Q&A with Chris Evans, author of the Iron Elves trilogy

Ashes of a Black Frost is an epic finish to the Iron Elves trilogy by Chris Evans. In this third novel, Konowa’s ultimate journey is fraught with escalating danger. A vast, black forest finds a new source of dark power, spawning creatures even more monstrous than the blood trees from which they evolve. The maniacally unstable former emissary of the Shadow Monarch hungers for revenge, leading an army of ravenous beasts bent on utterly destroying the Iron Elves. A reluctant hero, Private Alwyn Renwar, struggles to maintain his connection to this world and that of the loyalty of the shades of the dead. And in a maze of underground tunnels, Visyna Tekoy, whom Konowa counts among those he has loved and lost, fights for her life against the very elves he so desperately wants to find. Packed with wit, high adventure, and political intrigue, Ashes of Black Frost will hook readers on this bold and exciting series. Browse inside the book and see for yourself!

Chris kindly took the time do a Q&A with us! We’re pleased to share his responses below.

Where did your idea for the trilogy as a whole begin? Was it always intended to be a trilogy?

I didn’t plan to write a trilogy but rather an adventure. I was initially thinking of something larger, but the more I wrote, the more I saw the beauty in having a beginning, middle, and an end encompassed in three books. I’ve tried reading long series but inevitably my interest in them wanes. Perhaps I lack a sufficiently robust attention span, but I want my adventures fast and furious, not slow and luxurious.

Can you describe your writing process?

It starts out messy and then becomes more refined as I go. I see images and feel emotions I want in the story then I begin to craft the narrative with those elements in mind. I’ve tried plotting out my novels, but the more detailed I plot the more it robs me of the desire to write it. My plotting is more general in the sense of I envision a distant point of light, or the top of a mountain, and off I go, not entirely sure of the best path to take, but eager to explore and find out.

I don’t get writer’s block, not exactly, but there are lulls when I find my energy level low. When that happens I know it’s time to start reading again. The moment I crack open a new book – usually nonfiction – inspiration sparks and I’m back in the groove.

What was the inspiration behind the Iron Elves?

I had just finished my Masters degree. I went straight home and started writing. It wasn’t called the Iron Elves back then. Its first title was The Grenadiers if I remember that right. Jir, Konowa’s bengar companion, was actually a carnivorous buffalo. Seriously. My idea from the outset was to write a fantasy that wasn’t set in a medieval time frame. So many authors had already done that, and done it well, that I didn’t want to tread the same well-worn ground. Putting a musket into an elf’s hands seemed like a natural progression for fantasy. It was a step removed from the bow and arrow, but not a massive one.

I was also taken with the idea of having an elf as a main character, but an elf who was the complete opposite of the nature loving archetype. My elf would be no Legolas. When Konowa Swift Dragon looks at trees, he sees lumber. That’s the kind of elf I wanted to read about it, so I decided I’d write him myself.

What research was involved in writing Ashes of a Black Frost?

When I began the series I spent a lot of time reading memoirs from the Napoleonic War. I even took horseback riding and archery lessons so that I’d have a better feel for how things worked. By the time I got to Ashes I found my focus shifting somewhat to the internal battles the soldiers of the regiment were fighting. That meant more research on aspects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

What was the biggest challenge in writing Ashes of a Black Frost?

Knowing that it was the final book in the series. I had to fight the urge to wrap everything up in a perfect bow. Life is messy. There is still resolution to all the major plot elements, but nothing is pristine.

Do you have any advice for aspiring fantasy writers?

Read. Read a lot, read often, and read widely. Read outside of your comfort zone. Read nonfiction. And when you read, pay attention to what you feel. When a scene or a character illicit an emotion in you, stop and examine that. Why did it happen? What did the writer do that made me feel this way?

The other thing I would say is don’t buy into the idea that imagination and hardwork are two different things. You need both, lots of both, if you want to make it, no matter what you decide to do.

Check out the first two books in the Iron Elves trilogy:

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