Welcome to my stop on the TBR and Beyond Tours Book Tour for They Met in a Tavern by Elijah Menchaca. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to interview Elijah Menchaca. I also get the chance to share character art, provided by the author. Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom to see the tour schedule for other content creators and to enter the giveaway.
Elijah Menchaca was born and raised in Bakersfield, California and has been writing and telling stories since he was five. After seeing his first short stories on his grade school classroom’s bookshelf, he knew he was destined for greatness. To chase that greatness (and a girl), he attended the University of Louisville where he minored in Creative Writing, discovered a love for Dungeons and Dragons, and got engaged.
Now, based in Ohio, when he isn’t exploring the world he’s created with more stories, he’s making new memories around the virtual table with his old friends, pondering the worlds of fantasy and superheroes on his YouTube channel, and playing the role of devoted partner to a woman far too good for him.
About The Book
Title: They Met in a Tavern
Author: Elijah Menchaca
Publisher: CamCat Books
Publishing Date: August 10th, 2021
Page Length: 416
Age Range: YA
The band is getting back together—and they really wish they weren’t.
The Starbreakers were your classic teenage heroes. Using their combined powers and skills, they were the most successful group of glintchasers in Corsar. But that all changed the day the city of Relgen died. The group went their separate ways, placing the blame on each other.
Brass carried on as a solo act. Snow found work as a notorious assassin. Church became a town’s spiritual leader. Angel was the owner of a bar and inn. And after overcoming his own guilt, Phoenix started a new life as a family man.
Years after their falling out, a new threat looms when bounty hunters attack the former heroes. Phoenix tries to reunite the Starbreakers before everything they have left is taken from them. But a lot can change in seven years. And if mending old wounds was easy, they would have done it a long time ago.
I want to thank Elijah Menchaca again for taking the time to answer my questions! They were fun to come up with and detailed answers were amazing!
What inspired you to write They Met in a Tavern?
It was a confluence of few things that all came together at the right time. One of the biggest ones was just me coming up on my final years of college, and being struck by this profound sense that I’d screwed up. That I’d pursued the wrong degree, was in too deep to change things, and had just wasted so many prime years of my life. And, you know, most of my friends who I’d made in that time and loved very dearly were all getting scattered to the four winds after graduation.
So I started finding myself wishing I could go back. To before. To how things used to be. I found myself thinking, “I was in a way better place before. I had time. I wrote more. I had more friends.” And of course that Kesha and Mackelmore song “Good Old Days” starts getting radio play, and just amplifies all those feelings every time I hear it.
And then right as these feelings were coming to a head in my brain, I saw Umbrella Academy on Netflix, which was about these people who used to be superheroes when they were kids and been royally screwed up by the experience, and then I read Matt Colville’s Ratcatcher’s books, which treated adventurers retiring from adventuring like soldiers coming home from war, and those two stories mixed with my cocktail of issues and suddenly I had an idea I had to write.
And that’s how the book started. I wanted to use the Starbreakers, this retired and disbanded adventuring company, as a way to explore my thoughts and feelings on the past. What does it really mean to want to go back to the good old days? Were those days actually as good as some people remember them? Is there a better way to handle those days than just trying to get back to them? Those were the questions that drove the book, and then it was just a matter of giving the whole thing a fantasy-action coat of paint so it was actually fun to read.
Were there any interesting facts that you found while researching for this book that didn’t end up being used?
I want to say that that didn’t really happen for me. Most of my research as a writer happens like, in the middle of me writing a chapter, because I just come up on something and think, “Well hang on, how does that actually work? How drastically am I deviating from the technology curve of the real world if I include a waffle iron?” Which means if I’m researching anything, it’s usually because I need to use it right then and there.
I mean, that’s what I want to say, but thinking back to my more recent research on newer projects, I 110% have research-ADHD, where I go to look up one thing and find myself on something entirely unrelated.
Like, did you know Epsom salt, which is just magnesium sulfate, is named after an actual place called Epsom where the water was full of minerals and people would go there and drink it by the cupfuls? I don’t even remember what I was actually supposed to be researching when I learned that.
Without spoilers, what was your favorite scene to write?
Snow has a scene in the last third of the book where she’s getting grilled over something she did in the story, and it might be the part of the whole book I’m most proud of. I got to play with blending internal monologue and narration, and the physical reactions that accompany emotions, all while cutting right to the heart of who Snow is as a character and sort of showing off the limits of some of the magic in the world.
I loved writing that. I still love reading it. And then the scene right after it just twists the knife with some of my favorite tropes.
Honestly, I love that whole chapter. I was a kid in a candy store writing it. Hopefully I stayed vague enough to avoid spoilers.
You mentioned in your notes that you discovered your love of Dungeons and Dragons while at University. Were any of your characters inspired by anyone and/or their Dungeons and Dragon character?
Angel and Brass are both characters I personally really wanted to play but never got the chance to. Angel’s whole concept as a character saddled with heroic duties straight from heaven but being super not on board with that, and then Brass who’s just “Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time” by Panic! At the Disco given human form—they sat on my mental character shelf for a long time, but they never found a campaign that could give them a real home, so they ended up in this because they both really worked for what I wanted to do.
And then there’s Snow. Some version of Snow has cropped up in almost every world or story I’ve ever built, because she’s inspired by a friend of mine who has actually been in my life since before college. We go way back. Snow and Phoenix’s whole arc is very heavily inspired by that real life friendship.
But out in terms of my college D&D friends…you know what, I was about to say none of them or their characters made it in, but I just remembered one of them actually was the visual and name inspiration for one of the town guards in the book. It’s a bit part that shows up like twice in the story, I’m sure they’re very proud.
The Starbreakers decided to start a Dungeons and Dragon campaign. How would they design each of their ideal character?
My God, this is the best interview question I’ve ever gotten, and I love you for asking it.
Angel 100% makes a high INT, high WIS wizard with a bunch of utility and control spells so she can just instantly shut down as many problems as possible. Every encounter that’s supposed to be a mystery or a puzzle, she just makes a few knowledge checks or casts a spell, cracks the whole thing open, and blazes right past it. Every fight, she just completely shuts down the enemies with like, hold person and counterspells.
Absolutely no patience or desire to sit around waiting for the rest of the group to actually figure things out.
Brass would play a bard. The idea of being so charming you can just do magic would be impossibly appealing to him. He’d love that. He’d pick a weird lineage like gnome or kenku, and just whatever random spells he thought sounded cool. And he would take the Lucky feat, and no one would even be mad about it, because he’d put himself in so many stupid situations that it would basically negate any power that feat is supposed to have.
Church would be that person who just plays themselves in D&D. He’d just play a Lawful Good, high WIS Life Domain cleric. And I bet he’d find a way to get Expertise in Insight and Persuasion, because you know he’s going to want to figure out what all the NPCs are really thinking and feeling and want to talk through everybody’s problems.
And everyone would judge him for it right up until they needed healing or he talked down an enemy who would have killed them. Just like the good old days.
I think Snow would want to play some kind of a swashbuckling character. Very acrobatic, and charming, and good with a sword. Someone who could fight off a bunch of enemies and then swing away with a princess on her arm. Probably a DEX fighter/rogue multiclass, with Charisma as her second stat, because she needs that expertise to be the best at talking and stealing shit as well as being good in a fight.
…oh my God, she’d just make Brass. That’s… Brass is Snow’s idea of an “ideal” adventurer. My God. That makes way too much sense.
And honestly, if it’s just the five of them starting up this campaign, then Phoenix is DMing. He’s a giant history nerd. He’d love worldbuilding a campaign setting. But if he’s playing and they get someone else to DM?
He’d want to make that sort of classic, knight in shining armor type hero. It’s the kind of figure he idolized as a kid, but never really could be, even when he actually was adventuring himself. I think he’d jump at the chance to play that role of a classic hero type, in a game. It would be a chance to live out a fantasy he probably doesn’t see as actually being for him in his real life.
I think he’d go Fighter over Paladin. The idea of being more of a “regular” person facing extraordinary situations would really speak to him, and that’s basically the heart of the Fighter class. I think so anyway.
I don’t know if I would love or hate being their Dungeon Master. Probably hate it. I bet they would be the worst players to deal with.
Was there anything you learned after writing They Met in a Tavern that will help with your future work?
My outlining process has improved immensely. When I first really got into writing stories in middle school, I would outline the whole thing with like, one half-sentence note for each chapter. And I was a machine. I cranked out like 1500 words a day for a whole summer.
As I got older, I experimented with not outlining. Just sort of coming up with some characters and a vague idea of a conflict and then just sort of “going with the flow” and I hated it. I got stuck, I finished nothing, and it was a bad time.
For Tavern, I went back to outlining, but really refined the process. There’s phases to it, like where I just throw a bunch of notes like I would write in middle school onto sticky notes and leave that on my wall, then I start incorporating those into the kind of outlines I made for college papers, and then I start going through the whole thing with highlights and colors to make sure elements are balanced and paced how I want, and then I actually started writing the thing.
One winner will receive a finished copy of They Met in a Tavern. The giveaway starts on August 9th and ends on August 16th.a Rafflecopter giveaway https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js
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