Category Archives: The Fey Man

A copy of The Fey Man with a list of alternate titles

Why I Didn’t Change the Title of The Fey Man

Book titles are important. They serve as an introduction, a signpost to the reader and, hopefully, an enticement to open the book and read the first page (or turn it over and read the synopsis). I didn’t appreciate this until I discovered that US publisher Del Rey had changed the title of Michael A Stackpole’s fourth X-Wing novel, before publication, from Rogues Unbound to The Bacta War. One sounded like a bodice-ripping romance novel. One sounded like a sci-fi adventure novel. Realising that was the first time I began to appreciate that book titles are an important marketing tool.

Fast forward to 2014 and I’m publishing my first novel. I agonised over the title. To say I came up with hundreds of possibilities would be hyperbolic, but not by much. But when I landed on The Fey Man, it felt right. It felt like a good fit for the book, a signpost of what to expect, and it sounded good. I felt confident in my new book title.

Of course, good old self-doubt can kill any good feeling, and I began to wonder if I’d picked the right title within days of publication (this wasn’t helped by one reader who told me I’d misspelt the title; they thought I’d meant to call it ‘The Fay Man’). I knew I liked The Fey Man from a creative perspective. But was it the best title from a marketing perspective?

I began to wonder if ‘The Fey Man’ was more ‘Alice’ than ‘Wonderland’.

A book title isn’t just a string of cool words. It’s a name. And, like a name, you build expectations on it. Imagine I tell you I have a friend who calls himself ‘Scott Danger’. You’ve immediately formulated an opinion about him, haven’t you? Now what if I mention a friend called ‘Keith Brown’. You’ve got an opinion about him too, right?

It’s no different with books. A book called Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland evokes a different reaction to a book called simply Alice (which was Lewis’ original title). The first title has signposts that alerts the reader as to what to expect from the book, encouraging the right readers and discouraging those who are less likely to enjoy it. And I began to wonder if ‘The Fey Man’ was more ‘Alice’ than ‘Wonderland’.

So I began to brainstorm alternatives. Titles with ‘Faerie’ in it, maybe ‘quest’ or ‘war’, perhaps ‘dragon’ (perhaps excessive, given there was already a dragon on the cover)? In the end, I decided that ‘quest’ was a good one to include as well as ‘Faerie’, as both gave readers a good indication as to what the novel was about. Thus my alternative title was The Quest for Faerie. Now it was time to put to the test. My weapon of choice? A Twitter poll.

Spoiler alert: the alternative title won.

So, if the alternative title won, why didn’t I change the title of my first novel?

Well, there’s a lot of work involved. I would need to commission an alteration to the cover, rework the interior files to match, upload new files, publish a new paperback, unpublish the old one, then ask Amazon to link the new paperback to the ebook, then separately ask Amazon to push the updated ebook to everyone who already held a copy. I’d also need to change any references on my website, and forward the inevitable broken links, and so on, and so forth. And call me lazy if you will (“Hi, Lazy-if-you-will”), but I try to avoid unnecessary work where I can.

Taking huge, irrecoverable action based on a slim majority just seems like madness.

Changing the title of a book that’s already been published also carries the potential for confusion. Existing readers who see me talking about ‘The Quest for Faerie’ might think I have a new book out. None of my previous social media posts about The Fey Man would make sense anymore. Paperback owners would be stuck with the old title, ebook owners would have to decide which title they prefer. Although I can unpublish the old paperback, the Amazon listing doesn’t disappear, leaving two book listings with the same cover but different titles. So, no matter how hard I worked at clarifying things, there’d always be a risk of confusing a reader. And confused readers are not happy readers.

Of course, I knew all this going in. But I was prepared to undertake it all in the face of a clear and resounding call for a new title. But there wasn’t one. Frankly, the numbers just aren’t that impressive. And taking huge, irrecoverable action based on a slim majority just seems like madness. Numbers like that speak more to indecision than anything else.

That left the decision up to me. And I decided to go full Disney, believe in myself, and stick with The Fey Man. That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with ‘The Quest for Faerie’. But it’s a title very much created as a marketing tool. Whereas The Fey Man, for me at least, feels a little more creative, a little more mysterious, and feels more in keeping with the series as a whole.

Perhaps I made a mistake. But that’s one of the great things about this journey: any mistakes fall on my shoulders (as well as, fingers crossed, any victories). Of course, I’ll always listen when readers tell me that they want something. But, this time, they left me to call the shots. And I let my creative side take the reins.

Cover of The Fey Man by James T KellyIs ‘The Fey Man’ a good title for my first novel? Pick up a copy and find out for yourself!

★★★★★ – “A must read for fans of epic fantasy”

The Fey Man is available now from Amazon, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords

Captain Scarlet is the reason some readers don't like Thomas Rymour of the Fair Folk series.

Why Don’t Readers Like Thomas Rymour?

Some people don’t like Thomas Rymour, the protagonist of the Fair Folk series.

“He’s an utter selfish jerk”

“Thomas Rymour is an asshole.”

“a weak and selfish man” [Spoiler alerts for this particular review!]

Yeah, some people really don’t like Thomas Rymour. And it’s all Captain Scarlet’s fault.

For those of you who don’t know, Captain Scarlet was a British TV series created by Gerry Anderson (of Thunderbirds fame). I won’t go into the details, but the title character was immortal. Each week, Captain Scarlet would find himself in peril, and I was bored because, each week, he would die, only to come back to life moments later.

There was no dramatic tension. No sense of potential failure. Scarlet was always going to win, because he couldn’t lose.

The same principle applies to a person’s character. If someone is presented with a difficult choice, and we know they’ll unfailingly do the right thing, it’s boring. They can’t lose, because they always win.

But people aren’t like that. We try to do what we think is right, but sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we’re selfish, or cowardly, or cruel. And sometimes we rationalise our behaviour, sometimes we despise it, sometimes it drives us to do better next time. But there’s always the risk we’ll fail the test again. That, presented with the choice, we’ll choose cruelty over kindness, fear over bravery, or selfishness over selflessness.

That’s why Thomas Rymour isn’t perfect. He tries to do the right thing. But he’s also weak and selfish and, yes, an asshole. When he’s presented with a difficult choice, you won’t always know what he’ll do next. Will he serve his own ends? Or will he rise above his selfish desires and act like a hero? Because, without those questions, his character would be as boring as waiting for Captain Scarlet to snuff it once again.

So if you’re looking for a hero who is stalwart and true, who sees the world in black and white and is unerringly selfless, Tom isn’t going to be your favourite. But if you like a guy who makes a mess of things and isn’t always right, you might like Thomas Rymour. I do.

Cover of The Fey Man by James T KellyFind out if you’d like Thomas Rymour by picking up your copy of The Fey Man today!

★★★★★ – “A must read for fans of epic fantasy”

The Fey Man is available now from Amazon, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords

The fay can be tiny shining sprites or enormous, lumbering woodkin.

What makes The Fey Man a Faerie Tale?

So I’ve written a blog post about why The Fey Man is full of elfs and not elves (TL;DR the word ‘elf’ came first and it feels right). But a discerning reader on Twitter made an excellent point: in the very same post, I called the Fair Folk series a ‘Faerie tale’. Why didn’t I call it a fairy tale?

There are two possible explanations. The first is that there are no fairies in the Fair Folk series. They’re called ‘fay’ instead, and that’s because the word ‘fairy’ actually comes from the Latin word ‘fae’, the singular of ‘fata’ which means ‘the Fates’.

(This, by the way, is pretty well known to fantasy writers, so you’ll often see fairies called ‘fae’. However the spelling ‘fay’ comes from Middle English, and was also used as a word for ‘faith’, which I felt was rather fitting for the Fair Folk series.)

Faerie, on the other hand, is the land of the fay. Usually an otherworldly realm, it’s the place where the fay live. Much like England is the place where the English live, the words are similar, but not the same.

So why did I call The Fey Man, and the Fair Folk series as a whole, a Faerie tale? Well, I wanted to evoke fairy tales, largely because some of the inhabitants or stories themselves can be found in the series. It’s also a hint as to the focus of the series; there’s a lot going on in Tir, but some of it is more important than the rest.

And, last but not least, I thought it was cool. And one of the best things about being a writer is being able to write things I think are cool. Like conversations with dragons, a person with visions of the future, and forests haunted by tree spirits.

Cover of The Fey Man by James T KellyIf you like the sound of an epic Faerie fantasy novel, pick up your copy of The Fey Man today!

★★★★★ – “A must read for fans of epic fantasy”

The Fey Man is available now from Amazon, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords

Paperback copies of The Fey Man and The Unquiet Sword

The Unquiet Sword Giveaway

There’s still three weeks until The Unquiet Sword goes on sale, but for one lucky person, the wait is over. Createspace sent me two copies of the advance proof, you see, and I can’t send one back or sell it as I needed to make some changes to the manuscript. So what should I do with it? Give it away, of course!

Bear in mind that this is an advance reader copy, or ARC. That means there are spelling mistakes (quite a few, to my embarrassment), and some of the text will be slightly different to the official published version. But if you want to be the first to find out what happens to Tom and the rest, here’s your chance!

And on top of an advance copy of The Unquiet Sword, the winner will also receive a paperback copy of The Fey Man. So you’ve got everything you need to start reading the Fair Folk series, or you can pass the first book to a friend if you’ve already got a copy!

This giveaway runs until 11:59 Monday 19th September GMT, and it’s open to anyone and everyone. If you’ve got any questions, leave a comment or send me a tweet!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The false city of Tir from The Fey Man

Realms of Tir: Cairnacei

Carnacei is something of a joke, for it is not a city of Tir, but just a field of poppies. The story goes that Sir Cei, having killed King Amyr, lost his life here and his blood soaked the flowers, turning them red.

The story of Sir Cei differs depending on where the tale is told. On the basics, though, all storytellers can agree. Feeling the long shadow of his father, Amyr had it in mind to marry the daughter of a powerful Westerner, to cement his relationship with the richest realm of Tir. But Amyr was vain and selfish. When he was presented with portraits of the possible candidates, he chose, not the best match, but the most beautiful. He would have Kyru, daughter of one of the smallest lords in the West, or he would have no-one.

Kyru came to Cairnauran with only three attendants; her father could afford no more. She found courtly life lonely, and was not particularly enamoured of her new husband. But there was one Western knight left alive after the battle of Camlann: Sir Tengidar. Tengidar was scarred from the battle but still handsome, and the two grew close. Too close.

One night, they fled together. Amyr was furious, and Sir Cei was amongst those chosen to hunt down the wayward lovers. They hunted high and low, traversing lands even Sir Beduir had not yet seen. But, when they finally found Kyru and Tengidar, Kyru made Cei swear to protect Tengidar’s life. And Cei swore an oath that he would let no harm come to his brother-in-arms.

When they returned to Cairnauran, Cei told King Amyr of the oath he had sworn. Furious that Cei had sworn such an oath, Amyr gave him a simple order: execute Tengidar, or be labelled a traitor.

What happens next varies wildly depending on the teller. None know for certain what became of Kyru, of Tengidar, even of Cei. But King Amyr’s fate is well-known; he was beheaded by Sir Cei, and thus did Emyr’s unified Tir become fractured and broken.

Outcast Journeys is a box set of nine SF&F ebooks featuring The Fey Man

Outcast Journeys fantasy ebook box set

Everyone loves a deal. And an ebook box set is a great deal for everyone. The authors get more exposure, the readers get a bundle of ebooks for a bargain price. So it’s great to be able to tell you about Outcast Journeys, a box set of nine SF&F ebooks for 0.99 which features The Fey Man!

From dragons to space ships, experience the trials and battles of memorable characters as they navigate magical worlds.

The box set offers nine ebooks for just 0.99. That’s a pretty good deal! Get Outcast Journeys today.

Amazon UK | Amazon US | Apple iBookstore | Kobo | Smashwords | Nook

The books of Outcast Journeys

Leros of the Underworld: The Tournament by Nathan Anton

Introducing Leros and his sinister alter ego, Demiro. His adventures in Earth Alpha pit him against a tyrannical queen.

Forgotten Relics by Tiffany Cherney

Leader of a crew of thieves on the starship Kathya, Rei’s attempt to strike back against her foes could change her life forever.

The Unfinished Song: Book 1 Initiate by Tara Maya

In a world of pixies, roving cannibals, and hexers, exiled warrior Kavio searches for a new life, while Dindi faces an initiation that no one in her clan has ever survived.

Sky Stone by Scarlett Van Dijk

When a magical journey transfers Skyla to a magical medieval land at war, she steps into a destiny made for her by the gods.

Rys Rising by Tracy Falbe

The magical tabre created the rys, but then reviled them as unworthy failures. The fallout will drag two human civilizations into a war that tests the faith of all involved.

The Amber Isle by Ashley Capes

A rogue named Never is on a quest to learn his true name and lift a curse on his blood.

A Forest of Eyes by Ashley Capes (Special bonus sequel to the Amber Isle)

Poisoned and furious, Never must add a desperate quest for a cure to his existing search for truth.

Roc Isle: The Descent by Alex James

Lord Azure of the Azure-Cloud Clan struggles to raise an army against those who assassinated his parents.

The Fey Man by James T Kelly

Thomas Rymour, a prophet who cannot lie, joins the battle to free the dragons, but can he ignore the lure of Faerie?

Nine SF&F ebooks for just 0.99. Get Outcast Journeys today.

Amazon UK | Amazon US | Apple iBookstore | Kobo | Smashwords | Nook

Title card for Let's Build The Fey Man YouTube series

How #feymanlego Became a Thing

“How hard can it be?” I can’t seem to stop asking this question. It leaves me tackling projects I’m not entirely equipped or prepared to handle, but honestly? I kind of enjoy it. So when I started getting back into Lego, I started to wonder what a Fey Man Lego set would look like. And then I thought I could record myself building it and sharing it online. And before I knew it, I had a webcam and a pile of Lego and no idea what I was doing.

Of course I wasn’t exactly blazing a trail. Customised Lego is not something new, ranging from “kit-bashing” (putting different pieces together to create something new) through altering or painting existing pieces to sculpting entire new pieces (and even selling them). So the first step was research. I read blogs, watched videos, and slowly built a picture of what I could and could not achieve by myself.

I thought the webcam would be difficult to find, but the first one I found happened to be the one recommended by nearly everyone. I also happened to find it when it was on sale! The Logitech C920 is small and puts out a good picture. I recorded a few test videos with it, customising a minifigure using paints. The videos looked okay, but the minifigure didn’t and the sound wasn’t right. I dug out an old USB headset and abandoned the paints.

I found a website called which sold individual Lego minifigure components and accessories. They’ve got a huge catalogue to trawl through, and it took a few weeks to identify which pieces would work for the set. The Lego website also offers a Pick a Brick service which meant I could order specific bricks without breaking the bank.

Soon enough it was time to record the first official Let’s Build The Fey Man video. I have to admit, I was surprisingly nervous! This video would be visible for the entire world to see. What if I looked like an amateur, or a fool, or I wasn’t entertaining or interesting enough? I restarted two dozen times, even wiped a video and started all over again. But in the end I had a video. And I put it online.

Thankfully the feedback has been positive so far. I’m still finding my way a little and my audience isn’t big, but they seem to enjoy the videos and, best of all, they offer feedback, ideas and suggestions. That’s what matters to me. As long as they enjoy the journey, it doesn’t matter how many of them there are. We’ll build this set together, and hopefully it will look great at the end of it all.

Want to take a look at the results? Check out Let’s Build The Fey Man.

The Legend of Prince Valiant logo

Prince Valiant Title Sequence: Unlikely Inspirations

Arthurian myths play a big role in The Fey Man. You might think I read and researched a lot of those myths. Perhaps you have a romantic image of me in a montage of reading books, cross-referencing articles, leafing furiously through pages before finally falling asleep on a pile of books, glasses askew. Perhaps you don’t. But whilst I was inspired by the myths, I also took inspiration from another source: the title sequence for The Legend of Prince Valiant.

Time for a confession: I was never a fan of Prince Valiant. I watched it, because I’d watch any old rubbish as a kid. But if there was something else on, I’d watch that. The Legend of Prince Valiant was too slow, too mundane for the tastes of a boy who thought Teenage Mutant Turtles were the best thing since sliced pizza. But the title sequence always stuck with me. I suspect it was the power ballad.

It was definitely the power ballad.

It might sound daft, but I’m fairly certain this sixty second video has influenced my entire thinking of the Arthurian myth. It’s full of sun symbology, brave knights galloping, and everyone is standing about proudly and bearing arms to the sounds of 80s enthusiasm. It speaks of a golden age of chivalry and, well, valiance. And then, towards the end, there’s an old man slumped in a throne. Completely at odds to everything else. Even old Merlin is doing the whole standing proudly thing. But Arthur seems fed up with it all. Or defeated. Surrounded by all this hope and purpose and yet unable to feel it.

And doesn’t that exactly sum up the myth of Arthur? His rule is meant to be a golden age. But, like all halcyon days, it’s too good to be true. It falters and fails. So instead the myth casts another ray of hope, that Arthur will return one day and bring about a true golden age. Yet it’s a vain hope. Those days will never come again. Even if Arthur did come back, how could he bring that time with him? The past has passed and doesn’t return. That old man slumped in his throne is aware of the lie of his legend.

Okay, perhaps I’m reading way to much into a cartoon title sequence. But if you’ve read any of the Fair Folk series, you’ll know that these thoughts have played a huge part in the character of Emyr. Emyr feels the weight of expectation, the knowledge that his kingdom failed, and a feeling of responsibility that he could have avoided its fall. This is the motivation behind everything he does. Because, if you think you’ve failed an entire kingdom, would you think yourself capable of saving it in its darkest hour?

I won’t say more; I don’t want to spoil my own story! But it’s safe to say that, if I hadn’t seen that man slumped in his throne when watching Prince Valiant, I might never have conceived the character of Emyr, who has a big part to play in the Fair Folk series.

Cover of The Fey Man by James T KellyWant to see what role Emyr has to play in the Fair Folk series? Pick up your copy of the first installment, The Fey Man, today!

★★★★★ – “A must read for fans of epic fantasy”

The Fey Man is available now from Amazon, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords

Brian Sibley, who also adapted The Once and Future King for radio

Of Brian Sibley and Quotes

I used to think that I was a lucky person. In fact sometimes it felt like I lived on luck, that there was a steady trickle of it that would never drown me but might one day decide to leave me high and dry. But I’ve changed my mind over the past few years, in large part to that quote from Peter Dinklage.

“I feel really lucky…although I hate that word — ‘lucky.’ It cheapens a lot of hard work. Living in Brooklyn in an apartment without any heat and paying for dinner at the bodega with dimes — I don’t think I felt myself lucky back then. Doing plays for 50 bucks and trying to be true to myself as an artist and turning down commercials where they wanted a leprechaun. Saying I was lucky negates the hard work I put in and spits on that guy who’s freezing his ass off back in Brooklyn. So I won’t say I’m lucky. I’m fortunate enough to find or attract very talented people. For some reason I found them, and they found me. – Peter Dinklage interviewed in The New York Times

I’m not sure what reason helped me find Brian Sibley (or indeed, he find me), but I appreciate how very, very fortunate I am that he provided a quote for the cover of The Fey Man.

Brian Sibley is like an onion. Or an ogre. Or a parfait. It’s all layers. At first I thought him a Tolkien authority. Amongst other things, he adapted The Lord of the Rings for BBC radio back on 1981, and wrote all the Making Of books for Peter Jackson’s films. Then I learnt he’d also written books about A.A. Milne. And C.S. Lewis. Walt Disney. Harry Potter. Rev. W. Audrey. To top it off, I recently discovered he wrote a very funny piece of comedy about The Twelve Days of Christmas.

The Fey Man found its way into Brian’s hands via my dad; both my dad and Brian are members of the Magic Circle and Brian was too kind not to say no when my dad thrust a copy into his hands. (Perhaps this proves again it’s not what you know but who you know.) Brian’s written about some great authors and great works, and now he had my little novel in his hands (and a copy with the old maps too). I must admit I was a little nervous. And then I received this in the post.

The card that Brian Sibley sent meNot only had he read The Fey Man, but he sent me a card to tell me he liked it. That card immediately went up on the mantlepiece and it’s never coming down! I wrote back to thank him, and a brief correspondence led to him offering a quote. And a quote isn’t a small thing. Publishers seek every quote they can get as a form of social proof, as a way of saying “look, this famous person liked this book so you will too”. To offer one to an unknown author is a leg-up, an endorsement, and a rare gift. It was an act of unestimable kindness.

So to say I feel fortunate is an understatement. And perhaps you can appreciate why I want to say I’m lucky,even if Peter Dinklage might tell me off.

Find out more about Brian Sibley at his website, his website, or you can check out his Amazon page to see how prolific he really is!

Howard Coates created stunning maps for The Fey Man

Artist Howard Coates on The Fey Man Maps

I recently unveiled the gorgeous new maps for The Fey Man, drawn by artist Howard Coates. Here a few words from the man himself about the process of creating those maps.

I grew up loving fantasy worlds such as Discworld and The Lord of the Rings. Whilst reading I would often pore over the maps they had created, firmly believing that having a decent overworld to refer to enriched the text no end. In more recent times I have been taken by the fantasy worlds in video games such as Skyrim and Dragon Age, where the interactive maps are as much functional as they are visually arresting. I drew upon these varied past experiences as guidance and sometimes confirmation of the success of my ideas.

Howard and I both wanted to take all the best aspects of the maps we loved to create something special for The Fey Man. Howard stayed faithful to my original maps but the care he took over every detail was incredible.

The process was an iterative one, with lots of feedback from James along the way. I was very committed to getting all the details right, even down to the shapes of rocks and types of trees. Whenever I work with a fellow creative I want to make them feel as involved as possible as it is their creation after all!

The technical aspects of the job were fairly basic, I wanted it to have a homemade look so relied on Photoshop only for compiling and tweaking the sketches. Every line was hand rendered and I feel that captures the charm of the world somewhat. I reflected upon aspects of the story; Katharine has maps that are very precious to her and I wanted to make these feel like they might be the sort of maps she would want to possess. I also tried to place a few story elements within the landscape; I hope the inclusions will be spotted and appreciated by people who have read the book. My mantra was ‘the more you look, the more you see’!

This was my favourite thing about these maps. I created the world, and yet I can spend ages poring over Howard’s work and picking out details I hadn’t seen before. In fact at times I had to nix a detail or two for fear of spoilers! But there are still plenty of surprises to be found in there.

You can reach Howard on Twitter at @HowardDoesArt.

Cover of The Fey Man by James T KellyAnd if you want to read the novel set within these maps, pick up your copy of The Fey Man today!

★★★★★ – “A must read for fans of epic fantasy”

The Fey Man is available now from Amazon, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords