Some Thoughts with ... Luís Falcão de Magalhães

1 Aug 2023

The Author/s

Luís Falcão de Magalhães

Luís Falcão de Magalhães

 My name is Luis, and I’m the black sheep of the family.

Born the scion of a household of magistrates and physicians, I was groomed from a young age to meet those expectations. I threw the chain of office away and became a bard instead.

I’ve since traveled the breadth of my homeland, picking up tales here and there. I’ve dined with aldermen and drank firewater with vagabonds; I’ve sung moonlit serenades to hussies and taken the daughters of wealthy merchants to grand balls. I’ve joined secret orders, learning their lore and passphrases; I’ve locked arms with tree-huggers and danced with them under the full moon.But two things sing to my soul like nothing else.

One, the roll of the dice, be it on the wood of the tabletop or within the shards of magical glass that are everywhere in our society.

Two, the tales of daring, of heroism and valor, of wickedness and deceit, to be found among the dusty tomes of the world’s libraries.

To contribute to those, I have made my life’s work.  

The Interview

1.- Why did you decide to self-publish?
Money and laziness. Let’s tackle laziness first, because money is boring. I dread doing menial tasks and repetitive work, so the idea of sending dozens of submissions to agents and publishers every month only to get crickets in return was untenable. I don’t mind rejection, as I am pretty thick-skinned, but I abhor wasted effort.
As for money: I had an experience with trad publishing about a decade ago, and all they did was print and ship the books. The onus on selling them still fell on me. They were paying 8% in royalties, a number that fellow authors told me was quite high.
As a self-pulished author, I get minimum 30% for the same effort. Maybe I’ll reconsider if I ever get a trad publisher that’s willing to take on all the work and expense for me, but that’s not likely to happen; very few authors are granted that privilege.

2.- All of your novels share a world: Elessia. How did the inspiration for it come?
Elessia is inspired on the fantasy worlds of my youth. I was always focused on reading fantasy books and playing fantasy RPGs; those were my main sources of entertainment, along with some lesser-known fantasy anime like Lodoss or Slayers. Northern Elessia in particular also draws a fair bit from my travels in Northern Portugal and Scandinavia.
I’ve always been a fan of perennial living worlds where the adventures of several characters intersect, so I knew that’s what I wanted for my work.

3.- You define your novels as heroic fantasy. What made you choose this concept?
By elimination.
My world is dangerous and unforgiving, but it also has a lot of beauty and it’s not particularly dark, so it didn’t fit the traditional conception of Dark and Grimdark Fantasy.
My main characters are deeply flawed, but they tend to try to do the right thing, so they don’t necessarily match the self-interested stereotype of Dark or the anti-hero of Grimdark.
So I picked Sword & Sorcery as my genre (think Conan the Barbarian.) But it wasn't quite right, as my stories aren’t so personal and character focused. They usually start off like that, but then evolve into something more epic, without reaching the scale of epic fantasy.
So I settled on a lesser-known offshoot of Sword & Sorcery, Heroic Fantasy (also sometimes referred to as being in-between Sword & Sorcery and Grimdark.)
So we get “unforgiving but not dark world” + “flawed but good characters” + “quests bigger than themselves” = Heroic Fantasy
Of course, I appreciate a lot of this detail gets lost or is irrelevant for the majority of people, so in the storefronts, I just brand as “Dark Epic Fantasy,” which is close enough.

4.- After writing and publishing several novels and novellas, would you say the process has evolved?
Yes, though you wouldn’t notice unless you follow me from the beginning, because after my steepest learning phase I updated all my books to be consistent in quality and format (although the story remained unchanged.)
I think the biggest change was size. I used to believe people would be interested in shorter, purply fantasy, so I went for that with my first book, which clicked just under 200 pages (pretty much your old-times Conan novel). The feedback was not good, so I’ve since begun aiming for 300-ish, which is more in line with the short end of fantasy expectations.

5.- English is your second language, if I’m not wrong, how is writing in a language that is not your first language?
It’s hard to say, as I’ve been fluent in English since I was six. Sometimes, I’m having a conversation in Portuguese and only the right word in English comes to mind. I’d say I’m bilingual, and as such, there’s not a lot of difference with my experience between the languages.

6.- If you would have to comp Daughter of Ice as two different titles, how would you do it?
I would say it’s like The Crystal Shard (The Legend of Drizzt) meets The Eye of The World (The Wheel of Time) or perhaps The Final Empire (Mistborn).

7.- Would you give any advice to a writer that would love to start self-publishing?Same old advice you’ve seen everywhere: write every day. A book is like a lottery ticket. Some people hit it big with just one, but they are the rare exception. The more books you put out there, the easier it is to succeed in this business. If you write 1000 words a day you can put 2-3 fantasy novels out there a year, and 6-8 books in genres with smaller length expectations.
Secondarily (but still important for success,) figure out your covers in advance and get the best editing you can afford. My books only really started selling after I got genre-appropriate covers. As for editing, working with my editor Susan from West of Mars improved my writing 5x more than any writing course or craft book.

8.- What can we expect from Luis Falcao de Magalhaes in the future?
More books. I have ideas written down for 13-15 more Elessia novels and novellas, and usually more ideas pop up as I write them, so I’m think this series will end up on something like 30-40 books. Then I might move on to Science-Fantasy for a change…