VIDEO: In conversation with Ryan Van Loan, author of The Sin in the Steel

We can’t wait for The Justice in Revenge by Ryan Van Loan to hit shelves on 7/13, so we’re doing a throwback to pre-COVID times when Ryan visited the Tor Books office and answered alllllll our burning questions about The Sin in the Steel. Check it out here!


Transcript of Video:

In conversation with Ryan Van Loan, author of The Sin in the Steel

What is your favorite location in the book?

RVL: You know, I think my favorite location is the port, it’s this pirate’s shanty town and in the book they talk about the fact that it’s named because of the glint of gold in the sun. But at the same time, one of the other characters brings up the fact that blood glints the same way, and I think that’s a pretty good representation of it. It’s a place where there’s always a good time lurking around every corner, but some of those good times might involve a blade or two so you really have got to keep your eyes sharp.

Who would you rather have your back in a fight, Buc or Eld?

RVL: I love Buc, but she has a really strong sense of self-preservation, and she’s pretty small, so I think I’m going to go with Eld. He’s not going to run away, and he’s a pretty beefy dude, bigger than me, so he’s going to be a good bullet catcher for me, I think.

If The Sin in the Steel was a game, what type of game would it be?

RVL: You know, I love those sprawling single RPG player games, like Skyrim or The Witcher 3 or the Assassin’s Creed ones, they even have a pirates one in there that’s a lot of fun to play, so I think The Sin in the Steel would definite be some sprawling, single player RPG where the real hook is what’s over the next horizon, and sometimes what’s over the next horizon might be a pirate ship, or a hoard of undead, or 30-50 feral hogs, you never know.

Where do you draw inspiration from in the world you created here?

RVL: Yeah, that’s a good question. You know, I started with a character and so I knew that I wanted to tell a story about a young woman who was breaking chains in her world, but I didn’t know what those chains were right away. And then I realized that I really wanted to play with the concept of empire and trading companies and capitalism, and so then I started thinking about different settings and age of sale, and mercantilism really came into play. So then I started thinking about where are these melting pots of culture, because I always think that’s really interesting, different cultures meeting together. So I think Venice and the Mediterranean, the Umayyad Empire in Córdoba, Spain back in the day, the South China Sea, the Caribbean, all these different places. I’ve been fortunate to visit a few of them, and so that really gave me this idea of this island empire and this Mediterranean, quasi-Caribbean feel that I don’t think I’ve seen a lot of in fantasy lately, and that’s what got me really excited and where I drew my inspiration from.

What is your favorite city that you’ve visited?

RVL: I think my favorite city is Paris; I love Paris. The first time I went, I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did, and then I just fell in love with France, so I’ve become a bit of a Francophile. But I think the most beautiful place I’ve been is Thailand. We got to spend time with this elephant rescue park. It was me, my wife, and the guide and just these two elephants in the middle of the jungle, it was magical and the people were so nice. Thailand, France, Mexico is another one, Puerto Rico, those are some of my favorite places for sure.

Did you always know you wanted to write a pirate story?

RVL: So I always loved pirates, as a little kid I would make my mom draw on me with magic marker, skulls and crossbones and anchors, and wear bandanas and climb trees, yell ‘ahoy.’ I think I read Treasure Island at an impressionable age, so that’s where that bit came from, and maybe I regret that a little bit. I know my mom regrets drawing on me now, because then I went and got a bunch of tattoos. But I don’t know if I set out to write a pirate story, I set out to write a story that had ships in it and sailing and canons and swords, so that kind of brought pirates into it.

What is the strangest thing you had to research for The Sin in the Steel?

RVL: So I got to do some cool things, there are some gear-powered ships in the world that go faster than what wind and sail allow, and so I had to figure out the physics of that and the engineering. There’s magic involved so you can kind of ‘wink wink’ a little bit. But I think strange wise, figuring out if a slingshot is powerful enough to sever a brainstem is one, and then probably the effects of urine on hemp rope, that’s probably the strangest.


Order The Sin in the Steel here!

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Order The Justice in Revenge here!

amazon bn booksamillion indiebound