Hey everyone! I’m so excited to have Zack Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos here for an interview! First, here’s more about Twilight of the Elves:
Zed, Brock, and their friends may have saved Freestone from destruction, but the fight against the Dangers is far from over. No one knows what to expect next from the dark power that forced the elves to abandon their city. And the influx of elf refugees in Freestone strains resources and brews resentment among the townspeople. Things have shifted between best friends Zed and Brock, as well, with their friendship crumbling under the weight of the secrets they’re keeping from each other.
When tensions reach an all-time high, Queen Me’Shala, leader of the elves, approaches the Adventurers Guild with a mission. She wants a small group of adventurers to go behind the king’s back on a covert mission to save her city, and Zed, Brock, Liza, Jett, Micah, and their elven friend Fel join the quest. To face a powerful form of magic thought to be extinct, the adventurers will have to learn how to rely on each other and fight harder than ever before.
Don’t miss this second installment of Zack Loran Clark and Nicholas Eliopulos’s Adventurers Guild trilogy, where the stakes are raised, the action is breathless, and the dangers will stop even the bravest of hearts.
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And now for the interview! Enjoy!
A note from the authors: Hello, Pandora’s Books readers! We’re Zack Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos—best friends, unapologetic super-nerds, and authors of the middle-grade fantasy novel The Adventurers Guild and its sequel, Twilight of the Elves—which comes out November 13th! We’re here to talk about elves, books, and our writing process. Thank you for having us!
Describe your book in ten words or less. Go!
Zack: Knights, wizards, and monsters—but the monsters already won!
Nick: Yikes! (“Yikes” makes ten.)
How was working on book two different from working on book one? Most important thing you’ve learned so far?
Nick: Writing a sequel was tougher than I expected! Book 1 was all about invention—throwing in new ideas, adding new characters, constantly building this world and this story until we got to the big showdown and put a bow on it. With Book 2, we had to do right by the huge cast and detailed world we’d already established—while continuing to add to them and push in new directions.
At the same time, we knew we had to keep some developments in reserve for Book 3. It was a delicate balancing act to tell a compelling and satisfying story that also served as a bridge between the previous and forthcoming books.
Zack: Probably the most important lesson I’ve learned is to be flexible, narratively speaking. So many of our favorite ideas and plot twists weren’t in the outline—or even the first draft. Writing is like adventuring! Sometimes you have to break off the path, because it’s swarmed with undead horrors.
If you could go back to book one, and give ONE character a piece of advice, who would you give advice to and what would the advice be?
Zack: Oh man, so much of storytelling is characters making mistakes, though! Ours certainly make plenty, the consequences of which won’t be clear until even Book 3 in some cases. I’d probably warn Zed to cool it with the sugar at the initiation party, though.
Nick: And I’d tell Brock to enjoy that party while it lasted. Pretty much everything after that point is a parade of nightmares!
Craziest thing you’ve had to Google for a work in progress?
Zack: We’ve searched high and low for monster inspiration, but the most nitty-gritty Googling I’ve done for TAG involves urban planning. Where does a closed-off city like Freestone get its water? How do they tell the time? And would a pseudo-medieval society have a comprehensive filing system? (The answer is yes!)
Nick: Zack is sort of my Google for our own world-building stuff. “Did we say which planar realm slime creatures come from? How is anima different from mana, again? Do we have an elven word for ‘cool’ yet?” I’m pretty sure he’s memorized an encyclopedia’s worth of magic systems from across all media, and I’ve made use of that.
What are three must-have items when you sit down to write?
Zack: Coffee, a comfortable chair, and an outline. (I still like a plan! Even if I end up breaking it.)
Nick: Snacks, an uncomfortable chair, and music. (If I get too comfortable, I doze off as soon as the plotting gets tough.)
What books would you recommend to a reader who loved yours, and wants to read something similar?
Nick: Oh, it’s a great time to be a fantasy reader. Off the top of my head, I’d recommend The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta, which has the balance of thrills and laughs that we strive for. Karuna Riazi’s The Gauntlet is all about a close-knit group of friends thrown into an impossibly dangerous situation, and the sibling dynamic at its heart will resonate with fans of Zed and Brock, I think. And I love Lou Anders’ Thrones and Bones series, which pulls from some of the same sources of inspiration that we do (like tabletop gaming!).
Zack: I edited the Spirit Animals series in my day job as an editor, where each book featured a new author picking up the sprawling fantasy narrative. Nick actually wrote a few stories for me there, which were so popular they got compiled into a book of their own! It has a similar tone and themes to TAG, especially the ensemble cast of great kids. I’m also a big fan of Tui T. Sutherland’s Wings of Fire books, and anything Jonathan Stroud writes.
But like Nick mentioned, if you loved our books, you should definitely check out tabletop adventures like Dungeons & Dragons! They are basically just an exercise in collaborative storytelling.
What’s it like writing a book with your best friend? Do you split the writing 50/50? If not, how do you divide the work up? Who writes what?
Zack: We split the writing between our two viewpoint characters, Zed and Brock, in alternating chapters. Honestly, it’s been a blast. We get instant feedback on our chapters, and then we pass the baton for a while. And having a buddy there to celebrate the wins or air my nerves with has made the experience so much richer. (I’m not sure Nick would agree on the nerves part. I’m capable of great feats of anxiety.)
Nick: My favorite part is the element of surprise that it brings. While Zack and I do plan some plot points out in advance, we tend not to discuss what’s happening chapter-by-chapter. So I never know exactly where things will be when it’s my turn to take the reins. And I enjoy throwing Zack curveball cliffhangers, including some really challenging situations that he has to get the characters out of!
Are you working on anything new?
Nick: As of this writing, we have JUST turned in our first draft of The Adventurers Guild #3. It’s the big finale, where we get to blow everything up! Look for that in late 2019.
Zack: Yeah, wrapping up the story for this trilogy was a surprisingly emotional experience! We’re taking a moment to decompress before we discuss our next adventure. And playing a lot of D&D in the meantime.
About the Authors:
ZACK LORAN CLARK and NICK ELIOPULOS are both editors based in New York. Best friends, they take a coffee break together every day and play Dungeons & Dragons every week. Twilight of the Elves is the second book in their The Adventurers Guild trilogy. Learn more at www.theadveturersguildbooks.com. Visit them on twitter at @zackloranclark and @NickEliopulos.
And now for the giveaway! Thanks to Disney, one lucky winner will receive one copy of each book! Giveaway is US only. To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter below!