I can't wait to give this a little look through in person!  Thanks for the recommendation!
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LordRuthven
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Re: The Next Superstar in Epic Fantasy is... Ken Scholes!

Does it have a Middle Eastern feel?
Derek Tatum
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paulgoatallen
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Re: The Next Superstar in Epic Fantasy is... Ken Scholes!

[ Edited ]

Jon_B wrote:

Looks fascinating - from poking around the net, it seems to be somewhere between fantasy and scifi, with an interesting relationship between magic and technology (or is it technology-based magic? Brings to mind Arthur C. Clarke's oft repeated quote) - can you tell us more about the world and basic plot, if you have that info? I was a big fan of A Canticle for Liebowitz so thats very promising. Is this book post-apocalyptic as well? Is it also about religion? The name of the series certainly suggests so..

 


Jon:

That's one of the fascinating elements to this story – there's nebulous references to the past but nothing that tells the reader either way whether this is an Earth in humankind's distant future after what must've been an apocalyptic event or if it's a completely fantastical construct.

 

The world, like I just said, is a magical one, that is one where "magicked" soldiers can temporarily disappear and one where metal men – mechoservitors – can think and act just like humans. But the question is: is this really magic or is it some long-lost technology that is now so completely unknown to its users that it's essentially magic? Without giving anything away, the plot is reminiscent of A Canticle for Leibowitz in that the preservation of ancient knowledge is of paramount importance to many – but that knowledge could be misused if it falls into the wrong hands...

 

Again, another intriguing element is religion. The predominant religious order (the  Androfrancines) is all about finding and understanding lost knowledge. And while references to the specifics of the actual religious beliefs are infrequent, the foundations are there for some incredibly powerful existential themes – and social commentary – in future installments.

Paul

Message Edited by paulgoatallen on 10-17-2008 07:52 PM
"There never can be a man so lost as one who is lost in the vast and intricate corridors of his own lonely mind, where none may reach and none may save..." – Isaac Asimov, Pebble in the Sky
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paulgoatallen
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Re: The Next Superstar in Epic Fantasy is... Ken Scholes!


LordRuthven wrote:
Does it have a Middle Eastern feel?

Derek:

Not really – one of the main characters (Rudolfo)  is a "Gypsy King" and wears a turban but, no, I wouldn't necessarily describe this as having a Middle Eastern feel.

Paul 

"There never can be a man so lost as one who is lost in the vast and intricate corridors of his own lonely mind, where none may reach and none may save..." – Isaac Asimov, Pebble in the Sky
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LordRuthven
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Re: The Next Superstar in Epic Fantasy is... Ken Scholes!


paulgoatallen wrote:

 

Derek:

Not really – one of the main characters (Rudolfo)  is a "Gypsy King" and wears a turban but, no, I wouldn't necessarily describe this as having a Middle Eastern feel.

Paul 


I figured between the turban and the Biblical references, I was in the ballpark. Oh well!

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avidreader2
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Re: The Next Superstar in Epic Fantasy is... Ken Scholes!

I swear, since I became a member on this site, I have composed a list of about 50 books that I want to read. I am going to have no social life for about a year...

 

this book sounds strangely fascinating... it isn't my usual reading material, but I'm trying to step out of my box a little. How long is it? I like REALLY long books... you get this unusual sense of accomplishment when you finish a massive book...

"When camping in Canada, do not wear fruity chapstick... you might get mauled by grizzly bears."
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paulgoatallen
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Re: The Next Superstar in Epic Fantasy is... Ken Scholes!

[ Edited ]

avidreader2 wrote:

I swear, since I became a member on this site, I have composed a list of about 50 books that I want to read. I am going to have no social life for about a year...

 

this book sounds strangely fascinating... it isn't my usual reading material, but I'm trying to step out of my box a little. How long is it? I like REALLY long books... you get this unusual sense of accomplishment when you finish a massive book...


Avid:

This book is amazing. I'd highly suggest it. It's normal length – 368 pages – but it's the first part of a five book cycle so if you want massive (I prefer the term shelf-bending) you'll have it by the end of this series.

 

And – drum roll please – the one and only Ken Scholes has agreed to stop by and answer a few quick questions! HERE! Tell me how cool this is – months before a blockbuster debut fantasy is released to the masses, we get a sneak peak inside the author's brain! (cue sinister laugh...) Since no one else has read the book yet (cue schoolyard taunt: nana na nana) I'll post a bunch of questions later tonight and hopefully I can get Mr. Scholes to answer them in a few days.

 

Do you guys have any questions for the Once and Future King of Epic Fantasy? (Cue trumpets!) If so, please feel free to post and maybe we can get Ken to answer them.

Paul

Message Edited by paulgoatallen on 10-18-2008 08:35 PM
"There never can be a man so lost as one who is lost in the vast and intricate corridors of his own lonely mind, where none may reach and none may save..." – Isaac Asimov, Pebble in the Sky
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avidreader2
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Re: The Next Superstar in Epic Fantasy is... Ken Scholes!

 there were alot of "cues" in that post... hee hee.:smileywink:

 

that's awesome! I like talking to authors... it makes you feel special. When we got to ask Christopher Paolini questions about Brisingr and he answered my questions, I couldn't stop smiling for the rest of the day. I don't know why, but it makes you feel giddy inside... like what you would feel like if you got to talk to a celebrity... or the President...:smileytongue:

"When camping in Canada, do not wear fruity chapstick... you might get mauled by grizzly bears."
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Nelsmom
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Re: The Next Superstar in Epic Fantasy is... Ken Scholes!

Yea, I know that there were a lot of clues and now I have five more books on my must read list.  The question I have for Ken is:  I would like to know what religions you researched to come up with your worlds belief's?

 

Toni 

 

Toni L. Chapman
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paulgoatallen
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Re: The Next Superstar in Epic Fantasy is... Ken Scholes!

Ken:

Here are my questions for you. I tried not to get too specific about anything so all of the regulars here can read your responses and still be surprised and totally blown away when they read the book. Here goes...

 

1. I’m sure you’ve already been asked this question many times before but Lamentations is, on the surface, epic fantasy but, man, I couldn’t help but compare it to the SF classic A Canticle for Leibowitz – the underpinnings scream science fiction and post-apocalyptic fiction. This saga is really a fusion of both genres, isn’t it?

2. What was the motivation behind writing this über-ambitious storyline?

3. Whether you like it or not, come February 17th, your life is going to change dramatically. Are you ready for it?

4. It’s frankly mind-boggling to me that this is your first novel. How much time did you put into crafting Lamentations?

5. Can you talk a little about the inspiration behind Isaak, the “metal man” whom the saga is named after?

6. Why do all the best SF/fantasy authors have beards?
 

"There never can be a man so lost as one who is lost in the vast and intricate corridors of his own lonely mind, where none may reach and none may save..." – Isaac Asimov, Pebble in the Sky
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kenscholes
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Re: The Next Superstar in Epic Fantasy is... Ken Scholes!

Hey everyone.  Ken here.  Thanks for inviting me to join you, Paul, and thanks again for your kind words about Lamentation.  It's really gratifying to see how folks are responding to the book.  This week marks a year since Tor picked up the five books and I've had a steady stream of Nice Things Said to fuel me as I write my way through the series.  It's pretty great -- a little surreal, too.

 

Anyway, I'm glad to be here.  Nice to see you all.  I thought I'd introduce myself briefly in this reply, then tomorrow I'll start answering questions.  (I'm a little word-dead at the moment from wrapping a scene in Antiphon, the third volume in the series.)  I'll answer each question in its own reply so that it's convenient for follow-on questions.

 

So there's a bit about me over at www.kenscholes.com (including a link to the first half of the short story that turned into this series and Allen Douglas's amazing painting of Isaak from Realms of Fantasy Magazine where that short story appeared.)  You can also find some of my other stories there -- many of which will be in my forthcoming collection, Long Walks, Last Flights and Other Strange Journeys (Fairwood Press, Nov/Dec 2008).   And there are other updates and ramblings on my blog at http://kenscholes.livejournal.com

 

Here's the short version:  I spent about six years duking it out in the short story arena, won Writers of the Future in 2004, and was finally taunted into attempting novelhood in 2006.  A year later, Tor picked up the series.  And now, a year beyond that and I'm cranking on the third book to land it before January and gearing up for the first to come out in February. 

 

I'm looking forward to spending some time with you here.  Great questions -- and I hope you'll all feel free to play along.  This is good timing because if everyone's right, it's going to get even busier in the next few months.  Thanks for the warm welcome, Paul.

 

See you folks tomorrow!

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Nelsmom
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Re: The Next Superstar in Epic Fantasy is... Ken Scholes!

Ken and Paul,

 

I just got through reading the bit of the short story about Isaak and boy do you guys know how to tease.  I am looking forward more now than when Paul put out his tease.  Just the kind of story I like.

 

Toni

Toni L. Chapman
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avidreader2
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Re: The Next Superstar in Epic Fantasy is... Ken Scholes!

wow.... that short story definitely caught my attention... kudos to  Mr. Ken... I'm very much looking forward to reading this book!:smileywink:
"When camping in Canada, do not wear fruity chapstick... you might get mauled by grizzly bears."
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kenscholes
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Re: The Next Superstar in Epic Fantasy is... Ken Scholes!

Hi Toni,

 

I didn't actively research any religions though I borrowed heavily from past experience and past study.  I've read widely over the years and spent a good chunk of time studying various religions as a part of my history degree.  I'm also a former Baptist minister so I drew a good deal from the Bible, bent of course, through the lens of fantasy. 

 

The Androfrancines themselves have a hierarchy that I based somewhat on the Catholic church, to include a Pope, though it is an Order that uses its religious framework soley to promote science and to protect "the light" of human knowledge that they dig from the ruins of the Old World.  The Franci were behaviorist dicsciples of Franci B'Yot (might be spelling the name wrong, which sucks since I made it up!) who eventually joined forces with the followers of P'Andro Whym to form the Order and eventually settle in the New World.

 

Great question!

 

Ken

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kenscholes
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Re: The Next Superstar in Epic Fantasy is... Ken Scholes!

1. I’m sure you’ve already been asked this question many times before but Lamentations is, on the surface, epic fantasy but, man, I couldn’t help but compare it to the SF classic A Canticle for Leibowitz – the underpinnings scream science fiction and post-apocalyptic fiction. This saga is really a fusion of both genres, isn’t it?

 

It's come up once or twice.  I like how Kevin J. Anderson described it -- "an iconic SF story cloaked in fantasy."  Post-apocalyptic?  Certainly!  Science fiction?  Well, if I'm true to the POV of my characters, they would think they're in a fantasy, I suspect, and certainly I'm told that it follows some epic fantasy tropes.  This world or some secondary world?  Well, again, to stay true to what my characters could possibly know about their environment, that's a question to be answered later in the series if they ever get enough information to ponder and apprehend such thoughts.

 

Some of my favorite books and stories and movies have been post-apocalyptic.  Farham's Freehold.  Daybreak 2250.  A Canticle for Leibowitz.  Hiero's Journey.  The Stand.  Earth Abides.  Mad Max.  The Road Warrior.  Damnation Alley (okay, I was really young.)  Shop of Worlds.  Of course, my other influences were sword and sorcery and epic fantasy along with spy novels and technothrillers and at one time, mysteries.  I suspect all of that soup in my subconcious simmered away turned into Lamentation

 

So there is some fusion here, yes, but also the perception of my characters plays heavily into it.

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kenscholes
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Re: The Next Superstar in Epic Fantasy is... Ken Scholes!

2. What was the motivation behind writing this über-ambitious storyline?

 

Heh.  There are a few answers to this one.  The simplest and most honest answer as to why I wrote the book is...a dare.  Which I'll get to a bit later.

 

The second answer is:  The uber-ambitiousness was accidental to my concsious mind.  And that's a good thing, because I was SO afraid of writing a novel that if I'd known it was going to be a five book arc with multiple POVs and a complex plot I'd have probably been found in the fetal position underneath our bed surrounded by empty peanut butter jars and hershey wrappers mumbling repeatedly "No, please make the scary uber-ambitious storyline go away."

 

Which would have utterly annoyed the cats, who completely believe that Under The Bed is their exclusive hiding place.

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kenscholes
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Re: The Next Superstar in Epic Fantasy is... Ken Scholes!

3. Whether you like it or not, come February 17th, your life is going to change dramatically. Are you ready for it?

 

Well, this is one question I think about a lot and it's a strange place to stand in.  Like most writers, I'm not the best judge of my own writing.  I've run into largely two camps of writers:  The ones who think they're work is brilliant (when it often isn't) and the ones who think their work is crap (when it often isn't.)  I'm more the latter than the former though sometimes my words can impress me if there's been enough time between the writing and the reading.  It is hard for me to see how this book could change my life ("What?  This old thing?"), but the people around me are telling me it will and they are good mirrors.  I drive trusting those mirrors since I can't necessarily see the road so clearly.  And from the start -- from the first five chapters, even -- I've been told this is quite a book.  And all of the indicators (an agent scooping me up immediately, Tor picking up all five books and putting a lot of energy into marketing them, the amazing emails and posts I'm seeing) all say that it's going to do very well.  So I see it coming but have a hard time comprehending it though the closer we get to publication, the more I'm seeing it.  And I'm probably as ready as I could get.  But I'm not sure being really ready is possible since I have no frame of reference for what could be coming my way.  It's both elating and and a little frightening at the same time.  I'm somewhat of a gregarious loner.  I love people, love getting out to cons and events in limited doses and I "present" myself in an extroverted way despite being wired deeply as an introvert.  I think my workload and the demands on my time are going to get bigger and bigger. 

 

So how am I planning around this?  Well, I'm focusing most of my energy on chasing down the story.  I finished Canticle in April, took a break for some Hard Life Stuff (my nephew was killed in Afghanistan) and turned in my revisions in August.  I'm working on Antiphon now and will have it wrapped by January.  Then it's Requiem by Summer '09 and Hymn sometime after that.  Because really, the best thing I can do now is get the story out there for everyone.  And I still have a day job, so I'm planning to drop to a four day work week in February which will help, but probably not by enough.  I'm also talking to other writers who've come out of the gate strong to see what I can learn from their experiences.  I have an amazing partner in Jen, too, and she's gradually taking on some of the business stuff (planning travel, dealing with convention schedules, etc) to free up time for me to write and connect with my readers.

 

So I'm going to write, breathe, try to keep my balance and perspective, stay plugged into my supporting relationships and stay grateful for it all.  It will take a while for the money to catch up, but if it goes Really Huge, I'm most looking forward to settling into just ONE job as opposed to juggling two.  We'll see how that all goes. 

 

Most folks are telling me to hang on and enjoy the ride.  So far, so good!

  

 

 

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Nelsmom
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Re: The Next Superstar in Epic Fantasy is... Ken Scholes!

Ken,

 

Sorry about the lost of your nephew in Afghanistan.  Luckily both my nephews came home safely.  One was a helicopter pilot in Afghanistan.  The other had been a convoy gunner in Iraq.  He was injured but came home alive.  I know that it helps to have strong family ties at times like that.   If Paul has his way you won't have to worry about sales of the books.  He would twist arms and stand behind you while you bought the book if he could.  I will have to make sure my local store is getting plenty of copies and make sure the library gets them. 

 

Toni

Toni L. Chapman
Everyone needs some Tender Loving Care