Some Thoughts with … Rune S. Nielsen

24 Aug 2022

The Author/s

Rune S. Nielsen

Rune S. Nielsen

Rune S. Nielsen is a full-time fantasy author. He began writing it in 2018 and his epic debut novel, Doomsayer Prince (the omnibus edition), was first published in the summer of 2020. It was later re-released as two separate books (titled Doomsayer Prince Part One and Part Two.) Together the two books are around 1,200 pages.

His third novel, A Company of Adventurers, was written during the Covid lockdown and published in December 2021.Currently, he is working on a number of projects but dedicated most of his time to writing the sequel to Doomsayer Prince books, titled Arch of the Zhi’el. This will also be a two-parter. His other projects include the Doomsayer roleplaying game and the sequel to A Company of Adventurers titled Harbingers of Twilight.

The Interview

Welcome to my favourite section of the blog, interviews with the author. Today, Rune S. Nielsen, author of A Company of Adventurers and The Doomsayer Prince, has joined us.

Let’s dive in!

1.- What made you choose the self-publishing route?

I fully planned to send my first book, Doomsayer Prince, to a lot of agents and publishing houses trying to get a book deal.

I never did, however.

While trying to understand book publishing in the US, I got some career counseling from someone who worked for a decade in publishing, and she got me interested in self-publishing. I’ve never looked back since.

I’ve even created a free guide for authors who’d like to self-publish. It explains how to do things in a step-by-step manner:

2.- Which ones would you say are the biggest challenges you experimented with writing?

Editing and marketing are the two big hurdles. Nice people like you, Javier, who actively seek out self-published authors are few and far apart, so thank you!Marketing is a hurdle as it’s difficult unless you’re a professional (I’m not.) And it’s expensive to buy ads and the like, if you go that way, or time-consuming if you use social media to brand yourself as I do.

Also, there are a lot of book promoters out there, and while some are decent, a lot are scammers who’ll try to grab your money by selling you products you don’t need or that have little impact. To illustrate this, I once appeared on a fake radio show, and I got rather annoyed later on when I figured out it was a scam to get authors to pay! I got flattered when an Italian publishing house reached out, wanting to translate my first novel. It was unfortunately a scam: just a way to get self-published authors to pay them for a translation, while not giving the publisher any obligation to do any sort of marketing/promotion.

Editing is the second hurdle because not only is it hard work, but because I keep getting new ideas. You might think getting ideas is only a great thing, but it means that I get ideas late on in the writing phase, which are directly opposed to my previous ideas, and during the editing, I often decide I like my new ideas better. This means rewriting hundreds of pages and extending the editing phase with more beta-reading and final edits.

I wrote a series that took place in a world where religion and gods did not exist. During the writing, I found that I really missed these important aspects of that world. I then had to «awaken the gods.» Put them back into the world-building, the dialogues, and so on.

3.- I’ve also seen on your website that you run a cover design service, could you talk a little about it?

It’s fun to do covers and character art. I work with various fantasy/sci-fi authors who buy pre-created works. I also do commissions:

I use artificial intelligence which is the new «rave» in the fantasy art scene.

Starting out I did the vignette drawings inside my first novel. I was not a good enough painter to create the cover art, I felt, and I, therefore, purchased my first cover art from another artist. While he is clearly more talented, I just think it’s very hard to get (more or less) exactly what you were looking for.

Writing a book, you have so many ideas and feelings about the world and the characters. And for another person to hit that same vibe spot on, is a very daunting and hard-to-accomplish goal.

Also, artists are seldom cheap to work with. For my second book, I again did the vignettes and also a bit more of the cover work. The result is the cover of the book you’ve just read, A Company of Adventurers. It’s actually a photo of an actual place, painted over by the artist Enrique Meseguer, he did the cliffs and the lantern-holding man while I did the layout, adding texts and Viking-style chains.

For my next cover, I want to do something different. I’ve been interested in the AI art scene for a time, and intend to do covers for my own books with the assistance of artificial intelligence, if possible. Incredibly, the technology is now mature enough to do decent fantasy art using text-to-image AIs. While experimenting with this, I showed it to some author colleagues, and one asked if I’d make his cover, and another wanted some character art.

4.- A Company of Adventurers is your second book, would you say it was easier to write?

Yes, it was much easier for many reasons. I had more experience, I wrote in a less complicated sub-genre, and it was a much shorter book making the editing much quicker.

5.- I detect strong D&D vibes during the book, so this question is clearly mandatory,  do you play rol?

I love roleplaying games. I used to play a LOT. I ran a Warhammer campaign for more than 10 years, wrote reviews of various RPGs in magazines, and so on.

These days I mostly write instead of play, but I’m working on a roleplaying game set in the world I built for Doomsayer Prince. Right from the start, I figured that since I spent so much time building it, I might as well use it for an RPG.

6.- Is there any of the characters on A Company of Adventurers your predilect? Mine is Lutgerd.

Do you mean which one I like the best? I find it hard to pick favorites. I always empathize with all of my characters. If not, I’d find it hard to write them, I think.

However, Lutgerd is also my wife’s favorite character, and I sure do like him. For me, he’s sort of the «real human» in the story, not a hero or a villain, but «just» a regular person. I think that appeals very much to some readers. The fun thing is that Lutgerd’s also one of those characters that really divides readers. I meet readers that think he’s the best, while others say he’s the worst!

7.- Could you talk more about the intention you had in writing A Company of Adventurers?

I tried to make things easier for myself. To make it fun and easy to write. I created Kjeldale, a kingdom in a generic fantasy land that I hoped would feel familiar to any reader who ever played any sort of fantasy game (tabletop or on a device.) A place where you’d immediately understand the setting and feel right at home.

So while this is not a LitRPG book (no «D20 rolls» or such mechanisms,) I wanted you to experience a ‘coming home to a familiar fantasy place’ feeling. Sure, I added my own stuff too, sort of «on top of the game world.» To make things more interesting.

I also had some key plot/story ideas that I wanted to get out:

– What happens to legendary adventurers when they retire? The thoughts you might have about your character after the RPG campaign is done. «What happened afterwards?» Few people get to «live happily ever after» I think.
– What would happen if the fantasy characters, living in this very «fantasy» place, are just like you or me inside (emotionally)? I always do this, trying to create characters that are nuanced and intelligent.
– I wanted to try my hand at discovery writing, the style that writers like Stephen King use. I’d not tried that before.
– I wanted to write a redemption story.

8.- What can we expect from Rune S. Nielsen in the future?

I’m hard at work on my next novel, the third book in the Artifact War series, titled Arch of the Zhi’el.

The Zhi’el are an ancient faction of witches who were wiped out a long time ago. Or so the priest claimed. Now, they are returning. While most perceive them as evil, things might not be at all what they seem.

With this book, you can expect new magic, new world-building, more trope-bashing, nuanced and intelligent characters, and you’ll find out a lot more about what makes the bad guys do what they do, as I always think there are reasons behind what we do.