Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

Interviews and a Writing Update

imageI don’t do  many general update sort of posts anymore, as lately it seems I’m busy writing. It’s a good problem to have, right? Currently, I have three projects ongoing. More on that below. But, first, some other news.

An Interview and a Shout-Out

I’ve done one interview in the past month or so over on Judy Goodwin’s My Writerly World site and a blog shout-out on Michael Brooks’s Cult of Me blog. I want to thank both Michael and Judy for having me. The interview was a good opportunity for me to talk about my writing philosophy, along with current and upcoming projects. The shout-out was me talking about this blog, its evolution, and where I'd like to take it into the future. Go check each of them out.

Assassin Without a Name Sale

If you’ve been following along, you may have noticed that each week for the past month each Assassin Without a Name title has been on sale for 100% off. 100% off means free, of course. This week The Goddard Affair is on sale at Amazon until 9/22. Get it while you can.

Writing Update

Last, I have a few projects in-progress at the moment.

The first is Thief’s Gambit, the next Assassin Without a Name story. The rough draft is about halfway done and it’s currently sitting at 20,000 words. That puts it into novella territory in terms of length and, when all is said and done, it will be the longest story of the series to date. My goal was to have each story get longer and longer, which was to be expected as the plot continues to grow more complex and involved. So, I’ll be quite happy with the fifth story coming in at something like 30,000-40,000 words.

Meanwhile, in other Assassin Without a Name news…

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I’m working on a short piece for a kickstarter campaign promoted by Ragnarok Publications called BLACKGUARDS: Tales of Assassins, Mercenaries, and Rogues, which will feature my favorite assassin character. This is a submission/approval process, so there’s no guarantee my story will be accepted for the publication. However, worst case scenario I’ll have another story to fit into the series. This one would fit into the timeline somewhere after Thief’s Gambit.

And, third, I’m also working on the next Alchemancer novel, The Inversion Solution. Given the other work I've been putting into my Assassin series, this one has not gotten the attention it deserves. I expect that to change real soon, though, as this becomes my primary focus.

Ask the Author on Goodreads

Ask the Author is a new program on Goodreads where readers can ask any author who opts into the program any question they like.

Want to know what I'm currently working on? When the next Alchemancer book is coming out? Why the Assassin Without a Name doesn't have a name (can't guarantee I'll give you a satisfactory answer on that one as it would involve spoilers)?

Visit my Ask the Author page and I'll gladly answer anything you throw my way.

Here's a couple of stock questions I've already answered:

Ask the Author: Scott Marlowe

The Next Big Thing

I've been tagged by author TL Rese to participate in The Next Big Thing. TNBT is relative, of course, since each individual's "next big thing" is different. But, since I'm the one who was tagged here, this NBT post is going to be about me and my upcoming novel, The Nullification Engine, which goes on sale December, 2013. Here's the cover in all its glory:

The Nullification Engine

What is the working title of your next book?

The Nullification Engine. It follows The Five Elements, pretty much picking up right where that book left off.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The idea for the series as a whole really is a culmination of all of my favorite books, series, and authors . All fantasy, of course, though in this new book you'll see some influence from the seafaring tales of C.S. Forester and Patrick O'Brian via the airship, Griffin, and her crew.

What genre does your book fall under?

That's a tough question because the content really doesn't fall under a single genre. Primarily, it's fantasy. But there elements of steampunk, pseudoscience or science fantasy, and alchemy. One reviewer described the first book thusly, "I'm not at all sure how to categorise this. There are elements of steampunk, there's alchemy, there's a fairly standard form of elemental magic and there's a fair dose of science in the mix as well." The Nullification Engine follows this same formula, so if you enjoyed The Five Elements, you'll like this one too.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When the Nullification Engine is activated, Aaron, Serena, and Ensel Rhe must stop the ancient machine before it destroys Brighton and everyone in it.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The entire book, from outlining to finished product, took about 14 months. The first draft itself, maybe 7 months. A timeline might be something like:

  1. Oct 2012 – Dec 2012: Outlining
  2. Dec 2012 – June 2013: First Draft
  3. June 2013 – Sep 2013: 2nd, 3rd, 4th drafts
  4. Sep 2013 – Nov 2013: Editing/proofreading

Keep in mind I have a day job which can occupy anywhere from 40-60 hours/week depending on what's going on at the time.

What other books would you compare this to within your genre?

Probably Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan series.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

In a general sense, the inspiration for this series comes from my love of fantasy literature but also from my background as an engineer. I play fast and loose with scientific principles, though, which is entirely on purpose. First and foremost, my writing is about entertaining. The pace is often fast-paced, so I never want that to get bogged down with "hard" science. Besides, hokum is a lot more fun to come up with.

Kindle Fantasy Authors Interview

It looks like Kindle Fantasy Authors is gone—BlogSpot account is no more and Twitter handle has vanished. That kind of creates a problem given that I was going to reference my recent interview with them for some follow-up posts here. Fortunately, I saved the interview Q&A, so here it is in its entirety.


An interview with Scott Marlowe, author of The Five Elements

KFA: Hello, Scott, and welcome to Kindle Fantasy Authors! Please tell us about The Five Elements. I see it’s subtitled The Alchemancer. What is an alchemancer anyway?

Scott Marlowe: Thanks!

The Five Elements is a character-driven blend of fantasy, alchemy, and pseudoscience. The two main characters, while best of friends, ultimately find themselves on different sides of this thing called the Fifth Element. Along the way, there's plenty of intrigue, mystery, chases, soul-searching, logic problems, airships and other machines, and, of course, action. At its core, it's about flawed characters trying to do their best with the hand they've been dealt, which I think readers can relate to because that's pretty much what we're all trying to do.

As for what an alchemancer is… From a literal perspective it's the combination of an "alchemist" and a "-mancer" (someone who practices divination). This would make an alchemancer someone who practices divination by way of alchemy. However, in the context of my book, it's much more than that. Think of an alchemancer as part alchemist, mathematician, and scientist. The word 'alchemancer' never comes up in The Five Elements as it's part of a greater, over-arching storyline that will come to light in future novels.

KFA: I assume we will see some of these characters again?

Scott Marlowe: Absolutely. I'm currently working on the sequel to The Five Elements, called The Incandescent Engine. It picks up right where The Five Elements ends. So far, it's been a lot of fun taking these characters on another ride.

KFA: If you could put yourself into the book, which character would you be?

Scott Marlowe: Oh, boy… That's a tough one. In some ways, there's a bit of me in every character. But if I had to choose, I'd have to go with two of them: Aaron, because he's smart, responsible, and always trying to do the right thing, and Ensel Rhe, because he's pretty good with a sword (of which I'm not, by the way).

KFA: What is the best writing advice you’ve received?

Scott Marlowe: It sounds overused, but keep writing. Not only does it ultimately lead to more material for your readers to read, but it also makes you a better writer.

KFA: Whom do you see as your ideal reader?

Scott Marlowe: Someone who enjoys imperfect characters thrust into unlikely, fantastic circumstances who then have to dig deep to overcome the odds.

KFA: Which authors or novels are we most likely to find you reading when you’re not writing?

Scott Marlowe: I'm a Bernard Cornwell junkie. His Sharpe series is fantastic. Also, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Dave Duncan (check out his Alchemist's Apprentice series; good stuff), Michael Moorcock, and I've been enjoying Mark Hodder's ongoing Burton & Swinburne series of mystery/steampunk novels.

KFA: What inspired you to take on the challenges of writing a novel?

Scott Marlowe: I've been reading fantasy since I was a kid. I think even way back then the allure of creating my own fantastic worlds and characters was strong. Also, I think many of us read something and think to ourselves, "That doesn't look that hard. I can do this." Of course, the reality is that it is, at times, very hard. You spend a lot of time by yourself, living in an imaginary world with imaginary characters, and there's always this feeling of guilt hanging over you if you haven't met your word count for the day. On the other hand, there's a lot of satisfaction in it as well, the pinnacle of which is having someone read and enjoy the finished product. That's really what it's all about.

KFA: Please tell us about your writing process.

Scott Marlowe: I'm an engineer by day, so it will probably come as no surprise that I'm a diehard outliner. The outline for the next novel in The Alchemancer series, which is now complete (thankfully), is 50 pages long and took 2-3 months to complete. I lay a lot of groundwork in my outlines, and while nothing is ever set in stone, it gives me a good roadmap to follow as I'm writing along. The outline itself contains detailed information on characters, places, and, of course, a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of the novel.

In terms of actual writing, I'm usually out of bed and in my study at home by 6am. That gives me about 2-2 ½ hours to write before heading off to the office for the day. Then maybe I'll do some more when I get home depending on the demands of my wife and two dogs.

KFA: Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

Scott Marlowe: When working on a rough draft, don't get hung up on perfecting each chapter or scene. Always keep moving forward until your first draft is done. Then go back and add the layering and other details and fix things. You'll never finish if you don't keep moving forward.

KFA: Where do you do your best writing?

Scott Marlowe: My study in the morning when I'm not answering lengthy interview questions. Kidding, kidding…

KFA: Do you have a website or blog where our readers can find out more about you and The Five Elements?

Scott Marlowe: Sure do. Go to http://www.scottmarlowe.com. There's info about my novels, some free short stories, and plenty of blog posts which they may or may not find of any use.

I'm also on Twitter and Goodreads.

KFA: Where can our readers find a copy of your novel?

Scott Marlowe: The easiest way is to go to my Amazon Author Page or visit my site.

KFA: And finally, as an author, what question have you never been asked, but would like to answer?

Scott Marlowe: "Where do you get your ideas?" Ha, ha. Just kidding. I think you stumped me. I got nothing.

KFA: Thanks for talking to us. Good luck with your writing.

Scott Marlowe: Thank you. Appreciate the opportunity.