Shawn Speakman: THE UNREMEMBERED is published in a new Author’s Definitive edition. First tell Unbound Worlds readers about the book and why it is a must read for epic fantasy fans?
Peter Orullian: The Unremembered is epic fantasy. For me, that means the stakes are high. The consequences lasting. Nations are facing war. Old enemies. Ideologies clash. And, of course, we’re going to follow those who plan to meet these threats.
But our “heroes” aren’t necessarily who we think they are. The “evil” isn’t necessarily what you might believe. And motivations aren’t as clear as one might hope. What does all that mean? It means there’ll be some heartbreaking choices along the way. Some uncomfortable revelations.
A bit more specifically, I’m particularly fond of one of the magic systems in the book, one based on music. Readers are telling me they’ve not seen magic done this way before, which gives me a happy. Part of what I spent time on, too, was not just the music magic, but also what I call “governing dynamics.” It’s the idea that in the universe of my series—The Vault of Heaven—there are unifying principles for all magic systems, akin to mechanical law. Which means that these various magic systems have a kind of coherence, even though they have very different expressions.
Also, one of the things I’m doing is taking what I think readers know and love about epic fantasy, getting them all comfortable-like, then starting to twist it. Take it someplace uniquely my own. That’s why I typically tell folks not to get too comfortable. I calls it: violating your expectations. Love the way that sounds.
Shawn Speakman: Now for the obvious question: Why an AUTHOR’S DEFINITIVE Edition?
Peter Orullian: Yeah, knew that was coming. Friends have told me they’ve seen stuff out on the interwebs about how when I was writing book two, Trial of Intentions
, I realized some “core truth was missing” from The Unremembered
. I have no idea what that’s about, or where it started. I don’t even know what it means. But, uh, no. There was no such realization.
And to be frank, I’m not sure how much to go into the whole affair. Suffice it to say that authors and editors don’t always share the same vision for a book. And for my part, about a year and half ago, I changed editors. My new editor and I really hit it off. And here we are, now, with an Author’s Definitive Edition.
Shawn Speakman: How did the book change in the Author’s Definitive Edition?
Peter Orullian: Well, first off, I want to make it clear that you don’t have to read the Author’s Edition of The Unremembered in order to segue into book two, Trial of Intentions. Those who read the original version of The Unremembered will transition just fine into the next book in the series.
In fact, due to the editorial stuff I mentioned above, which included some delays, I wrote Trial of Intentions as an entry point into the series. So, readers can start with book two, if they’d like.
All that said, the Author’s Edition of The Unremembered wasn’t about fixing a misspelling or two. And it wasn’t about adding a glossary, or an exclusive short story set in my universe, or pre-promoting Trial of Intentions by putting a few chapters in the back, or adding epigraphs to each chapter of the book. All that stuff is true about the Author’s Edition of The Unremembered, but it’s not the reason it exists. And it’s not what constitutes the meaningful change. Not to me, anyway.
Often, Author’s Editions add words. Lots of them. I’m reminded of Stephen King’s “Uncut” version of The Stand. I think that edition added like 300 pages to the book. With the Author’s Edition of The Unremembered, I cut. A lot. It’s a significantly shorter book than the original. If you hold them up side by side, it may not look it. But that has to do with product packaging, e.g. paper thickness, etc. In reality, this new volume is substantially shorter. This helps the pacing, among other things.
But it goes beyond just length and pacing. I worked to better expose character motivation, which I think helps makes the characters more sympathetic, warmer. I thought hard about exposition passages. I tuned dialogue where I thought it needed it. In places I was planting seeds to later subvert a trope, I tried to better telegraph it so readers could begin to anticipate. And more. Lots more. Stuff that results—as I say—from an editor and author sharing the same vision for a book.
And beyond all this, I added about fifteen thousand words to bring it into better alignment with Trial of Intentions. Because, you know, I could. I wasn’t going to miss that opportunity. And even after adding those words, this edition is drastically shorter. Funny that. Since Trial of Intentions, while longer than the Author’s Edition of The Unremembered, is like sixty thousand words shorter than the original version of The Unremembered. I seem to be writing shorter. Who knew?
Anyway, the point is that this Author’s Edition is a stronger book. Again, it’s not necessary to read it in order to pick up Trial of Intentions. And as I say, you could even start the series with Trial of Intentions, if you wanted to. But if you do read the Author’s Edition of The Unremembered, I’m confident you’ll agree with me that it’s a stronger book.
Shawn Speakman: The Author’s Definitive Edition of THE UNREMEMBERED is getting rave reviews. What does that mean to you as a writer?
Peter Orullian: I’ll be honest about something, I don’t read my own press. Good or bad. And that has mostly to do with time. Here’s my day: up at 3:30 a.m. to write; go to work at Microsoft (and she can be a harsh mistress); get home in time to slam down dinner and take my kids to soccer or dance or whatever (or just hang out with them, depending on the day); then bedtime for the kids (which takes a while since we read a ton to them at bedtime); then a little time with my amazing wife; then curling up in bed with a good book until I go to sleep. Rinse, repeat.
If I’m ever successful enough to write full time, part of what it’ll mean to me is more time to spend in the broader fiction community. As it is, I’d find it hard to replace anything in my typical day.
That said, if some folks are saying nice things about the Author’s Edition of The Unremembered, I’m certainly happy to hear it. Generally speaking, writers hope readers like their stories. No real revelation there. And I do get email from readers who like my work, asking questions about the characters, and the magic, and when book two will be coming out, etc. Those emails are like little validations that help me drag my butt out of bed at 3:30 in the morning to write.
Shawn Speakman: The second novel in the series, THE TRIAL OF INTENTIONS, publishes in May, just a short month after the republication of THE UNREMEMBERED. What are you most proud of in Book 2?
Peter Orullian: One of the things I’m most proud of is how Trial of Intentions “turns the crank.” Meaning, many of the things my readers believe they understand at the end of The Unremembered . . . well, like I said, I’m here to violate your expectations. I’m having fun playing off the fantasy tropes. Like the whole orphan, farm boy, chosen one thingy. The Author’s Edition of The Unremembered starts with an exchange where you learn that Tahn (the main character) isn’t the “chosen” one, he’s just the “next” one. And as for the rest of that trope, like I said, it’s best not to get too comfortable.
But it’s more than just twisting on those conventions. That’s easy enough to do. Instead, for me, it was finding a way to evolve my story in a rational way. To invest the reader in the characters—which, by the way, is what fiction is mostly about, after all—and then take them to what I think is unique about my story. This has to do with music, and science, and new definitions of “evil,” and antagonists doing horrible things for all the right reasons, and quiet moments of intense pain and sadness, and hope from unexpected places.
Shawn Speakman: You are a great short story writer, your contribution to UNFETTERED being one of the most enjoyed stories in the anthology. Will you be publishing more short stories soon? And if so, where?
Peter Orullian: Yeah, I have a short story set in the universe of my series in the anthology Blackguards, which comes out soon. It’s self-contained, so you don’t have to have read the books to “get” it. I have another self-contained story set in my fantasy world coming out in Grim Oak Press’s forthcoming anthology, Unbound, which releases in June, I believe. And then, I’ll have yet another story set in my world coming out in Unfettered 2, also by Grim Oak Press, later this year.
Shawn Speakman: Do you have a possible release date for Book 3? Title?
Peter Orullian: No to both, unfortunately. I’ve got a lot of Book 3 written, but there’s still work to do. Tell you what, though. I’ve created some new weapons and magic systems for Book 3 that I think readers are really gonna dig. I’m biased, of course. But still . . .
The Author’s Definitive Edition of The Unremembered by Peter Orullian is in fine bookstores now! If you loved his story in Unfettered, or his short story work on Tor.com HERE, or if you just need an epic fantasy right now, The Unremembered is for you!
Learn more about Peter Orullian at www.orullian.com!
Shawn Speakman is the author of The Dark Thorn, an urban/epic fantasy hybrid novel bestselling author Terry Brooks calls, “a fine tale by a talented writer.” He also edited the bestselling anthology Unfettered.
When Shawn isn’t lying for a living, he runs The Signed Page and Grim Oak Press. Follow him on Facebook and @shawnspeakman!