Fantasy is a large canvas of different types of storytelling.
Some of those types have dominated the landscape at different times in publishing history–epic, urban, and paranormal fantasy among them. But there are other sub-genres out there that are as important. Comedic fantasy is one of them. With author names like Douglas Adams, Christopher Moore, and Terry Pratchett, the genre has a storied past. I can tell you that two more names can be added to those just mentioned — Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne.
Kill the Farm Boy does exactly what you think it might. It takes tropes from high and epic fantasy and twists them into something else, all the while making fun of it. But that’s not all. The first book from Dawson and Hearne also has a lot of heart in it and how the two came to work together is a magic by itself.
The two authors are interviewed below! Read it and then go out and buy Kill the Farm Boy, publishing tomorrow!
Unbound Worlds: Kill the Farm Boy is in fine FOINE bookstores tomorrow! Tell readers about the book and how you two decided to work together on it?
Delilah S. Dawson: Ah! Tomorrow! I’m so excited that if I were a goat, I’d be knee-deep in emergency pellets! For real, though, Kill the Farm Boy is the funnest book I’ve ever worked on. Kevin and I were in an airport barbecue joint in Dallas when he pitched me an anthology idea–a book called Kill the Farm Boy that centered on skewering overdone fantasy tropes: The farm boy destined to be the Chosen One, the female fighter in the chain mail bikini, the all powerful Dark Lord. But anthologies involve a ton of organization and math, so we eventually just decided to write the book together.
Kevin Hearne: I do not recommend airport barbecue. But I do recommend working on a book with Delilah. Our initial chapters were so much fun to write together that I wondered afterward why I’d waited so long to collaborate with someone.
UW: Kill the Farm Boy is hilarious. I laughed throughout it. How did that humor get put down onto paper? Would one of you write something and simply send it to the other? Would you get on the phone and talk about it? What process led to the laughs?
DSD: Kevin and I are good buds, and we have the most fun hammering out our story ideas in person, preferably while bar hopping. One of us pitches the idea, then we start filling in characters and situations based on Fantasy tropes that we want to turn upside down. Once we have a rough 30-chapter outline, we take turns with chapters. So I’ll write a chapter and send it to Kevin. He’ll edit it and write his own chapter and send it back to me. I’ll edit his chapter, write my next chapter, and send it over to him, and so on. The best part is seeing in the comments when a joke landed particularly well. There’s a lot of OMG KEVIN NO YOU DIDN’T and HEE HEE BUDDY GOOD ONE. The process is so positive and uplifting and complimentary. It’s a great treat to get to write with my genius friend. As for the jokes, they happen in layers. Some arrive fully fledged in the first draft, others are added in edits. By the time the book is ready for publication, we can’t really tell who wrote which chapter or which joke. It just all blends seamlessly.
KH: I will add that sometimes Delilah builds epic jokes that aren’t just one-liners. She did this thing in the sequel, No Country for Old Gnomes, that required about ten chapters to set up, and when I got to the payoff it knocked me over laughing and I’m still giggling about it.
UW: What has been your favorite cliched trope to screw around with in this series? And why?
DSD: Whichever one we’re currently on! With each chapter, I try to pick something to upend. I definitely love Gustave in Kill the Farm Boy. Who doesn’t love a trash-talking goat who’s the hero? And he’s so easy to write that he practically writes himself. I also enjoyed turning the fabled Goblin Market into a bad 1990s mall and watching Kevin work his magic writing floridly overwritten feast scenes.
KH: I enjoy messing around with elements of the Heroic Journey. The trip to the underworld is one that I enjoy seeing played out in various stories because it’s crucial to the hero’s development. But in Kill the Farm Boy we had not one hero but an entire party emerge transformed from the Catacombs of Yore, having learned something crucial about themselves and their companions. I also took keen delight in playing with the RPG and video game convention of having a small animal give the heroes a side quest.
UW: Some co-authors decide to come up with a single-name pseudonym for their co-written books, like James S.A. Corey. What made you decide to not do that? You could have been Delvin Herson!
DSD: Um, that sounds like a Star Wars name! I think because we’re both active on social media and enjoy interacting with each other there, it makes sense to publish under both of our names. But we did create the God of Pell in our honor. Pellanus, much like the Roman god Janus, is a two-headed god. But Pellanus is whimsical and strange and will often decide to bless travelers not based on worth or effort but on hilarious puns and wacky dances.
KH: Pellanus also inspires the Sn’archivist on a daily basis to write words of profound import on his island in the Sn’archipelago…but that is a matter best left for book three, The Princess Beard.
UW: Kill the Farm Boy is the first novel in a trilogy. Sequels are coming! How are those coming along? And what other books do you two have publishing soon?
DSD: The cover for No Country for Old Gnomes launched last week, and it’s SO GORGEOUS. That one will be out next year and is in edits. The third book, The Princess Beard, is in the middle of a first draft. As for me, I have a book out in October–Treason of Hawks, the fourth and final book in my Shadow series, written as Lila Bowen and starting with Wake of Vultures. I also have a new creator-owned comic launching in October. It’s called Sparrowhawk, it’s from BOOM! Studios, and it’s being billed as Victorian fairy Fight Club. I have a few more things on the way, but they’re as yet unannounced.
KH: I’m going to have an Oberon’s Meaty Mystery coming out early next year called The Buzz Kill, and it’s set after the events of Scourged. I am also working on A Blight of Blackwings, the second book in my epic fantasy trilogy called The Seven Kennings. It picks up right where A Plague of Giants left off and I’m excited to continue the bard’s tales. After that I’ll be working on a new series that hasn’t been announced yet but will be set in the Iron Druid universe.
Kill the Farm Boy by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne is in FOINE bookstores tomorrow!
Don’t be the orphan!