The Sceptre of Morgulan: New Drasmyr Book Pre-Order

As you guys may know, I’m a pretty big fan of Matthew D Ryan’s Drasmyr books. In fact, it’s my embarrassing shame to admit that he’s probably the ONLY contemporary writer whose stuff I’m actively following. I need to get better about that, but when I’ve got a mountain of 40s and 50s pulp mags and 60s & 70s mass-market pocket paperbacks to read, it’s hard drop that and look at something new instead. So you know I think it’s a big deal if I’m going to squeeze something from 2015 in between the Leiber, Vance, Brackett, Swann and Offutt that I still need to get through.

Pre-orders for the ebook of The Sceptre of Morgulan are available now through Smashwords. I don’t read eBooks, but I’ll feel just as good about plopping down $20-something for the hardback as I was for Children of Lubrochius. If you do read eBooks, you should have no problem dropping $1.99 on this.  The eBook of Drasmyr is still free, but I STRONGLY recommend you buy the hardback copy.

If you’re a gamer, like horror campaigns and Fritz Leiber-style fantasy settings, the Drasmyr books are worth checking out.  A little over a year ago, I had Ryan here to answer some questions at Cirsova in conjunction with the release of the previous book in the series.  With any luck, we can get him back to talk some more about gaming and fantasy!

(Disclosure: I won a free copy of Drasmyr.  I bought two copies of Children of Lubrochius because I screwed up my address information on Lulu; I do not regret paying for that book twice.)

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Children of Lubrochius

So, with my own vampire campaign really ratcheting up, it’s been the perfect time to start reading the second Drasmyr book. I know, it’s Ashes of Ruins book 1, but I can’t help but think of it as Drasmyr 2.

I think I’m encountering some strangeness with it early on, as I’m not sure if the exposition is meant to allow it to stand on its own without having read Drasmyr. From what I’ve gathered, Drasmyr was originally meant to be a prequel to the Ashes of Ruins series, but it got finished and published first, making it a prelude instead. I’m not certain about the order in which some of the writing was done, so it might make sense for the early chapters of Children of Lubrochius to recap previous events a bit more thoroughly than if it were a straight-up sequel to Drasmyr. I guess it lets you jump into the story without having read Drasmyr, but I don’t know why you’d want to, especially considering how good it was by itself.

Right now Korina seems a bit more petty and junior league than she did in Drasmyr, but at the same time it makes sense given the reveal at the end about just how petty and small minded her evil plan had been (extra creepy, given the brutal lengths she went to accomplish it).

Anyway, I’m looking forward to the trio of bounty-hunters imminent dungeon crawl back in Drasmyr’s castle to hunt down the Sceptre of Morgulan and the showdown between whatever rival forces are looking for it. Given that it’s the first book in a trilogy and the second book is called “The Sceptre of Morgulan”, my guess is that the good guys aren’t going to find it first, or, if they do, the mages guild is not going to be prepared for what will happen when they find it. Or they find it and end up accidentally bringing it to Korina just like they ended up bringing her an ancient vampire thrall which she can barely control.

Maybe after I finish it, I can get Matt D. Ryan back here for another interview.

Drasmyr Week Concludes! (Part 3: Interview with Matthew D. Ryan Cont.)

We conclude our weeklong spotlight on Drasmyr with the second part of our interview with Author Matthew D. Ryan.

Cirsova – The world, history and setting in Drasmyr seem pretty developed, with the first book just scratching the surface. How much more of the world are we going to be seeing as the ‘From the Ashes of Ruin’ series unfolds?
Matthew D. Ryan – Most of the action of the series is going to remain focused in Drisdak and its immediate surroundings. At least for the first two books. Then there will be a lot of action in a kind of pocket dimension, and in the last book everyone is going to Hell. As for the world of Athron, it is fairly well developed; I have far more material than I’ll ever actually use because it was originally intended as a setting for a gaming campaign. I may write a few books that take place in other parts of the world once I’m done with From the Ashes of Ruin, but for now, staying around Drisdak will likely suffice.

C – This may be an author’s secret, but how far along do you have your stories planned in advance?

I only have a vague idea on how the series ends and I’m writing toward that end. The original draft of Drasmyr was written (almost 20 years ago now) stream of consciousness. For The Children of Lubrochius I plotted things out in advance for the whole book, then wrote accordingly, though I did give myself permission to remain flexible. I’m working on The Sceptre of Morgulan now and I’m using an outline for that as well.

C – You mention that part of your inspiration comes from years of AD&D; were there any published modules or specific homebrew campaigns that were particularly influential on your work as a writer and game designer?

R – That’s a really tough question. I think they all had some influence to a certain extent. If I had to pick out a single one, I ran a vampire campaign for some friends back when I was in college. It was a female vampire with powers more similar to Drasmyr than the powers listed in AD&D (it actually had to bite to drain; claws wouldn’t do it). But that was so long ago, I’m not really sure which came first, the campaign or Drasmyr.

C – After your experience releasing and promoting Drasmyr and The Children of Lubrochius, which came out this week, what is some advice you might like to give any aspiring fantasy authors?

R – Write as much as you can. And don’t give up. With the way the Internet is now, it’s easy to get feedback on your writing and even self-publish on Smashwords or wherever when you’re ready. But make sure you are ready before you self-publish. I’ve read a number of less-than-stellar books that I’ve downloaded. I would advise seeing if you could at least get one short story published on an ezine as a kind of measure of your writing ability before you start cranking out self-published novels. Then, let your muses sing.

C – Any final thoughts?

R – The plan for the series, From the Ashes of Ruin, is for one prequel, plus four additional books. Just figured I’d throw that out there. Final thoughts, well I hope you and your readers enjoy my books and become steady fans. And I want to thank you for doing this interview and giving me an opportunity to connect with your readers. I think that about sums it up.

Thanks again to Mr. Ryan for taking the time to talk with us about his book here at Cirsova.  You can follow him over at his own blog, A Toast to Dragons (it’s over on my link list), and check out his books at all of those great online sellers I listed monday.

That is maybe the Mages Guild or Lucian's castle.

I imagined Korina wearing less revealing clothing given the Guild's dress code. Don't let stock-art dissuade you, gentle reader!

Drasmyr Week Continues! (Part 2: An Interview with Matthew D. Ryan)

I’m very excited to have Matthew D. Ryan, the author of Drasmyr, with us at Cirsova today to answer some questions about Drasmyr and it’s sequel, The Children of Lubrochius, which is being released today.

Cirsova -The market is undeniably glutted with Vampire books, but there are very few  like yours.  Tell us a little about how Drasmyr is different from all of those.

Matthew D. Ryan – The vampire of old has evolved considerably since Bram Stoker first entertained us with Dracula. Nowadays, the vampires in many vampire stories serve as love interests for mortals. Gone is any connection to the diabolical or nefarious. Most modern day vampires are kind of like superhumans who have an odd quirk that they survive on human blood. Drasmyr is quite different; it takes us back to vampire of yesteryear: an evil, cold-blooded killer who cares little for his victims and foes. It is a gothic Dracula-esque vampire set in a Middle-Earth-like world. My vampire is thoroughly evil with few, if any, redeeming qualities. Although the reader may enjoy his personality as a kind of alluring evil, the reader is not supposed to root for the vampire. He is a compelling character that drives the story, but he is most definitely in the role of antagonist.

C -What was the original idea or concept that you wanted to explore or put forward with Drasmyr?

R – I wrote the original draft a couple years before vampires became the big thing that they are. I’ve always been interested in vampires, both in literature and in gaming. I’ve always enjoyed the challenge a creature so powerful yet capable of blending into a human population provided. I wanted to write a fantasy story that kept true to the powers of the vampire as delineated in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. As it turned out, I did tweak the vampire’s powers somewhat, but I used Dracula as a kind of a source book. So, I think the idea can best be summed up as Dracula in Middle-Earth, or perhaps, the Forgotten Realms.

C – What can you tell us about the city of Drisdak its environs?  Were there particular real world locations or architecture that provided inspiration for Drasmyr’s setting, particularly Lucian’s castle and the Mage’s Guild?

R – The city, the guild, and the castle are strictly the products of my own imagination. What inspiration there was came from many long hours spent playing AD&D. As such, it’s hard to pinpoint a particular gaming experience that influenced me the most. All gamers have, at one time or other, been sent on a dungeon crawl in an old abandoned castle and likewise have been hired by a mage’s guild at some point. So, Drisdak and its environs evolved from the gaming mush that is circulating within my brain.

C – Your characters have some pretty unusual names (Lucian and Korina are probably the most ‘normal’ sounding names in Drasmyr).  Can you tell us some about where the names for your characters come from?

R – Again, it is imagination stemming from many long years of AD&D experience. When you play those games long enough, you develop a certain feel for how a name in such a world should sound: Coragan, Galladrin, etc… They all seemed to flow and fit the story. Although I will relate that one minor character was renamed after a typo. The watch captain, Mathagarr, was originally named Mathagar. I mistyped it once and one of my beta-readers commented that that looked cooler with the extra ‘r.’ I agreed, so I changed it.

C – There’s a lot more here than meets the eye, especially for RPG fans looking for inspiration in the form of settings, NPCs and adventure hooks.  As the Ashes of Ruin setting gets more fleshed out, can we expect some maps and a more expanded glossary?

R – I would like to, but I’m not sure if I’ll get around to it. I might wind up putting the maps on my web-site instead of in one of the books, but that is a project for a later day. The maps are pretty much ready: They just have to be scanned in and uploaded. As for the glossary, I have a lot of information I could use (it was originally going to be an entire gaming setting, after all), but I’m just not sure what pieces of information are the most relevant. But I’ll keep it in mind. If inspiration should strike me at some time, perhaps I’ll set both things up. But as of yet, it’s still up in the air.

Matt will be back on Friday for the second part of our interview.  In the meantime, you can visit his site and check out the book blast he is doing today for the release of The Children of Lubrochius.

^^^^Out today!^^^^

Big Things Starting Next Week

Things are about to get really busy around Cirsova next week.  On top of the start of the April A-to-Z Challenge, next week will be Drasmyr Week.  I’ll be reviewing the novel Drasmyr and interviewing its author, Matt D. Ryan, in advance of the release of his second book in the series, The Children of Lubrochius.  So check out his blog and check out his book!.