Interview: Tales of the Emerald Serpent by Todd Lockwood


lockwood-emeraldserpentI love shared worlds.

As long as they are built by solid writers and edited with just enough steel to keep the continuity cohesive but the creativity imaginative.

Tales of the Emerald Serpent seems to be one of those projects that fantasy fans will love. It also had unorthodox beginnings. It began as a Kickstarter project, bringing fantasy fans together to pay for the anthology before it ever began. With enough interest—namely $10,000 of interest purchased from fans—the project would be greenlit by editor Scott Taylor.

It was greenlit, raising more than $13,000. The authors included? Here is a bit more about Tales of the Emerald Serpent:

Taux, city of cursed stone and home to a growing population of the displaced. Deep within its walls rests the old Ullamaliztli Stadium, and it’s fabled Black Gate, where life treads a fine line between law and chaos.

Tales of the Emerald Serpent allows readers a glimpse into this shadow world as nine authors tell a shared world mosaic that sets this fantasy anthology apart from any on the shelves today.

Contributors: Julie Czerneda, Rob Mancebo, Lynn Flewelling, Harry Connolly, Juliet McKenna, Martha Wells, Michael Tousignant, Todd Lockwood, Scott Taylor (Editor), Jeff Laubenstein (Interior Illustrator)

With those contributors listed above, it is easy to see how the Kickstarter project got greenlit so quickly. Scott Taylor brought together some great writers and now fantasy fans have a new book to look forward to reading!

To celebrate the release of Tales of the Emerald Serpent, here is an interview with short story contributor and cover artist Todd Lockwood:


Shawn Speakman: Tell Unbound Worlds readers a bit about TALES OF THE EMERALD SERPENT?

Todd Lockwood: TALES OF THE EMERALD SERPENT is a project masterminded by Scott Taylor, who has been blogging at Black Gate for the last few years. He’s an avid gamer, and a big fan of the old Thieves’ World series created by Robert Lynn Asprin in the late 70s. His idea was to revisit the idea of a shared world, invite a bunch of authors to participate, and recapture that feeling of playing in a great big sandbox where all the toys are shared. Scott had read an early draft of a novel I am working on and he asked me to write a story (and do the cover) for the project.

SS: Most people know you as an extremely talented fantasy cover artist, in particular, your work with dragons. What made you try your hand at writing?

TL: The truth is that the narrative and story have always been at the center of my love of art. I learned to draw because I made my own comic books when I was a kid. In my mind, I was drawing movies. I have written all my life. Later, creating adventures for my D&D group took over that part of my fascination with story, but I was writing even then. Those efforts sit in several notebooks somewhere around here. Ten years or so ago I had to let that muse out of her cage again. I started attending seminars and workshops, devouring books on the craft, and little by little found myself with a world to share and a story or three to tell.

SS: What was it like working in a shared world? What challenges were you confronted with?

TL: The hardest part for me was getting immersed enough in the world to feel comfortable writing in it. Scott had created a pretty rich history and environment, but it was so dense I didn’t want to tell it wrong. Plus, as I was absorbing it and getting ideas, one of the other writers would present something that kicked my latest notion in the balls. Finally, another writer, Julie Czerneda, came up with a character much like the one I’d intended to write–only she did it so much better than I would have I was glad to let go. So I had to retool. Finally Scott suggested a different character class that would let me keep the personality and name I’d laid down, and he had a three-story arc in mind that needed a middle. He gave me a toy to play with, and a benefit that the use thereof would create for his character in his story, and I ran with that. I got to write Scott’s character before he did. It was great fun, actually; a chance to test my short-story chops. I’m really very happy with it.

SS: You produced the cover for TALES OF THE EMERALD SERPENT. It’s gorgeous. What kind of art direction did you get?

TL: Scott wanted character portraits, because in the eBook world covers appear so small they can’t be made up of tiny figures. The easy read is essential. I was drawn to a couple of different characters, but Scott said “Use Dethocrates, Savino, and Torrent.” Decothrates and Savino are the characters from Michael Toussignant and Scott’s stories. Torrent is mine. I might have argued for one or two other characters, but Torrent and Savino were already sort of dear to me, having written them, so I ran with that, too.

SS: What are you currently working on, both with your art and your writing?

TL: Right now I’m working on a CJ Cherryh cover for DAW, and I’m polishing up my short story for Unfettered, from Grim Oak Press. I’m very excited by that project: I get to do the cover for it, but bigger for me is sharing a stage with the likes of Terry brooks, R.A. Salvatore, Patrick Rothfuss, Naomi Novick, and all the other giants who are contributing. I have signed a contract with DAW Books for my novel, first of a trilogy, and my short story is set in that world. This is all pinch-me, bucket-list stuff. And what a busy year I have ahead of me…

Tales of the Emerald Serpent is available as an ebook and on Lulu HERE!