Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Brent J. Ludwig Interview - Those Who Would Be King

Photo Credit: Sliver Photography

Brent J. Ludwig is a reformed lawyer who currently runs his own boutique headhunting firm in Calgary and Vancouver, Canada. Brent practiced securities/mergers & acquisition law in Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary, but did not let it stifle his love for storytelling and writing, first inspired while completing his undergraduate degree at St. Thomas University in New Brunswick. As a "mining brat" child, Brent’s family moved every year to remote towns, nurturing his broad, pan-Canadian outlook and an equally endearing and embarrassing small-town personality.

Brent currently lives in Calgary and spends his spare time cooking, drinking wine, and chasing soccer balls while coaching and shuttling three active children. He has a keen sense of interest in developing nations and trying to help as many people as possible by leveraging his writing and finance talents. Brent is currently working on the second book in the Those Who Would Be King trilogy.


Greatest thing you learned at school. 
I learned how to transcribe the stories I was always able to form in my head.

When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill? 
In my third year of university, in an upper level history seminar, my Professor, after reading my historical essay on the treatment of lepers and leprosy in the Province of New Brunswick, Canada said “You could really make money writing these kinds of stories!”

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book? 
Life is distracting. To properly “get into” writing a fiction novel and sorry-telling, one needs large blocks of time. Interruptions kill your story-telling flow, and make it extremely unproductive.

What chapter was the most memorable to write and why? 
The finale, of course. I had to make some hard decisions about how to end the story. I am told by readers that it’s a huge twist/shocker, yet somehow extremely satisfying.

Has reading a book ever changed your life? Which one and why, if yes? 
The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad and the theory that even the most civilized among us have an atavistic, dark side lurking within was absolutely pivotal for me. It explained a lot in this world that was otherwise inexplicable to me. And it opened the door to develop characters and storylines that had complexities and twists that otherwise would have seemed inconsistent to me.

What were your feelings when your first novel was accepted/when you first saw the cover of the finished product? 
When I first saw the book in print it was shockingly a bit of a let-down. Make no mistake, I believe that the cover is AMAZING-I absolutely LOVE it. But I think that because I had spent so much time working on the cover with my publisher, and because they sent such realistic, computer-generated 3-D pictures of how it would look when in print, that it was as if I had already seen it before. Ho hum, yup that’s my book. But HOLDING it in my hands, and realizing that bar some kind of Fahrenheit 451 event, my book would now be part of the written history of mankind and might inspire other people hundreds of years from now, now THAT was cool!

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your characters? 
I learned that your characters are HUMAN, or at least that although fictional they are meant to be human beings. There can all have flaws and vulnerabilities, just like we do. They can make mistakes, and often it makes for a better story when they do!!

What were your inspirations for the character development? 
Throughout Africa’s post-colonial existence, there have been many elected and unelected leaders who have been brutal in maintaining their control, and have sapped away millions and billions of dollars from their people, living like kings. These people were the inspiration for the “royal family” characters within my book. The others were absolute creations of my own mind.

Your Favorite Quotes/Scenes from THOSE WHO WOULD BE KING
The condensation from the doctor’s fifth double scotch-on-the-rocks formed intersecting circles on the polished mahogany bar. Though many aficionados would disdain the use of ice in so fine a liquor, the doctor didn’t need to add to the already turgid heat and humidity with the fire of the rare beverage.

These are the first two lines from the prologue of my novel. I had to come up with a plausible way/scenario for the newborn son of a King to be switched, intentionally, at birth, with a low-born child of the slums of a poor sub-Saharan African country. Once I came up with the way in which I could make it happen, I was lying awake at night, literally writing and re-writing the opening lines over and over. Finally, after weeks of sleepless nights, I sat down and started to write. Opening lines became opening paragraphs and pages; withing 3 hours I had over twenty pages written. Those Who Would Be King: The People’s Prince had been born!

Writing Behind the Scenes
A family that I was very close to in New Brunswick, Canada had accepted a two-year stint in Malawi, Africa, to start up a modern, North American style dairy farm. Corruption and red tape drove them home after slightly more than a year, but I had heard the project eventually was turned over to the Malawi government after 10 years of development. Six years later the farm was in ruins and was sold at auction. I travelled to Malawi to research the book, and stayed in what is now a tourist lodge where the original family once lived! Although not named in the book as such, Maleziland and its history is loosely based upon the history of Malawi, including its post-colonial path towards and away from democracy.

What is the first job you have had? 
Manually setting up bowling pins in a bowling alley-I often wonder if I got hit too many times in the head by fast-flying pins.

What is your happiest childhood memory? 
Fishing in Northern Ontario, heading to shore, frying up some fish on the spot and then re-catching our daily limit before going home.

What was your favorite subject when you were in school and why? 
History—it’s simply fascinating, and can be so helpful to understanding the world we live in today.

Name one thing you miss about being a kid. 
I miss how long summer holidays seemed to be. Now holidays are over in a flash!

What is your most memorable travel experience? 
Travelling to Africa to do research for this book. Mind-blowing, eye-opening and life-altering.

Have you ever stood up for someone you hardly knew? 
Oh yes. My family’s greatest fear for my demise is that I will jump in and do something or stand up for a stranger and get myself killed in the process. It’s just who I am.

What is your greatest adventure? 

If you could go back in time to one point in your life, where would you go? 
Fishing in Northern Ontario, especially when it was just me and my Dad. Those were special moments.

What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a kid? 
1930-1940 in rural Canada, living on a farm. It was extremely hard work, even for kids as everybody had to help and work, but was a simple, honest way to live. Simple things became such incredible events, like family get togethers and/or road trips in the family car. Values were solid.

At a movie theater which arm rest is yours? 
The right for sure, or maybe both. I have ridiculously broad shoulders, and overhang my seat on both sides. I’m the person no one wants to sit beside on a theatre or plane …

This powerful novel—full of tantalizing twists and turns, powerful heroes and heinous villains—is set in the fictional, impoverished African country of Maleziland and explores the corruption of power, the legacy of colonialism, and the putative integration of democracy in sub-Saharan Africa.

King Mabanda controls his country with a violent, omnipotent fist. The king’s son, Mandebala, is a tyrant-in-training who has grown up with the opulence and privilege of an uber-wealthy prince. But when the king meets Shigeku, the only captive survivor of a border war with a neighboring nation, the prisoner tells of switching his own brother at birth with the king’s actual son.

The king immediately extricates his true heir, Mateyo, from the slums to the palace to take his rightful place as the prince of Maleziland, while the loathsome Mandebala is thrown out and forced to live in the nearby shantytown. The benevolent new prince experiences the trappings and privileges of wealth and power, and ultimately embarks upon a plan that will improve the lives of his people and country. Meanwhile, the true brothers, Shigeku and Mandebala, plot, with the keen support of the Catholic Church, to overthrow the regime so corruption and self-serving depravity can once again reign supreme.

You can purchase Those Who Would Be King at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you BRENT J. LUDWIG for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Those Who Would Be King by Brent J. Ludwig.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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