August 8, 2012 in Dag

Week 7 of The Next Big Thing

First of all, a big thanks to Coral Russell for inviting me to participate by tagging me.
So here are my answers to the questions:

What is the working title of your book?

My working title is Beyond the Flame. Or perhaps it is Through the Flame. I really haven’t decided for sure yet.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

It actually comes from a couple of different places. Partly it’s a response to another book I read. A pretty well known and reputable one (actually part of a series). But I didn’t like it at all. I didn’t like the message in the story and I didn’t like the way it was written. So I decided I had to write something in response – I’m not going to tell you what that book is.

Also, I wanted to have a bit of a play within the fantasy genre. My previous book, Magnus Opum, played with some of the conventions. This is an attempt to play further with the conventions. I recall years ago, somebody talking about how within the fantasy genre, the actual staples of the worlds portrayed, high mountains, deep dark forests, etc had got a bit cliched. I wanted to create a world with a difference, with landscapes like nothing ever seen before. Don’t know if I’ve been successful but it’s been fun trying. 

What genre does your book fall under?

I suppose I would have to say it’s a fantasy. Bits of it are funny, but it’s much less out for a laugh than other things I’ve written. Also, it has a young teenager as the lead character – not sure if that makes it YA or MG. Don’t mind as long as people like it. 

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I refuse to give up movie rights to my books. To me, books are the highest form of story telling and that’s where I want this one to stay.

PS I may be open to offers. 

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A girl passes through a flame, where she enters a world like none she has seen before and shows a young man what it means to be a hero. 

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Funnily enough, a big publisher has seen some early chapters and expressed interest. I suspect I will get back in touch with them, but would be surprised to be taken on as I hear they’re not travelling too well. So most likely it will be indie all the way. 

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

How long to write it? I started 4 years ago and am still going (admittedly there have been lots of distractions on the way). Hoping to have a draft complete in a couple of months. 

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Hard to say. It’s a kind of portal fantasy which I suppose compares it to something like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It’s got kids solving problems adults can’t so maybe a touch of Harry Potter. Then again, it’s not that much like either. It kind of stands alone. 

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I described the main ideas above. One thing I might add is that it was because of my daughters that I wanted to write a story with a smart, interesting and extremely capable female main character. 

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It’s different. It’s surprising. Parts are funny. Parts are strange in the best kind of way. It has an extremely likable main character who is grappling with the kind of problems we all seem to have to face. And it’s set in a crazy sort of world like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

And now it’s my turn to do some tagging:

***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (Work In Progress)

***Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

It’s that simple.

Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:

What is the working title of your book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
August 4, 2012 in Dag

The Writer Olympics is on

I suspect not too many people are going to read this post and I suppose I don’t blame them. After all, the Olympics are currently on. Who would be sitting to read a humble little blog when they could be sitting in front of their telly, watching people running and jumping and throwing things, and all the other fun stuff they do at the Olympics?

In some ways, it seems a bit unfair. Why should the Olympics just be about running and jumping and throwing stuff. What about all the other valuable skills out there? And when I say “valuable skills”, I’m talking in particular about what I regard as the most valuable skills in the world: writing skills.

So here’s my solution. If the main Olympics doesn’t think writing skills are important enough to include, we should just start our own Olympics – the Writer Olympics. 

Just think how amazing and exciting the Writer Olympics could be. Think of some of the fantastic events we could have. For a start, we writers are pretty good at twisting, whether it’s a twist in a plot, or twisting the truth. The battle to see who can do the biggest and boldest twist should be something to see.

Then, of course, there’s the wrestle between the plotters and the pantsers. This one should be a really epic event. I’d hate to be in the middle when these two great sides come up against each other.

A big part of the Olympics is the throwing events. We writers would have plenty of things we could throw. We could have a contest to see who can throw out the most ludicrous simile. This would be a bit like…like…Well I guess that’s one event I won’t be competing in.

Of course, the Olympics isn’t the Olympics without the running events. Both speed and endurance are key events. The 100 word flash sprint should be a classic. And the marathon should also be epic. After all, who doesn’t love a marathon writing session.

So there you have it. The Writer Olympics. I reckon I’ve barely scratched the surface in terms of what it could involve. I’d love to hear ideas from other people. And I reckon, I’ve left out potentially the best bit of all. The great writer’s marketing bandwagon relay. Then again, maybe that’s the subject for another post.

July 29, 2012 in Dag

Discover Fantasy – Interview with David Brown

As anybody who follows my blog or writing will know, over the last month I’ve been participating in the Discover Fantasy blog tour. Today I’m really thrilled to have one of my co-tourists, David Brown, here. I’m particularly pleased as about a year ago, one of my very first guest posts ever was at David’s blog. Today I’m glad that I can finally reciprocate as I interview him and find out more about his work and what writing fantasy means to him.

And once you’re finished reading, don’t forget to go to the Discover Fantasy site to enter the draw for a $100 Amazon gift card.

D-LC: How would you define fantasy? What is it about your books that makes them fantasy?

DB: I once saw a great definition of fantasy which I will never forget. Fantasy is defined as the impossible, anything that is beyond human capabilities. Dragons breathing fire or wizards casting magic are just some of the popular elements of fantasy, but they are the more traditional aspects whereas fantasy as a genre is growing and broadening rapidly.

The Elencheran Chronicles fall under the fantasy genre because the world of Elenchera is one of magic and a myriad of races such as the animal headed valkayan race or the Kaluminians, with glistening green eyes. In its construction, I tried to make Elenchera as fantastical as possible before building the detailed world history and giving it some realism back.

D-LC: Did you deliberately set out to write a fantasy story or did you just write the story you wanted to write and that’s how it turned out?

DB: When I decided to start writing I always had fantasy in mind. I love the work of Tolkien but it was the RPG series Final Fantasy which inspired me to begin writing. Those games seem to blend fantasy with some sci-fi elements. Their worlds, characters and storylines are so intricate and fascinating. They led me to other influences such as Norse mythology and suddenly the possibilities for writing seemed endless. Although I write fantasy I try to do so in a different way.

D-LC: How do you think the worlds you create and the stories you write reflect you as a person?

DB: My love of history is prevalent in the world of Elenchera. Events from our own history have been recreated in Elenchera and anyone that looks through the history will see some similarities. The age of discovery that begins in the Twelfth Shard for instance has lands in East Elenchera discover those in West Elenchera and imperialism and colonialism soon follow. This is, of course, 1492 when Columbus discovers America and everything that happened after that.

Elenchera is also in tune with current affairs. I’ve had thirty years of my life so far and along the way I have realised that in general, for all of us, life is hard. Some prosper while many struggle and I think I wanted that degree of realism in conveying Elenchera. This isn’t necessarily the sort of world you would want to escape to like say Narnia or Wonderland. It’s a hard place to live and survive in. My best friend once said to me every character in your books usually dies. He’s partially right!

D-LC: One of my favourite aspects of fantasy is the freedom it gives you with characters. How do you come up with your characters?

DB: My characters emerge from the historical contexts of a particular novel. In Fezariu’s Epiphany my initial desire was to write about the Merelax Mercenaries and to do that I needed a character to join them and live their way of life. Fezariu was a simple character initially but over time he developed, became more complex with a troubled past that became the central focus of the novel, eclipsing what I had originally intended. In a future novel, Ansel’s Remorse, vampires come to the world of Elenchera and in the history I wanted to know of their origins and soon found they stemmed from one character – Palatine. The novel explores Palatine and his best friend Ansel, their rise and fall before an epic war between vampires and the rest of the world.

I suppose I also have Jodi Picoult moments where I imagine personal dilemmas for characters. That became the premise for A World Apart, having three childhood friends separated for ten years and when they’re reunited they are enemies. A very simple and basic theme but I start small like that and build the characters around it.

D-LC: If you were to become a character in your world, who would you be?

DB: It would probably be Norman Verne who is the first travelling tolderian salesman. The tolderes are a canine-headed race and Norman Verne leaves the island of Lemanto one day and spends decades travelling the word, buying, selling and trading goods. When he returns home he begins a new craze in Lemanto for travelling salesmen. The freedom to travel our own world like that without care or responsibility must be truly amazing and that’s what draws me most to Norman Verne I think.

D-LC: What do you think readers look for in a fantasy hero? And what about a villain?

DB: I think heroes need to have some flaws and weaknesses to make them more endearing. The Lord of the Rings wouldn’t have worked as well if Aragorn had been the Ringbearer. Heroes have a great sense of good and right, often teaching others who are seemingly superior the right way to look at the world. They are good at uniting the most divisive of groups even though they might not necessarily excel as the overall leader.

Villains are easier to write for me. They are often egotistical, violent and cruel with no real sense of morality. The pursuit of power often drives villains. They are also greedy and malevolent. Sometimes villains come from a harsh background which has developed them as adults but many simply have a pre-disposition to being evil. I think if a writer really writes a villain well then the reader will despise them and be hoping they get their comeuppance. If you inspire such feelings in your readers then you’ve done a great job with your book.

D-LC: Describing a story as just a fantasy can be a bit restrictive. What other ways can you describe your stories?

DB: There are different types of fantasy so I suppose Elenchera novels could be epic fantasy in the case of A World Apart but a shorter novel like Fezariu’s Epiphany might be General Fantasy. Perhaps collectively the Elencheran Chronicles could be known as Alternative Fantasy. I’d go for dag-lit but a great indie author I know beat me to that one!

Thanks so much to both of you for joining me today and all the best for your books.

About David

David Brown could be considered a fantasy fanatic, especially since he has spent the last 10 years developing a 47,000-year history for his fictional world of Elenchera. When converting his obsession into literary form, David commits himself to a rigorous writing and editing process before his work can meet his approval. Combined with the critical eye of his wife and a BA Honors in History and English, David’s dedication leads him to his goal of inspiring readers through heartfelt stories and characters.

Although David is inspired primarily by fantasy fiction, he also finds his muse in the form of anime, world cinema, history, and biographies. His own books, Fezariu’s Epiphany and the in-progress A World Apart, combine aspects from worlds both old and new into compelling tales of a world not soon forgotten., David himself certainly does not lack a spirit of adventure; in fact, he left his job in 2007 in order to spend a month traveling. Second only to meeting and marrying his wife, David counts this as one of the most amazing experiences of his life.


David’s books

Fezariu’s Epiphany

2-year-old Fezariu thought his mother died when he was little, but when his beloved stepfather dies the boy discovers she is alive and well – and working at the most famous brothel in all of Elenchera. When she cruelly rejects him it’s more than he can bear, and he runs away to join a band of ruthless soldiers for hire. The Merelax Mercenaries will fight for anyone who can pay them, no matter the justice of the cause.

Fezariu grows up among the soldiers and becomes one of them. He thinks his time with the mercenaries has hardened him. But a campaign in his old home town pushes him too far, and he discovers what really happened to his mother. Maybe there are some things money shouldn’t buy… and maybe it’s time Fezariu took his revenge.

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble

A World Apart

Demetrius makes his first mistake when he lets his best friend Halcyon marry Eleyna, the love of his life, without saying a word. On the day of the wedding, he walks away from the Elencheran town of Dove’s Meadow and joins the army.

He makes his second mistake when the pirate Black Iris tricks him into letting dozens of men, women and children die in a fire. Demetrius is imprisoned in grief and disgrace.

But he can atone. The Black Iris is dead. The Ivory Rose has risen to the top of the pirates and is leading brutal raids on the coast. If Demetrius can capture and kill her, he’ll win his pardon.

And then Demetrius discovers the Ivory Rose is Eleyna. He must decide which will be his third mistake: Losing his last chance at  apardon, or destroying the one woman he’s ever loved.

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble

July 21, 2012 in Dag

The greatest story ever told

Okay, I have to admit it. My little experiment failed. My attempt to trick people into thinking I was grumpy when really I was cheerful didn’t fool anyone. I guess all you people out in bloggerland are much cleverer than even I anticipated.

So, given the foolhardiness of trying to do something tricksy again, I’m just going to be upfront and say it. This is going to be another one of my not-grumpy posts. And if that means you people aren’t going to read it, then I guess I’ll have to live with that, and hang on until I can be properly grumpy again.

Mind you, I could be just a little bit grumpy today. I’ll try to explain. As a writer, I like to set my ambitions high. I like to try and write the greatest story I could possibly write. Hell, no, I want to do better than that. I want to write the greatest story ever written. Only problem is, it’s already been done. By a Danish writer, back in 1837.

The writer is Hans Christian Andersen, and the story is The Emperor’s New Clothes

I love that story. It says so much about people and behaviour and society and all that heavy stuff, in such a clean and simple and playful way. Often, when I listen to people speaking, I think of that story. Whether it’s a politician trying to pull the wool over our eyes, or some economics expert trying to confound us with jargonistic gobbledygook, or any other “specialist” who wants us to believe they are somehow privy to knowledge beyond the understanding of us simple folk, I’ll think of those two clever tailors attempting to convince the Emperor that they are making him a suit out of nothing. And I’ll smile.

Even though I can now never write the greatest story ever, I can still take inspiration from this story. I want to be like the little boy who calls out, “He’s not wearing any clothes.” I try to write stories that are just as fun and simple and playful, but which hopefully will make people see things as they are.

I’m not sure I always manage to do it. After all, we’re all going to have a different idea of how things are. But I can sure as hell have fun trying, and that’s the best bit of all.

July 14, 2012 in Dag

Grumpy, grumpy, grumpy, grumpy

All right, maybe I’m not that grumpy.
I just thought I might try a little experiment.

I’ve mentioned before how I’ve discovered that the posts where I gripe and groan and whinge and complain seem to get more views than the posts where I’m happy and cheerful. Only problem is, this week I’m actually not feeling quite so bad and I’m struggling to find things to complain about.

But, just because I’m not feeling so bad, I don’t want my number of hits for the week to suffer. So I thought, what if I pretend that I’m grumpy, just to get people interested, but then I write a not-so-grumpy post anyway. Will people be annoyed? Will they see it as a dirty, lowdown trick to try to get more readers? Or will they just get over it and read the post? I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

Anyway, you’re probably wondering what it is that’s made me so not-grumpy today (assuming you’ve read this far).Well, the good news is I’m actually making progress on my “long-forgotten” novel. The one I started over four years ago and got more than halfway through (in one of those bursts of enthusiasm I’m prone to get) before it fell by the wayside (in one of those even longer bursts of apathy I’m even more prone to).

With the great responses I’ve been getting to the books I’ve published over the last 18 months, I figured it was time to get back to it. Reading through what I’ve written so far, I’m thinking that maybe it’s not too bad, and has a bit of potential. It’s different from the other things I’ve written. It’s more clearly YA/MG than the others, with a teenage protagonist. Also, it’s a female protagonist, which is a big departure for me. I like her a lot. She’s probably the most interesting and complex main character I’ve done so far.

Of course, in a lot of ways, it’s also a lot like other things I’ve written. It’s set in a world that’s very different from ours, though also similar in unexpected ways, and it has lots of strange made up words.

I’ve actually managed to write two new chapters in the last two weeks which I’m quite excited about. And I’ve set myself some deadlines. A first draft by the end of the year and publication by the end of next. I want to push myself, but I also want to take the time to make sure I get it just right.

Discover Fantasy Update

I can’t finish this off without a mention of week three of the Discover Fantasy tour. The first two weeks have been great fun. In week three, I’ll be popping over to see Karen Pokras Toz and Vixie’s Stories.

Check out the schedule for full details of where you can catch me, Dave and Jeremy. And don’t forget to enter the prize draw to win a $100 Amazon gift card.