Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Michael J. Sullivan Author Interview

Book Nerd Interview

My name is Michael J. Sullivan and I’m a full-time novelist. To speak (or type) these words is kind of surreal to me. For those that don't know, writing isn't a career that most can make a living at and I’m still amazed to count myself one of the fortunate few. Not only that, but my wife, who supported our family for years while I banged on the computer keys, has now left her day job so her family can stop complaining about me leaching off her.

Like many, my road has not been an easy one, I wrote books in a variety of genres for over ten years and after finding no traction in getting published…I quit…vowing never to write creatively again. Well, never turned out to be ten years as I couldn’t suppress the itch. This time I decided to write something just to please myself (and my family) I had no plans to publish I put my books out to a few friends and at the urging of my wife and daughter I finally relented to give publishing another try.
That project became my debut novels that most are probably familiar with: the Riyria Revelation fantasy series. I wrote all six books before publishing the first one (yeah crazy I know), so that I could intertwine plot threads throughout. I approached the project like a television series, where each episode has its own conflict and resolution, but taken as a whole, there are sub-plots that span multiple books. The first book of the series, The Crown Conspiracy, was published through a small indie press called Aspirations Media. While well intentioned, they struggled financially, and when I sold out the initial printing in the first fourteen months, they couldn’t afford the reprint. So the rights reverted to me.

Prior to AMI I had had an agent that shopped the series around, but she didn’t get any nibbles so I felt my only choice was to self-publish. At the time, self-publishing had a huge stigma associated with it but I was determined to prove it could be done. From April 2009 to October 2010 I put out five of the six books in the series through Ridan Publishing, a small press started by my wife.
Prior to October 2010, I was selling modestly well, averaging 800-1,000 books a month. Unlike most self-published or indie authors (who price their books at $0.99 or $2.99) I sold mine for $4.95 and at that price so I was finally contributing to the household income. By that time my books were showing up on a number of the Amazon Bestsellers lists such as: Historical Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Action & Adventure, and Men’s Adventure. In addition, my name was appearing on author’s pages such as: Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, Brent Weeks, Ken Scholes, Robert V.S. Reddick, and dozens of others as my books were cross selling well with them.

When we released my fifth book, Wintertide for $6.95 my sales skyrocketed and my wife thought it might be reasonable to approach New York publishers again. We both thought it would take months, or more likely years, IF anything ever became of it, but having been turned down in the past we fully expected further rejection. My foreign rights agent, put together a package and sent it to seventeen fantasy publishers. Immediately she interest from seven of them and within three weeks we decided on Orbit (the fantasy imprint of Hachette Book Group). I was shocked that they were not only offering a six-figure advanced, but were going to fast-track the series and put the books out as a trilogy in three consecutive months.

The next part of my story is really surreal as starting in November 2011 my sales increased ten-fold such that I was selling more than 10,000 a month! I was part of an indie freshman class who all saw significant readership at that time. Some of the names you probably know more than mine: Amanda Hocking, John Locke, and Joe Konrath. Unlike my peers, I never hit the Amazon top 100 (though I got close at 102) but I still sold more than 40,000 books between November and February.
As I write this bio, we are on the cusp of the cutover between Ridan and Orbit. The paperback books have already been removed from the market and the ebooks will disappear at the end of August.

Currently Theft of Swords (paperback & ebooks) and Rise of Empire (paperback) are shipping and the other versions are available for pre-ordering. All three books are topping many of the Amazon lists including #1 Hot New Historical Fantasy (kindle) & #2 Hot New Historical Fantasy (books). The books are also showing up on Top Rated as well as Best Seller Lists for Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, and Historical Fantasy. Theft of Swords was selected for Library Journal's Top 10 Fantasy of 2011 List.

I've completed my new novel Antithesis (although it still needs a lot of editing). This is a fantasy but set in modern times. I also have a literary fiction piece, A Burden to the Earth out to some beta readers. This is much different than my Riyria Revelations, and is in fact the book that made me stop writing for ten years. I really love the way it is written, I doubt that those that love The Riyria Revelations will be interested in it as in many ways it is the “anti-Riyria”. Where Riyria is very plot driven with a lot of action and twists, Burden is a very slow moving exploration of a man’s decent into madness. I love the way this book was written. Will I be able to find an audience for it? I have no idea but I’d love for it to see the light of day.

I recently put out a short story, The Viscount and the Witch which recounts how Royce and Hadrian first met Albert Winslow. The events take place twelve years before the start of the Riyria Revelations.

I'm also working on a new novel...which looks like it will turn into at least two, and possibly three. I don't want to say too much about this project as it is far too early to tell exactly what will happen there. For instance, I just realized I need to write an entire book BEFORE this one so I'll probably have both of them done before seeking publication of the one I'm actually writing.

So, that’s a bit about me and what I’m up to from a writing perspective. If you want to reach me, contact information follows. I love hearing from readers (what author doesn’t?) so don’t be afraid to drop me a line.

Thanks for visiting my blog and I hope you’ll become a follower as that’s how I know whether people are interested in what I have to say.

2012 Fantasy Book Critic's Top 5 Anticipated Releases for Q1 (Heir of Novron)
2012 Civilian Reader's Top 5 List for January (Heir of Novron)
2011 Library Journal Top Ten Best Fantasy (Theft of Swords)
2011 Civilian Reader's Top 3 Picks for December (Rise of Empire)
2011 Civilian Reader's 5 Most Anticipated Releases for November (Theft of Swords)
2011 Library Journal Fantasy Debut of September (Theft of Swords)
2010 Fantasy Book Critic #1 Indie Fantasy (Wintertide & Emerald Storm)
2010 Iceberg Ink Award Best Read (Avempartha)
2010 Fantasy Book Critic Top 25 (Wintertide & Emerald Storm)
2010 Bookworm Blues Overall Best Reads of 2010 (Avempartha)
2010 Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Fantasy (The Emerald Storm)
2010 Fantasy Book Critic Top 12 Novels as of First Quarter (The Emerald Storm)
2010 Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Finalist (Avempartha)
2010 Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Finalist (Nyphron Rising)
2010 Fantasy Book Critic Top 5 Novels of Second Half of 2010 (Wintertide)
2009 Winner of Book Spot Central's Fantasy Tournament of Books (Avempartha)
2009 Speculative Fiction Junkie's Top 5 Close Contender(The Crown Conspiracy)
2009 Top 10 Books by Dark Wolf Fantasy Reviews (The Riyria Revelations)
2009 National Indie Book Award Finalist (The Crown Conspiracy)
2008 ReaderViews Annual Literary Award Finalist (The Crown Conspiracy)
2007 Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Finalist (The Crown Conspiracy)

Theft of Swords (November 2011): The Crown Conspiracy & Avempartha
Rise of Empire (December 2011): Nyphron Rising & The Emerald Storm
Heir of Novron (January 2012): Wintertide & Percepliquis

The Crown Conspiracy (October 2008)
Avempartha (April 2009)
Nyphron Rising (October 2009)
The Emerald Storm (April 2010)
Wintertide (October 2010)
Percepliquis* (January 2012)

Traditions (Part of Twists and Turns Anthology)
The Viscount and the Witch (Oct 2011)

Antithesis - 100% complete needs editing
A Burden to the Earth - 100% complete out with Beta Readers
Untitled - two book series - 50% complete book2, 50% conceptualization book 1

twitter: @author_sullivan
facebook (riyria):


How would you describe yourself in three words?

Relentlessly Creative Individualist

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I was born in Detroit Michigan in 1961 and lived there through the riots, then moved to the suburbs, which probably helped to spark my writing as my creativity springs from boredom. Home is wherever Robin, my soul mate of more than thirty years is. Currently that is just outside Washington D.C.

Tell us your latest news.

Oh my God…there is so much going on I don’t know where to begin. Let’s see…I’m actually writing this on January 11th which means my third and final book, Percepliquis is less than a week from release (This book will also be included in the 2-book Omnibus, Heir of Novron releasing the end of January). The first three early reviews have come in and all of them said about the same thing. To quote Sarah at Bookworm Blues, “Percepliquis is the end of all endings… Percepliquis truly is Michael Sullivan’s magnum opus.” When I finished this book, I knew that it was a winner and I’m excited to discover I wasn’t delusional.

The previous two books of the series, Theft of Swords (Nov 23) and Rise of Empire (Dec 15) have only been out a few weeks and already they gone into second printings. I’m also thrilled that I made several yearend lists with Theft of Swords which was named to: Library Journal’s Top Ten SF/Fantasy Books, Barnes and Nobles Blog’s The Best Fantasy Releases of 2011, A Dribble of Ink’s My Favorite Novels of 2011, Only The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy’s Top Five 2011 Releases, Bookaholic Cat's Favorite Books of 2011, and Drying Ink named Theft of Swords as The Best Epic Fantasy of 2011. In addition, Fantasy Faction put me on their Best of List as the “Most Exciting News of 2011” for the announcement that Orbit had signed my Riyria Revelations series.

On the subsidiary front, the audio versions of the books have gone into production and I just closed deals for translation for Brazil and Japan. The Polish version was released and Googling it shows hundreds of reviews, book networking sites, and forums talking about the release. The French translation is in the final stages. I also stumbled upon a Dutch on-line Book Club that has selected Theft of Swords as their January read and I’m answering questions for people that post there. Last but not least, I now have an agent representing the book for movie/television rights, Josie Friedman who is the co-head of the book to film division at ICM.

How long have you been writing?

I can’t remember the exact age but it was around eight or nine that I found a typewriter in the basement of a friend’s house when we were playing hide-n-seek. I actually put in a piece of paper and typed: It was a dark and stormy night and a shot rang out. Of course at the time I didn’t realize that was the most overused and cliché line in the history of writing. I think I typed it because I saw Snoopy use it and I figured that was the “classic” way to start a story.

My adult writing career started in my early twenties. My wife and I had our first child and we wanted to have one of us raising our kids. Robin made more money than I did, so although it was unconventional in the 1980’s for a man to be the caregiver, I stayed home and wrote during my daughter’s nap times. I wrote a novel a year in various genres and when I had completed my thirteenth I thought I really had something that could get published. A few years of beating my head on that door and I walked away from writing and actually vowed never to write creatively again.

Stories continued to fill my head and after a ten year hiatus I returned, but my intention was not to publish. I was going to write stories just for myself, family, and friends. Ironically it was this story that ended up being published.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

Well the trifecta of any good novel is: character, plot, and setting. For me the character is the heart of the novel. I tend to write ensemble pieces where multiple characters share the limelight. In the case of The Riyria Revelations there are four: a cynical thief hardened by years of misfortune, a idealistic ex-mercenary who has seen too much blood over the years, an intelligent Princess who leaves the safety of court life and discovers her true calling, and a young girl who loses everything and ends up the Empress of the united realms of mankind. On the surface these sound like standard fantasy tropes and they are. I like starting with traditional themes that are as comfortable and familiar as a good pair of worn shoes, but then I’ll twist things and use reader’s expectations to work against what they expect. I think that in the end I give a new and fresh perspective (at least that’s what the reviews tell me). After all, Harry Potter was the most clichéd concept imaginable: an orphan destined for greatness that must defeat an evil wizard bent on the destruction of mankind. Yet Rowlings execution won the hearts of millions as people everywhere waited anxiously to see what would happen to Harry and his friends.

Speaking about what happens. A great character is boring without a compelling plot to drive their actions. I write traditional fantasy about unlikely heroes. My characters have flaws, and often struggle with their conscious, but I place them in dire situations and they rise to the occasion. I prefer books that make you feel better after finishing rather than depressed.

As for setting, this is probably the area that I place the least emphasis on. This is unusual for epic fantasy as we authors create extensive worlds with expansive histories, customs, creatures, religions, and political systems. My Riyria revelations is no exception, but I believe that world building should be like an iceberg with most of it remaining submerged below the water. Only a fraction of what I’ve conceived makes it onto the page, but knowing it helps me to provide the seasoning to the stew is subtle passing ways that provides the flavor and lets the reader know that more exists.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

That really depends on which book we are speaking about. I write in many genres (although so far I’ve only been published in fantasy) and I study and learn from different authors to apply the appropriate techniques specific to that particular work. For instance, I have a literary fiction piece which uses exceptionally finely polished prose so the mentors I used there are not the same when writing the Riyria Revelations which is a light, fun, page-turner. For this kind of book I purposefully wrote with a simple, unadorned style as I didn’t want the words to get in the way of the fast moving action.

Lately, I’ve been channeling Hemingway a bit. I recently watched Midnight in Paris and just read A Moveable Feast so I’m hearing him whisper in my ear often these days. Some of the authors that have influenced my work include: J.K. Rowlings, Stephen King, John Updike, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, and Ayn Rand.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

Let’s see…so there were thirteen books before my hiatus. Then there are the six books of The Riyria Revelation (though Orbit is releasing them as three two-book Omnibus volumes). There is Antithesis, my next fantasy novel but in a modern setting. Then there is another book I just recently finished. So that makes twenty-one total but at this exact moment only two are available for sale (the six-book version of the The Riyria Revelations series has been placed out of print). By the end of January that will be three. By the terms of my contract I can’t publish anything else until July 2012 and I hope to have three novels written by the time that restriction is removed.

As to favorite, that’s a no-brainer: Percepliquis. I wrote The Riyria Revelations as six individual episodes with their own conflict and resolution, but there are many plot threads that are interwoven throughout the series. My goal was always to make the last book the strongest, which is backward. Usually the first book is made the strongest so that readers will continue on in the series. I decided to start out my series small and simple and add layers of complexity and ongoing mysteries that build over time. This makes that the last book the exciting finale at the end of the fireworks display, and conversely the first one is actually the weakest link. Because I wasn’t planning on publishing the series, I could develop it in this unconventional way.

Can you tell us about The Riyria Revelations Series?

Of course, I’d love to ;-). The tagline I came up for the series is: Unlikeable heroes…classic adventure, which is the most succinct description I can think of. The series is classified as traditional heroic epic fantasy. Traditional because it is filled with: kings, knights, wizards, swords, magic, multiple races, and the like. Heroic because there is an undercurrent of optimism running throughout the books. Epic because the events have far reaching consequence that can affect entire cultures or races. And fantasy meaning it is set in a fictional world with its own customs, political systems, religions and what not…although it does have a striking resemblance to medieval Europe.

As I already mentioned there are six books and an interesting fact is that I wrote all of them before publishing the first. This was necessary as the intricate interwoven plots were tweaked in earlier books as the later volumes were finished. Also as I mentioned each one is its own episode in a larger story.

The books are written for adults, but don’t have sex or graphic violence. This has meant that they are being read by a wide range of ages. The books are low fantasy because magic rarely comes into play and in many ways it reads more like historical fiction…except for a world other than our own. This makes the books a great starter series for those that have been reluctant about fantasy in the past.

The back of the book blurb is meant to distill a novel down to just a few words so I’ll finish off this question with the blurb for The Crown Conspiracy (the first book of the Theft of Swords Omnibus)


There's no orphan destined for greatness or ancient evil to destroy…just two rogues in the wrong place at the wrong time. Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his ex-mercenary partner Hadrian Blackwater make a profitable living carrying out dangerous assignments for conspiring nobles until they are framed for the murder of a king. Captured and imprisoned, they have only one way out and that places them in the middle of a conspiracy that reaches beyond the mere overthrow of a tiny monarchy.

What inspired you to write this particular book? Is there a story about the writing of this novel that begs to be told?

Well as I mentioned, I was on a writing hiatus, but this story and its characters kept bombarding my brain for about fourteen years. I never wrote any of it down but as each new idea came to me I added it to the ever growing snowball that was building. My daughter, who is dyslexic, was having trouble in school and I wanted to get her something to read that I thought she would enjoy. I had heard about this very popular set of books called Harry Potter so I picked one up. It sat around the house and was so beautiful in its design (I’m a sucker for a “good looking book”), that I eventually started reading it. I was swept away and impressed with the ease and fun and adventure of the tale.

The last book before my hiatus, otherwise known as the proverbial straw, happened to have been literary fiction. While I think the book is beautifully written, because I obsessed over each word and phrase, it wasn’t particularly fun to write. Reading Potter gave me the idea to just write something fun. The whole first novel poured out of me in a month, because I had so much built up behind the self imposed dam. The second took about the same amount of time, and then the pace slowed such that the four remaining books took anywhere from six to nine months each.

I wrote the book with my daughter in mind—something that I thought she would read. But after presenting her with the book in manuscript form (8 ½” x 11” paper double spaced) she balked. She wanted “a real book” that was bound and had smaller pages and closer type. She handed it back and stated, “You need to get this published.” That in itself is another long story but I eventually complied with her wishes.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?

I really like putting people of very different personalities together to see how they play off one another, so I’d go with two extremes. I’d select Myron the Monk from my books and pair him with Allan Quatermain from King Solomon’s Mines. Allan is just so adventurous and Myron really needs to “get out more.” We see some of his discovery of the world outside the abbey in The Crown Conspiracy, and while a lot does happen I’m sure it would pale to the ride he would have tagging along with Allan. My imagination can see some pretty entertaining scenes coming out of that pairing.

What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?

I’m not sure you’ll find it interesting, but I did...interesting and memorable. I received an email from a military doctor who had been diagnosed with cancer. He wrote to tell me I “had a gift” and that my writing helped him “escape from what has at times been a brutal reality.” He went on to talk about how everyone feels at times that what they do has no importance and he just wanted to let me know that my writing might have more importance than I realize. What’s most fascinating to me is that is not an isolated incident. There was a mother that told me that her daughter is comforted by reading about Hadrian and Royce after a bad day of being bullied at school, and a man who wrote tell me that he and his estranged brother are now reunited and sharing the enjoyment of reading and discussing my books together. I write for a living but I often find myself at a loss for words when responding to these emails.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating The Riyria Revelations Series?

That what one person loves can be the same thing that another despises. I wrote a post in January 2011 that was my “wrap up of 2010” where I took reviews or emails and went point by point showing the exact opposite opinions on the same exact aspects of my writing. That really taught me an appreciation for different tastes and gave me a good coping mechanism for dealing with negative reviews. At first, they really stung but once I realized that the reviewer was just looking for something different than my particular style it made them easier to bare.

What is the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?

I actually never got distracted when writing The Riyria Revelations. The story had been building in my head for fourteen years, so when I actually sat down at the keyboard it poured out pretty effortlessly. The first book was finished in less than a month, the second about the same amount of time. The other four took between six and nine months each. I’ve heard some writers talking about having to “force their butts in the chair” or needing to turn of the Internet so they don’t get distracted. Neither of these two situations have ever been an issue for me. Writing is one of my favorite ways to spend time. I look forward to doing it. The question is like asking a child how hard it is for them to make time to play their favorite game.

What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 30 or less words, what would you say?

Antithesis: Two opposing individuals possess limitless magic, providing the universe balance. An unexpected death transfers this power to an unsuspecting bystander who is clueless of the consequences of his newfound abilities.

Has a review or profile ever changed your perspective on your work?

Not my perspective per se, as I’m pretty “self aware” of what I’m attempting. But I have changed my execution when a review indicated my writing did not live up to its full potential. For instance, in my first book there is one character that speaks using an archaic style (he had been locked in a timeless prison for 900 years). I fully admit that Olde English is not my specialty so my original approach was for him to speak as little as possible. I had several reviews that complained about this particular area, and one extremely well written, but scathing account, made me realize I should do something about it. At that time most of my sales were in ebooks and I also provided print versions via print-on-demand so it wasn’t a problem to make a change. I spent a few weeks studying Shakespeare and the way in which Olde English sentences are structured. I rewrote his dialog and made him more verbose. The only problem is that nowadays when I hear someone criticize that area of the book, I’m never quite sure if they have the old version or if I still didn’t get it right.

If you couldn't be an author, what would your ideal career be?

I’ve had several jobs requiring creative skills: one as an art director for an advertising agency that I created and the other as a writer for my own novels. You’ll notice that my “three words” above included individualist. I don’t “play well with others” and value my freedom to a level that is legion.

If I’m free to do what I want, when I want, and how I want, I can produce something that’s good. But if I’m told what to do, or am placed in a stifling environment, my creative side shuts down. If writing was no longer an option, I wouldn’t return to art because I’ve “been there, done that.” The only other creative pursuits I can think of is music and film, the first I have no propensity for and I’m too old to try to break into the second. So, if I found myself cut off from any work requiring artistic expression, I’d go the exact opposite way. I’d prefer to be doing some manual job…preferably one that would require very little thought to perform. I would come in each day, do my job, and return home much like a robot. For me there really are just two settings.

What question are you never asked in interviews but wish you were?

Probably something about my wife, and her contributions to my writing, so I could give her some well deserved recognition. There are those that are familiar with how much of an equal partner she is in my writing but many don’t. She is my first beta reader, my developmental editor, my copy editor, my biggest fan, and a one woman marketing and publicity machine. She’s intelligent, competent, tenacious, and tireless in her efforts to support me and my writing. If it wasn’t for Robin The Riyria Revelations would have never made it to the market, and countless improvements have been made to the books due to her astute observations.

When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?

I’m like Spock; I can’t lie. I may avoid a question…for instance, any that might be a spoiler to the books. I also won’t talk trash about other writers. I also won’t complain or whine about things. I’ve even answered questions on taboo subjects like money and writing, which seems to be some closely guarded secret in the industry (probably because so few authors make a living wage). While in public I’ll practice the old adage, “If you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all.” But I’ll also be brutally honest when providing a critique to authors when we are one-on-one (but only if I think they can take it). I take the time to do this only for those that really have potential, want to improve, and won’t be crushed by my critique.

If you could have written one book in history, what book would that be?

I’ve actually been asked this question before, and if I wasn’t so lazy I’d look it up to see what I said. The truth is that there isn’t any. The big issue with this question is how to interpret it.

Does that mean…what book is so well written that I wish I could be that good? None would fit that category because that would mean adopting someone else’s style and I prefer my own…such that it is.

Does that mean…what idea was so great you wish you came up with it first? None would fit that category because I have too many of my own ideas that I’ll never get out before I die that I don’t have time to devote to someone else’s and I wouldn’t be enthusiastic about something that didn’t come from something internal to me.

Does that mean…what book made so much money that I wish to be in that author’s shoes? None would fit because I’m not motivated by money or fame.

Remember that whole individualist thing from above. I’m interested in producing my own work, my own way. I can love a book written by someone else. I can appreciate the skill that it took to write it. I can give a nod to a well written phrase. But that doesn’t mean that I would want to change places with anyone. I’m happy being who I am.

Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? And what is your favorite book outside your genre?

I like so many books for so many different reasons that it’s difficult to choose. I guess if I could only select one I’ll have to go with The Hobbit because it was the catalyst for a lifetime of reading and a desire to write. While a great book in its own right, its importance as the stone that started the avalanche elevates it to a higher level of importance than all those that came after. In many ways it was in the right place at the right time…and if another of my list of favorites had been first then it would probably be listed here.

I don’t make a distinction between books inside and outside the genre. In fact, I’m not really a genre writer. True, my first published work is in fantasy, but I’ve written, and read in all genres. The only exception to that is romance and erotica. Not that I’m a snob to that genre, it just doesn’t appeal to me personally.

What is your most memorable travel experience?

Probably the first time my wife and I traveled to New England. We were young, and relatively poor. So we filled the car with camping gear and put some bikes on the back and travelled from Detroit Michigan, through Ontario Canada, the Adirondacks of New York, and throughout Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts. I love the rocky coast of Maine and in particular Arcadia National Park and the Bar Harbor area. The green hills of Vermont reminded me of Ireland, where my family heralds from. We enjoyed the trip so much that we later relocated to Vermont even though we didn’t know a sole there—just so that we could live amongst all that beauty. It’s a terrific place to live, even if the winters can be brutal.

Which author would you love to co-author a book with?

I’m going to have to go back to that individualist word again. From a business perspective, doing a collaboration makes a huge amount of sense as fans of either author will be drawn to the work and you could gain a whole new following through the effort. But I’m not motivated by money and I have very particular opinions on my stories, so I’m not sure it would be a good experience for anyone to work with me. The only collaboration I do is with my wife, Robin, but after thirty years together we finish each other sentences so we really are just extensions of each other. I’m not sure I could work as well with someone who I don’t share such a bond with.

What is your favorite food?

Whatever happens to be planned for dinner after a long day of hiking that is cooked after returning to camp. For instance, breadsticks and spaghetti sauce can be better than any gourmet meal with the most decadent of sauces. Or a sausage cooked over an open fire than wrapped in a piece of wheat bread such that the grease seeps through just a bit. Or a fresh caught trout sautéed with some onions and lemons, followed by some freshly picked corn from a nearby field. Food in these situations taste so much better than when you are surrounded by a myriad of choices that are just a short walk or car ride away.

What is a movie or TV show that you watched recently and really enjoyed?

The HBO Series Rome, I found particularly entertaining. I’m sorry that it lasted for only two seasons. I watched it on DVD’s where my wife and I would watch an episode a night, or sometimes two if we just couldn’t help ourselves. I knew there were a limited number of episodes so I had to ration them in order to stretch out the number of days. It’s probably not surprising to know that I find some similarities in the two main characters of that show with Royce and Hadrian in my own writing.

If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional. with whom would it be?

This is a test right? You’re trying to see if I’ll lie? Because I know that saying I wouldn’t trade places with anyone is a boring, unimaginative answer and so in order to seem more intelligent, or creative, or witty I should make up something here that is far more compelling then the truth. I am, without a doubt one hundred percent satisfied with every aspect of my life and have for as long as I can remember. I wrote my own characters as people I would want to hang around with, but I wouldn’t want to “be” them. If I could be myself but accompany members of Riyria and go along with Royce and Hadrian now that would be a lot of fun. But that’s about the closest I can come to what you are asking.

Where can readers stalk you?

I have a blog at I’m also on Twitter at @author_sullivan and three places on facebook: is the page that Orbit maintains for the series,, is the page that focuses on all my writing activities, and is my personal page that includes things beyond just my writing. I also love getting and responding to email at

Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, make a profitable living carrying out dangerous assignments for conspiring nobles-until they are hired to pilfer a famed sword. What appears to be just a simple job finds them framed for the murder of the king and trapped in a conspiracy that uncovers a plot far greater than the mere overthrow of a tiny kingdom.

Can a self-serving thief and an idealistic swordsman survive long enough to unravel the first part of an ancient mystery that has toppled kings and destroyed empires?

And so begins the first tale of treachery and adventure, sword fighting and magic, myth and legend.

When author Michael J. Sullivan self-published the first books of his Riyria Revelations, they rapidly became ebook bestsellers. Now, Orbit is pleased to present the complete series for the first time in bookstores everywhere.

Theft of Swords was originally published as: The Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha.

Theft of Swords (The Crown Conspiracy & Avempartha)
Rise of Empire (Nyphron Rising & The Emerald Storm)
Heir of Novron (Wintertide & Percepliquis)

At first glance, Theft of Swords (The Riyria Revelations Series) seem like your familiar fantasy series attached with everything that you have come to expect from that genre. The one thing that makes this stand out from the rest is how the author, Michael J. Sullivan, takes those familiarities and twists them into a refreshing approach, yet keeping that fantasy feel. The characters within the pages were radiantly crafted with care and the chemistry between them was strong and vivid.

The story is about two thieves, Royce and Hadrian, and their planned heist to take an important item within the walls of the king’s castle. Just as they laid their hands on their prize, a trap is triggered when the lifeless body of the king is at their feet and they are accused for his demise. The story goes on a wild ride with the reader in the front seat the whole way.

Between the first page and the last, the reader will be entertained and taken into a journey of mystery, adventure, and murder. At the end, it seems like everything is back to normal and everyone is at
ease. Since this is the first book in the series, it is inevitable that our duo thieves will find themselves again in another predicament. Sullivan has done an outstanding effort in making a popular genre very likable for all. If you like fantasy and tired of the same thing you have come to expect, this book will offer new approaches to the genre. Just remember that Theft of Swords is book one of a trilogy and contains two “stand-alone” stories with endings.

You can purchase  The Riyria Revelations  at these following retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you Michael for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive one Signed Copy of  Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. ohhhh thats a tough one i have TWO. Ed,Edd N Eddy :) and star wars the clone wars tv show :)
    thank you for the giveaway

  2. Amazing interview :) My favorite cartoon... well not sure but I used to love Pokemon and Card Captor Sakura :)
    Thanks for the giveaway

  3. Well favorite carton, Ummm there are a few when U I was younger I loved the Smurfs, I like well most anything!! LOL I love to watch them with the kids!!
    Thanks for the giveaway!!!;)))


  4. Thank you for the giveaway! May I just say that the guy on the cover of these books is a real hottie :) :) :)*swoon*
    My fav cartoon is The X-Men :) I love both the old and newly revamped versions!

  5. Thank you for the giveaway!
    My favorite cartoon is spongebob squarepants!

  6. I've always been a huge Scooby Doo fan!!

  7. Is this an international giveaway or US only?
    ( it be good if you'd mention it on the Giveaway to avoid mix ups. :) )
    Hopefully it's international because the book looks awesome and I bet my hubby would love to read it as well. :)

  8. Thank you for the interview and the giveaway ^_^ and thank for making it international!! Hum I love Pokemon and One Peace!!

  9. Fav cartoon: Dexter and The Flintstone! :D
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  10. When I was younger I had so many favorites cartoons, I loved most of Disney movies and I love manga series like: Hello! Lady, Lady Lady, Daddy Long Legs, Sandybelle and so many other cartoons!!