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Author Interview: Derek Prior

Derek Prior excels in fast-paced, high stakes epic fantasy adventure stories in which good ultimately triumphs, but always at a cost.Taking familiar fantasy tropes as a point of departure, Prior expands upon them to explore friendship, betrayal, loyalty and heroism in worlds where evil is an ever-present reality, magic is both a curse and a blessing, and characters are tempered in battle.

Born in East Sussex in the south of England, he worked as a mental health nurse in England, Wales, and Western Australia. He has also been an actor, personal trainer, and developmental editor, and is now a full-time writer. He lives in North Carolina, USA.

Journal of Always book of the year 2011 (Sword of the Archon)

Winner of best fantasy novel 2012 (The Nameless Dwarf: The Complete Chronicles)

Fantasy Faction semifinalist for the SPFBO 2018 (Ravine of Blood and Shadow)

The Fantasy Hive quarterfinalist for the SPFBO 2020 (Last of the Exalted)

SABA AWARDS Best Fiction Writer (long list) 2020 (Last of the Exalted)


1. Use three to five words to describe yourself.

Bearded. Round. Grateful.

2. Can you give us a little background on your upcoming/existing/recently release book/series?

I’m currently working on Sorcerers’ Isle book 2 and Annals of the Nameless Dwarf book 9. The Nameless Dwarf books have been by far my most successful, but after years of writing them, I wanted to branch out and write something deeper, a little dark, and with a less height challenged protagonist.

Book 1 (The Codex of Her Scars):

Mad, cursed by the gods, or a possessed by a demon? Whichever it is, Tey Moonshine’s scarred flesh holds the secret to real sorcery, and threatens to lift the lid on the rulers of Sorcerers’ Isle.

“High quality storytelling with great characters and a relentless plot.” (Mitchell Hogan, author of A Crucible of Souls)

“Steven Pacey’s (The Blade Itself) narration is superb!” (Audible Reviewer)

Injured in a freak accident, Tey Moonshine is good for only one thing: an apprenticeship as a clan sorcerer.

But under the scrutiny of her new master, she can no longer keep her secret concealed. For years now, guided by a demon that lurks within, Tey has cut magical symbols into her flesh.

As her training begins and her powers awaken, death creeps from the shadows, and Tey draws unwanted attention from across the sea.

“Prior’s latest novel is a masterpiece.” (Readers Favorite)

“This is honestly the best Grimdark fantasy novel I’ve ever come across.” (D. Woodhouse, Audible Reviewer)

Centuries ago, the Isle of Branikdr was mysteriously abandoned by the ruling Hlum Empire. Ever since rival clans have battled for supremacy at the bidding of their sacred sorcerers.

But now, war is coming.

A war the clans can never win.

And the fate of the isle lies in the hands of a deranged girl who grows more deadly by the day.

Here’s the working blurb for book 2, The Crucible of Her Blood:

The tribes have been defeated and the Hélum Empire once more rules Sorcerers Isle.

The only thing keeping Snaith Harrow alive is the tattoo of a black wyvern the sorcerer Theurig inked upon his chest. Tey Moonshine’s tenuous lifeline is the scaled horror of her mangled leg. Together, they must travel overseas, where their fate will be decided by the Seven, the eternal rulers of the known world.

Meanwhile, back on Branikdür, the hunt is on for a mythical gauntlet with the power to shape matter and release the shades of demons that haunt the prehistoric ruins.

But with Snaith entranced by the depraved sorcery of the Empire, and Tey’s continuing spiral into madness and blood, there may be no one left to prevent the world from slipping back into the primordial dark.

3. Can you give us any insight into your planning and writing process?

I begin with an inspiration that often comes out of nowhere. I usually write a very basic outline, then allow the characters to breathe as the story develops on the page. I redraft scenes daily and adjust the outline if necessary. When I’m done with the first draft, I take a break for a week or two then revise multiple times, sometimes from beginning to end, sometimes in reverse. I usually do a revision of each point of view character’s scenes back to back as well. I send to several test readers, then end with a final proof read. Recently, I have started recording the audiobook before I release the ebook and print forms, and I continue to tweak the manuscript during the recording process.

4. Silence or music or other when writing/editing?

Usually silence, but if there are noise distractions outside, I occasionally listen to Mozart’s Requiem while I work.

5. Based on your experience, can you offer a piece of advice to budding authors?

Redraft repeatedly until your manuscript is succinct, well phrased, clear, appropriately paced, and emotionally engaging.

6. You can erase one book or series from your mind entirely so that you can read it again for the first time, which do you erase?

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R. Donaldson

7. Who are some of your favourite authors/books?

Hilaire Belloc (The Four Men); G.K. Chesterton (Orthodoxy); Mary Doria Russell (The Sparrow); David Gemmell (Legend); Edgar Rice Burroughs (Swords of Mars)

8. Who are your favourite book characters?

Druss, John Carter, Thongor, Elric of Melnibone, Solomon Kane

9. Do you have any favourite magic systems?

Howardesque Stygian sorcery

10. You can bring one world from a book or series to life and live there, which world do you choose?

The Land (Chronicles of Thomas Covenant)

11. What book or series would you love to see on the big screen?

Elric of Melnibone

12. You can collaborate with one other author, who do you choose?

Bernard Cornwell

13. Have any cultures/civilisations inspired your writing?

Ancient Greece, Rome, Saxon England, Aboriginal Australia

14. What is your favourite mythical creature?


15. What is your favourite mythical race?


16. You can have one superpower, what is it?


17. You have the ability to morph into any real creature. Which creature do you choose?


18. You can go back in time and live a different period of history, when do you choose

Ancient Sparta (pre Leuctra)

19. You can meet any five people in the world, who would you choose?

Hilaire Belloc, G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas

20. Would you rather:

  • ride a dragon or fly a spaceship?
  • have the ability to fly or be indestructible?
    • Be indestructible
  • be an elf or an orc?
    • Elf
  • have the ability to travel to mythical worlds, from your favourite books, or the ability to travel faster than light and visit planets and solar systems in this world?
    • Mythic worlds
  • face one orc or three goblins in battle?
    • One orc
  • be an expert swordsman or archer?
    • Swordsman
  • be able to wield elemental magic or raise and control the dead?
    • Elemental magic
  • live in a city under the ocean or one floating in the clouds?
    • Under the ocean
  • be able to see the past or see the future?
    • The past