Cade Elegy’s mind is tearing itself apart, crowded with the phantoms of the dead, and he must carry the burdens they could not.
This bond lends him their experience and allows him to bend the laws of the physical world — a power he desperately needs if he is to discover the truth of what happened to his missing family.
The trail has gone cold, but he is given one last chance when he is recruited by a princess to solve a murder. They soon uncover proof that their war with the Wraiths, a hostile alien race dominating their planet, never really ended.
Together with the princess, an overzealous archaeologist, and an ancient computer intelligence, Cade must stop the Wraiths before they annihilate the last remaining cities of Chalice and before the phantoms he bears destroy what’s left of his mind.
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Q&A with Chad Queen
The Bearer’s Burden is the first in a series of Science Fiction Fantasy. I’ve been designing all the details of the world of several years, so there is still so much to share. I plan on writing more books in this universe, and I am already hard at work on the second book.
The story is about a man who is so focused on revenge that he compromises his own identity to achieve his ends. The world itself is rich in secrets, many of which have yet to be discovered. Only by understanding the mysteries left behind by an ancient civilization that came before them can they hope to drive out the hostile aliens who have seized control.
How did you come to write this book?
I am a videogame developer, and I have been one for many years now. But when I was first getting into the industry over twenty years ago, I developed a story for a role-playing game that I really wanted to make. I was quite naïve at the time, and I quickly discovered that I couldn’t just waltz into the industry with an idea and have it made. So, I tucked the idea away and nearly forgot about it. Some ideas just stick with you, though, and only seem to become stronger with time. Once I had the epiphany that a novel was the perfect format for the story I wanted to tell, the world of Phantom Pact began to take shape.
What books have most influenced your life?
I grew up reading many (many) fantasy and science fiction books, but the series that really inspired me to write my own book was Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series. His ability to create in-depth systems of magic set in fantastically compelling worlds was something that really resonated with me.
Tell us about your protagonist(s)? Was there a real-life inspiration behind him or her?
The inspiration for Cade Elegy came from my son, who hadn’t yet been born. I remembered sitting on my bed, thinking about how I was going to be a dad, and how deeply I loved this boy who I had not yet met.
When you love someone so much, it scares you a bit, because you realize that you’d do anything to keep them safe. The feeling I experienced at that moment was the core of what Cade would become.
A good villain is hard to write. How did you get in touch with your inner villain(s) to write this book? Was there a real-life inspiration for him/her/it?
I don’t want to give away too much, but I will say that my favorite villains are the ones that have their own causes and reasons for what they do that aren’t black and white. That’s what I wanted for antagonist in The Bearer’s Burden. Life is never as simple as we’d like it to be, and sometimes we find that the villains we fight are versions of ourselves, but in a different context.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Honestly, the hardest part was just finding the time to write it at all. Many writers like myself are not full-time writers. When you have a full-time job where you must work frequent overtime and young kids to take care of, writing time is tough to come by. I found myself scribbling notes down in-between the diaper changes and house cleaning. On the days I could write, I sometimes only managed to find time to write a single paragraph. But consistency was key – over time the book took shape and I was able to get it done.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
My favorite part is the final battle, so I can’t say much here. I really get into the combat scenes. I could write battle sequences all day. My editor had to pull me back quite a bit on that, because I had too much back-to-back action in the earlier draft of Phantom Pact. Even though the end is full of over-the-top action, I still feel there are some poignant moments that help answer some of the story’s big questions. Balancing those important moments with the intense action was a challenge, but I feel that the balance really works well for the story.
Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?
I learned how not to write a book! I started writing this book with no real experience or having done any research at all. I do not recommend this. My rationale when I started was that I was doing it for fun and it wouldn’t matter what the outcome was. Over time, however, I grew very attached to the story and I wanted to share it with the world. Of course, I had to do about two rewrites to get it into good enough shape after that point. Had I educated myself earlier, I could have saved myself a lot of time.
What inspired you to launch an alternate reality game tie-in with the book?
I have always wanted to build an alternate reality game! I love the concept of fantasy worlds overlapping with our own in unique ways. Releasing an ARG with Phantom Pact was fun because it is exciting to have a story transcend its original medium. I think it is important for us to always be thinking of ways we can bring our stories and worlds to people in ways they wouldn’t typically expect.
The ARG, The Makers of Music, will continue as the other books are written. And some of the key choices that are made by the players of the ARG will ultimately have an effect in the series itself!
What are your future project(s)?
First, I want to finish the Phantom Pact trilogy. After that, I plan to write a prequel for the world, which I have some fun ideas for that I won’t spoil just yet.
Aside from that, I have another planned science fiction fantasy series which will be geared toward a more ‘Young Adult’ audience. I have a good portion of the story arc and worldbuilding done, but I have tabled it until I finish Phantom Pact.
What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, here on Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?
I love for readers to check out my website (chadqueen.com) and join my newsletter to hear about upcoming books. Beyond that, I’m happy with interaction of all kinds from my readers, especially on Goodreads and Facebook. If there is one thing I have learned in my two decades of making games, it is that you can learn so much from the communities out there. Please reach out to me with any and all feedback!