Some Thoughts with ... Thomas Howard Riley
Thomas Howard Riley
Thomas Howard Riley currently resides in the wasteland metropolis, where he reads ancient books, plays ancient games, watches ancient movies, jams on ancient guitars, and writes furiously day and night. He sometimes appears on clear nights when the moon is gibbous, and he has often been seen in the presence of cats.
He always wanted to make up his own worlds, tell his own stories, write his own history, create his own people, honor the truths of life, and explore both the light and the darkness of human nature. With a few swords thrown in for good measure.
And some magick. Awesome magick.
Welcome to my favourite section of the blog. Today we are accompanied by Thomas Howard Riley, author of the Advent Lumina Cycle and the novel The Monsters We Feed.
Let's dive in!
1.- Why did you decide to self-publish?
It was really a choice that sought me out. I had made the decision to draft a project I had been working on for a long time. While I was working things out I stumbled across the online writing community and realized there was a robust market for indie authors. After weighing the pros and cons I opted for indie publishing, mainly to retain control since I had planned many books in the same world.
2.- Your first book, We Break Immortals, was such a chonker. How did you do that?
I don’t know how it happens honestly. Words just pour out. I have a lot of stories to tell, and I love character-driven stories, but I also love multiple points of view, worldbuilding, and extensive magick systems, and before I know it, the words start to add up. Whether it’s too many or not enough is for the reader to decide I suppose haha.
3.- As a writer who has developed a reputation of killing characters, let me ask, did you ever get attached to characters before killing them?
I absolutely do, to the point where I have second thoughts about each of them. Many of them I know are going to perish well ahead of time, and it truly hurts to see them develop through the drafting of the story into beautiful lovable characters with such exquisite depth. Trust me I feel the pain of each of them when they’re gone.
4.- The Monsters we Feed started as a novella. Now, it is a 300-page book. How did it happen?
I must of course take the blame, but as I was writing, the characters and the city they live in really seemed to take over and demand to be more fully explored. The story and characters surged and before I knew it I sped well past my original target length. It took a long time to admit it had become more than a novella, because in my head that was what it was supposed to be. Hence why I started the ongoing joke of calling it a not-a-novella. But I relented once it became triple the length of an actual novella. It’s a novel now. I can’t deny it.
5.- How would you say it changed the process of writing from We Break Immortals to The Monsters We Feed?
The main difference is that We Break Immortals is just the opening chapter of a massive story, and so there are many moving parts and many unanswered questions in an expansive world. So although it wraps up its main story it leaves many things open with much to expand on. With The Monsters We Feed, on the other hand, I set about to make it a complete story where it wrapped up and could be a stand-alone story. It was also a tighter focus with one point of view character and one city as its location. Because if that I was able to move much more deliberately in building in the layers of the story and character growth. The story is definitely told in layers, each one changing throughout the story.
6.- What inspired you to create Luminaworld?
I have always been driven to make a huge world. I’m a huge history and geography nerd and I wanted to make a wider world that lived and breathed on its own outside of the stories told within it. I grew up reading Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms books, and they exist as expanded worlds where many tales can be told that may or may not impact each other but that all exist in the same overall world. I’m also a great fan of ancient mythology from all over the world and many of those function in the same way, telling different stories but in one single o searching framework. That was what I wanted to do, have an expanded universe around my own books, so that even if the stories are not directly related, they are all a part of something. I really enjoy the opportunities it leaves to subtly connect the various stories as well. Easter eggs are great fun.
7.- Recently, you decided to split the next book in the cycle in two. How would you say it has changed your process knowing that there will be two books?
It really freed me up to fully explore the new characters. It got to the point where important character development would have needed to be sacrificed to keep it all in one. It does make it a more complex situation, but other series have split points of view off in separate books before and it has worked out as long as the characters are compelling (and as long as both are released very close together so as not to cause too much consternation for readers). Though it is quite weird to know that now technically one could read Book 3 before reading book 1 or 2 without upsetting the story. That is a real trip.
8.- What can we expect from Thomas Howard Riley in the future?
The Advent Lumina Cycle is going to continue and expand for quite some time with some truly chonky books (though eventually there is an endgame it is heading toward). And it is also my hope to release 1 or 2 smaller stand-alone novels every year. They will each be vastly different from one another, but will keep to the same world. (I’m actually drafting one as we speak)