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Monthly Archives: December 2011

Fantasy Author Nyki Blatchley – The Traveller

I get very attached to people.  Although I love introducing new characters, both as protagonists and as support, there are certain stalwarts I come back to time and again.  Especially the Traveller.

I’ve known the Traveller since I was at school, when I wrote a poem about a man doomed to eternal wandering.  He originally had a name, but I very soon decided that was just the local word for “traveller”, which gradually came to be his actual name, sometimes translated when he stayed in one place long enough for the origin of what he was called to be forgotten.

Originally, he was a minor character in my (still unfinished) trilogy The Winter Legend.  His role has considerably increased over the years, but he’s still a supporting character.  From the 90s, though, I started writing short stories about incidents in his backstory – or sometimes his future story.

One of the things that has changed over the years was the whole “doomed to eternal wandering” concept.  Maybe it’s the privilege of a teenager to present a romantic image of immortality’s curse, but the older I’ve got, the harder it’s been to see the downside.  Thousands of years of life and the freedom to wander all over the world – yes, I’d take a curse like that.

So now the Traveller is a restless explorer, born with an insatiable curiosity about the world and the lifespan to indulge it, together with a moral imperative that drags him, sometimes willingly, sometimes reluctantly, into helping the oppressed.  He sails on an enchanted ship, Searcher, that he can crew purely with his will.  Rather like I’d love to be, if I were less lazy.

Three characters, I think, have influenced the Traveller most, sometimes consciously, sometimes less so.  One clear parallel is Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner.  Like the Mariner, the Traveller is an immortal who sails on a magical ship; he’s atoning, to some extent, for something in his past; he has “strange powers of speech”.  And his personal emblem is an albatross in flight.

On the other hand, in some ways he’s the complete opposite.  He’s in control of his ship, rather than being a helpless passenger; the trauma he’s suffered wasn’t of his own making; and, instead of enduring a curse that forces him to wander, the Traveller loves his life.

Another strong influence was a largely forgotten S&S series from 70s by Karl Edward Wagner, featuring a character called Kane.  Supposedly the Biblical Cain wandering through the prediluvian world, Kane is sometimes the hero of his stories and sometimes the villain, but what attracted me most was the way that each story is set in different lands and a different era, although we sometimes get echoes of kingdoms seen in another story.  Kane, though, is very much a morally ambiguous anti-hero, and what I wanted to do was created a similar series with a hero – human and flawed, but an idealist.

(Incidentally, if anyone’s looking for a great S&S series, I can thoroughly recommend Kane, if you can get hold of the books.)

The third influence shouldn’t have been a surprise, but it didn’t occur to me till someone else pointed it out.  I’ve been a huge fan of Doctor Who ever since I watched the first episode as a young child, the day after Kennedy was shot, and the Traveller bears more than a passing resemblance to the Doctor.  Both are inveterate wanderers and incorrigible meddlers, travelling in miraculous craft, sometimes alone and sometimes with companions.

I’m quite happy about the similarities, but some are strangely coincidental.  Two major parallels – the gift for understanding and speaking any language, and the terrible war that haunts the hero – didn’t appear in Doctor Who until I’d already written about their equivalents for the Traveller.  I certainly wasn’t influenced by Doctor Who in those respects, and I’m assuming Russell T. Davies hadn’t read any Traveller stories.

Not counting stories where he appears as a supporting character, the Traveller features so far in sixteen short stories and a novel, At An Uncertain Hour.  So far, the novel and six of the stories have been published, though I have a collection of the Traveller’s stories contracted.

He’s also spawned two spin-off series, as well as many individual tales set in the same world.  One features Eltava, a companion and lover from early in the Traveller’s life.  She was intended simply as a cameo in the novel, but she wouldn’t lie down afterwards.  I’ve now written seven stories about her, six of which have been published and one recently accepted by Aoife’s Kiss.  Eltava is, perhaps, more of an action hero than the Traveller, who prefers to out-think his enemies if he can.

The other series is about two teenage sorcerers and troublemakers called Karaghr and Failiu, whose saga begins with an encounter with the Traveller.  These are somewhat lighter in tone, though with dark undercurrents, and so far all three have been published – most recently, The Temple of Taak-Resh was published as an ebook by Darwin’s Evolutions.

The Traveller’s world – it has no name, though I sometimes jokingly refer to it as the Travellerverse – is extensive, both geographically and historically.  So far, I’ve written stories that go back to their neolithic era, and stories from their computer age (in one case, both of those in the same story).  The City of Ferrid, a story of a Victorian-style era of steam-trains and factories, was published as a chap-book by Crystal Codices, but is sadly now out of print.

I said earlier that the Traveller lives the kind of life I somewhat envy, so is he “really” me?  No, I don’t think so.  I never deliberately base characters specifically on any real person, least of all myself – I both write and read to explore the other-than-me, not to psychoanalyse myself.  Of course, all characters are, to some extent, built out of the people I’ve known, but not in a straightforward way.  All my experience, direct and indirect, together with things I’ve read and thought, goes into a vast melting-pot, and what comes out when I write, though made of that experience, bears little resemblance to the raw materials,

No, the Traveller is, I’d say, more like a friend – someone I have plenty in common with, but who can show me things I’d never find in myself.  Still, we do have plenty of similarities, especially in outlook.  While the Traveller acknowledges many regrets in his long, strange life, he insists that “a life without regrets is a life not lived.”  Rather than dwelling on the past, on what he’s lost, his eyes are on the next opportunity, the next friend or lover, the land that might lie just over the horizon.  He keeps going forward, never losing his curiosity and his joy in life.  Though I can’t live forever, I hope I always have the will to do the same.

Links to Nyki Blatchley:

http://www.nykiblatchley.co.uk/

http://nyki-blatchley.blogspot.com/

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My Proofs came as early Christmas

The first proofs of my book. I’ll be drinking tonight and all weekend. Dancing too!

 

 

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Fantasy Author Interview: M. Edward McNally

Yes, yes, today I have the pleasure of interviewing a guy who always manages to make me laugh in the facebook groups we are in. Not only that but he’s an author of epic fantasy, M. Edward McNally. As a double treat, I also got to interview his character Matilda Lanai from his Musket & Magic Fantasy, the Norothian Cycle. (The Sable City, Death of a Kingdom, The Wind from Miilark)

Terry Simpson: What is your book about?

M. Edward McNally: Muskets, Magic, and Matilda Lanai. 😉

Terry Simpson: How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

M. Edward McNally: Hard to say.  For about a ten year period I had stopped writing fiction, but during that time I had a “world-building” hobby.  Just on a lark, I sort of designed a primitive world where magic functioned as much as technology, and made my way through several centuries of cultural, political, and economic evolution.  It was kind of like a game of “Civilization” I played in my head.

While my intention was not to write a series of Musket & Magic Fantasy books, or even one book set in my world, a few years ago some of the people “living” there started talking to me. I didn’t have a choice after that, as Tilda Lanai is kind of pushy. 😉

Terry Simpson: What inspired you to write this particular story?

M. Edward McNally: This story specifically started to roil because of two different images I got in my head.  The first was of a lone young woman on a grassy steppe, under a gray sky.  She was walking slowly toward a wounded warhorse, holding out a bright red apple in one hand.  That turned out to be Tilda.

The other image was of a samurai and a Roman Legionnaire fighting shoulder-to-shoulder to hold a foot bridge against an army.  Not geographically or temporally possible in the real world, of course, but an image that stuck with me, and inspired two supporting characters.

Terry Simpson: Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

M. Edward McNally: My favorite is Tilda Lanai, as she would not let me say anything else.  The story, and series, are complex, with several diverging plotlines moving in time with the main one, but Tilda is the central figure around which the others depend.  It really is her story, I’m just writing it down.

Terry Simpson: Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?

M. Edward McNally: Not sure how “likability” factors in, but for me the most unusual is a sorceress named Nesha-tari, who is half-Lamia.  On her mother’s side.  You know: Attract men, then eat them to live.  She is also however half-human, so her efforts to live with herself while doing what she must to stay alive were interesting for me to try and handle as a writer, and hopefully will be the same for readers.

Terry Simpson: How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?

M. Edward McNally: I’m a “pantser” as a writer and a believer in character first.  Once I know (or think I know) who the players are, and what they want, I basically start writing just to find out for myself how they get to where they are going.  Of course that means the re-writing/editing stage is critical for me, to make sure there is a story being told.

Terry Simpson: How has your background influenced your writing?

M. Edward McNally: Though I am writing in the Fantasy genre, the motifs are probably less “Medieval European” than is typical.  There are as many Polynesian, Central American, and Asian influences to the cultures involved.  This may be the result of being a “mutt” myself: A half-Irish/half-Mexican from the US “South.”

Terry Simpson: Have you ever had difficulty “killing off” a character in your story because she or he was so intriguing and full of possibility for you, his or her creator?

M. Edward McNally: Totally.  I wrote one of these series books completely convinced a particular character was going to die at the end.  They wouldn’t go down.  Bent the plot significantly in a direction I did not think it was going to go, but actually when things like that happen they are some of my greatest joys as a writer.

Terry Simpson: Have you written any other books

M. Edward McNally: In addition to the fantasy series, I have a number of short story collections (mostly of the “contemporary” genre) available for free from most retailers (though a couple are still 99 cents on Amazon.  They are all titled “Eddie’s Shorts – Volume #.”

Terry Simpson: Where can people learn more about your books?

M. Edward McNally: Easiest place is on my blog at. http://sablecity.wordpress.com/

That is both the homepage for the series, where additional background materials (maps, glossary, histories) can be seen, as well as the place where I mumble about writing, interview fellow authors (every Tag Line Tuesday) and the like.

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Without further ado, meet Tilda Lanai

Terry Simpson: Who are you?

Tilda Lanai: Who am I?  You asked me here, right?  Sorry.  I’m Matilda Lanai, but my friends call me Tilda.  Actually, everybody calls me Tilda.

Terry Simpson: Where do you live?

Tilda Lanai: The port of Souterm, in the Empire of the Code, at the moment.  Though that’s mainly because I can’t go home to the Islands right away until some issues with my Trade House…or former Trade House, anyway…get worked out.  Also, I’m sort of moving around a bit here in town as there is this detective of the City Watch who thinks I murdered a gem merchant. Which I did not do.  I *did* try to sell him a necklace with a Devil’s Curse on it, but…it’s kind of a long story, actually.

Terry Simpson: Are you the hero of your own story?

Tilda Lanai: Everybody is the hero of their own story. (wink)

Terry Simpson: What is your problem in the story?

Tilda Lanai: Oh, to have just one!  That would be wonderful!  But really, since I arrived on the mainland about a year ago, I’ve had any number of problems.  Or at least, I’ve made friends with people who have problems, which for me is the same thing.  If you are my friend and you have a problem, it is my problem, too.

Terry Simpson: Do you embrace conflict? / Do you run from conflict?

Tilda Lanai: Neither.  I find it easier to sneak up behind conflict and whack it in the head with a club.

Terry Simpson: How do your friends see you?

Tilda Lanai: I hope they know that I mean it when I say they are my friend.  Where I am from, the Miilark Islands, we don’t give friendship away that easily.  It means something to us when we do, and it’s for life.

Terry Simpson: How do your enemies see you?

Tilda Lanai: Again, I’d prefer they didn’t see me coming.

Terry Simpson: Do you have a hero?

Tilda Lanai: I did, he…um…he didn’t make it.  It’s kind of hard to talk about, wasn’t that long ago.  Sorry.

Terry Simpson: What is your favorite item of clothing? Why?

My Guild Cloak.  I trained as a Guilder in the service of House Deskata for three years, and the cloak is sort of the sign of that, for an Islander.  It’s black, which is handy at night, and the inner lining of emerald green represents my House…or what was my House, rather.  Nice triangular cut, too, so I can get my hands inside in case I need…anything that it otherwise conceals.

Also, as I technically left the Islands a month before completing Guild training, this wasn’t a graduation gift.  I had to buy it myself, and I am *not* taking that as a loss, even when it gets…um…soiled.

Terry Simpson: Do you keep your promises?

Tilda Lanai: Always.

 

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Dannye Williamsen – Author and Great Supporter of Indie Authors

Dannye Williamsen

This morning I was talking with a woman, Terry, who expressed that familiar adage that everyone has a book in them. It made me wonder what that really means. Some writers, I think, are driven because they have a mythical tale to unfold while others have an account from their lives to share. Still others are driven more by the message conveyed within their story. So I asked myself: what kind of book did I have in me?

The answer was that I am not driven by the creation of imaginary worlds or sharing my life experiences in fiction or nonfiction formats. I am driven by two things: 1) creating a story that allows me to share a message that is important to me; and 2) being able to step into the magical world of putting words together in just the right way to create a desired effect.

Using words to accomplish a goal has always been a part of my life, whether verbally as a manager, a technical analyst, or a coach or in written form as a nonfiction and fiction writer or as an editor. Dealing with facts and helping people increase their knowledge base has always been rewarding. I do have to admit, however, that the more sober venues do not compare to the wild abandon that you can experience when letting your imagination loose when you write fiction!

Writing my novels was akin to a mystical experience for me. I became so enveloped by each character’s life that I cried, laughed, and suffered along with them to the point that I often had to walk away from the writing for short periods because my emotional state felt under siege by what was happening to my character!

Second Chances is my debut novel, and it is followed by the sequel The Threads That Bind. Because of my strong belief in our potential as humans to reach a level of expression that goes way beyond the physical, it was not surprising to me that my novels would delve into the metaphysical to weave a story of suspense. Nor was it a surprise that my protagonist in Second Chances would reach deep within herself to find a solution that was responsive to the circumstances and not arising out of fear or conditioning. It was gratifying to read Sylvia Massara’s remark in her review of Second Chances:  “—in the end I came away feeling inspired and opening my heart to the fact that love truly does conquer all.”

My nonfiction works are about the process each of us has to experience as we seek to reach that potential I mentioned. Internal change leads to external change. In one of my books, I say this: “Your life is always under construction. It is your job to learn how to untangle the threads and weave a tapestry that matches your desires.” Learning to do this is what all my nonfiction writing is about, whether it focuses on one’s business or personal life.

As I became involved with the self-publishing industry through Facebook, I saw a need to have a place where readers could look at only self-published works, and so I established an online bookstore early in 2011: http://www.BreakthroughBookstore.com. The bookstore is not a statement about traditionally-published books. It is simply meant to provide a venue where the works of self-published authors can be more easily located by readers who are hungry to discover new writers. I provide reviews at my discretion and feature books that are brought to my attention in the marketplace. I also choose an Editor’s Choice book, which represents the best of the best that I have read among self-published books.

My novels, and most of my nonfiction works are available on Breakthrough Bookstore, of course  J, but they can also be found on Amazon.com. In addition, you can go to http://www.WilliamsenPublications.com to view and purchase all my books.

 

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Print Cover for Etchings of Power

As the title says, here’s the cover for the print version of the book.

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2011 in Announcements, Artwork, Writing

 

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Terry Persun – A few Ideas about why I write

Today, we the book has been turned over to the hands of Terry Persun. Author of several novels and winner of the Star of Washington Award and a ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year finalist.

I carry several ideas for novels around in my head, with half a dozen voices or more clamoring for my attention. This goes on year after year, and has been happening to me for as long as I can remember. Often, an idea will be rattling around up there for more than a year before I actually sit down and begin writing. Sometimes it’ll take three or four years for everything in my head to work itself out. For me, the character has to come through with a name and a back story already in place. At that time, I will know the beginning of the novel, a few important events, and the end of the novel. That’s when I begin to write.

As for research, I find that I’ve been reading certain types of material, or have an interest in delving into subjects, that eventually lead to a portion of a novel or short story. I live my life and follow my interests at the time, but will use everything I find. If specific information needs to be looked up, I do that while working on the novel. I also tear sheet articles, and print pieces from the Internet, if they feel as though they are attached to one of the ideas running loose in my head.

Writing starts when I wake up one morning, usually early, like 4:00 or so, and my main character’s voice will be in my head. That when I start. Once I get under way, the first draft of the novel comes fairly quickly. I write a minimum of 1000 words per day, so in 90 or so days, I can easily have a 90,000 to 125,000 word first draft. But first drafts need work, so I let the book sit for a month or more. During this time, I’ll either start another novel, or I’ll write short stories or poems. I can keep several items going at any one time, so that has never been a problem for me. The book itself has such a strong and powerful feel that I can’t ruin it once it’s written. Typically, though, I only do two or three rewrites, and some of those may be nothing more than touching up a scene or two.

A lot of my books have to do with personal freedom. It doesn’t matter what others want, or what they think, I want readers to make their own decisions, and know that it’s okay to do that. We live at a time where our natural instincts and reactions have been so toned down that we’re afraid to make changes in our lives “just because we want to.” It seems to me that many people need reasons to make a change, even if the reason has to be fabricated. I’m all for taking responsibility for my actions without having to explain them to the satisfaction of others. I’d like to see more people live that way.

Since my first book got published in the 90s, I’ve noticed how much more committed to the act I am. I also continue to read books about writing, and try out new techniques. The great thing about writing for a living is that you are always learning something new, whether it’s information that’s useful for the book itself, or techniques to try during the writing. I love the process, from concept to rewrite to final touch-up, so it’s always fun and interesting to me. My life is happier while I’m working on a project. Yet, the most surprising thing about being a writer is how little control you have over what the reader takes away. I’ve thought a book was about one thing, then realized that the readers found something else within the pages. It’s great to know that this sort of thing happens. It raises the writing to an art form, where interpretation belongs to the reader, not to me, the author.

As for promotion, I believe that exposing the work to as many potential readers is important, but that once that’s done there really isn’t a lot more an author can do. I mean we can, and often do, talk incessantly about our books, but the number one marketing tool in the U.S. is word of mouth. If a few people read my novel and recommend it to more people, and they recommend it, etc., etc. then the book will sell well. You just have to do your best work, have it professionally edited (which is what publishing houses do best), and get it out there.

You can get my latest novel, “Cathedral of Dreams” from Amazon or on Barnes and Noble.

You can also visit my site www.TerryPersun.com

 

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