Interview With Author P.L. Stuart

# Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!

Hi everyone! I’m P.L. Stuart! I’m a Canadian fantasy author, of Ghanaian and Barbadian descent. I was born and raised in the Toronto area. I currently reside in picturesque Chatham, with my lovely wife Debbie! Debbie is the better half of our authorpreneurial team. She handles most of the business side of authorship, which allows me more time to focus on the writing side. Debbie and I have seven wonderful children and one precious grandchild between the two of us.

I have a Bachelor of Arts Degree from York University in Toronto. My major in school was English, with a specialization in Medieval Literature, and my minor was History.

A Drowned Kingdom was published in February 2021 and is my debut novel. This novel is a work of epic high fantasy and is primarily based on my version of Plato’s legend of Atlantis. My Atlantis in A Drowned Kingdom is called, similarly, Atalantyx.

Told in an old-world style, my novel is written from the perspective of the protagonist, a Prince, called Othrun. To assist with introducing my book further, here is the back cover synopsis for A Drowned Kingdom:

Once Second Prince of the mightiest kingdom in the known world, Othrun now leads the last survivors of his exiled people into an uncertain future far across the Shimmering Sea from their ancestral home, now lost beneath the waves. With his Single God binding his knights to chivalric oaths, intent on wiping out idolatry and pagan worship, they will have to carve out a new kingdom on this mysterious continent―a continent that has for centuries been ravaged by warlords competing for supremacy and mages channeling the mystic powers of the elements―and unite the continent under godly rule.

With a troubled past, a cursed sword, and a mysterious spirit guiding him, Othrun means to be that ruler, and conquer all. But with kingdoms fated on the edge of spears, alliances and pagan magic, betrayal, doubt, and dangers await him at every turn. Othrun will be forced to confront the truths of all he believes in on his journey to become a king, and a legend.

When one kingdom drowns, a new one must rise in its place. So begins the saga of that kingdom, and the man who would rule it all.

The book is also about various important and timely themes, like racism, misogyny, colonialism, and more. I wanted that kind of book centred around a person who came from privilege and prejudice and to examine how (if) such a person could change. To use the vernacular, “woke”. I wanted to explore the journey of someone becoming “woke”—that is to say, aware, alert, and engaged in social justice issues like racism, after being the opposite. What better context to look at this, than having the potentially “woke” person as a spoiled, privileged, obstinate nobleman, at the very pinnacle of society? Such a transformation would be engrossing to read about, in my opinion.

I look at my book kind of like a hard-boiled egg. The shell is your very traditional epic high fantasy book, with all the trappings one has become used to when reading that type of book. The white of the egg, the big part of the egg, is the tale itself, which I think is an entertaining, engaging, and highly detailed story, including my version of the Atlantis myth. The yolk is about the difficult themes I spoke of. That’s the heart of the egg and the heart of why I wrote A Drowned Kingdom.

# What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?

The real-life story behind my writing is that many of the bigoted, homophobic, sexist things Othrun says are things I have heard with my own ears. Much of the racism, religious intolerance, misogyny that can be read about in The Drowned Kingdom Saga I have witnessed with my own eyes. Those things have been angering, troubling, and hurtful. They have also been inspiring and motivating, and an opportunity for dialogue, and driving hope for change in the world.

So when you read any book in The Drowned Kingdom Saga, realize you’re not just reading a typical high fantasy book about queens, kings, princes, knights, mages, political intrigue, and battles. You can read it like that, and still enjoy it if you like. The book is yours, once you purchase it, and everyone’s interpretation and aspects that they enjoy will be subjective. However, I would ask that you at least consider looking at my books as more than about my version of the Atlantis legend, cunning mages, or a flawed prince. There’s lots of deeper meaning there, for those who want to see it.

So, I would request that, as the reader, you consider not just writing Othrun off as someone you can’t like, so therefore you can’t appreciate my book. I understand it may be hard to like a book if you don’t enjoy the flawed voice that narrates the book. The choice will always be yours, but I believe that if you give my series – and Othrun – a chance, in time, you may be pleased that you did. Othrun, and my books, I think, both have lots of redeeming qualities.

# How do you deal with creative block?

I tend to deal with creative block (or writer’s block) by not being too hard on myself and turning my attention elsewhere. For me, I can’t force inspiration. I write whenever I feel inspired, when I’m not too tired or distracted with other things, because I find my mind needs to be clear to write. So I don’t stick to a particular schedule for writing. But when I have time, and I feel like I can write obsessively for hours, I do! And I don’t stop until I run out of time for that day because something else is more pressing, or inspiration leaves me.

I’m not one of those to set daily or weekly writing goals. I just write when I have the energy, time, and am in the mood. I am a maniacal writer in terms of “binges”. Some weeks go by and I don’t touch the keyboard. Some days I write most of the day. A lot I think has to do with my shift work job, and how my energy ebbs and flows, around that. I work afternoons, day shifts, night shifts. Your body is always out of flux, and so are your sleep patterns. So there is no “set time” you do anything. Neither do I have a set time to write.

# What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?

I can think of three big mistakes I would advise any author to avoid. First, to the greatest degree possible ensure there are no issues in your final proofread with grammar, spelling, huge plot holes or inconsistencies in one’s plot.

Second, a professional outer shell, in terms of a nice front and back cover, including a tantalizing synopsis, is perhaps the greatest selling feature of any book. If as an author, you don’t have this, you have erred. Readers need to first be attracted to your book’s outside to be enticed to read all the amazing words you have on the inside.

Finally, if there is no depth to your characters, people won’t care what happens to them. A great plot is important, but I find books with great characters make the best books. Don’t scrimp on fleshing out your characters properly, or else people will potentially lose interest in them.

# Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?

Titles for my books are always focused on the overarching theme of what I feel the book is about. The backstory of Atalantyx, a drowned kingdom, lost beneath the waves, sets the stage for everything that happens in the entire series, which is why the series is entitled The Drowned Kingdom Saga. The fact Atalantyx drowns, what may have led to its drowning, and how its survivors cope in the aftermath of that drowning certainly dominates the first book, hence A Drowned Kingdom as the title.

Similarly, the second book highlights that the survivors are The Last of the Atalanteans. Even if the survivors are not extinguished, and wiped from history, they will no longer considered to be “Atalanteans”, but something else. The Atalanteans hope to settle in a strange new continent and create a new kingdom which will not bear the name Atalantyx. Therefore, they will lose some of their identity, and there will be some assimilation with the native cultures of the new continent. So the title The Last of the Atalanteans is indicative of that.

My book covers must reflect a central theme to that particular book – ideally representative of the title itself, or as close as I can achieve that. I like to keep my covers simple, elegant. I love and drool over those amazing, complex covers with all kids of artwork and multiple images, animated covers, etc. But for my novels, I want the reader to be left with ONE main image that remains with them about each book, so that they can easily distinguish one book from the other.

So, with A Drowned Kingdom, it’s the gold Triangle and Circle Icon, set over the greenish / bluish water, against a greenish / bluish sky. I think that makes the Triangle and Circle stand out. That cover represents the drowning of Atalantyx, the mysticism surrounding that drowning, what caused it, what remains after that drowning. I love that cover! My future covers will be similar – a central image, and a complimentary background that is meaningful, tied into the central image.

# How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?

As authors, we must learn to cope with bad reviews and negative feedback. The world’s biggest bestselling authors all receive many uncomplimentary reviews, along with the vast preponderance of complimentary ones. Liking a book is such a subjective thing. It’s hard, but every author must accept, not everyone is going to adore your work.

Yet every negative review, if constructive, and not mean-spirited, is valuable. It can potentially help authors improve their writing or lead other readers who lean to opposite tastes of the reviewer to find your work.

I have been blessed so far that most of my reviews have been positive, and even those with sharper criticism still had some very complimentary parts. I’m a bit more sanguine about them now, than I was at first. I have come to understand negative reviews are virtually unavoidable to some degree. Yet, long as you are receiving – generally – more positive than negative, I think as an author, without getting complacent, arrogant, or tone-deaf to feedback, you are doing ok.

# Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?

This is perhaps the biggest challenge of writing. I try to write the books I believe other people would want to read, while writing the book I want to write, and in turn would want to read if I never wrote it myself – rather if someone else wrote it. In other words, I am writing primarily for a target audience, that includes myself.

So, I write for those who love to read epic high fantasy, who don’t mind reading flawed main characters, and who want to be challenged by compelling themes, not merely entertained. That doesn’t mean that people who don’t normally like to read that type of book may not read or even love my work too. It just means that I must write for something greater than myself, and a specific group of readers. It means that I should know the type of person who enjoy my book, and that should be somewhat of a wide variety of people (if I expect to be widely read).

I hope that by writing books this way, I can achieve both personal satisfaction in my writing, and that my readers will be pleased with my books and continue to buy them.

# What are your plans for future books?

A Drowned Kingdom is the first book in the seven-book series The Drowned Kingdom Saga. After The Drowned Kingdom Saga, there will be a first, then a second prequel trilogy.

Each trilogy will be based on ancestors of Othrun and their unique exploits and historical importance to the universe of The Drowned Kingdom Saga. Following those six books, a final seven-book series, picking up where The Drowned Kingdom Saga left off, will be written.

# Tell us some interesting facts about yourself.

I’m in Federal law enforcement. I’ve been in law enforcement or security in one form or another for most of my adult life. It’s an incredible job, and I work with outstanding, selfless, extremely dedicated people.

A Drowned Kingdom can be purchased on several platforms including Amazon:

A Drowned Kingdom (The Drowned Kingdom Saga Book 1) – Kindle edition by Stuart, P.L. . Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.