Today I had a chance to sit down and talk to Debbie Viguié and James R. Tuck about their writing and more specifically their latest work, ‘Mark of the Black Arrow’ which is the first novel in their “Robin Hood: Demon’s Bane” series . Viguié has quite a few novels under her belt though I best know her from her wonderful work on co-authoring the ‘Wicked’ series with Nancy Holder which I am a huge fan of. Tuck also has quite the body of work behind him though tends to be associated with his Deacon Chalk series though Lovecraft fans may be familiar with his novella ‘That Way Lies Madness’.
Science Fiction (SF): First off if you could tell us what to expect from ‘Mark of the Black Arrow’
Debbie Viguié (DV): Expect Robin Hood but much darker and more frightening than you’ve likely seen it before. There’s a lot of dark magic happening in the book. That said, there’s a lot of humor and fun as well. We get to really dig into the minds of the characters to find out what makes them tick. It’s an exciting, explosive read that I’m sure will leave people breathless.
James R. Tuck (JT): It really is the darkest turn of the Robin Hood tale I’ve seen, and we are just getting started! The things in book 2 and 3 are really going to drive this story into a dark place. That being said, it’s not all bleakness and grimdark. We have some wonderful heroes who fight the evil in the land and strive for the light.
SF: What inspired you to choose Robin Hood as the central figure that you would be writing about?
DV: James and I had decided to write a story together and we were kicking around a bunch of ideas and realized that we were both fans of Robin Hood. I’d been wanting to do a Robin Hood story for years but the timing had never been right. Suddenly everything just fell perfectly into place and I couldn’t be happier with how it’s turned out.
JT: Robin Hood is so iconic and legendary and yet so shrouded in mystery that there is a LOT of room to come into it and make it our own without ever doing disservice to what makes this ancient legend resonate even today.
SF: With a rich mythology behind him did you try to stick to the original source material to base your character off when making him your own?
DV: We wanted the characters to feel familiar to our readers so we did our best to ground them in the stories that people know and love. Then once we had the basic frameworks in place we went deeper, adding more layers, more subtleties and complexities to each of the characters. The goal is that readers will feel like they’re finally really getting to know on a deep, personal level people that have been around for their entire lives.
JT: And there are so many characters to explore! If you like a large cast of characters then this is the book for you! And with so many people in the story that we see from their viewpoint we get to look at the events and how they affect people on so many levels. We have all the classics: Robin, Marian, Will Scarlet, Prince John, Friar Tuck, and the Sheriff Of Nottingham; but we also brought in new characters like Cardinal Francis, Chastity, and Glynna Longstride. Oh, my the things we do with Glynna are completely awesome. I love that character.
SF: While never an overly magic filled fantasy piece, Robin Hood was during a time period which fiction loves to add sorcery. Do you feel that further inclusion of it will give us an even darker Nottinghamshire as the series progresses?
DV: Absolutely! One of the things that James points out that I think works so well is that we do have pure, evil twisted characters and demonic activity in the book but that people themselves can be far more monstrous than the actual monsters. As the series progresses things will, of course get darker, because it’s always darkest before the dawn.
JT: This is by far the darkest Robin Hood story. The bad guys are so dark and so complex that it really drives the story, forcing our heroes into hard decisions and sitations you have never seen them face in any other version of this story.
SF: How was the experience of co-authoring ‘Mark of the Black Arrow’? What will you take to heart when working on future installments of ‘Robin Hood: Demon’s Bane’?
DV: It was fantastic and it went so beautifully! James and I compliment each other very well as far as our styles and what we like to tackle as far as the nuts and bolts of the writing process. The things I hate doing he loves doing and vice versa. We learned very quickly how to play to each other’s strengths as well.
JT: It helps to work with a consummate professional like Debbie. She really delivered some great things in this book. And we had our editor, Steve Saffel, to keep us focused.
SF: Do you currently have any plans for other titles to work on together down the line?
DV: We’ve been kicking around a couple of rather fantastic ideas, but we aren’t quite ready to share what they are yet.
SF: Which actor who has already played Robin Hood would be the best fit to portray your version on the big screen? Who would you imagine actually taking up the bow and arrow if you had a choice of any actor?
DV: Honestly of the ones who have already played Robin Hood I would choose Kevin Costner because you feel that the weight of the world is on his shoulders which is not something he asked for. Our Robin has always been very solitary and the idea of having to lead others is one that is very uncomfortable for him. If I had the choice of any actor to play our Robin I’d love to see Tom Mison (Ichabod on Sleepy Hollow) play the part.
JT: Robin is tough for me but I tell you I’d pick Matt Smith to play Will Scarlet in a heartbeat. He has the capriciousness as an actor to play the flirty, rapscallion side of Will but also the gravitas to really delve into the well of caring and concern that Will carries inside him.
SF: Without spoiling the first novel, what can we expect from its sequel?
DV: More action. More danger. More romance. It’s the middle book in a trilogy which means it will go darker and the stakes will be raised considerably.
JT: Death. Someone will likely not make it to book three. It is a dangerous world we have made for Robin and the others. No one is safe. Not even Robin himself. There will be loss and heartache before the dawn.
SF: What are each of you working on outside of the follow up?
DV: I’m working on a new thriller with Nancy Holder that should be very exciting. I’m also busy with my continuing Psalm 23 Mysteries series.
JT: I have a new Lovecraftian horror series that masquerades as an urban fantasy coming in April under a psedonym, so I am working up book 2 of that as well as a new science fiction trilogy about an organ smuggler in a city-state floating in space. And I plan to carry on my Deacon Chalk series in 2016.
SF: Finally do you have anything that you’d like to share with our readers?
DV: Robin Hood has been a passion of mine since I was a little girl. It’s my fondest hope that readers will feel that passion in the pages and get drawn into the story and be able to experience it in a new and exciting way.
JT: Be good to each other. You only have this day, make it one where you live to your fullest potential.