Monday, February 27, 2023

Book Tour + #Giveaway: The Fifth Horseman by Jon Smith @jonsmith_author @RABTBookTours


Comedy/Fantasy/Mythical Realism/Fiction

Date Published: 02-07-2023

Publisher: Balkon Media

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Internationally published bestselling author Jon Smith makes his adult debut with The Fifth Horseman, a modern comic fantasy that rides roughshod over established mythology and the rules of life… and death.

The Fifth Horseman is a darkly comic tale of two thirty-somethings caught between our world and the afterlife, who must embrace their role as reapers to prevent the End Times. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy meets Father Ted, perfect for fans of Ben Aaronovitch, Terry Pratchett, and Neil Gaiman.


Death is just a day job you can’t quit…

Emma and Mark had a bad day. The worst part of it was dying. But, according to Death, the Rider on the Pale Horse and first horseman of the apocalypse, things aren’t that simple. Turns out the sand in their hourglass is stuck in place. Somewhere between life and death, they’re put to work as Death’s assistants, reaping the souls of the living until it’s time for their final clock out…

To compound matters, despite their omnipotence, the four horsemen are facing an existential threat – one they’re ill-equipped and ill-prepared to combat.

Emma and Mark must reap like their afterlives depend on it, to help prevent the End Times – even if it means scuppering the one opportunity they have at being granted a second chance at life.


Filled with humour, romantic tension, and suspense, Jon Smith utilises a witty, lightly sarcastic ensemble of flawed but loveable characters. It will appeal to mainstream fantasy readers and hopeless romantics, as well as those who enjoy a good story and a good laugh.


Interview with Jon Smith

    How many books have you written and which is your favorite?

    The Fifth Horseman is my fourteenth published book, however it’s my debut adult novel. Prior to writing this book I wrote non-fiction (a mixture of business books, digital marketing-related books and my Bloke’s Guide… series which focused on pregnancy and early-years childcare) and one Middle Grade novel.

    If you’re planning a sequel, can you share a tiny bit about your plans for it?

    The Fifth Horseman is a standalone novel. Death is quite final so in this case, the book doesn’t lend itself to a sequel.

    Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

    Good question. I think there are underlying themes that seem to re-appear in my work (be it a book, or a tv/feature script) even if the genre or tone are very different. I use fictional writing to explore the big questions but usually in a contained environment – so rather than telling the story of the all-powerful ruler who commands others, I prefer to focus on the scullery maid or the stable hand and try to make sense of the world through their eyes. As I have three girls I tend to write stories that have a strong female lead character who can face challenges and ultimately overcome all that life throws at her. The other theme I tend to return to often, especially in my YA books, relates to belonging and otherness. I’m drawn to characters who don’t feel they fit in and then put them in difficult situations where their differences (perceived or otherwise) often become their strength.

    How did you come up with the title for your book?

    I was quite lucky in that regard due to the familiarity most readers will have with the concept of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. I wanted a title that could be a vehicle for the story, but also nodded to the mythology surrounding the character of Death as well as an active question for readers… who or what is the Fifth Horseman?

    How long did it take you to write this book?

    This story was a long time in the making. The genesis of the idea first came back in 2013 and I began working on comedy-drama TV series script entitled Assisted Death. Time ticked on and work on the screenplay stalled due to other writing commitments but in early 2022 I had a bit of an epiphany – what if it was a novel? I’m a planner, so once I had the chapter outline, the first draft took about six weeks to complete. It is a much slower process to edit and refine. Once I was happy with the re-written draft, I sent it out to Beta and ARC readers. Based on their feedback, I made alterations to specific moments to further enhance the story beats and/or the dialogue. The novel writing experience was about five months in total.

    What does the title mean?

    I think this is covered in answer to 4

    What did you learn when writing the book?

    I learned a lot. I mean A LOT about Greek, Roman and Christian mythology. It was a fun learning curve and both a pleasure and challenge to cherry pick cool characters and place them in humorous situations.

    I like books and films that confound my expectations. So expect rug-pulls and challenges to accepted truths. For example, War is typically portrayed as a man – how much more interesting if she is, in fact, a woman who lounges around in a burgundy corduroy playsuit when she’s not strapped into her plate mail armor.

    What surprised you the most?

    How much humor can be found in the mundanity of life… even for the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse it’s not all work, work, work. They have (and require) downtime. What does a quiet Sunday afternoon look like for Pestilence or Famine?

    Have you ever killed off a character your readers loved?

    Ha. In this book, yes. Two of them. They ‘die’ in the first chapter. Thankfully it is that very action which catapults our hero and heroine into the afterlife and that’s primarily where their story unfolds.

    What do you do to get inside your characters’ heads?

    They say ‘write what you know’… I wasn’t quite ready or willing to die to be able to write this book from personal experience so I had to rely on my imagination rather than memory. That said, whilst the novel might be mainly set in the afterlife, and is populated by paranormal beings, Mark and Emma are human and their fears, goals and ambitions are universal. They worry about where they live, what they earn, their jobs, keeping fit, what to cook for lunch… and what happens when the Reaper comes for their souls. Despite the fantastical setting, the main characters are you and me.

    I think that to a greater or lesser extent we all have existential questions. Whilst most of us fear death to some degree, I thought it would be interesting to flip that on its head and amusing to consider what an existential crisis might look like for Death.

About the Author

 Jon Smith is the bestselling author of 14 books for children, teens, and adults. His books have sold more than 500,000 copies and are published in seven languages.

In addition to writing books, Jon is an award-winning screenwriter and musical theatre lyricist and librettist with productions at the Birmingham Hippodrome, Belfast Waterfront and London’s Park & Waterloo East theatres.

Jon enjoyed a happy childhood—making daisy chains, holidays in the sun and an obsessive interest in all things fantasy. No brace, few spots and only one broken bone and one broken heart (not his). It all went swimmingly.

Father of four, he lives near Liverpool with his wife, Mrs. Smith, and their two school-age children. When he grows up he’d like to be a librarian.


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bn100 said...

nice interview