My newest audiobook from the very talented J.L. V’Tar is now avaiable for your listening pleasure on Amazon, Itunes and Audible.com. J was very kind to join me for some questions about himself and this amazing new book of his. If you would like to purchase this book, get it FREE with a TRAIL membership through Audible and Amazon. You can purchase your free copy today here.
1. First off I wanted to thank you for agreeing to this interview, I know you are very busy these days. Can you share what “The Charge, Little Hope” is all about and a little about yourself?
Well, The Charge is what I intend to be the first of a series. It’s set in an original fantasy world and it follows the path of a woman named Mirron, a mercenary who ends up in a situation bigger than she is. As for me, I’m just a stack of pancakes.
2. How long have you been writing?
For my entire life, as far as I can remember. When I was a kid, I would always draw a lot, and I’d also invent a lot of stories. Eventually, the stories kind of took over and I spent all my drawing-time writing instead. Professionally, however, The Charge represents my attempt to actually make a career out of it. I don’t want to sell stories, I just want to tell them. Unfortunately, day jobs ruin me, so I’m going to have to sell stories so I can continue telling them.
3. This is your first book, where did you get the idea for “Little Hope” and what made you finally decide to write it?
So very many ways to answer this.
The Charge, the book itself, is the end result of my desire to just sit and write something to completion for once. For starters, I create characters on a regular basis; it’s just something I love to do even if the characters never become a part of anything. However in 2011, National Novel Writing Month caught my attention, and I joined that year’s run. I picked Mirron from my existing characters, just because I’m fond of her, invented the opening scene, and went from there.
Little Hope, which will be the series, came to me as I was writing. The baby in the book, Anna, is also a character I’ve invented just to do so, and she’s one of my oldest. For some reason that I hadn’t planned, I spontaneously decided that the baby in the book was Anna. The character, as envisioned, is obviously not a baby, and you’ll get to see more of who she actually is in later books if I manage to write them.
Little Hope, the phrase, comes from an iamamiwhoami song. For some reason it puts various ideas in my head, which I plan on pursuing through the course of the book series. I should probably stop saying that, in case I never make any other Little Hope books.
Honestly, there’s a lot more answers I could give to this question, so I’ll just stop.
4. The main character Mirron is quite a unique being, she isn’t exactly human, how did she get that way?
Short version? Magic changed her. A fully informative answer would, unfortunately, give away things that I plan on covering in future stories. A non-spoilerific answer would be that in her youth she sought out a magic user, and through a magic ritual she was infused with many of the elements of a particular reptilian race of people. She’s stronger, faster, has a longer life span, and is mildly reptilian.
5. Tanya De Witt, the evil queen in this book, is after baby Anna, whom Mirron ends up taking the task of protecting. Tanya wants to kill the child; can’t you explain why this is needed for her powers?
Tanja is a really fun character, one of the more complex I think I’ve developed, although I’m not sure I managed to get it all through in The Charge. Still, it’s there. The magic she uses is considered one of the most horrific forms of magic in the world these stories take place in (I should really name it, shouldn’t I?). I plan on exploring her magic, the consequences of her actions and the legacy of her magic, later in the series. I think I’m really setting myself up for little choice but to write more of these.
6. What I really enjoyed about this book are the different magical creatures you created. You took creatures that we are all familiar with and gave them new qualities, for instance the fairies. You have some of the normal attributes assigned to them, as they are very small and live in harmony with nature, but you added something very unique, they have “soul groups” can you explain where you came up with that idea and what that means to the fairies?
Where did I come up with the fairies? I’m not really sure, to be honest. I’ve had the idea in my head for a while, about an individual fairy personality and soul that exists in multiple little fairy bodies. It’s a concept that’s been used in other media here and there, and somehow I ended up applying it to fairies. I think originally I thought it up as a game mechanic for table-top RPGs. So that a player would be playing only one character, but that character is made up of five or six individual little fairies, and each little fairy represents two or three points of their Strength score or whatever, so together they can do normal things but individually they can’t.
What does that mean to the fairies? They approach everything very differently from the way a human would. Human settlements are fairly overwhelming to a fairy; every person they meet is an entirely new and separate entity from all the other humans they’ve met, and that gets confusing for them after a while. On the other hand, they pity humans. When a human dies, that’s that, it’s over. For these fairies though, there’s other fairies still carrying the same soul and personality. An individual fairy personality can live on for many, many centuries over the course of generations of fairy bodies.
7. Another very menacing and mysterious character in the book is the lich Kembriss, what exactly is a lich and how is Kembriss different from other liches in this world?
Kembriss is one of my most beloved characters, and because of that I’m fairly reticent when it comes to that unfeeling bitch of a lich.
A lich, the type of creature, is a type of monster in many table-top role-playing games, and the fantasy worlds inspired by them. They are a kind of end product that has evolved from previous kinds of monster in the early days of fantasy and horror writing as we know them now. In short; a lich is a magic user, wizard, mage, sorcerer, or whatever word you want to use who is so powerful that they’ve found a way to continue living past the point of death. They’re undead, an abomination, and to even be willing to undertake something like that means they’re of a particularly dark mindset in the first place.
Kembriss is different from other liches in this world because she isn’t from it. Not saying more; I’m protective.
8. Mermaids, fairies, wizards, liches, and even a small mention of zombies are in the book. I really loved this world you created, and particularly how you made it flow so effortlessly and you have it proportioned so it never goes over the top, it is all very believable. Was that your intention?
I’m fairly pleased with the way The Charge moves. I approached it much the same way I would when running a D&D game. I only had one player-character, being Mirron, and I had no idea where the story was going. I invented Tanja word-by-word during every scene that I wrote for her, and everything honestly just came in pretty much the form it was published (barring smoothing and editing). When I DM, I tend to free-form it a lot, and that really helped in writing a book for which I had no plot when I started.
9. Although Mirron is a mercenary and a warrior, she has a very soft spot for Anna and protecting the innocence. I relate to Mirron and her morals for treating others the way they should be treated, she is very open and loving of all people, speaking of “loving” they are a couple hot sex scenes in the book with Mirron and barmaid and barkeep, very hot!! Did you set out to have these two very different sides of her? On one hand the very dark, warrior, killer side, and then the other more motherly and gentle?
Mirron is a really fun character, I like her a lot. She’s kind of (and I suppose The Charge is too, to an extent) my answer to a problem that I see in a lot of adventure fiction. Whether it’s books, movies, or games, females in adventure stories tend to be easily identified by their sexuality; the heroine (or female lead, since they’re rarely the protagonists) is usually virginal, chaste, or otherwise faithful to the Big Strong Hero, while any female villains are usually immediately identified as such by the mere fact that they’re sexually deviant in some way. That might be because they’re promiscuous, or not straight, or somehow “perverted” (I don’t like that term), but the fact is that quite often their status as an enemy is identified by their sexual deviance.
Mirron is a warrior, first and foremost; she doesn’t wear a chainmail bikini or cleavage armor, she doesn’t “fight like a girl,” in any of the over-used ways people try to make women warriors badass. She wears legitimate armor, and she fights like the badass that she actually is, taking down very tough opponents in any way that a male warrior would if given the same tools. Yet she’s also a very open and sexual person, who likes to enjoy life and the people around her. Rather than portray her healthy interest in sex as a bad thing, or crush her down in a little box of “good girl purity,” I let her have her fun.
Tanja is kind of the opposite. Like I said much of the time a female villain is identifiable as such by her sexuality. So, I made Tanja a purely monogamous, powerfully heterosexual woman who was loving and loyal to a husband she genuinely adored. She’s also a badass, but more in a one-shot assassin kind of way compared to Mirron’s frontline battlefield style of combat.
So, yeah. Mirron and Tanja, as a pair, are kind of my hack attempt at answering what I see as a problem with the way female sexuality is often portrayed. I just hope I did some kind of justice to the idea.
Mirron’s motherliness is a simple end-result of the fact that she has children of her own. Like any parent (I’m not one, but since I don’t know anything about it I’m obsessed with learning more about the subject) she has feelings of protection for children, and even when she’s not with her family they’re always on her mind.
10. Mirron goes to Arjun, her friend and an archmage, for help with saving baby Anna. What exactly is an archmage, and what is the mysterious light beam in the center of his tower?
Arjun! I invented him during the writing of The Charge, just like Tanja, and he became something else entirely. There’s another character I’ve invented over the course of my life, but one that I’d never fully fleshed out. He was a broad idea, a good one, but I could never pin the details. Arjun, as I wrote him, just kind of stepped into that character role like he fucking owned it, and I couldn’t argue the point.
An archmage, as the term is commonly used in other fantasy settings, is a mage, wizard, sorcerer, or what-have-you that has achieved a particular level of power. Particularly in this setting as I develop it, archmage is a title rarely given. An archmage is a teacher to other wizards, a source of vast knowledge, and someone who wields enough magical power to reduce whole cities to slag.
The big white light in the center of Arjun’s tower is called a Fountain. It’s the source of arcane magic; the closer a wizard is to it, the easier and more powerful his spells will be. As he moves farther away, his spells will be much more difficult to cast and will become a bit less powerful. The Fountain, and Arjun’s tower, kind of became much more of a metaphor than even I realized until very late in the process.
That moment when you realize your writing contains more meaning than even you knew.
11. This book is so fast paced, with so much action happening in every chapter; the character development and flow is outstanding and very impressive for a debut novel from an author. How was it writing this book and releasing it to the world?
Exhausting, exciting, frightening, and wonderful. I quite literally wrote the entire book over the course of…twenty-seven days, I think. Maybe less. I got started on Nanowrimo several days after it had already started. There was a minimum daily word count, and I upped it. Every time I missed a day, I upped my minimum some more. Some days I only barely made my quota. At one point, I was at a part of the story where I was certain I’d killed Mirron, Nalla, and there was no one to save Anna, I honestly had no idea what to do. Managed to figure something out, and it sounds silly to say now, but it was pretty nerve-wracking at the time.
12. Do you plan on writing a sequel to “The Charge”?
Yep! As mentioned, I intend The Charge to be the first in the series that is Little Hope. I’ve got very definite plans for the legacy of Tanja’s little reign of terror, Anna’s life as she grows up, old friends of Mirron come to call in favors, and of course Kembriss’ machinations have long-term impact. Lots of ideas, I definitely am going to try and get them all out.
13. What other books do you have in the works right now?
I’m currently working on a science fiction book; the working title is Short Fire, and it’s the product of 2012 Nanowrimo. It’s a different beast entirely from The Charge, in addition to being a different genre, and writing a sci-fi book terrifies me, but so far I’m pretty happy with the direction it’s headed. Lot of work to get it ready, but I think I can do it.
14. When can we expect them to be released?
I have no idea. Hopefully before 2013 Nanowrimo. If Short Fire isn’t out by then, I might be in trouble!
15. What made you want to turn “The Charge” into an audiobook, and how do you think it will be received?
I have absolutely no idea how it will be received. Hopefully people will like it. As for why, I figured that in 2012 people don’t sit and read as often as they might once have. I know I don’t. So maybe it’s something people can listen to while they’re running dailies.
16. What advice can you give other inspiring writers wanting to break into the publishing world?
Upload it! Honestly, that’s the only advice I have to give. Like any author, I’ve had rejection letters. I’ve still never had an acceptance. Pretty much the conclusion I reached is that, for standard publishing, it’s a crap shoot. The sheer magnitude of stories in any slush pile makes it that way. So when I found out that I could publish on kindle just by uploading and setting my price that really got me going. I put out one little book of three short stories, and then came The Charge. Short Fire is next, and hopefully more after that.
So, if I have advice, that’s it. Upload your story before you have a chance to talk yourself out of it. Then do another one, and another one, and another one, and another, and so on. The more books you have on any search list, the greater chance someone’s going to read you.
17. I haven’t been a big fan of fantasy books over my life, but I fell in love with Mirron and the fairy group Nalla, and was so disappointed when the story ended, I wanted it to keep going! I am so excited about your book and I know others will as well. Whether you are a fantasy lover or not, I think everyone will find something to love in this book. It was an honor to narrate your book and work with you on this project. Do you have any final thoughts to share with us?
Thank you, quite sincerely, even as I squirm. It’s always heart-warmingly uncomfortable to hear praise of my work. There’s more to come in Short Fire, and I do intend to write more books for Little Hope. Final thoughts; never stab a bumble-bee in the eye.
18. Thanks again for joining me and wish you TONS of success! And before you leave, please share where people can find out more about you and your writing.
Well there’s my amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00914R3FQ
Or there’s my blog I never remember to update: http://pariahsilver.blogspot.com/
I also have a facebook page where I post about writing and gaming: https://www.facebook.com/PariahStudio
Or there’s my twitter account @PariahSilver which pretty much just parrots my facebook page. Heh. Parrot.