Interview with M E Rodman

  • Tell us about your book (what’s the sales pitch?)

Mad princes, forbidden magic, and a plot to take control of an Empire. A dark and twisted LGBT+ epic fantasy.

If you could be a character in the book who would you be and why?

I think it would have to be Gift, the main character’s adopted daughter. She’s laid back, relaxed, and living her best life, as a chill-ass soft butch lesbian.

Alternatively, I might pick Sindri, a calm and collected healer who’s good at dealing with other people’s drama.

They’re both secondary characters because, as I’m not very kind to my main characters, I don’t think I’d want to be any of them.

What did you learn about writing by writing this book?

Writing is hard, and you never get it quite right. But you try until its as good as you can make it and then you send it out into the world.

Do you have a set writing process, if so what is it?

I’m a total pantser and write instinctively. My first draft is usually whatever comes into my head in the moment. Consequently, it’s a complete mess.

During the second draft I go in and fix all the plot holes, character inconsistencies, add scenes, delete scenes etc. I make changes as I go along when I’m working on the first draft so people will have different names, personalities or motivations on page 5 than they do on page 250. I spend a lot of time retconning these changes to make everything consistent.

Sometimes I pants my way into dead ends and am forced to back track, but after years of writing I can usually feel when I’ve gone in the wrong direction before I’ve written more than a couple of thousand words. Pantsing can be tricky for complicated plots, especially mysteries or crime stories, which I love to write. But I’ve tried plotting, and, for me, it kills the story dead every time. For me writing really is re-writing.

I listen to music when I work and compile separate playlists for each project to help me get in the zone.

What’s one question you think would be really fun to answer, but has never been asked of you?

How much time do my characters spend on their elaborately styled and intricately braided very, very long hair? Are Imperial shampoos all that?

What made you choose to write your book as a fantasy?

I grew up on LOTR and the Hobbit (my dad read them to me at bedtime, he did voices and everything). So, fantasy has always been my bag. I enjoy reading Science Fiction, Horror and Crime. I’ve written a few horror shorts and use crime to drive a lot of my plots. But I find reality constraining and feel limited when I set stories in the real world. The thrill of shaping new worlds, of making my own rules and designing my own realities has always been the biggest hook for me.

How much research did you do before writing the book and how did you go about it?

For Blood and Thorn, I researched eunuchs in a range of ancient cultures, Mongolian society, food from different regions, climate, planetary formation, samovars, languages, names and naming conventions, horses and riding and much, much more.

I used the internet, knowledgeable people, non-fiction and fiction books, documentaries and TV shows/films, visual images and visited museums to see real objects.

A lot of my research was adapted or amalgamated to fit into the secondary world of my book, which is not based exclusively on any real-world place or culture. For example: The health issues eunuchs experienced in the real world do not exist in my world due to differences in pharmacology. Imperial society conducts tea ceremonies, but these incorporate the use of samovars, which are culturally important in the Empire.

As I don’t plan, I research while I’m writing, stopping work to dig out the answers to questions as they come up. This can lead to falling in research black holes that eat into writing time. But as I don’t know what I need to know until I get there, it’s my only option.

Do you remember the first story you told? What was it?

I’ve been telling stories since before I could write them down. But the earliest story I remember clearly was for a school project. It impressed my teacher quite a bit, which is probably why I remember it. The story was about a village outcast making a deal with an otherworldly demon in a very creepy graveyard. I think I was about ten.

What are you reading? Who do you think we should be reading (apart from you!)?

I read a wide range of crime, speculative fiction and queer romance. I recently finished J Y Neon Yang’s amazing ‘silkpunk’ Tensorate series notable for its diverse gender representation and am halfway through Zen Cho’s The True Queen, which is as excellent as the first in the series: Sorcerer to the Crown. They are funny, adorable books, set in a Johnathan Strange and Mr Norrel-esque world.

I would also recommend Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon as a long-read epic fantasy with dragons and lesbians. Ann Leckie’s Ancillary series for ground-breaking science fiction. City of Lies by Sam Hawke is hopeful political fantasy with great disabled representation while Empire of Sand by Tash Suri has an awesome Bollywood take on magic. Ben Aaronovitch’s River’s of London series marries urban fantasy with the police-procedural genre. T.J Kingfisher writes fantastic horror, romance and fantasy novellas.

For older books I love, re-read often, and which inform my own writing, I would recommend the Doctrine of Labyrinths series by Sarah Monette, The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold, The Reliquary Ring by Cherith Baldry and Transformation by Carol Berg.

This is just a flavour of my best reads as I love so many, many books and find new ones to love every time I open a book to its first page.

In one sentence what’s your best piece of advice for writers?

Read your own writing out loud to yourself. Best editing tip ever.

Social media and Sales:

Sales link:

Facebook page:


Twitter: M E Rodman @TheCantingBones

Publisher: Grimbold Books/Kristell Ink

Published by suttope

Pete W Sutton is a writer and editor. His two short story collections – A Tiding of Magpies and The Museum for Forgetting – were shortlisted for Best Collection in the British Fantasy Awards in 2017 & 2022 respectively. His novel – Seven Deadly Swords – was published by Grimbold Books. He has edited several short story anthologies and is the editor for the British Fantasy Society Horizons fiction magazine.

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