As clouds of civil war gather over a dying empire, two friends and generals find themselves on opposite sides of the factional divide. Now, they must sacrifice everything to save themselves from their realm and their realm from itself.
Ten years, two months and this morning, Kyrus thought, blinking away drops of sweat. Yet still… still it’s not any easier.
For the thousandth time, his hand slid to a blade’s hilt, body braced against a gust ripping through the sweltering berry thicket. Wide eyes scanned the crush of steamy greenery all around him, ears hearing only his own short breaths and a heart that pounded like a drum. Even as the wind petered out, his anxiety held firm, held him frozen in place.
Ten bloody years of this… a wonder I’ve any wits left about me at all. He grunted. Or do I have any?
He’d grayed since then, since his first days in Valogar. Wrinkled too. Bones ached from the constant marching, mind frayed from the perpetual fear of knowing they were out there, somewhere, always itching to add another Rokhish scalp to their belts…
Tell us about your book, what inspired it?
At its heart, The Bulls of War is a story of friendship in a land that’s descending into war. The friends in question share history but are polar opposites of one another – one an idealist in a world that’s not that good; the other a pessimist in a world that’s not that bad – and indeed, they gravitate towards opposite poles in the strife that comes, willingly or otherwise. Though fantasy, it’s in many ways an homage to Ancient Rome, one of my favorite eras of antiquity; comparatively, it’s similar in tone to George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series – so in a sentence, Bulls is Game of Thrones with an Imperial Roman twist.
What do you think makes a good story?
I like big stories – big stakes, big battles, big everything; probably the reason I’m drawn to historical epics and epic fantasy. By the same token, it can’t be big just for “big’s sake”. A good story has to have identifiable, multi-dimensional, realistic characters that we can invest in, that we can hate or love, that we can cheer for or against. Perhaps most importantly, I have to believe that the character in question is capable of achieving the tasks in the world that the author has laid out for him or her; all too frequently, that is where I see “big” stories fail, especially in historical fictions where the author has taken on a seminal historical figure.
What’s next for you?
The first full-length book to follow The Bulls of War will be Fortress of the Sun, a historical fiction about ancient Greece – specifically, the battle of Corinth in the third century B.C. Fortress takes place within a larger historical arc for which I intend to write several more volumes. A sample is available on my website, for those interested.
In the nearer term, I will be releasing short stories set in the world of Andervold. I’m excited about these, as they will add several point of views to some of the events that took place in Bulls, to go along with some unrelated stand-alone tales from Andervold.
Bulls, of course, is only Book I of the Chronicles of the Andervold Thrones, and its sequels are fully fleshed out and ready to go. Whether I continue to alternate between releasing fantasy and historical fiction is tough to answer; either way, I truly believe fans of Bulls will equally enjoy Fortress and vice versa.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way?
Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield, Lord of the Rings by Tolkien, and Shogun by James Clavell. All of them are instructive in their own ways – Gates of Fire for Pressfield’s tremendous battle scenes; Lord of the Rings because… well, it’s Lord of the Rings (read: scope, drama, characters, stakes, etc.); and Shogun for a combination of the prior two. Ironically, the series that Andervold most closely mirrors is Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire, which I discovered only belatedly into my drafting.
What kind of music do you like?
There is hardly any genre of music I don’t find redeeming somehow. I had a big brother who listened to everything growing up, and as a result, so did I. If I’m in the car now, I can say my stations are most often on Alt Nation and Lithium, for my fellow Sirius/XMers out there. I also love any good voice paired with an acoustic guitar.
What sacrifices have you had to make to be a writer?
I don’t know that I’ve had to sacrifice anything, really; I love to write, so it’s a joy any time I get to do it. If I had to identify something, I suppose it would be that writing has come at the expense of other hobbies I used to have, but in hindsight, I think that’s for the best. I wish I could sacrifice more for my writing!
Anything else you might want to add?
I really appreciate the forum for talking about my writing and what’s on the horizon. I’ll also take this time to ask that if anyone reading this has a chance to read my book, then please leave me a quick review on Amazon. As my fellow independent writers know well, reviews and word of mouth are our life blood (in addition to simply being helpful), and they combined to push Bulls to No. 2 in a fairly broad Amazon category earlier in the fall. I appreciate any and all support you can give!
E.M. Thomas is the author of two novels - an epic fantasy (The Bulls of War) and a historical fiction set in Ancient Greece (Fortress of the Sun).
E.M. Thomas was born and raised on the East Coast of the United States but is a world traveler at heart. He caught the writing bug early on and has a passion for all good fiction, but especially that of the fantasy and historical variety. One of his favorite moments thus far in his young career was writing a chapter of his latest book about the great battle of Corinth - while sitting amidst the ruins of ancient Corinth.
E.M. Thomas will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.