Tuesday, November 1, 2016

VBT + #Giveaway: The Bulls of War by E.M. Thomas @EMThomas1 @GoddessFish

The Bulls of War
by E.M. Thomas
GENRE: Fantasy


As clouds of civil war gather over a dying empire, two friends and generals find themselves on opposite sides of the factional divide.  Now, they must sacrifice everything to save themselves from their realm and their realm from itself.


Ten years, two months and this morning, Kyrus thought, blinking away drops of sweat.   Yet still… still it’s not any easier.

For the thousandth time, his hand slid to a blade’s hilt, body braced against a gust ripping through the sweltering berry thicket.  Wide eyes scanned the crush of steamy greenery all around him, ears hearing only his own short breaths and a heart that pounded like a drum.  Even as the wind petered out, his anxiety held firm, held him frozen in place.

Ten bloody years of this… a wonder I’ve any wits left about me at all.  He grunted.  Or do I have any?

He’d grayed since then, since his first days in Valogar.  Wrinkled too.  Bones ached from the constant marching, mind frayed from the perpetual fear of knowing they were out there, somewhere, always itching to add another Rokhish scalp to their belts…

An Interview with E.M. Thomas

What inspired you to write The Bulls of War?

In a sentence – I’ve always loved history and creating my own worlds.  Those kernels of inspiration ultimately blossomed into The Bulls of War, an epic fantasy that pays as much homage to the politics and machinations of Ancient Rome as it does anything else.  Bulls let me write about the things I care about in a story – the action of mass battles and military tactics in a period comparable to Late Imperial Rome; multi-faceted characters who hopefully avoid the pitfalls of clichés; and most importantly, the freedom to do so without being shackled by the bounds of any known world.  Writing fantasy lets the writer set the rules, although I found that comes with an unexpectedly laborious obligation to make sure the rules are followed and make sense at all times. 

When or at what age did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve been writing stories since I was seven years old; my second grade curriculum actually required it.  Thus, I’ve had the creativity bug within me for quite a while, and even if that bug didn’t always manifest itself in story writing, it was expressed in other ways.  As to the germination of Bulls specifically, that dates back to my teenage years, where doodles on my notebooks turned into characters, character backstories turned into plot points, and off we went.  The Rokhish Empire was born.

What is the earliest age you remember reading your first book?

Probably around five, if I had to guess.  I was a huge consumer of the Berenstein Bears books at that point, but one of the first books that range poignant to me, even at an early age, was Only One Woof.  It was a beautifully illustrated book about two sheepdogs (if memory serves), with the story centering around one that had remained silent for years on end due to being split off from his friend.  I read that one over and over again with my parents; wouldn’t mind finding an old copy of it now…

What genre of books do you enjoy reading?

I split my reading probably 50/50 between fiction and non-fiction.  Within the former, I read almost exclusively fantasy and historical fiction.  Within the latter, I am a huge history buff, primarily centered around ancient Greece and Rome.  More broadly, I am drawn to military history of all eras, up to and including modern day.  Readers of my books will quickly realize how much these interests inform my writing.

What is your favorite book?

I’ll begin with the standard cliché, “there are so many great ones, I can’t pick just one…”, and move on from there.  On the non-fiction (and non-primary source) side, Empires of the Sea stands preeminent in my mind, which is a simply riveting tale of the Mediterranean World in the 16th century.  It focuses on the brutal and protracted showdown between the Spanish and Ottoman Empires, complete with a recounting of the Siege of Malta and the Battle of Lepanto.  I love hopelessly outnumbered last stands, and the tale of Malta is without a doubt one for the ages.

On the fiction side, it’s a toss-up between Shogun by James Clavell and Steven Pressfield’s Gates of Fire.  I recognize these are not in the realm of literary classics, but since this question covers pure enjoyment, I’m sticking with these two novels.  Both are stunning historical epics (especially the former, in terms of length) and redefined what the historical fiction genre meant to me; this is to say nothing, of course, of the endlessly interesting time periods in which their stories take place (the 16th century Japanese “Warring States” Period (Shogun) and the Greco-Persian wars (Gates of Fire)). 

You know I think we all have a favorite author. Who is your favorite author and why?

I’ll narrow the question and say my favorite authors currently are Colleen McCullough and George Martin.  Both show a knack for staggering detail in their respective fields (the appendices in McCullough’s books could be treatises in their own right!), both have rich, deep characters, both make you feel as though you’re in a different, yet tangible world.  Incidentally, I discovered both authors rather late in my life.  As for Martin, I feel like my Andervold series (of which The Bulls of War is Book I) is an inadvertent homage to his Ice and Fire series, albeit with a more Imperial Roman twist instead of Late Medieval English.

If you could travel back in time here on earth to any place or time. Where would you go and why?

As you might have guessed – Ancient Rome, followed closely by Ancient Greece.  And when I say the former, I mean right in the capital, right in its imperial heyday (primarily early to mid second century AD).  I find Rome fascinating, considering their ability to rule over 36% of the world’s population in a time with (obviously) no electricity, no cars, no mass transit, no bombs/guns/etc.  Just cold steel, ruthless diplomacy, and stacks of gold. 

When writing a book do you find that writing comes easy for you or is it a difficult task?

Depends on the moment, but generally I’ve had an easier go of it once I committed to what’s called the “snowflake method” in terms of storyboarding a manuscript.  I won’t go into great detail about the approach, but it provides such depth and flexibility, that leaping back into the story is the easy part; the harder part, as always, is carving out time for writing in midst of a face-paced life.

Do you have any little fuzzy friends? Like a dog or a cat? Or any pets?

No fuzzy friends at the moment, but up until last month I had a scaly friend known as Leo the bearded dragon.  Sadly, he passed away, but he was a great writing buddy, silently watching me as I pounded away on the keyboard for hours on end.  I also have a small aquarium with some tetras that have to be approaching the Guinness Book of World Records with their lifespan.  Seriously, these things are hardy little creatures compared to their reputation.

What is your "to die for", favorite food/foods to eat?

Reflecting my Southern roots (though I was born and raised in the Northeast), any and all things barbecue.  I’d put my dad’s ribs with his custom sauce up against any meal I’ve ever had in my life.  Beyond that, there’s little better than a fresh batch of chili on a cold, autumn day, at least in my neck of the woods.

11. Do you have any advice for anyone that would like to be an author?
Two things, neither of which is necessarily profound – read and identify what it is that you like or dislike about what you’re reading.  Not just the plot/dialogue/etc., but note the sentence structure, the adjectives (or lack thereof), the layout of the story as a whole.  How do the story’s chapters typically end?  How do they begin?  What points of view do you like?  It’s easier to write things you would enjoy reading, so it’s important to hone in on precisely what it is that you like; many readers-turned-writers have never actually considered that question.

Second piece of advice is simple: write or do something each day that advances your story along.  Some days that may mean you write twenty pages; other days that may mean you simply spend some time thinking about or working out some sticking points in the plot.  Whatever it is, it’s important to do something so that you maintain a sense of progress and forward momentum.  Writing a book can be a long slog, so stay positive, stay progressive, stay structured, and you’ll be at the finish line before you know it.


E.M. Thomas is the author of two novels - an epic fantasy (The Bulls of War) and a historical fiction set in Ancient Greece (Fortress of the Sun).
E.M. Thomas was born and raised on the East Coast of the United States but is a world traveler at heart. He caught the writing bug early on and has a passion for all good fiction, but especially that of the fantasy and historical variety. One of his favorite moments thus far in his young career was writing a chapter of his latest book about the great battle of Corinth - while sitting amidst the ruins of ancient Corinth.


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$25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC
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Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Unknown said...

Congrats on the tour, the book looks great, and thanks for the chance to win :)

Unknown said...

Thanks to The Avid Reader for hosting!

Unknown said...

Thanks, Lisa, and best of luck!

Unknown said...

Great interview! The book looks fantastic!

Unknown said...

Thanks, Marie!

Victoria Alexander said...

Great post, I enjoyed reading it! Thanks for sharing :)

Unknown said...

Pleasure is all mine, Victoria!

Anonymous said...

Very informative interview!


Mary Preston said...

A great interview.