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Crafting The Rust Saga with ‘Benjamin Giacalone’

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Today I interviewed Benjamin Giacalone, author of The Rust Saga, a sword & sorcery fantasy trilogy! Benjamin has just released the sequel to the first book, called Rust: Silver Swords, and it’s currently one of the top best sellers on Amazon!

In this detailed interview you’ll learn more about the challenges of writing a trilogy, as well as Benjamin’s story, routine and writing tips, research work and everything else required to craft such an amazing world and story.

I hope you’ll find it as inspirational and exciting as I did when interviewing Benjamin! ✨

Tell us your story. What inspired you to become an author?

What inspired me to become an author? Well, a lot of things. The primary reason I became an author was to retell a story I wrote for a D&D game.I finished a year ago, although the story has diverged pretty far from it now.

But that’s not what really inspired me. I was inspired to tell stories and create from all of the media I’ve consumed. The medium or novels has a lot of benefits that I’ve realized now, but originally if I had it my way Rust would be a TV show, although I am very obviously aware of all the difficulties and complications with that.

My inspiration to continue to write comes from a variety of creative sources.

If you read Book 1 you may see the parallels to “Star Wars: A New Hope” and in a way that was intentional to prepare readers for the drastic change in narrative that arrives in the later books.

But it’s not just that, I was reading several great works of fiction and nonfiction at the time such as: The Hobbit, True Grit, and excerpts from James Baldwin’s work.

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Tell us more about your book, and what it is about. What is the story plot? Who are the characters?

Well Rust is a story about many things (generic I know) but if I had to narrow it down it is a story about prejudice and hate.

The main character, Kilros, is a part of a race of people doomed from birth to suffer in hell for the rest of eternity. He doesn’t want this, so to avoid it he prays to the patron god of the country for salvation from his eternal torture, and hasn’t gotten a response for his whole life.

Because of his appearance (Red skin, horns, pointy tail) many people look down on him and see him as a crook or a villain when he’s just a normal guy who wants to be accepted. Same goes for the villain.

Minor spoilers: The main villain, a dragon named Iknyr, was for most of his life persecuted and attacked for being a red dragon. People feared him, and as such rejected him. This culminated in some other dragons killing his wife, leading Iknyr to become the cold and unfeeling monster he later is revealed to be. 

(End of spoiler) To go into more detail though, the main crux of the second two books is the ongoing war between the evil dragon king Iknyr, and the juggernaut country of Favanu, which is my analogy for modern America. The war is a large part of the story, although you don’t really see it in the second or first book, since the main characters are mostly on their own adventure to slay Iknyr all on their own, which they realize eventually is a very foolish idea.

The main cast of the first book consists of Kilros, an elf named Colleen, a dwarf named Malvur, and a mysterious armored individual named Raymond. Colleen starts off sassy, aggressive, and kind of annoying, but matures a lot over the course of the three books.

Malvur is the standard old and wise mentor character, although he has a tendency towards occasional morally questionable actions. He’s still a good guy, but he has a lot of secrets, and a lot of pent up energy from being an old grumpy dwarf.

Raymond remains a mysterious entity for the start of the first book, since nobody knows their gender or who they even are. They always wear the helmet, and seem to be randomly good at everything.

You’ll also meet several other characters later in the series such as Akra the barkeep and Kystraz the dragon, although I don’t want to give away everything, since seeing them in action yourself is a lot of fun on it’s own.

Tell us more about the process behind writing your book.

Well this is similar to what I said in the first question, so I’ll just elaborate on the first part of the question.

To say the process was difficult would be an understatement. I am a hard worker, and I work extremely fast, but this desire to move at such a quick pace often led me to get extremely stressed, burnt out, and depressed during the book.

Due to how daunting of a task this second book was I had a hard time seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. There was always something to do, and every moment I wasn’t working on it I felt there was something I should be doing.

But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth it.

All of the struggles I went through when writing this book were completely worth it in the end, and I am proud of what I’ve accomplished. However don’t expect another book in the Rust series for a little bit haha. This book was a lot of work and the next will only be more.

I do have other writing plans though, just maybe not another painstaking and grueling one. 

What is your routine as a writer, if you have one?

Routine? Ha, you’re funny. “Routine”. I am very disorganized and there’s not really a pattern or reason for when I do what I do. My mind will just take me places and I don’t have a choice but to tag along.

However, for those wondering, my routine consists of the following: 1. Do I have something important to be doing? 2. Do you feel like drawing?. 3. If not either, write.

I’m always trying to continue writing, even if it’s not for the public. I have two D&D games going on right now, so when I’m not working on my next project (which I am beginning to piece together) I very well could be doing that.

How do you develop your plot and characters? 

That’s simple: they develop themselves.

I see it as teaching a kid to ride a bike. You need to give the kid the bike, the helmet, and teach them, but once they start pedaling… It’s out of your hands, and that kid drives the bike on their own.

I will make a character and place them in the story, sometimes without even knowing what their purpose is, and I’ll try to fit the character using my voice, but then eventually the character takes on their own voice.

Kilros for example has a distinct voice in my mind separate from my own. Same goes for most of my characters. By now nearly everybody has developed to the point where I don’t feel as if I’m writing the story, I feel as if the characters themselves are telling it.

What was the most challenging thing about writing this book, since you started?

This is also a very easy answer. Figuring out the story I wanted to tell. I went through 5ish drafts, more like 4, but I went through a good number of drafts before I realized what the story I even wanted to tell was.

The first two drafts I had this idea in my mind it would be like a superhero-esque story, akin to a marvel movie, but after some serious doubt and consideration I realized this was going to be a journey story, similar to the first book.

So I sat down and wrote a draft where the goal was (pretty much) to get from A to B. And it worked. Granted, it wasn’t perfect, and there’s a lot I had to change… but it worked. In the end, I got the story I wanted.

Once I got over that hurdle things went much smoother, only really pausing here and there due to burn out or writer’s block.

How much research did you need to do for your book? 

The book was told in the world I made, so actually not too much. Most of the research I did was on ancient civilizations for flashbacks, and on prejudice.

I’ve read several works that helped me write some of the more difficult stuff in the book.

I also did a fair bit of google searching for the limits of the human body, since I have a habit of tearing my characters to shreds and hoping there’s some logical explanation of how they could have possibly survived.

Tell me about how it feels like to be writing a sequel, and a trilogy.

Great. I’m a little mad that I started with writing a massive trilogy, but that’s to be expected from me, since my mind has always thought on a larger scale.

But in the end I’m very excited to eventually complete the series, and the accomplishment I’ll feel from it will hopefully satisfy my personal demands for greatness.

Which part of the book is your favorite?

That’s a hard one actually. After some thought on it though, I’ve decided. There’s a scene in Chapter 15 of the book where the characters are out in the wilderness sitting around a campfire.

The main characters recently just freed a town from the rule of Iknyr (the villain) and convinced some Red Knights to join them. Red Knights are the foot soldiers of Iknyr’s army, and are mostly made up of people who were born into the role and were raised to be soldiers and nothing more.

These knights have finally just realized they now have the freedom to be themselves. The knights have a tradition of singing songs before going to bed, but rather than sing one of the Skrarian propaganda songs, the dwarf character begins to sing a song in his dwarvish language.

The song is about how brutally Iknyr crushed the dwarves and forced them out of their mountainous villages. Kilros can’t understand the song, but it continues as a dragonborn character sings in draconic, showing how Iknyr didn’t just effect men, but dragons too.

Finally an elvish knight finishes the song in a beautiful scene where despite not everybody knowing the lyrics, everybody knows and shares the feeling of loss, and shows what Iknyr has taken from all of them, even the most insignificant and irrelevant Red Knights have lost things to Iknyr. The wording and description of the scene only heightens this strong but small moment.

Tell us more about the publishing process behind the book.

I did all of the art myself (Cover, characters and map) but I haven’t had a lot of luck with promotion since I’ve just recently begun to promote the book.

I was planning on going to some local places to hopefully have some copies put up in store shelves, and the idea of reaching out to bigger names is a good one, although I’m not sure if I know anybody small enough to accept my message. I’ll look into it though.

What tools did you use the write the book from start to end?

I wrote the book on the good old Google Docs, but I moved the actual text to an Adobe program called Indesign for the PDF you see in the actual book.

I did the drawings on Photoshop, since I’ve been mainly using that for all of my art recently. I took notes down in a seperate Google Docs file.

What have been some influential authors that inspired you into becoming an author yourself, if any?

Some the most influential authors I knew were Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, and Christopher Paolini.

I as I said previously took inspiration from Star Wars.

I loved Dave Filoni’s work on the Clone Wars TV show, and the Clone Troopers in that show were my main inspiration for the ally Red Knight characters the main characters meet around halfway through the book.

What advice would you give to a writer just starting out?

Mainly, don’t start with a big trilogy!

I locked myself into this now, and I’m ok with that since I have the time and ability to get it done, but for new writers the second best advice I can give is don’t be scared to start small. Working on a smaller scale and getting a lot of projects done will help build your skill significantly.

That’s why my next project after Silver Swords is going to be much smaller. The best advice I can give is just to keep writing. Burn out is real and understandable, but if you want to be a writer nobody is (or should be) stopping you.

I tell this to everyone who asks me about it. It’s my best advice. If you have a story in your head, put it onto the paper. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, as long as your consistent and diligent about working.

Different people have different working speeds, as well as different lengths of the story they want to tell.

What took me 11 months (this book) may take somebody else years. And there’s nothing wrong with that. You just have to stay motivated, and if you really do want to be a writer put down Tik Tok or Youtube or whatever (unless its music) and stop denying yourself the goal you want to achieve!

What are your future plans and where can our readers find you?

I’m glad you asked!

Right now I’m planning a short story about a Red Knight that takes place after the fall of the Skrairan empire, and the story will follow the emotional journey this Red Knight goes on as he realizes that the dragon he pledged his life to wasn’t who he made himself out to be.

He travels the world in a Mandalorian style adventure seeking vengeance against the dragons who killed his king and tore his empire apart. There will be no baby dragon he watches over, and hold me to it if I put one in lol. I could go into more detail, but I don’t want to spoil anything.

Also things may change, so I think it’s for the best if we just leave it there.

In terms of social media I post to Instagram although I don’t get much traction there. My Reddit account is u/Official_Rust_Author and I’ll be posting character art and promotion on there. I’ll be doing plenty of promotion on reddit, though if you want to follow me for updates on books, art, and my general life I guess you can follow me on my Instagram – @benjamin_giacalone_author.

I also have a tumblr, and considering the current situation with Twitter right now it’s looking a lot more appealing to start posting to it again. I don’t want to post the link yet though since I haven’t touched it in a while lol.

To connect with Benjamin, follow his Instagram account, and also check out his Amazon profile and his website for more information and future updates!

Have you enjoyed this Q&A with Benjamin? Let me know in the comments below! ❤️