About the Book
Book: Quest of Fire: Desperation
Author: Brett Armstrong
Genre: Christian, Epic Fantasy
Release Date: September 13, 2022
Guarding his nation’s last hope, a teen must escape enemy lands.
While Anargen, Caeserus, and Bertinand are held captive in Stormridge, the war to restore Ecthelowall’s Commonwealth has been waged for months. Their friend Terrillian is on its frontline and hopes are high.
For Barons Fenwrest and Sornfold the fight is too close to their children, whose union represents the only viable challenge to the Monarchists claim to Ecthelowall’s ancient throne. Enter Thomas Fenwrest, an orphan and page to Sir Hurstwell, who is captain of Baron Fenwrest’s guard. The pair must escort the teens to Castle Yerst expecting boredom to be their only danger. Everything quickly spirals out of control when the Monarchists somehow deliver a devastating blow to the Restoration army and Thomas and Sir Hurstwell face the increasingly difficult task of keeping their charges alive. Ancient sorcery and bitter grudges combine to ensnare them. As desperation sets in for the Restoration and Thomas, to where will they turn for hope?
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About the Author
Brett Armstrong has been exploring other worlds as a writer since age nine. Years later, he still writes, but now invites others along on his excursions. He’s shown readers haunting, deep historical fiction (Destitutio Quod Remissio), scary-real dystopian sci-fi (Day Moon and Veiled Sun), and dark, sweeping epic fantasy (Quest of Fire). Every story is a journey of discovery and an attempt to be a brush in the Master Artist’s hand. Through dark, despair, light, joy, and everything in between, the end is always meant to leave his fellow literary explorers with wonder and hope. Always busy with a new story, he also enjoys drawing, gardening, and spending time with his wife and son.
More from Brett
There are three things I’ve come to learn that define what Quest of Fire is and means to me. When I first started writing the Quest of Fire series years ago, I knew I wanted to tell a big story set in an even bigger world. One with all the depth and breadth of my favorite series: Lord of the Rings and Star Wars and Chronicles of Narnia. Over time, the main story of Quest of Fire and the Lowlands it’s set in have grown every bit as big and fantastical as I always dreamed.
But there was a second something I realized I wanted to do with the series as much and more than tell sweeping stories. I wanted people to be able to zoom in on the sprawling maps and look closer and closer, and see people who look real, relatable. People with struggles and questions and who don’t always feel prepared for what comes next. So, I wanted to make even numbered books in the series novellas that zoom in and tell very personal and targeted stories.
Like Thomas’s in Book 4, Desperation. Unlike Anargen in the main entries, he wasn’t raised by Knights of Light and had a rough childhood. He has plenty to be bitter about and in Desperation his world is imploding around him. He’s overwhelmed at first and then he meets a Knight of Light, Terrillian, who steps out of the main storyline to be a mentor and shows Thomas what the life of one in service to the High King of All Realms looks like. How there is light even on the darkest of nights. We never know how much and how many will be impacted when we make a stand for Christ and we model his love and teachings before others. Likewise, Terrillian may not realize how profound his faithfulness will affect Thomas.
I write Quest of Fire to tell stories to encourage believers to stand firm in the faith, to join the fight against monsters in the pages of books so that when’s life’s beasts come against us we’re better equipped to face them. At least that is my hope and my prayer. Because the most important thing I learned I wanted Quest of Fire to be is a story that helps people better understand and join in the Greatest Story written by the Author and Finisher of our faith.
Interview with Brett
- What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
That’s probably a toss up between Out of the Silent Planet and That Hideous Strength, both by CS Lewis and the start and end to his Space Trilogy respectively. It’s probably a little unfair to call anything CS Lewis wrote underappreciated, but compared to his non-fiction writing and The Chronicles of Narnia, the Space Trilogy really seems to slip under a lot of people’s radar. Which is unfortunate, because Out of the Silent Planet reads just as interesting and laced with chills and thrills as War of the Worlds, but with Lewis’s usual attention to spiritual realities. His description of how the eldila (near analogs to angels) function at the intersection of the material and spiritual sides of Creation was really cool. That Hideous Strength gets even less attention than the first, because even those who enjoyed the first two books in the Space Trilogy come up to That Hideous Strength and get spun around in circles. It’s a dystopian, sci-fi, Arthurian fantasy, contemporary romance, literary, and psychological thriller rolled into one. With, again, an even heavier dose of Lewis’s observations about the intersection of the material and spiritual realms. It is an experience reading it and it took me a couple reads to pick up things and really feel comfortable with them, but I kind of enjoyed the effort (like putting in a good day’s work), because at the end I feel like of all the classic dystopian stories I’ve read, Lewis’s felt the closest to where we really are societally right now.
- How do you select the names of your characters?
It varies depending on the genre and influences on the story world. For Quest of Fire, there are so many different civilizations with multiple real world cultural influences. Especially as you zoom on the enormous Lowlands map and see more and more granular locations and slices of society, picking names gets pretty interesting. For a lot of them I take languages from an influencing culture that match some underlying sentiment/nature of the character/location and pick the ones that have the best sound to me and tweak where needed to make them fit better with the story world. I also try to keep in mind that Quest of Fire has three distinct time periods referenced often in the book and naming conventions across cultures and time vary. It’s a lot to juggle, which makes a few instances of when my little boy tosses out names he’s come up with the most fun source of names for me. He gave me the name for the key side character Professor Goulder and my favorite is a setting in the upcoming Book 5 that’s pretty important to the plot, Cattingsford. The name amused me so much I wrote up the back story on my blog for one of my “Quest of Fire Friday” posts.
I think the most important part of choosing names is to be conscious of how names are chosen in the real world and how they change over time and vary across cultures. There’s usually a story or purpose behind each name. Being from West Virginia there are a lot of interesting names that help me feel at ease with getting creative, like Nitro, Hurricane, Oceana (WV is totally landlocked), Big Ugly, Frazier’s Bottom, and Saint Albans. The little kernels of interest embedded in the name help to enrich the depth and relatability of the story world and really help with the world building.
- What was your hardest scene to write?
There were quite a few challenging scenes in this book. Primarily because the emotional state of the characters is pretty raw and the book lives up to the name Desperation. The protagonists are pulled into a raging river of really traumatic circumstances and I wanted the reactions to that and how they cope to feel real.
I can’t give away too much, but there was one scene of confrontation with a particularly evil entity in the book that by far gave me the most anxiety. I don’t particularly like writing unambiguously evil characters. I’m more comfortable with handling the manipulative behind the scenes type that are no less evil but less obvious about it. But for Desperation I needed to introduce a pretty dark creature that foreshadows where the rest of the series is headed and I wasn’t sure I could do the scene justice at all. I’m still not sure I did, but it felt like it was properly setting the stakes and framing things for the future books while also being a very real and poignant moment for the characters in Desperation.
- If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
That’s a tricky question to answer, because I feel like the Lord uses everything to shape us and gets into the interplay between His sovereign will and our free will, but I think the first thing I would have told younger me is to not discount writing as something to seriously pursue. It would be mostly directed at high school and freshman/sophomore in college me, because younger me dreamed of being a writer and never thought to question a future where I’d be doing it and by junior year of college I realized that writing is something the Lord has forged into my frame. So, I would encourage me in that critical window of dark years for writing to not think it was impossible or needed to be discarded. That it would be hard at times and sometimes painful, but it’s worth it and the Lord can do more with me yielded than trying to blaze my own path. I would just emphasize to always bear in mind why I’m writing and for Whom and trust that “…for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28, ESV)
- What comes first, the plot or characters?
I apologize, because I feel like I’m skirting the question some, but, for me, it almost always starts with a scene. First a still image that begins to take on a specific mood and tone. If it’s captivating enough I ask questions about the scene until a story forms around it. The characters and the plot are indelibly intertwined for me so they tend to come together. My philosophy on stories is that there’s characters, plot, and setting and all three shape each other mutually, such that to change any of the three and it’s not the same story any more. And if things work out right with that balance between the three elements then the characters feel like they belong in the setting and that the events happening around them are real to them and being shaped by them, which in turn changes their world and changes them.
Thank you for letting us get to know you better!
Texas Book-aholic, August 10
By the Book, August 11
Blogging With Carol, August 12
Artistic Nobody, August 13 (Author Interview)
Christina’s Corner, August 13
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 14
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 15
Locks, Hooks and Books, August 16
Through the Fire Blogs, August 17 (Author Interview)
A Modern Day Fairy Tale, August 19 (Author Interview)
Mornings at Character Cafe, August 19
Holly’s book Corner, August 20
Guild Master, August 21
The Book Club Network, August 22
Splashes of Joy, August 23 (Author Interview)
To celebrate his tour, Brett is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card, copy of Desperation, and digital extras (exclusive map and music)!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.