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EXCLUSIVE – Erin M. Evans Interview: ‘Fire in the Blood’ by Alfred Cloutier

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Erin M. Evans Interview: Fire in the Blood

by Alfred O. Cloutier


Alfred O. Cloutier was able to sit down with award-winning author Erin M. Evans, writer of Fire in the Blood, the third book in the Forgotten Realms series Sundering.




In Fire in the Blood Erin M. Evans continues the riveting tale of her Sundering character, Farideh, as she becomes embroiled in a Forgotten Realms-flavored game of thrones.


In a direct follow-up to the third book in the Sundering series, The Adversary, young warlock Farideh falls into the midst of a battle for the throne of Cormyr. As the war brought on by the Sundering rages across Faerûn, princes and princesses, wizards and rogues scheme to capture the seat of power of the Land of the Purple Dragon—with Farideh and her allies caught squarely in the middle.



What is Farideh up to?

In Fire in the Blood, Farideh travels to the Forest Kingdom of Cormyr, home of her sister’s lover, Brin. Brin’s been in the series since the beginning, and this is the book where you meet his family and unravel his conflicts—beginning with an unwanted engagement to the princess of Cormyr and a brewing succession crisis. Alongside that, you have Farideh coping with the realization that she’s a Chosen of Asmodeus, the god of sin, and trying to figure out where she stands with Lorcan. And then all Hell breaks loose.


Is there any relation between the Dragon Throne and The Wyrmskull Throne?

None at all. The Dragon Throne is a nickname for the throne of Cormyr. Before it was settled by humans, Cormyr was ruled by the Purple Dragon, Thauglorimorgorus.


Does Fire in the Blood pick up where The Adversary left off?

It picks up around a month later, when the party has settled into life in Cormyr (for various values of “settled”).


Have you been playing the new edition of D&D? What do you think of it?

In my game we just converted from the play test rules, but we’ve been having a lot of fun! I’m playing a paladin, instead of my usual spellcaster, so I can’t compare directly—but I’ve been really excited and pleased by the direction things are heading. The emphasis on making the game your own is wonderful.


Last time we corresponded, you mentioned you played at the Extra Life fundraising event (for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals). Do you plan to play again this year? Who will you play as?

I will indeed! On October 25th, I’ll be participating in a day of gaming through Extra Life, raising money for Seattle Children’s Hospital. Donations help decide what kind of character I’m going to play—what benefits, what equipment, and—this year—even who. Each donation buys you votes: you can choose from an assortment of characters who appear in my novels. (Check out more information here).


OK, your blog is called – what’s up with that? 

Well, once upon a time I was an intern for a small press, with another woman. One of our jobs was acquisitions—we read the slush pile. For those of you who don’t know, “slush” is unsolicited manuscripts, the book proposals aspiring authors without agents send in. I love reading slush. It’s inspiring and funny and really exciting when you find something you want to buy in there. I was so enthusiastic, the editor suggested we start a blog about slush-reading. So “Slush Lush” was my nom de plume for that endeavor (which never quite came together) and I took it for the name of my blog.


Have you ever had a problem incorporating some story element dictated by another author’s work in the Forgotten Realms shared world?

Fire in the Blood overlaps with Troy Denning’s Sundering novel, The Sentinel. When I was writing my first draft, he was wrapping up his final. The descriptions of the army that attacks Marsember didn’t quite line up with what I was expecting—or what I had written already. At first, you panic—there is no way to fix this except a total rewrite! But it ends up pushing you to think of clever solutions. In my case, it’s sort of a surprise, but it tidied up a couple of minor lore questions and helped characterize Raedra, Cormyr, and Shade all at once.


Who is the master of continuity for Forgotten Realms – Ed Greenwood, or someone else? I would imagine that to be a tough job that only goes noticed when something is off…

To an extent, everyone is. Matt Sernett is the official Wizards of the Coast world person. He’s the one you go to when you need to know everything there is printed about the Royal Magician or Azoun V or what have you. Ed Greenwood on the other hand is good for questions like “Is there a kind of wood that you could get in this place that would be attractive to carve and okay being left out in the elements?” The open-ended stuff is where Ed is invaluable. Susan J. Morris is my editor, and she’s a veritable encyclopedia of obscure D&D details. And in between, it’s good to follow the path through more specific experts—Brian Cortijo is a designer and expert on Cormyr, who created several of the characters I used for Dragon articles. Troy Denning described Marsember (a nearby city) in the same war.  You want to make sure you get the best batch of information you can.


Do you get demographic information on who is reading your books? Who would you like to have reading your books?

The closest I’ve gotten is the breakdown on who follows me on Facebook and Twitter. (Facebook says I’m very big in Jacksonville!). The majority of my readers are adult men, but I think that’s partly because those are the readers the Forgotten Realms has always been primarily aimed at. Beyond that lays the Fog of Marketing


To be honest, I don’t like demographic marketing—I get the purpose of it, but it always seems to leave someone out in the cold. The people I want reading my book are the people who will enjoy it. I’m gratified to hear from hardcore Realmsfans who love them, from fantasy readers who were surprised and delighted by them, from men who hooked their wives and girlfriends on the Realms with them—and from women who got their partners reading the books.


How was the response to The Adversary?

Very good!


If you were writing outside the umbrella of Wizards, what kind of stories would you write? Would you insert any allegory, or roam into more mature language and situations?

To me, the setting doesn’t have the kind of limitations people usually assume. I love allegory—The Adversary is about coping with depression and the way relationships and connections provide support for us in our darkest hours. How do you weather than and how does it shape you. How do you learn to trust yourself again.


It’s also about fighting the scary shadow-goddess of loss over people with magical powers. It can be both. It should be both. I don’t even know how to write these books without thinking about both!


I do wish sometimes I could drop an f-bomb. That’s about the only thing I’m not allowed to do, but that’s more the setting than anything. So far as “adult situations” and violence are concerned, I think I go as far as I want—especially in Fire in the Blood.


Do you visit exotic locations, or even museums to get inspiration for stories, or story details?

Since the books I’m writing right now aren’t set anywhere real, I tend to pick up details as they cross my path. The most exotic location I ever snagged a book detail from didn’t even involve leaving the country: the plaguechanged tree that forms the Ashmadai grove in Brimstone Angels was inspired by the banyan tree in Lahaina, HI.



About Erin M. Evans


ERIN M. EVANS got a degree in Anthropology from Washington University in St. Louis–and promptly stuck it in a box. Nowadays she uses that knowledge of bones, mythology, and social constructions to flesh out fantasy worlds. She is the author of The God Catcher, and she lives in Washington State.


About Alfred O. Cloutier


Alfred O. Cloutier has contributed to Dragon Magazine, and has edited for a number of other gaming publishers. He can be found here, on Facebook.



Are you a fan of Erin M. Evans, Forgotten Realms or Fire in the Blood? Buy this book by clicking here or the link below!

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Exclusive Q&A Interview with Erin Evans by Alfred Cloutier


Erin M. Evans Q&A

by Alfred O. Cloutier

Erin M. Evans is the author of the new book, The Adversary, which is Book II of The Sundering Series, which follows the adventure of Farideh, a Tiefling Warlock from the Forgotten Realms. Erin is also the author of the Brimstone Angels series of novels. You can find her here on Facebook, and here on Twitter (@erinmevans).




Alfred Clouter: How is the Brimstone Angels series carrying into The Sundering?

Erin M Evans: The Adversary follows directly off of Brimstone Angels: Lesser Evils, taking Farideh, her friends, and her enemies right into the middle of the gods’ battles for power, played out among their most ruthless followers. 

AC: How are your characters affected by the overall events in The Sundering? What is their role in the event?

EME: Farideh makes a decision very early in the book which results in her being “loaned” to the Shadovar (people from the City of Shade) running an internment camp. Part of the story is Farideh (and the Harpers) figuring out what the camp is for and what the Shadovar are up to and how to stop them. At the same time, the gods have their own plans, and that goes double for the last god to enter the pantheon—Asmodeus, the king of the Hells.

ACPaul S. Kemp also had his Godborn story folded into The Sundering, which resulted in three potential books turning into one book. Did anything similar happen to you?

EME: In a way. Originally, I was asked to come up with a story that revolved around a human or half-elf character, the feeling being that those races are the ones people could identify with. But I really didn’t want to—I was in the middle of the Brimstone Angels series, and some of the story arcs I’d planned clicked into the Sundering in ways that made them so much better. So I made a very persuasive argument that tieflings were no less relatable than humans (or a certain drow fellow!)—in fact, how relatable a character was would always depend on how they were written—and won them over.

AC: How do you pronounce “Farideh?”

EME: It rhymes with “fajita.” (Assuming you pronounce fajita like “Farideh.”)


AC: On your blog you write about a “Choose Your Own Adventure” style of flowcharting for writing. In this case it was for Lorcan, a Cambion character from The Adversary. Can you comment further on this technique? Are they formal flowcharts?

EME: Unfortunately getting into too much detail would spoil the story! Like most tricks I come up with to get around writer’s block, it was pretty informal. In this case, one character, Lorcan (Farideh’s cambion pact-holder) wasn’t really acting like himself in the first draft and I couldn’t figure out where he’d gone off the rails. So I made a sort of flowchart dividing up Lorcan’s potential reactions to various events: Does he know what happened? Is he aware of why Farideh did what she did? Does he buy Sairche’s explanation? etc. Through that I found ten different storylines for Lorcan that could have happened in The Adversary, which let me choose the best one. 
AC: Something you mention in your video interview about the book makes me think that Forgotten Realms might be the most detailed fictional world ever created. What do you think of that?

EME: If it isn’t, it’s definitely in the running. The world is enormous and so many talented authors and designers have contributed to it, so many people have experienced the Forgotten Realms—through their own games, through the novels, through adventures, through other related media. When you step back and consider it, it’s quite extraordinary.


AC: What attracts you to Forgotten Realms? What about the world inspires you?

EME: I really appreciate how deep and how open the Forgotten Realms manages to be—you can have almost any sort of story set in the realms. Gritty, grim tales of men with scars and swords. Light-hearted stories about adventuring companions. Alien stories about strange races. Mysteries. Thrillers. Heck, at every single story summit we’ve had, Ed Greenwood brings up the idea of doing a sub-line of Realms romance novels—and you could do that really well. But a true Realms book always feels magical and relatable, exciting and maybe a little whimsical. They’re all different and yet they’re all a little familiar. Writing in that setting is great because I’ve never really felt like I had to change the way I wrote—the world has room for my stories. Plus, it’s pretty fantastic to have so much lore to draw on. There’s tens of thousands of years of history, wherever your characters walk—and someone out there is going to appreciate the fact that they recognize it. For The Adversary, I pored over Volo’s Guide to the Dalelands and The Dalelands, just to be able to write this: “My brother-in-law had family outside Harrowdale. Tassadrans originally, but they have lived there since the Sembians invaded. Did you know a fellow called Melias by some happenstance?”  If you are not into the lore, all that’s there is two people from the same general area trying to figure out if they know the same people. If you’re into it, you see events from more than a hundred years ago having ripple effects into the current era. I love that.


AC: Have you ever played a D&D session with the characters in your novels?

EME: I recently got to play in a game for Extra Life, a gamer charity that benefits Children’s Miracle Network. As a bonus to donors, I ended up playing as Havilar, which was great fun. She killed a displacer beast while half-asleep, tried to kick down a sliding stone door, and shared some very strong whiskey with her party (and, of course, the ghosts). 


AC: I love the fact that Farideh is a “female warlock,” which is a contradiction by dictionary definitions, but perfectly proper by D&D standards.

EME: It’s funny, I’ve never blinked at that. It’s not “correct” but I’m so used to a “witch” being a completely different thing!


AC: What is your externally observable process for writing? What time of day do you write, and for how long?

EME: I spend about half the day writing, four days a week, in a coffee shop because often my son is home with his aunt, who watches him. He’s two, and fond of slamming my laptop shut and declaring “Momma all done worky.” I’m definitely not the most diligent writer—I’m really easy to distract—so I use a lot of tricks to keep me typing. My latest favorite is a program called Write or Die. You set goals for yourself (word count and time), and then choose a punishment. If you stop typing for more than a few seconds, you get punished. I always pick “Kamikaze”—if I stop, it starts deleting what I wrote.I also revise a lot. Some scenes take me three or four tries to get just right. 


About The Adversary, the Sundering, Book III by Erin M. Evans

In the 3rd book of the multi-author Sundering series, the award-winning Erin M. Evans throws her signature character Farideh into a maelstrom of devilish politics and magical intrigue. Captured by Netherese agents and locked away in a prison camp, Farideh quickly discovers her fellow prisoners are not simply enemies of Netheril, but people known as Chosen who possess hidden powers, powers that Netheril is eager to exploit—or destroy.

As Farideh’s friends and sister race across the landscape on a desperate rescue mission, Farideh is drawn deeper into the mystery of the Netherese plot alongside two undercover Harper agents. But will her closest ally turn out to be an adversary from her past?



About The Sundering

The most popular setting in the Dungeons & Dragons universe, The Forgotten Realms, will be reshaped by an epic event, the Sundering. The Sundering is an extensive story spanning multiple expressions of the contemporary fantasy entertainment franchise that offers fans the opportunity to impact the fate of the world along the way. Key milestones in the year-long Sundering storyline will take place in iconic locations like Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter and Icewind Dale, to name a few.  The changes to the Forgotten Realms can be experienced through a series of novels, in-store play experiences, digital offerings, comics, accessories and tabletop RPG adventures. Through these expressions, Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) fans will be able to engage and impact the fate of the Forgotten Realms forever.


The Six Sundering Novels include: R.A. Salvatore (The Companions), Paul S. Kemp (The Godborn), Erin M. Evans (The Adversary), Troy Denning (The Sentinel), Richard Lee Byers (The Reaver), and Ed Greenwood (The Herald)


About the Author:


Alfred O. Cloutier has contributed to Dragon Magazine, and has edited for a number of other gaming publishers. He can be found on Facebook.


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