Interview with Nathan Ayersman
Author of The Dragon's Rising
Born in the flat rural terrain of the Eastern Shore of Virginia, I occupied my mind with the escapism of fantasy novels to explore the worlds created by Robert Jordan, Brian Jacques, and Christopher Paolini. Eventually, the image of a sword with a hilt in the shape of a dragon's mouth came to me and inspired me to write what would eventually become the Ancient's Armor series. The first book "The Dragon's Rising" took several years to write while also attending veterinary school, but I expect the books that follow to have a shorter delay.
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How would you describe The Dragon's Rising to a new reader?
- The Dragon's Rising is an adventure following a hero tasked with gathering together pieces of a suit of armor imbued with the power of the ancient creators of the continent. Along the way, our protagonist, Falkier meets a diverse cast of friends and foes from the different nations of Naegleria. These interactions drive the story along, creating opportunities for Falkier to grow as a person and accomplish his goals.
The novel is the beginning of a series and readers should be on the lookout for clues to the identity and location of the Dark Lord Rakar. These clues come in the form of allusions to famous works and characteristics of different characters.
How were you inspired to write The Dragon's Rising ?
- My inspirations for writing started from a love of reading, as I am sure most authors would agree. I started early with Brian Jacques' Redwall series in elementary school and continued on into Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time in middle school. It was in middle school, that I decided to try to start writing after hearing about Christopher Paolini publishing Eragon at the age of 19.
Following the end of a standardized test in seventh grade, I started doodling on the back of a sheet of paper. One of the things I drew was a sword with a hilt in the shape of a black dragon's head, and I decided to write something revolving around that. Gathering together different artifacts was a central theme I tinkered with and moved through different iterations over the years.
Which authors do you admire? How have they influenced your writing style?
- I adore the work of Brandon Sanderson and am currently anxiously awaiting the next installment of the Stormlight Archives. I am also waiting on the next installments of Brent Weeks' Lightbringer series and Sebastien de Castell's Spellslinger series. I admire these authors' unique systems of magic that they've developed and the wit they imbue their work with.
I also have been reading Michael Sullivan's Riryia series and have his Legends of the First Empire series in my queue of things to right.
Can you tell us a little about the locations in the book?
- The entire series takes place on the fictional continent of Naegleria. The continent is made of five distinct nations who have kept a tense alliance for the past hundred years following millennia of constant warring.
The primary nation focused on in The Dragon's Rising is the central nation of Grent Corine. The capital city is the location where the aforementioned treaty was signed and where the five nations' leaders meet up to discuss their relations with each other. In that nation, we spend quite a bit of time at the headquarters of a mercenary guild set up in an abandoned keep. At the mercenary guild, we meet people from the other nations, but this novel doesn't include much travel outside of Grent Corine. The in-progress sequel and novella, on the other hand, do involve plenty of travel across Naegleria.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
- Someone with one novel under their belt is probably not a major source of sage wisdom, but my main advice for someone would be to write the story you want to read, not the story you think others want to read. My writing is a way for me to escape to another universe, so it can really only be an enjoyable experience if it's the story that I want to be involved in. The re-writing, proofreading, and editing stages require me to read over and over, so it would be very tedious if I didn't enjoy the story I was telling.
What's your writing process?
- I don't have a strict outline for what I'm writing, but I have a list of ideas of things that I want to include and a vague idea of how I can accomplish it. Some of the ideas are phrases I want to have someone say, character traits I want to give to someone, a list of names and what country in my universe I think they would most fit, historical events that I think would make a good basis for a scenario, and even characters from other works I want to pay homage.
Many of the characters are based on people that I knew in high school, college, and veterinary school while writing my first book.
Which character in The Dragon's Rising have you found to be the most impactful for readers?
- The character I have received the most comments about has been Shicaron, the Planesweaver. In my series, Planesweavers are the magic users of Naegleria and were taken from their homes in early childhood to be trained in manipulating the threads of the universe. Many children are taken when they manifest their ability to Planesweave, but this can create a problem if the manifest the ability to perform Weaves of elemental Darkness. Shicaron was one of those children, and so one of his hands was sealed to prevent him from being able to use Dark Weaves, but it also greatly limits his abilities by only allowing one-handed control of his Weaving. Shicaron demonstrates determination throughout his character arc so that he can prove he is as skilled as any other Planesweaver. He's a valuable asset to Falkier on his journey, and many readers have enjoyed reading about him.
If The Dragon's Rising were to be adapted for TV or film, who would you see in the lead role?
- This going to sound like an odd choice for a fantasy hero, but I think Micheal Cera would be an amazing choice for the main character, Falkier. This largely harkens back to people telling me in high school that I bore a passing resemblance to Bleeker from the movie Juno and my design of Falkier's appearance revolving around my own. Additionally, I think Micheal Cera would do well bringing out some of the nervous qualities a court scribe suddenly made into a hero would demonstrate.
A more realistic choice would likely be Asa Butterfield since he is experienced with acting in the medieval fantasy setting through his work on the show Merlin. He is also the right age to be playing Falkier.
How have reviews of The Dragon's Rising shaped your future writing?
- One thing that a review can do for me is to inform what I did right and what impact I made on a reader. In my beta-read and editing phase, the persons reading The Dragon’s Rising pretty consistently said they really enjoyed Shicaron the Planesweaver. I had invested substantial time into his character, but I was trying to mostly use him as a means of doing a good bit of world-building. His quest acts as a MacGuffin to keep Falkier’s quest going on a convenient route and explain the magic system of this universe.
Bad elements of a review can indicate things that I really need to work on. A note I received related to the dialects that I’ve given certain characters. It helped me reduce the thickness of the way I’ve written the dialect but also managed to give me an insight into what I was unintentionally communicating to the reader.
Where next? What are you working on now?
- I currently am working on the second novel of the Ancient's Armor series (tentatively called The Dragon's Flight) as well as a novella in the same universe that explores how the Ox Gauntlets came into Swagin's possession. I hope that the novella will help expand the universe a little more and help hold people over for a time while I work on the much larger endeavor of a sequel.
Centuries ago, Rakar Gorxand was chosen by the Twelve Ancients to eliminate darkness from the world wearing a suit of armor imbued with the Ancients' power. Over time, he became corrupted by the very evil he sought to eliminate until he became the largest source of darkness on the continent of Naegleria.
Now Falkier Inalumin, a wrongfully imprisoned court scribe, has been granted a sword containing the spirit of the Dragon Ancient. With this sword in hand, he must travel across Naegleria on a quest to locate the pieces of a new suit of armor capable of eliminating Rakar and correcting the Ancients' mistake.