SPFBO Finalist Interview: Ryan Kirk, The Author of The Last Fang of God


Book links: AmazonGoodreads
AUTHOR INFO: Ryan Kirk is an author and entrepreneur based out of Minnesota. When he isn’t writing, he can usually be found getting lost in the woods.

Visit his website at https://ryankirkauthor.com/

Publisher: Waterstone Media (April 26, 2023) Page Count: 252 (Kindle edition) Cover art: 100covers




Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Before we start, tell us a little about yourself.

Thanks for having me! It’s a pleasure to be here. My name is Ryan Kirk, and I’ve either written or co-written over 30 fantasy novels, including this year’s finalist, The Last Fang of God. When I’m not glued to a keyboard, I love getting lost outside, preferably in the mountains or the woods.

Do you have a day job? If so, what is it?

I’ve been fortunate enough to be a full-time writer since 2015. It’s the longest I’ve been in any job, which is honestly pretty exciting!

Who are some of your favorite writers, and why is their work important to you?

There’s so many to choose from! I admire Fonda Lee’s ability to create complex, compelling characters, and then put them in situations where they can’t win. I’m in awe of the way every line seems to reveal something more about people we’ve already spent hundreds of pages with. I also need to mention M.L. Wang. Sword of Kaigen is one of my favorite books of all time. She wrote grief better than any author I’ve read before. I’ll end with Neil Gaiman, both because of his vivid imagination and the atmosphere he creates in his stories.

What do you think characterizes your writing style?

I wish I had a better answer for this! I don’t think I’d go so far as to call my writing minimalistic, but I do try to make the words I write count. I tend to avoid lengthy descriptions and instead focus on actions and dialogue. But my writing style has changed quite a bit over the years, so I’m always really curious where it will end up.

What made you decide to self-publish The Last Fang of God. Why? Did it pay off? 

I’ve done both self-publishing and traditional publishing and have settled more on the independent side. I think that it’s true that no one will care about the creation of a story more than the story’s author, and I enjoy having the complete creative freedom to write the stories I want to write. I’m also very fortunate that over the years I’ve found a group of editors, cover designers, and proofreaders who are a delight to work with. I also like being in complete control of my intellectual property. For The Last Fang of God, in particular, there was never a question of how I would publish it. It’s a standalone book, and I have no desire to make it into a series, which would have made it a much harder pitch to publishers.

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of self-publishing?

I love every part of creating the book, from the writing to the editing, to the formatting and the cover design process. The part I’m still learning to love is all the marketing that’s required to make a living from writing.

Contrary to many self-published authors, you went wide instead of being Kindle exclusive. Why? Did it pay off?

When I started publishing in 2015 I put all my books in Kindle Unlimited and was there for several years. It worked well for me, but eventually I got nervous about being entirely dependent on Amazon to keep a roof over my head. In large part, the decision to go wide went hand-in-hand with my decision to open my own store and sell directly to readers. I still have some books in KU, but I gradually transitioned wide. It was rough at first, but I really appreciate being everywhere, and I love being able to sell directly to readers and actually get to know them better.

Why did you enter SPFBO?

I honestly think it’s the best competition out there, and it seems to get better every year, thanks in large part to all the blogs and reviewers that volunteer a massive amount of time to the project. I’m seeing more reviewers leaving detailed reviews, even on books that are first round cuts, and it’s awesome! My own TBR has grown exponentially thanks to all the new reviews I’ve read. There’s no other competition like it.

I also think the community that springs up around SPFBO is incredible, and it’s simply fun to be a part of every year.

What would you do if you won the SPFBO?

Probably take my family out for ice cream.

How would you describe the plot of The Last Fang of God. Why? Did it pay off? is if you had to do so in just one or two sentences?

The Last Fang of God follows a former warrior named Kalen and his daughter Sascha as they attempt to save Sascha’s life from the meddling of Kalen’s old god. They’ll have to journey across hostile lands and fight old enemies, friends, and gods, and even if they complete the journey, Sascha must prove herself worthy of the power she’s been offered.

What was your initial inspiration for the book? How long have you been working on it? Has it evolved from its original idea?

Most of my books start with me asking questions of my own life. In this case, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I could parent my daughter well as she grows up in a world much different than the one I grew up in. I liked the idea of a father and daughter relationship being the focal point of the story.

The setting was greatly inspired by Anthony Mitchell’s Wolfeater, which I loved tremendously.

Once I had the characters and a basic idea I got to writing. I don’t plan or outline my books, so the story arose from the combination of characters and setting. I think it took me about two or three months to write.

If you had to describe it in 3 adjectives, which would you choose?

Fast-paced, heartfelt, and mystical.

Is it part of the series or a standalone? If series, how many books have you planned for it?

It’s a standalone! I’ve been tempted to write more in the world, but so far, I’ve resisted the urge.

Who are the key players in this story? Could you introduce us to The Last Fang of God. Why? Did it pay off? is’s protagonists/antagonists?

Kalen is a former warrior who left his homeland to be with his wife and daughter. He was renowned in his day, but now seeks only to live in peace.

Sascha is Kalen’s daughter, a young woman who’s never ventured far beyond the boundaries of their small village. She’s eager to grow up and easily frustrated with Kalen, but she’s also curious about the world and determined to learn more about it.

A number of obstacles stand in their way, but chief among them is the scorpion clan. They’ve been seeking Kalen’s head for years, and have only grown in number and strength since Kalen’s fighting days.

Does your book feature a magic/magic system? If yes, can you describe it?

The Last Fang of God is set in a world where gods roam the land and meddle as they see fit. They share fragments of their powers with their devoted followers through the power of runes, both written and spoken.

Have you written The Last Fang of God. Why? Did it pay off? is with a particular audience in mind?

I’ll confess that I didn’t. In general, I focus on writing the books I want to write, then seek out an audience for them. I suspect The Last Fang of God will probably appeal to a slightly older audience, but I would hope everyone can enjoy it. It can get grim and dark in parts, but I like to think it’s a hopeful book.

What was your proofreading/editing process?

After the first draft gets written, I usually go over my books at least two or three more times. One pass will include editing software and at least one other will involve printing it out so I can read it on paper. Then it goes out for professional editing, and once that’s all incorporated, I have a team of eagle-eyed advance readers who scour the manuscript for any typos that snuck through.


Book links: AmazonGoodreads

AUTHOR INFO: Ryan Kirk is an author and entrepreneur based out of Minnesota. When he isn’t writing, he can usually be found getting lost in the woods.

Visit his website at https://ryankirkauthor.com/
Publisher: Waterstone Media (April 26, 2023) Page Count: 252 (Kindle edition) Cover art: 100covers


Cover art is always an important factor in book sales. Can you tell us about the idea behind the cover of The Last Fang of God. Why? Did it pay off? is and the artist?

I’m absolute trash at directing cover designers, but I’ve been very fortunate to work with talented artists and teams that make up for my failings. The team over at 100covers did the cover for The Last Fang of God, and I think they knocked it out of the park. I’m pretty sure I said something along the lines of “Wolves, woods, dark,” and they came back with the cover.

Which question about the book do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

What inspired you to set the book in a largely pre-agricultural era?

I’ve always been fascinated by periods of dramatic change, and I think the transition from hunting-gathering to farming is a fascinating one. The setting doesn’t rise too much out of the background, but I thought it was fun to explore a world in the midst of that transition.

What’s your publishing Schedule for 2023/2024?

Busy! I’ve just started a new series of my own, called Songs of the Fallen Swords, but I also have a new series coming out with Aethon Books that I’ve been working on for several years. So even though some of the manuscripts are several years old at this point, there are going to be a fair number of 2024 releases!

Thank you for taking the time to answer all the questions. In closing, do you have any parting thoughts or comments you would like to share with our readers?

Just that I’m honored to be here. If there’s anything I’ve learned from all the reviews I’ve read from #SPFBO this year, it’s that there are an incredible number of fantastic books being written and published independently. I’ve been feasting on great books, and I’m incredibly grateful to the wonderful community of authors, readers, and reviewers who make this all possible.

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