Interview with Kathryn Zurmehly
Author of Doomwalker
Kathryn Zurmehly is a U.S. Army veteran and calls Phoenix, Arizona her hometown. She grew up with a love for stories, heroes, and new worlds. She enjoys Krav Maga, good whiskey, at least reasonably alright wine, petting dogs, and time with family.
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How would you describe Doomwalker to a new reader?
- This is the story of a brave and true young man dragged into a dark destiny he wasn't aware of- and an outcast warrior elf who finds her own fate bound to his due to childhood oaths she takes more seriously than she would admit. All of this takes place in a world where political tension that is about to become all out war.
What was the inspiration behind Doomwalker?
- Doomwalker owes a lot to the kinds of books I read the dozen: intense, character-driven fantasy and sci-fi. This is more akin to the works of David Gemmel or Patricia Briggs (her non-urban fantasy) than George R.R. Martin. There are very dark villains and interesting and genuinely heroic heroes- though they have a lot of learning they need to do. You'll find a bit of the Forgotten Realms in the Paladin Trilogy, too, as well as a lot of Roman aesthetics owing to my background in studying Classical history.
Which authors do you admire? How have they influenced your writing style?
- One of my writing heroes is Flannery O'Connor, with her ability to highlight the absurdity of life and violence while being able to bring grace into it. Her oddly sardonic style manages to never be cruel but never takes the world as seriously as it keeps demanding we do, while understanding when to bring the hammer down when it needs to. I also think this particular series owes quite a bit to David Gemmel, who used the third-person limited style I use, with its shifting focus on different characters, to great effect to tell character-driven epic stories and reveal the nature of his worlds bit by bit in a very organic way (which I hope I pulled off!).
Can you tell us a little about the locations in the book?
- The Holdings are the human lands and are ruled by hereditary lords. The Holdings are pretty diverse, with some being barely tamed lands full of hard tribesmen, while others are rich and ruled by merchants or guilds in all but name, as well as everything in between. The Holdings are competitive and their numbers have shifted in the thousand-odd years since they were established. It has only come to all out war a few times, the last being around twenty years before the start of Doomwalker. There is also the sealed kingdom of the elves, Aeldamarc, sitting in the midst of the Holdings.
The only city outside a Holding, Crownshold, is the main setting of the book. It is blessed by the fifty-four gods of the Tribunal and sits in an unusually warm and fertile region called the Crownslands, as well as on top of several large freshwater springs. The city itself is surrounded by huge, odd, and beautiful walls of some kind of very strong golden-brown stone. Crownshold is home to the Temple, a complex of shrines that is the headquarters for the priesthoods of the Tribunal, and is where the lords of the Holdings meet on neutral ground to discuss disputes, trade, and so forth. As you can imagine, this golden city on its great green hill is major trade and cultural hub.
As for the world...the habitable area is actually quite small. There are vast and dangerous ice sheets in every direction. These days, the Tribunal gods are the reason there is a habitable world at all.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors? How would you advise a new author about traditional publishing versus self publishing?
- Read! Read the classics, read traditionally published books, read independently published books. Reading will teach you more than any blog or writing course. It is going to be cheaper than a writing course by a lot. Pay special attention to their formatting; schools don't teach you the kind of format or rules you see in properly formatted fiction.
What's your writing process?
- Intense. I can get locked into writing mode and forget to eat. It's a trance-like experience. I'll have ideas for fixes, additions, and things I will need to do in later chapters. Those go on sticky notes and stuck up on a closet door. It gets a bit chaotic.
Which character in Doomwalker has had the greatest impact on readers?
- Doomwalker is Valen's story. I think he will make the most impact, as he's a pretty awesome Paladin, upstanding but not humorless. He doesn't stop fighting no matter what, and the man faces quite a bit of what.
If Doomwalker were to be adapted for TV or film, who would you see in the lead role? Who did you have in your mind’s eye when you wrote him/her?
- Valen is actually pretty young, but young in the way a buck sergeant with back-to-back combat deployments to Afghanistan. I always envision him as one of the guys you see in Band of Brothers- maybe the guy who played Captain Speirs, Jeffrey Matthew Settle, though I think he'd be too old for the part of Valen now.
How have readers responded to Doomwalker?
- So far, people have found it to be a really interesting and intriguing story. I have gotten a bit of confusion about the character-driven nature of it, but I think that is because that style is not as popular with big names these days. I confess that I am nervously awaiting Amazon reviews (none on there as of this interview). I expect the inevitable one star review on the worst possible day.
Where next? What are you working on now?
- Paladin Trilogy Book 2's first draft is largely already written. It needs to be polished up a lot and finished. That's my current writing project.
Dark powers are on the move in a world on the brink of chaos…
Paladin Valen has hunted the broken remnants of the dead elven gods all his life. Now he is tasked with delivering a warning from his goddess. Called ‘Doomwalker’ for reasons he does not understand, Valen makes his way toward the great capital city of Crownshold with a sense of duty and foreboding.
He crosses paths with the elf Maryx, a spy for the doomed kingdom of the elves.
She is bound to him through childhood oaths that connect her to the terrible destiny of the ‘Doomwalker’.
War is coming to the land and it is hard on their heels. Accursed warriors stalk the woods and an army moves towards the city with no sign of their passing but burning villages. Valen and Maryx’s fate looms over them, though just what that fate will be, neither can tell.