As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
On The Table Read Magazine, “the best book magazine in the UK“, author Brent J. Ludwig shares the inspiration behind his new book, Those Who Would Be King.
Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed Brent J. Ludwig about his life and career, what inspired him to write his new book, Those Who Would Be King, and his creative writing process.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
You’d think this would be an easy question to answer, but I’m really many things. I’m an entrepreneur who runs his own boutique executive search firm. I’m a reformed lawyer who tries to distance himself from the profession, but who is constantly told by my friends that I’m a lawyer at heart.
I’m a busy dad who volunteers his time coaching soccer and running a soccer club, hoping to teach kids about soccer and life. And most recently I’m an author, though those who know me have always said that I am a storyteller at heart.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
In third year of a history undergrad degree I wrote and presented a paper for a small group seminar class. The professor, whom I very much respected, said ”You can make money writing papers like this!” The idea struck me as very enticing, because I’ve always liked writing and telling stories. Maybe I could get paid to do it?
When did you take a step to start writing?
I was on vacation in Arizona, and I wasn’t sleeping well. One of my family members told me I looked like crap, and asked what was wrong. I said that I was lying awake at night writing and rewriting the opening paragraph of my novel over and over again in my mind (a paragraph of which I am still today quite proud). I was immediately relieved of childcare duties, and banged away on my laptop for a couple of hours. I managed to write 20 pages, and the first few pages blew my family and friends away.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
It took me about six months to write it, and another six months to edit it. I finished it in 2012, and proceeded confidently to send it to 11 agents whom I thought would be good fits for commercial/historical fiction. After not hearing back from any of them, I put the book away disconsolately. COVID lockdowns gave me the time to dust it off and put effort back into it, and after outreaches in late 2020 I signed a publishing deal with Greenleaf Book Group out of Austin, Texas.
How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?
Actually the second book is in progress right now. I’ve finished about 20-25% of it so far.
Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write Those Who Would Be King?
I read a book by Baroness Dambisa Moyo called Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How There is a Better Way for Africa and thought that the messaging was spot on, and wouldn’t it be cool if this could be distilled into a broadly read work of fiction that helped the western world understand Africa’s challenges better.
What were your biggest challenges with writing Those Who Would Be King?
Finding time in a busy life, and trying to educate readers on socio-economic and political issues while keeping my story fast, entertaining and engaging.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?
My protagonist is not inspired by any particular person; in fact he represents the innocence and wide-eyed wonderment of a child who grows up as a true child of his community, having been orphaned as a newborn. He has a very positive world view, and finds beauty everywhere and in everything.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?
The antagonist(s) in my story were inspired by Africa’s numerous “strong men” leaders/dictators, many of whom have been ruthless, dangerous and very self-interested rulers.
What is the inciting incident of Those Who Would Be King?
There are many sub-climaxes, but I have to say the finale is my favorite. Sorry, I cannot give it away!
What is the main conflict of Those Who Would Be King?
There are internal conflicts for some of the characters, but the main conflict surrounds the struggle for the throne of a fictional sub-Saharan country, Maleziland, that occurs after the ruling King dies unexpectedly.
Did you plot Those Who Would Be King in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?
Neither, in fact. I knew that I had to get to the real world “messaging” that I wanted to convey, and I worked backward from there to create the story to support that scenario. That took me over 200 pages of stage-setting, but it was fun writing it. As for the ending, I debated it over and over in my mind as I wrote it, but when it came time to scripting it, it just flowed and took its own form.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Those Who Would Be King need?
I had amazing editing support from Greenleaf, especially from my lead and developmental lead, Erin Brown, who truly got into the story and my perspective on it. She really understood what I was trying to do. It took far more editing than I ever imagined it would, not because I am an horrific writer or my grammar is poor; we decided to shift the perspective of the book into the eyes of three main characters. Prior to my editing process with Erin I had used the perspective of many characters, and as such there was heavy lifting to be done in much of the book. That said, I agreed wholeheartedly with her suggestion, and feel that the work I put into it was well worth the effort.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?
Remember the story is your story and that the only limit on how you shape the plot and how it evolves is your own imagination. That is the key to creating imaginative, unexpected plot twists.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
Book number 2 (of 3) in the series is called Those Who Would be King: The Return of the Queen. I guess the title alone is a hint LOL.
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
I am very proud of it. I think the book looks beautiful physically; the cover is amazing and is full of tantalizing foreshadowing as to what’s inside. The layout is classic, and people keep telling me it’s beautifully written. That said, the “effort” feels minimal when writing is both a passion and a joy.
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
We strive to keep The Table Read free for both our readers and our contributors. If you have enjoyed our work, please consider donating to help keep The Table Read going!
Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc, or its affiliates.