SPFBO Spotlight on Brandon Lindsay

Anne C. Miles > fantasy book reviews > SPFBO Spotlight on Brandon Lindsay

Brandon Lindsay wrote Shoreseeker, Book One of the Farshores Saga and entered it into SPFBO this year. This is a well-crafted world with an interesting magic system …and very well-written book! The prologue is gruesome, but the rest of the book isn’t quite as dark (keep reading). It follows the main character of Tharadis, the Warden of Naruvieth. Naruvieth has been cut off from the mainland by a Rift full of sheggam, horrible demonic creatures. Centuries ago when the sheggam tried to destroy mankind, they were beaten back and held off by the creation of Andrin’s Wall. Now those beyond the wall are constructing a bridge over the Rift called the Runeway, which is nearly finished. Tharadis, as leader of Naruvieth, must travel to the capitol to beseech them not to finish the bridge. This story is complex and heart rending. It’s very worth reading. It takes a group of likable characters (and some you hate!) and blends their stories into a satisfying whole. I recommend this book!

Brandon very kindly took the time to answer a few questions for me. Read his interview below.

Brandon M. Lindsay grew up in the Seattle area and lives in Tokyo, Japan. He now has a son, whom he is trying to teach how to slay dragons. It’s a work in progress.

His fantasy stories have won awards from the Writers of the Future contest and are published in anthologies alongside stories by Brandon Sanderson, David Farland, and other fantasy greats.

In addition to writing books and short stories, Brandon also makes indie video games. Check out all his goings-on at his website: brandonmlindsay.com.

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Welcome to my lair, Brandon. Tell me about a great book you’ve read recently!

I just finished reading a book by fellow SPFBO contestant Todd Herzman, whose book A Dark Inheritance is a semi-finalist. It’s an easy read with a straightforward approach, and it has really likeable characters put in compelling situations. I enjoyed it a lot.

What’s your favorite song? 

Ugh! Can’t I just tell you my top 10,000 instead? If I were going to have to choose just one, it would have to be Unbroken Road by Jeremy Soule from the Skyrim soundtrack. I remember the first time I heard that song. I was going through some tough times then, and it was exactly the sort of thing to make my spirit soar again. It is utterly majestic.

Okay, time to escalate things: you get to travel to any book’s setting and world but you have to choose only one. Where do you go?

I’m rather attached to all my technology and comforts, so I’m afraid it wouldn’t be a fantasy world. I can just imagine living somewhere like the Malazan Empire … and dying within a week. So I’d have to choose a sci-fi world. Probably one of the worlds from the Hyperion Cantos, my favorite sci-fi series.

How do you like to work? (In silence, with music? Do you prefer to type or to hand-write? Are you an architect or a gardener? A plotter or a pantser? D’you write in your underwear, or underwater in scuba gear?) Tell me about your writing method!

I write all over the place, but I’m most productive at the day job, believe it or not. I’m an ESL teacher in Tokyo, and since that requires me to be at my desk but doesn’t require me to do a lot of work between classes, I have time to write in my notebook. But while I’m at home, I listen to music and type on my computer. Regarding style, I recently discovered I’m a user of the snowflake method, meaning I write key events in my story and use them as the framework. Then I write the scenes between them like connecting the dots.

What/Who are your most significant fantasy influences?

I started reading fantasy in the early 00s, which meant I was reading series from the 90s. The first fantasy book I ever read was Wizard’s First Rule, which turned me into a fantasy fanatic. From there, I read The Wheel of Time, then Malazan, then all the works of Brandon Sanderson. I like big, thick second-world epics with intricate plots and loads of magic and violence. So that’s what I write.

What’s the most (and/or least) helpful piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

Best advice I received was to join a serious writing group that meets often. I’m currently a member of two such groups (though COVID has interrupted some of that) and having a consistent avenue of receiving feedback has both shown me what I need to improve in my writing and steeled me for those inevitable negative reader reviews. The worst advice? Anything that is boiled down to a concrete number of steps. (Thirteen steps to writing the perfect protagonist!) Characters are humans (usually), and real humans are complex. So are stories. Such step-by-step procedures always seem to be lacking something, though they can often serve as good brainstorming activities if not rules to live by.

Can you tell me a little something about your current work(s) in progress?

My current WIP is the sequel to Shoreseeker, my SPFBO entry. It’s called Drawingpath, and it follows the characters from book one—the ones that have survived, at least.

How do you motivate yourself on days when you don’t want to write?

For me, the main problem isn’t motivation. It’s time. Living in Tokyo is expensive, but it becomes immeasurably more so if you’re raising a family, which I am. My wife stays home, so I’m pretty busy with work. That means I write whenever there’s a free minute between classes for the most part. I almost never lack motivation when the opportunity presents itself.

Who are your favourite characters in literature or pop culture? And do you have a favourite type of character you enjoy writing?

I’ve always liked moody action heroes, as long as there’s a streak of hope to them. Characters such as Jack Bauer from 24 (post-season 1) and William Wallace from Braveheart. They have unimpeachable integrity, yet there’s something broken inside them that they struggle to put back together. Often that struggle involves chopping/shooting up loads of bad guys. That kind of character was definitely something I was channeling when I created Tharadis, the main character of Shoreseeker.

Tell me about a book that’s excellent, but underappreciated or obscure.

The one series I always recommend whenever someone asks about an underappreciated fantasy is David B. Coe’s The Winds of the Forelands. It’s one of my go-tos when I’m in the mood for a reread. Much like Game of Thrones, it’s emotionally destabilizing and surprising, but it manages it much earlier in the story—in the opening pages, in fact. I absolutely love that, and it creates a sense of tension that only ramps up as the story progresses. The writing, characterization, and plotting are all top-drawer stuff. It might be hard to get your hands on a copy of some of these books, but they’re totally worth the effort.

Finally, would you be so kind as to dazzle me with an elevator pitch? 

For six hundred years, the remnants of humanity slowly rebuilt society behind Andrin’s Wall after nearly being driven to extinction by monsters called the sheggam. Though they had decimated the whole world, these monsters have become little more than myth. Now, a rogue knight with sheggam magic running through his veins has found hints that humanity’s ancient enemy is back, and it’s up to Tharadis, and his indestructible sword Shoreseeker, to defend humanity from the coming scourge.

Why should readers check out your work?

I’d love to tell you all the ways I’m a wonderful writer (hair flip), but I’ll leave you with an anecdote instead. It was my first time at the Tokyo Writers Workshop, when I submitted a chapter featuring a side character from the middle of Shoreseeker. No one had seen a word of the book up until that time, so I was incredibly nervous about how it would be received, especially since it was being read by about twenty strangers, many of whom were long-time members of the group. I got some really good feedback from them, but the thing I remember most was someone also new to the group coming up to me after the meeting. “I really enjoyed your chapter,” she said. “In fact, I haven’t read any fantasy since The Dragonriders of Pern came out, but your chapter makes me want to read fantasy again.” I didn’t shed a tear as I thanked her, but I was close. Real close.

Read the book here.

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