Age of Rust By Conrad Bair and Thaddeus Yeiser – Silver Dagger Book Tours

Age of Rust is a tale of displaced youth, the struggle for life, and the peril of love in war-time.

Age of Rust

by Thaddeus Yeiser & Conrad Bair

Genre: Dystopian War Fiction

No records show how it happened, though everyone has their beliefs as to why the golden age of man fell seven hundred years ago. Since, humanity has managed to rebuild a modest civilization from the ruins. Now a medieval war begins to ravage the land once known as America. The lives of six young men become ensnared in the violence as they serve the Eastern army. Chief among them are Tavin, the son of a respected general and Seneca, a physician drafted away from his studies.

Loved ones left at home are threatened when Kayzitt, the zealot Western officer, leads his marauders behind enemy lines. His cruel methods devastate every community he encounters and the East seems doomed to fall under its own weight as he makes a name for himself in the legends of the militaristic West.

But the six heroes notice that something has changed inside themselves. Their minds are subtly connected in a way that cannot be explained but lends them increased prowess on the battlefield. Inevitably, their skills place them on a collision course with Kayzitt that will shape the future of the nation.

Age of Rust is a tale of displaced youth, the struggle for life, and the peril of love in war-time. It is an ode to masculine vainglory and the valor in conflict as it bridges with the feminine witness of human corruption and loss of innocence.

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A Chat With Conrad Bair

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?

–Much of my inspiration comes from the story of my grandfather. He lived a classically great American life. He survived all the communicable diseases that we take our immunity to for granted. Was drafted into the second world war, was a hero, and a surgeon afterward. During the war he was slated to be on the first wave of the mainland invasion of Japan. The army estimated an 80% death rate. He very well might have lived because of the atomic bomb forcing the Japanese surrender. This is contentious historically, but still. It always made me feel like my existence was connected to the devastation of thousands of people, and the heroism of one. On top of that, I’ve always had a fondness, like many, for the stereotypical hero’s journey. From a young age I always hoped that I might be whipped away into some fantastic adventure of unparalleled importance. Of course that usually doesn’t happen. But I think those things, among others, developed in me a fondness for inspiring stories that defy tragedy.

Tell us something really interesting that’s happened to you!

— By today’s standards it is really strange to have a “most beautiful baby award”, maybe even insulting. But nonetheless, the hospital in which I was born had such a thing. And I happened to win it when I was born. By coincidence, I was also given to the wrong parents shortly after being born and cleaned up by the nursing staff. My parents like to joke that they knew they had received the wrong baby back when they noticed it was an uglier baby. I just hope the good looks last, I certainly didn’t keep the same nose. But at least I have the correct parents… I think.

What are some of your pet peeves?

–Everything related to cars and driving. Driving itself, other drivers on the road, car issues, buying cars, selling cars, fixing cars, traffic, the sounds, the smells, the rushing, the speeding, the drunk drivers, people falling asleep and doped out on opiates. I just hate everything about driving.

Where were you born/grew up at?

— I was born and raised in Wellsboro, PA. A place still dear to my heart. It’s a small town that has been largely abandoned by industry, but luckily has a tourist draw that keeps it alive. The outdoors there are great thanks to the “Pennsylvania Grand Canyon ” properly known as the Pine Creek Gorge. The hiking and hunting keep the area alive and also make it a beautiful and peaceful place to grow up. WIth its real gas street lights lining the main street, and old-timey charm, it is a perfect Christmas town. Wellsboro is like a Norman Rockwell painting, especially when it snows. But in the summer it’s like a 1950s summer movie. It’s a special place, surrounded by the rest of reality.

Who is your hero and why?

— As I’ve hinted at, my hero has always been my grandfather, though he is gone now. He’s as close as I’ll ever get to meeting a jesus–like figure, or Abraham Lincoln. He was a war hero, a celebrated surgeon, philanthropist, a benefactor to orphans, a teacher and storyteller. But he was also incredibly humble and patient, without high needs, but with high standards, that you always felt inspired to meet. It would be hard to really define just how special he was to our whole family. But what I think anyone could understand is just that he was a great grandfather.

What are you passionate about these days?

— Antiestablishment politics, and building momentum into political movements that will hopefully undo the two party system in America and allow us to get at the subjects that really matter, which are mainly around class and economy. I would like to see the country move away from wasting time on demographic arguments to focus on why the Military Industrial Complex and Intelligence Agencies are able to embezzle trillions of dollars over my lifetime without having to answer to the American people, while our tax dollars are spent on war and our own infrastructure and human services crumble.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

— I go for long runs and lift weights. On a great day this is usually combined with some kind of podcast, either comedy, educational, or related to professional American Football. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of leaving the shower after a good workout and slipping into some pajamas for relaxation. And then just hanging out with my wife and our cats is as peaceful as it gets.

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

— Only one really. My wife and I took a road trip from Phoenix up to Utah and Nevada, and then on to Oregon and back down through the California coast. One part of that trip involved stopping over at the famous sand dunes along the Oregon Coast. I had spent much of the previous summer reading as much of Frank Herbert’s Dune series as I could get a hold of. And to this day I still think the first and fourth books are some of the best I’ve ever read, in my opinion— the best science fiction. We took some time to explore the Oregon sand dunes and try to appreciate the ecological quirks that inspired Herbert to write Dune and perhaps inspired some of his other fascinations with dry land ecology. Looking back it did add a special angle to the trip, to be able to appreciate something for oneself, but also try to see it the way someone else saw it after reading their inspirations and imaginations. And there’s no doubt that Herbert had a fine imagination and a passion for learning.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

— My co-workers have told me that my spirit animal is a Stallion. And I think that’s just great, I’ll take it.

Stuff about the Book

What inspired you to write this book?

— By this point you’ve almost certainly heard me talk about my grandfather, who on my part is a massive inspiration for my writing. He had many war stories, and was happy to talk about them, which isn’t always common for veterans. But the inspiration is deeper than that as well. As Thaddeus and I got to know each other, early in our friendship, we talked a lot about our common ancestry. We both had grandfathers in WWII, who were fine talking about their experience, were treated as heroes, and were part of the “Greatest Generation.” But we also both had maternal grandfathers that were in Vietnam and Korea. Those grandfathers were not merely so keen to talk about their experiences. They seemed scarred, and were indeed scarred. They seemed disturbed and even nervous, certainly sad. This dichotomy in our respective forebears we found fascinating, both in terms of our personal histories but also in terms of the history of the country. We talked about it enough that we eventually got to talking about a fictional story that might somehow capture some of these grand and humbling themes. After some years, “Age of Rust ” is our attempt at capturing some of these stories and feelings in a setting that is original and imaginative.

What can we expect from you in the future?

— We are looking forward to completing the whole trilogy of Age of Rust. While the progress is slow, it has been steady. After that we have several other science fiction and fantasy ideas on the table. We would love to keep writing together. As we get older, this obviously is more difficult, but we really feel like the co-writing strategy we have invented is so unique, efficient, and creative, that often just the process alone is fun enough to keep us going.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

— I really enjoyed the setting, we thought it was fairly original and allowed us to work with many different kinds of characters, themes, and battle mechanics. The present world is long gone, and it is truly an “Age of Rust”. The old world skeletons are still visible in the rotting ruins of the cities. But the old is also new again, as a medieval society has emerged, with steel once again ruling the day in terms of weaponry and power. Feudal forces struggle against the fading aspects of democracy and republic. We were able to put our characters through many different tribulations to explore family and friendships and how these relationships are affected by war. Like many books it is an “anti-war” book at its heart. But it doesn’t hold punches, it admits that war has been necessary in the development of humanity, if not at least unavoidable, and that some people cannot help but have their lives defined by it, through no choice of their own. War and struggle are forced upon many throughout human history and the march of time is marked by those battles in our collective memory. We try to explore this through the more intimate perspectives of characters that approach their situation from a multitude of different starting points in their lives, some poor laborers, others rich and pampered, some middle class, and some academic.

Who designed your book covers?

— Jenny Eikbush designed the first book’s cover and I’m pretty sure she did it all from freehand, we really love it and feel it captures the feeling in our character’s hearts.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

— If given a chance, I would probably always want to change and edit the first few chapters. The beginning is so important, and I’ll never believe that i’ve ever gotten it perfect. But I think Thaddeus would agree, eventually you have to let the ink dry and see what happens.

Anything specific you want to tell your readers?

— We really appreciate the read! We love the feedback, both praise and criticism. It’s always interesting to hear how many people hate or love the same character, or agree and disagree with the course of a character’s story. We’re glad people are interested in the story and characters, for whatever reason hooks them. Please share it with your friends and leave a review!

What is your favorite part of this book and why?

— When the characters eventually accept that there is no going back home. It really captures the sentimentality I have about my own childhood in a great small home-town. Growing up feels like a loss of that special time, and that loss is felt by many people in different ways. But there’s a point in everyone’s life, most especially in our characters, when one realizes that it’s all in the past now, and that all you can do is look ahead, and look around.

Are your characters based on real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

— Both! I’d be surprised if anyone writes characters without thinking of people from their own life, at least a little bit, even if it’s people they barely actually know. There’s just nothing quite like reality. But of course everything is embellished and expanded upon, and exaggerated.

Have you written any other books that are not published?

— Thaddeus has written some screenplays that have yet to be picked up in any way. I was lucky enough to help him with one of these. A baseball story of all things. I don’t even care for baseball, but I really like the story we made, and would love to see something become of it some day. The other screenplays are some sci-fi stuff that Thad has largely carried by himself.

What did you edit out of this book?

— A whole bunch! Probably a whole separate book’s worth of material. Looking back it’s funny. We originally started the story way earlier, in the childhood of some of our characters. That just ended up being way too much fluff and too much material in general. But I like to think it was good practice. One has to get good at editing and knowing when to cut down, afterall.

Stuff about Writing/Reading

What book do you think everyone should read?

— The Fellowship of the Ring. The first good part of the book is just so comforting and quaint. It’s like staying in a comfortable log cabin to me. People often get hung up on the grandiosity of the war aspect and battles, but there is some real treasure in Tolkien’s appreciation for the gentle side of nature, the streams, moss, and a nice fireplace.

What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?

— For this series? Mostly geography, a lot of logistics of military movement, ships and horses, and medieval armor and weapons. But definitely a good deal of geographic technicalities and making sure that the story we are telling is a feasible one.

Do you see writing as a career?

— Yes, I see my day-job as a hobby, hahaha.

Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?

— I prefer science fiction, but I tend to shy away from hard science fiction. I like a touch of esoteric science, or science that almost feels like magic, but not too much to actually be magic. I thought Dune did this perfectly. I also enjoyed The Left Hand of Darkness.

Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?

— it has to be silent, maybe only the slightest white noise, preferably something natural, like a window open to a quiet yard or garden, but I’m too distractible for much else, and people who need music or other loud sounds to work are an enigma to me.

Thaddeus Yeiser was born in Butler, Pennsylvania and later lived all over the Keystone state including Erie, York, Selinsgrove and Harrisburg. He studied broadcasting and film in college and helped run a sports radio station. He now works in Sales Management in Delaware. When he’s not writing, you can find him soaking up nature or following his favorite sports. He is a student of history and a lover of scotch.

Conrad Bair was born and raised in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania. He studied biology and philosophy in college and has worked in Healthcare ever since. Primarily he enjoys hiking around the country, but visiting family in Pennsylvania is a close second. He lives in Arizona with his long-time partner and two spoiled house cats. He loves writing, painting and music.

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