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Advice from IR Approved Author Bryan Cole: “Consistency is everything in a book.”

Futility of Defense received a 4+ star review, making it an IndieReader Approved title.

Following find an interview with author Bryan Cole.

What is the name of the book and when was it published?

Futility of Defense was published on June 30th, 2022. It is the second book in A Paladin’s Journey, following the events of Beginning of Arrogance.

What’s the book’s first line?

“Krell breathed in deeply as the spray washed over him again.” Our protagonist is returning from a sea voyage, and reveling in the joy of being on the water.

What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”.

Krell and his companions are tasked with defending the town of Watford from the growing threat from the sea, while the consequences of his actions from the first book impact him in ways he did not expect. Futility of Defense is primarily focused on the consequences of the events in Beginning of Arrogance, as the antagonists react to Krell’s actions, causing difficulties both varied and dire. I also wanted to focus on the responsibility that comes from being called to serve a deity directly, as Krell has. Over the course of the book, Krell struggles with the burden he’s been asked to bear, and begins to realize just how much people depend on him.

What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event?

I’ve loved the fantasy genre for what feels like my entire life. The primary motivating event for writing Futility of Defense was the positive feedback on Beginning of Arrogance, and the deeper and more nuanced story I wanted to tell. Krell is on his own hero’s journey, and trying to figure out what it means to be a paladin in a world where everyone expects so much from champions of their god. I have a solid series arc that I want to continue, and positive feedback from both editorial and consumer reviews suggests that I will!

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book?

Anyone who enjoys well-written characters depicted realistically in their environment will love Futility of Defense (and Beginning of Arrogance also!). I edited the book many times to ensure that nobody suffers from what I call Stupid Character Syndrome™, which means characters shouldn’t make any dumb choices or forget that they have abilities and magic at their disposal. Anyone who enjoys seeing the consequences of their actions coming back around – both positive and negative – will also enjoy Futility of Defense. While it is book 2 in a series (and therefore contains some spoilers from book 1), it is a standalone novel in its own right.

What’s the most distinctive thing about the main character?  Who-real or fictional-would you say the character reminds you of?

In Futility of Defense, Krell is struggling with the weight of expectation and responsibility thrust upon him. Paladin’s are called to be the champion of their faith, and to serve the faithful. Krell keenly feels the pressure of trying to save everyone and failing at it multiple times throughout the story. Beyond that, now that he’s being exposed to society and other people on a regular basis, he’s being confronted with social situations he has little experience dealing with, adding many moments of comedy and character growth. Ultimately, Krell will chart his own heroic journey, and it will mirror elements found in dozens of other similar stories, from Aladdin to Peter Parker.

Which of your characters would you go out for drinks with?

She’s smart, witty, and charming if she wants to be. She’s also a sophisticated drinker, not one who would get intoxicated or rowdy. I also know how much she knows about magic and magical theory (since I’m the author), so it would be a fascinating conversation to have in that respect. I would contrast this with Dorn and Kraven, where an evening spent with them would lead – at best – to a massive hangover. At worst you might not survive the evening at all!

What inspired you to become a writer?

Two principal factors played into me beginning to write. First, it was my friends who heard the stories that I told and suggested that I should write them down in a book, seeding the idea. The second aspect was that I wanted to read a story very much like Beginning of Arrogance but couldn’t find it anywhere. I read a lot, but I never saw a world with the consequences of divine entities being demonstrably real represented the way that I thought they should be. So, with the encouragement of my friends and a desire to read a great story, I set about creating it. After the success of Beginning of Arrogance, Futility of Defense was a natural continuation of Krell’s journey.

Was this book more difficult to write than your first book?

Definitely! Futility of Defense went through several re-writes, with what was then Chapter One moving to become Chapter Fifteen. Many elements of the story changed and morphed as the weight of consequences bore down on Krell, and the rising threat of the sea devils influenced the town and altered the feel of it substantially. However, I’m glad I took the time to think through the story – and that I listened to my beta readers!

Where do you do most of your writing?

I have a full-time job in the Enterprise Software segment. The super short description of what that means is the sort of software businesses use to run companies or the internet, not anything you’d ever see available on a shelf, for example. This means I have a great space to use for work, and in my part time, for writing. A large desk, mouse and keyboard, and multiple monitors, which I find invaluable as it lets me reference character notes side by side with story writing. My office also has a door, letting me have my own admittedly cluttered space all to myself, though mostly that’s to keep the cat out!

How much time do you generally spend on your writing?

An eternal struggle for me! I try to get in at least six hours of writing per week, though that needs to be thought of as an average over time. There are weeks where zero words get written into the story (but lots of thoughts and notes taken!), and there are weeks where I’ll easily write twenty thousand words or more. Between family, full time employment, and other hobbies, my time to write is very constrained. I love writing, however, and when I have both the time and desire, a (hopefully!) great story spills forth.

What’s the best and the hardest part of being an indie?

Marketing! This has not changed at all from the last time I achieved an Indie Reader Approved badge for Beginning of Arrogance. Marketing is a full time job filled with nothing but rejection and silence… and the occasional wonderful review that makes the whole process worthwhile!

What’s a great piece of advice that you can share with fellow indie authors?

Consistency is everything in a book. Characters exist in a world with rules, no matter how fantastical they may be, and they should act consistently within those rules. This calls back to what I call Stupid Character Syndrome™, where skills or powers are not used because… reasons? Every time I read this or see it in other media, I can’t help but be vaguely offended. A great example would be the Obi-Wan miniseries on Disney+. I love Star Wars, and have for my whole life. But watching Stormtroopers just fail at incredibly basic tasks such as holding onto their weapon, or shooting their weapon, was incredibly frustrating. The bad guys were written to act stupidly so the good guys could succeed. Contrast this with Andor, also on Disney+, which is an amazing story filled with realism and consequences, where Stormtroopers are terrifying.

Would you go traditional if a publisher came calling?  If so, why?

It is intriguing, and I’m not opposed to the idea. Principally, the reason why is that they might front me the money I need to retire from my professional job and write full time, but a huge secondary benefit would be the marketing department. For all the indie authors out there, who are about to publish, that is not the end of the journey. Learn about marketing!

What genre of books do you enjoy reading?

I’m an avid reader, and read almost any subject from true crime, to historical fiction, to actual history, to fantasy, to science fiction, to spy thrillers, to, well, almost anything. I say almost because I am not a fan of the horror genre, despite testing out my ability to write aspects of it in Futility of Defense. No matter what I read, I always come back to science fiction and fantasy as my two most preferred genres.

Any final thoughts?

Everyone has a story to tell, and with ready access to the internet, not only is it easy to find and read amazing stories, but increasingly easy to write your own. I had no idea before I began writing that I would enjoy it as much as I have, and I would encourage everyone to give it a try and see if you enjoy it as much as I have!

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