A Sense Of Transcendence
Posted by Literary Titan
The Spiral of My Destiny continues the saga of Rosteval, where the characters are forming unusual alliances to stop the destruction of their world. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
For me, the most important thing was to continue Rosteval’s story in a way that would feel fresh and exciting while also building on everything I’d established in book one, The Altar of My Fate.
By the time I finished Altar, I knew I wanted Rosteval to confront some kind of threat that would be connected to the past history of his world, but I didn’t have any clear specifics in mind.
So, one thought that I had was to try to come up with my own take on the whole concept of the “dark lord.”
Now, many years ago I read Milton’s Paradise Lost, and as anyone who has read it can attest, the character of Satan, or Lucifer, steals the show in the very first scene. He’s a fascinating anti-heroic character, and he’s far, far more interesting and relatable than Milton’s portrayals of God the Father, Christ, or Adam and Eve.
My character Soltapyral thus grew out of my own fascination with the idea of the arch-evil appearing as an angel of light.
He’s an immortal, effectively a god, who is trying to take over the world by seducing people with conjurations, visions that show them immersive, individualized fantasy worlds of pleasure and desire into which they can escape permanently.
Of course, since I set up Rosteval and his wife Ghaitta as enemies of this being who is trying to end all wars, all conflicts, all cruelty and oppression and suffering, and who has the means to do so, I had to explore human nature, good and evil, and the meaning of life.
Many aspects of modern life more or less reflect Soltapyral’s mindset: the idea that individual comfort and consumption should be the telos, that is to say the meaning, the end-all and be-all, of human existence.
Essentially the whole edifice of modern civilization is built on this idea, but it’s a lie.
We moderns have more cheap calories, more drugs, and more entertainments and distractions than any other group of humans in the whole of world history… but are we happy, fulfilled, and contented for it?
If the satisfaction of individual appetites and the pursuit of individual comfort, self-esteem, and validation was the key to human fulfillment—what Aristotle calls eudaimonia, in essence “the good life”—we wouldn’t have skyrocketing rates of obesity, drug abuse (prescription and illegal), and depression, anxiety, loneliness, and deaths of despair.
The thing of it is, and this is another key theme in Spiral, human beings need meaning, purpose, and identity, and that means we need to struggle toward meaningful goals, cultivate meaningful relationships with others, and find a sense of transcendence, a sense of something higher than ourselves.
Let me step off my soapbox and close by acknowledging another source of inspiration for this story: my amazing, incredibly supportive fiancée. I really could not have written the central relationship in this story, namely Rosteval and his wife Ghaitta, without having experienced the life we are building and have built together.
Did you create an outline for the characters in the story before you started writing or did the character’s personalities grow organically as you were writing?
I’m one of those people who writes with a mixture of the “architect” approach, which is heavy on outlining, and the “gardener” or “pantser” (as in “seat of my pants”) approach, which is all about seeing what happens as the story goes along.
What this means is that I created an outline with some story beats, and then started writing. I had a good grasp on Rosteval and Ghaitta since, after all, I had spent a whole book with them already, but some of the other characters surprised me.
A case in point is Kurjayak, a tribal chieftain who joined Rosteval in the first book. He’s a brave but ruthless warrior, and he has led his people on numerous raids against enemy tribes for the purpose of capturing slaves.
This is all very typical in this world. Kurjayak is not unusual in this regard among his people, and his people are not unusual among the other warring tribes and kingdoms of the world of the Rosteval Saga.
For that matter, there have been many times and places in our own world’s history in which Kurjayak would have fit in perfectly.
As I gave Kurjayak free rein to express himself, though, I found him expressing a view of life defined by responsibility, struggle, and achievement.
His warrior culture is preoccupied with courage, action, and a keen sense of personal honor that must be ruthlessly defended.
And in many ways, Kurjayak embodies those values and uses them to affirm his own life. I’ll say this: he was a lot of fun to write.
I also had to think about how Rosteval’s own mentality had shifted, or would shift, in this book.
He spends essentially the whole of Altar attempting to gain things: status, power, slave-girls, a place for his people.
There’s a certain mentality you need if you’re going to undertake an adventure like that, and a somewhat different mentality you need if you’re married and planning to defend your position of power.
How long did it take you to imagine, draft, and write the world your characters live in?
This is a challenging question to answer because in truth, I spent years working on Rosteval’s world, but I added things with this new book and am adding even more things with the one I’m working on now.
Basically, it took me three tries from 2013 to 2018 to come up with a complete draft of Altar, and I did a lot of worldbuilding during that period.
Then I set the whole thing aside until my now-fiancée talked me into picking it back up, which I did in 2020 during the pandemic. I did a lot more worldbuilding in 2020 and 2021, and the process continues today with the book I’m working on now (about which more below).
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m working on Book Three, the working title being The Third Way of My God.
My goal right now is to complete it and publish it before my fiancée and I get married in early August, but we’ll see: I may need more time due to the size and complexity of this story.
Also, if any of my readers want to stay in touch, right now the best place to do it is my Facebook page. And please feel free to reach out, whether on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or through the website!
About Literary TitanThe Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.
Posted on June 12, 2022, in Interviews and tagged action, adventure, author interview, epic fantasy, fantasy, fiction, Michael R. Schultheiss, sword and sorcery, The Spiral of My Destiny. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.
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