The Queen of Heaven
Black Ink Pearl the screen play was adapted from your award winning novel Black Inked Pearl: A Girl’s Quest. What were some challenges you encountered while adapting your novel?
Well, first I had to learn something about screenplay writing, so so different from a novel. Hadn’t a clue!! But was passionate about doing it so signed up at more than I could afford (worth it) for a course with Voyage Media. It was brilliant. Though this one wasn’t the script I got mentored on then (by marvelous and incredibly patient – I really was clueless to start – Kathleen McLaughlin) they must have taught me the craft well as have just – wait for it – heard that my ‘Black Ink Pearl’ script (subtly changed title from the book, nothing clever or deep, just to differentiate it) the Genre Winner for scifi/fantasy in the internationally acclaimed (whew!) Capital Fund Screen Play Contest 2017. Doesn’t mean it gets produced, but its certainly a step closer. It will now – this is the process for the winners – get put in front of producers (who normally, don’t I know it, ignore any sent-in scripts) in the leading companies worldwide, including China. Still looking for other producers to consider it, so let me know if you know of any. It’s a great read, honest, fantastic in both senses, great actin and characters. Anyway hold your thumbs.
Am just finishing a second, this time based on a Walter Scott novel. If adapting a novel the trick, I now know, and it’s a good one, enjoyable, is to leave out two thirds of the scenes of the original and rewrite, perhaps utterly change, most of the rest but at the same time still be inspired by that original story that first caught and moved you. Also always always always – so hard for a novelist – to show, never to tell; show through actions words, and not adverbs or attributed (by you ) inner emotions (if it’s written properly the emotion comes through in the dialogue and the acting, leave it to them). Have had such fun learning all this and seeing the characters of the novels I love through new eyes.
Also to use that funny layout (‘Final draft’ it’s called) that is apparently the ‘industry standard’. And not too many pages – 100 seems to be about right for a full-length feature film.
And don’t expect anyone to be prepared to read it, do it just for love and passion. All the same keep trying and (essential) get as much much feedback and as many times as you can (I had really great fdvice from WEScreenplay judges, not too expensive) and don’t even think of entering contests till you’ve got a high mark from one of them (I learned that the hard way
Have been encouraged since then to read somewhere that if you’re successful in one genre people may tell you to stick to that, but actually you’re likely to be successful in another, so – but only if you really WANT to – don’t’t be afraid to try it.
Wow – how did I get into all this from one simple question …
Film rights are held by Garn Press. Where are you in the process of turning this screenplay into a movie?
Holding our thumbs that we get a deal. We just just might …
If we do get an option, we’d divide the proceeds between us in our agreed proportion, while the (lesser) amount for the screenplay, in which I hold the copyright, would come to me. The good thing about an option for, say, 3-6 months, is that even if they decide ot to proceed with the movie we get to keep that money and once the option time expires can try elsewhere..
The big hope to find a producer with funding and enthusiasm to actually make the movie (or just possibly, a television series, but would be best for the big screen). Both I and the publishers (Director is wonderful Denny Taylor, by now a real friend) would both love to see our mystic fantastic story disseminatedto wider audiences, I think it would really really work as a movie and that is inspirational sybolism – not pushed at them – would get through: but we’d ONLY want it if as a high-concept movie, we’re not in it just for some trashy commercial fix however lucrative.
Let’s say you’ve got the movie deal and you have to pick some actors for your film.Which actress/actors do you think would be perfect fits for your characters?
Emilia Clarke (fabulous in ‘Game of Thrones’ – also filmed in Ireland as this one could and should be) ) as the lead, Kate. She;’s interested I hear
Daphne Alexander (now gathering a great reputation in London and Broadway) as Deirdre, Kate’s mother (or as Kate if Emilia couldn’t), sh’ed be brilliant, and warms to the novel, I know she’d be prepared to be involved.
Idris Elba as the hero Christy – he’s such an intelligent as well as talented actor/person, and shares my feeling for Africa.
Judi Dench (I was at school with her, so know her and her commitments, she just might be persuaded) as the Queen of Heaven.
Rawiri Paratene as (the complex and difficult) character of) God. He’s less well known up here than in his native New Zealand but I thought he was the real star as the grandfather/tribal chief in ‘Whale Rider’
Do you have any other plans for your novel Black Inked Pearl: A Girl’s Quest?
Absolutely: an audio book is on the way with a brilliant illustrator, also a colouring book around the novel’s key themes. It’s already had a spin-off in its prize-winning fairytale prequel, ‘Pearl of the seas’ (that will soon be an audio book too, with musical background), and there will now be a whole series, taking children, gradually, through aspects of the story from age nought upwards in a series of (probably) five children’s books, text by me, fabulous illustrations again by amazing silk artist Rachel Backshall.
All these just arrived, no deliberate planning by me. Enjoy it.
Bye for now everyone, get back with any comments or questions.
Author Links: Facebook | GoodReads | Twitter | LinkedIn | GarnPress | Open University
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 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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A Frontier With No Kings
The Jinxed Pirate has a delightful cast of characters from the mercenary to the tragic warrior princess with a splash of other-worldly beings as well. How did you set about creating such a colorful cast of characters?
I enjoy playing with tropes and conventions usually found in genre stories, and I guess most of my characters came about from just asking questions. Not necessarily looking to deconstruct, but seeing what can happen if a story or character zigged where it might normally zag in a more traditional telling.
What happens if a hero, who’s been led to believe she is the Chosen One, ultimately discovers her destiny meant absolutely nothing? What if the proverbial “Hero’s Journey” ended, not with a great triumph or even a bang, but a fizzle? To exist in a world where there really is tangible, objective “pure evil” … for one thing, just how surreal would that be, but also how would people define their morality in the face of it? And in such a world, where demonic creatures just ARE evil, what if one somehow turned out to be a decent, kind-hearted person? We’ve seen plenty of roguish scoundrels who love a good fight … but wouldn’t something have to be severely wrong with such a person to get that much enjoyment from violence?
I also like mixing tropes or concepts from different genres and seeing how they gel or clash. For example, even though he doesn’t actually appear in The Jinxed Pirate, the Enforcer is essentially a slasher-movie villain thrown into a fantasy adventure. I like seeing what can happen when varying genres intermingle.
Once I start thinking about these question, several characters start to take shape, and then it’s a matter of throwing them all together and taking them to their logical—or absurd, or surreal, or horrific—conclusion.
Who was your favorite to write for?
I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise my three main leads—Katrina, Krutch, and Lily—are my favorites. I’m not sure I could pick one, especially as their arcs fluctuate with the story. Katrina is the most fun to write when she’s tormented about her past and trying to rein in her temper. Krutch is most fun when things get out of his control and he’s frantically trying to bluff or botch his way through trouble. And Lily when she’s conflicted about her own nature and trying to be a good person in spite of what she is.
I feel like the world you’ve created in The Jinxed Pirate is brimming with possibility. What was your inspiration for Graylands and how did it evolve as you wrote?
Most of my main protagonists were created separately, and I only had a vague notion they would exist in the same world. Since most of the archetypes and tropes I liked playing with—destiny, good & evil, etc.—were best suited to fantasy, I needed a sandbox for them. So Graylands began as a pretty stock Tolkien-esque world of medieval villages, knights, wizards, and demons.
When thinking about what I wanted my world to be, it occurred to me the standard fantasy setting is usually modeled after medieval Europe because that’s what Tolkien did. However, Tolkien based Middle-Earth on that for a specific reason. He wanted to create a distinctly European mythology that was based on Europe’s history and culture.
As an American, we don’t really have a medieval times in the United States. The closest we have is the frontier times and Wild West. So I decided to take the standard medieval country of knights, swords, and wizards and depict that through an American frontier/Wild West filter, and as a result, Graylands took shape as a land where people would flee their ‘old world’ for the new one—whether for freedom, escape, or to just disappear. A frontier with no kings or emperors and a loosely defined system of law, ideal for my cast of misfits, difters, and outlaws.
The pirate Krutch Leeroy is an intriguing character that is meticulously developed. What were some hurdles in the story that you felt were important to the characters development?
When I first began outlining the story, I thought Katrina would be the more active figure in Seba. I assumed she would pose as a mercenary and infiltrate Clock’s organization while trying to find Jagger, leaving Krutch as a more passive, almost comic relief character. Everyone would assume he was the mastermind behind everything, when in reality he’d be trying to mind his own business.
But after the first draft I realized that wasn’t going to work. Katrina didn’t reach Seba until the mid-point of the story, and our introduction to the city and its various players wound up through Krutch’s POV. He needed to be more engaged and active, otherwise we would’ve been left with a tedious series of scenes where Krutch meets someone, they talk at him, and he doesn’t react. It also created a question of why he doesn’t just leave if he doesn’t like these people bothering him.
So I needed Krutch to actually want to be in Seba and have a goal. It soon occurred to me that a logical question to address was, if everyone believes Krutch Leeroy is this dangerous bad-ass, why doesn’t he embrace it and enjoy himself? If his attempt at playing a hero in The Ghost Princess blew up in his face (literally), maybe he should try playing villain?
Audra and how he responded to her was also important. In the first draft, she was an unwanted companion tagging along against his wishes, and it was fairly obvious she might be trouble. So I adjusted her character to make her more appealing and have him more open to a relationship with her, which turned out fitting with the other protagonists being tempted by a seeming ally—Scifer for Katrina, and Dust for Lily.
Running with that, I was pleased to find Krutch developed a pretty solid arc through the story that fit thematically with the other characters’ efforts to find themselves and decide who they want to be—or, in Krutch’s case, what he isn’t.
The Jinxed Pirate seems like it’s ripe for series. Is there another book in the works?
Yes, definitely. As of right now, I’m debating whether to jump into the third book or to try something different, but the Graylands story will continue. We’ll see Vincent Dune and his army steamrolling around the country, which will lead to conflict with Trayze Kilnerova and war for control of Graylands.
Everyone’s going to get caught in the middle of this coming battle. Lily, by chance, finds herself a target of Trayze. Katrina and Krutch will both get caught up in this mess, and they will actually meet in the next book, finally. Lock is searching for Cassie, and as Dune was the one who kidnapped her, he’s going to end up going in that direction. Cassie, meanwhile, is trying to find her way home and along the way might find “help” from a certain scar-faced serial killer. And there’s the Elder Demon the Jackal unleashed flying around.
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“Graylands is where people go when they don’t want to be found.
Within this unsettled country of drifters and outlaws is a city where the worst of the worst gather. A place of thieves, brigands, and murderers known as Seba. In Seba, law is an illusion and order is kept through cruelty and bloodshed.
On the run from Sentry Elite and bounty hunters, supposed pirate Krutch Leeroy finds himself in this bloody city where his infamous reputation garners him the attention of Seba’s various feuding powers. Despite his efforts to lay low, Krutch is soon caught in the center of backstabbing schemes and deadly plots.
Meanwhile, after the disaster on the Blind Cliffs, fallen princess Katrina Lamont finds herself nearing rock bottom. Her drinking and temper worse than ever, she sets out on a desperate quest to find what remains of her people. Her journey will also lead her to Seba, where she will tread the line between salvation and damnation.
Amidst this are the Synclaires–a family just moved to Graylands in the hope of a fresh start. However, chance of fate and rash decisions will draw the family into a sinister plot that threatens to bring tragedy and doom to their door
As Krutch, Katrina, and the Synclaires face threats from all sides, they will each unwittingly find themselves caught in a battle that may destroy the delicate balance keeping Seba from consuming itself in chaos.”
Posted in Interviews
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In a whirlwind of action and danger, peppered with instances of magic, Master Athina by Danny C. Estes comes to a gallant close. For four books we have followed the journey of Jim, construction manager from our world into the body of Athina; lady of another world. Jim’s evolution into Athina as a full human being has been carefully crafted and readers should be satisfied with how things have come to pass. Our poor Athina has lost the voice of Jim but retained his knowledge and parts of his personality. It is as if they have melded to become a new Athina. Unfortunately, as we have well learned, Athina does not have an easy life.
Our story picks up a short while from where it left off. Athina is happily married and is about to have twins. She has learned that her entire existence was not two souls switching occupation in her body, but one soul that has lived two lifetimes. This revelation is incredible in that it takes the struggles Jim had in being in a young woman’s body and feeling out of place and brings about the idea of reincarnation and multiple lives. Estes does a great job in slowly, but surely, melting the two into one throughout the course of the Athina series.
There is only one disappointment in this book and that is the very few spelling errors that pop up now and then. It doesn’t take away from the story, but it is a sharp distraction in a series that has obviously been crafted with care.
Athina has been born into a world where her greatest short coming is the fact that she is a woman. There is much she cannot do because of her gender and it shows in her frustration when the rebuilding of her home commences. She clearly has the knowledge to be a master builder, yet she is not allowed to. Athina does obtain her Master title, however, in a discipline that might come as a surprise to readers of the series. It is a title that she wears with confidence and brings about some unexpected conversations.
The action scenes in this novel are still well written and important to the tale. There is no action just for the sake of action which can be a downfall for many fantasy-adventure stories. Estes knows his craft and he has definitely had the time to hone it.
Master Athina opens with a helpful and refreshing prologue which considerably compresses the events in the previous books. This is great for those who have gone a long time between installments and need a refresher, or for those who are picking up Master Athina without reading the predecessors. This final installment in such a thrilling adventure that wraps up the journey nicely and should satisfy all curiosity while leaving bits for the imagination to go wild over.
Pages: 316 | ASIN: B01FPDV1LS
Posted in Book Reviews, Five Stars
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More of a Mystery
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.
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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.
Posted in Interviews
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The Crown Princess’ Voyage
We’re brought into a fantasy world right after a princess has ascended her throne while another plots the death of a beast. The Crown Princess’ Voyage by Dylan Madeley tells two intertwined stories about young women thrust into power and broken from that power at the same time. Both have won, both have lost and in the end they both will fight over the same possession. Our princess Chandra is about to be thrust from her kingdom as a peace-keeping act to satisfy those disenchanted with the monarchy. Alathea has ascended to goddess-hood and viciously fights to keep her place. Both women are wrapped in mystery and an air of sorcery, yet which one of them will be victorious in the end?
In the beginning of the book it is a bit difficult to fully grasp which tale is being told. The switch from one to the other can be a bit confusing, especially when Alathea’s peculiarities are taken into consideration. A self-proclaimed Goddess who needs to wear a mask in order to fulfill the dirty parts of being royalty could just as easily be a figment of Chandra’s imagination.
They are two separate women, however, and while they are living different lives they share something in common: Derek Wancyek. This assassin-turned-knight who serves Chandra is also desired by Alathea. There comes a point when he is offered an easy life or the choice to struggle. This means betraying one for the other and the decision our dear Derek makes will be surprising to some readers.
The first section of the book seems devoted to world-building which is important when you’ve got complicated structures like those that exist in this tale. After the first few chapters when the reader realizes that Chandra and Alathea are two separate women who will eventually come into contact with each other, the book is easier to read.
The joy of this book is that we’ve got two strong female leads. More often than not it is the men who shine in tales like this. While both Chandra and Alathea have men that they confide in, trust in, it is clear that these two women are the ones who call the shots. Alathea especially. Her youth was twisted and taken from her in the most dramatic of ways, yet she used this to her advantage and pressed forward with her goals.
One of the best parts of Madeley’s tale is the description. Everything is explained with intricate detail that would have taken ages to compile and keep straight in the mind. Dialogue isn’t used to fill gaps, as it sometimes can be. While there are some rough areas that need tidying up, the story as a whole is compacted into a single volume that does lead to a resolution. The only thing that can be a bit difficult to digest is the large cast of characters and learning about their fates post-story. But in then end, readers won’t be disappointed with this fantastical tale.
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When a young woman named Chandra takes the throne under suspicious circumstances, she has to solve the deaths of the King and Queen before those responsible get to her. She has to maintain peace in an empire where people consider her the number one suspect. Derek is summoned by an official letter and his people’s tradition to be Chandra’s personal guard. He’s immediately suspicious given that her family ruined his once-noble ancestors, but if there’s no way to escape the world’s largest empire, what might he do to turn the tables? Interwoven with Derek and Chandra’s story is the history of their ancestors, infamous and famous, that lead them to confrontation. A new world is built before the reader’s eyes, and key groundwork is laid for the impending sequels, leading to a highly detailed narrative.
Posted in Book Reviews, Four Stars
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Pearl of the Seas
In this delightfully imaginative tale, two children, Chris and Kate, find a log of driftwood on the beach. They decide to build a boat and sail across the ocean. Whether by magic or imagination, the two friends and their little dog Holly build their ship, name it the Pearl of the Seas, and begin their journey. Like any fairy tale, there are obstacles to overcome, dangers to face, and kind strangers to help them along their way. They rely on friendship, faith, and kindness to see them home to a happy ending.
Intended as a prequel to Black Inked Pearl, a romance novel, this story is dedicated to young teens. I believe it would also appeal to middle-grade youth as well. There’s a real sense of youth-centered discovery and the freedom to let creative fancies bloom into epic adventures. And I don’t use ‘epic’ lightly; the author weaves in themes, events, and allusions borrowed from the Bible, the original Greek epics, tales of Aladdin and Orpheus, and classic narrative poetry. Indeed, poetry is the heart of the tale, and to me, it read less like a novel and more like a prose poem:
“All things stayed silent. Harkening. The gulls sat in white lines along the rocks; on the beach, great seals lay basking and kept time with lazy heads; while silver shoals of fish came up to hearken, and whispered as they broke the shining calm.”
Poems in traditional form are often combined with the prose. Finnegan creates a language that can take some time to get used to the unusual sentence structure and sing-song pattern of the words. In some passages, the child-like way of chaining words together lends an air of playfulness. Since readers (especially young readers) may be inspired to learn more about the poetry and prose of the book, the author includes a section of notes at the end. She offers more information about key phrases and events, poetic references, and the inspiration for some of the key events in the story. I found this to be a big help in deciphering some of the words and concepts of the book.
The characters are charming. Kate and Chris have their own problems in the real world. Kate is perplexed by math and the nuns who teach her; Chris has lost his mother and is being raised by a foster father. Holly, the dog, finds every opportunity for danger and gives both children a chance to play hero and rescue her. Once they’re sailing the sea of dreams, they meet Yahwiel with his riddles, as well as the benevolent King and Queen who live on an Eden-like island. These characters all have an air of the divine, and the lessons they teach are steeped in the Christian faith.
If you’re looking for a unique book for a young reader or a short chapter book to read to very young children, Pearl of the Seas is a unique story that goes beyond mere entertainment. It’s an excellent introduction to poetry, classic literature, and imagination.
Pages: 138 | ISBN: 1625902557
Posted in Book Reviews, Four Stars
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