Brain to Books Blog Tour
Author: J. Edward Ritchie
Genre: Epic fantasy
Book:Fall From Grace from the Fall From Grace Series
J. Edward Ritchie is a novelist/screenwriter specializing in world creation and action epics. A fan of all things genre from films to comics to video games, his work explores the intricate, primal balance between good and evil. He is dedicated to writing stories that embody the fantastical and uncompromising entertainment that has inspired his career.”
Heaven: a paradise of all that is pure in Creation. Led by brothers Michael and Satanail, the Angelic Host is a testament to cosmic harmony and love. When an unprecedented revelation threatens to uproot their peace, a schism splits the Host’s loyalties. Every angel has to make a choice: faith or freedom. Good or evil.
Salvation or damnation.
War consumes Heaven in the first and most destructive loss of life that Creation will ever know. As brother turns on brother, the fate of both Heaven and Earth rests in the hands of the Creator’s chosen son, Michael. How far will he go, what will he sacrifice in the name of their Father, to protect his family?
Witness the tragic downfall of a civilization as told from both sides of the bloody rebellion. More than myth, more than legend, Heaven’s war will forever stand as a harrowing warning that even the purest of souls can fall from grace.
“Vividly descriptive, Fall From Grace takes you directly into the depths of the greatest battle of all time. With gorgeously sculpted characters, J. Edwards Ritchie draws you into the heart of the conflict from the first page. His talented story-telling is strikingly expressive, allowing you to feel every emotion – whether it be joy or agony – as if you were living the story firsthand. I found Fall From Grace to be highly addictive, pleasantly eloquent, and terrifyingly descriptive in places (in a good way, though). His character work was so on-point that I could feel my heart break as the beautiful society began to unravel. With a fabulous use of adjectives and emotions, Ritchie was able to paint a picture of this stunning world- granting you the ability to envision it clearly in your mind. I was thoroughly blown away by the twists and turns taking place in the plot- you couldn’t truly hate any of the characters on either side of the war after being brought into their horrors, their pain, and their souls.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys fantasy, sci-fi, or an ol’ fashioned good vs. evil story.”
From the author…
The following excerpt takes place when the forest region of Raqia, full of defenseless refugees, comes under siege by Satan’s legions. Alone, Michael has to confront the demons to provide the refugees an opportunity to escape. The passage highlights the intense action and poetic prose of Fall From Grace.
Michael wove between the trees at a breakneck pace, racing behind the flames burning towards the heart of the rainforest. Smoke obscured his vision, and one feather, one muscle, aimed in the wrong direction would propel him into a trunk. Feeling the heat intensify, he flattened his wings and barreled through a wall of fire into the refugee camp.
It was a massacre.
The invasion targeted Thrones, snagging the healers with propelled nets then scooping them from the battle. All other angels were killed. Demons above bombed the area while those on the ground hacked down trees. The toppled trunks crushed whole areas of refugee tents. Wooden Raqian homes intertwined with the branches splintered upon impact, strengthening the fire. Rope bridges snapped and slashed across the hysterical mob.
The oldest trees awoke to fight back against Satan’s legions. Pronged branches slapped the demons down to the detritus, and tangles of roots dragged them underground.
“It’s Michael!” A refugee called out from the mob.
The refugees had no weapons or means of defense. With the canopy ablaze, they fled on foot but trampled over each other in a mad dash for safety. The forest floor was a craggy terrain of broken bodies.
A demon heard the refugee and hurled a spear at his chest. Michael was too far away to intercept it…but Raphael emerged from behind the fiery blockade and caught the spear. He led a force of Thrones into the battle, each drenched in lake water to ward off the heat.
“Get back!” Michael shouted. “They want the Thrones.”
“We will not cower.” The hearth of Raphael’s spirit had been reignited. He lifted a tree limb pinning a trio of angels and slung them over his shoulders. “Thrones, secure the injured. Leave no one behind!”
The Thrones began a systematic evacuation of the wounded that allowed Michael to focus on the healthy refugees. Through the smoke, he spotted a thin section of trees not yet burning.
“Angels, stay behind me and move west to the forest’s edge! Link hands and flap your wings to part the flames. Do not stop!”
Michael’s clear instructions quelled the panic. He positioned himself between the refugees and the main force of demons. The selfish marauders could not resist such a precious trophy, and luring them to him would give the refugees a chance to escape.
“Murderers! Release your prisoners and flee…or forfeit your lives to the Creator’s wrath.” Michael shed any restraint, mercy, or empathy.
“Lord Satan is our only Creator,” a demon replied. “And his wrath isn’t aimed at us.”
“Is it not my life you desire?”
Michael spread his arms and wings, the muscles sweating from flames licking down the remaining upright trees. He valued every soul, but the demons responsible for Raqia’s downfall gave up their chance for redemption with the slaughter of helpless innocents.
“COME AND CLAIM IT!”
Thousands of demons converged upon Michael, fighting through each other in a demented competition to spill his blood. With only fists and courage, he met them head-on in a display of heroism that would become an everlasting measure of valor in the annals of Creation.
Time slowed to a fluid crawl for Michael as his power, skill, and passion to protect the innocent sustained him in the typhoon of violence. A storm of blades carved into him from all sides, but he stood his ground in the eye of the hurricane.
Every neuron in Michael’s brain activated, firing synapses that made it seem as if the demons were moving through liquid. His punches connected unhindered and sent ripples through their skin. Streams of blood floated in the air like ribbons. His heartbeat was a gradual bell of thunder that tolled for each fallen foe, but he did not fight with Satan’s egomaniacal rage. Michael fought for others using the serenity of his blessed union with the Creator. He fought for the refugees, for the Host, for Heaven, and for the very future of goodness. He fought to restore the balance of Creation.
When the normal flow of time resumed in Michael’s mind, demons were piled fifty-deep around him in a corpse circle as broad as a small village. He was doused head-to-toe, glistening in the flames like a ruby champion of the Creator. The air still festered with demons, but they kept at a distance. Their courage (what passed for it) was tamed.
“IS THAT ALL YOU HAVE?”
“They have me.” Azazel descended from the canopy, daggers dripping with angel blood.
And now, a spirited interview by a spirited author…
1. Tell us a little about yourself. (How did you get started writing? What do you do when you’re not writing?
I’ve always been a writer, in some form or another. Prose, poetry, screenwriting, even entertainment reporting¬¬––I’ve tried my hand at many forms of the written word. All of those experiences helped me develop a unique voice that balances beauty and action with the economical storytelling of screenplays. There was a time when my passion was buried under a more rational career path in law, but luckily I jettisoned that horrible idea and have never looked back. Unless I’m blinded in a chemical spill and gain heightened senses to fight crime, I can’t see myself pursuing law again.
When I’m not writing, it’s all about family. As much as I enjoy my job, writing is not my life. My wife, dog, and family are my life. I have no problem stepping away from the keyboard at the end of the day and spending my evenings with those I love. It took me a long time to learn how to turn off my mind and relax. I’m a private man of simple tastes.
2. Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?) List other titles if applicable.
Fall From Grace is my first novel after spending a decade writing screenplays. While I found some success, and even sold a project or two, none of my screenplays were ever produced. I needed something tangible to come of all my hard work, a final product that I could physically hold in my hand. Perhaps it’s a bit egotistical, but it’s hard to find personal validation when you can’t readily share your work with others. Most people don’t read screenplays for pleasure. Writing a novel was the natural evolution of my talents, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the results.
3. What genre do you enjoy writing the most and what is this book about?
I write action-heavy stories with varying doses of fantasy. I’m a huge fan of “genre” fiction––horror, superheroes, sci-fi, fantasy––anything that takes my mind to a different world or to different takes on our own. I also have a huge soft spot for blood-soaked swords and sandals epics. I’m not a fan of reality. The news is saturated with real world violence and horrors far more evil than anything I’ve written.
Fall From Grace is a fantasy epic about two brothers, Michael and Satanail, fighting on the opposite sides of the first war in Creation. Though the subject matter may suggest otherwise, my novel is not religious fiction. It’s a more grounded, almost cinematic journey of brotherhood and a seething critique of warfare set against the end of a civilization.
4. What inspired you to write this book?
What didn’t? Fall From Grace is the culmination of every literary and cinematic inspiration I’ve had throughout my life. My website has an article detailing the ten-year process from concept to publication:
5. How did you come up with the title of your book or series?
Titles have always been difficult for me. Either they pop into my head early on or it’s like pulling teeth to find something that fits. Fall From Grace was really the only title ever in the running, one rooted deep in my brain from the onset. It’s a well-known phrase that speaks to the themes of my story without (I hope) seeming to clichéd or on the nose.
6. Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?
We all know how important cover art is to the success of a novel. I knew I wanted something different from the standard fantasy fare. I’ve found that most fantasy novels employ hyper-detailed landscapes, characters, or creatures on their covers. While the art is often gorgeous, it also sets up certain expectations for the reader. I didn’t want the cover of Fall From Grace to suggest the appearance of any angel or even Heaven. The carefully chosen details in my prose provide key images and then the reader’s mind’s eye can take over. I believe this creates a more personal connection to the material.
The cover art was designed by my brother, Kevin Ritchie, and artist Whitney Alexander. We went with a crisp, white pair of wings (originally rendered in full 3-D) against a background of blood-red clouds. The bold contrast suggests more than enough about the nature of my novel. When potential readers are perusing books on Amazon, your cover art has to pop––especially in the small thumbnail images.
7. If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?
Who hasn’t thought about this? I’ve had many years to mull over potential actors. It’s a fun exercise but ultimately one in futility. In a perfect world, I think Hugh Jackman would be the ideal Michael. Not only is his physique damn-near divine, he is also capable of both immense presence and raw vulnerability.
Michael Fassbender would be an insane Satanail, or maybe I’m just geeking out and casting X-Men alumni. Christian Bale also has that calm, steely intensity in his performances. Of course, then there’s Mads Mikkelsen who took on the iconic role of Hannibal and made it his own.
8. Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?
One name rises above the rest: Joss Whedon. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was the first show I followed with a true passion. Buffy, and all of Joss’ shows, proved that TV could be better. We’re currently in a golden age of TV writing, but that wasn’t always the case. Though my writing style is very different from Joss, his genius continues to inspire me to grow and evolve. Steven S. DeKnight is also a huge influence, especially his work on Spartacus. It is my favorite swords and sandals epic of all time.
Tolkien is the obvious answer, isn’t it? The problem with Tolkien, however, is that he’s so intelligent, so perfect in his use of language, that it’s almost more daunting than inspiring! He was a master linguist, and that’s not me. I won’t be inventing languages any time soon.
Recently, I’ve been devouring the works of Clive Barker. Whether you are a horror fan or not, there’s no denying the sheer excellence of his prose.
9. What does your writing process look like?
In my experience, the world creation needed in fantasy writing demands an outline. I can’t open a blank document and begin writing the story without any direction. Once I have completed any necessary research, I begin creating a detailed outline. This will include all of the major characters and their arcs, the core themes, settings and locations, and the basic 3 Act structure benchmarks. With those goals in mind, I’ll begin planning chapters, allowing the characters to guide me along towards the major moments of the story.
When my outline is completed, it’s a rough chapter-by-chapter master document complete with lines of dialogue, notes about details, etc. Essentially, this is my first draft. This makes writing the actual manuscript far easier, and I rarely waste time writing content that won’t be used in some form or another.
As much as I need to outline, I am always open to new ideas while I’m writing. Nothing is set in stone. You have to let your characters surprise you. Some of the best moments in Fall From Grace were never outlined.
10. Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy?
Action is easier for me because of how I can visualize the fight sequences blow-by-blow in my mind, probably due to all the movies and games I’ve experienced over the years. But I’m an author––not a fight choreographer. No one cares about an action scene, no matter how unique, if the characters are wooden. Subtle character work is one of the most difficult aspects of writing for any author to master.
The premiere rule of screenwriting is to “show not tell,” and I think that applies to novel prose as well. No one wants to reads chunks of expository dialogue as the characters overtly talk about their feelings. How often does that happen in real life? The trick is to have your characters’ actions speak to their personalities and emotions. It’s a fine line to balance.
11. What is your least favorite part of the publishing / writing process?
Since I’m such a private person, self-promotion and marketing is the most difficult stage of the process. Before writing my novel, I didn’t have a single social media account. No Facebook, no Twitter, nothing. It’s not in my nature to talk about myself or socialize on such a grand scale. Having said that, the indie author online community is simply amazing. Their support is genuine. If you’re willing to interact and give your time, they will as well. I cannot stress enough the importance of establishing an online presence.
Now, the problem is economizing my time. I haven’t quite found the right balance of social media interaction and actual writing. But at the end of the day, both efforts are heading to the same goal: creating content and getting the word out.
12. What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
Tell your friends about Fall From Grace. Write an Amazon or blog review. Post about it on Goodreads. In short, just help keep awareness alive. I’d love to interact with more readers as well. Find me on Goodreads or Twitter, and I’d be happy to answer any questions or offer advice on the self-publishing process.
13. What can we expect from you in the future?
This is only the beginning for Fall From Grace. I have begun work on Book 2, which will explore post-war reconstruction in Heaven and the rise of Satan’s kingdom in Hell with the fate of every human soul hanging in the balance. The series will include three main novels, a book of short stories, and a coda novella. If the stars align, it may even be adapted into a film.
In between work on Fall From Grace, I am hoping to write a historical/fantasy novel centering on a group of Amazon warriors. I love female action heroes, and they are sorely lacking in popular culture.
14. Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?
I’m a homebody and don’t enjoy travel that much, but my wife and I really want to visit New Zealand. I want to walk single file on those rolling hills, pretending I’m Gandalf with the Fellowship while listening to the Lord of the Rings soundtrack. Don’t look at me like that. Come on, you’ve had the same idea. Right, guys? Guys?
15. What is your favorite movie?
This is a bit of an insane question considering I have about 800 Blu-rays on my shelf. My “favorite” movie changes year-to-year. Recently, I’ve watched Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and X-Men: Days of Future Past over and over. I’ll be repeatedly watching Age of Ultron as soon as it comes out on Blu-ray. I am unapologetic in my love for big summer blockbusters. I get this sort of escapist giddiness that nothing else brings out in me. You won’t ever hear me shredding apart an action movie and whining about supposed flaws or plot holes. I know how to enjoy myself, even during films that the Internet has trolled to death. I never understood why fans would hate on something they so passionately care for.
If I had to dig deep and choose the one film that has been in my heart the longest, it would probably be Star Wars: A New Hope. It doesn’t get more iconic or memorable than Luke watching the Tatooine sunset.
16. Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
I’ve already found the most important person I could ever meet––my wife. There’s no one else in the world I would rather spend