Author Interview with Robert Cano

I love talking about great fantasy novels, and I love pestering fun, witty people. Here I get to do at least one of those things.

Me: Hey Robert Cano, how do you pronounce your last name? Cause there's a really silly youtube chick out there that mispronounces it all the time I think. And you should probably correct her.

Cah-noh Think Spanish

Yeah I will totally get on that silly chick and correct her. Ahem, moving on. You've got an amazing dark fantasy novel that came out recently, The Dark Archer. So my main question is, why are you so mean to your poor characters?

My poor characters have to live their lives.  And life is messy, and ugly, and often cruel.  It takes no prisoners.  It's love doesn't come easily.  And so, as I write, my characters are living - through the good, the bad, and the ugly. So I'm not mean.  They just have to find ways to endure.  Or find their end on their own terms.

Hell, after that explanation I can't even be mad about it any more. Shit, not even that pillar part. Fine. You're off the hook for that until the next time I feel cranky, at least. Now I love Bene even more.

Same.  He's fascinating.

Does he hate the princess?

Not at all.  And in TSC, you get to see a more...interesting...interaction between them.  He wants to hate her, but he can't. That relationship will play out much more in future tales

I've read her story, your first book The Suffering, and I have got to say, I hate the princess. Which is probably why it takes someone as strong and pure as Bene to keep it together after he has been ripped apart and filled with life eating darkness and despair. Then  bashed about several times over the course of his adventures. And seen his closest friends die. But now I am wondering if Bene will win out, in the end. Will he be able to convert his princess back?

That's asking for some massive spoilers.... I will say this. Devani/Sha'yanna's story is far from over.  And Bene will find out something even darker about himself in the future.

Darker than being the "living"  personification of despair. Damn.

Devani and Bene's relationship is that of opposite sides to the same coin.... And think "darker" in terms of evil.  Every human has the capacity for the greatest good, or the greatest evil.  My stories explore all of these ideas.

Bene's nature is going to turn evil?! That is a massive spoiler. And plot twist.

I didn't say he was turning evil. Just something about himself that is darker in terms of good and evil. Iiiiiiinteresting. I already couldn't wait to read your next book now I kinda want to make you go write right now.


Sounds like a plan

But I won't. Because I also like pestering you and gaining insights into the story and characters.

LOL Fair enough

And I have rope if you get too squirrely on me.

Try taming this mind is like herding a bag of cats

Huh, good that I have experience in such things, then.

That you do!

Ok no more questions about the next book, I will ask you that not in public.

That sounds like a good idea 😛

Instead, tell us about your amazing book cover and the artist that drew it for you.

Well, my coworker's daughter goes to this awesome art school called Say Si here in San Antonio.  The program is amazing.  And through a contest, I was able to find Madelyn Holveck, who, as you can see from the cover, is an amazing artist.
She and I worked together over the course of a few months or so, and she would take the ideas I threw at her and create magic.  Ideas based on my descriptions and such.
But then she did something I didn't anticipate when creating the final cover... and that is the fact that I had mentioned to her the fact that Bene's eyes were looking at the cover is like seeing the world through his eyes.
And that, for me, was magical.

That's pretty magical. And very insightful of the artist too. The story is Bene's story and we see the world through his perception of it for the most part. Making the cover an actual representation of what he sees is pretty genius. And makes me rethink what Bene really looks like. I can't imagine that he sees himself truly, most of us don't. Our perception clouds our vision.
But that mask, the piece that covers his stitched up mouth, that's real enough. Where did that idea come from?

And that is a huge part of my story telling. It's why I wrote The Suffering the way I did. I wanted the princess's character to be unveiled at the end. Well, her character and her change.  His mask is a visual representation of the mask we all wear. But actions speak louder than words, and in that we see his true nature, which cannot be hidden by a mask.

Which leads me to ask, what is on his mask? Is it solid black or...?

It's solid black, like the rest of him now.

And his bow? What does that look like? And when he puts it "away" what happens to it?

His bow, his arrows, and all weapons he uses are created from his dark magic.  It's why he loses so much energy when he's fighting.  Even being created from the darkness, he must continually replenish that power to both function, and keep his pain at a manageable level

Well yeah, I get that. But what does it look like? Is it a part of him and thus solid black? Does a quiver appear on his back or side too? Is there a dark magic hook that he hangs his bow from? Your overthinking fans want to know!

His bow will dissipate into himself when he has ceased to use it, or replaced it with another weapon.
Yes, it is solid black, smoky looking.  He does create a quiver on his back, and the arrows can fully function as any normal arrow.  But his arrows can also be imbued with his secondary power...

Of Ka-Boom, let's say so as not to give any spoilers for those silly people that haven't read your story yet

Hey, freak accidents don't just happen in comics...

 I'm suddenly picturing Bene dropping an arrow at his feet and it going off like a nuke.


Who would you say is the main "bad guy" in TDA?

Honestly?  Bene.

*claps excitedly* I knew it!

We are always our own worst enemies...  This is a fact that I felt compelled to put into the story.
Mori is the obvious one... but his is more a tale of woe and tragedy.

So is everyone's. And such is life. I love fantasy stories that are as REAL as yours are.

In Arduil, nothing comes easy

Not when you have all those gods putting their fingers, and other bits, in everyone's pies.

But I do feel like I ended this story with hope, even amidst the darkness of despair

I thought that part was very well done. The story line was done, but that doesn't mean the whole story is done. Or that they can't take some time to relax and recoup. A bit of calm before the storm, possibly.

And the storm is coming.

And you are going to show us this storm in your next book The Shadow Cult?

You get to see the beginnings of the storm... Which says a lot, considering how much is going on.  The characters will come to a point where they won't feel like it could possibly get any worse.
But Bene saw something...and that something is very real.

So the next book isn't even the full storm?! It's just the leading edge?

Nowhere near the full storm.  That won't come until after you're introduced to Tu'ur and Neyir from the opposite continent of Tylirion... their adventures lead them to the Elders of Aariad.

And when will that book come out?

No idea.  After Bene's trilogy, perhaps?

ARGH! ok fine

That storyline is slated as a trilogy as well

Sounds like you have lots of plans! I like it.

And then there's Reyvyn's trilogy coming as well.

Any big plans for the future? You going to hit up cons or do book signings? I know you've been making the rounds online for a while now, but are you going to take it IRL?

I am definitely looking to do the IRL rounds.  I love the idea of meeting fans and discussing my books and storytelling in general

Who is your favorite dark fantasy author?

Joshua Robertson and JC Boyd.  The brothers wrote what I consider to be the best dark fantasy book I've read... possibly ever.

Oooooooh I know the one you are talking about. And yeah, it is super fine work. 

Blood and Bile, for those who want to read it.  I love me an intelligent read, and that one is at the top of the class.

It really is. And it sticks with you too. Not unlike your work, I would add.

Why thank you.  That is high praise, indeed.

It's a mighty line up you join. Robertson, Boyd, Peloquin, Feist, Salvatore, and Cano. Those are my top picks for dark epic fantasy.

I don't know if I'm that good, but I appreciate that, because those are who I'm aiming to land amongst.

With two books under your belt already, and more in the works, you're well on your way.

I would have to say, more than most of those, I focus heavily on emotions.  Which adds a different layer to the goings on of the characters and world.

Feist does as well. Also internal struggles to become better and still adhere to your own moral code despite rise in power.

Love that. The struggles of life don't vary too much.  Only our responses do.

Precisely. Speaking of struggles of life, you need to get back to writing before a certain rabid fan goes all Misery on you, so is there anything you want to add in before I wrap this up?

Not really.  I just want people to read The Dark Archer, enjoy the hell out of it, and feel free to get back to me.  I love talking about the story.  But no spoilers for The Shadow Cult!

Which you will finish and put out soon before your fans go crazy and tear you apart.

Hopefully.  If they tear me apart, I won't be able to get to Reyvyn's story.  Or Tu'ur's (which is full on epic mode)

*changes plans for the beginning of the new year* Fine, you win this round.

And I am now a winner! Where's my chicken dinner?

Bye Robert!