Edward Cox had his first short story published in 2000 and then spent much of the next decade earning a BA 1st class with honours in creative writing, and a Master degree in the same subject. He then went on to teach creative writing at the University of Bedfordshire. Alongside David Gemmell, Edward's influences continue to range from past masters to current authors: Neil Gaiman and Gene Wolfe, George Orwell and Richard Matheson, Angela Carter, Kafka, Tad Williams, Michael Moorcock, Susanna Clarke and Chuck Palahniuk. He currently lives in Essex with his wife and daughter. The Relic Guild is his first completed novel.
Edward kindly spoke to Michelle Herbert in September 2014.
The Relic Guild has a really interesting narrative structure with two different stories happening in the past and the present. Did you always plan for this to happen?
Not initially. It sort of happened as a natural development. In the original version of the book, the history was never shown. There were a few brief flashback moments, but most of it came out in dialogue. In the end, the past became so relevant to the story that it made sense to rewrite the whole thing and crack it into two timelines.
With the two groups of characters, Clara, Van Bam and Samuel in the present, and the Relic Guild in the past, did you find it easier or harder to work out how the characters in the present may have changed from their younger selves?
Experience was a key factor in finding the difference between older and younger voices. Characters in the past could afford to be greener behind the ears than their future selves. Although, to a certain degree, I see Van Bam and Samuel, along with Hamir, as representing the stagnation of the Labyrinth. The character who has probably changed the most from her younger self is Marney, but she isn't seen much in the present timeline.
Without giving any spoilers The Relic Guild ends on a cliff-hanger in both timelines, did you always know that you would be writing a trilogy (check out @EdwardCox10 for updates) or did the story grow organically?
As soon as I made the decision to split the story into two timelines I knew that it wouldn't be finished in a single book. Not unless I wanted to hand in a 500,000 word tome. The tale of The Relic Guild was always going to be told in three books, and I'm working to the plan!
Would you ever write a prequel that would link into the creation myth of Labrys Town and the Labyrinth that surrounds it?
This is an interesting one. I do touch on the Labyrinth's creation in book two, but a whole novel linking to its creation? Well, I have an idea, but that's for way down the line. At present I'd be more interested in writing prequels set somewhere within the thousand years of history that happened before The Relic Guild.
In the Relic Guild there seems to be an analogy between Lord Spiral and his Genii and Lucifer and the Fallen Angels, was this an inspiration for your story?
Yes, absolutely. Lucifer and the Fallen Angels, the war in heaven, they were definitely models for Spiral and the Genii, and the war against the Timewatcher. But, of course, I created my own versions of them. I also used inspirations from a lot of other mythologies, though they're not as recognisable. I research these things until my imagination wants to take over, and that's when the story takes on a life of its own.
As someone who also teaches creative writing what is the most useful piece of advice that you could give to aspiring authors?
The only person who can teach you how to write is you. And the only way you'll do that is by writing. A lot. And then writing some more.
What book would you say inspired you to become a writer?
There are a lot of books I could mention here. But one that I remember grabbing me by the collar and shaking me about was Knights of Dark Renown by David Gemmell. That one really showed me what I wanted to do.
What one question would you like to answer that you are never asked?
Do I like The Relic Guild's cover art? Because when I first saw it, I was floored. It's by Christopher Gibbs, with design by Jamie Tanner. Everything about it – the fonts, the tagline, the art, the colours – I just fell in love with. And I'm not the only one. In fact, I've received so many compliments about the look of The Relic Guild, I actually started feeling guilty about taking credit for the artist's work!
Divided, hunted and short on resources, the surviving members of the Relic Guild are in real trouble. Their old enemy, the Genii, and their resurrected master have infiltrated Labrys Town and taken over the police force. So the Relic Guild must flee their home, and set off on a dangerous journey across the worlds of the Aelfir. One that will lead them to a weapon which might destroy the Genii. Or the whole universe... And forty years before all this, the war which led to the fall of the Genii continues. And what happens to the Relic Guild during that conflict will change the course of their desperate flight.
"The Cathedral of Known Things unveils itself slowly like petals opening towards the shining sun, even if the events of the book become more disturbing. With a shock ending that I wasn’t prepared for Edward Cox has written an engagingly detailed novel that I recommend to everyone who likes mystery and magic. The third part of this trilogy should be out next year and it is definitely one of the books I am looking forward to reading in 2016."
Labrys Town, home to a million humans cut off from the rest of the universe, has been invaded. Those who protected it have been deposed. The Relic Guild are scattered across the worlds of the Aelfir. Many of them are dead or dying. The Genii control everything. The war is almost over. Clara, a young woman barely able to control her werewolf side, has seen her friends and mentors killed in front of her. She is the last hope for Labrys Town. But someone else is watching...
Magic caused the war. Magic is forbidden. Magic will save us. It was said the Labyrinth had once been the great meeting place, a sprawling city at the heart of an endless maze where a million humans hosted the Houses of the Aelfir. The Aelfir who had brought trade and riches, and a future full of promise. But when the Thaumaturgists, overlords of human and Aelfir alike, went to war, everything was ruined and the Labyrinth became an abandoned forbidden zone, where humans were trapped behind boundary walls 100 feet high. Now the Aelfir are a distant memory and the Thaumaturgists have faded into myth. Young Clara struggles to survive in a dangerous and dysfunctional city, where eyes are keen, nights are long, and the use of magic is punishable by death. She hides in the shadows, fearful that someone will discover she is touched by magic. She knows her days are numbered. But when a strange man named Fabian Moor returns to the Labyrinth, Clara learns that magic serves a higher purpose and that some myths are much more deadly in the flesh. The only people Clara can trust are the Relic Guild, a secret band of magickers sworn to protect the Labyrinth. But the Relic Guild are now too few. To truly defeat their old nemesis Moor, mightier help will be required. To save the Labyrinth - and the lives of one million humans - Clara and the Relic Guild must find a way to contact the worlds beyond their walls.
"When I first started reading The Relic Guild, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I soon found myself engaged in the richness of Labrys Town and its varied residents. The story structure itself was split between many different perspectives and two different timelines, but this never felt confusing. Instead it was this structure that drew me in, wondering what had happened in the past that would lead to the events in the present." Michelle Herbert
In the heart of the Great Forest, nothing is as it should be. Sir Vladisal and her Knights of Boska are lost and far from home. The son of their Duchess has been kidnapped, spirited away to a nameless place within these dark and endless woodlands. Vladisal is his only hope, but an evil has come to the Great Forest, an evil that is corrupting the trees with demons born from ancient magic.
If Vladisal is to save her Duchess’ son, if he and the women of Boska are to live through the horrors of the Great Forest, then she must place her trust in Abildan the assassin. But Abildan hails from an age-old enemy, and she once served the very evil they all must fight to survive.
"An absorbing, eldritch adventure."