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Monday 12 September 2016

ℚ♫ Fish Wielder: Fish Wielder [1] - J.R.R.R. (Jim) Hardison

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about Fish Wielder (, Fiery Seas Publishing, 288 pages), a Young Adult Epic Fantasy, book one of Fish Wielder series.

“Hardison hasn't just delivered a hilarious parody novel. He also has given us a damn good fantasy story. He pokes fun at the genre—but good—yet you still find yourself turning the pages to find out how Thoral and Brad are going to get out of their latest mess. The story is solid, the jokes will make you want to pee, and the characters are lovable and hilarious. Oh, and there's pudding too!” —Matt Hiebert, Author of Blackhand and The Arcana.

Synopsis | Trailer | Teaser | Author Q&A | About the Author | Giveaway & Tour Stops

A very warm welcome to Jim Hardison; thank you for joining us on BooksChatter!

To begin, Jim has shared with us his music playlist for Fish Wielder - enjoy!

What was the inspiration for Fish Wielder?
"I’ve loved fantasy stories as long as I can remember and have been an avid fantasy reader since I was about ten years old. From the first time I heard The Hobbit, read The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings and the John Carter/Barsoom novels, I imagined what it would be like to have something magical happen to me. But also being a bit of a queasy realist, my escapist fantasies of living in a magical world were always plagued by worries and questions of practicality and comfort.

Would you have to be concerned about getting lice if you were travelling on the back of a talking lion? How could you possibly get a cold drink while wandering in a desert wasteland? Where would one go to the bathroom in Mordor?

Over decades of exploring other authors’ fantastic universes, I started piecing together a pair of heroes who were a mixture of high-fantasy ideals and low-comedy realities. Those two became Thoral Mighty Fist, the massively muscled but often depressed barbarian warrior and his best friend, Bradfast, the talking orange koi fish."

How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?

"I would say somewhere between 72.5-86.1% of myself is reflected in the book.

While my physical self is pretty blatantly under-represented (maybe 11.2%, if that) my personality is well represented (64%? 67%?) and my sense of humor is exaggeratedly over-represented (at least 143-162.5%).

I’m not sure if that math really works out, but I’m more a words kind of person than a figures kind of person."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us about your cover for Fish Wielder - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"As a kid (and then a teenager, and then a grown up) I read scads of pulpy epic fantasy novels that often featured hulking, muscle-bound warriors engaged in scenes of battle and carnage. Nothing says epic fantasy to me quite like that kind of imagery. So, when I was putting Fish Wielder together, I knew I wanted a slightly silly version of that same kind of thing.

Fortunately, I’d previous done some work in the comics industry and had the privilege of getting to know a great artist by the name of Herb Apon.

Herb has drawn for Dark Horse and D.C. and is not only very talented, but amazingly fun to work with. As I was getting close to finishing the book, I asked him if he’d consider drawing a cover for me."

Why should we read Fish Wielder and what sets it apart from the rest?

"I wrote Fish Wielder, first and foremost, to amuse myself. That’s why it’s kind of like a screwball comedy of an epic fantasy. I didn’t really have an audience in mind except me.

Now, having answered your question that way, I realize the response sounds kind of selfish. But at the time I was writing the book, it seemed perfectly reasonable. My hope is that other people who love the fantasy genre and have occasionally (or often, or obsessively) thought about what it might be like to actually be in a fantasy story, will enjoy and even resonate with this oddball perspective, get attached to the characters and find themselves sucked into the story in the way a galaxy gets sucked into a black hole. You know, sort of...inevitably.

Or to put it in less astronomic terms, I hope people who like funny fantasy, in the vein of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, will find themselves laughing along with Fish Wielder and drawn into the story because of the twists and kinks it put in their expectations of the genre."
Can you tell us something quirky about Fish Wielder, its story and characters?
"Here’s something. The continent of Grome (the book is set on the mystical world of Grome, of which the chief and only continent is also called Grome) when viewed right-side-up resembles the state of Oregon. That’s just a coincidence. But when viewed up-side-down, it resembles a somewhat tattered pair of men’s underpants. That is completely intentional.

You see, in the very beginning of Grome, the world was entirely covered by water in an endless, but not tremendously deep, sea. Well, some parts were deep. Who knows how long it was that way, but a pretty long time. For eons there were just bacteria and jellyfish and things, but then they evolved into all kinds of creatures and eventually spawned most of the races of Grome.

Then, one day, a stranger fell from the sky into the waters. He was humanoid and clad only in a pair of tattered underpants. He threaded the vast, continuous ocean of Grome for days until he became super tired. He decided to create the first lands by raising dry earth from the sea through magic. So he unraveled a single thread from his mighty underpants and cast it upon the water and spoke the words of making and from the depths there rose up the continent of Grome. To this day, it retains the shape of his underpants.
Who would you recommend Fish Wielder to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"I know the book is being pitched by my publisher as a YA crossover novel. That means they suspect it will appeal to young adults, but also to adult adults, and possibly to some younger young people. As I noted earlier, when I wrote it, I wrote it primarily with myself in mind, and I am OLD.

Based on feedback I’ve had from various test readers, coupled with my own gut instinct, I think the sweet spot for this book is probably readers between the ages of 10 and 102. I’m not trying to suggest that people older than 102 shouldn’t read it, but I think maybe they should sign a waiver or something indicating that they realize it is jam packed full of crazy mayhem, heart-pounding action and lung-exploding laughs that might endanger them if they are in poor health.

In terms of the youngsters, there’s really no bad language and nothing tremendously racy (although there is some kissing), but there is quite a bit of over-the-top, wildly exaggerated violence of the Monty Python and the Holy Grail variety."
If you could / wished to turn Fish Wielder and the Fish Wielder series into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"I would love to have Dolph Lundgren play Thoral Mighty Fist, but not today’s Dolph. I want the same young Dolph Lundgren who played He Man in the 1987 Masters of the Universe movie to play Thoral."

Ahaha - I had also immediately pictured Dolph of old! funny :-) (not that he looks that bad these days!)
I think Brad (the talking koi fish) could be voiced by Steve Zahn or possibly Paul Rudd and he should probably be animated by the guys from Blur Studio. Princess Nalweegie should be played by Alison Brie, or maybe Emma Watson. Necrogrond should be played by Max Von Sydow.

And Warlordhorse should be played by Big Jake (named the tallest horse in the world in the Guinness Book of World Records for 2013)."

What do you like to write and read about? Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?
"I like to write all kinds of stuff, as long as it’s mostly genre fiction and mostly in the sci-fi/fantasy/horror realm and mostly with some kind of comedic note to it.

That is also, coincidentally, mostly what I like to read, although I also like to read slightly off-kilter non-fiction books like that one about the “chocolate wars” between Hershey and Mars, or that one about how rabies may be the source of werewolf and vampire myths."
What is your writing process?
"I am largely an analytical writer. I usually start with some weird little idea that has become lodged in my brain for reasons I can’t explain. Then I think about how it might be expanded into a story and what a story like that might be about.

Once I have a rough idea of the meaning, then I start mapping out the story in a kind of narrative outline. After I’ve got that pretty fleshed out, I start writing from the beginning and work my way through in a mostly linear fashion. I don’t really skip ahead at all, although I spend the entire writing process nipping back to modify and polish the stuff I’ve already written based on things that come up as I write my way forward.

At the beginning, I tend to write in long, uninterrupted streaks—sometimes ten hours in a row, but once the story has some momentum, then it’s much easier to push ahead with it in smaller chunks and sort of speckle my writing in around everything else that’s going on in life.

Once I have a first draft done, I tend to give it to someone I trust to read through, and I don’t look at it at all while I’m waiting to hear back from them. That gives me a little distance on it, so that when the inevitable critical comments come in, I only weep or rage in bitter isolation rather than physically attacking whoever brings me the bad news.

Then I go through an angry period of denial that might last a week or so, before I finally buckle down and start fixing the things that need to be fixed. I generally go through that draft and critique process two or three more times before I feel like the book is maybe ready to send to my agent."
What is in store next?
"Well, I’m hard at work on book two of the Fish Wielder trilogy, A Fish Out of Water, but I’m also in talks to do another graphic novel in my comic series The Helm, and I have a finished manuscript for a comedy/horror novel that I’m putting the final polish on.

In regards to revealing anything about A Fish Out of Water, all I can say is that it continues the adventures of Thoral Mighty Fist. Anything more than that would most likely give away far too much. I may have said too much already."
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?
"I have a smart dog and a stupid dog. Here is a photo of the three of us. The smart dog is pretending to be a great white shark and the stupid dog is pretending to be an epic fantasy author."
Love it! Hello, Pups! I did see pics of them on your Facebook page, especially of the ... - I cannot call him stupid, for crying out loud! - when he was a tiny puppy... so cute :-D
And the clever one is clearly into cos-play ;-)

Fish Wielder
Available NOW!

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