Search this blog

Monday 10 April 2017

ℚ♫ Rise of the Branded: The Scar of the Downers [2] - Scott Keen

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about Rise of the Branded (, WiDo Publishing, 292 pages), a Young Adult Fantasy, book two of The Scar of the Downers series.

“…So happy to continue the adventure of Crick and his friends! I thought the first book, Scar of the Downers, was really engrossing and fun but Rise of the Branded was even more exciting! (Though not a usual fan of fantasy fiction I devoured the book in one day). This action-filled story of their journey of freedom continues to evidence Mr. Keen as a really talented writer with his descriptive, interesting, (sometimes scary; sometimes compassionate) casts of characters, navigating dark and perilous lands of danger & intrigue." ~ Joan S.

|| Synopsis || Teaser: KCR Preview || The Series || Author Q&A || About the Author || Giveaway & Tour Stops ||

A very warm welcome to Scott Keen; thank you for joining us on BooksChatter!

To start Scott has shared with us his music playlist for Rise of the Branded - enjoy! (my partner certainly did!)

What was the inspiration for Rise of the Branded?
"One day in 2006, I was sitting at my desk trying to do homework. I was in my last year of graduate school in Virginia Beach. I remember staring out the window and looking at the rain. For some reason, an image of an orphaned child playing in the mud appeared in my head, and his adopted father was watching him. There was a knowledge shared by the both of them. The orphaned boy wanted to return to the streets. But why? I had to answer that question. The story morphed over the next year and the first picture of this series was born."
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"The concept of the story and the struggle both Crik and Durgan go through is representative of myself. Finding hope can be difficult. Not giving in to cynicism can be a battle. Not trusting people is real. But it’s difficult to live life this way. That, too, can be bondage."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us about your cover for Rise of the Branded - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"To be honest, I didn’t choose the concept of the cover. My publisher hires the designer, and I am to send them a portion of the book that I believe represents the tone of it. The designer takes that portion and interprets it. I’ve been really blessed with the covers of the first two books. WiDo has been really great about that, and it’s worked out well for me."
Why should we read Rise of the Branded and what sets it apart from the rest? What makes your book unique?
"This is a good, but difficult question to answer. How can I say what sets it apart without sounding slightly arrogant? How can I not say it without sounding falsely humble? Though many epic fantasy novels write how evil must be beaten back before it takes over the world, in Scar of the Downers and Rise of the Branded evil has already won. That’s where we begin. The question is this: How does good flourish when it’s already been defeated? How is freedom born when it has never really existed? It’s much easier to live the status quo than to sacrifice everything you have, even if it’s not much, for something bigger.

I also think there is a trend in modern books to see everything through a cynical lens. I try to steer away from that. In fact, my character is very cynical in the beginning, but as he navigates through many obstacles, he learns that cynicism is a copout. Hope is hard, but it is the better of the two. "
Can you tell us something quirky about Rise of the Branded, its story and characters?
"The story has gone through quite a lot of revisions over the past ten years. Crik’s name used to be Child, and Jak’s name used to be Chap. The story itself used to be called Child of the Downers. Back then, Crik was a completely different character altogether.

Several years ago, I wrote a book called The Last Rose of Innod. I turned that book into a play and took some elements/characters and infused them into this story. They show up in The Rise of the Branded."
Who would you recommend Rise of the Branded to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"I would recommend this book to anyone. Of course, what author wouldn’t say that, right? But I wrote the book with boys in mind. My wife and I search for a lot of books for our four daughters, and there is much to choose from. Some might say, too much. As an author, however, I wouldn’t. But for older middle grade to young adult boys, there’s not nearly as much. I wanted to write books that I would’ve liked to read as a boy/young man. Frankly, they are books I would like to read even now.

There is some cruelty to people in the book, but it isn’t sensationalistic or graphic. If the dark isn’t dark, then the light is pale. That’s how I see it when it comes to story and showing evil. So, if a parent has a truly sensitive kid, they may want to read it first. But I’ve had kids as young as nine read it (including my own daughter)."
If you could / wished to turn Rise of the Branded and the The Scar of the Downers series into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"To be completely honest, I’ve never thought about the who or what. Of course, what author wouldn’t eventually want to see their story in a different medium. Though the book is marketed toward young adult and middle grade, it is on the darker side of those age groups. But it isn’t “hopeless” dark. With that being said, I’ve liked Guillermo del Toro’s movies. He’s handled fantastical, dark elements well. Pan’s Labyrinth, for example, is an excellent movie."
What do you like to write and read about? Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?
"Most of my stories have some sort of fantastical element involved, but how that looks varies greatly. For instance, the Scar of the Downer series would be considered epic fantasy. It takes place in a different world altogether. But I’m almost finished with another fantasy novel that is set in our world, and the fantastical elements are quite a bit more limited.

I also tend to read the sort of books I like to write. But I do read a wider range of things. If I find the story interesting, I’ll try to read it, whether it is fiction or nonfiction."
What is your writing process?
"When I first started writing, I would write late in the night. I wouldn’t usually start working until 11 pm. As I’ve gotten older the time has moved earlier, and now I usually find myself writing in the early mornings, finishing up before noon. As of late, I‘ve been writing in the kitchen while I drink my coffee. Since I still have two little ones at home, it’s easier to fix them breakfasts and drinks (and yes, I pluralized it because it tends to happen in rounds.)"
What is in store next?
"I am currently working on the last book of the series. I’ve written some of it, but it is mostly in the outlining phase. I’m also almost finished with another book that is completely different. It’s called The Cry of Kilhaven. That, too, is a fantasy, but it is set in our world sometime in the future."
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 do have a pet cat. Unfortunately, he’s sort of miserable and rejects any pictures being taken of him. It could be because he was named after a mouse (Tom Thumb). Instead, here is a picture of me and my beautiful wife. She is the reason why I keep writing."
LOL I think I have one of those cats! Hello Tom, lots of head rubs to you anyway!

And of course a big hello to your lovely wife, thank you for sharing that fab pic with us!

Rise of the Branded
Available NOW!

purchase from purchase from purchase from Barnes & Noble find on Goodreads


Giselle said...

Thanks for hosting today! :)

Scott Keen said...

Thanks for the great interview! I enjoyed answering those questions.

BooksChatter said...

Pleasure hosting you! (my partner is currently playing your playlist - he is mildly into epic fantasies...)

Gulliermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth is a masterpiece, and his debut Cronos was something else!

Thank you for the interview and for visiting us today :-)


Scott Keen said...

It was definitely my pleasure being here. Sometimes I write just to listen to that playlist. I'm glad he's enjoying it

I've never seen Cronos, but I did Google the trailer. It definitely looks different. Thanks again!