Why did you write this
book? A few years ago, I found myself at a
standstill and I was struggling to find a new sense of purpose. One version of
me I’d spend decades cultivating was burning before my eyes and I was struggling
to determine what I could do of value with my years remaining.
since I was a child, I’d dreamed of writing a fantasy series. In the imaginary
schematic of my life’s plan, I’d envisioned starting the series sometime in my
forties or fifties. Well, that life goal
got moved up at gunpoint, but I’m glad I received the chance to act on the
goal, no matter how it came about.
wrote The Amber Menhir to be the fantasy book of my fantasies. I’ve
always wanted to write a fantasy in a dark academic setting, featuring lots of
barbed dialogue and intrigues. When reading Game of Thrones or its
sequels, I always found myself longing to watch Cercei and the Queen of Thorns
exchange a few more quips. So, I’ve populated my pages with that kind of
fare. I’m proud of what spawned.
What is it about and who
is it really for? That’s an interesting question! At
face value, the book is about an elite group of vampiric intellectuals who’ve
convinced the world that it’s in danger, and that their blood magic is the only
means to save existence. This obvious bears no similarity to reality, right? Of
poor, unfortunate sweetlings (heroes) enter The Amber Menhir, one of
several institutions of magical learning and research, in the hopes that they
might help save the world. They soon learn, however, that those students who
challenge the status quo find more than their ideas on the line…
call the book a combination of Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and
Animal Farm. If you want a magical adventure with biting satire along
the way, then welcome.
aspects of society are going to lose their minds over The Amber Menhir,
and some already have. Come join the fun.
What do you hope
readers will get out of reading your book? First
and foremost, I wrote each book to be entertaining. There are oily villains,
endearing protagonists, acrimonious sorcerers, and malevolent cats. I mean,
what’s not to love about all that?
smidgeon deeper is a statement about how sound logic can still take one to
dangerous places. The evils in this fictitious world stem from reason’s
whelping breasts. Even the antagonistic scholars in this story are, in earnest,
working toward noble goals, but that hasn’t stopped them from committing evils.
each protagonist in the novel does something reprehensible at some point, at
least at face value. There are murderers, thieves, liars, and self-worshipers,
and that’s just among our ‘heroes’.
are reminded to be careful in their fight toward a utopia, and to recall that
your idea of a utopia is likely the dystopia of your neighbor. We all need countervailing forces to prevent
any one idea or line of reasoning from running amuck.
How did you decide on
your book’s title and cover design? The
title was a saga. For the longest time the running title was A Sinking
Monolith or perhaps The Sinking Monolith, but the PR and marketing
folks said those were both a drag. The names of the looming institutions of
magical research and learning in my world are call ‘menhirs’, named after the
mysterious standing stones that pepper western Europe. Menhirs in our own world
evidence long-extinct societies and inspire conjecture and myth. In this
literary world, the menhirs inspire equal parts awe and suspicion.
for the cover design, it features an hourglass glutted with blood-hued sand.
The magic used by scholars in The Amber Menhir is blood magic, both in
the sense that its hereditary and fueled by the wielder’s own life… or that of
What advice or words of
wisdom do you have for fellow writers? Go
easy on yourself. You’re allowed to take breaks. Your drafts are allowed to be
iffy or outright bad. Bad writing and good writing are twins. It’s just the
removal of a blemish here or the adjustment of a beauty mark there that makes a
passage hum. Fuss with a passage, but then take time away. It’s the back a
forth that brings a scene to a moment you can be proud of. It takes time and
it’s an iterative process. There is no rush. Producing one great work is far
better than a thousand pieces of shlock.
What trends in the book
world do you see -- and where do you think the book publishing industry is
heading? Ack! I’m worried I’m too new to
produce a solid answer. I suppose I consume
about half of my bookish content by audiobook. I don’t think I’m alone in that,
and I suspect the number of people who do the same will only grow. That’s why I aimed high for an accomplished actress
to narrate The Amber Menhir. We landed Chermai Leigh in the end, and I
couldn’t be happier. She’s been in Pokémon, Street Fighter, My
Hero Academia, Sailor Moon, Cyperpunk 2077, and a whole lot
more. She possesses an amazing range, and she brings it to bear in The Amber
Menhir. Listeners are in for a ride!
the book experiences some success, I’d like to recruit an illustrator to produce
storyboard-like sketches to coincide with the audio for a more immersive
experience. We’ll see how that pans out. My goal is to make the border between
the bookish world and folks who enjoy video content thinner and thinner.
Were there experiences in
your personal life or career that came in handy when writing this book? You bet. I spent my life scaling the ivory tower of our
world. Then I twisted and warped the most troublesome elements of our academia
to the produce the dark scholars of The Amber Menhir. Some of the
dispositions and quotes in the book are near replicas of what I’ve observed in
our world, though nothing is overtly autobiographical. All that being said, by
the end of the series, readers will see that every side of an issue is treated
with respect. Nobody acts from wholly evil origins and every character, both in
life and page, is a grey. If you think you’re not, you’re being naïve.
How would you describe
your writing style? Which writers or books is your writing similar to? I call my style the lean, epic fantasy. Though I admire the
works of others (Martin, Tolkien, Jemisin, Maas, Rowling, Rothfuss, Jordan,
Sanderson, Mieville, Butcher, and on), I’m too self-critical to allow myself
the volume of their writing styles. Every sentence in my book received a strip-search
to ensure that it said just what I intended it to, and concisely.
wandering in the forest of my own writing and editing (and editing) for months,
I finally turned outward to catch up with my favorite authors. Only then did I
appreciate how much more critical I am toward my writing than anyone else’s.
The result in a fast-paced narrative that accelerates until it barrels towards
What challenges did you
overcome in the writing of this book? I’d
say the greatest challenge was overcoming the (mostly justified) fear that my past
would punish me for my efforts as an author. My history is a bit, um, speckled.
There are many people who would like nothing more than to see me fail, and
already they’ve set their sights on The Amber Menhir. But then, I’ve had this childlike hope of one
day writing a fantasy series. In the end, the tug-of-war between fear and hope
was won by the latter. The fact I’ve attempted to move forward with my life has
attracted ire, but I can’t let that stop me.
10. If people can buy or read one book this week or
month, why should it be yours? The
Amber Menhir is going to be a controversy.
Already tens of thousands of people on Twitter are aware of its existence, and they
do not smile upon its content, though they know little of it. At the same time New
York Magazine is running a profile piece on its genesis and its
relationship to my past. People are
going to say a great deal about what the book says or doesn’t say, whether it’s
good writing or not.
confident the story will be fun for people, both upon the page and in the
broader media. For my part, I’ll continue to spin my tales and hawk my wares,
though I fear my strongest literary device will forever be my own life. Read The
Amber Menhir and weigh in on it yourself.
the usual expectations of Fantasy by way of satire, humor, and a race of
nefarious cats, the first in Jonathan Pruitt’s The
Shadows of the Monolith series, “The Amber Menhir” arrives this
October from Spinner Loom Press. Having earned the title of the world’s most
infamous spider biologist, Pruitt’s penned a grimdark fantasy that lampoons the
academic and scientific communities, while also offering an immersive, diverse,
and fast-paced story along the way. For
more info, please see: https://www.theshadowsofthemonolith.com/
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