Nathan‘s Interview with Gregory Kontaxis
As part of the Escapist Book Tour Co.’s tour of The Return of the Knights I had the opportunity do an interview with Gregory Kontaxis, author of The Return of the Knights. You can find my full review of The Return of the Knights here.
Can you give our readers a bit of the quick sales pitch for The Return of the Knights? What kinds of readers would be most interested in your book?
A queen is in danger and a young boy is her only hope. Readers that love medieval worlds and societies, politics, lore and Greek mythology.
What were your biggest inspirations for The Return of the Knights?
I admire many authors like Tolkien, GRRM and Sanderson. I always wanted to create my own fantasy world. I had an idea about a boy saving a queen who is about to get murdered. That was my starting point to develop my world. There are dozens of stories that gave me inspiration for my tale, from Harry Potter to Game of Thrones.
I am always impressed when fantasy authors have these big battle scenes and complicated military tactics. How do you plan it all out so that it makes sense but is also interesting to read about on the page without overwhelming the reader?
That is hard. When I started writing this novel, I had to stop for some time and read books on medieval history. I read about siege tactics, wars, battles and many other things. Then, I came back to my tale and changed a lot of details. The idea is to depict a war tactic in a few lines and then spend more time to show the fear, the anxiety and the horror around the actual battle.
If I understand things correctly, you originally published this book in Greek and have now translated it into English. What was that process like, and did you have to make any changes for an English-reading audience?
I love this question and I want to spend some lines to explain how difficult it was. It’s true that I write in my language (Greek) and translate my books. I live in London and I speak English. However, I felt that writing directly in English wouldn’t be good enough for native speakers and decided to write in Greek. Then, I used a professional translator to translate my novel. When I showed a first draft of my translated story around, I got some useful feedback. Greek books use an omniscient style of writing which is not common in English. I know that some great authors use it, but it’s accompanied by flowery prose and it’s hard to support that when a story is translated. When I started writing, I didn’t know anything about this. Mark Lawrence was the one that read a sample of my book and gave me invaluable information about writing techniques and the English market. Based on everything I learned, I changed the English book to third person narrative and then used an editor to help improve the vocabulary. Taya Greylock was my editor and she helped me massively to improve the language. Overall, it was hard to create a translated version of my story, but I really wanted to try and achieve it and I am very happy with the result.
The Return of the Knights has quite deep lore and worldbuilding. What came first, the world or the plot? How did you ensure that the worldbuilding didn’t overwhelm the plot?
I am one of these writers that doesn’t plan many things ahead. I like to develop my story while writing and I plan beforehand only a small skeleton of the plot. The original idea was to write about a queen that is about to get murdered. Then, when every hope is lost, a boy will appear and try to save her. I started based on this idea and then developed a world around it. It is common the worldbuilding to overwhelm the plot, so I tried to open the book with strong scenes and then start giving information about the world slowly.
Your book has several different POV characters (including the villain!). Who was your favorite POV to write for and why?
That is hard to answer! I love all my characters and as many authors would say, every one of them is a part of myself. My favorites are Elliot and John. It’s a tie between them for different reasons. Elliot is arrogant but at the same time a nice person who needs to fight himself to evolve. On the other hand, John is one of the most controversial characters in the story. Writing about him always makes me smile.
What are you writing right now?
I am writing the second part of The Dance of Light series. In June, I will start the translation of the novel and I hope to publish it around May/June 2024.
Can you give readers a bit of a tease about what is coming in Book 2 of The Dance of Light series? Do you still plan on having a five book series? Do you have any plans for prequels, novellas, spinoffs, etc.?
Yes, my plan is to have five books in the series. About prequels and novellas, I have some ideas, but I will work more on them in the future as now I spend all my time to develop the main story and translate it in English. About book 2, the only thing I can say is that will be unpredictable and full of politics and back-stabbing.
What is one thing that you have read, seen, or listened to recently that you would recommend?
Oh, I have read many books that I liked. I enjoyed The Children of Gods and Fighting Men by Shauna Lawless, The Girl and the Moon by Mark Lawrence and I started the Eleventh Cycle by Kian Ardalan which is great so far.
Thank you to Gregory for answering all of my questions! You can purchase The Return of the Knights here (we are not an affiliate and receive no compensation from Amazon) and you can keep updated with Gregory at his website, Twitter, and Instagram