Nathan’s interview with Kaden Love, author of Elegy of a Fragmented Vineyard.
Today I have the pleasure of presenting an interview with debut indie author Kaden Love, whose book Elegy of a Fragmented Vineyard is already taking over social media. You can read my full review of Elegy of a Fragmented Vineyard here.
This interview is spoiler-free until the very end, where spoilers are clearly marked.
If you are interested in finding out more about Kaden Love, visit his website, or follow him on X (Twitter), Instagram, and TikTok. You can also support his Kickstarter for Elegy of a Fragmented Vineyard until January 24 or buy his book from Amazon.
Nathan: Let’s start by giving readers a little taste of Elegy of a Fragmented Vineyard. What should readers expect?
Kaden: Readers, prepare yourself for a large world. I have put a lot into its creation, but that does not mean that you need to grasp it all at once. Expect a lot of politics, intrigue, secrets, and moral dilemmas. A lot of readers enjoy “morally gray characters,” but I am here to introduce you to a “morally gray” world. As a reader, it is your responsibility to choose which side is the one you support. What else is there? Magic with a heavy cost, plenty of unique creatures, and characters that you will both love and hate.
Where did your idea for “magical intestines with an extra umbilical cord resulting in infanticide and magical organ transplants” come from? It is such a unique and attention grabbing concept!
Funny enough, I wrote this novel during my final year of nursing school. I think it was fair to assume that I had the human body and medicine on my mind. Knowing this, I tried to make the science in this book scientifically sound with a dash of magic to make it just fantastical enough. Organ transplants, injuries, and disease are all used to inspire this magic system. I, myself, am quite interested in the gastrointestinal system, having dealt with complications thereof myself, so I did my best to breathe my love of medicine into this book.
How long has this story been ruminating in your mind? Is this the first thing you’ve written, or have there been other projects you’ve shelved?
This is the first full-length novel that I have written. As you can expect from an author, I now have at least 4 other books currently in the process of being written. The initial idea for Elegy was not that of an organ-based magic system, but it was inspired by the Courts. When you read this book, you will see that it comprises six nations that each choose to live their faith in a different way. Religions often focus on a plethora of desirable attributes, so I wondered how a society would function if each group focused more on a different tenant, such as obedience, love towards others, humility, and loyalty.
Writing about a moral conflict is hard, especially since your book avoids broadly painting your characters as wholly “good” or “bad”. Was it difficult to imbue humanity into the characters who are obviously on the wrong side of things (or, to make your good characters do bad things)?
I am often fascinated with the idea of how villains are presented in fiction. If I meet a villain in a story who is “bad” for the sake of being “bad,” my score for that story immediately drops. A strong villain is one who believes that they are doing what they perceive to be “good.” Most people make mistakes through a chain of worsening justifications. This is what I kept in mind while writing characters who make poor decisions. This is the same with character flaws. Aerie, one of the POV characters, is too stern and strict in her desire for perfection. To embody her flaws, I chose my inner desire for benign righteousness and stretched it to an extreme. Nobody in Elegy is a bad person for the sake of evil. Every character believes that they are doing “good” for others. Are their decisions right, wrong, or somewhere in the middle? That, dear reader, is for you to decide.
Religion and belief systems are a huge part of your characters’ lives. What was your experience writing these different worldviews, and were any of them inspired by your own life?
This book is very close to my soul. I will not hide that I am a religious individual. Knowing this, I strive to embody charity, humility, and loyalty, as do some of the Courts in this book. To give these people, and their nation, a life of their own, I had to stretch each virtue to the extreme. Take the Chussemen, for example. If I only focused on loving others, when can justice come into play? Now look at the Zhaesmen. If I only focus on obedience, when does mercy come into play? These virtues, and therefore these flaws, give each culture a life and style of its own.
What are your long-term plans for the Paladins of the Harvest series? How many books do you have planned?
The prequel novella will be released sometime in the spring with the name “Beastcall.” This focuses on a minor character that shows up later in Elegy and is set 4 years prior. I plan on pulling a Ryan Cahill, writing a novella in between each book. Paladins of the Harvest will be a trilogy with 3-4 total novellas.
As a debut indie author, what advice would you give to other authors trying to break out into the indie space?’
This past year has been a large learning curve, basically turning a hobby into a business. Here are some things and prospective authors should know.
- Be a part of the community: Throw away the term “networking” and just be a friend to reviewers and authors. Ask for help when you need it and offer it where you can. Be loud if you love a book and try to praise others for their accomplishments.
- Set goals: I tried to write 4 pages a day when I first drafted Elegy. Now, I try to hit 1000 or so words a day. Be disciplined and stick to your goals, but don’t beat yourself down when you miss a day. We all have lives to live. Make sure you reserve time for family and friends because if you become a determined writer, you will have to remind yourself to set work aside. Open a document or note on your phone to write on the go instead of browsing mindlessly.
- Read: Audio, print and digital. Take note of what authors do well.
- Listen to critique: Listen to the advice that others give. If you have something wrong with a part of your story, that does not mean that you are a bad author.
- Enjoy the process and have hope.
You’ve run a Kickstarter to help fund your book. How has that experience been for you? Have there been any regrets or surprises while running the Kickstarter?
The Kickstarter has been great so far! If everything goes well, I will probably do it in the future for another book. I do not have any regrets yet, but we will see how everything goes with shipping. My only hope is to have larger campaigns in the future to fund even cooler stretch goals. As for now, it seems like it has been a great start to my career.
What are your personal favorite tropes or favorite things to read about in fantasy? Do you enjoy writing about those things as well, or just reading about them?
- The determined/tortured hero: I love seeing a character overcome difficult circumstances, enduring to become an even better person (e.g. Kaladin Stormblessed). This has not always been my favorite trope, but it has worked its way up recently. Hint: this is the inspiration for another novel that I am currently writing (one not a part of the Paladins series). Maybe I can surprise you all with a secret project soon, just like Mr. Brandon Sanderson.
- The character who battles with wits: No, this is not the know-it-all Hermione. Come on, those characters are just unrealistic. I’m talking about Little finger, Tyrion Lannister, and Sand dan Glokta. I enjoy a good battle, but a conspiracy hits me much harder than any sword.
- Twists: I am a sucker for twists. If a story has a shocking turn, it gains 10 points from me. Betrayal, death, mystery. I love it. If I am on the edge of my seat or dropping my jaw, I am a happy man. And yes, that is why Elegy has a fair amount of twists and the sequels will have plenty as well. Why is the series called Paladins of the Harvest? You may have to wait a while to find that answer, but boy, it will be quite the payoff.
You’ve mentioned on social media that you enjoy running to audiobooks. What are the 3 best audiobooks to run to?
- Dungeon Crawler Carl series by Matt Dinniman: This book is a drug. I never expected to enjoy LitRPG, but this book is like a movie in your mind. The humor has caused me to laugh out loud in the middle of my runs in the dark morning. I cannot recommend this series enough, though it is quite crude. Jeff Hays narrates this series with plenty of unique voices, sound effects, and surprises.
- The First Law series by Joe Abercrombie: Steven Pacey is an amazing actor-of-a-narrator and truly brings Abercrombie’s work to life. I ran my best marathon listening to Best Served Cold.
- The Wheel of Time: One of my favorites that I honestly would have never finished if I didn’t do it on audio. The Michael Kramer and Kate Reading are a dynamic duo that narrate all of Brandon Sanderson’s books. Listening to these books on my runs has given me some great memories that I still treasure.
*The answer to this next question has very minor spoilers for Elegy of a Fragmented Vineyard. Bookmark it until after you’ve finished the book and come back to sate your appetite for a little tease for book two!*
Can you give readers a little tease of what will be coming up in Book 2?
So, you’ve read Elegy and want to know what is coming? I will try to give some hints while avoiding major spoilers.
- The prologue for book two shows a meeting between Royss and Krall Trhet before that feast that may answer some of your burning questions.
- Semi becomes a POV character.
- New Endower types.
- Beastcall, the prequel novella, is told from the POV of Runith the Zhaes Beastling. Runith becomes a POV character in book 2.
- We spend more time in Court Sleff and finally get to see Court Priess
- More creatures: golden horned bat dragons and flying turtles
- A glimpse into the Patriarchy of Scholars
- Sorrow and pain
- The final scene? That one that had you really intrigued? Yes, we get plenty of that.