I’m thrilled to welcome Clay and Susan Griffith to the blog today! We’re celebrating the release of their new series called Crown & Key, and the first book in the series, The Shadow Revolution, comes out TODAY. Del Rey is kindly giving one finished copy away to a U.S. resident, so don’t forget to enter at the end of this post!
With that, welcome, Clay and Susan!
To begin with, can you give us a short synopsis of what readers can expect in the Crown & Key series?
Lots and lots of action, and of course, great characters. It’s London in the 1820’s, just before the Victorian period. Industrial technology is on the verge of blossoming, but there is also something dark looming. After a terrible tragedy, Simon Archer gathers a group of powerful magicians and alchemists and monster hunters to fight a big evil rising into the world. This is Crown & Key’s origin story. We get a glimpse of where they each come from, why they each fight, and how far they would go to test their ideals.
I’m always fascinated by authors who collaborate. Can you give us a glimpse into your writing process and how you work together?
We try to be as prepared as possible. We outline each book chapter by chapter, chock full of details and themes before starting to divide it up to write a few chapters at a time. Each of us works linearly through the story. We never try to go too far beyond the other, as sometimes, new directions are discovered and new ideas pop up. Eventually we start swapping our work back and force so our individual voices merge into one new voice.
I love the sexual undercurrents running though the story. Lots of flirting and smoldering glances, especially from our leading man Simon. What made you decide to add a romantic element to the story?
Character relationships have always been a part of our books. We love banter at all times, particularly with a sly sexual undercurrent. And though we weren’t really planning on pairing anyone off in the Crown & Key series, the constant back and forth banter between Kate and Simon started to lead to something surprising. Being a fantasy adventure book, Kate isn’t quite like any other woman of the period, fiery and self-sufficient, and it seemed logical to us for her to intrigue the rakish Simon.
It hard for fans to wait months or even a year between each book release. While it does build anticipation at times, there are those fans that would wait until all the books are published before starting the series. So the best of both directions was conceived. Write all the books at once and give them to the fans over a short span. Hopefully fans will enjoy the thrill ride. It’s like getting all the Lord of the Rings movies in one summer!
I love the fact that all three books in the series feature different supernatural creatures, as well as self-contained story-lines. How was writing Crown & Key different from writing your Vampire Empire series?
It was wonderful to expand our supernatural writing database. As much as we love vampires, it felt great to dabble and develop new creatures. To us, our vampires in Vampire Empire are even less supernatural. They are genetic off-shoots, a parasitic species with preternatural abilities, but not supernatural. But in Crown & Key the monsters are truly occult and arcane, and we love writing magic and paranormal.
You just did a guest post on Suvudu (a Random House genre website) about writing an ensemble cast for The Shadow Revolution. I was especially excited that you mentioned Joss Whedon (because I’m his biggest fan!) and your lifetime love of reading comics. How have these two elements influenced your writing?
Susan is also a contender for Joss’s biggest fan. She consumed a staple diet of Buffy, Angel and Firefly like most of us. To Susan, like Joss, character comes first, even before plot and setting. So we try to make sure each character we create has life and purpose. The reader has to have a connection with them or they will not want to find out what happens to them at the end of the book. Make your characters engaging and everything else will fall into place.
Comics were an integral part of both of our lives. We grew up with them. They told stories on a grand scale about larger than life characters in a visual medium. When we write our novels we tend to see them as visual art. The scenes play in our heads all the time. If we were artists, we’d be storyboarding our novels to help with character placement and fight choreography. Comics also provide a wonderful exercise in editing. You’re limited in what you can say or show, so you have to be smart about when you choose to relay the perfect plot moment to the reader. Novels allow you to ramble on a bit too much sometimes. Both television, movies, and comics force you cut the fat and to keep your story condensed to one hour, two hours, or a few panels per page.
So, what’s next for you? Do you plan on expanding the Crown & Key series, or do you have something new brewing?
We have just finished the manuscript for another Vampire Empire novel called The Geomancer to be published November 2015. It turns out there are still plenty of stories left to tell in that world. This new book will serve as a continuation of the series for old fans, but it can also be a jumping on point for new readers. Adele and Greyfriar return to face a new, dangerous enemy and must race to the ends of the earth to stop an apocalypse.
Please tell us three things about you that can’t be found on your website.
Well the good news is that we will soon have a website, a one stop place to find all our series. But even then you won’t find out that we were both avid tabletop RPG players. We spent years running and playing D&D, and other games like Chill, Marvel Superheroes, Boot Hill, and Gangbusters among many others. Even today, we dabble when the opportunities present themselves.
We both love old classic black and white movies. Screwball comedies. Horror. Adventure. Musicals. The black and white cinematography gives them a wonderful ambience. And the writing in many of those old gems is crisp and smart.
And we both wrote comic books for years. We wrote humor books such as The Tick and The Simpsons, children’s books like Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and action stories such as Kolchak the Night Stalker and Allan Quatermain. It was great fun and we’d love to do more comics.
Thanks so much for stopping by! I’m about to get started on book two soon, The Undying Legion🙂
About the authors:
Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith met at a bookstore thanks to The Uncanny X-Men #201. They had to get married because of a love of adventure stories with heroes who save the day and fall in love. Soon they were writing stories together, including The Shadow Revolution and the Vampire Empire series. After years of comics, short stories, and novels, they remain happily married. When not writing or talking about writing, the couple watch classic movies, play Warcraft, and struggle to entertain their cat. They still have that copy of The Uncanny X-Men #201.
Read my review of The Shadow Revolution here.
And now for the giveaway: Big thanks to Del Rey for offering a finished copy to one U.S. resident! Giveaway will end on June 12th. Good luck!