Thursday, August 4, 2016

A Boy Wizard, son of an elephant herder

. . . A thousand years ago, the wizards of the Nynsa  failed to follow the prophecy of the Darksome Thorn, and now the greatest evil of their time has survived into the next age. 
. . . Now, the Darksome Thorn has revealed a new prophecy, and the very evil they failed to kill is working to use that prophecy to his advantage.
. . . Forces of evil run rampant in the land of Duskain. Ancient powers are stirring. A greater darkness is imminent and Skel, the foster son of an elephant herder, finds himself caught in the middle of everything. Will Skel's newly developing powers be a help or a hindrance?

For the next few days Wild Women Authors is pleased to have a unique visitor to the blog: Skel and Jeremy Higley, the creator of The Son of Dark. As usual, we'll go with Skel first.
What made you choose wizard's apprentice for a profession? To be honest, it never felt like a choice. My master started teaching me when I was only four. Back then, even though I was a small child, I always felt like the elephant herders were afraid of me [and] my foster father. Orihah was the first man I met who never seemed afraid. I had horrible nightmares back then. Orihah taught me how to quiet my mind and sleep peacefully. I've always associated magic and the learning of it with every good thing in my life...until now.
Knowing what you know now, if you had it to do over again, would you stick with being a wizard or do something different? Now that everything's happened, elephant herding is starting to sound like a promising profession. Quieter, anyway. And I know I'm talking about taking care of creatures that could squish me to a bloody pulp with the slightest misstep, but still...it would be safer. I have to be honest though. Magic is such a part of me I can't imagine life without it anymore.
That's a brave response, Skel. Thank you for your honesty and courage. And speaking of courage, what is your biggest fear? I'm deeply afraid of doing the wrong thing. I don't like to act without thinking. This is actually an asset for a wizard, though. When it comes to magic, you really can't do anything without thinking because of how dangerous getting a spell wrong is. You're playing with the very fabric of your soul. You can't afford to make a mistake.
Who is your favorite fictional character and why? My favorite fictional character from your world would have to be the Reluctant Dragon, mostly because he seems much friendlier than the dragon in my world.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received? My foster mother, Talon, told me once that the light of one soul is enough to quench the darkness of an entire world. Knowing what I know now about where I come from, and having seen some of the dark forces in this world, it's comforting to think all that darkness can never touch me so long as I don't let it.

This has been an experience. Thank you for visiting with us, Skel. Now we'd like to speak with Jeremy. Which writer or character[s], from either books or movies, [or both] have had a major impact on your writing? I came up with the idea for this novel during my senior year at college. As a teenager I'd read The Rivan Codex by David Eddings, which suggests a formula for writing fantasy that I thought would be fun to play with a bit. So, as Eddings suggested, I started by building a world. Only after the world's geography, history, and theology were figured out did I start ironing out a storyline and a central quest for The Son of Dark.
With regard to research, where did you start for this novel? Did that lead you down different paths, thereby changing the original concept? In the early stages I was just writing down whatever crazy ideas came into my head. Heart-eating tree nymphs who keep were-perytons to be their husbands and live in a forest of black pine trees? Sure. A society of primitive humans who live deep underground and base their caste system off a large magical rock that reverses the gravity of anyone who touches it? Of course. Underwater humanoids who reproduce by splitting into two exact clones of the original, all of whom are descended from a single man who asked the gods for a way to ensure his memories never died? Better work that in too.
     The story itself evolved from trying to take all these ideas and fit them into the same world and time-line. Only once the world was big enough and coherent enough for me to envision it clearly did I start writing a story, and then the story would bring new ideas and I would have to erase what I'd written in order to work the new ideas in. None of my original compositions made it into the finished novel, but the ideas that mattered stuck around and will likely end up in future books in the series.
Tell us a bit about your publisher. How did you hear about them; what influenced you to submit to them; how is the submission process; what is the turn-around time from date of query to date of release? Class Act Books would have been a great place to submit my manuscript first, but my publishing strategy was actually to submit to as many publishers as possible as quickly as I could. That was the approach that writing workshops and mentors had all trained me for, and so the biggest obstacle for me was maintaining a positive attitude while all the rejection emails made their way to my in box.
     I found all these publishers through a website called Ralan.com, which has a long list of publishers who accept fantasy submissions. I literally just went down the list, and lucky for me Class Act Books was on there. In fact, because the list was alphabetical, Class Act Books was among the first companies I submitted to.
     If I could give any advice, I'd tell new authors that while there's no sense in waiting before submitting to another publisher, there's also no reason to give up hope if a publisher takes a few months to respond. I sent a lot of my first queries in November of 2015, and I didn't start hearing back from Class Act Books or almost anyone else until February of the next year. It often takes a few months.
We appreciate your honesty again, Jeremy. And the mention of Ralan.com will be very helpful to some of the visitors to our blog. What are you reading right now?
I'm getting started on my reading for grad school before class starts again this fall. Right now I'm reading Master Pip, by Lloyd Jones. It's a really heartwarming story so far, based around the experiences of children growing up on a war-torn island. Their lives are changed by an elderly white man, the only white man on the island, who agrees to teach school after everyone else has left. As part of his instruction reads to the students a chapter a day from Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens. Hence the title.
What's next for you? I'm working on Dead Forsworn, the tentatively titled second installment in the Tales of the Darksome Thorn series. It picks up right where The Son of Dark leaves off, and I'm really happy how the first few chapters have gone. My ambitious hope is to be finished with it sometime in the first half of 2017. Here's hoping.

Jeremy brought an excerpt from The Son of Dark:
Are you ready, Skel?” Orihah asked.

Yes,” Skel answered, standing and struggling to clear his mind. He’d been letting it wander quite a lot.

This is your first time working with light, but you should find it pretty simple to start out with,” Orihah said, beginning his lecture. “You don’t have sufficient power to move large objects yet without draining yourself, so you’ll be practicing with light a lot. Light is easy to manipulate because it doesn’t require much energy to move. You can bend it, reflect it, split it, turn it into heat, and do any number of things once you’ve mastered the words I gave you and how they relate to each other.”

Can I slow it down?” Skel imagined being able to hold a liquid moonbeam in the palm of his hand.

Yes, but you’ll only be able to reduce its speed slightly. Freezing light requires a great deal of energy,” Orihah answered. “I should also add an important caution. Never try to speed up light.”

What would happen?” Skel asked.

Do you remember your experiment with the elephant?”

Skel nodded. He’d exhausted his soul’s power three years ago trying to lift an elephant by its saddle. The attempt put him in a stupor for a month, alive but entirely drained of
willpower. Overexerting one’s spirit was a dangerous risk for wizards, whose power was derived from their souls.

Attempting to increase the speed of light would require far more power than simply lifting an elephant. You would undoubtedly kill yourself if you tried.” Orihah said. He
added with an ironic smile, “As would I, were I foolish enough to attempt it. Many wizards have killed themselves attempting much smaller tasks.”

Skel smiled nervously and waited for the lecture to continue. It was a simple task for a wizard to increase his own power. He simply had to grow his soul by performing
selfless acts. Orihah had an entire life of service behind him, fueling his power, while Skel faced his relative inexperience and immaturity every time he used magic.

To learn more about Jeremy Higley and the stories he creates go to:

To purchase The Son of Dark, go to:






19 comments:

  1. I admire writers who can build worlds. Your protag sounds like a real mensch! Good luck and please continue to let your imagination run wild!

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    1. Thanks! I hope the protag is as relatable on the page as he is in my mind. My imagination ran away a long time ago, and I've been trying to catch up to it ever since. :-)

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  2. Congrats of your book release! The excerpt is a good teaser. Certainly piqued my interest.

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    1. Thanks! I'm horrible at choosing short excerpts, but thankfully Toni always edits them down to more manageable chunks.

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  3. Great interviews!
    Good luck and God's blessings
    PamT

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    1. Thanks again, and the same to you! I love your last name, by the way.

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  4. Congratulations! Your book sounds intriguing and your writers advice is spot on.

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    1. Aw, thanks! I had so much good advice from established writers when I working on this book. I hate to think where I'd be without them, but nothing mattered more in the end than simple encouragements like yours. :-)

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  5. Susan, Linda, Pam and Charlotte:
    thank you so much for kicking in quickly with support for Jeremy. World Building is so tough but he seems to have a strong foundation, one built with time and patience, for any fiction creation.
    Kat and Veronica

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    1. Thank you so very much for having me on your site, Kathryn! It was a great experience, and I love what you have going here. :-)

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  6. Congratulations on your first book. I'm happy that you're starting young! Good luck on the second installment and on grad school. I remember how intense grad school can be. I also remember the Friday afternoon 'attitude adjustments' with other grad students and department faculty at a local watering hole. Definitely fun.

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    1. Grad school has kept me busier than anything in my life before. It's like a test of self-discipline and time management that I just keep failing over and over again. It's been rewarding and exciting too, and I've found I get back as much as I put into it. Thank you for encouragement and support, Barbara! Best of luck to you in all your projects and dreams. :-D

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  7. Congratulations!! Love the title. Enjoyed both interviews. :) Best wishes!

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    1. And I enjoy your comments. Thank you for your support, Alice!

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  8. I loved the interviews. The answers were so honest that it was easy to get to know you and your protagonist. Good luck to you!

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    1. Thank you! I loved the questions; they were so fun and open-ended.

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  9. Thanks to all for the support for Jeremy--this is a great group for support and guidance.
    Kat and Veronica

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  10. I love really imaginative pieces of work like this one, where whole worlds are made that didn't exist before the author took pen to paper. Plus I love the action/adventures that usually accompany a quest. Thank you for sharing this and best wishes for Jeremy and THE SON OF DARK!

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    1. You can probably tell from my answers to the interview, but me too! All the best to you and yours, MJ!

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