I hope you're doing well today. Anyone who has read my writing will be aware that I just love medieval fantasy, and that is exactly what I have in store for you today. If you love adventure filled with adrenaline pumping battles, this one is for you. It is my pleasure to introduce Robert F. Nugent!
PB: Hi! Welcome to pjbermanbooks.com. Tell us a bit about your background.
RN: Hi, Peter! Thanks for having me over here to talk. Like many authors, I have been writing for a very long time, but my career “officially” started about 5 years ago with the publication of my first novel, The Fallen Banner: Part I of the Chronicles of Aerothos. Outside of writing, I consider myself a medieval enthusiast and engage in live-action role playing games, light forms of reenactment, and other excuses I can find to swing a sword around. When it’s not books or swords, I’m usually drinking more than my fair share of coffee or playing video games.
PB: What made you decide to become an author?
RN: At risk of sounding cliche, I think it’s something I always wanted to be. The issue was, for so long, I told myself I couldn’t do it. That was bogus. Nearly a decade before I published the first Aerothos book, I had begun crafting the world and its stories. In its earliest days, Aerothos was very high-fantasy (elves, dragons, wizards, and the like) and as the years went on and my love of history grew, the world lost its fantastical approach and became more “historical.” I told myself it would never sell. Who would want to read books about political intrigue and battles if it didn’t have all of those magical, otherworldly elements?
Then Game of Thrones exploded on HBO and flipped expectations. Not that GoT/A Song of Ice and Fire is entirely without fantastical elements, but it was similar enough. That’s when I realized, “No, there’s a market for this. I’m not an idiot for wanting to write this sort of thing.” That was the moment I kicked my motivation into overdrive.
PB: When did you first start writing?
RN: I first began writing for Aerothos in … 2009? 2010? That was when I wrote the first draft, which I never attempted to publish. I eventually revisited Aerothos after my previously-mentioned epiphany and started in on the next draft in 2013, which took to the more realistic, historical tone. That version of Aerothos had 3 drafts, with the fourth and final draft being the product that was published in 2015.
PB: What was the first story that you can remember writing?
RN: I wrote my earliest “book” when I was 8 or 9 years old. I had recently read The Lord of the Rings and wrote a short fanfiction story, which my school teacher allowed me to print from her computer and “publish” and let the class read it during our down time. I think that was the moment I really grabbed onto a love of writing. I have been writing stories ever since!
PB: What is your writing process? Do you normally plan the story and do research before you start, or do you prefer to just start writing and see where the adventure takes you?
RN: It’s the easy answer, but both. I do a significant amount of preplanning and research. I want to make my world as authentic as possible, and when it comes to those sprawling webs of intrigue, you can’t really blunder through it and make it feel believable. But I don’t plan every single beat of the story, particularly when it comes to the characters. That’s a growth that I want to feel organic and take on a life of its own. I know my themes, I know the character needs to get from point A, to B, to C, but I don’t always know how exactly they will get there.
PB: Tell us about the Chronicles of Aerothos series.
RN: Aerothos is a fictional setting where all of my stories take place. The world itself is analogous to our own, with many of the various lands taking inspiration from real world, historical counterparts. Naming conventions, landscape, technology, etc. are all made to be as authentic as possible, while providing a fantasy setting that allows me to write whatever I want without the confines of writing historical fiction.
The Chronicles of Aerothos is a series that follows multiple point-of-view characters through their adventures during the War for Aerothos, which is essentially their first “World War.” There are six PoV characters in The Fallen Banner, though the story is primarily headed by the two siblings Caim and Leila Marcher, who are separated as a result of the turmoil that befalls their kingdom.
Caim and Leila - Artwork by Joseph Garcia
RN (continued): I also write a separate series, Tales of Aerothos, which goes back into Aerothos’ history and focuses upon key events that ultimately lead to the conflict we see erupt in Chronicles. These events are mentioned throughout the course of Chronicles, but one might find that the truth of these stories aren’t what they seem…
So far in the Tales series, I have published Tales of Aerothos: Knights of the Wolf (2017) and Tales of Aerothos: Kingsblade (2018.)
PB: Where did the idea for the Chronicles of Aerothos series come from?
RN: Fun fact for my fellow gamers… Aerothos first began as a custom scenario I had built using the world editor for the game Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. This gave Aerothos its shape and the original inspirations for the various kingdoms. When I started my path down studying history, I reimagined this same setting, but swapped out the fantastical elements for more realistic counterparts. Once I had reconstructed the world, the stories came alive.
Our world is filled with so much interesting and exciting history. It always bothers me when folks say, “history is boring,” but I understand the appeal that they are more attracted to stories that take place in fictitious settings. What some people don’t realize, more often than not, is that so many fiction stories still take root in real events. While I certainly come up with my own ideas, there’s a lot in Aerothos that is a reflection of history. I wanted Aerothos to bridge the gap for these people, to use a fantasy world that aligned more closely to the real world.
I might just be trying to trick people into appreciating history more. Don’t tell anyone.
PB: That's fantastic! Personally I believe that if people think history is boring, it's because they haven't read much about it. If you could meet any of your characters, who would you meet, and what would you say to them?
RN: If I could meet anyone, it would be either Caim Marcher or Beyard Viridius, who is the first character readers are introduced to in the prologue of The Fallen Banner and who continues to play a large role in the story.
These two characters are the ones who I would say are most like myself. Both struggle with their confidence, much like I do, though in their own ways. They see the world around themselves and struggle to see the good, even though they know it’s there beneath all the darkness.
I would tell them, “Everything will be okay.”
PB: Those who have visited your website will have seen that you are shown wearing a very cool suit of armour. Tell us about that.
RN: Haha! Yes, I am known to don some armor from time to time. Like I said earlier, there’s a number of activities I sport medieval garments and armor for. That particular photograph on my website was taken just before I competed in a melee tournament.
I’ve done a number of kits through the years. I originally started by doing Rus/Slavic interpretations, centered around the 10th century. I then have slowly been working my way up through the timeline, shifting further and further west. I was working on a late 14th century English kit recently, but some new LARP endeavors are pushing me ahead once more in the 15th century… We’ll see how that goes! My Twitter will certainly have the updates for that journey!
PB: Sounds fun! Of all your achievements, which are you most proud of?
RN: Definitely my republication of The Fallen Banner. My life has always been plagued with learning my lessons the hard way, and the initial release of that book, despite some comforting sales, was abysmal. The state of that book was horrendous. When I put TFB into paperback for the first time in 2017, I did a re-edit of the book. Long story short, it was still in rough shape. If I can give some advice to any aspiring novelist that I wish I heard back then… Writing a 500+ page book as your debut? Maybe start smaller. Haha!
I did my final re-edit of TFB throughout 2019 and published it in March of this year. It’s a much more professional product, a lot of the book got some much-needed cleaning in the earlier chapters, and I included new maps as well!
PB: What is your favourite book series to read and why?
RN: Perhaps to no one’s surprise, it’s A Song of Ice and Fire. Martin has always been a tremendous inspiration to me. The way he writes his characters and builds his world feels so magnificently real to me… It’s powerful stuff.
My honorable mention goes to the Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. Dragonlance was the first book series I ever truly devoured like a madman. It gets a solid re-read every few years!
PB: What are your long term ambitions with regards to writing?
RN: My only real goal is to achieve a level of financial success where I can quit working a full-time Day Job. To be able to devote (most of) my time to writing? That’s the dream.
I don’t really have any ambitions toward how many books I want to publish, or awards to win, or anything of the sort. However, I want to see both the Chronicles and Tales series finished. And I might already be setting something else up for Aerothos after that…
PB: If you weren’t an author, what career would you be in?
RN: Hard to say! My life has been what some might call “aimless.” I originally attended school to be a history teacher. I ended up graduating with a degree in Criminal Justice. After graduating, I worked in a restaurant. Now I work in security, which is paying my bills, but I have no desire to further this as a career.
I think if books weren’t a part of my life, I likely would have returned to school to continue my studies in history. Maybe I’d be at a university, writing historical texts instead of fantasy novels. Maybe that could still happen?
PB: Who knows? I certainly know of some who have done both. What’s the next target for you?
PB: Currently, I’m working on the sequel to The Fallen Banner, which is Part 2 of the Chronicles series. Some folks have questioned why Part 2 wasn’t the book I wrote after TFB, but it was an appropriate decision for my growth as a writer. I originally attempted it, but I didn’t feel that I was ready. Then I wrote the Tales books, which are shorter and because they are an off-shoot, I allowed myself to write them differently than I write the Chronicles. I experimented and tried new things.
I think all of that work is going to make Part 2 of Chronicles that much better.
PB: Tell us a random fact about yourself.
RN: Before I was an author, I was a musician. I play drums and various percussion instruments, guitar, and bass. Of all of these, I think I’m easily the best at drums. But every band I was ever in stuck me on guitar. Weird. Some of my old music is probably still floating around on the internet somewhere.
Thank you so much to Robert F. Nugent for speaking to us today! If you would like to find our more about him or read his books, you can do so via the links below:
Until next time, happy reading!