EXCLUSIVE COVER REVEAL Q&A: The Storm Beneath The World (Children Of Corruption #1) by Michael R. Fletcher

Q] Welcome back to
Fantasy Book Critic Michael. How are you doing since the release of A WAR TO
the end of your Manifest
Delusions saga
MRF: Welcome back? Yeah,
I guess this place does look kinda familiar. Er…if anything went missing after
my last visit, it wasn’t me. And if anything was broken, it was like that when
I got here.

How am I doing? I
don’t know.

There’s this weird
thing that happens after you release a book where you wander around feeling
empty for a while. But then this itch grows down in the deepest recesses of
your obsidian soul and at some point, you end up sitting in front of a computer
There was this mad
flurry around the release, then the emptiness, and now I’m writing again. Which
is good. Writers are like sharks; if we stop moving forward, we can’t afford to
buy groceries. Or something.
Q] What was the main
inspiration for THE STORM BENEATH THE WORLD & the world within?
Where do you think the idea came from and what compelled you to see it through
to the end?
MRF: Oh man, where do the ideas come from? No idea!

Wait, that’s a lie. I kinda remember this one.

So, I am a bit of a cardio junky. My brain is,
apparently, extremely efficient at creating endocannabinoids. Basically, if I
do 40+ minutes of cardio I get high. It’s kind of awesome. Funny thing though,
it’s super easy to eat and drink back the calories you burn in 40 minutes, so
I’m nowhere near skinny. Just high. I’m fat and high and my basal heart rate is
under 60BPM.

But that’s not all of it. I also get a high
from writing. When a book is going well, when it’s tumbling out of my brain
faster than I can two-finger type the words, that same awesome brain starts
dumping those lovely endocannabinoids.

I am a word junkie.

Well, I started thinking about that. I wanted
to use it as part of a magic system. I believe that all great magic systems include
a cost. The characters in The Storm Beneath the World can develop
incredible talents, but the more they use them, the more addicted they become
to using them. Eventually, they starve to death, using their talent over and
over, forever getting that little bit better, until they starve to death. Much
like a word-junkie writer who isn’t selling enough books.

After that, I decided I wanted a story without
any humans because I wanted to look at hive instead of tribe (for reasons). And
thus, my insectile ashkaro were born. And then I thought it would be cool if I
wrote a fantasy book that took place in the upper atmosphere of a mega gas
giant world. So…

Yeah, it was probably a bad idea, but you go
where the muse leads.

Q] Let’s talk about
the stunning cover for THE STORM BENEATH THE WORLD. How did you come
across Andrew Maleski’s work? Can you tell how it all came together?
MRF: Back when I was looking for an artist for A
War to End All
, Zack Argyle (who invented socks, and also wrote the
Threadlight trilogy
) introduced me to Andrew. It was love at first sight.
Mostly for me. I bombarded Andrew with increasingly insane demands (More blood!
More insanity!) and he kept smashing it.

When it came to find and artist for The
Storm Beneath the World
, Andrew was my first call. He grudgingly agreed to
do the art as long as I promised not to be crazy this time.

I promised.

I lied.

Q] What was your first
reaction when you saw it? How does it hold up (in your opinion) to what the
main story is about?
MRF: I love the cover. While it’s not a specific
scene this time, it definitely captures the feel of the world.
Q] Let’s talk
about THE STORM BENEATH THE WORLD, there are so very few fantasy
books written about non-humanoid races/characters? This is a completely
different type of story as compared to all your previous works. How was the
writing experience for you? How difficult was it?
MRF: They’re not humans but they’re still people,
if that makes any sense. 
I’m in love with themes, the story beneath the
story. Whether or not anyone notices or cares, all my books have one. It makes
me happy, and that’s all that matters.

I was thinking about humans and our monkey
heritage. We pretend like we’ve moved past that, but we haven’t. At all. We’re
chimps with slightly more advanced brains. That led me to thinking about what
it would be like if hive insects evolved intelligence and then began
discovering individuality.

Don’t tell anyone, but the book is actually a
sneaky hive = tribe thing and what I’m really picking at is people. Shh!
Q] Can you tell us
more about the world that The Children of Corruption saga is set in and some of
the story’s major characters? What are the (many) curiosities of this world?
MRF: One of the root ideas for this (and why oh why
can’t I just write a normal fantasy book?) was that I was going to write alien
fantasy. I wanted to write a fantasy novel as if it had been written by aliens
for aliens. And so, no humans. At all. Anywhere.

I started with the world. What if this fantasy
novel took place in the upper atmosphere of a mega gas giant world? After that
I saw these colossal living islands—balloon creatures—that lived for millions
and millions of years, forever floating there. I saw smaller creatures living on
their backs, growing and evolving. Look up, and there’s no sun—the atmosphere
is too dense—and all you see is a lighter spot that traverses the sky. Look
down and there’s the boiling maelstrom of the lower atmosphere, the storm
beneath your world.

Then, the magic system discussed above, a caste
system based loosely on insect structures, sentient praying mantises, and war!

It’s that tired old trope.

Q] So for someone who (still)
hasn’t read any of your novels, what would be your pitch for THE STORM
MRF: Read my fucking books!
Q] So what can readers
expect from THE STORM BENEATH THE WORLD and what should they be
looking forward to according to you?
MRF: There will be things and stuff and events. There will be moments of selfless sacrifice and utter
self-serving greed.

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry.

Then you’ll go have a snack.

Fuck, I dunno.

is book 1 of The Children of Corruption saga. How many
books are you planning to write in this series? 
MRF: Two, though that might change.

The second book, The River of Days, is one
third written. I want this to be a duology, but in the end the story will
decide what it needs to be. I’m just there for the ride.

Q] In closing, do you
have any parting thoughts or comments you’d like to share with our readers?
MRF: Existence is
simultaneously far simpler than we think it is and yet so complex we will never
understand all of it.

That’s what makes it
—Mike Fletcher

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