Today it’s my pleasure to take part in The Maleficent Seven book tour organized by Angry Robot, in celebration of Cameron Johnston‘s new Grimdark Fantasy novel. I had the honors to meet with Cameron in Dublin at Fantasy WorldCon in 2019 and he previously made appearances in the Asylum. He kindly took part in one of my To Be Continued… stories, The Butcher Queen, which he kicked off and set the scene to something that had become an awesome story. I highly recommend you check it out. And I also reviewed his debut novel, The Traitor God, which I really enjoyed. But, we are here to talk about his new release, out on August 10th, so let’s get on with that.
Please also consider following the tour and checking out what everyone else will post in the coming days:
CAMERON JOHNSTON is the British Fantasy Award and Dragon Awards nominated author of dark fantasy novels The Traitor God and God of Broken Things. He is a swordsman, a gamer, and an enthusiast of archaeology, history and mythology. He loves exploring ancient sites and camping out under the stars by a roaring fire.
Welcome back to the Asylum, Cameron! Take a seat by the fire and have a glass of beverage of your choice. You are an old tenant in my humble place (say hi to the Butcher Queen while you are here), but for those who don’t know you yet, tell me something about yourself that’s not in your bio!
Hello hello! Thanks for having me back despite the bloody mess I left behind last time that had to be cleaned up by other authors – it was fascinating to see them continue the story in surprising directions after that dark beginning. Ooh, something that’s not in my bio eh? I used to be a competitive swimmer, and at some point I intend to refresh my knowledge of scuba diving.
It was a glorious mess, though. And you’ve set the bar high for sure. Oh! Scuba diving sounds so cool!
How are you holding up in these strange times? I’ve seen on Twitter that you recently had a lovely trip.
It’s been a very strange year and a half hasn’t it – I haven’t been out much at all during that period but we are all safe and sound so that’s something to be thankful for. I really do wish I had a place with a garden though instead of living in a city. Ah well, for now I will have to make do with getting out into the Scottish countryside with its lovely forests and lochs to recharge my batteries.
Could be worse, really… I hear Scotland has some pretty great sights. What was the most exotic place you’ve visited so far? Did it inspire any of your work? How that experience affected you personally?
That would have to be my trip to Peru. I was slightly worried that Machu Picchu would not live up to my expectations, but that idea was blown away in moments after arrival at dawn when a bank of white clouds blew past/through me. The Nazca lines are something I’ve always wanted to see, and even more strange and thought-provoking than photos suggest. I think most writers are like sponges, and all of these things get absorbed and work their way into our fantasy worlds, in all sorts of small ways. I did write a little part of The Traitor God while I was over there, and it ended up merging in with my descriptions of Setharis and the ancient tunnels beneath it.
Oh wow, I’m absolutely no jealous, not at all! I know you are interested in archaeology. Where does that interest come from? Do you have a favorite era, or an event that especially grabbed your attention?
My parents took me to explore a lot of castles when I was growing up, and I’ve always loved history as far back as I can remember. It’s so hard not to imagine what those ancient people were like when you touch what they created and have left behind. I am especially fascinated with prehistory and its stone circles and mysterious monuments we will never really know the purpose of.
Hear, hear! I’m a history lover myself (duh) and old castles and monumens always amazed me too. How about writing? Do you get inspiration from archeology? Or do you listen to music, stare into the fire, listen to the whispering of the wind, make deals with the Devil? Maybe all of the above?
I certainly do take inspiration from history and historical artefacts. It might be something like how certain weapons were used, or what they wore in daily life or warfare, or it might be foods and ritual practices that help to flesh out my fantasy worlds and their people. Also, sitting beside a fire with a glass of peated whisky in my hand goes down very well indeed.
Your latest novel, The Maleficent Seven releases on August 10th. Congrats! If you could launch a release party with your MCs present, how that would go down? I fully expect it would turn into a mayhem…
Buildings would burn and all the guests would die. Horribly. Still, hopefully they would all have bought the book first…
One can always hope, huh? Talking about The Maleficent Seven, what was the main inspiration for the story? Which aspect of the book was the most challenging to write and why? How does the experience compare to writing The Age of Tryranny duology?
I’ve always fancied writing stories from the ’dark lord’ point of view. History is mostly told from the victor’s point of view, so I have been wanting to work out a story telling the other side of the tale for quite some time. The Age of Tyranny duology was from a single point of view so as an author I was restricted in what I could show the reader of surrounding events, and I wanted to stretch my skills by having more than one this time…but seven characters and this plot just suddenly popped into my head almost fully-formed. It felt like it would work well, and fortunately, readers seem to agree.
Which character of your book do you identify with the most?
Thankfully, none of the main characters! They are all disturbing people. Of course, if I did, I wouldn’t admit that to you now would I… *ahem*. Let’s go with Red Penny, who is a nice and normal person caught up in a mess of these dire events and dreadful people, but one who stands up and fights when needed.
Don’t worry, I’ll keep your secrets *wink* If you were a character in your book, how would you be described? And what your profession/role would be? How long do you think you would survive?
I think perhaps I would be the character that turns up early on and nopes out of the entire situation, making a run for safer places to be. Failing that, I would be farmer #12 who takes a very serious and healthy interest in weapons training and survival.
Heh, very sensible, indeed. What are your future plans? (In case the farming doesn’t work out well, lol.) Are you working on something now? Can we meet you at an event – circumstances permitting?
This year is an entire write-off, but I’m hoping to be able to go to conventions again next year, so fingers crossed on that! And yes, I’m hard at work writing a new Celtic-influenced standalone novel at the moment.
Yeah. It deos seem like this year won’t be any more social than 2020 was. I’m eyeing BristolCon, but… Maybe next year we’ll make it. And I’m looking forward to that novel!
While you are locked in here for eternity, we will allow you to invite one visitor (fictional and otherwise) – who would you invite?
It might be a sappy answer but it would definitely be my wife. Now, if I was allowed one *other* visitor, then I might say the fictional character of John Constantine from Hellblazer. Not only would we have a good booze-up and a world-changing chat, that sneaky git would certainly have some way of getting me out of here…
Aw, that’s cute. Also good choice with Constantine. Well then, it was a pleasure to have a chat with you! Please allow these nice attendants to escort you out. We hope you’ll enjoy your stay in the Asylum! Any last words? *locks door*
Can I have a pen and some paper? I totally don’t know how to murder nice attendants and escape with those…
If you’d like to get in contact with Cameron Johnston, you can find him on social media:
Check out The Maleficent Seven