Risingshadow has had the honour of interviewing the authors of Robin Hood: Demon's Bane, Book 1: Mark of the Black Arrow, Debbie Viguié and James R. Tuck.
Debbie Viguié is co-author of the New York Times bestselling “Wicked” series, the “Wolf Springs Chronicles”, and the “Crusade” books, all written with Nancy Holder.
Click here to visit Debbie Viguié's official website.
James R. Tuck is a professional tattoo artist and author of the Deacon Chalk, occult bounty hunter series of dark urban fantasy novels published by Kensington.
Click here to visit James R. Tuck's official website.
AN INTERVIEW WITH DEBBIE VIGUIÉ AND JAMES R. TUCK
- Could you tell us something about yourselves in your own words?
Debbie: I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I have a black cat and one day I want to start a charity to help protect and take care of black cats which are the least likely to be adopted. I love theme parks and when I’m not writing that’s usually where I am!
James: I'm geeky. I read comics and weird books and draw superheros and robots. I also podcast with the Missus (THE FANBOY AND GEEK GIRL POWER HOUR on Project iRadio).
- How did you become authors? Have you always been interested in speculative fiction?
Debbie: I received my first rejection letter when I was in elementary school. I was told my writing was too dark for children. I’ve always been interested in speculative fiction. My first published book I had the opportunity to co-author with my friend and mentor, Nancy Holder, and it was a dark fantasy which really helped set the tone for a lot of my writing career.
James: I've always beena reader and should have written sooner but one day I just decided to try my hand at it. I read Lilith Saintcorw's writing advice and sat down and wrote my first book ever which was BLOOD AND BULLETS and also the first book I sold.
- You've collaborated on Mark of the Black Arrow (Robin Hood: Demon's Bane, Book 1), which will be published soon by Titan Books. It gives an intriguing twist to the well-known legend of Robin Hood, because it's a story about a fight against powerful supernatural evil that threatens to engulf the world. What inspired you to write this novel together?
Debbie: We had decided we wanted to write something together so we just kicked around some ideas of things that we were interested in. We realized we both loved Robin Hood. I had been wanting to do a Robin Hood book for years so it was an exciting opportunity. With our backgrounds as writers it was only natural that we came at it from a supernatural angle.
James: What she said! LOL. Debbie and I share a lot of similar interest in the fantasy genre but Robin Hood did resonate the strongest as well as being the one we came up with a killer idea for.
- Did you work intensely together when you began to write Mark of the Black Arrow?
Debbie: There’s always a lot of intense work on a book, particularly when it’s coming down to the wire on a deadline. The process between us went very smoothly, but each of us ended up with a few marathon writing sessions!
James: Yep, neither of us were writing ONLY Robin Hood. We both keep full schedules so there was a lot of back and forth, swapping emails and texts with 'hey I had an idea' as the opening. Plus we had Steve Saffel who is an intense editor and he really kept up the guardrails for us to drive the car through.
But yes, there were a few times I closed the computer as the sun had been up for a few hours.
- Mark of the Black Arrow is full of thrilling darkness, freshness and entertainment, and there are also humorous elements in it. Was it difficult to write this kind of an entertaining fantasy adventure about Robin Hood?
Debbie: For me striking the right balance between the darkness and the humor was very important and it was something we worked hard at. If you’re going to go dark you need to have those moments of humor to give the reader (and us, too!) some relief.
James: For me it's a fact that sometimes, no matter how scary supernatural stuff is, there is an inherent bit of ridiculousness and to never admit that is not being honest. It's like the show MASH. It was a comedy based in a horrific situation but once you have so much darkness you will eventually laugh.
- Because many readers are familiar with tales about Robin Hood and have their own views about the characters that appear in them, did you find it challenging to write about the characters and their lives?
Debbie: We definitely wanted to make sure that these were the characters people would recognize. At the same time we knew we could give them a lot more depth and complexity and mix some things up a bit. The story doesn’t just have one hero, it has several. Robin himself presented the greatest challenge, actually, in terms of getting him just right.
James: For me the villians were a bit of work to keep from just 'Muwah ha ha-ing' through the book. To give them the depth they deserve, but we did it. From the Sheriff to Prince John to Glynna Longstride we have three villians with three different motivations and three different goals.
- When I read Mark of the Black Arrow, I was fascinated by the dark fantasy elements (dark sorcery etc). What inspired you to add these elements to the story? Was it challenging to write about the evil things that were done by Prince John and the Sheriff?
Debbie: James and I both like to write about the supernatural and we can both go quite dark when we write. The funniest note we got from our editor during the process was basically “more death, more violence” and we both laughed about that. Writing evil can be very fun. I do have to say, though, that James did some really masterful things when writing about the Sheriff in particular. I was so blown away and excited by some of the twisted things he pulled off.
James: Thank you! But Debbie was the one who made Glynna what she became. So it's not all my fault, lol. Dark is no problem for me, I can get down in those trenches. I also do photography and there is a concept in there that the shadow is what defines the light. Its the same way in writing, using the dark is what makes the light and the goodness in the story show even more.
- Will you reveal more information about Prince John and the Sheriff in the sequels?
James: Most likely. Muwah ha ha.
- Robin had a difficult relationship with his mother, because her mother didn't like him very much. How did you come up with the idea of making Robin's mother interact badly with her son?
Debbie: Initially Robin’s mother and sisters were pretty much non-characters in the story and then I realized we needed something to drive Robin completely away from his family. It also felt like we had so many good characters and a few truly evil characters, but that we needed to see a character actually descend into darkness. At that point his mother, who isn’t usually a character that comes up much in Robin Hood stories, seemed like a perfect candidate.
James: And I love that. Again, Debbie wrote Glynna and her relationship with Robin and it blew me away. I think that dynamic and Glynna's story as a whole is one of the best things we have brought to the Robin Hood story.
- I noticed that you wrote fluently and evocatively about Sherwood Forest and its secrets and mysteries. Have you ever visited Sherwood Forest?
Debbie: No, but we’re really hoping to get out there sometime in the next year or two. I would love to go to the Robin Hood festival in Nottinghamshire.
James: Only in my spirit. But when I make it to Albion I will sleep neath the shadowed limbs of the mighty wood.
Or something like that.
- Robin Hood: Demon's Bane will continue in The Two Torcs in August 2016 and in Sovereign's War in August 2017. Will this series be a trilogy or a longer series?
Debbie: It is currently planned as a trilogy, but you never know!
James: I think after the plan we have for Sovereign's War they may not let us near England again! Lol.
- Did you have to do any research before or during the writing process?
Debbie: We researched some of the history of that time period. Obviously we’re not sticking to historical fact, but we wanted to bring in some of the politics of the time, especially as we’re setting up for the next two books.
James: There's always research. It's usually some of the fun involved in writing, getting to learn new things, but we went pretty far off the reservation in some cases.
- How would you advertise Mark of the Black Arrow to readers who are thinking of reading it?
Debbie: It’s epic dark fantasy meets heroic fantasy. It’s a new, supernatural spin on Robin Hood that raises the stakes for everyone involved.
James: That's good. That's really good. Go with what Debbie said!
- What are you currently working on?
Debbie: We’re working on book 2 of the series. I’m also working on a new book with Nancy Holder and finishing up Brotherhood of Lies which I’m writing with my husband, Scott.
James: Also Book 2, which is coming along well. I'm plotting a sci-fi horror novelette series called CARAPACE about a salvage ship that picks up a creature while passing through interdimensional travel, another co-written book with Krista Merle that is a weird western, contemplating a kickstarted horror anthology, and at the end of August I begin writing book two in the Lovecraftian Urban Fantasy series I have from Tor under the name Levi Black (book 1 RED RIGHT HAND is out in April).
- Is there anything you'd like to add?
Debbie: Writing with James has been an awesome experience and I think our two styles have blended together beautifully to create something dark, epic, twisted and fun. It’s been an absolute pleasure and I can’t wait for everyone to read this book and the next two.
James: I agree. When we started I thought we would be writing different characters and sections because our styles are so different, but instead we have written over each other and finished each others work and the result is a seamless story. In reading it myself I honestly cannot pick out my parts from Debbie's! She's awesome and the book is awesome.