Twenty years ago, feared general Cobalt Zosia led her five villainous captains and mercenary army into battle, wrestling monsters and toppling an empire. When there were no more titles to win and no more worlds to conquer, she retired and gave up her legend to history.
Now the peace she carved for herself has been shattered by the unprovoked slaughter of her village. Seeking bloody vengeance, Zosia heads for battle once more, but to find justice she must confront grudge-bearing enemies, once-loyal allies, and an unknown army that marches under a familiar banner.
One of my favorite reads of last year, A Crown for Cold Silver, is being released in paperback this week. Alex Marshall was kind enough to answer a few questions about the book, writing it, and the series as a whole. My attempt to sneak in a question about the pseudonym was unfortunately spotted though. No big reveal coming is today =)
First off, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions. I am honored and I absolutely loved A Crown for Cold Silver. Because I hope my readers have the same interests as me I hope you don’t mind a line of questioning designed to sate my own curiosity!
I have talked about your book quite a bit because it is a book I really enjoyed. It was dark, gritty, funny, deep, and subversive as hell. But one question has come up in various conversations that I can’t seem to answer. Do you consider A Crown for Cold Silver to be a parody of the popular dark fantasy style (GRIMDARK) or is it a loving homage? Or were you considering the larger fantasy picture at all as your wrote it?
I consider it to be part of a long and worthy tradition, one that is very near to my heart…but no tradition is perfect, and applying a critical eye to even those that that we love helps contribute to the whole instead of detracting from it. So while there’s humor in the work that’s predicated on certain preconceptions about dark fantasy, the novel is by no means a parody. I approached the project with the utmost sincerity.
Something a little more plot specific I was wondering about. It took me a while to realize Maroto considered Zosia in a very manic pixie dream girl type of way, something that Zosia wanted no part of. This may be closely related to the previous question but did you deliberately built up specific tropes just to break them back down?
As mentioned, I’m obviously aware of all the tropes we know and love—and those we groan at—but whether I played with or against them depended on the how the characters and their world came to life, versus an overwhelming desire to take the piss. Mostly. My goal is always to tell an interesting tale that grows organically from the personalities of the players, not shoe-horn in heavy-handed statements, even those I agree with. I’m not naïve enough to think I’m reinventing the battle ax here, just offering my own modern style on a classic design.
Quite frankly I found A Crown for Cold Silver to be hilarious; often I was laughing at very inappropriate times in the story. I know writing humor is one of the hardest aspects of the craft. Does mixing humor with more serious tones make it easier, something that just flowed with your writing? Or was it always a struggle to craft just right?
I’m glad you appreciated it, and yes, it has to flow naturally or you’re in serious trouble—forcing in humor is even worse than forcing in messages.
All of Zosia’s ‘villains’ were well crafted with unique personalities. Maroto seems to get the most page time so let’s ignore him for a bit. Do you find yourself with a personal favorite villain while writing?
That’s a tough question, in part because we only see the rest of the Villains through the perspectives of their friends and foes, and in part because I’m rubbish at picking favorites in the first place. I suppose I’ll go with Hoartrap the Touch, if only because writing about weird wizards is obviously its own reward.
Last one, I promise. Can you give us a sneak peak of what to expect in the future from you and this world?
I’m not going to be done with Star and it’s many villains for some time—Book II is already in the bag, and the third is in progress. In the sequel we’ll see the scale of the peril vastly expand, even as personal conflicts sharpen to fatal points. We’ll also get to experience the perspective of characters who have thus far existed on the periphery, and the world will grow larger and richer even as its entire future is threatened. Before the end readers won’t have to wish on any devils to discover the eldritch secrets of the First Dark, and even if few of the characters particularly enjoy the ride I suspect my audience will.
Thank you so much for your time. As I said, I loved the book. Good luck in all your future endeavors.
It’s been my pleasure, and thanks again for reading.
Alex Marshall my friends! Anyone good enough for a blurb from Kameron Hurley ought to be good enough for all of us.