Some Thoughts with ... Z.B. Steele

1 Mar 2024

The Author/s

Z.B. Steele

Z.B. Steele

Z.B. Steele is the author of "For A Few Days More". A long time fantasy lover, he's originally from Peachtree City, GA but now resides in Alabama with his wife, daughter, and Labrador. Otherthan literature, he enjoys hip-hop and grunge, vanilla vodka, and arguing about movies.

The Interview

1.- How did you start writing?
I’ve started and given up on probably 50 projects before For A Few Days More. I’ve always been a big reader, starting with The Hobbit, the Drizzt stories, and Dragonlance Chronicles, and I wanted to make my own stories and put them out in the world. I started my first novel in 6th grade, a pretty clearly DND & Runescape inspired book about three friends doing mercenary work, and while I gave up on it three weeks after, I’ve been chasing that high ever since. 

2.- Could you tell us about the experience of releasing your first novel into the world?
It’s pretty surreal. You spend hours and hours and hours writing it, then you have to read it a few hundred times, make incremental changes, get some beta readers to destroy it, rebuild it, get an editor to destroy it again, rebuild it again, and then get it published and get to physically hold your own work in your hands. It’s crazy and magical. 
I did have a mildly amusing nuisance the first few weeks after it was published where the shipping of my book box got delayed and friends who bought the book day one got copies before I did - I even signed a few copies before I owned one. 

3.- Who artists/writers/film directors would you say are your biggest influences?
Joe Abercrombie would be the biggest influence. I think he’s the GOAT. After that, Quentin Tarantino takes the second spot. His ear for dialog and writing characters as real people is something that blew me away the first time I saw Reservoir Dogs. Then we have a lot of influences like Anna Smith Spark (and readers of Court of Broken Knives will be able to spot references) - her prose is just jaw dropping; Sebastien De Castell in the choreography of fights scene and hopefully the way that the chapters of FAFDM are short and hopefully just as addictive; Steven Erikson in the way that worldbuilding is sparse out and not info dumped; Sergio Leone in his tension (and titles); John Hillcoat (director of The Proposition - a seriously underrated western) for some of his themes of the nature of violence. Finally, I do have to give a shoutout to Patrick Rothfuss. I totally understand the criticisms about his books and him as a person, but I wouldn’t be the author or reader I am today without Kingkiller Chronicles

4.- Grimdark is a quite divisive genre, why do you like it? What impulsed you to write Grimdark?
Grimdark is where characters shine brightest and the action is at its best. Brutal violence, swearing, hard situations, intensity - what’s not to like? I do get that the genre is called fantasy, but I like that realism and sense of danger that is captured in the subgenre.  
The main reason I write in the genre would be that I followed the advice of “write the book you’d like to read”, something I feel I accomplished with FAFDM. 

5.- From all the creative process, which parts would you say are the most challenging for you?
Worldbuilding is probably my biggest struggle. In the “architect v.s. gardner” metaphor I’m a big time gardner. For my current WIP I had to really sit down and follow some templates for some ideas on how to decorate the world. Questions like “what sports get played in the country?” and “what holidays occur?” plagued me for many nights. 

6.- Could you tell us more about the cover of For A Few Days More and the ideas behind it?
Telling you too much may be a bit of a spoiler, but let’s just say that it’s centered around a clash of fate. 
Most of my favorite scenes in fiction are moments of extreme tension, like The Hound’s “you wanna die over some chickens?” exchange in Game of Thrones, or Bayaz’s “slapping fruits” moment in The Blade Itself. I’d also been playing a good bit of Ghost of Tsushima and loved the dueling aspects, so that may have played a part in the decision. 

7.- What does Z.B. Steele likes to do with his free time?
My wife and I have a 13 month old baby, so when we’re not wrangling her out of trash cans and cabinets, we both like to read. Outside of reading and writing, I’m a big hip-hop and grunge fan, an avid movie watcher, frequent gamer, Memphis Grizzlies fan, and recently been watching a good bit of anime. AKA a bunch of nerd stuff. 

8.- What can we expect from Z.B. Steele in the future?
I’m working on two WIP’s right now. A Fistfull of Lives is a sequel to FAFDM set 5 years after the events and features different protagonists. It centers around a changing Hinterlands, one where civilization, and the law, are starting to take root. 
The other WIP has the same narrative style of Name of the Wind, Covenant of Steel, The War Eternal, & Empire of the Wolf where all the major events have already happened and the narrator/MC is simply telling the events as they happened. I’m super stoked about both and really proud of the magic system in the untitled WIP. Hoping that the untitled WIP is finished by early May! 

Thank you to Jamedi for the opportunity! This is my first interview and this (along with a compliment I received on FAFDM calling it “the love child of Abercombie’s Red Country and Tarantino's Hateful Eight” have really been bright spots on a tough week since I had a death in the family. It means a lot!