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Our SPFBOX interviews continue with Paul Sating, author of Thornbane the Lost.

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.


The cover for Paul Sating's Thornbane the Lost, Book One in the Thornbane Trilogy and part of the Hexed Heroes Saga.

A rendered image of a demonic-looking warrior woman with black horns and  crimson skin stares out at the audience, mouth agape in a battle cry. Yellow magix surrounds her and is balled in her hands as though she's ready to lash out with her magic. She's wearing medievalesque fantasy clothing, including trousers with belt-like holsters, and has weapons strapped to her back. Ominous rocks slopes loom in the background beneath a troubled sunset.



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


My childhood dream of being an author was squashed by twenty years of military service. Once I hung up the uniform for the last time the creative fire was rekindled. In the five years I’ve been a full-time author, I’ve published twenty-seven novels, and I’m currently writing my twenty-eighth across too many genres to be commercially successful. After leaving the military, I moved to the US’s Pacific Northwest so I can hunt Bigfoot (in a non-violent way). My entry, Thornbane the Lost, book one of a high fantasy trilogy, has been assigned to Kitty G.

What inspired you to write this book?

My deep, enduring love for high fantasy and the tales (like the Dragonlance books) that first got me into the genre. Stories of heroes forming a party and going off on adventure has a deep, sentimental place in my creative soul. Though I have plenty of those characteristics in my other novels, I didn’t yet have a series focused on that theme. With the trilogy now complete, I do. In fact, of my five open series, this was the most recently written and first completed. I had THAT much fun with Thornbane and her friends.



I am NOT a plot-plot-plot author (where ‘stuff’ just happens for the sake of ‘action’ and moving the story). I love deep characters. Complex characters. I want the world going to the dogs around them, but only at a pace where the reader actually cares what happens.


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

I’m a Planner. While not exhaustive, my outline-to-novel wordcount is roughly 1,000:10,000. So, with the final Thornbane book being 150,000-ish words, my outline would be roughly 15,000 words–give or take. I didn’t start that way when I was writing fiction podcasts. Then, I was a Pantser and it showed. Only when I forced myself to commit to outlining first did I begin not only finishing projects, but complex stories. I am NOT a plot-plot-plot author (where ‘stuff’ just happens for the sake of ‘action’ and moving the story). I love deep characters. Complex characters. I want the world going to the dogs around them, but only at a pace where the reader actually cares what happens. In fact, the outlining might be the most enjoyable to me now. I hate editing. Always have. I love the discovery process of writing that first draft, but after having so many novels under my belt, I only get excited when a character does something I didn’t expect. For me, I’ve already experienced the story during outlining. It’s where I tickle myself exploring all the ‘what ifs’ along the way. Don’t get me wrong; I love writing. Outlining is just where all the fun happens for me. Strange, for someone who wouldn’t have thought to outline five-and-a-half years ago.

Who or what have been your major literary influences?
The Wheel of Time series. George RR Martin. Stephen King. Sue Grafton. But, the king of kings, for me, was Clive Barker. No one I’ve ever read could make gruesome horror (i.e. his Books of Blood) sound so poetic.

What makes your SPFBOX book unique?
Part of my author brand is to be irreverent. Our hero in this series is a woman who has just lost her husband she was forced to marry for political reasons who is cursed to take the form a demon. For some reason, too many people have personal values that block them for rooting for a ‘demon,’ but through Thornbane, they find a true heart that values others and wants to do right by them, even at great sacrifice to herself. For me, there’s nothing more awesome than having the meta conflict, within the story-world and extending beyond it.

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

It’s too easy to say Thornbane is my favorite. She is the story. This is her fall and rise. So that’d be the easy pick. Being a contrarian with an irreverent worldview, I can’t say her, even out of principle. Putting her to the side, the choice is easy for me. My favorite character was Brorm, an outcast goblin sidekick. Booted from her tribe BECAUSE she detests violence, Brorm has a sharp tongue and sharper blades. She’s the comedic element to the story and I love everything about her—especially having her get drunk in a scene and stumbling into the side of a cask.


Stories of heroes forming a party and going off on adventure has a deep, sentimental place in my creative soul.

How does your work fit into (or challenge) its genre?
It fits by taking the reader on a world-spanning adventure filled with magic, sword and sorcery, and battles. We meet classic fantasy races of all sorts, and even some new ones of my own creation. The magic system has been praised for its uniqueness. How does it challenge the genre? Though I respect and read many fellow Indie high fantasy authors, I simply don’t see many female leads in these types of stories where it isn’t a romance story dressed up as fantasy. That’s not to knock anyone who likes those types of stories. That’s fine. We all know the sales numbers are there… one look at any sub-category chart will tell you romance sells. But I read this genre before Amazon was a thing. I remember those stories and how easy they were to find. They no longer are because of the ‘bleed’ Amazon allows. So I wanted to write a contemporary story of the genre I remember without the female lead needing a romantic element. The blips of interest she has in the three books is there because it felt right for the story and her character, but they’re just that. Blips. Thornbane is just as kickass without needing a love interest. The rider to that is also that she’s female and willing to be violent if the situation calls for it. No apologies. No excuses.

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


I’ve been reading fantasy since the mid-90s. I’ve seen readers begging for a female lead in a high fantasy filled with adventure and grit. One with no-to-little romance. A true fantasy adventure. I’ve given the world that with Thornbane. To watch her grow into her magic and kick ass was one of the most satisfying things I’ve done as an author, and I hope that resonates with readers across the spectrum who are looking for a badass female fantasy hero without her devolving into a romance story. (For those who want some romance, take heart. She does develop a romantic relationship, but this is a very, very minor thread seen in glimpses here and there.)

What are you currently working on?


The third and final book in my “Brad the Impaler” LitRPG series, published by Aethon Books. I’m currently at 95,000 words and only about 1/3 of the way through the outlined chapters! Can you tell I grew up on epic fantasy?

Thornbane the Lost


A kingdom plunged into chaos. A woman branded a demon. A power she didn’t choose becomes her only hope.

When Cynn Jade awakens to find her world in ruins, she’s thrust into a realm of ancient magic and deadly intrigue. Unfairly exiled from everything she knows, Cynn must embrace a cursed power to reclaim her rightful place and save her people. But in a land where shadows whisper and allies harbor dark secrets, will Cynn’s newfound abilities be her salvation… or her downfall?

Will Cynn save her people, or will the demon within destroy everything she loves?


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Paul Sating
Paul Sating is a fantasy author and podcaster who spends most of his time traveling the Pacific Northwest in search of elusive monsters everyone claims aren’t real. Paul began adapting many of those scripts to novel form and published his first three books in 2018. He is now fooling around with his first love–darker fantasy. He writes epic, urban, and even LitRPG (a true jack of all trades and master of none). He stays grounded by rooting for bad soccer teams, traveling around his beautiful corner of the world, and spending every moment he can with the three people who don’t let him think too highly of himself–his wife and daughters.
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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