Dragon Ascendants is a genre-crossing novel with many different elements in it. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
Yes. Although I intended my novel to be heavy in fantasy and young adult, I also planned to draw in more genre readers. I tried to add comedy, suspense, and romance with hopes of pulling in those readers.
The supporting characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
Tallian and Fearoc were the most interesting to write for, but they are the hero and villain. As for supporting characters, Briskarr was my favorite. He was always entertaining, and I had a ton of fun deciding what I will do for him next.
When you first sat down to write this story, did you know where you were going, or did the twists come as you were writing?
I had the major points for this novel and most of the series mapped out from the start. Some action and info came in at the moment, such as the reveal of Angelia being Fearoc’s sister. Worked for the moment and achieved the purpose of knocking the readers off their feet.
This is book one in the Luminess Legends series. Where will book two pickup and when will it be available?
The next novel will pick up approximately three days after the first ended. Tallian will wake up thinking it is the morning of the battle and all that happened was a dream.
I hope to be finished writing book two in a year or so. Then the publishing process will start.
Half-elf, half-human, Tallian lives with dwarves and knows little about his birth parents. After his adopted brother runs away, hundreds of shadow bats decimate his village, and Meerkesh, Tallian’s adopted father reveals the truth about how he came to live with the dwarves in the Furin Mountains. Betrayed by the only brother he has ever known, Tallian and the dwarves flee from Fearoc, the evil elf who controls Luminess. Against what seems to be impossible odds, dwarves, elves, dragons, and men unite against Fearoc in hopes of freeing Luminess.
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The Fall of Lilith is a dark fantasy novel centered around the anti-heroine, Lilith, and the creation and fall of the angels. What was your inspiration for this imaginative novel?
The Fall of Lilith is a High Fantasy with dark elements. I grew up in a religious home and went to religious private school. Angels always fascinated me, but there isn’t much information in the bible about them, so I always imagined what they were like, both the holy angels and the fallen ones. I also read a great deal of religious books (fiction and Non-fiction), mythology and fairytales growing up. I basically combined all three to create this book. I did a lot of research and used facts from the Bible, Hebrew Bible, and Quran to ground it in reality.
I liked that we got to see Lilith change from good to bad throughout the novel, and how that was portrayed was entertaining. Did her character develop organically as you were writing or was it planned?
I always knew she would be an evil character at some point. That being said, she took it from there and developed organically.
There is heavy use of religion and myth in this book. What kind of research did you undertake for this novel to keep things accurate?
An enormous amount of research went into this novel. I researched animals, natural disasters, food, geography, names, and religious text among other things. Like Tom Clancy said, “The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.”
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
In The Fall of Lilith, Vashti Quiroz-Vega crafts an irresistible new take on heaven and hell that boldly lays bare the passionate, conflicted natures of God’s first creations: the resplendent celestial beings known as angels.
If you think you know their story, think again.
Endowed with every gift of mind, body, and spirit, the angels reside in a paradise bounded by divine laws, chief of which are obedience to God, and celibacy. In all other things, the angels possess free will, that they may add in their own unique ways to God’s unfolding plan.
Lilith, most exquisite of angels, finds the rules arbitrary and stifling. She yearns to follow no plan but her own: a plan that leads to the throne now occupied by God himself. With clever words and forbidden caresses, Lilith sows discontent among the angels. Soon the virus of rebellion has spread to the greatest of them all: Lucifer.
Now, as angel is pitted against angel, old loyalties are betrayed and friendships broken. Lust, envy, pride, and ambition arise to shake the foundations of heaven . . . and beyond. For what begins as a war in paradise invades God’s newest creation, a planet known as Earth. It is there, in the garden called Eden, that Lilith, Lucifer, and the other rebel angels will seek a final desperate victory—or a venomous revenge.
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Stealing the Sun begins in a traditional way, but then takes a turn that defies traditional fantasy story telling. What was your approach to writing this story?
The story developed organically. I started with reflections of traditional fantasy tropes (the elven maid falls in love with the mortal hero; the evil dark lord) and went from there. In some cases I deliberately twisted things (the ‘evil dark lord’ character is female and primarily interested, not in dominating the world, but in escaping from it), but in other cases my feelings about the story, my sense that there was another side to be shown, took over. Once the scene was set and a given character did something, others would react, often unwisely, and in that way they all managed to get themselves in a lot of trouble by the end of the book.
I felt that Stealing the Sun delivers the drama so well that it flirts with the grimdark genre. Was it your intention to give the story a darker tone?
If it bleeds, it leads…
In your other book, Tribulation’s War, the magic in that story was minimal and delivered believably (if magic can ever be believable) as it was in this story as well. How did you handle the magic in this story and how did it evolve as you were writing?
Most of the magic in the world of Stealing the Sun isn’t really magic but science (sort of). I wanted to look at elves, at the way that elves are traditionally portrayed (immortal, unsleeping, able to see in the dark and take sustenance from the sun, able to shapechange) and make those qualities make at least quasi-scientific sense. To be ever-young, it seems to me that a creature would need to be able to shapechange, to get rid of old, damaged cells and regenerate them. When Altir visualizes the “moving spirals and the beads of light” before he shape changes, he’s actually consciously manipulating his own DNA, although he doesn’t know that’s what he’s doing. There will be much more on shapestrength in the later books. The rune-magic of the greycloaks, on the other hand, is something I have never figured out scientifically. Basically it’s just magic, or at least psychic ability, with a good dose of nasty herb-lore mixed in.
Stealing the Sun has some interesting people that have their character flaws, but they’re still likable. How do you go about creating characters for your stories?
Characters come to me organically, without much planning involved. They seem to already exist by the time I get to them. I create a world and situations that contain conflict, and out of the conflict comes the sort of characters who fit with that world. Sometimes the characters who seemed like supporting cast end up having the strongest voice – Altir originated as a secondary character in a short story. In the next book, The Dark of the Sun, someone who didn’t get his own point of view in the first book insisted on telling his side of the story. I like characters who have different facets, who have flaws and strengths, who have a past – I’m not particularly interested in innocent coming of age characters, or one-dimensional villains, either to read about or to write.
When is the next book in the Sun Saga series due out?
The Dark of the Sun and A Red Morn Rises, the second and third books, are available now. There may be a fourth book to come.
Disinherited from the throne he believes should belong to his clan, rejected by the woman he loves, estranged from his father and uncertain of his place in a war-torn world, Altir Ilanarion searches for his path. Meanwhile, his kinsmen scheme and plot to overthrow their rival and regain the throne — but all the while, the Liar’s servants lie in wait.
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The Empty One is an epic fantasy novel setup like other epic poetry in the past; Beowulf for example. Why did you choose to write in verse for the book and what was your experience writing in this style?
Verse can set a tone that cannot ordinarily be achieved through the use of prose, and by using poetic phrases, more can be conveyed in just a single line than in an entire paragraph otherwise. For example by using short, quick words in succession, you can convey a kind of rushed and hurried atmosphere; conversely, longer phrasing sets up a more relaxed scene. Subtle keys such as these allow for a lot fewer ex-positional portions within the novel, and make room for action and character development. While writing in this style, I took a lot of inspiration from the epic poems of India, such as the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads – and as these dealt with fantastic situations and characters, poetry seemed a natural choice for my book, as well. When it came to my experience with writing in this style, it was challenging and rewarding at the same time. It took several weeks to come up with just the right phrasing in certain parts, because I simply didn’t like the mood or atmosphere of a particular section. (The hardest part was chapter twenty-six; it took so many rewrites to get that chapter just the way I wanted it, for a while I considered removing it altogether). Additionally, while not being an established writer, I made many safe choices when it came to the rhyme schemes I used – such as only using end rhymes in most places. However, I fully intend to advance to more complex styles in the future entries of the series.
In your novel I picked up some inspiration from other fantasy novels and mythology of the past that I thought played well in the story. What were some of your sources of inspiration for this book?
As mentioned, I took inspiration from The Bhagavad Gita, but I was also influenced by some Greek mythology surrounding The Titans and the Gnostic text The Reality of the Rulers.
In The Empty One there are two nations against one another, The Akalan Nation and the City States of Shaweh, that represent good and evil in the story. How did you create the dichotomy between these two nations?
The history of the two nations is that they were once one land, but split due to a civil war over ideology. They have a common history, language, and even culture in many aspects – but they cannot get past their differences over the definition of morality. They are therefore like brothers that grew apart over the ages, so much so that they have disowned each other. However, just as you might be furious with a loved one if they committed something atrocious yet still feel the need to help them, this is how the two nations exist. Both see the other as completely wrong and evil, but on some level they still feel inexorably connected.
In fantasy novels it’s easy to get carried away with the magical powers characters have. How did you balance the use of supernatural powers in The Empty One?
Magic is incidental to the story, and this was always the intention. The characters were the focus of the narrative. To achieve this, there was an idea that I always kept in mind: Supernatural powers would just be commonplace for any supernatural being, just as locomotion might seem supernatural to a plant but is ordinary for humans. Therefore any character in the book with these types of abilities would not use them to show off and instead they would use them only when the need arose.
What is the next book that you’re working on? When can you fans expect it to come out?
I am working on two books right now: The sequel to The Empty One, which is currently titled The Reaper, and it is also written in the same style (as an epic poem). This second entry into The Fallen Conviction should be out by early 2017. The other work that I have going is a horror story, not written in verse, which is much less closer to being done, called Mind.
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Two superpowers – The Akalan Nation and the City States of Shaweh – are at war. The Akalan Nation is a brutal theocracy that believe the City States are evil for not following their beliefs, and both sides are decimated from the years of fighting. In a desperate move to try and win the war for his people and his faith, the king of the Akalans, Darius, enlists the power of a mysterious man with supernatural powers named Lialthas, who claims to be an angel sent to help the righteous win the war against the disbelievers. However, as Darius soon discovers, Lialthas is not who he says he is – and he has his own motives and aspirations to power.
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Altir Ilanarion is a young man from a proud family. Once, his grandsire was High King, but his eldest uncle ceded the throne to another and disinherited his heirs. Invaders now scourge their lands, killing everything in their wake, tearing down forests and laying waste to their holdings. Altir ventures into to the neighboring land of the Greycloaks, hoping to make allies against the invaders, and in the process, falls in love with the Greycloak King’s daughter.
Kovannin Ilanarion, beloved of Altir’s uncle Tiano, is the most talented craftsman and diplomat of the Western people. His greatest wish is to see his lover retake the throne of the High King for his clan. He plans to forge alliances against the High King, using both his silver tongue and his skill in crafting weapons of war.
Stealing the Sun began in a familiar way. At first, it seemed to be the story of a young man defying his father in order to save the lives of his people and win the woman he loves. But the author, Kyri Freeman, took unexpected turns with the story that defy the traditional sagas of high fantasy. The book flirts with the grimdark genre without being utterly dark and devoid of hope. The author doesn’t shy away from portraying the characters honestly. Altir and Kovannin are sympathetic protagonists, but their ingrained prejudices and ambitions often blind them to folly. That tension, along with thrilling battles and action, kept me flipping pages.
The world building here is very clever. The author does a masterful job of describing both the physical and political landscape through the characters’ eyes. It’s also obvious that the People are not human. Though their physical description is human-like, there’s an almost too-subtle clue that they are quite different. There are other beings in this world as well; the Woodfolk, and Wighten, who could be either allies or enemies, and the Blankfaces and Draugar who are bent on crushing everything in their path.
One thing I liked about the book is that magic is known, but it is mysterious and rare. The People use weapons to fight; there are no mages flinging spells into battle. The Greycloaks use runes, but they are incomprehensible to the Western people, who have no inkling of their use or meaning. The magic in this book is subtle, appearing in dreams, or manifesting during times of great need. In short, the magic is magic, and it’s handled in a way that makes it special.
There were a few things that didn’t quite work. One concept that wasn’t fully developed was the significance of “the Nine.” This is an important plot point, with both nine gods and nine worlds mentioned without any explanation. Though the People mention cruel gods, rebirth and death, that particular bit of world building is a mystery. There’s also a particular feature of the Greycloak’s keep that seems ominous and important, but wasn’t elaborated on at all. I am hoping that it’s touched on in the rest of the trilogy.
Overall, Stealing the Sun is an action-packed story, with flawed and interesting characters. It has all the intrigue, politics, romance and betrayal that fantasy readers expect, along with twists in the narrative that are entirely unexpected. I look forward to the rest of the series.
Pages: 444 | ISBN: 1499638132
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