An Interview with Luther M. Siler [WUR 2015].

In my continuation of featuring my wonderful World Unknown Review Volume II writers throughout the year, we now turn our focus on Luther M. Siler, author of this month’s featured story, “Nanos Khund and the Traveler.” I had a chance to “sit down” (i.e. email) Mr. Siler to delve a little bit into his work, and I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I have.

*cue the Mario voice* Here we go!

So we’l start with the good ol’ basic opening: Who is Luther M. Siler?

Hell, I dunno. I’m kinda working on that right now?

I write things sometimes! My best-selling work is a fantasy/sci-fi hybrid called THE BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES, which is basically a space opera crossed with traditional D&D/Tolkien fantasy races. I’m also the author of a series called THE JOHANNES CYCLE, of which the first novel, SKYLIGHTS, is out now. That’s a hard SF novel about the second human voyage to Mars. And I wrote a book about teaching, too, called SEARCHING FOR MALUMBA.

I was a teacher for fifteen years, and… well, I stopped. And I’m still not sure what I’m doing next.

How did you discover the World Unknown Review,and what inspired you to submit your story, Nanos Khund and the Traveler“?

I was published in the first one, too, a story called “CULAQAN” that I’m still pretty fond of. I’m being honest here: I don’t know how I found you. Twitter? Did one of us just happen to stumble on the other one’s blog? I don’t remember any more.

To be truthful, I can’t remember, either! It’s like it’s always just been. But speaking of “Culaqan,” which was my favorite story in WUR Vol I, I’ve mentioned to you before that you need to give us (okay, me, you need to give ME!) more fantasy, because have an amazing ability to drop a reader right into the middle of a new world and completely immerse them in it. We see this in “Nanos Khund,” as well as “Culaqan”. What’s your process in creating such a vivid experience in such a succinct way?

I’m a low-process author, honestly. The first story in the “CULAQAN” universe, which is on my blog (it’s called “THE CROSSROADS“) came after a weekend of reading short stories by Saladin Ahmed and Nnedi Okorafor, who are both authors I highly recommend. The other two followed from that. “NANOS” may or may not be in the same world; I’m honestly not sure. And I’m not sure how to talk about my inspiration for it without spoiling the twist. Let’s just say that I wanted to write a certain kind of story but do it in an unrecognizable way and leave it at that. That said, the first image I got from the story was the “I have come to kill a certain man” line.

There is a strong feeling of familiarity to this world, even with something so new. Did you borrow from a lot of existing myths and legends, or did you try to really create some of your own?

Not really, or at least “not really that I can discuss without spoiling stuff.” Ratheme’s supposed to remind you of someone; I didn’t want anyone to hit the twist and not realize what was going on. Beyond that, sort of a proto-African mishmash, but I don’t remember borrowing anything specifically for this story.

So…what is Ratheme’s REAL name? Can you tell us?

Nope.

Who would play your main character in a film version of “Nanos Khund and the Traveler”? And, yes, I did shamelessly steal this question from the interview you did with me a while back. It’s a really great question.

If I were casting for a movie, I’d actually probably toss my description of Ratheme and cast Jason Momoa. Ratheme is described as pale-skinned and redheaded, but I can’t think of any giant redheads, and the character can stand to be racebent a bit. Edo would probably be an unknown. Steve Buscemi would play Nanos Khund.

…I need this movie to be made now. Who are your biggest writing influences and inspirations?

Oh, man. Other than the aforementioned Ahmed and Okorafor, who were direct influences for stories that ended up in the WUR, I’d have to add John Scalzi, H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, Tolkien. Robert Howard and Charles Saunders. Kameron Hurley. There are lots.

Tell us about the last book you read.

I’m reading two right now: BLACK WOLVES by Kate Elliott and THE DESTRUCTION OF THE EUROPEAN JEWS by Raul HIllberg. They’re, uh, being read for different reasons? DESTRUCTION is a lot less dry than I thought it would be at first, and despite being someone who already knew a fair bit about WWII and the Holocaust going in, I’m learning a lot. I’m still getting the hang of WOLVES, but I’m only about 10% of the way in. It has time to grab me yet.

What’s next for Luther M. Siler?

I’m simultaneously working on the next JOHANNES book and the next BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES collection. I’m hoping to have TALES OF THE BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES out by IndyPopCon in June; we’ll see if I hit that mark or not. Hopefully the JOHANNES CYCLE sequel will be out by the end of the year, but I’m not going to cry if it slips into 2017.

Where might we be able to find more of your work?

I blog daily at infinitefreetime.com, and I can also be found on Twitter at @nfinitefreetime. If that’s not enough, I accept friend requests at Goodreads and Facebook.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you so much for the interview! I’m participating in the A to Z Challenge this month, and my theme is the Benevolence Archives, so if you want to learn about the series without dropping the 99 cents for the first volume, head over to infinitefreetime.com and check out some of the A to Z branded posts.

***

And many thanks to Luther for sharing a bit of his time to share a bit of himself. He’s definitely an author I look up to and respect, hoping to follow in his footsteps as he branches out and explores everything this aspect of him has to offer. I think you’d do well to do the same.

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