Exclusive Interview: “Arkham Horror: Herald Of Ruin” Author Tim Pratt


Last year, when Tim Pratt released Arkham Horror: The Ravening Deep, his first novel connected to Fantasy Flight’s H.P. Lovecraft-inspired card game, Arkham Horror, he was a little cagey when talking about whether this was the first book in a series or a stand-alone. “…let’s just say we’re talking about things.

Well, it turns out that talk turned into action, and now we not only have a sequel, Arkham Horror: Herald Of Ruin (paperback, Kindle, audiobook), but, as he says in the following email interview, there’s also going to be a third novel in this cycle he’s calling The Sanford Files.

Tim Pratt Arkham Horror Herald Of Ruin The Sanford Files Arkham Horror The Ravening Deep

Arkham Horror: Herald Of Ruin is the sequel to your novel Arkham Horror: The Ravening Deep and connected to the card game Arkham Horror. What is Arkham Horror: Herald Of Ruin about, and when and where is it set in relation to both The Ravening Deep and the card game?

The Ravening Deep included, as supporting characters, Carl Sanford (head of the Order of the Silver Twilight) and Ruby Standish (charming thief); the two of them are central protagonists of Herald Of Ruin, along with a new character, who begins as Sanford’s bodyguard and driver but becomes more; there’s also an expanded role for Sarah Van Shaw, the Warden of the Lodge. The story concerns a newcomer to Arkham, “humble shopkeeper” Randall Tillinghast, who starts to bully and connive and coerce his way into Sanford’s territory and threatens to supplant Sanford as the leader of the magical community in Arkham.

Some of the characters and locales appear in the games, but the story is original.

When in relation to writing The Ravening Deep did you come up with the plot for Arkham Horror: Herald Of Ruin, and what inspired this second book?

I had a lot of fun writing Carl Sanford, and my publisher approached me about making The Ravening Deep the first installment in a loose trilogy about him, called The Sanford Files. We collaborated on coming up with storylines that would incorporate some existing and upcoming lore with my own take on the character until we were all happy (delighted, really).

In the interview we did about The Ravening Deep you said that novel was more of a supernatural adventure story than a cosmic horror one, though it did have some cosmic horror and some light body horror. Where does Arkham Horror: Herald Of Ruin fall, genre-wise?

It’s more supernatural adventure, too, but of course there’s a hint of the cosmic and some more profound horror in it as well; this book does include sojourns to realities beyond our own, so it gets a bit more cosmic than the first volume did. It’s fundamentally a story about the conflict between two powerful magi, and all the people around them who get sucked into the destructive whirlpool of their conflict.

I did a lot of really weird magic in this book, and I’m proud of that.

Tim Pratt Arkham Horror Herald Of Ruin The Sanford Files Arkham Horror The Ravening Deep

So, are there any writers, or specific stories, that had a big influence on Arkham Horror: Herald Of Ruin but not on The Ravening Deep?

Too many to count! There are so many great stories about people confronting a nemesis who serves as a dark mirror to the “hero.”

As you mentioned, Arkham Horror: Herald Of Ruin is not just the sequel to Arkham Horror: The Ravening Deep, but the second book of a loose trilogy. Do you know yet what the third book will be called, and when it will be out?

We have a tentative title, but not a definite title, and I’m not sure of the publication date yet; I’d guess late 2025 or early 2026. I shouldn’t give away too much about it at this point, but I will say it takes Sanford out of his comfort zone and into a situation where he has a lot less power and control than he’s used to.

Upon hearing that Arkham Horror: The Ravening Deep and Herald Of Ruin are the first two books in a trilogy, some people might hold off reading them until the last book comes out. But is there any reason why you think people shouldn’t wait?

Oh, I’ve published more than 30 novels and I’ve never yet written a trilogy in the sense of “one big story split into thirds.” My models for series work have always been mystery and crime writers rather than epic fantasy authors. I write series where each book is a complete, self-contained tale, just with ongoing characters. I mean, I’ll often do a little setup for the next book, and there’s character development and sometimes big background stuff developing, but every novel I write is a whole story, not a chunk of one. These books all stand alone.

Now, along with Arkham Horror: Herald Of Ruin, you also just released another novel called The Knife And The Serpent. For people who haven’t read it, or the interview we did about it, what is that novel about, and when and where does it take place?

Grad student Glenn discovers that his beloved girlfriend (and domme; they’re pretty kinky) is a sort of secret-agent-slash-super-soldier for a multidimensional organization called The Interventionists, who fight fascism across the multiverse. (Also, he discovers there’s a multiverse.) He gets drawn into one of Vivy’s conflicts, and meets Vivy’s partner, a snarky starship named the Wreck of the Edmund Pevensie; Eddie to his friends. This naturally puts everyone’s life in danger and puts a strain on their romantic relationship.

Meanwhile, bitter tech worker Tamsin finds out her reclusive inventor grandmother has been murdered, and in the course of settling her estate, Tamsin discover she’s heir to an oligarchical techno-fortune in the universe next door; her grandmother fled to our reality as a refugee with infant Tamsin after the rest of the family was murdered by rivals in their homeworld. Now Tamsin is determined to return to that other world and win back her birthright, with the help of an interdimensional murderous ratfucker duo named Bollard & Chicane.

There are surprising connections among these characters, and their goals intersect…and diverge….and conflict…and then it’s clone armies and killbots and personal growth and productive chaos. It’s multiversal space opera, two of my favorite things.

The Knife And The Serpent doesn’t sound like it has a lot in common with your Arkham Horror novels, but you have written sci-fi space opera stories before, most notably the Axiom series and the Twilight Imperium trilogy. Is Serpent similar to either of those, or both?

I wrote a space opera trilogy (Axiom) and a multiverse duology (Doors Of Sleep / Prison Of Sleep), and decided there was no reason I shouldn’t play with all the toys in my next books, so I did. There are some broad similarities: high-concept sci-fi ideas merged with believable characters and emotional power, some romance elements, and jokes. All Tim Pratt books are Tim Pratt books, ultimately.

Going back to Arkham Horror: Herald Of Ruin, I have to ask the question I always ask people when they write a novel based on a game: Do you think Herald could work as an add-on to the game?

Oh, certainly you could do a game where you had Sanford fighting against Tillinghast. It’d be pretty fun. It’s basically a sorcerer’s war, after all.

So, is there anything else you think people need to know about Arkham Horror: Herald Of Ruin?

If you like weird magic, you’ll probably like it.

Tim Pratt Arkham Horror Herald Of Ruin The Sanford Files Arkham Horror The Ravening Deep

Finally, if someone enjoys Arkham Horror: Herald Of Ruin, and they’ve already read The Ravening Deep, what Lovecraftian novel that someone else wrote — save for those by H.P. himself — would you suggest they check out while waiting for the third book to come out?

I always recommend Kij Johnson’s The Dream-Quest Of Vellitt Boe; Victor LaValle’s The Ballad Of Black Tom; Elizabeth Bear’s Shoggoths In Bloom and On Safari In R’lyeh And Carcosa With Gun And Camera; Ruthanna Emrys’ Innsmouth Legacy series; Tobias Buckell’s Shoggoths In Traffic; and Molly Tanzer’s The Thing On The Cheerleading Squad. For people who like listening, podcast The Lovecraft Investigations from BBC Radio 4 is amazing.



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