Author Of The Week: Author Chat with Robert Cochran (The Sword and The Dagger), Plus Giveaway! ~ (US Only)
Welcome to our weekly special feature post, Author Of The Week!!
Each week we will be interviewing a different YA author and highlighting their upcoming release!
We will also be hosting a giveaway of the book we are highlighting!!
Introducing Robert Cochran, YABC's Author of the Week!!
An Emmy Award-winning executive producer and showrunner, Robert Cochran co-created and executive produced the international television series phenomenon 24, as well as the FOX franchise event series reboot, 24: Live Another Day. Cochran is also the executive producer of the successful television series La Femme Nikita, and created a limited series based on the Crusades for Germany's Tandem Television. Cochran began his career as a writer on numerous popular television shows such as JAG, The Commish, Falcon Crest, and L.A. Law, to name a few.
a Princess, a Knight, and an Assassin
embark on the quest of a lifetime
During the time of the Crusades, an unlikely trio—a Christian princess, her affianced prince, and a Muslim assassin—embarks on a quest to the court of the most fearsome warrior the world has ever known, Genghis Khan.
A rousing tale of adventure and romance about three young people who must grapple with fundamental issues of loyalty, friendship, faith, honor, and courage against the backdrop of conflicts that still resonate today.
~ Author Chat ~
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
A number of years ago I did research on the Crusades for a television project. The project never happened, but in the course of the research I came across the amazing story of the Old Man of the Mountain and his band of Assassins. I tried to imagine what it would be like to be a highly trained and motivated Assassin, and then what might happen if such an Assassin suddenly realizes that the very person he’s supposed to kill has saved his life. That was the seed of the idea, the rest of the story grew from that.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
Elaine ended up being my favorite character. She’s born to privilege, but it’s privilege that feels like a cage. She’s surrounded by people – mainly men – telling her how she should behave and how she should think, and she sees no chance that this will ever change. She wants to rebel, to be free, to have adventures! And she does. But those very adventures help her realize that her privilege carries with it obligations. There are many people – an entire nation – whose lives will be affected by the decisions she makes. She has to find a way to be true to herself while still protecting those who depend on her, and this struggle is the crucible that forms her character. The more I got to “know” her (by writing her) the more I appreciated her.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
The novel. At first, I used “The Old Man of the Mountain” as a working title, because of the research I mentioned above, but from the start I knew that wasn’t really a good title - it means nothing to readers today and also tells very little about what the book will be like. I settled on the The Sword and the Dagger because it was edgy (pun intended) and conveyed a sense of the conflict and danger which the main characters would be facing in the course of their journey together.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
There are many books on writing – how to plot, create and develop characters, evoke details, etc. – and these are all useful and important things. But I’ve found that my best writing happens when I’m writing “from inside” the story. That is, I seem to be watching and listening to the characters as they live their lives and interact with one another, rather than standing outside of the story, making it up. Of course, that’s an illusion, the writer is making it up – but the best writing happens when the characters feel like people you know rather than people you’re creating. When they begin doing and saying things that surprise you, you’re on the right track. Sometimes the story actually changes because of this. How do you get to that point? There’s no formula, unfortunately. You just have to keep working, and sometimes it clicks.
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
I think the cover does a great job of representing the main three characters through visual symbols – the crown, sword and dagger representing Elaine, Conrad and Rashid, respectively. The symbols are also arranged in such a way as to suggest a certain unity, or togetherness, which is the ultimate point of the story.
YABC: Is there anything that you would like to add?
I’d like to put in a word for historical fiction in general. People think it’s about “the past,” and of course it is, but it’s also about human nature and human behavior. And while circumstances change over time, human nature really doesn’t. So historical fiction gives us a chance to explore familiar things – fear, courage, loyalty, love, and so on – in fascinating, exotic and unfamiliar settings. In our lifetimes we will never charge an enemy army on horseback as Conrad and Rashid do, or defend ourselves with a sling, as Elaine does, or confront a man (Genghis Khan) who has conquered most of the known world as all three protagonists do, but through historical novels we can experience such things and many, many more, without limit. It’s like virtual reality, except on the page!
YABC: Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?
The scene between Elaine and Conrad in the mountain cave during the blizzard was probably the most difficult scene to write. Elaine had just been through a harrowing experience which caused her to do something she felt guilty about – yet at the same time she felt she had no choice; at any rate, faced with the same decision again she knew she would have made the same choice. Conrad had to try to help her resolve her feelings about what had happened while suppressing his own feelings for her; meanwhile Elaine, in addition to her inner struggle, was beginning to realize that her own feelings about Conrad were staring to change. And Rashid had to decide the best way to offer support to them both at that moment, even at some risk to himself. It was a complex scene, bringing together a number of emotional strands, and I rewrote it many times before settling on the final version.
YABC: Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
I once saw writing described as “mining coal with your fingers,” and sometimes writing a first draft feels that way. So I guess that’s a way of saying I prefer revising! Both are hard work, but once the basic story is down, and you feel that on the whole it works, the hardest part is over – not necessarily the longest part, but the hardest part. The process of painstakingly pulling apart what you’ve written and putting it back together again certainly has its frustrations, but I think improving something that already exists is usually a bit easier than starting from scratch.
YABC: What would you say is your superpower?
That’s a funny question! I think one of my main strengths is having a feel for how to structure a story. Writing for television, especially network television, which I did for many years, forces you to think about structuring your story economically and efficiently. You have a set number of minutes and a given number of commercial breaks. You can’t waste words or scenes and you try to end each act with some kind of hook that entices the viewer to put up with the commercials and keep watching. Of course, a novel allows far more creative freedom and you want to take full advantage of that freedom, but you still need to keep the story moving, and with a certain rhythm or flow. For me, at least, the experience of writing TV shows provides a useful discipline for doing that.
The Sword and The Dagger
By: Robert Cochran
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: April 9th, 2019
Ten winners will receive a copy of The Sword and The Dagger (Robert Cochran) ~ (US Only)
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*