This year I’m focusing on some of the amazing subgenres that fantasy has to offer. So far I’ve focused on comedic fantasy, romantic fantasy, grimdark, and epic fantasy. This month I’m excited to be focusing on urban fantasy.
I am privileged to interview G.E. Newbegin, author of Pyramidion.
Hi G.E.! Thank you for being willing to chat about urban fantasy with me!
No worries – glad to!
Will you introduce yourself and talk a little bit about Pyramidion?
Sure – I’m G.E. Newbegin, a newly self- published Australian author, with two books released and another not far off. I live in Melbourne with my wife and two kids and I talk about cybersecurity for a day job. If you’re wondering – yes, I’ve tried to write sci-fi, but sci-fi is HARD. So I gave up.
Pyramidion was my debut novel, which I released in June 2021. It took me about a year to write, edit, rewrite again after my editor pulled it apart, typeset and ultimately publish, all of which I did while working from home. So… if your readers are thinking about what to do with their downtime while working from home? Don’t work more, write!
I wanted to write a horror fantasy, but as I worked through the story, it turned into an action-adventure that some readers have compared to Indiana Jones. While that character wasn’t a direct influence, I will happily accept the comparison!
Pyramidion tells the tale of Luke Nixon, who is propelled on a globe-trotting adventure (and beyond…) after seemingly losing everything, encountering gods and demons along the way. There are some common themes with this kind of story (secret organisations, bloodlines, alternate history), but it’s my take on these ideas. It’s fun, but can be dark in places, just like real life.
Pyramidion has the concept of a huge loss, which propels Luke on a life-changing adventure. Do you think a strength of urban fantasy is that it allows for a realistic exploration of themes such as loss and grief?
Honestly, I think most genres can explore these same themes, but being set in more familiar territory means readers can empathise more readily. Adding “fantastical” elements means you can explore things in ways that reality might limit you…
How would you define urban fantasy?
It’s a tricky genre to define, because in some ways, an urban fantasy could be any fantasy set in a city, but I generally define the “urban” component as a “contemporary setting” – so, any fantasy set in a familiar, modern setting. Pyramidion is set in the real world, but there are fantastical truths hidden from the populace. Stories like Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Twilight, the Sookie Stackhouse novels, and many more besides can be considered Urban (or Contemporary) fantasy, among others – books tend to fit into several molds.
What drew you to writing urban fantasy?
To be honest, it was simply the idea that came to mind, and it worked best for me. Since I wanted to touch on “real” themes, such as mythology and religion, for example, I found it easier to set the story in modern times. There was a point I was considering setting the story in a world of my own, but given I wanted to use real myths and legends, it probably wouldn’t work.
I’ve just released a second book in April (“The Fathomless Sky Lake” – a novella, not the sequel to Pyramidion, which I am working on right now), but this time I’ve decided to go all in on fantasy – in fact, even the sequel to Pyramidion will lean further into fantasy. I guess it depends on what suits the story more.
What were some obstacles to writing Pyramidion?
Being my first novel, motivation was the biggest obstacle. I’d considered myself a writer since I was a child, but all I had to show for it was a bunch of half finished manuscripts (most of which have been lost to time).
The other obstacle was research – how much do you REALLY need to know about something in order to write about it effectively? You can quite easily waste time going down a rabbithole that you really don’t need to. On the other hand, not enough research can stand out to some readers. So there’s a need to balance different kinds of work – the only work that gets you closer to finishing is the writing itself.
What were some successes?
Finishing the book in the first place. Convincing myself I could do it. Building the courage to put it out in the public eye.
But for me, the biggest success was having strangers – people I have never met and probably never will – read my book. That was a success in itself, and every bit of feedback, both good and bad, encourages me to work harder.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
I mostly read sci-fi, horror, and fantasy, so many of the usuals would top my list – JRR Tolkien, GRR Martin, Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Joe Abercrombie, Gene Wolfe, Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson, Mark Lawrence, Jim Butcher, Richard Morgan… And if I can recommend a new author I’m enjoying at the moment, Christopher Ruocchio, who has released a really riveting and well developed space opera with his Sun Eater series.
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