About the Book:
None can resist the ravages of time. Knowledge is lost. Memories fade.
But some things must never be forgotten.
Over 400 years ago, twelve great warriors united the beleaguered armies of men and scoured the war-torn lands of evil, pushing the enemy back into the underground pits and caverns from whence they came. To ensure their legacy, each of the Twelve founded fortress monasteries to impart their unique knowledge of war and politics to a select few, the Knights of the Twelve.
But now the last of the Twelve have long since passed from history to legend and the Knights, their numbers dwindling, are harbouring a dark and terrible secret that must be protected at all costs.
Merad Reed has spent half his life guarding a great crater known as the Pit, yearning for some escape from the bleak monotony. Then the arrival of Aldarin, one of the few remaining Knights of the Twelve, sets off a chain of cataclysmic events that will change Reed forever.
To the north, Jelaïa del Arelium, heiress to the richest of the nine Baronies, must learn to navigate the swirling political currents of her father’s court if she hopes one day to take his place. But the flickering flames of ambition hide the shadow of an even greater threat.
And deep within the earth, something is stirring.
“A fast-paced epic fantasy thrill-ride filled with action-packed battles, compelling mysteries, and unforeseen betrayals.”
1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you into writing?
Hi there, Sarah, and thank you so much for putting this interview together! I’m a UK ex-pat living in France; I moved here with my parents and siblings in 1995. I currently manage an IT firm close to Angers, an attractive city in the western part of the Loire Valley … and write whenever I can find the time!
Strangely enough, I started writing because I was afraid that the quality of my written English was slipping. I still speak regularly to my close family in English, read exclusively in English, and watch a lot of UK TV, but actual writing was something I was doing less and less of.
What started as a short story to practise my writing skills then expanded into a longer tale and from there careened headlong into the War of the Twelve series (which started as three books and is now four).
2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?
Good question. Unfortunately, I don’t really get to choose when I write, as professional and family obligations come first. My more-or-less only writing time is late in the evening, once the kids are in bed and I have spent some time with my wife.
What’s great about having a laptop is that you can write almost anywhere. My favourite place by far is in a comfy armchair by the fire, my feet propped up on a stool and my laptop on my knees.
3: Where do your ideas come from?
I’ve always been a voracious reader, ever since the age of eight when I first picked up The Hobbit, swiftly followed by The Lord of the Rings and the Dragonlance Chronicles. I think many of my ideas come from things I didn’t see in most of the fantasy I read and wanted to explore more. So, lots of middle-aged characters, morally grey protagonists, the unreliability of historical accounts, that sort of thing.
4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?
I’m what writers call a pantser. No idea who first coined that exact term, but it’s been floating around in the writing community for a long time. A pantser doesn’t have a detailed outline, only a general idea of how the story will start and end, then lets the flow of the narration tug him/her in one direction or another.
I’ve heard that some pantsers have no plot points laid out at all, which leads to characters being killed off, geographical locations changing, or the story suddenly shifting viewpoints, etc. That’s not quite my style! I have a beginning and an end for the series firmly stuck in my head, then I write an additional 2000–4000-word outline before starting each novel. I never deviate from these initial bullet points; the only difference is that sometimes when going from A to B a character will suddenly decide to go and do C instead and take me along for the ride.
5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?
So, this is my first ever series, and it’s unabashedly epic fantasy, the genre I read almost exclusively while growing up. As a reader, I enjoy books that take me on a journey away from reality — the further away, the better! It’s a wonderful form of escapism, and I have huge respect for fantasy and SF writers whose worldbuilding is so superb that their readers can easily picture themselves standing there beside their favourite characters.
6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?
I admit I purposefully try not to do this as I am a firm believer that each reader should have his or her own idea of what my characters look like. I see the protagonists in my head, and they don’t look like any actors in particular, they are unique.
If I was casting for the first book, I would go for someone like Clive Owen or Iain Glen for Merad Reed, and Elizabeth Olsen, Kaya Scodelario or Naomi Scott for Jelaïa. But once again, every reader should form their own opinion!
7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?
I do! Though probably less now that I write. My TBR is endless … My all-time favourite fantasy author is David Gemmell. If you’re looking for some great, fast-paced, traditional military fantasy, he’s the author to choose.
For a more recent take on military fantasy, John Gwynne is an absolute master of the genre. More specifically, his Faithful and the Fallen series.
8: What book/s are you reading at present?
At the moment, I’m switching back and forth between Christian Cameron’s Killer of Men and the One Piece manga written by Eiichiro Oda. Both are equally excellent.
9: What is your favourite book and why?
That’s a tough one. Probably Legend by Gemmell, as it has everything I really love in a fantasy novel. Lots of action, some great characters, and plenty of spectacular set pieces that you can only find in the written world (probably one of the reasons it’s never been filmed despite its popularity).
A close second would be Terry Pratchett’s Men at Arms. Pratchett fills every single sentence of his novels with philosophical musings, anachronisms, and Easter eggs, many of which you only pick up on during a ninth or tenth read-through. Incredible writer.
10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?
The cliché — but correct — answer would be to write what you love. Not necessarily what you know, but what you love. You are going to be rereading your own stuff a lot. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read my first novel. If you don’t like reading fantasy, don’t write a fantasy novel. If you hate teenage protagonists, don’t write one as your main POV.
I was surprised to learn how many people in the writing community write “to market”. If you don’t conform to specific fantasy tropes, your book might sell fewer copies, but at least you won’t lose your sanity in the process.
11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?
I’m very bad at social media in general (probably because I’m over forty), something not helped by the fact that I’m in a different time zone from a large part of my reader base.
My website (www.warofthetwelve.com) is certainly the best place to go. Everything about current and future projects is posted there, and, if you sign up for the newsletter, you can have a monthly summary delivered straight into your inbox!
About the Author:
Alex Robins hails from the sunny Loire Valley in western France, surrounded by imposing castles and sprawling vineyards. The Broken Heart of Arelium is his first novel.