Hello everyone! Today I have R.J. Barker, author of the new fantasy debut Age of Assassins on the blog today for an interview! Read more about the mind behind this amazing new book and keep scrolling for the synopsis and links!
All About R.J.
You wrote a book! That’s pretty awesome. Why don’t you tell us a bit about what inspired Age of Assassins?
It’s the story of Girton Club-Foot and his master, Merela Karn. Assassins trapped and forced to unmask one of their own of forfeit their lives. It’s got plenty of action and magic while being built around a murder mystery and this very strong and touching relationship the two have. It’s also about the way we change when removed from our comfort zone, as an assassin Girton is cocksure and confident, but when that facade is removed he’s a lot more vulnerable, lost even.
1 Because plot.
Introduce us to your main character!
Girton! He’s fifteen and could stab you in the face and be gone before you even realised it’s happened. He’s hugely capable at what he does but at the same time he’s a boy who’s never had the opportunity to socialise with people his own age, so when he’s forced to it’s all new. Becasue he’s disabled and in the world of the book that’s seen as very much a bad thing, he’s also singled out as ‘different’ and that’s hard. He sees a world he’d like to fit in to but doesn’t have the tools to do it. Which is doubly bad as he’s meant to be looking for a killer.
Walk us through a day in the life of R.J. Barker.
Oh, this will be so dull. I get up and take our little boy to school. Then a stare aimlessly into the air for a while and think about eating something. Later on crisps will definitely be involved (or chips, if you’re American, but chips are very different over here in the uk.) Then I’ll probably wish it wasn’t raining for a bit. I’ll play on twitter for a bit. Or a lot. Probably a lot. I’ll be attacked by the cat at some point. And I’ll write, generally about 2k a day when I am writing. Might go fencing with a friend depending on the day. It’s all very relaxed. I am all about being relaxed.
2 It is ALWAYS raining in England. Double that for Yorkshire where I am.
Lots of aspiring authors out there. Any advice for them?
Enjoy what you are writing. Don’t quit.
I know asking someone’s all-time favorite book is a loaded question so what’s your current favorite read?
Setting aside books by people I know and like I am enjoying the Spenser books by Robert B Parker a HUGE amount. They didn’t really do anything over here so they’re all new to me. Also, Slow Horses by Mick Herron is an astounding book and everyone should read it.
3 He said, cleverly avoiding that trap.
Alright, the ultimate question: why should we read your book?
Because it’s not preachy, but it’s about doing the right thing. And you’ll like Girton and Merela. Oh, and the fight sequences. And of course you’ll want to try and solve the mystery before they do. Also, it’s a standalone so you won;t be elft frustrated at the end waiting for the next one. Although the next one is coming along pretty soon and if you like Age of Assassins you’ll LOVE Blood of Assassins.
And they ride around on things with massive antlers.
I’ll stop now.
But there’s also some cool magic.
4 My wife made me stop here. Apparently you can push a joke too far.
Now for the Fun…
Describe yourself in 3 words.
Happy. Easy-going, relaxed.
What is your most embarrassing memory?
I don’t really get embarrassed. I sort of look upon stupid things as a good way of learning. We all do stupid things and the best thing to do with someone thing that leaves you feeling foolish is turn it into a story to amuse others at your expense. I’ve also found out a lot of stuff my wife and I consider normal other people consider a bit odd. So my embarrassment might not be yours. I wore a tie a couple of weeks ago, that wasn’t right. Never again.
What is your Hogwarts house?
Oh, I hate being a thing! SO my house would be the sulking-about-being-lumped-in-with-a-load-of-other-people-house. I’ve not read all the Harry Potters but I’m pretty sure that house is in one of the later books.
5 But you don’t need to check.
Your characters are sent into the Hunger Games. Who wins?
Xus the warmount. He’s a massive thing with HUGE antlers and tusks and clawed feet. You’d want him on your side. He laughs at arrows.
A famous movie producer wants to make your books into movies and they want you to cast your characters. Which actors/actresses make the cut?
Oh, no idea for most of them. But I would say Vin Diesel for the squiremaster Nywulf. Not because I think he looks like him or particularly acts like him in his films but I know he really likes genre stuff so it would probably make him happy.
You just won America’s Got Talent. What’s your talent?
Daydreaming. I’m not sure it would be very exciting to watch though.
Radioactive space rock fell from the sky and turned you into a superhero/villain. Tell us your new name, describe your powers, and what does your costume look like?
I would be The Affable, and my power would be to walk into a room and everyone would just get one. I’m not really into costumes but I feel some sort of 50s/60s rat pack style sharp suit would be needed and I would walk round saying hello to everyone and occasionally making finger guns and shooting them at people.
Actually, written down that looks quite creepy. Maybe I would use the atmosphere of bonhomie to pick everyone’s pocket.
This morning you woke up with the ability to time travel to only one time period. Where (or more accurately “when”) would you go?
I LOVE history. As such there is NO WAY ON EARTH that I would go and live anywhere but now. There has never been a better or safer time to live (in the west, anyway) and a life without indoor plumbing and hot water is no life at all. We romanticise the past but the truth is that, by our standards, it was all pretty unpleasant. I might think about going back and seeing younger me and dropping some much needed advice but I also know that it would be a waste of time as I am incredibly stubborn and there’s no way I’d listen to me.
Coffee or tea?
This feels like a betrayal of my birthplace, but coffee.
Best ice cream flavor ever?
When I was young we used to go to Spain and they had a flavour called Nata which I think was unflavoured ice cream and I’ve never come across it anywhere else. That. I would like that.
Your theme song/personal anthem?
I’d quite like to pick ‘Going to Town’ by The Afghan Whigs (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BM6cY-CB0c) as it’s kind of mine and my wife’s song and they’re one of my absolute favourite bands. It’s really suave and funky with a bit of a sinister edge. But I’m 99% sure that anyone who knows me would say the Mahna Mahna Song by The Muppets. Le sigh.
This too will pass.
What is one piece of advice you would tell everyone?
Walk away from people who continually make the same mistakes that make you unhappy no matter how much they may apologise later. They will never change.
The Wounded Kingdom #1
by R.J. Barker
Published on August 1, 2017 by Orbit
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Buy the Book!
Book Depository / Amazon / Barnes & Noble
To catch an assassin, use an assassin...
Girton Club-foot, apprentice to the land's best assassin, still has much to learn about the art of taking lives. But his latest mission tasks him and his master with a far more difficult challenge: to save a life. Someone, or many someones, is trying to kill the heir to the throne, and it is up to Girton and his master to uncover the traitor and prevent the prince's murder.
In a kingdom on the brink of civil war and a castle thick with lies Girton finds friends he never expected, responsibilities he never wanted, and a conspiracy that could destroy an entire kingdom.