Hey Guys and Girls, I’m finally back with a guest-post. 🙂
For ten years the people of eastern Tanaren have known nothing but war, a war to which there seems to be no end in sight. Now, however, things may be about to change. Pitched into the heart of the conflict are four people: Morgan, a veteran warrior charged with an important mission; Cheris, a gifted but wayward sorceress called from her exile on a remote island; Ceriana Hartfield, a noblewoman whose marriage is pre-empted by a chance discovery on a beach; and Cygan, a man from the desolate marshes seeking aid against a merciless foe. Between them, could they hold the key to ending this deadly conflict? But at what cost? This extraordinary epic is a gripping, searing tale of the ugliness of war and the dangers of power.
Over to Howard. 🙂
I have a sister. She is only sixteen months younger than me and, unlike most siblings we always got along very well as children. When she used to tease me my comeback line would often be “Well, one day I will write my epic novel, that will shut you up!” Then we grew up, she got married, I got married, she moved out of the country to wherever her husband’s occupation took him; both myself and my wife worked full time until my wife was diagnosed with a progressive, incurable, neurological illness. She eventually had to retire, some years later I had to resign in order to look after her. Shortly afterwards my sister moved back to Britain.
Caring is an odd thing, a day as such has no formal structure, you can be up all night and asleep at odd times during the day. I was bemoaning this fact to my sister on the phone when she said. “Go and write your novel then, that will give you something to work around.” I had no answer to this and so that very same day I found myself staring at notepad (there was no word on the PC at the time) wondering what on earth to write about. I am not a very grounded individual, a daydreamer and a person who immersed himself in either fantasy or period novels from the age of about seven. Some people are social commentators, others exercise their imagination in other areas, so fantasy it was then.
Bear in mind that I had no thought of publication at the time, only to write something my sister would like. So straight away I knew it had to have elves and dragons. Dragons, well we are Welsh, just look at our flag. Added to that the good old monster movie genre happens to be one of my favourites, from King Kong (the original), to all the Ray Harryhausen films (Going to the cinema to see the Golden Voyage of Sinbad when I was about seven was one of my formative youth experiences- and Tom Baker was the villain!), then to films like Dragonslayer in the early eighties and of course the first two Alien films (None of the other Alien films count-OK). So very big dragons with an alien intelligence and no interest in the machinations of humanity it was then. As for the Elves, well Tolkien’s elves were good at everything, I wish I could hire a couple to sort out the garden and decorating, I would be living in the palace of Versailles in no time at all. Many writers have tried to modulate Elves a little, to give them flaws so I am hardly unique in that. I wanted them to be better than humans in some ways, worse in others and as a result of trying to do that the main Elven character in the book was probably the easiest and most fun to write.
As for the setting, well let me just say that one of my favourite pieces of medieval music comes from the twelfth century and is called “Peace in the name of God”. I find it rather ironic that in the era of crusade and constant European civil wars a voice was calling out for peace. Nearly a thousand years on and it seems only technology has changed, so a tale about an interminable seemingly unresolvable conflict seemed to be the ideal backdrop for whatever story I was going to tell.
What story would it be though? I had not the first idea. I eventually resolved this by deciding to describe this world through the eyes of three or four main characters. This would both flesh out the world for me and put the characters at the heart of the tale, have them dominate the setting rather than the other way round, which can often happen in fantasy novels. A floating castle or a city built of bone are great ideas, but if the people interacting with it are bland stereotypes then it becomes a matter of style over substance.
Eventually I settled on a formula, the story became a serial, I would write some 30-40,000 words, email it off then start the next part. Ultimately there would be fourteen parts to the tale, I had no idea how long the story was until it was finished and I joined all the parts up at last. The only other rule I had was that something significant had to happen in each chapter, moving swiftly from character to character helped in this, hopefully it is not too disorientating for the reader.
Finally I would recommend writing to anyone, obviously you invest a lot of yourself in the story and it can be frustrating and difficult at times. More than anything else though it is great fun and very rewarding. Give it a try!
If you’re on Goodreads, check out Howard’s page here (plenty of good reviews of ‘The Forgotten War’ to convince you to give the book a read), and you can order the book from the following sites: Amazon US, Amazon UK and Book Depository.
For more info his publisher, check out his publisher’s website here.