I first met Sean Poage back in 2019 when he approached me about promotional work for his debut novel, The Retreat to Avalon. As someone who loves the legend of King Arthur and historical fantasy, I immediately connected with his writing and the sheer amount of research. I asked if he'd like to sit down for an interview, and he agreed. So sit down, relax, grab your favorite go-to beverage and enjoy. Take it away, Sean:
Do you have any odd writing habits?
I am incapable of leaving a story part unfinished and moving to the next part of a story. I’ll stew over the part I’m not happy with until I get it right.
What book do you wish you could have written?
The Lord of the Rings. No, to be serious, I wish I could have written a historical fiction novel based on Xenophon’s Anabasis, but that’s been taken by Michael Curtis Ford with The Ten Thousand.
Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you?
J.R.R. Tolkien, Geoffrey Ashe, Janet Morris, Stephen Pressfield, William Gibson, there are too many to list!
How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?
Names are important, and can be tricky in my genre, because I need to be authentic to the original legends, which means Welsh names for the most part. But I have to make allowances to ensure Arthurian themes still resonate, like choosing ‘Gawain’ over his original name, ‘Gwalchmai’.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Four years away from retiring and writing full time!
Have you always liked to write?
I dabbled some when I was young, and always wanted to create stories. I still can’t believe I’m actually doing it now.
What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
Read, read widely, read constantly, and read some more. Nothing makes a better writer than learning from other authors, good and bad.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
I do read them, and respond if able. There haven’t been many poor reviews, and I don’t take it personally. You can’t please everyone. I’ve asked what they didn’t like, and try to learn from their input.
Do you have a favorite spot to write? What is it?
Anywhere I can look out at nature.
Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?)
It’s my second published novel, the sequel to The Retreat to Avalon. I also have a short story in an anthology from one of my favorite authors, Janet Morris, called Heroika: Skirmishers.
What are you working on now? What is your next project?
I am currently working on the third book in The Arthurian Age series, called Three Wicked Revelations. It’s about the time before Arthur, as well as his life. After that, I’m adding another book to the series, sort of a spin-off, called The Life of Merlin.
Do you write naked?
No, the coffee shops get really irritable about that.
What is your biggest failure?
I used to look at certain events in my life as failures, but now I look at them as lessons. Necessary things that not only taught me something, but brought me to where I am today. And I wouldn’t change any of them.
Have you ever gotten into a fight?
A few times as a kid, but when I was a police officer, it was a bit more frequent. I don’t miss that.
Do you drink? Smoke? What’s your vice?
I drink sparingly, don’t smoke, and I guess my vice is good food and a sweet tooth.
What do you want your tombstone to say?
We thought this guy would never die.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
I had one- invisibility, but it only worked in bars.
What literary character is most like you?
What secret talents do you have?
I’m a wealth of useless information, which is handy in trivia contests.
Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?
Everywhere! Ok, if I have to pick just one… That’s really hard. I’d have to say Greece, because of my love of history and mythology.
What’s on your bucket list (things to do before you die)?
Mostly travel. In the highly unlikely department is a dream to go to space like Shatner did.
Do you have any scars? What are they from?
I have several scars, due to hazards as a police officer and soldier, or resulting surgeries.
Thank you, Sean, for the insightful interview. I really enjoyed it. Readers, scroll down to read more about Sean’s recent release.
The Strife of Camlann
Historical Fiction or Historical Fantasy
Arthur’s Men have returned to Britain to keep the peace between fractious allies. Gawain wants only to raise his family and forget the war, yet he carries a heavy burden: an oath to maintain a terrible lie.
But is it a lie?
Looming conflicts threaten more than any border or throne. The course of history, the future of the Britons, will be decided at Camlann.
After sailing a comfortable distance further, crew and passengers gathered at the mast, where Gildas stood and orated. Gawain noted that Gildas’ Latin was impeccable; he referenced Biblical passages entirely from memory. Despite himself, Gawain wanted to converse with the dour fellow. As the sailors returned to their duties and the others drifted back to their places, Gawain lingered, drawing a curious look from Gildas.
“That was an impressive service,” Gawain said. “You must’ve had an excellent tutor.”
“I studied rhetoric at Cair Ligualid,” Gildas replied. “And canon law at Candida Casa.”
“Oh,” Gawain said with some awe. “I visited Cair Ligualid a couple of years ago. I didn’t know there were formal schools there.”
“It is one of the few bastions of Roman progress remaining in Britain,” Gildas nodded. “I regret I was not there when your army marched through. I would like to have seen Etmic before he left.” He noted the chagrined look on Gawain’s face and added, “I bear no grudge, Gawain. Barbarians killed my brother, not you.”
“I’m not certain your family feels the same.”
“Hueil was against our involvement and did not want Etmic to go. You are the only connection within reach of his anger.”
“You aren’t bitter about the war?”
Gildas looked thoughtful before answering. “My father had to send me far from home to find the sort of education that is taken for granted across the sea. Few schools remain in Britain. If the Rigotamos can return Britain to prosperity, security, and law through this venture, I must support him.”
“You sound confident in his ability.”
“I saw the Rigotamos when he visited Cair Ligualid to convince Meirchion Gul to join the effort. He spoke well, and passionately. His skill as a leader is well attested. I admire him, as did Etmic.”
“Your father and brother don’t hold the same opinion.”
“My father has little interest in the world beyond his own combrogi. As for Hueil,” Gildas sighed, “he is simply too proud to bow to another. It will be his undoing.”
“Have you been to the south before?”
“A few times, though not to Dumnein.” Gildas’ face pinched a moment like he had eaten a crabapple.
“You don’t care for Cador?”
Gildas’ head wobbled with indecision. “It is not so much Cador, as the impious and warlike nature of that entire nation. It was his great-grandfather who first instigated the revolt against Rome. On the other hand, Ynys Witrin is in his realm, and I look forward to visiting that holy place.”
He took his leave. Gawain returned to Rhian, who dozed, bundled up. Gildas, very different from his brothers Etmic and Hueil, was not what he had expected. Gawain had developed a respect, even a friendship with Etmic. It might turn out the same with Gildas.
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Giveaway: I’m one of the authors participating in the Resolve to Read More Books Giveaway and you can win an e-copy of The Retreat to Avalon.
Runs January 1 - 31 and is open internationally for many prizes.
Winners will be drawn on February 1, 2022.
Historical fiction author, Sean Poage, has had an exciting and varied life, as a laborer, salesman, soldier, police officer, investigator, computer geek and author. A history buff his entire life, he is most drawn to the eras of the ancient Greeks and Dark Ages Britain. Travelling the world to see history up close is his passion.
These days he works in the tech world, writes when he can, and spends the rest of the time with his family, which usually means chores and home improvement projects, with occasional time for a motorcycle ride, scuba dive, or a hike in the beautiful Maine outdoors.
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