Exclusive Interview: “Savage Crowns” Author Matt Wallace


With Savage Crowns (paperback, Kindle, audiobook), writer Matt Wallace is concluding the Savage Rebellion trilogy, which he calls “…a self-aware epic fantasy” series. In the following email interview, Wallace discusses what inspired and influenced this final chapter, as well as why, despite the humor and satire in all three books, “I wouldn’t call any of them comedies.”

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Photo Credit: Edward Earl Newton


For people who didn’t read the first two books — Savage Legion and Savage Bounty — what is the Savage Rebellion trilogy about, and what kind of world is it set in?

I always refer to it as a self-aware epic fantasy. Like, what if the folks making a society in an epic fantasy novel had read other epic fantasy novels? But I didn’t want it to be a parody, even if there are comedic and satirical elements.

Anyway, it’s about a seemingly utopian society and these three women in different parts of it who start pulling apart the dark underbelly. Because people are still people, and even if they built a better epic fantasy world, they’d still screw it up and make it terrible in the end. Ultimately, it’s all about deconstructing empire, in the style of The Wire.

And then for people who have read Savage Legion and Savage Bounty, and thus can ignore me writing SPOILER ALERT in all caps, what is Savage Crowns about, and how does it connect, narratively and chronologically, to Savage Bounty?

It’s the big series finale! Hopefully people feel that way about it, anyway. But it continues right after the cliffhanger ending in Savage Bounty, and it completes the arcs of all the major characters readers have been following and investing in for the past several years. Again, hopefully.

When in relation to writing Savage Legion and Savage Bounty did you come up with the idea for Savage Crowns, and what inspired this third book’s plot?

I had a lot of the big final beats in mind since before I started working on the first book, but a lot changed over the course of writing Savage Legion and then Savage Bounty, in terms of how this book was going to unfold. I don’t like being locked into an outline. I like to give the characters and their stories room to evolve and go in new and unexpected directions as I’m writing.

As you said, Savage Legion, Savage Bounty, and Savage Crowns are all epic fantasy stories. But are there any other genres at work in this story?

As I mentioned, there are definitely big elements of satire and comedy that run through the whole series, though I wouldn’t call any of them comedies. But there’s a lot about the epic fantasy genre, especially the stuff I grew up with, that I find ridiculous in terms of tropes and stereotypes that still proliferate today, and this series has been my opportunity to lightheartedly poke fun at some of them, and tear others to shreds.

Prior to the Savage Rebellion trilogy, you wrote a series of novellas called Sin Du Jour Affair, which also had a bit of dark humor to them. Is the humor in Savage Crowns and the other Rebellion books like the Sin Du Jour Affair novellas?

The humor is definitely different than Sin Du Jour. It’s less overt. Those books were marketed as comedies and I definitely leaned into that more as it went on. This series is more like the less zany Monty Python stuff in Life Of Brian, specifically.

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So, are there any writers, or stories, that had a big influence on Savage Crowns but not on any of your other books, and especially not Savage Legion and Savage Bounty?

I wanted Savage Crowns to feel like the final book in Fonda Lee’s Green Bone Saga, the conclusion to one of our best modern epic fantasies, even if I didn’t want to write a giant skull-crushing tome like Fonda did.

What about non-literary influences; was Savage Crowns influenced by any movies, TV shows, or games?

I watched all of the animated lore videos from the Game Of Thrones DVD extras a bunch, which cover a lot of the background stuff from the novels that didn’t fit into the show. The whole book series is basically Martin doing epic fantasy’s greatest hits, tropes-wise, the same way he cherry-picks ancient and medieval history. So, those videos are a great study of the genre, what I dig about it and also what I hate about it. I’ve mentioned this before and people get pissed off, like I’m saying Martin sucks, or that I’m better than him or something. Which I’m not, in either case.

Also, earlier I mentioned The Wire. The multi-perspective deconstructing of a system really influenced this whole series.

As we’ve been discussing, Savage Crowns is the third and final book of the Savage Rebellion trilogy. There are people, myself included, who have been eagerly waiting for Savage Crowns to come out so we can read the entire Savage Rebellion trilogy back-to-back. But do you think this is the best way to take in this story?

As long as you bought each book as it came out I don’t really care how you to choose to read them. It’s about whatever works for you and what makes the best experience, and that’s a very individual thing. though we included recaps in the beginning of each book for readers who’d had a long gap between each novel specifically because I didn’t want to exclude readers who didn’t want to binge-read them back-to-back.

Some people who write trilogies sometimes expand upon them with prequel trilogies or sequel trilogies or side stories. Are you planning to do that as well, or is this it, the story’s over?

The story is definitely over, for me anyway. If fans want to take it and run with it on their own in fan fiction form I’m cool with that. But I’ve written the story I wanted to write. And I have other things I really want to move on to after this.

Earlier I asked if Savage Crowns had been influenced by any movies, TV shows, or games. But to flip things around, do you think the Savage Rebellion trilogy could work as series of movies or a TV series or a game?

I would love to see the books adapted into a television series or a video game. With video games in particular I’ve railed on a lot about how I don’t understand why The Witcher is such a stand-alone in terms of modern game franchises adapted from books. I know it’s far from the only game ever adapted from a book, but working as a narrative designer in game dev myself it’s so far from anything resembling standard industry practice. Most studios don’t even consider it. If I had my own game studio the first thing I’d do is option a bunch of underrated genre novels out there.

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So, if someone wanted to adapt the Savage Rebellion trilogy into a TV show, who would you want them to cast as Evie, Dyeawan, and the other main characters?

Evie has always been [Thor: Love And Thunder‘s] Tessa Thompson in my head. I based her physical appearance in the novels on Tessa Thompson. I mean, she flat-out is a Valkyrie. I know she can play the warrior part as well as the softer more vulnerable parts.

Dyeawan I always pictured as Irene Ng, who played Shelby Woo on The Mystery Files Of Shelby Woo, this wonderful old Nickelodeon show from the ’90s. Of course, she’s got to be in her forties at least by now, so that wouldn’t work anymore.

And if someone wanted to adapt the Savage Rebellion trilogy into a game, what kind of game should it be and who should make it?

It could be a big open world game with RPG elements, but I also like the idea of it being more of a storytelling-driven games, like the ones Telltell made out of The Walking Dead.

And would you want to write either the TV or game versions of the Savage Rebellion trilogy? I ask because, along with all your novels and novellas, you also wrote an episode of Stranger Things and were part of the writing team for the video game Wasteland 3.

I’d absolutely like a shot at making the game. Being a narrative designer has become a big part of who I am as a writer, and video games are, I believe, one of the biggest and best storytelling canvases we have.

So, is there anything else you think someone might need to know about Savage Crowns and the rest of the Savage Rebellion trilogy?

Navah Wolfe was my original editor, and the one who bought the first book and signed me to do the rest of the series. She departed Saga Press after we finished the first book, and deserves a lot of the credit for how well I believe Savage Legion came out. Love you, Navah!

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Finally, if someone enjoys the Savage Rebellion trilogy, what fantasy novel or trilogy of someone else’s would you suggest they check out?

God, there are so many that deserve attention. Read everything Kate Elliott ever wrote and is still writing in the genre. She should be as big as George R.R. Martin, and it is an actual crime that she isn’t. Fonda Lee’s Green Bone Saga, as I mentioned. Two other current favorites are Evan Winter’s Burning Book series and C.L. Clark’s Magic Of The Lost books.


For more with Matt Wallace, check out this previous interview about his middle-grade lucharo novel Bump, and this one about his dark urban fantasy novella Gluttony Bay, the penultimate book in his Sin Du Jour Affair series.


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