Hello, fellow bookworms and audio addicts. Today’s my stop on the blog tour for The Broken Heart of Arelium by Alex Robins. The first book in his epic fantasy series, War of the Twelve.
My thanks to Dave @The Write Reads On Tour for organising the blog tour.
Keep reading to find out more about the War of the Twelve series and its author in a fun little Q&A. But first…
What is The Broken Heart of Arelium about?
Keep reading to find out more about the War of the Twelve series. But first, let me share with you the little Author Interview that Alex agreed to do.
Flora Meets: Alex Robins
Hi Alex and welcome to Flora’s Musings
Hi, Flora, it’s an honour, and thanks so much for taking the time to read and review my debut novel!
Q: I loved your novel and had to give it 5-stars! You had me hooked right from the opening scene.
What was the inspiration for the story?
I read a lot of fantasy (too much probably 😉), and one of the things I’ve always wondered about is the reliability of history. There are all these wonderful fleshed-out worlds with incredibly detailed histories … that everybody knows and categorically accepts as fact, from the highest noble to the lowest peasant. Isn’t that strange? Especially in a medieval-inspired society where few people can read and so little is recorded.
That’s what first sparked the idea for the story. Maybe what people remember is not quite what actually happened? As one character remarks to another “History is a malleable thing, changed in an instant with a stroke of the pen.”
Q: Every novel that I’ve rated 5-stars has had characters that engaged me. I feel invested in the protagonist’s journey and am keen to learn why they do the things they do.
What are you looking for in a protagonist, Alex?
I think relatability — which is becoming more and more difficult for me as I trudge begrudgingly along through my forties. A lot of epic fantasy has young, hopeful protagonists, their little faces the very picture of wide-eyed innocence! Conversely, in more recent years, the grimdark subgenre has created dozens of mean, foul-mouthed antiheroes. I could relate to neither, so I chose to go in another direction. The three main characters of The Broken Heart of Arelium are good-hearted but still all flawed in one way or another. They are also all plagued with self-doubt, something I find makes them more human and, consequently, more believable.
Q: I was impressed with the richness of detail in The Broken Heart of Arelium. The mythology, life as a member of The Old Guard, the Barons and the levels of society of the world. The world you’ve created felt so believable that it could have come from our own history books.
Are you a history buff or did you have to research any aspects? How do you decide what can come purely from your own imagination and what has to be based in fact?
Thank you, that’s very kind. The great thing about fantasy, as opposed to historical fiction, is that the author can take the most interesting parts of medieval society and twist them slightly to fit the narrative without worrying about being 100% accurate. We just need to be careful, consistent, and coherent.
Most of the research I did was primarily on weapons, armour, and medieval siege-warfare. This included a great deal of reading, of course, but also many trips to the castles here in the Loire Valley and watching a number of re-enactments. I even shot a crossbow or two! Those people know their stuff!
Then, I had to decide just how accurate I wanted to be without compromising the action and battle scenes. One small example would be plate armour. In reality, the knights described in The Broken Heart of Arelium would not be able to run, jump, or move as fluidly as they do. But for certain scenes to be as dynamic and as nail-biting as I wanted, sacrifices to authenticity had to be made!
Q: I’m a huge audiobook addict. So thank you for producing your novel in this format. I really enjoyed Jay Forrester’s narration.
What made you hire Jay for your project and, as an indie author, what does the process involve?
I like audiobooks too. It’s such a shame they are so expensive to produce as I think there is a real market for this format, one that’s growing every day. As an indie author, I wanted to find an independent, freelance narrator rather than work with a larger company, so I advertised on several freelance sites, asking for candidates to send in a small sample of them reading the first chapter. Jay fitted what I was looking for perfectly!
From there, I worked closely with Jay to get everything “feeling” right, from the tone of narration, to the speed, to the voices. The entire process took about three months, and Jay was an absolute star throughout. He was not only a competent professional but also helpful and friendly. We even got to rant together about the England football team losing the Euro!
Q: I’m so pleased that I got the chance to listen to your novel, Alex. As a book blogger, I love finding new-to-me authors and supporting indie authors.
Are there any tips you could share with new writers that have worked well for you?
First of all, thank you so much for supporting indie authors. From what I understand, it is becoming slightly easier for us to compete with trad publishing, but we will obviously never have the marketing budget the big companies have. It’s so frustrating that there are hundreds of excellent stories out there that will be lost to obscurity. Bloggers like yourself are helping alleviate that, so thank you.
As for advice … I’ve only been an indie author for a couple of years, so I’m still learning the ropes, but I can think of two important things. The first is not to worry about sales. Lots (and lots) of readers will only buy a book when the entire series is finished as they don’t want to wait. Others may not be willing to make a purchase if there are too few reviews. All of these things will come in time. I’ve often heard that if trad publishing is a sprint, indie publishing is a marathon: a long, arduous slog to get your book out into the wild and in front of the right audience.
My second piece of advice complements the first: write what you love. Not necessarily what you know, but what you love. You are going to be rereading your own stuff a lot. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read my first novel. If you don’t like reading fantasy, don’t write a fantasy novel. If you hate teenage protagonists, don’t write one as your main POV.
I was surprised how many people in the writing community write “to market”. If you don’t conform to specific fantasy tropes, your book might sell less well, but at least you won’t lose your sanity in the process.
Q: Immersing myself in a good story is not just my hobby, but it relaxes and entertains me as well. Keeping me sane. 😘
So, when you’re not writing, Alex, what do you do to relax?
Perhaps you’ll be surprised to learn this … but writing is my hobby 😊! So, when I’ve had a difficult week, or when my day job is getting me down, I open up my laptop and lose myself in the Barony of Arelium! It’s wonderfully cathartic.
Apart from writing, I read a lot, play the occasional videogame, and go out for long bike rides among the beautiful vineyards we have here. Oh, and I play the guitar. Very badly.
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Alex.
No, thank you for taking the time to put this whole thing together! 😊😊
I loved finding out about Alex, his thought processes, inspiration, and sanity savers. So now, let me share with you more about the War of the Twelve series.
War of the Twelve by Alex Robins
None can resist the ravages of time. Knowledge is lost. Memories fade.
But some things must never be forgotten.
The Knights of the Twelve are a secretive order of warriors created over three hundred years ago by the Twelve themselves. They were once hundreds strong, with garrisons throughout the nine Baronies. Then, without warning, they disappeared.
Books in the Series
- The Broken Heart of Arelium (War of the Twelve #1) (2021)
- The Ashen Hand of Kessrin (War of the Twelve #2) (2021)
- The Burning Tears of Morlak (War of the Twelve #3) (2021)
Or, read for free using your Kindle Unlimited subscription! 💜 🥳 💜
And finally, here is Alex’s bio and social media links.
Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read this blog tour post – Flora Meets Alex Robins. I loved finding out more about this talented indie author and really enjoyed my first step into his fantasy world. Have you bought The Broken Heart of Arelium yet?
Before you go, check out what my favourite genres are and why I like them.
Bye for now,