Episode 162: The Art of Writing (and Ending) a Series — with Sebastien de Castell

by Gabriela Pereira
published in Podcast

Hey there word nerds!

Today I am delighted to have Sebastien de Castell on the show!

Sebastien is the author of the four part Greatcoats series which includes Traitor’s Blade, Knight’s Shadow, Saint’s Blood, and most recently Tyrant’s Throne.

Before coming to writing Sebastien bounced around from careers as diverse as archaeologist and fight choreographer, and with the Greatcoats series completed can now add author of swashbuckling saga to his list.

Listen in as we discuss how to craft a series from beginning to end and how to use dramatic tension between characters to build a more entertaining world.

In this episode Sebastien and I discuss how to:

  • Tap into your writing flow and find the method that works for you.
  • Write a true “swashbuckling” story.
  • Build a world that feels real and forms organically on the page.
  • Craft a series by building on what’s happened in previous books through dramatic tension between characters.
  • Create plot twists that work, and how to know when they’re not working.

Plus, Sebastien’s #1 tip for writers.

About Sebastien de Castell

Sebastien de Castell had just finished a degree in Archaeology when he started work on his first dig. Four hours later he realized how much he hated archaeology and left to pursue a very focused career as a musician, ombudsman, interaction designer, fight choreographer, teacher, project manager, actor, and product strategist. He lives in Vancouver, Canada, with his wife.

The fourth installment of Sebastien’s Greatcoats series, Tyrant’s Throne, is now available. To connect with Sebastien check out his website at www.decastell.com


The final installment in the Greatcoats series is an adventure-packed exploration of the question: Would you – could you? – uphold the law at the cost of those you love?

After years of struggle and sacrifice, Falcio val Mond, First Cantor of the Greatcoats, is on the brink of fulfilling his dead king’s dream: Aline, the king’s daughter, is about to take the throne and restore the rule of law once and for all.

But for the Greatcoats, nothing is ever that simple. In the neighboring country of Avares, an enigmatic new warlord is uniting the barbarian armies that have long plagued Tristia’s borders –and even worse, he is rumored to have a new ally: Trin, who’s twice tried to kill Aline to claim the throne of Tristia for herself. With the armies of Avares at her back, led by a bloodthirsty warrior, she’ll be unstoppable.

Falcio, Kest and Brasti race north to stop her, but in those cold and treacherous climes they discover something altogether different, and far more dangerous: a new player is planning to take the throne of Tristia, and with a sense of dread the three friends realize that the Greatcoats, for all their skill, may not be able to stop him.

As the nobles of Tristia and even the Greatcoats themselves fight over who should rule, the Warlord of Avares threatens to invade. With so many powerful contenders vying for power, it will fall to Falcio to render the one verdict he cannot bring himself to utter, much less enforce. Should he help crown the young woman he vowed to put on the throne, or uphold the laws he swore to serve?

Previous Books in the Greatcoats Series

In his debut novel, Traitor’s Blade (Book 1), Sebastien de Castell created a fantastic swashbuckling adventure reminiscent of Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers with a touch of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. Stirred to write a novel about fallen heroes in a world where concepts such as justice and honour have become corrupted, de Castell created the character of Falcio val Mond, First Cantor of the Greatcoats.

Falcio had it all: serving as a beacon of justice for the people, two best friends and brothers in arms, fantastic skill with a sword, and a King set on righting the wrong in the world—until it all came crashing down one day.

After the King’s untimely demise, Tristia is on the verge of collapse as each Ducal house vies for supremacy.  As chaos descends upon the land, Falcio and the rest of the King’s magistrates, also known as the Greatcoats, are forced to disband and are labeled traitors by the Dukes.

All Falcio has left are his two best friends, Brasti and Kest, the ridicule of the people he once protected, and a mysterious mission left by his beloved King. With his mission as his only solace, Falcio is willing to do anything to see it through—even if it means reuniting the Greatcoats and taking the Dukes head-on.

First Cantor of the Greatcoats and our hero Falcio val Mond returns in Knight’s Shadow (Book 2), a dark and thrilling tale of heroism and betrayal in a country crushed by its rulers’ corruption. A few days after the horrifying murder of a duke and his family, Falcio begins a deadly pursuit to capture the killer. But Falcio soon discovers his own life is in mortal danger from poison—a final act of revenge by one of his fiercest enemies. As chaos and civil war begin to overtake the country, Falcio has precious little time left to stop those determined to destroy his homeland.

In Book 3 of the series, Saint’s Blood, Falcio, Kest, and Brasti must find out how to kill a Saint,  because someone has figured out a way to do it and they’ve started with a friend.

The Dukes were already looking for ways out of their agreement to put Aline on the throne, but with the Saints turning up dead, rumours are spreading that the Gods themselves oppose her ascension. Now churches are looking to protect themselves by bringing back the military orders of religious soldiers, assassins, and (especially) Inquisitors – a move that could turn the country into a theocracy. The only way Falcio can put a stop to it is by finding the murderer. He has only one clue: a terrifying iron mask which makes the Saints vulnerable by driving them mad. But even if he can find the killer, he’ll still have to face him in battle.

And that may be a duel that no swordsman, no matter how skilled, can hope to win.


If you decide to check out Tyrant’s Throne or the other books in the Greatcoats series — Traitor’s Blade, Knight’s Shadow, and Saint’s Blood — we hope you’ll do so via these affiliate links, where if you choose to purchase DIY MFA makes a small commission at no cost to you. As always, thank you for supporting DIY MFA!

Link to Episode 162

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