Zack Argyle entered Voice of War into SPFBO6. This was the first SPFBO book I read after joining the competition. It was a fantastic start. While it did have the obligatory dark opening, the story itself wasn’t all dark and had moments of wonder, especially in the forest kingdom. The magic system is unique, with magic seen as threads. If you have blue or green eyes you can manipulate these threads. The characters are relatable and the book as a whole is well-written. It was a satisfying read and I recommend it.
Zack very graciously granted me an interview. Read it below.
Zack Argyle is the author of the epic fantasy Threadlight trilogy. He grew up with the family motto “don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story”, and he’s loved fiction and fantasy ever since.
Welcome to my lair, Zack Argyle! Tell me about a great book you’ve read recently!
Just yesterday, I finished Never Die by Rob J. Hayes, and it was a great read. It’s about a cobbled-together band of heroes bound by a creepy 8-year-old to kill an immortal emperor. The East-Asian inspired world is incredibly fun, the fights are brutal, and the end has a twist that’ll tear apart the half-finished puzzle you’ve been solving and shake up all the pieces. Highly recommend!
What’s your favorite song?
The song I just can’t get out of my head (despite my best efforts) is You’ll Be Back from Hamilton. It’s about as absurd as I am, so we’re a lovely pair together.
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?
As dangerous as it would be, I would LOVE to visit Arradsia from the Draconis Memoria books by Anthony Ryan. It’s an amazon-like, unexplored continent filled with dragons—almost has a Jurassic Park feel. It would be so cool to explore!
How do you like to work? (In silence, with music? Do you prefer to type or to handwrite? 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!
Unfortunately, COVID changed my writing patterns quite a bit. Most of Voice of War was written on a train/shuttle during my commute to/from work. Now that I’m at home all day, I squeeze it in once my two children are asleep. I’m a full-time software engineer, so I don’t have time during the day to write much but, luckily, my kids fall asleep early!
As far as the actual writing goes, I am not a pantser by any stretch of the word. I have to have a destination in mind when I sit down. That said, my original outline is always changing. I don’t expect myself to have all the answers or all the best ideas at the outset, so I try to remain flexible as I go.
What/Who are your most significant fantasy influences?
I know he gets mentioned a lot, but Brandon Sanderson got me back into reading fantasy a decade ago, and he’s been a huge influence ever since.
What’s the most (and/or least) helpful piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
Definitely “don’t use adverbs” and “don’t use adverbs”. The advice really did help improve my writing by stretching me to improve how I describe things and what verbs I choose, but, at the same time, it’s not a strict rule, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lawful evil.
Can you tell me a little something about your current work(s) in progress?
I’m working on book two of the Threadlight trilogy, and it’s going to be a wild ride. If you’ve read book one, you know that it ends with things changing quite drastically for several characters, which means we get to explore those changes and their effects. Aside from that, expect to see swamplands, a flowery port city, and even more wondrous creatures. Lastly, I’ll say that you can expect to truly believe that motherly love knows no bounds!
How do you motivate yourself on days when you don’t want to write?
Usually, I just don’t That said, one nice thing that helps is to do writing “sprints” with my writing group: The Fantasy Forge.
Who are your favourite characters in literature or pop culture? And do you have a favourite type of character you enjoy writing?
I love reading characters with wit and charm. Someone who can take your clever words and twist them playfully back at you. As far as what I enjoy writing, I don’t think I have a single favorite. I equally love writing the playfully flirtatious protagonist and the sadistically brutal antagonist. The juxtaposition between the two is liberating.
Tell me about a book that’s excellent, but underappreciated or obscure.
It had its heyday (published in 1970)—it is not oft mentioned anymore—but I really love Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. It is a very short novella about how, if you want something badly enough, nothing can stop you.
Finally, would you be so kind as to dazzle me with an elevator pitch?
The Threadlight trilogy is about three broken individuals and the twisted paths that lead them toward redemption. You’ll find exotic creatures, novel magic, and unique locations,
Why should readers check out your work?
Because, if they don’t, I will cry a thousand tears. And what kind of a cruel person would want to cause the tears of another? It’s $2.99. Free on Kindle Unlimited. Also available on Audible.