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Family Is More Than Just Blood

Neil O’Donnell Author Interview

The Keep in the Marsh follows a boy that lost all he knew to the plague and sets out to find adventure and makes new friends along the way. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Like the main character, Thomas, I want my parents to be remembered. He plans to devote his life to that goal as do I. Along with that, Thomas is seeking adventure in a realm akin to that of Dungeons and Dragons. The adventures in my book are meant to provide a glimpse of the life of D and D player characters between adventures. How do they pay for housing and food? How do they actually find trainers? And, most importantly, how do they find quests without the aid of a Dungeon Master?

Did you create an outline for the characters in the story before you started writing or did the character’s personalities grow organically as you were writing?

The characters grew organically for the most part during the writing, but I had some fundamental characteristics in mind when starting. I knew I wanted the characters to be out of their depths in starting their adventuring and I wanted them to be fleeing a life they didn’t want to pursue, hoping becoming an adventurer would save them. From there, I wanted the characters to see the sides of an adventurer’s life they didn’t anticipate – the grittier side of adventuring.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Family is more than just blood. We often create an immediate family through circumstances, happenstance and life-long associations. I also wanted to highlight that individuals can learn and adapt to embrace a new life when needed. Lastly… I wanted to show the importance of seeking help when needed.

What can you tell readers about the next book in the series and when will it be available?

I am hoping to have the next book out by early 2023 (Hammer of the Elements). This book was very much following the characters through their “Level 1” development. The next book is building the characters to ‘levels’ 2 and 3, so to speak, with more details of the world being revealed with the gods and their minions presenting more guidance and hurdles for the characters… along with a would-be Dungeon Master. FYI – for readers, I love parody.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Website

A village blacksmith from the middle of nowhere, Thomas seeks adventure after surviving a plague that eradicated his homeland.
Following his father’s advice and heading east, Thomas finds himself entwined in a surge of attacks by a thieves’ guild knows as Neydis. Similarly lost adventurers soon join him along the Queen’s Road, and they set their sights on breaking through the grasp of Neydis and finding “safe” adventure in dungeons without any dragons.
Thomas and his group may be reckless, but they aren’t stupid. Who would knowingly mess with a dragon? Find out in The Keep In The Marsh, the first book in Neil O’Donnell’s series of epic fantasy adventures.

The Keep in the Marsh

Thomas never imagined that, at only seventeen, he’d end up on his own and traveling an unfamiliar path. But, of course, he never imagined a plague coming and killing nearly his entire village, including his parents, either. Striking out in a different direction than the other survivors, Thomas soon comes across trouble and a group of adventurers needing guidance. But, as he and his new friends find themselves formulating a plan in the hopes of finding untold riches, they all realize that there is a lot to learn about themselves and the world.

The Keep in the Marsh: Escaping Dragons Book 1 is the first in a planned series of fantasy adventure books by Neil O’Donnell. O’Donnell’s worldbuilding is well-thought-out, with the various intricately detailed villages, an eclectic assortment of inhabitants, and a group of heroes that will instantly be familiar to anyone who has ever played a DnD campaign.

Much of the book is dedicated to the introduction and character development of its five main characters, with the occasional fight scene to help create conflict. Despite following a well-traveled road, the story stays fresh and keeps the characters interesting, doing well to avoid obvious tropes with some of them.

For the most part, the adventure faced by Thomas, Haley, Sully, Siegfried, and Jeffrey is relatively tame, falling in line with what one could expect to deal with in such a situation. By the end, however, things have escalated quickly, setting up a second book that promises to hit the ground running.

In line with the general adventuring themes, this novel explores the ideas of friendship, trust, and finding yourself. As the book goes on, each character grows up and pushes themselves beyond any previous experience, at times out of necessity. As their “leader,” Thomas seems at times much older than his years with his knowledge and ability to survive. However, he realizes that there are things even he can learn along the way. 

I enjoyed every bit of this book! The familiar narrative was comforting, and nothing about it felt repetitive or overdone. The last part of the book is exciting and will shock readers, leaving them waiting for the next installment of the series.

The Keep in the Marsh is a rousing epic fantasy that is sure to capture readers’ attention with an exciting adventure and memorable cast of characters. This thrilling novel takes readers on an epic journey into a new fantasy world where they might just end up fighting a dragon.

Pages: 147 | ASIN : B09VK75V3D

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