For my super special Halloween edition of Sunday Brunch this year, I’m so excited to jump into the book tour for The Trials of Ashmount in conjunction with Escapist Book Tours! This book is great for GrimDarkTober and John Palladino is a local author so I’m dually excited to share this interview. Actually he might fight me on that statement but in general, WNY is “local” in my eyes.
I’ve already read and reviewed the book, so search for that on the blog if you’re interested! Also do check out the other tour posts here on the Escapist website!
Read on to see some great thoughts on the Grimdark genre, Trials, the next book, and of course, Halloween vs Christmas.
Anyway, let’s get on with it 🎃
🥞Welcome to the Sunday Brunch Series! As an introduction, can you tell everyone your favorite thing about ‘spooky season’?
🎤Well, my favorite thing about “spooky season” is that it’s the beginning of my favorite stretch of year – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas (my favorite holiday), New Years, and, on top of all that, the weather gets cold, it becomes darker, and snow begins to fall. I love all of it. And to me, Halloween is the start of it. And maybe I’m ashamed to admit it, but I also enjoy the holiday music – it adds to just a generally positive atmosphere in stores and stuff that isn’t around during the rest of the year.
🥞What’s your brunch order today?
🎤 I’ll be honest – I’m usually asleep when brunch occurs. However, if I’m at brunch, I’d probably order a breakfast sandwich (sausage, egg, cheese on an english muffin because that’s the only way to have them and I’ll die on this hill) and then some sort of potato side. Hashbrowns? Sure. Those are good.
🥞I’m willing to forgive some rabble rousing, but do explain how bringing up Christmas in October is a good idea 🤣 p.s. this is about the authors Twitter handle, which states that Christmas is better than Halloween 😳
🎤Is there such a thing as there ever being a bad time to bring up Christmas?? It’s the best holiday. Presents, snow (though not so much anymore lol), vacation, music, the food? It’s all splendid. I’d do Christmas once a season if it were up to me. Halloween I could live without. It’s a fine holiday, but I don’t generally participate. Costumes are cool, but I generally stay home and hide during Halloween. Halloween is social, Christmas is not (unless you’re one of those family families, in which case, I wouldn’t like Christmas… who wants to do all of that travel and family visiting when you could be in your own house? I know – plenty of you… but for me, I prefer times when I don’t have to deal with people, and most Halloween celebrations are packed with other costumed people!). Also I’ll just say it, and I know this is going to offend a lot of you… pumpkin spice anything is gross. I know, I know, I apologize. I just hate the smell, taste, and look of all the special pumpkin spice stuff… I am not willing to completely write off Halloween, though. As a kid it was always my second favorite holiday. I suspect if I wasn’t single and had somebody to hang out with, or a family, I’d probably be more willing/eager to participate. But for the last decade of my life, I’ve not participated in a single Halloween event.
🥞 Alright, let’s talk about the book. So there are a bunch of pretty different characters in Trials, is there one point of view that you either wrote yourself into or just enjoyed writing the most?
🎤I loved writing the Demri, Villic, and interlude chapters. Kelden/Seradal/Edelbrock all had enjoyable chapters to write, but Demri and Villic I never got sick of writing. Villic was definitely based on my childhood. As a kid I had major introversion and found socializing with anyone to be a very difficult/nerve-wracking experience. His fears are directly related to my experiences. Fun fact about Villic – originally he wasn’t a main character in the book. His role was expanded after discussing why he was in the book with my editor and early readers. And now, I hear from a lot of people that he’s either their favorite/second favorite character, so I’m really happy I did. Overall though, Demri is my favorite character to write. I think he’s just a blast. I struggled with the decision to actually write out his stutter for the entire book or not. I wrote the first draft with the stutter written out and a few people mentioned I should just note that he had a stutter. I didn’t want to do that though because I thought it would make Demri’s character more real, and nobody would forget that it existed. Demri owns his stutter, it doesn’t bother him, and it felt sort of disingenuous to “hide it” behind a “he spoke with a stutter” because it’s such a big (yet also insignificant) part of his character.
🥞 Is it hard, as an author, to put your characters through hell and back? I don’t think anyone in Trials had it easy 😳
🎤 No. I see all the time that people are upset about the things they do – like they cry over something they wrote. I don’t understand that. When I’m doing something bad to a character, I’m laughing and grinning ear-to-ear, excited for people to read it, and hoping they’re surprised by it. I will say that book two I’ve written a few things that made me sad because I sort of wanted more time without said things happening (I can’t be more specific without spoilers). However, that’s what made sense for the story, so that’s why it doesn’t bother me.
🥞 Did you have a scientific method for who you were going to kill off, or are we an impulse murderer? (P.s. your character page was amazing)
🎤Mostly impulse. There were a few deaths that I planned on, but a good majority of the ones in Trials just sort of happened. And thank you – the character page was a lot of fun to do. The heading started out as a joke to my editor, but she loved it so much I kept it.
🥞 What elements do you think make up a good Grimdark? Where did you succeed the most bringing that into Trials?
🎤I think the best Grimdark stories have realistic consequences, an unpredictable nature, and morally gray characters. Those are the three aspects I most judge a book on when deciding whether or not it’s Grimdark. Personally, I think I did a pretty good job at implementing all of these into Trials. I get a lot of messages/comments on some of the surprises in Trials – I’d love to elaborate, but I can’t without spoiling the book. In regards to morally gray characters, I don’t necessarily mean that everyone’s a prick, but that everyone acts in their best interests (or most of the characters – it’s not wrong to have a “heroic” character in a Grimdark world, but a majority of people don’t self-sacrifice like the characters in epic fantasy often do).
🥞 Feeding off of that, do you have any personal favorites or Grimdark book recs for us?
🎤 I will always recommend A Song of Ice and Fire by GRRM and all of the books in the First Law world by Joe Abercrombie. For people who enjoy a very dark-feeling world, check out Legacy of the Brightwash by Krystle Matar – the overall “vibe” of the world might be the most cringe-inducing I’ve experienced.
🥞 Can you tell everyone how book 2 is going? Any hints you’re willing to give us?
🎤 Book two is just about finished being edited by Sarah Chorn. I can’t wait to edit the book and get it out there. The title is Buzzard’s Bowl and there is a brand new main POV character I think everyone will like. Her name is Ashen, and that’s all I’ll say for now, although if you want to know a little more, read on.
🥞 Seeing as it’s Halloween, what’s your favorite costume that you’ve ever worn? Bonus points if you have a photo!
🎤 This is a great question but it’s really difficult for me because I don’t even remember most of the costumes I’ve worn. I haven’t dressed up for Halloween since I was sixteen. I’ll say a werewolf. I DO have a picture of it but I have no idea where it is. And it’s physical because the whole digital thing didn’t really exist back then…
🥞 Thank you so much for taking the time to interview! This last space is an open forum for you so feel free to talk about anything in the world you may want to here!
🎤 Iwant to thank Athena for this fun interview! Hopefully my Halloween takes weren’t too painful for you to deal with 😛
Alongside book two in the series, I’m working on releasing a short story anthology called Before the End that’s going to have a bunch of stories set in the world of Cedain. Some of the characters will be familiar, while others will be completely unique to the anthology. There are also a few character introductions who will appear in Buzzard’s Bowl. I’m also considering putting a pair of characters into book three. Some of these stories can be found, unedited, on my website, johnpalladino.com
One of these stories is a character introduction to Ashen, the brand new main POV character in Buzzard’s Bowl. I think people will enjoy her – she’s quickly become a favorite of mine. If people want to wait for the anthology, I plan on releasing it BEFORE Buzzard’s Bowl comes out. I don’t have any ironclad dates for either of these. My *hope* is to release Before the End this year, and Buzzard’s Bowl at the beginning of next year. We’ll see if everything pans out, though. This is hoping that there aren’t any major delays from any of the services I’ll need to pay for (which is often unusual).
Meet the Author:
You’ve stumbled upon somebody who takes nothing seriously, not even author bios. It’d be a good guess to say John Palladino was born in 1988, lives in Avoca, New York, has a bachelor’s degree in Business Management, and enjoys hibernating at home while writing. He might also lie and say he enjoys pets, long walks on the beach, and his hobbies include happiness and scuba diving. You’d see right through those lies, however, and notice he prefers the simpler things in life—reading, video games, and making ill-timed jokes. John also dislikes taking care of anything that excretes substances.
Here are the author links & Giveaway info!
Author Website: https://johnpalladino.com/
Prize: A Paperback Copy of The Trials of Ashmount!
Starts: October 27, 2022 at 12:00am ES
Ends: November 2, 2022 at 11:59pm EST
Direct link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/79e197ac63/