This interview with Alex Davis was originally featured on the Gemmell Awards website. To view the full Award shortlists, click here.

Today we catch up with Luke Scull, author of the Morningstar-nominated THE GRIM COMPANY.

Alex: Tell us a little about your Morningstar-nominated title, THE GRIM COMPANY.

Luke: THE GRIM COMPANY is an epic fantasy about a group of anti-heroes set in a world of long-dead gods, rampaging demons, and immortal tyrants. It's violent and edgy, sometimes humorous and almost always completely awesome if you're into that kind of thing. If not, well, there's no helping some folk…

Alex: THE GRIM COMPANY is a book that captures a much darker mood for fantasy, something we are seeing more within the genre. Where do you think this grittier style has emerged from?

Luke: I'm not sure you can pin it on any one thing. Rather, it's more a confluence of factors. Both TV and film have moved in a decidedly darker direction in the last 10-15 years. Martin is certainly the king of the "grimdark" movement as it pertains to fantasy – though I suspect he might be reluctant to wear that particular crown. In essence, I think consumers demand more honesty from their entertainment. That's what "grittiness" should be about, really: embracing the darker truths of the human condition as well as (not at the expense of) the heroic.

Alex: The Morningstar shortlist includes many titles from independent publishers, yours included. What made you go with Head of Zeus for THE GRIM COMPANY?

Luke: From the moment they first read the manuscript, Head of Zeus were extremely enthusiastic about working with me on the series. Their combination of passion and ambition, as well as the incredible track record of chairman Anthony Cheetham in successfully establishing fantasy authors (including David Gemmell) and imprints, made up my mind. I can't say I have any regrets.

Alex: How are things shaping up with the second book in the trilogy at the moment?

Luke: I finished the first draft of the second book, SWORD OF THE NORTH, last month after a period of my life which was professionally fantastic but personally rather trying. I'm currently revising the text and adding around 20,000 extra words in line with my editors' suggestions. I reluctantly cut a significant amount from the book to make my latest deadline – but we all concluded that the ending absolutely has be restored to its original glory, and that's fine with me! I think the release date is penciled in for March 2015.

Alex: You also work as a video game designer - do you find this is something that has helped your writing along?

Luke: I could not have written a publishable novel without the video game writing experience I'd picked up beforehand. It taught me how to plot and world-build and write convincing characters and dialogue. I was fortunate enough to be able to transition from one medium to another at my first attempt – but I'm also conscious of the fact I can still improve my craft in a few key areas.

The Legend and Morningstar Awards are announced at London's Magic Circle in June 2014. To find out more about Luke Scull, visit his website