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Our SPFBOX interviews continue with Dave Dobson,  author of The Glorious and Epic Tale of Lady Isovar.

SPFBO (the Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off) is a free online contest run by author Mark Lawrence. 300 authors compete across ten judging teams to see who will be the winner! You can read more about the contest here.

 

Cover of Dave Dobson's The Glorious and Epic Tale of Lady Isovar. The title is gold and done in an ornate style, save for "and Epic," which is insterted in white using a little insertsymbol. The cover is dominated by a detailed painting of a medieval warrior woman wielding a comically large battle axe as she yells atwhat appear to be zombie orcs. Her squire, a short man in a frightened pose with one leg held up, stands next to her. There is a ruined castle in the background. Lady Isovar is wearing armour and a red cape.

INTERVIEW WITH Dave Dobson

 

Tell us a little about yourself and let our readers know which blog you’ve been assigned to for SPFBOX!

I’m an author, game designer, and former geology professor (25 years). I’m probably most famous for the shareware computer game Snood, which was a big deal for a few years back in the 2000s (about 100 million downloads, mentioned on 30 Rock, The Sopranos, SNL). I’ve been self-publishing since 2019, and I’ve got nine novels out now, five of them fantasy. I somehow won the SPSFC (the sci-fi sister competition to the SPFBO) a couple weeks ago for my novel Kenai, which is still a little surreal (though very fun). I’m big into board games, D&D, and video games, having been a proud arcade rat back in the 1980s and having played D&D since I got my Keep on the Borderlands box in 1981. My judging team is Team Weatherwax.


What inspired you to write this book?

I always like including humor in my books, but I felt my fantasy books had been getting more and more serious, so I wanted to break away from that and write a much sillier one. I also really enjoyed a course I took in college, The Medieval Court, which focused on romantic tales of knights, magic, and chivalry, so I decided to write something inspired by those medieval lays and poems. That got me to Lady Isovar and Chevson and their story of a knight errant wandering the countryside in search of adventure.

 

 

When I get a first draft done, then it’s time to go back, pull everything together, strengthen plot and character threads throughout, and get rid of the parts that don’t work. Except the jokes. It’s very hard for me to delete a joke.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about your writing or editing process? What’s most exciting to you about writing or editing?

I am a die-hard pantser, starting chapters with no idea how they’ll end or how they fit in with the plot, because the plot mostly doesn’t exist yet. This style suits me well. I’ve been doing improv at a local comedy club for almost 20 years, and those skills and mindset help a lot in my writing. When I get a first draft done, then it’s time to go back, pull everything together, strengthen plot and character threads throughout, and get rid of the parts that don’t work. Except the jokes. It’s very hard for me to delete a joke.


Who or what have been your major literary influences?
In my youth, it was L. Frank Baum, Tolkien, Robert E. Howard, Andre Norton, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Heinlein, Le Guin, and fairy tales of all sorts. As I got older, I really appreciated the funnier stories I read, and people like William Goldman, Barry Hughart, and Harry Harrison became favorites. Recently, I’ve gotten into Nnedi Okorafor, Lee Child, John Scalzi.

What makes your SPFBOX book unique?
I’m fairly sure that of all the 300 entries, it’s trying hardest to be funny. I’m sure it also has the stupidest chapter titles, hands down (they’re almost all dad joke bad puns). I bet it’s in the running for most egotistical main character, most deaths inflicted by a bar taken from a jail cell, and perhaps most world-weary dragon. It’s probably also the only book named by the main character during the story.

Do you have a favourite character from your SPFBOX entry? Tell us about them!

The main characters at the heart of the story, alternating chapters, are some of the most fun characters I’ve ever written for me. Lady Isovar’s brash, self-centered cluelessness partnered with Chevson’s frustration and tolerance and unconditional support made the book so fun to write, with each seeing their adventure from a different place.

 

I decided to write something inspired by those medieval lays and poems. That got me to Lady Isovar and Chevson and their story of a knight errant wandering the countryside in search of adventure.


How does your work fit into (or challenge) its genre?
The book is pretty squarely an epic fantasy in the sword and sorcery genre, with a few overtones of medieval romance poetry. It challenges the genre by seeing how far you can go before people groan at what you’re trying to do for a laugh.

What do you hope readers take away from your SPFBOX entry?

Most of all, I hope they laugh and enjoy all the escapades and advetures, but I also hope the emotional story underneath the silliness draws them in as well. A story done just for laughs often doesn’t have heart, but I tried to give this one some meaning and depth.


What are you currently working on?

I’m working on my third sci-fi novel set in the far-future interplanetary community setting I’ve used for my other two. Each book is stand-alone with different characters, but it’s been fun to develop that broader setting across three books.


The Glorious and Epic Tale of Lady Isovar

Lady Isovar is a mighty and supremely confident knight errant who leaps into adventure with both feet and then tracks it all over the rug. Chevson, her long-suffering squire and companion, is a former student of stone magic who spends most of his time keeping his mistress from causing enthusiasm-related injury to innocent bystanders. A tragic turn of events has sent them far from home, where they roam the countryside righting wrongs, smiting miscreants, deposing despots, and taunting their foes, often with seriously questionable one-liners. This new life is more than enough for Izzy, but Chevson wants nothing more than to set right what he harmed long ago. Following clues to sites of ancient power, they might just achieve his aim. That is, if they aren’t murdered, dismembered, devoured, executed, roasted, or derailed by Izzy’s bravado first.

The Glorious and Epic Tale of Lady Isovar is an epic fantasy story of adventure, friendship, heroic battles, and vile villains.

Content 
This book includes a lot of medieval-style violence and some gore (so long as it’s not a Fourthday).

 

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Dave Dobson

A native of Ames, Iowa, Dave loves writing, reading, boardgames, computer games, improv comedy, pizza, barbarian movies, and the cheaper end of the Taco Bell menu. Also, his wife and kids.

Dave is the author of Snood, Snoodoku, Snood Towers, and other computer games. Dave first published Snood in 1996, and it became one of the most popular shareware games of the early Internet. His most recent game is Scryptix, a word game for cell phones.

Dave taught geology, environmental studies, and computer programming at Guilford College for 24 years before stepping away to write full time. He does improv comedy every week at the Idiot Box in Greensboro, North Carolina. He’s also played the world’s largest tuba in concert. Not that that is relevant, but it’s still kinda cool.

Steve Hugh Westenra

Steve is a trans author of fantasy, science fiction, and horror (basically, if it’s weird he writes it). He grew up on the eldritch shores of Newfoundland, Canada, and currently lives and works in (the slightly less eldritch) Montreal. He holds advanced degrees in Russian Literature, Medieval Studies, and Religious Studies. As a reader, Steve’s tastes are eclectic. He enjoys anything that could be called speculative, including fantasy, sci-fi, and horror, but has been known to enjoy a good mystery as well as literary fiction. He’s always excited to try something new or that pushes boundaries, particularly from marginalized authors. Steve is passionate about queer representation, Late Antiquity, and spiders.

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