On May 10, see the story of J.R.R. Tolkien’s early life, and how it inspired the legendary creation of Middle Earth:
The newest printing of Among the Shadows features the latest version of Dark Snowfall, a Lost Tale in which Milena steps through the veil into a troubling winter encounter. This should also be in the ebook edition soon, so there is no better time to Join the War and Choose a Side.
What if you could enter someone’s dreams? Inside their dreamworld you would discover their greatest fears. You could use their darkest secrets against them.
This darkness you found now wielded as a weapon to kill.
In Morgan L. Busse‘s Mark of the Raven, Lady Selene has been gifted as a dreamwalker. The eldest daughter in the House of Ravenwood, she has inherited what generations of women in her family before her have also known. All seven Great Houses of the realms have differing giftings, but her mother teaches Selene the purpose of hers.
She is to become an assassin for hire and serve the dark schemes of her mother.
I have read many books where the Light and Darkness face off. Usually the characters are either-or: Either bad, or good. In Raven, we see Lady Selene struggle with what is apparently her fate. She believes she has no choice. It’s not clear, even when faced with the Light, if she will, or can, veer off the path she was born into. Morgan Busse tells Selene’s story of struggle with the depth that will resonate with people in the real world. And that’s what makes fiction like this a powerful force:
Among the fantastic, truth is revealed. Reality in the midst of fantasy.
Not coincidentally, I’m sure, I had just finished Lacey Sturm’s telling of her real-life story in The Reason. Surrounded by the Darkness she nearly gave in, but she to encountered the Light and had to make a choice. Lady Selene’s world may be fiction, but it is a story many find themselves in.
Readers were briefly introduced to Solana in Among the Shadows. In Book 2, Awakening, we will be seeing much more of Solana, the tamer of the tempest. What follows is a Lost Tale that takes place between the prologue and Chapter one of the first book…Anger burned in Solana’s eyes, the green light wild with fury.…
[Full disclosure: This is an interview with me, by me. Yes, you read that right…]
Today we are talking with writer Darrick Dean, author of the Watchers of the Light historical fantasy series. He has graciously taken time out of his busy schedule to answer a few quick questions on his books and writing. Thanks for joining us tonight, Darrick, ready to dive in?
Good to be here. Let’s give this a go.
Q: So, fantasy stories are often set in other realms or alternate realities, but the Watchers of the Light is set in our own modern world. There is a catch, however. Not all myth is fiction. Can you tell us more about this premise?
A: I wanted to really blur the line between reality and fantasy, so I took some historical elements, and overlaid bits of myth and legend. Of course, another facet is that legend often has remnants of truth in it. Take the core of the Iliad — the Trojan War and the siege of Troy — turned out to be true. So did the Viking Sagas detailing voyages to America, and so on. Now the reader is left wondering where fact ends, and fiction begins, while being drawn deeper into the story.
Q: Among the Shadows has an archetypal villain, the shadowmancer Ahriman. What kind of threat will the Watchers face in Awakening?
A: Ahriman is largely a puppetmaster, controlling everything from afar. He isn’t overly complex in his motivations, but is certainly malicious and powerful. His past his only hinted at, which leaves an opening for future stories. In Awakening, we encounter a different sort of enemy. Darkness pervades her as well, but her story is more complex, her motivations more faceted.
Q: In the first book, much of the story centers around Ethan and his family, all gifted with different abilities. Does the focus change in book 2?
A: The plan was always to give all the characters substantial roles, but to shine the light a little more on different people in each book. In Awakening we see that happening, including bringing to the forefront a person who was just hinted at in book one. She was a bit mysterious, bookending the first story, but here we find her in the thick of things. Also, with the establishment of the characters out of the way, I think we will see them grow more and be more comfortable in their chosen paths.
Q: Among the Shadows certainly was influenced by traditional fantasy in the sense of creatures and battles and searching for lost relics. Will the story continue down this path?
A: A little, but I want to move the needle just a bit. Not only don’t you want your plots identical, making some subtle changes in the atmosphere keeps things fresh. I like how the Mission Impossible films use different directors to give each film a slightly different look, yet still keep them in the same continuity. Not jarring change, but they avoid a same-old feel. Awakening has creatures and battles for sure, but there is an Edgar Rice Burroughs influence here. Think lost worlds and kinetic action. More crisp and tactile.
Q: What’s the best part of writing these stories?
A: Seeing them come alive on their own. Sooner or later in writing a story, people and places appear that you didn’t plan for. Character arcs you never outlined form on their own. When an author experiences this, he or she has left writing and entered storytelling.
Q: What’s the hardest part?
A: Editing. First you must find the best parts, the ones that just pop off the page, and compare everything else to them. You cut and delete what no longer works, or never did. Think you can’t delete your amazing words? You will once you realize how much more amazing they can be. First chapters, then paragraphs are refined. Next are sentences. Then you are down to individual words. Shaping and trimming like a sculptor. Then you’re done. Mostly.
Q: What does the future hold for the Watchers and their adventures?
A: Finishing Awakening is the first goal. Everyone thinks in trilogies these days, and that’s my initial plan as well. That could no doubt change, but this universe will ultimately have self-contained sets of different lengths. Two books I have planned will parallel the Watchers of the Light, and most likely intersect with it. Set in the same world with a different focus. There is a clue in Among the Shadows to what beings will be featured in the Servants of the Flame duology. I also plan to put together a collection of shorts — lost tales, deleted scenes — featuring various people we have already met, and yet to come.
Thanks for taking the time to speak to everyone. Where can readers find your book?
I tamed them, made them answer to the Light.
Now evil arises among the sands, in the shadows, and the deep sea. I am Solana, and I will hunt the Darkness, search it out, and call forth the tempest to hurl the demonspawn back into the Abyss.
Among the Shadows: Watchers of the Light Book 1 now available!
[Photo used under license from Shutterstock.com.]
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The amazing prices of $2.99 for the ebook, and $12.99 for the paperback of Among the Shadows, ends in a few days. There has never been a better time to choose a side in the War Among the Shadows. Join the six Watchers while you still can.
What was locked in shadow stirs, and where darkness has laid dormant, evil awakes.
This is not some mythical land, nor the distant past. Our own world, our own time, will face malice not seen since ancient times. Once, when the world was new, the Fallen battled the Light over the destiny of humankind. Civilization was left in flames, the Scourges turned back by the Watchers in the last hour. The Darkness, though, was not defeated.
Now, there are six that will decide the fate of us all. A new generation of Watchers, gifted by the Light.
Ethan, with unmatched strength and speed, has walked unafraid among the shadows. Milena is his equal and can command the life around her. Kyra, but a child, can see into the minds of men. The Darkness fears what she may become. Conrad can sidestep time and pass through the veil. Kane must conquer his fears even as the energy of Healing surges within. Duncan wields the substance of life as a weapon none can survive.
Those they face, the Dark One’s Followers, are also gifted. Their skills were forged in blackness.
The depraved seek lost relics infused with unimaginable power. Through portals of time they will raise an army of nightmarish creatures once lost to myth and legend. Collapse and ruin they will bring.
A war of the worst sort has begun. The six Watchers must stem the tide, or will they be drowned by the flood of darkness that ends the age of man?
Whenever publishers find a trend, they ruin it through repetition. Brooding, malcontent teenagers. Dystopian worlds where the kids are about to revolt against the man. How many more of these stories can we endure? Hopefully, someone will come along and give us something different.
What if you had magic in your past, but couldn’t remember? Your homeland of fantastic beasts is unknown to you other than in fairy tales. Worse, you don’t know your real family or what happened to them.
This is the life of Angel Mason, a life that is about to change. Gregor, who is from her forgotten land and has answers, arrives in her life. He also has a Talent, and Angel will soon learn of hers, but her magical homeland isn’t a paradise. Darkness is there, and it seeks Angel.
Finding Angel pushes aside the curtain on a hidden, enigmatic world. A world where people among us have Talents of magic. Through Gates most cannot see, exist creatures thought lost to myth. Join Angel as she journeys home and seeks her identity before darkness takes it all away.
Fantasy tales are often populated with a wide array of beings. Elves, humans and dwarves are a common trio, along with trolls, orcs and countless other variations. Not all authors have filled their stories with these fantastic races to purposely tell stories of diversity or race-relations. However, long before terms like diversity were buzzing in everyone’s minds, two masters of fantasy had made a statement on equality among people. Joseph Loconte writes in A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and a Great War:
[J.R.R.] Tolkien and [C.S.] Lewis encountered the horrific progeny of [eugenics] in the trenches and barbed wire and mortars of the Great War [World War I] — and it gave them great pause about human potentiality…the characters in their novels possess a great nobility, creatures endowed with a unique capacity for virtue, courage, and love. Indeed, a vital theme throughout is the sacred worth of the individual soul in Middle-Earth and Narnia, every life is of immense consequence.
The “races” of Narnia and Middle-Earth are very much like us, always at odds with each other: Elves hate dwarves; elves look down on humans; hobbits are obviously different from their larger human cousins; orcs once were elves. And yet the fellowship of the ring throws together polar opposite, feuding races in a quest to the save the world.
Against all odds, they succeeded. A powerful message among the many in these stories.
Tolkien and Lewis began writing during a time when eugenics was on the rise. This misuse of science and philosophies pretending to be science was rationale to cleanse humanity of undesirable races, beliefs or attributes. People remember the result of this horror in World War II under the Nazis, yet don’t know that this thinking had been promoted among the “elite” thinkers and governments across the world for decades.
While many many post-WWI writers saw hopelessness, and others turned to Progress as a god to right humanity, Tolkien and Lewis saw the importance of every life. They wrote of evil that couldn’t be reasoned away — and could be hidden behind “science” and “progress.” The equality of peoples doesn’t automatically equate to the equality of ideas and actions. Even Tolkien’s “dreadful orcs are presented as rational beings” — but being rational isn’t the same as being on the side of virtue.
Middle-Earth and Narnia showed how mankind, even with its capacity for wrong, has innate qualities that can defeat the most terrible of evils; qualities that transcend superficial differences among people, and show that we are much more than a result of randomness and fate.