A Little Revenge

Etched in Fire is about a 14 year old girl that is caught in the middle of a war and is forced to leave her home. Maelen is an intriguing young girl, what was your inspiration for her character and development through the story?

I originally conceived of Maelen as a very quirky adult character, one who had been through so much that she had stopped having the ability to feel fear. But as I worked on that character, I started to wonder exactly how she had gotten that way, and to theorize about what sorts of experiences might create the kind of adult I was envisioning. Since a wartime situation is one which can produce some of the most intense trauma, I decided to set her in that sort of a situation. Her development was a bit of a tightrope between keeping the intensity of her emotions while making sure she was still sympathetic. And because, realistically, no matter how talented she is, a fourteen-year-old isn’t likely to change the course of an entire war, I had to figure out what she could do to maintain an active role in the story.

I enjoyed the intricate detail of the bustling city of Kaelennar. Are there some cities, fictional or non, that inspired the creation of this Kaelennar?

First, I have to say that the city was initially created by a friend, who gave me permission to use it as my setting. This iteration of it, however, is entirely my own. Kaelennar is a cosmopolitan city in a semi-medieval setting, but it’s also in a fantasy world, and as a result, doesn’t have the same limitations as a medieval setting in our own world. This means it can be a mix of medieval and modern sensibilities. It’s also absolutely huge by medieval standards, though not impossibly so. That gives it the potential to have a great diversity of peoples and cultures represented. In real life, living in a university town, there is a sense that one could potentially run into almost anyone, and there are a tremendous number of cultures, races, religions, and sheer eccentricities represented. It’s not at all unusual to see someone decorated with multiple piercings and tattoos walking down the street with someone else dressed in business casual and perfectly coiffed hair, and a third person with old jeans and a superhero t-shirt. It’s also not unusual to run into people from places as widely spread as China, the Philippines, and Nigeria. Kaelennar has more than a touch of that mix of peoples and interaction of cultures.

After the city is taken over, Maelen is torn between personal revenge and saving her people. How did you balance these competing drives?

Again, it’s a matter of trying to keep Maelen a sympathetic character. She’s a very fierce person, and that’s a core element of her character, but when it comes right down to it, people matter more to her than principle. That doesn’t mean she would be averse to a little revenge, just that she has her priorities straight. The experiences she has during the war change her dramatically, but she began life with a strong, loving family, and that’s one of the things that helps to keep her grounded. Having something important to do also keeps her going.  Were she completely on her own, she might have taken a very different path.

Etched in Fire has some amazing creatures and races that were well developed. What was your favorite creature to create and write for?

The tava-spider was a lot of fun to write; I had to figure out how to make it creepy enough to hit, not just a fear response, but a revulsion response. As humans, we’re wired to react toward something that is unnatural, not simply something that is frightening. It also helped to show what the owl-dwarves were capable of doing and why they were so terrible, so it was a win-win creation as far as I was concerned. My favorite part of the tava-spider in particular were the eyes; when I came up with the idea of clustered eyes that all looked cat-shaped, I had to go with it, considering it creeped me out as well!

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Etched in FireJust as a barge enters Kaelennar, the city is attacked by an army of bloodthirsty esch. To protect fourteen-year-old Maelen Saltbearer, Gannet dresses her as a boy, and they take refuge with another family. Maelen wants to fight—she has some untested magical powers—but instead the children are to flee the city. The occupation of Kaelennar continues, and the children eke out a meager existence, unable to better their lot against the esch . . . until one day Maelen Saltbearer is caught, along with her friends, while smuggling children from the city. Tortured and left for dead, Maelen snaps. Torn between personal revenge and saving her people, Maelen has a decision to make.

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About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is a book review website which consists of mostly fiction books, but we do enjoy non fiction works that we're excited about. All reviews are the reviewer’s honest opinion. We love books and read constantly (seriously, it’s an addiction). We're always open to book review requests and have aspirations of one day being sucked into the Twilight Zone episode with Burgess Meredith where all he wants to do is read, but can’t until the world ends; you know what I mean?

Posted on April 13, 2016, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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