Religion, Legends and Magic
For the Devil Has Come with Great Wrath provides a glimpse of the havoc the Devil can wreak when he comes for the End of Days and in search of a young Office Manager. What served as your inspiration while you were writing this novel?
The very first inspiration was a sort of vision, about 10 years ago. I saw a woman standing in a room surrounded by old wood and stones. She was close to a canopy bed and she was carrying a big, heavy, woolen blanket towards a window. I felt her sorrow, she was sad about somebody, she tremendously missed a person. Ten years after I was sitting in my beautiful sunroom in Northern BC, sipping tea and staring at the dark woods outside, the trees turning red, brown and orange, the crab apples filling the air with their sweet smell. I stared for maybe 5 minutes, after which I felt an extreme urge to write. I took my laptop and hastily started recording the events that would lead to “For the Devil Has Come with Great Wrath”. I started writing in September. I had the entire story in my head, but I was busy with my daily activities, so I decided to set up a plan: I had to write at least 3,000 words a day, making up for those days in which I did not have time to write. That year the winter was particularly harsh, I felt I was held captive, and writing was the only escape from the daily -30°C, from the roads covered in ice and snow, from the long hours of darkness. I wrote almost every day, not having to think once about how the story would evolve: the adventures just flew out of me, in a sort of “channeling”. In February my first book was finished, but 6 more were already brewing in my head, including the sequels of this first book. It was only at that point that I decided to walk the next mile, and treat it as a professional work. I contacted the BC Editors Association and was smitten by their reactions to my little story. After contacting the BC Editors Association, I decided to go on a solo trip through British Columbia, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alberta. Every evening I would check my emails and find those of authorities in the field that loved my work and were looking forward to read the entire story. This incredible experience spurred me to publish the novel.
My upbringing also definitely influenced my story-telling. Both my parents are attached to traditions, religion, legends and magic. My mother made sure that I would not forget about my roots, the Valley, the village “on top of the lake” (Summus Lacus), our religion. My father enhanced everything with magic and mystery.
This book is a genre-crossing novel with elements of fantasy, christian, and supernatural as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
The story was absolutely not planned. I just decided to start writing it without even knowing how it would evolve. I did not prepare an outline, I did not fill my walls with sticky notes, I did not have pages and pages of comments. I do have a little notebook, containing information regarding, for example, how old the characters are, if they are allergic to something, when their birthdays are, when they met each other. Nothing about the story itself. It was as if I was writing events that really happened, and the intention was just to make sure those occurrences could be remembered by future generations. My editor, Janet Southcott from Viridian Earth Contract, called my novel a “New Age fantasy”.
Your book has some fantastical creatures, but what I enjoyed was how your characters worked in harmony with one another. What were some themes you wanted to capture while creating your characters?
I didn’t necessarily plan to capture any theme related to collaboration and compassion, so it definitely happened naturally. I do like the idea of different beings cooperating and developing these strong emotions and this genuine attachment for one another. In the beginning, the characters happen to come together for a higher cause; they are sort of forced to cooperate. In fact, we sometimes read that Emma doesn’t really appreciate the sternness of Ella, but, like a daughter-mother relationship, she respects the opinions and directions of a more experienced female. If we consider the novel from this point of view, it seems that the characters always approach a new “companion” with reservation, doubts and distrust. Of course, this is also caused by the events happening in the Valley, but don’t we often all react like this during our first meeting with somebody? It’s only after a few shared experiences that we manage to open up to the person in front of us. This is exactly what happens to Emma, Ella, Abela, and all the characters in the book. It is more obvious for Emma, because she is the one recollecting the events, we don’t really know what the other characters think of her, their first impression on her, but we can figure it out by reading about their behaviours and interactions with Emma through her own words. At the same time we can see how the characters evolve within their experiences: their core is the same, but their values change. There are no emotional barriers anymore; there is no time for counterproductive drama. The transition to peasant life also intensifies these values, all of a sudden the reader realizes that without technology and commodities, the characters have to communicate more, they have to cooperate and develop skills they weren’t even aware they had. Also, it is clear that by being the fellowship so diverse, each of the characters bring a different set of assets, which is shared between the members, increasing their knowledge and understanding.
This is book one in a trilogy. Where will book three pick up and when will it be available?
Book #2 and #3 are already in the process of being created, I just need the time to sit down and write them both. Book #2 will start with the main characters leaving the witch’s house and migrating to a more secure place: the gnomes’ kingdom beyond the mountains. The rest of the novel will bring more adventures and many unexpected twists. The common threads will still be the millennial fight between good and evil, love, friendship, occult, strength and hope with the Apocalypse permeating and hanging over everything like Damocles’ sword. Book #3 will incorporate also the final countdown until the last battle between good and evil, the one that will decide on the faith of humanity and Earth.
Author Links: Website | Twitter | GoodReads
When the Devil puts his price tag on your head, you know you have to call upon some very special friends to help you stay alive. Welcome to the world of Emma. Thrown from relative obscurity into a time of being hunted, our young protagonist must transition from modern day to peasant life with difficult choices and a need to adapt. Life on the run takes trust and belief in the power of others, on a vastly changing stage. Emma Plant’s first novel throws the reader into a place where reality is no longer three dimensional. Descriptions of fairies, witches, gnomes and demons paint a picture for anyone who may wish a glimpse beyond the veil. Her characters live in the reader’s imagination beyond the final page, with the promise of a sequel, and potential trilogy in the offing. This new-age fantasy story will appeal to young adults through to senior years and is a page-turner from start to finish.
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Letters to Mary Susan chronicles the life and adventures of a Missouri outlaw that is in prison for manslaughter and is trying to reconnect with his daughter through letters. What was your inspiration behind this story?
The book’s main character, Jim Howard, was one of my father’s boyhood heroes and he’d retained “Jim Howard stories” for over 70 years. I’d promised him, in 2002 to make these stories central to a book with Jim Howard as its main character.
This is a great historical fiction novel that got a lot of the details right. What kind of research did you do for this novel to keep things accurate?
I did a lot of online and library research re: pre-Civil War, Civil War, post-Civil War “outlawry (“guerilla warfare”), Cattle drives, the rise of Montana outlawry and the “Wild Bunch,” Big Muddy outlawry, leading to personal interviews and old newspaper/library reviews regarding homesteading and personal interviews with prison personnel regarding prison characteristics as well as older individuals with recollections of the Prison Chaplain’s, Howard’s lawyer’s and Howard’s daughter’s roles in his release from jail.
What I liked about James’s character was that he held nothing back and didn’t try to cast himself in a good light, just told it like it is. What themes did you want to capture while you were writing his character?
That redemption and a new start is possible for us all.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
A book of poetry that I hope to have ready before the end of this year.
Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter
A historical fiction that draws the reader into the near past
In his historical novel, LETTERS TO MARY SUSAN, Jerry Hammersmith chronicles the life and adventures of a Missouri outlaw, James Marion Howard. The novel is narrated by an aging Jim Howard as he begins to serve a sentence of fifteen years for Manslaughter. His lonely prison cell in the newly built Saskatchewan Penitentiary in Prince Albert is the impetus to repent and reconnect with his past.
Through Jim’s reflections and letters to his long-estranged daughter, Mary Susan, the novel becomes a chronicle of the life of a Missouri outlaw who fled post Civil War America, leaving behind his wife and family and seeking escape from the law by racing across the western states, robbing stage coaches, trains and banks, until a posse chases him across the 49th parallel and into the newly formed Saskatchewan, Canada. He finds a new life and becomes a citizen of Canada after fulfilling the homestead requirements and establishing a new identity there.
As Howard recalls his outlaw past, Hammersmith leads the reader into the saga of the American Civil War, the tragedy of post war devastation and the flight of an insurgent guerrilla on the run to homestead in the ‘promised land’ of Canada. The surprising identity of that outlaw and his place in the small community of Teddington, Saskatchewan provides a tale of adventure, mystery and passion.
The twists and turns of this amazing story offer a glimpse into the ravages of the Civil War and the aftermath of the brutal and senseless vengeance that stole the lives of many young men. It leads the reader to an understanding of the path of a man’s choices and the hope that redemption is possible for us all.
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Exporter of Popular Culture
I Spy with My Little Eye analyses and discusses our changing behaviours as a society. Why was this an important book for you to write?
This book was important for me to write for three different reasons. First, on a personal level, researching and writing this book has helped me think through a number of concerns that have been in the back of my mind for a while about the direction in which our society is heading. As a result of this process, I’m more convinced than ever that I, as a parent, need to make active choices that go against some of today’s societal trends if I’m to provide my children with a sensible worldview and a solid starting point in life.
Second, I find it worrying that there isn’t greater debate about the values and norms underpinning our society. I think we need to acknowledge and perhaps rethink many of our behaviours if we wish to solve some of the symptoms of ill-health that are plaguing our societies, such as stress and anxiety, financial indebtedness and shallow aspirations. It’s difficult to change course if we don’t know where we’re heading. Acknowledging the problems is therefore a good start. I raise a lot of issues for discussion in this book and it’s my hope that it will be used for spurring debates in schools, book clubs and other places.
Finally, as I see it, questions around morality have too often been outsourced to, and monopolized by, organized religion. What I want to show by using the seven deadly sins and seven heavenly virtues is that being religious is not a precondition for being concerned about, and engaging in discussions around, morality.
This book uses a combination of statistics, quotes and recent topics to illustrate various points. I thought the research was outstanding. What was one thing that surprised you while you were researching this book?
On the whole, the data I used in the various chapters supported the hunches I already had about the issues I raise. In that sense I wasn’t particularly surprised by what the data showed. That said, I was still horrified to have my suspicions confirmed, especially when it came to statistics concerning children, such as the large amount of time they, on average, spend in front of screens, and the little time they spend outdoors.
This book looks at some of the problems affecting Britain s society today. Is there a problem that is unique to Britain? What is a problem that is shares with the world?
Although I’m drawing on material mainly from the British context, the issues I’m discussing are applicable to many more countries than the UK. I would argue that much of what I write about are trends found across the Western world. For example, in the first chapter titled Pride I discuss how today’s ‘celebritisation’ – the increased celebration of celebrities – affects the aspirations of young people towards careers that come with fame and glamour. This trend is far from unique to Britain. Seeing, for example, that the reality TV series Keeping Up with the Kardashians is apparently aired in 167 countries, I would say this issue is rather widespread.
Also, the role of the West as a predominant exporter of popular culture and information means that the norms and values we experience today in Britain may well be the norms and values experienced across the developing world in the years to come, if they aren’t already.
I think it would be a worth-while exercise to organize cross-cultural debates around the issues I raise in this book. For example, it would be interesting to set up panel debates at universities for students from different countries to discuss commonalities and differences in how they perceive values and norms playing out in their respective societies.
I understand that you currently live in London, but you’ve also lived in various other countries. How has this affected you as a citizen?
I was born and raised in the Northern Swedish countryside and I have moved many times as an adult, both within countries and across countries and continents. For over a decade now I’ve called England my home; starting off in London, moving out to the Essex commuter belt, and more recently setting up shop in rural Devon.
These moves have naturally altered the mirrors in which I see myself in relation to other people and cultures. Each time these contextual mirrors have changed I have had to step out of autopilot mode and take stock. In that sense, I think the many moves have made me wiser and more understanding as a person. They have also added a comparative perspective to my societal observations. For example, I think I have a better grasp of American politics because I’ve lived in both Montana and Washington D.C. And, I think I understand European geopolitics better because I’ve called Sweden, France, Spain and the UK my home.
On the other hand, I would probably have exercised a louder societal and political voice if I had stayed in my home country. Being an immigrant comes with a natural wish to blend in, and to be accepted. Especially after Brexit, I have sadly found myself adding things like ‘my husband is British’ or ‘I’ve been in England for many years’ when I meet new people simply to justify my existence in this country. I must also admit that I’ve had a fear when writing this book that people will think ‘who are you to come here and judge us?’ I sincerely hope the book won’t evoke such feelings.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
In my next book I highlight the Western world’s evaporated trust in politics, business, and international institutions and argue that we need to tackle this lack of trust through greater focus on integrity and honesty in public life. I shed light on a number of the mechanisms believed to induce integrity through interesting (and hopefully amusing) cases from around the world, including whether Donald Trump’s fibbing can be stopped by naming and shaming, and if FIFA’s culture of corruption is finally an issue of the past. My intention with the book is to re-package academic research into an approachable format and let interesting cases bring the theories to life.
The book is only in its research phase so it won’t be ready for publishing for quite a while still.
Author Links: GoodReads | LinkedIn
Which direction is our society heading in? Does it provide a good enough nurturing ground for the next generation to flourish? Is it time we took a good look at our values and behaviour and changed course? Dr Linnea Mills offers a frank discussion about the prevailing norms and values in today’s Britain, interpreted through the seven deadly sins and seven heavenly virtues. She tackles head-on topics as diverse as celebrity culture, work-life balance, immigration politics and economic divisions. This is a book for anyone with a keen interest in society, philosophy and politics. Get inspired and join the debate.
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