Kelvin and Elizabeth grew up in different places, both taught that they were the only people to survive the Dark Days; but they start to question their pasts when they hear strange tales that suggest otherwise. When fate brings them together, it creates more questions than answers: Will Kelvin uncover enough of the mysteries in time to free his home from the evil man who rules it? By following an ancient map to the last resting place of the mysterious fourth Founder of Triopolis, he hopes that the information he seeks will be revealed. When an accident forces Elizabeth to flee with Kelvin, they find themselves on a path that leads him home. During their journey, they discover an ancient race of people who have unbelievable powers over the natural world. Will Elizabeth and Kelvin learn how to fight off the evil that threatens their own existence?
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Steel, Blood and Fire is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a fantasy, military, and history as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
I was, in part, inspired by Glenn Cook’s Black Company series, along with the Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Steven Erikson. So much so that I wanted to try my own hand at it.
I found Vykers to be a very well written and in depth character. What was your inspiration for his emotional turmoil through the story?
Here, I think I was most inspired by Odysseus, and his long journey home from Troy. Vykers has a lot of Odysseus’ arrogance — and deadly competence, as well.
The supporting characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
That’s a tough one! Of course Vykers is fun to write. But so is Rem, the actor. That character allowed me to poke fun at the acting profession and relive a few of my own foibles. Then there is Spirk, the idiot. I have a special place in my heart for characters who are not quite up-to-speed, for want of a better term. He also provides a lot of the story’s comic relief. Finally, Aoife was enjoyable for me, because she reminds me of my sisters and wife, to some degree. I really liked looking at the story through her Earth Mother’s eyes.
I understand that you’re also an actor and stand-up comedian. How have those experiences helped you write your stories?
I think those things definitely shape my voice as a writer, the way I hear dialogue, and indulge in opportunities to shameless nonsense. But being an actor has also given me a fair amount of experience wielding a long sword, which comes in handy when writing fight scenes.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
Actually, you have (kindly) review the first book in an existing four-book series. Steel, Blood & Fire is followed by As Flies to Wanton Boys, Corpse Cold, and, most recently, The Abject God. I am currently working on the series finale, The End of All Things, which I expect will to release in late 2018.
On the march, around the campfire, and in the taverns, they tell incredible stories about Tarmun Vykers, the Reaper – how he’s never been cut in battle, how he once defeated hundreds of men by himself, how he exterminated an entire people over an insult. These stories make Vykers seem like a god, but he is a man, an arrogant, ruthless and bloodthirsty man. For all that, he may be the only thing standing between the human race and utter annihilation at the hands of the mad wizard who calls himself the End-of-All-Things. Against this backdrop, smaller, lesser folks struggle to fulfill their own destinies, folks like Aoife, burdened with a secret so dark she is driven to do the unimaginable and seek an alliance with fey powers no mortal has ever encountered.
Posted in Interviews
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Black Inked Pearl follows Kate, a young Irish girl, as she searches for her lost lover. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
It began in a dream when I was in New Zealand visiting my daughter and granddaughter who live there. This was, essentially, the first page (and chapter) of the novel when Kate, panicked and feeling she was too young for love runs away desperately as her best childhood friend (I never learn his name) tries for the first time, a teenager to kiss her. That scene, that act, is the foundation for the story as she years later discovers that she as frantically and desperately loves him as she had frantically fled from him years before
I say ‘dream’ as that is the nearest word I can get, vision perhaps they would have called in in the middle Ages. But that word’s a bit misleading. In two ways.
First, it wasn’t exactly a dream in the sense of being, asleep more an experience in that liminal in-between state of being neither awake nor asleep but somehow fully both – the whole novel came in that somehow enchanted enspelled state ( I suppose you might call it ‘inspiration’). I planned nothing, but it was still a chapter a night, written down effortlessly (I don’t even remember doing it! or, by now, what the words were. it surprises me every time – so many times – I reread the book now).
Second, ‘dream’ suggests something visual, But it was more a kind of very intense node of emotion, something very personal to me (in a metaphorical sort of way the whole book is kind of autobiographical – what serious novel is not? – and the second chapter about a small girl experiencing the magical world of Donegal – is directly so.
Then the novel – and Kate – just grew. I came to know the hero well, but wish that my ‘dreams’ had given me his name
Black Inked Pearl is told in a dreamlike, almost stream of consciousness, style of writing. Why did you want to tell the story in this style and what were the challenges?
Well, it arose in dreams and the writing essential came from, and took place in, my unconscious – at least that is the only way I can understand and it. So the style is scarcely surprising, it was little under my deliberate control and almost not at all revised later.
I didn’t know in what style I was writing – the process was almost unconscious – but when it was finished I saw (or rather heard when I read it aloud ih my inner ear as I always do with my writing)that it had the rhythms and sonorities of African and Irish story-telling (my mother was a wondrous story-binder) and that some literary giants (Joyce, Fulkner, Hopkins … many others) had written in similar styles. Poetry is mixed with prose – well in a way, as with its oral resonances (a subject on which I have written in academic contexts, in Oral Poetry for example), it is all poetry, some fully, some ore in a kind of blank verse: all unexpected by me!
Also, the content. Part of what I learned as the story revealed itself to me was that the division between dream and reality is an elusive and perhaps non–existent one.
Problems – well some of my readers have problems with it! Some object because they cannot abide what they see as ‘incorrect’ grammar orthography words, not what they learned in the first form at school – I appreciate that they have tried but think they miss the point (how do they cope with Shakespeare?).
Others including my deeply wise best friend, get a bit lost in the plot from time to time, too full of Celtic mists said one. It’s too late now to amend that (and maybe it is just a necessary feature of the novel – mystic, mysterious – anyway) but I have tried to make things clearer, while not abandoning what has now has now become my signature style, in the related ‘Pearl of the Seas’ and, on the way, The helix pearl’ (the latter the same story but this time as told by the garrulouos ever-sprarklng laughing sea (a very different perspective but equally born in dreams). I wonder what is coming next ..
Oh yes, the unusual spellings were loved by the Garn Press, the lovely publishers, but at the same time gave the copy-editor real problems. Microsoft, can yoy believe it (the cheeky thing) kept automatically ‘correcting’ the ‘wrong’ spellings. In the end they got me to send a special list to add to their ‘glossary’ of all my new spellings and word and abbreviations etc. I thought that would be quick and easy – about fifty cases? Whew, no! They tell me, incredibly, that it was nearly two thousand! Don’t believe it! Ut they ear that’s true. Anyway, hey did a great job whatever.
Kate is an enthralling and curious character. What were the driving ideals behind her characters development throughout the story?
As I say it wasn’t conscious since it all came in dreams. So in a way no ‘driving ideas’.
Still I have noticed some abiding themes , detected, later, in the text, as if looking at someone else’s writing (well in way it’s NOT exactly mine, not t=in the normal way anyway – not of the deliberate, conscious careful academically trained me). /tow especially, the ones `I swoudl like to think readers will take form the novel (and from the movie if it gets made a I hope it one day will)
First as I said earlier is the understanding , that we may pretend or think we do, but that actually we do not really know the difference between reality and dreams. Given the way we have been brought up as children of the scientific revolution, this is an exceedingly difficult idea, is it not – but so important to try to accept, specially now as we become more aware of the lives, and, in a way, precious value of those with dementia. Perhaps it is only through literature and metaphor that we can eventually begin to grasp this.
Second is the thought, revealed near the end, that it is and was indeed right as Kate did, to search for others and try to help them carry their burdens. But that in the end it isourselves we are responsible for, it is our own souls for which we have to answer before (whatever metaphor we prefer here) the last judgement throne. As Kate in the final chapters had to do.
Also, after I had finished the book, I was inspired by the little butterfly that, unknown to me, the publishers had put, with the pearl and the jagged black, on the beautiful cover. ‘Butterfly’ in Greek –elsewhere too I think – is the same word and concept as for the soul, breath, spiritus, life: psyche (as in ‘psychology’, ‘psychiatry’). So the soul – figured as Kate, as every man – flies through the black ink print of the story and at the end settles down on the back cover, life fulfilled story told, with her wings folded.
Kate’s discovery of herself at the end was also, I now see, a kind of discovery of myself as person, as soul.
What are some of your inspirations as a writer that helped shape Black Inked Pearl?
Again, ‘dreams’, my unconscious I suppose. But, as one perceptive reviewer put it, only someone with my background and personality would have had those dreams. So – my life, my loves, my experiences of the resonances and styles and images of great literature, above all Shakespeare, Rumi, Homer and the Bible.
An epic romance about the naive Irish girl Kate and her mysterious lover, whom she rejects in panic and then spends her life seeking. After the opening rejection, Kate recalls her Irish upbringing, her convent education, and her coolly-controlled professional success, before her tsunami-like realisation beside an African river of the emotions she had concealed from herself and that she passionately and consumingly loved the man she had rejected.
Searching for him she visits the kingdom of beasts, a London restaurant, an old people’s home, back to the misty Donegal Sea, the heavenly archives, Eden, and hell, where at agonising cost she saves her dying love. They walk together toward heaven, but at the gates he walks past leaving her behind in the dust. The gates close behind him. He in turn searches for her and at last finds her in the dust, but to his fury (and renewed hurt) he is not ecstatically recognised and thanked. And the gates are still shut.
On a secret back way to heaven guided by a little beetle, Kate repeatedly saves her still scornful love, but at the very last, despite Kate’s fatal inability with numbers and through an ultimate sacrifice, he saves her from the precipice and they reach heaven. Kate finally realises that although her quest for her love was not in vain, in the end she had to find herself – the unexpected pearl.
The novel, born in dreams, is interlaced with the ambiguity between this world and another, and increasingly becomes more poetic, riddling and dreamlike as the story unfolds. The epilogue alludes to the key themes of the novel – the eternity of love and the ambiguity between dream and reality.
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The Mystery of St. Arondight’s tells the story of six teenagers on a mysterious quest full of adventure and suspense. During a camping trip among an abbey’s ruins, Suze, Claire, Jerry, Melody, Simon, and Sarah witness phantom flames, living skeletons, and a haunted crypt. The supernatural phenomenons raise questions that lead the group on a mysterious quest across Europe. To make matters worse, they are pitted against a crazed doctor and his menacing lackeys searching for the same answers. As the young adventurers search for clues, they uncover secrets about the legends of King Arthur, his queen, and his loyal knights.
What a fantastic break-out novel for author S. M. Porter! The plot was littered with suspense, adventure, action, a little romance – everything you need to create a great story. I enjoyed trying to figure out clues the characters had to find and the puzzles they discover.
I love history, especially history of the Middle Ages, and I find the legends of King Arthur fascinating. Porter ties these interesting topics together by using an archaeological dig as the setting, which I believe serves as the perfect venue for a novel like this. Her experience working on dig sites allows her to explain ruins, decaying bodies, and crypts in amazing detail that pulls the reader into the story.
Due to her experience with fencing, Porter makes the fight scenes lifelike. She uses her experiences to provide another level of understanding within the novel. Suze and Simon both fence, and there is a scene where one of the characters must fight a knight. Porter’s understanding of weaponry allows her allows to describe swords and shields in detail, pulling you right into the action.
Overall, I think The Mystery of St. Arondight’s is a great story with a fantastic plot, but some parts were confusing. The characters were lovable, and Porter described teenage friendships and interactions in a humorous but true way. As relatable as the characters are, I do think they needed more character development. Each character did grow throughout the story, but I felt like there development was too obvious.. I also had a hard time with the constant point of view changes. The book is primarily in first person from Suze’s point of view, but as more characters and plot developments are introduced, the point of view switches from first person to third person. I think a novel with this many point of view changes should have been written completely in third person.
I loved the mix of history and paranormal in the story and was fond of the characters. I am impressed by Porter’s ability to draw experiences from her life and describe them in such a way that makes you feel as though everything in The Mystery of St. Arondight’s really happened. My biggest criticisms are the character development and the point of view changes, but those wouldn’t keep me from reading this novel again. I hope Porter continues to follow the adventures of Suze, Jerry, Claire, Simon, Melody, and Sarah. I can’t wait to see what happens to them in the future!
Pages: 393 | ASIN: B01L0CQT42
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The Crown Princess’ Voyage is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a fantasy, history, and romance as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
I did always want to hit a variety of notes since the 2006 zero draft of the first book in the series, The Gift-Knight’s Quest, that was meant to be more of a mystery. That sort of multi genre crossover continues here, as more of a natural follow-up. I also felt that I needed whichever elements would tell these characters’ stories in the most complete way.
The supporting characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
You see it more in the next book, maybe, but I liked writing Jan’s branching-off point. He is this purely obedient, trustworthy guard for about a book and a half, then he becomes his own character with his own plot thread and nothing is quite the same. I like a few of them but he springs to mind quite easily.
The background and backstory of the characters is very detailed. Did you do a lot of research to maintain accuracy of the subject?
I let my knowledge from various studies and other books just synthesize, I decided what naming conventions and characteristics each culture featured, and it became more of an effort to keep it consistent. Especially character names which have been changed before. I think a lot of research just casually occurred on the internet over time, but also came out of my secondary Bachelors degree in Social and Political Thought which had components of anthropology and history.
What is the next book in the Gift-Knight series that you are working on and when will it be published?
I have an official third book of the trilogy which was written in 2011. However, I must revisit it, because I need it to be the caliber of The Crown Princess’ Voyage or possibly better, in order to feel right about how the trilogy is closed out. You might be intrigued to know that this past November, I decided I liked Alathea enough to write her a book. This last project is meant to be stand-alone and tell her full story from late childhood to the start of “Trilogy time”. Including a revisit of scenes you have now already witnessed through Rheb’s eyes or otherwise. Keeping it fresh without contradicting what you have already read will be a challenge but I look forward to it, when I get back to it. Book 3 will become a priority.
The Crown Princess’ Voyage is the second book in the “Gift-Knight” series of fantasy novels. It continues the story where The Gift-Knight’s Quest leaves off, developing familiar characters while introducing new ones, and showing you more of the fantasy world illustrated in Steven Sandford’s original map. Chandra’s been pushed to her wits’ end trying to keep the peace in Kensrik, the world’s largest empire; trying to spare the lives of subjects who don’t necessarily want to be ruled, who have difficulty viewing her reign as legitimate. For all her efforts, they may just banish her from Kensrik and embrace uncertainty.
Except it’s not just Kensrik facing a new and dire threat, one to whom the past conspirators threatening Chandra were mere puppets. No one has any idea what’s about to hit them, and no place in the world will be safe.
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