Sunday, 29 July 2012

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

Saturday, 21 July 2012

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.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

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.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

I'm going to be somebody else today

I've just made a really cool discovery.

I think I've figured out why writing these blog posts is so difficult.

I think it's all because I've gotten a little bit bored with myself.

Here's the problem. Every week, usually about now, I sit down at my computer and say to myself, "ok, time to write something." Then I try to focus a bit and think, "what's an interesting thing to write about?"

Because, of course, a blog post has to be interesting. What's the point of writing it if it isn't? Who would want to read it if it wasn't?

That's when the hard bit begins. What can I say that might be of interest to all those readers out there? What do I think? Where have I been? What have I done? To be honest, most of the time the answers really aren't that interesting.

So today I'm not going to bore you with mundane stuff. I'm going to be someone completely different. Someone exciting and glamorous. Someone who has been to interesting places and done all sorts of exciting things.

For a start, I'm probably extremely good-looking. You've probably seen my face plastered all over the TV and magazines. I might even have been in a movie, or had a hit pop record or something. I think I've climbed to the top of Mt Everest, and I've also swam down to the bottom of the deepest, darkest oceans. And did I mention that I've wrestled with lions and polar bears? Not at the same time, mind you, but that's still pretty darned interesting in my book.

Ok, I'm starting to warm up now. What else would you like to know about me.I'm really great at sport. I might even be playing in the Wimbledon final this weekend, in the middle of my warm-ups for the Olympic games. I'm the coolest, grooviest dancer you might ever see. And I have tremendous charisma. You should see people's faces when I start to talk. Whoo boy do I know how to attract people's attention.

Is that enough about me? I'd hate to look like I was really self-obsessed. And besides, I think people are always more interesting when you don't know too much about them - it makes them seem like a bit of a mystery.

So there you go. How interesting has this post been? The best one over in my humble opinion. This being someone else gig is so great, I think I might try it again next week.

I wonder who I'll be.

Discover Fantasy Update

Even though I'm definitely still not me, I just want to remind you about the extremely interesting Discover Fantasy tour featuring the totally exciting David M. Brown and the truly fascinating Jeremy Rodden. There will be more great posts so do check the schedule of events.

And wanna hear something even more interesting? There's a $100 Amazon gift card to be won - check out the giveaway details.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Druids, Vampires, Shapeshifters and International Finance - Guest post by Karen Victoria Smith

I'm really excited about the guest I have at Dag-Lit Central today. Karen Victoria Smith was one of the very first friends I made when I began my writing and publishing adventure, back in the days when the talk on Twitter was all about writing and drinking and the #pubwrite tag hadn't been overtaken by spammers.

Today Karen is here, talking about her writing and publishing journey, and her new release, Dark Dealings.

And as an added bonus, Karen is offering 1 free paperback or 2 free ecopies of Dark Dealings. Just go to the Indie Exchange in order to enter the draw.


Druids, Vampires, Shapeshifters and International Finance

Jonathan Gould has asked me to talk about how my novel, Dark Dealings, differs from others on the genre.

Let’s get the easy ones out of the way:

  • My vampires do not sparkle or walk around in the daylight.
  • The world does not recognize their existence or the existence of shapeshifters and Druids with real power.
  • No one lives in a remote swamp, where I think the food supply is more limited than in cities.
I write urban fantasy based in a somewhat more traditional post-Nosferatu vein. Don’t get me wrong there is a strong romance element, but because my main character, Micaela, doesn’t get a Happily-Ever-After (HEA) it is not technically a paranormal romance. I had a small press publisher ask me to re-write the ending to make it a HEA, but this is just the beginning of Micaela’s journey and she is just not there yet.

I also bring to Dark Dealings my own personal experiences.  I was raised in an urban environment in an Irish Catholic family. We lived in a four-family apartment building where all four apartments were occupied by a family member or in-laws relative.  My grandfather died when I was three leaving the building to my grandmother. She had been born in Athlone, Ireland and came to the United States just in time for the Great Depression. She was a great storyteller with a wicked sense of humor, and would tell me stories of her life in Ireland of family and fairy rings. She tried to teach me Irish, a skill I am still trying to master.

And so I took my Irish city kid self to an Ivy League school and then to Wall Street.  I spent 10 years there and then moved on to a major national bank when jumping on planes four days a week got very old.  I learned a lot in those years about people, finance and, in writing and editing legal documents and board presentations about the power of choosing the right words.

During that time the world went digital and 24-hour.

One night, I sat with a glass of wine under a moonlit sky and it all came together.  How easy it would be for the good old-fashioned vampire to hide and flourish in plain sight.  As a Wall Street refugee, I realized that for much of the globe everywhere it was night it was day for a trading desk somewhere else. And while rich, powerful vampires lend themselves to more plot opportunities, the next time you stop in an all night deli or highway gas station wonder why some of these folks LIKE to work nights. 

Then Micaela started to speak to me. She was highly logical, analytical and rational. The classic Wall Street type. Too analytical, she was hiding something.  She had a past and a history and demanded I tell it.  What is it? Well you’ll have to read Dark Dealings to learn more.

In writing Dark Dealings, I studied for years the craft of writing and for much of that time this novel was my homework project. Along the way, I discovered Joseph Campbell and The Hero with a Thousand Faces and his thematic progeny, Christopher Vogler, the man who changed Disney’s approach to films and has applied it to the novel. 

Perhaps one of the ways I am different from some of the fellow indie writers is that we are also the same. We are the sum and substance of our knowledge and experience.  My experience has been a bit more eclectic than most and so I find is easier to meld Druids, vampires, shapeshifters and Wall Street into a great ride.  I understand and cherish the power of the word and thanks to my Irish grandmother the power of a well-told story.

About Karen Victoria Smith

Karen Victoria Smith grew up with an Irish grandmother who tried to teach her the old ways and watched horror movies with her in the dark.  From there she moved on the wider world of college and career. After 25 years in financial services working on Wall Street and for major national banks, she discovered her passion in writing.  In Dark Dealings, she has found a way to bring the old ways together with the modern world.

Karen lives in New Jersey with her family who patiently allow her to believe that in a 24-hour world the monsters are real.

Her blog:  Storyteller’s Grove






Links for Dark Dealings

Amazon page:

Barnes and Noble page:

Smashwords (for other formats)

Available in print through Amazon.

Also in print at CreateSpace eStore:

And don't forget - got to The Indie Exchange to enter the draw for a free copy.