Hi everyone! Petrik from Novel Notions here. We, the team at Novel Notions, are very thrilled and honored that we were asked by Michael S. Jackson to participate in the blog tour for the The Path and the Way, the first book in Ringlander series. On this interview, we asked Jackson a few questions related to his writing and debut. Without further ado, here’s my interview with Michael S. Jackson!
- Hi, Michael! Thank you for stopping by at Novel Notions. First of all, tell us a bit about yourself and your books!
Hi Petrik! Thank you for having me. I’ve been writing creatively for maybe 8 years, but I’ve been building and creating worlds in various forms for the past 20 years. I worked in the games industry and studied 3D animation for my masters postgrad designing characters and building worlds but it wasn’t until I left that I started writing. A friend of mine and I had been planning a set of short films called Barren Skies, and I began writing the scripts for it. We were also band mates, playing music together, so when the band split up, so did the Barren Skies project. It was a big loss to me to suddenly not be playing music (I’ve been a drummer in one band or another since I left school) but it was doubely difficult to not be writing anymore — music or stories. After a month or two I decided I would try another format, a novel, and being an avid fantasy reader I jumped head-first into designing a world and story fit for a book. I realised early on that my writing chops would have to improve before getting to a point I could release something so I started studying the greats and knuckled down, until finally I finished the final draft of Ringlander: The Path and the Way in 2021.
- Your cover art looks so beautiful, and it’s done by John Anthony di Giovanni. Did you have any influence on the cover art creation process? And what finalized your decision to choose him as your cover artist?
My job is design-based, so I have a good eye for visual art. I’ve been collecting fantasy art via reddit and imgur for years, saving it whenever I came across something I liked, so I knew who many of the big players were when it came to approaching an artist. I had a number of people in mind, but John’s works really stood out, because of his way with form. I dropped him a wee email, with a meticulously chosen passage (the scene from Shark in the Shallows on page 204 of the Ringlander TPATW hardback) and he got back to me saying he’d be interested. As you can imagine, he’s a busy guy but I had a lot on too, so we had a few video calls and chose around 4 scenes.
He threw together some comp sketches for me to use to visualise, and I put some rough text over them to try and get a feel for the layout (I’d never designed a book cover before) but ultimately it was the wildcard sketch that caught my attention the most: the shot of Kyira on the ship, the Ariathar, caught in the midst of action, which went on to become the finished cover. I made sure John had as much freedom as possible to visualise the scene, and the end result was absolutely stunning. It looks absolutely incredible as a poster print too. (You can buy it on my website as part of the special Ringlander AUTHOR EDITION)
- Which authors have the biggest influence on your book and writing?
Without a doubt Robert Jordan and Joe Abercrombie. I love Patrick Rothfuss too, and Phillip Pullman, H.G.Wells, Isaac Asimov, J.R.R Tolkien and they’ve all had an impact on my writing in one way or another, but Abercrombie and Jordan’s works hit me hardest. Inspiration can obviously come from anywhere: the marvel stories (especially Dr Strange), Star wars, Star Trek (Voyager, the new movies too), the Dark Knight rises and more recently A Quiet Place. There’s so much wonderful content out there. There are still so many fantasy authors I’m yet to read. My TBR pile is utterly ridiculous. I’m currently reading Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence and it has fast become one of my favourite grimdarks. He is an incredible talent.
- If you have to choose only one book/series to recommend, which one would it be and why?
Oh man, that’s tough. For a new fantasy reader I’d say read the Lord of the Rings. The movies have made the books much more accessible, and they’re a great place to begin. For someone who has read and enjoyed LOTR, I’d be dropping the Wheel of Time on their laps. I read it for the first time about 15 years ago, and it took me a number of years to get through, but it was so worth it. It’s a vividly imagined world and the magic system is top-notch. From grimdark it has to be Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy. There is just nothing I’ve read that compares to it, Logen Ninefingers and Glokta are two of the best literary characters imagined. I am constantly rereading Abercrombie’s work, or listening to the sultry sounds of Steven Pacey’s dulcet tones.
- What are some of your—past or ongoing—biggest challenges in progressing your career as an author?
Everything outside of writing. The methods you can use to market yoursef are endless, and throw in advertising and the whole thing is enough to make even seasoned trad authors lose their minds! My job is in marketing and I still have no idea if what I’m doing is the right way to go about it. Then there’s the whole indie vs traditional discussion. I looked into getting an agent very early on, but it took up so much time that I eventually gave up. The whole process is very elongated. Art is always going to be subjective, of course it is, but finding an agent is one of those very unique challenges within a writing career. However, if you’re embarking on a career then there are many ways to skin the cat. I chose to independently publish Ringlander because I can do a lot of the non-writing stuff myself and I was super excited about trying it, and marketing a product that belonged to me! Surprisingly one of the best parts was setting up the virtual tour — I’ve met so many wonderful, like-minded people in doing so. The indie crowd are some of the talented and best in the business if you ask me and I count myself very lucky to stand amongst them.
- Last question, when can we expect the next installment to come out, and how many books will be in the series?
The plan at the moment is to initially release three books in the Ringlander series, of which book two is partially written and has a full outline and title. I’ve also written a short story that takes place just before the beginning of book 1, called The Battle that was Lost, which is in final edit stages. I’m giving it to my mailing list for free, and it involves some new characters and deepens some of the back stories of characters introduced in TPATW.
There’s still a lot to do for Book 2, but I’m hoping for a late 2022 release. I have 3 kids, work a full time job, and manage Author Interviews (authorinterviews.co.uk) so time has to often be carved out of the day. Book 2 is coming together wonderfully though, it will feature that same high pace that people love about TPATW and really raise the stakes for the characters. John has also agreed to create covers for the series so I’m super excited about that, and work is beginning there soon. The best place for news is definitely my mailing list (https://mjackson.co.uk/
I’d love to write some more stories based within the Ringlander universe, but I’ll likely get the trilogy completed before venturing down that path.
Best of luck with everything, and thank you for stopping by, Michael!
That’s the end of this blog tour! Thank you very much once again to Michael S. Jackson for this blog tour opportunity. On behalf of Novel Notions, we thank you and we wish The Path and the Way and Michael S. Jackson success!
You can find a copy of Ringlander: The Path and the Way Author Edition on: