Saint Ignifer’s Rise
by Michael John Grist
The fate of the world is written in scars. In a bleak industrial city where marks in skin are a sentence to death, Sen is a child condemned. Cursed with mysterious scars carved by his own mother’s hand, he leads a fearful hidden life in the city’s last abbey.
Then the King’s brutal Adjunc attack, and Sen barely escapes with his life. Lost and alone in the city’s dark hinterlands, he begins an exhilarating race to find the truth behind his scars. In stinking black sewers and the lava-buried ruins of an ancient civilization, he uncovers a truth far stranger than he ever imagined, laid out by his long-dead mother: an apocalypse god is rising, and only the legendary hero Saint Ignifer can stop it.
But Saint Ignifer is dead.
Revolution rocks the city. The blood of all castes runs in the streets. With a storm of new faith raging out from the barricades, Sen must embrace the terrible fate his mother wrote in his scars- in the volcano’s caldera, at the end of the world- before the black jaws of the apocalypse descend. For the Rot is coming, and the Saint must rise.
You can buy Saint Ignifer’s Rise on
Sometime after his four hundredth posting he saw the creature clearly for the first time.
In the distance over a dawn-dappled roof-rise, it was an insect-thin figure bowed beneath a bulbous sack, tearing at a posting stuck to a foundry’s brick wall. Sen’s heart lurched with a sickening double beat, then he dropped his pack and bucket of paste, sprinted to the cornice, slid hand over hand down an anchored revelatory tube, and landed near where the creature was scrabbling.
It turned slowly, and for a moment Sen’s knees weakened as he met its Sectile eyes.
The caste was Unforgiven, excised in the city for centuries as a monster. He’d only ever heard of them in the legends of Saint Ignifer, but here it stood before him, fear blooming off it. Its shaggy black head was monstrous, too large for its shrunken body, blooming with bulbous compound eyes. Within its lipless black mouth waggled only dark stubs, where long mandibles should have protruded. It stood on two stick-thin Sectile-limbs, with two raised to the wall, while only bulges within its brown mocking coat hinted at its remaining four limbs.
Sen stared at it, and it stared at him, the moment stretching out in the pink dawn light.
“What are you?” Sen asked at last.
The sound broke the spell, and the Spider hurled its sack of papers down and took off down the nearest alleyway.
Sen sprinted after it. His feet hammered the cobblestones, his arms pumped, and the strange Spider bolted along with an awkward and rolling grace, its four limbs twisting in unnatural ways. It turned left onto a hawking street just beginning to fill with morning crowds, sped amongst them like water through a sieve, never losing pace as it darted left and right, always ahead.
It is my pleasure to feature Michael John Grist, author of Saint Ignifer’s Rise, to Room With Books. Thank you for agreeing to answer a few questions.
Please tell me about Saint Ignifer’s Rise and what inspired you to write it?
Saint Ignifer’s Rise is a fantasy novel set in a bleak city populated by bizarre castes, where a boy with the fate of the world written in his scars must raise a legendary hero to life, and prevent the rise of an apocalypse god. It’s got scorpion-shaped monsters remade from the dead, rockmen, revolution, battles in the sky, and is kind of a cross between The Neverending Story and Ender’s Game.
As for my inspiration, the first idea came from reading Richard Branson’s autobiography. In it he describes a moment when his mother abandoned him far from home when he was only six years old. She told him to find his own way back, which he did, and it helped shape him for life. I wondered what kind of impact that sort of unconventional parenting might have if taken to a crazy extreme. Sen’s mother takes it to those extremes, because she sees the end of the world is coming. She carves the path forward into her own son’s skin, then leaves him to it.
When you start writing a new novel, do you outline the story or do your characters dictate what will happen?
With Saint Ignifer’s Rise I outlined loosely. That led to an editing process that lasted for four years, with hundreds of thousands of words burned through and tossed by the wayside. Painful, but necessary to get the story to where it is today.
Now, hoping to avoid 4-year lags and all that pain, I outline. To some extent though, the pain is unavoidable. Things just don’t work sometimes, and I have to go back and laboriously figure out why. It can be frustrating, exhausting, mind-numbing, but if it gets the story where it needs to go, and me feeling I learnt something along the way, then great. And nothing compared to the difficulty of working on Deadliest Catch, hauling in rock crab amidst the waves.
Do you ever have arguments with your characters and who usually wins?
Ha, this is a really cute question. If there’s any arguments to be had with my characters, they’ll happen on the page, between themselves. Best place for it, I feel. Not one of them has ever begged for their lives, or something like that. They know who the boss is. J
What is something about you your readers would be surprised to know?
Probably that I lived in Tokyo for 11 years, and for 5 of those years, I was extremely passionate about going to abandoned ruins, especially modern ruins, and ‘exploring’ them. I used to go all the time, often alone and at night, staying over in ruined theme parks, ghost towns, overgrown military bases, things like that. I took photos, posted them to my website, and got millions of page views. It was a really fun ride, and I didn’t do it because I’m into or much believe in ghosts or the paranormal, more that I was into Indiana Jones and the idea of exploring and adventuring. Ruins were adventures I could do part-time, on weekends, in relative safety.
I’ve got a book of my ruins explorations, actually, it’s on Amazon too… J
If you could write with any other author who would it be any why?
Wow, who knows? Would I be good to co-write with? I have no idea. I suppose my all-time favorite author was David Gemmell, he really shepherded me through my teens, reading his books of heroic fantasy. I would be highly honored to co-write with him. Sadly though he died in 2006.
Other than him, perhaps China Mieville? The man has an insanely fecund imagination. I don’t think I could keep up with him, but I’m sure I’d learn a lot.
When you were little what did you dream of becoming when you grew up and why?
A writer, really. That would have been about the age of 10, when I decided to read Lord of the Rings like it was a challenge. My dad was into books, and used to always read Father Brown stories to us, encouraged us to read, and even was Dungeon Master for our dungeon-diving adventures for a while.
Before 10, probably I wanted to be a bank manager, which was what I always thought the fat controller from Thomas the Tank Engine was. I guess I wanted to be with the trains, and manage a bank.
When did you decide to write and what prompted you to start?
I’ve been writing since I was 10, my first efforts being a kind of local version of the War of the Worlds. I used the word ’emitted’ in my story, as in ‘The tripod monster emitted a beam of red light’, which my teacher was impressed by and pointed out, which made me glow with pride. I wanted more! After that I just continue, in fits and starts, taking it more seriously in the last year or so.
What music inspires your writing?
Hmm, I used to listen to a lot of post-apocalyptic rock, which is really all this haunting strings swelling up to clashing percussion blasts, which chimed with my ruins exploring and got me in a dark mood. Now though I listen to just about anything as I write. I have a mix of a hundred songs or so I put on repeat when I repeat, and it’s pop like Katy Perry singing Roar, Pitbull talking about going back in time, anything that’s fun and lively. It helps get me in a writing zone, I think.
What is your favorite breakfast? Uh, Campbells cream of mushroom soup with lots of buttered bread for dipping. OR- pancakes and bacon and strawberries and maple syrup, yum yum. Need to go jogging afterward.
What is your favorite color? Blue, easy. Black for accessories, like bag, belt, shoes, belt, blue for everything else. Not dress pants though, or blazer. Blue shirt. Blue shorts. More than you wanted to know, sorry…
What is your favorite movie? Forrest Gump! I must have seen it at least 15 times! (that is a reference to the fact that Forrest says “I must have drunk at least 15 Dr. Peppers). Love the restaurant chain Bubba Gump, so I’ve probably seen it over a hundred times.
What is your dream car? Hmm, I don’t really know cars. Maybe an RV of some kind, for taking holidays in. Or, to be macho, an old-model Jeep with the fold-down windscreen. That always looked cool to me.
How can our readers find you?
You can check out Ignifer’s Rise on Amazon.com US here- http://www.Amazon.com/Saint-Ignifers-Rise-Ignifer-Cycle-ebook/dp/B00J3IZKPU
And Amazon.uk here- http://www.Amazon.co.uk/Saint-Ignifers-Rise-Ignifer-Cycle-ebook/dp/B00J3IZKPU
Read more about the book (plus photos from my hobby of exploring ruins in Japan) on my website here- http://www.michaeljohngrist.com/2014/02/saint-ignifers-rise
And if you’re interested in my full ruins exploring story, check out my book Japan in ruins here- http://www.Amazon.com/Japan-Ruins-Adventures-Abandoned-ebook/dp/B00HIBIAS8
Connect on Facebook here- https://www.facebook.com/mjgwrites
And on Twitter here- https://twitter.com/michaelgrist
Thanks for your time, and it was a pleasure answering your questions, Patricia.
Thank you, Mr. Grist, and I appreciate you allowing Room With Books to be part of your tour!
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Michael John Grist is a 34-year old British writer and ruins photographer who lives in Tokyo, Japan. He writes dark and surreal science fiction and fantasy, inspired by authors such as David Gemmell and Orson Scott Card.
In his free time he explores and photographs abandoned places around the world, such as ruined theme parks, military bases, underground bunkers, and ghost towns. These explores have drawn millions of visitors to his website: michaeljohngrist.com, and often provide inspiration for his fiction.
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Michael will be awarding an autographed print copy of Saint Ignifer’s Rise to a randomly drawn winner.
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