Wyndwrayth finds Nick living in an old farmhouse overlooking a mysterious island in Wales where he becomes intrigued by its ancient and deserted mansion. What served as your inspiration whilst writing this book?
Once, when travelling, I came across this deserted, majestic old mansion house. It looked ancient, decrepit, left mouldering to sink into the landscape. It was in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by overgrown trees and shrubs. It had lichens and green moulds staining its walls, ivy had invaded its broken windows which seemed to stare at me menacingly. The house had a presence, a brooding, ominous spirit that looked like it could swallow you whole. I remember thinking that it must have many stories to tell.
Having moved myself from Manchester to Wales the landscape here was also a big influence. The ancient monuments, the Norse connection and the lakes close, by inspired my research and my story grew from those influences. The Celtic connection to water and their mythology along with the Norse mythology also wove their way into my consciousness, combining with the memory of the intriguing mansion and Wyndwrayth was born.
Nick Swann is an intriguing character that I felt gained layers as the story progressed. What were some themes you wanted to capture while creating his character?
I wanted to create a male character who is childless, approaching and becoming middle aged. I wanted to explore how he became stuck in a time gone by because of the death of his wife and how he falls back on those times when he’s in trouble. The character has a deep loneliness, which creates a certain unhealthy introspection and self medication. In addition, I wanted to explore the usual problems of middle age; ill health and death of parents, changing of roles from son to carer and changing of profession. A lot of his character is established during the first book, Powderfinger, which creates his move to Wales. Nick knows he needs to shed the past and move on, to evolve. He is looking for a new place to be, a new profession, a new life. The unexpected appearance of Wendy Finch becomes an exciting turning point and I’m looking forward to seeing the long term effects it has upon him in the stories to come.
This is the second story in the Nick Swann Series. Where did you want to take this book that was different from book one?
In Powderfinger Nick is a probation officer who almost accidentally becomes embroiled in historical research into strange occurrences, which lead him unexpectedly into the world of the supernatural. His degree in History suddenly becomes of use to him and it reawakens his passion for discovery. It lifts him from his boring, hermit-like, everyday existence, bringing excitement, a sense of accomplishment and a possibility of a different future. It is this that I wanted to explore in Wyndwrayth. Here he moves from living in the past to exploring it. I wanted to establish him in this story as a professional researcher and investigator of both historical and supernatural events.
In addition I wanted to move his character forward, to becoming more pro-active in the story and to create a new partnership with Wendy Finch, to lift him from his lonely existence.
What is the next book you are working on and when will it be available?
My next Nick Swann story has the working title of Shacklady Rest and is presently in its first draft. It will team Nick and Wendy together in another dark and mysterious adventure, set in the brooding mountains of Snowdonia. I anticipate it will be ready to publish sometime next year.
This is the second horror novel in the Nick Swann series. This scary story finds Nick now living in an old stone farmhouse on the lonely and mysterious shores of Llyn Isaf, in Wales. He becomes intrigued by its mist-covered lake island, Ynys Y Niwl and its dark, ancient and long deserted mansion, Wyndwrayth.
Its moldering edifice holds many secrets and treasures, some of which draw Nick and his old friend Alan, into dangerous realms. Death stalks the island and as the dangerous spectral figures of The Millar of Souls, The Paladin and Gideon reveal themselves, it becomes increasingly difficult to discern between reality and dreams.
As the death toll rises, Nick finds himself, along with his new partner, Wendy and her Wolf, Mir embroiled in a struggle not just to maintain sanity but to stay alive.
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Wyndwrayth by Keller Yeats proves to be both interesting and captivating as the reader follows the central figure, Nick Swann, as he bumbles through his semi-isolated real world life and slowly discovers the existence of a second, more deadly world, all around him. These two parallel worlds slowly converge as you turn the pages to reveal what is undoubtedly a cleverly researched horror novel yet still containing moments of strong humour and absurdity.
The first passage of the novel only offers the briefest glimpse of what is to come as it describes events of 1016 in a place named Flotta in the Orkney Islands of Scotland. Much later a more sinister story is revealed, as the full impact of ghosts and ghouls condemned to a life of perpetual purgatory wreaking havoc from their haunted house for a 1000 years follows.
After this brief immersion into Norse mythology the story abruptly introduces the daily life of Nick as a self-styled geek, working occasionally on business research for associates at Bangor University, from an inherited cottage on the island of Anglesey in Wales.
Despite apparent excesses of marijuana, brandy and coffee, Nick still manages to investigate further into the mysterious local occurrences, drownings and inexplicable disappearances which all combine with the mythical backdrop to reveal the cold stark reality of evil forces at work on his doorstep.
As the chapters proceed the two sides are drawn ever closer to their inevitable confrontation – for the outcome you will have to read for yourself, but I quite enjoyed this ethereal mesh of myth and contemporary life. As the two classically configured worlds of good and evil come closer together will Nick and Wendy survive or will they pass into the world of the undead? The only spoilers I will offer here are that if you are offended by strong language and an occasional blood-letting scenario then turn away, but you would be missing an riveting story that I could not put down.
Initially, I did find Nick’s apparent excessive talking to himself annoying; but ultimately I felt like this added to his slightly eccentric and bohemian character. Wyndwrayth by Keller Yeats offers an enthralling well-researched read. The author is able to methodically create an enthralling character, place him in a vivid world, and face him against an enthralling antagonist. If you enjoy stories about myths and legends then you will certainly enjoy this novel.
Pages: 739 | ASIN: B078ZM1R17
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Erinland follows 21st century characters as they are catapulted into a 9th Century Viking war. Some fantastic battles and world building ensues. What was your inspiration for the setup to this fascinating novel?
Actually, my inspiration came from the Irish side of the conflict. When visiting Ireland some years ago we visited Trinity College in Dublin. Displayed in a glass case is the Book of Kells. It is a beautifully illuminated ancient manuscript with vivid colours and characters depicting stories from the four Gospels of the bible. The Book of Kells is believed to have been written around the year 800 in a monastery in Iona. After a Viking raid on the monastery, the surviving monks took refuge in a new monastery at Kells, taking their treasures with them. The meticulous attention to detail and its beauty resonated with me, so I did some digging into Irish history and the Viking presence in Ireland. This finally lead me to Amy and Richard and the writing of Erinland.
Erinland provides much in the way of Viking history. Did you do a lot of research to maintain accuracy of the subject?
Yes, I certainly did do a lot of research into both Irish and Viking (Norse) histories and mythologies. I learned a lot about their ways and beliefs and found it absolutely fascinating!
I understand this is a your debut novel. What a fantastic start! What made you start writing?
I’ve always dabbled a little with writing. I enjoy getting lost in the ‘writing space’ and hopefully creating something entertaining for the reader but for Erinland, the catalyst was seeing the Book of Kells first hand.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am currently working on a sequel to Erinland. It should be available mid 2018.
Two troubled young adults find themselves key players in a deadly game that spans the 21st century and the Viking Age.
Amy, finding it difficult to ‘fit in’, becomes increasingly obsessed with the virtual reality game Erinland. The VR characters and the mist of Erin begin to invade Amy’s dreams and her waking moments. She finds herself drawn into Erinland in 9th century Ireland. Amy becomes part of this mystical world as she joins in the struggle to defeat the Viking raiders.
Richard has a complicated home life and feels he doesn’t belong anywhere. A series of events finds him desperate and living on the streets, where he finds himself dragged into 9th century Norway by a Viking warrior. Richard finds acceptance with the Vikings and joins them on a colonisation raid to Ireland.
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Kathryn Berryman’s Erinland infuses Christianity into ancient rites while catapulting 21st Century characters into a 9th Century Viking war. Two teens, Amy and Richard, serve as threads in an intricate tapestry of historical fiction. Sharing the weave is Aiden, a monk protecting valuable antiquities with his life.
The story moves along through the points of view of one of the three most important characters. When Amy and Richard land in their respective, opposing villages, they are fully embraced. Both are long-awaited reincarnations of gods of the time. We’d expect the teenagers to feel displaced and confused, but they adapt quickly.
Berryman provides much in the way of Viking history, landscape, and relic description. Erinland is driven by her vast interest in these. We learn much lore through the tale of these ordinary, troubled children endowed with extraordinary powers from the glorious beings they represent. Berryman’s depictions of the cultures during the time are lovely and detailed as she describes their villages, clothing, and lifestyles. “The kransen, a gilt circlet worn on the head by unmarried girls, is removed from the young bride to be. It is a symbol of her virginity. The kransen is wrapped up by the bride’s attendants and put away until the birth of her eldest daughter who it will pass to.” (Page 194).
In Berryman’s desire to share her knowledge, she writes long monologues. These establish her as a credible authority on ancient history, but do so at the expense of natural dialogue. After suddenly being transported in time, the three primary characters are plunked down and force-fed tons of information. “Richard listened closely to Vagn as he spoke. It was a lot of information to absorb.” (Page 325).
The lack of meaningful exchanges sacrifices character development. This is particularly true for Amy, but less so for Richard. Relating to the characters is essential for us to want to read on.
Because war is the foundation of the plot, we may find it difficult to suspend belief when we are told the teens can learn how to become warriors in a few afternoons. Berryman relies upon descendent memory to take care of the problem. “Familiarise yourself with our ways. Your memories will return. A son of Odin retains his father’s essence and with it his memories and might.” (Page 183).
In the end Erinland is a fascinating story that fuses mythology with well-choreographed battle scenes.
Pages: 278 | ASIN: B01MR9IAQL
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Delve into this mystical world populated with equally mystical beings. In Outpost by F.T. McKinstry we are introduced to a race of beings called The Fylking. Ethereal beings that have crossed over the universe and jumped from their world to the world of Math. These creatures shift from animal forms to those resembling a human but not quite. They cannot be seen by just anyone yet everyone knows they exist. A group of individuals known as Wardens act as liaisons between these beings and the rest of the world. For better or worse, they are entwined. We have three main characters who will shape the tale: Arcmael, a Warden, Melisande who is a woman that knits and Othin, a Ranger in the king’s employ. Innocent interactions beget the telling of an intricate tale: one that will see war, death and heartache feed off each other. Each of the three holds a part in this tale and some are more important than we are first led to believe.
McKinstry begins her tale with world building. This is an essential piece of any good fantasy novel as readers need to have some sort of understanding. This is a world not of our own and McKinstry does a great job carefully laying out the lore, legends and very geography of the world of Math. In the very back of the book there is a glossary which also holds some pronunciation tips. This is a bonus as some authors just expect people to understand. McKinstry gives preliminary information in the glossary without giving away what happens in the context of the tale. This can be a delicate balance and she achieves it well.
While Outpost is declared the first novel in a series, it can stand well on its own. There is a beginning, middle and neatly wrapped up ending which answers the burning questions raised while reading. Technically, more books are not required to enjoy the story, so it would be interesting to see if McKinstry carries on with the same set of characters or if the next book simply takes place in the same world. Either way, Outpost is an excellent installment.
Another thing to note is that the chapters are named. This is more insightful than just simply numbering them as it gives readers a sense of what is to come. Not many authors seem to name their chapters anymore, but this sets the tone for an adventurous read.
While McKinstry weaves the story, and captivates readers it is the characters themselves who seal the deal. Each character is created with such depth and personality that they could almost jump off the page and walk among us. What it is exactly that creates this feeling is nothing short of excellent writing and an author who has practiced their craft and carefully constructed this world. Indeed, McKinstry is much like a goddess with the way author sways the characters and dictates their actions. It’s almost like the author is there, within the pages, guiding the characters as well as the readers along.
For anyone who is interested in the rich tapestry of fantasy with solid world building and three dimensional characters, Outpost by F.T. McKinstry is a must read.
Pages: 370 | ASIN; B0138V5YE4
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The Lifeblood of Ill-Fated Women revolves around the story of two Valkyries, sisters Astrid and Yrsa, in a world still ruled by Nordic Gods. What was the inspiration for this novel and the Norse mythology used throughout?
Spoiler alert in that question. Lol.
My inspiration was two fold.
One, I really had not read or seen much about Valkyries in years. They are very interesting mythological beings, but not really focused on in movies, cartoons, or TV. Seems like a wasted opportunity, so I took it. I wanted to write a story about a woman who was questioning her reality on several levels. Is she alive, is she dead, was she adducted by aliens, is she in hell? etc.
Two, I felt like Norse mythology is something people, readers, movie-goers, are willing to openly accept easier than some other myths or cultural beliefs. Maybe because of it being so fantastical. Sometimes we believe the things that are harder to believe and accept quicker than those things more based in reality.
For example…. So many people watch and follow ghost shows and believe all that we are shown, but then laugh at the hunters chasing Big Foot in the forest. Paranormal vs. A living being (although myth). Seems like it would be easier to believe in a missing link than spirits from another realm right? Well, maybe that’s just me.
Note: I believe in both actually. 🙂 And aliens.
Regardless, Norse myth is fabulous. And there are a few good fiction books you can find and read. I read one prior to writing this book. Good reference material to pick over. That and my old original Deities and Demigods D&D book. 🙂
What kind of research did you have to do to make sure you got the mythology correct?
As stated about, I bought and read one book. Norse Mythology: A Guide to Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs by Lindow. I also used my old hardbound Deities and Demigods D&D book for inspiration.
I spent a LOT OF TIME online researching what “curse words” and foul language would have been used in the Viking Age. I could not deal with or accept the use of modern four letter words being said by my characters. I really lost sleep over it. I finally found some replacement words that were close to the time period or language. Not perfect, but I felt like the reader would understand what I was going for.
I never like watching movies set in ancient times with characters spewing modern day bad words….unless we are talking about STARZ’s SPARTACUS. That was awesome, and with all the over the top blood and guts it was fine. 🙂
As a writer who researches, I like to find the facts and then decide how best to use or alter them to fit into my works of fiction.
When Astrid falls in battle and wakes up with no memory the reader is brought into Astrid’s mind to be witness to her paranoia, fear, confusion and inner struggles. What were the obstacles you felt were important to highlight to connect readers with Astrid and develop her as a character?
Everyone struggles with these things on some level.
Astrid is a big, strong, proud Viking warrior. Who can relate to that? BUT they can relate to all her inner struggles. Who hasn’t questioned their reality? Who wasn’t felt afraid of something one moment, then loved it the next. Think of skydivers. Fear and then joy in a matter of seconds.
Astrid was originally designed as a near cave woman. She grunted and groaned. Took what she wanted. Feared nothing. But an early draft was read by my editor and she pointed it right out. Astrid was unrelateable. I did not want that.
My plan was to write a fantasy-horror story with a character who just cannot figure out if she is alive or dead. Her beliefs would pull her thoughts into both directions; a tug-of-war. While she struggled, the story played out. Things would be happening all around her and she would have to decided what to do, regardless of her inner struggles. That’s life. We all are faced with that.
I was really sick with the flu or something the other week. Two days of being the sickest I had been in 20 years. And guess what, I needed to go get my new drivers license photo. Time had ran out. I was faced with an obstacle on top of another obstacle. Life gets complicated.
In some books or movies, it seems like the hero only has one major concern. That’s unrealistic to me. Yeah, go save your kidnapped daughter Liam Neeson, don’t worry about needing to buy more ammo, or the authorities, or laws, or weather, or your own wounds, or….
This is a well written novel that leaves open the possibility for other stories to follow. Do you have another story in the works?
Book two is currently being written. It takes place several months after book one. I envision this series as 3-5 books long.
“Astrid the White isn’t an average princess. She has always stayed by the side of her father, King Kol, and learned warfare and weaponry from the best Vikings in the land. When she awakens in the city of Birka and hears the sounds of war, she rushes proudly into the fray. She is more than capable of taking down any enemy wishing to disturb the peace.
This enemy, however, isn’t what she expected. Before Astrid even gets outside the walls, a golden light knocks her out.
She comes to in the snow, in full battle armor. Astrid first suspects that this is a challenge from her father–or even the gods themselves. By acting correctly, she can gain the favor of Odin, the Allfather.
Astrid wants to complete the test, but it becomes more and more difficult as she explores this new part of the world and encounters both monsters and monstrous men. As creatures from the darkest legends reveal themselves, Astrid will discover that her journey isn’t about acting correctly or passing Odin’s test. It’s about pure survival. Before she can even think about finding Birka, she will have to defend herself against the demons of this new world.”
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