Brian McClellan – Interview

The author of Promise of Blood, the first in a debut series titled The Powder Mage Trilogy, was kind enough to agree to an interview with yours truly. Here we take a look at his writing habits, his influences for Promise of Blood and a look at what’s coming next.


  • To start things off why don’t you tell us all a little bit about the man behind the words?

I’m twenty-seven years old and I grew up just outside of Cleveland, OH. I’ve been married for a little over five years. I recently started keeping honeybees, and I’m an avid computer gamer and reader.

My debut epic fantasy, Promise of Blood, is coming out from Orbit Books on April 16th.

  • Would you mind taking us through a normal writing session for you?

I like to work in groups of scenes. I’ll spend about a week brainstorming the next four or five scenes in the book, which may end up anywhere between ten and twenty thousand words. I’ll write down little notes along the way and when I feel like I’m ready, I sit down and write.

Sometimes I’ll have some music playing softly in the background, but I really like to start off a writing session by watching or reading something interesting. Maybe it’s a movie or TV show, or a particular passage from a history book that really makes me think.

  • What was it like being a student of Brandon Sanderson and how much of an impact did he have on you and your writing style?

Brandon was awesome. He taught me how to sit down and write, and how to be both a businessman and a writer—which is absolutely necessary in today’s world. That, more than anything else, shaped my writing style.

A lot of people say not to try to write for the masses. I think that’s a load of crap. People will be reading this book. Or at least that’s the intention. I need to write it so that they will enjoy it. Is this part too long? That part too slow? Is this character memorable? These are all questions writers need to be asking themselves as they go along. Brandon taught me to ask myself questions like that.

  • What’s changed for you now that your first book is about to hit the shelves?

A year and a half ago, I had lost my poor-paying job and had absolutely nothing. My agent was insisting on more edits for Promise of Blood before she’d submit it (which, by the way, she was totally right about). I was depressed, penniless, and couldn’t find employment.

Now I’m about to be released in hardback internationally. While there is a whole new set of worries and stresses that come along with the release, you can’t imagine the relief I feel at being able to earn money doing what I love.

  • I have to through the most cliche’ question out there. Who are your favorite authors and what are some of your favorite books?

I have too many favorite authors to list. Brandon Sanderson is up there, even though I haven’t had the chance to read his last couple. Joe Abercrombie is a personal hero of mine and can write no wrong. Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen is about the damn coolest series out there. I’ve had a few people compare my writing to Brent Weeks’, which is a huge compliment because I love his stuff. I recently read the first two books in Mark Lawrence’s Broken Empire series and really enjoyed them.

Same thing with books: too many. But my absolute favorites are Les Miserables and The Count of Monte Cristo.

  • Now for the book itself, could you sum up Promise of Blood in a few lines for those who haven’t heard anything yet?

Promise of Blood is a second-world epic fantasy set during the world’s industrial revolution. It begins with a coup as Field Marshal Tamas, a sorcerer with the ability to manipulate gunpowder, deposes his foppish monarch and aims to give his nation back to the common people. Things get hairy and Tamas has to deal with royalist uprisings, a predatory neighbor nation, and superstitious riddles that any modern man should feel safe ignoring.

  • Promise of Blood has one of my favorite tag lines, “The age of Kings is dead… and I have killed it.” What made you want to focus on the theme of revolution?

It came with the time period. I had already decided on the early 1800s for a geo-political and technological basis for the book. I almost had to include a revolution.

  • What was it that made you decide to write in a world not only where gunpowder is common but features heavily in one of your magic systems?

I was brainstorming my next book and I wanted to do something completely unique for the magic system. I’d already decided to use flintlock muskets and rifles in the book. The next logical step was to base the magic around gunpowder used in those weapons. It was one of those moments where you say to yourself, “why hasn’t anyone done this yet?”

  • Your characters are each older than the standard teenager found in much of standard fantasy. Adamat, Tamas, and Taniel have each had their own adventures, is there any chance we’ll get to see any of this?

Who knows? We’ll see how people like the trilogy and if Orbit wants me to write more in that world. I certainly want to write more in that world. There are some very cool adventures that happen before the books that I hint at in Promise of Blood and I talk about more in The Crimson Campaign.

  • What comes next after Promise of Blood?

The Crimson Campaign, book two of the Powder Mage Trilogy, will be hitting shelves in February of 2014. I think that book three is scheduled for September of 2014, but don’t quote me on that.

Like I said, I’d love to write more in the world when this trilogy is finished, but I also have other worlds floating around in my head.

Promise_of_BloodCrimson Campaign 


2 thoughts on “Brian McClellan – Interview

  1. Pingback: Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan | Fantasy Faction

  2. Pingback: BRIAN McCLELLAN » End of the Week Catchup

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