Monday, August 8, 2016

My friend and fellow writer Lars Jensen just wrote an awesome review for The Son of Dark. I couldn't stop grinning as I read it. Please check it out and support his writing! He's got an epic storyline in the works, with a unique magic system, well-crafted characters, and not just one world, but an entire fleshed-out universe.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Interview by Linda Nightingale, Dark Fantasy and Paranormal Romance Author 

(click here) to visit Linda's website!

Welcome Jeremy!  My guest today has graciously agreed to answer some  introductory interview questions and to share an excerpt from his debut novel from Class Act Books, The Son of the Dark.
Jeremy, please introduce yourself.
If you are what you eat, I’m an apple. I’ve eaten an apple a day for as long as I can Jeremy Higlyremember. I just love apples!
Jokes aside, my best conversation starter is to tell people about my colorblindness. It’s funny to me how this simple fact always brings out the same questions in people. Yes, I was born colorblind. I found out in kindergarten, when I couldn’t properly fill out a color-by-number sheet. No, it’s actually an extreme form of red-green colorblindness known as protanopia, or protoanomaly, that leaves me seeing only grays, yellows, and blues. Nope, nothing else. I’ve memorized the appropriate colors to most things, but I do get tripped up sometimes. I haven’t tried the Enchroma glasses, but the test on their website says they only have a 25% chance of working for me, so I’m waiting until I have $400 just lying around.
What is your favorite book?
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I’m not even going to apologize for this. Harry Potter is, quite simply, the literary classic of our time. I have a number of reasons for choosing #5 in the series, but I’ll mention just one: it’s the longest.
What is your favorite movie?
Happiest Millionaire, that old feel-good Disney movie that no one’s heard of.
Who is your favorite historical figure?
Joseph Smith. The modern world has been shaped in so many ways by the explorers, the inventors, and the politicians that sometimes I think we forget the amazing influence a prophet can have.
What is your greatest temptation?
In women: A sincere, soul-striking compliment. Gets me every time.
In food: Oreos. It is so hard to share Oreos. I’m more likely to offer you an engagement ring than an Oreo, no matter how much I like you.
In clothes: It is so tempting to never buy new clothes, and rely only on birthday gifts and Christmas presents to replenish my wardrobe twice a year. You wouldn’t believe how much I dislike clothes shopping. Yes, I’m that boring.
What is your greatest weakness (example: Mine is cars)?
My heart. My heart is such a gloppy, dripping mess that I leave bits of it wherever I go.
If you could have any kind of car, what would it be?
A white one.
Your dream home – mountains or ocean?
Definitely mountains. With trees, running water, and plenty of wildlife. Caves would be a nice bonus.
What inspired you to become a writer?  To write this book?
When I was fourteen I started writing a book about a troop of Boy Scouts who get kidnapped by aliens. I made up so many intergalactic adventures for that poor group of teenage boys, and I had so much fun with the whole thing that I actually wrote a screenplay of the story for a college assignment much later on. Someday, when I’ve matured a bit as a writer and can approach the story with more finesse, I hope to come back to my childhood fantasy and breathe new life into it. Someday.
As for The Son of Dark, the inspiration was long in coming. My parents introduced me to David Eddings’ The Belgariad when I was a child, and I loved his straightforward approach to fantasy. The quest, the hero, the team, the MacGuffin…he had such a simple formula, and yet it worked so well! Toward the end of my undergraduate career I decided that my first book should be an experiment with that formula, but because it was my experiment, I would have to tweak the formula a bit. Of course.
Do you have a daily writing routine?  Please share.
Unless the previous day’s writing was exactly what I hoped it would be, I tend to start every writing session by erasing half of what I wrote the day before. Sometimes I erase all of it. Of the three years it took to write The Son of Dark, the first two years of writing no longer exist. And good riddance, I say! Hopefully the next book in the series goes more smoothly.
Tell us about your hero.
Have you ever felt like you’re only the main character of your life story by default? That’s Skel in a nutshell. Many main characters seem to understand they are the hero of their story, as if it’s normal to have all that attention and responsibility, or even exciting. Skel is not like that at all. He escapes to the sidelines whenever he gets the chance, and it’s frustrating to him that he can never stay there for long. He isn’t afraid to step up when something needs to be done, because he has a deep desire to make things right. That’s what makes him the hero. Unlike other heroes you might have read, however, Skel despises conflict, avoids taking control when he can, and would much rather take on the role of a supporting character if he could.
Is there a heroine in your novel? Tell us about her.
It’s easy to interpret Smyra as Skel’s foil, but I see her as much more than that. Smyra’s rash confidence and abrasive personality contradict Skel at every turn, but they also tell the story of a deep insecurity that has nothing to do with Skel, and everything to do with trying to prove herself in a world of authoritarian figures who simply don’t understand her. It might seem like her power goes to her head, and perhaps it does, but let’s face it: Smyra is not the sort of woman you want as an enemy.
What do you have out now?
Just the one book. Tales of the Darksome Thorn: The Son of Dark is the first part in a fantasy adventure series that I promise is only going to get bigger and more exciting as it goes along. Duskain is a big world, and there’s so much more in it that I want to share.
What else do you have planned, writing-wise?
The next book in the Darksome Thorn series is tentatively titled Dead Forsworn. I’m only a few chapters in, but I am already very excited with where it is going. It picks up right where Son of Dark left off.
I’m trying not to think too much about other books. I am so close to finishing my master’s degree. Still, someday I plan to write a story about a child whose imagination is actually his superpower, with one caveat: his power is limited by the beliefs of the people around him.
I also have a standing promise to myself that I will someday return to my childhood fantasies of Boy Scouts and aliens. Someday.
Where can we find you?  (Social media, web site, etc.)
Please give an excerpt from your novel. (cover, trailer, links, etc.)
sonofdark copySitting in the wagon next to Marga was awkward. The space was cramped, stuffy, and not only did Marga talk in her sleep, she talked a lot in her sleep. To distract himself, Skel decided to read from the Dun Ko’s book. He caught light from the opening in the back of the wagon and anchored the book against his leg so the wagon’s jostling movement wouldn’t make him lose his place.
“Wake up, stone-head,” he heard Smyra say from outside. He looked up through the small opening to see her sitting on the shoulders of a phagim. She was holding a long chain to trail across the ground while she traveled so she could keep channeling the earth’s power. Morkin had suggested the idea a couple of mornings ago.
“I’m listening.” Skel put a finger on the open page to mark his spot.
“Have you found anything in that evil book yet?”
“Anything useful, you mean?”
“Don’t be thick,” Smyra snarled.
“It’s mostly propaganda,” Skel explained. “Reassurances for the victim’s family, vague promises about a new age when the Dun Ko will—”
“It’s a yes or no question, dung-tongue,” Smyra said.
Skel took a deep breath and released it. “No.”
Without another word, Smyra steered her phagim to the left, out of Skel’s line of sight. He sighed and returned to his reading.
Zhans klis bakarasa,” Marga muttered. “Bakarasa klin torm.”
Skel shook his head to clear it. Was Marga getting louder?
Zhans klis. Zhans klis,” she muttered again.
Skel turned to face her. Perhaps she really was babbling, and these were all nonsense words instead of the dragon’s thoughts. Maybe the Wyvern was trying to intimidate them.
Skel turned away and tried to ignore her, skimming through a section on the Dun Ko’s eating habits. He stopped when he realized the way they ate was actually very different from most humans. He tried to focus.
Bakarasa klin torm,” Marga raised her voice even louder.
Skel paused in his reading. Should he get Zar?
Something was definitely happening.
Torm. Zhans klis. Bakarasa torm.
Now she was shouting. Zar would be here any moment to check on her. The wagon stopped. Skel could hear Zar dismounting from his horse nearby.
Zhans klis bakarasa klin torm,” she shrieked.
Skel couldn’t look away. Her face was contorting, her jaws forced apart by the power of the unearthly screams. What was the Wyvern doing to her?
Her eyes opened.
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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

I wrote the following blog for T. J. Glenn's website:

Swords vs. SorceryImage result for sword public domain

When writing a “swords and sorcery” style fantasy like The Son of Dark, it is very easy to let the sorcery overpower the swords. I’ve noticed this trend in so many fantasies, and it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For my book, though, I wanted a more even playing field. I wanted magic to be ever present, certainly, but when fight scenes came I didn’t want my non-magical characters to be deadweight. To make this work, I had to do two things. First I had to build my magic system with weaknesses that sword-users could take advantage of. Second, I had to write non-magical characters who could still hold their own in a world full of magic.

In many ways the magic system for The Son of Dark is very traditional. For wizards, magic is performed through a language of power, and the strength of the spell comes from the energy of the wizard’s soul. This has its obvious disadvantages when fighting. It takes time to explain to the elements around you that you want them to do something, and whether your spell is offensive or defensive, time is something a swordsman isn’t going to give you. The very versatility of language becomes a drawback. There are a hundred things a wizard might say in response to a sword thrust. While all the possibilities are crossing the wizard’s mind, his practiced opponent doesn’t need to think deeply in order to deliver a killing blow with a sword.

Further, the wizard can’t influence the swordsman directly with his magic.
The magic still has its bite, though. Wizards can call swords to them or turn them against their opponents, turn sand to glass and throw shards of it in all directions, or conjure flesh onto dead bones to create terrifying allies. Dragons can possess humans, or create a magical kind of fire that ignores flesh and cloth and burns the very blood inside your veins. Thrown into this magical world are characters like Zar, Morkin, and Largalarg.

Zar is easily the least magical major character in The Son of Dark. He’s a pirate turned merchant, and his most valuable asset in a fight against magic is his quick decision-making. He takes in a situation quickly and determines the best, most logical course. Before swords are drawn and spells are spoken, he has often already leveled the playing field by changing the environment to his advantage.

Morkin quickly becomes Zar’s most trusted ally, in spite of a vague background and even vaguer motives. The idea behind Morkin has always been that of a man who has turned a disability into a weapon. He and his entire people are cursed with silence, such that they can neither hear nor be heard. This silence extends to all human noises, including footsteps, clapping, and breathing. As a result, Morkin has perfected a ninja-like regimen of skills.
Largalarg, on the other hand, is a ten-foot-tall troll known as a Grag. Grags are known for making good non-magical mercenaries, and sure enough Largalarg serves as Zar’s personal bodyguard. His weapon of choice is a ball and chain, and his superior size and strength makes this a formidable choice indeed. Though impractical on a medieval battlefield, I figured that in a one-on-ten fight, wielded by a behemoth like Largalarg, a cannonball on a length of chain would be a sensible option..

Balancing the world so that characters like this could hold their own against magic-users was a personal goal of mine as a writer, as I hope I can demonstrate with the excerpt below.

“Someone’s coming,” Smyra whispered. She ignored
Skel’s frantic gesturing to try and get her to release him.
Skel struggled to dig the dirt fingers out, but they were
almost as hard as rock. Also, they seemed to be fitting to the
shape of his mouth. He even tried biting them, nearly
chipping a tooth in the process. He would have tried a spell,
but he couldn’t form the words he needed.
“It’s Cree. I mean Dawto,” Smyra said, staring through
the dune next to them. A quiet smile broke across her face,
chilling Skel to his bones.
“He must want a rematch,” she said with amusement.
A loud grunt sounded from the south, on the other side of
the dune. Skel imagined Smyra had conjured phagim
directly underneath the wizard to capture him before he
knew she’d spotted him. He thought of Dawto in the same
predicament he was in, and had to admit Smyra had
probably won the fight already.
The sand beneath their feet turned to reflective glass, so
suddenly and so perfectly at first it seemed as if the sky had
swallowed the earth. Smyra fell backwards as the ground
became slick. In the midst of his shock, Skel barely had time
to realize the phagim holding him had turned to glass as
well before he heard a small explosion. There was an
ominous tinkling as shattered glass began to rain on them
from the other side of the now glass dune.
“That’s it,” Skel heard Dawto yell. “I’ve ridden for two
weeks straight, lost my horse to an aja-aja, killed six more
aja-aja trying to save it, and gone without sleep for three
days trying to catch up to you before Azmat did.”
Dawto appeared over the crest of the hill, striding across
the smooth glass surface with remarkable ease. He’d grown
a short, unkempt beard since the last time they’d seen him.
Some of the hair was missing and his face sported some
nasty burns. They were still fresh, and they oozed pus. A
torn cloth bandage hung from his right shoulder, dark with
blood and grime. His eyes looked crazed as they peeked out
of his swollen face.
“You’re coming with me now,” Dawto demanded.

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