Ben Peek is the author of Black Sheep, Twenty-Six Lies/One Truth, Above/Below, Dead Americans and Other Stories, and The Godless. He can be found at www.theurbansprawlproject.com and @nosubstance on twitter.
1. Your epic fantasy novel The Godless will shortly be released from Tor. Given that I completely stuffed up the details last time I tried to describe it publicly, can you tell us about your book and what you are trying to achieve with this series?
Nah, you didn’t do too bad a job, but either way, here it is: The Godless is the first novel in the Children Trilogy, my ensemble cast fantasy set in a world where the bodies of gods lie across the ground, in the ocean, and orbiting around the planet. They are both dead and dying, and their divine essence is bleeding into the world, infecting men and women. In some parts of the world, this is known as a curse. In the part of the world Ayae lives in, it is known as a curse, and unfortunately for her, she is going to find out exactly what that means as an army marches up the mountain she lives on. For Bueralan, a saboteur, he has taken on a job to find out what the army marching on Mireea want, and how to stop them. Unfortunately for him and his band of mercenaries known as Dark, they are worn out, emotionally exhausted from their last job, and they should have stayed home.
And then there is Zaifyr, for who the less is said about, the better, really.
The series is a kind of love letter to my teenage years, where I lived on a steady diet of fantasy novels, but written by my adult self, who perhaps would have very little to do with the person I was, then (which, really, is what most of us think, I assume). The adult me took a much more measured view to the world building, and began it from an ideological point of view. When I say that, I don’t mean the bit about the gods being dead, but I mean the world beyond that, the interactions of men and women, and race. A lot of fantasy is, either through design or not, conservative. Monarchist, patriarchial societies filtered through psuedo christian values. Not all of it, mind you, and sometimes that’s the exact point – but in a genre where dragons can appear, personal hygiene is of a higher standard than usual, and people kill without any real pause, I don’t really see much of a point to adhering to that conservative side. Which is a long way round of saying I approached my world building from a point of equality in terms of race and sex and sexuality, and I have used that as the base from which I have grown everything in the book, both in terms of basic prose, and in terms of plot, themes, etc.