I hope you've all had a great Monday. Or at least as good as a Monday can get. My day has been wonderfully productive, and now I get to come and hang out with you fine folks! Yay!
On a personal note, I was blown away by this book. As I told JR, in reading his book I became profoundly aware of the fact that I will never be fit to write fantasy. I am already harassing him for the next installment. If you enjoy young adult fantasy, you will LOVE this story. I don't want to spoil anything for you guys.
Many authors can pinpoint when or where an idea first came to them. How did Tranthaea first come to you? It's true, sometimes there is a moment, or an image, or an idea that you just know is going to be special. Tranthaea, and the stories that are encompassed within it, was one of those ideas for me. It originally came to me as a picture in my head. I had the idea of a warrior riding a silver, floating animal, both horse-like and fish-like, but at the same time like nothing ever seen before. The warrior and creature were slowly and silently weaving through the trees of a dark forest.
How much of this story, and Tranthaea itself, was inspired by your time in Australia? (If any)
You said previously that writing Jingwei’s character was ‘incredibly freeing’ and a ‘pleasure’. She certainly isn't shy about stating her opinion. Were there other surprises from your characters? Characters who were harder to control or make do your bidding? I think each character I write is surprising to me in the end. There is some unknown point in the writing of a book when the characters begin to have more input into what happens to them, and the personalities that you've created start to affect the storyline and the other characters in ways that you didn't expect. Certainly there were characters that I fell in love with that I didn't intend to, and other characters who simply decided to write themselves a bigger part than they were originally intended to have! Callum Swift (the other lead character, along with Jingwei Li) was a pleasant surprise for me. When I started the writing process, I wasn't sure if I was going to like him as much as Jingwei, (not that I disliked him, but against such a strong personality, it would have been easy for him to disappear) but he grew on me very quickly, and is now a favourite of myself and my readers!
I'm in awe of the breadth and depth of your cast of characters. Were there any races that were more difficult to envision or create? Thanks very much! Yes indeed. The design process was an extremely fun and challenging part of the writing of the book, and and I knew very early on that I didn't want this to be "just another fantasy series," so I steered clear of placing any elves, dwarves, or unicorns in my world. As I mentioned before, the peoples and creatures that I created were meant to show connection and history with the environment around them, so as I designed the races, their place in the world, both figuratively and literally, helped create their physical appearance as well as their political affiliations. The gru'Esh and the Aru Faylen were a couple of tricky species to work with, because once their... unique physicalities were decided upon, some common actions, such as talking or breathing, became very difficult for them. Figuring out the solutions to these little challenges was a great deal of fun, and paid off with some intricate and interesting ideas and details that really bring the races a depth and personality that translates well in the book.
The conflict that arises in Tranthaea, while based in the immediate, stems from some pretty major decisions made in the past. Will those decisions, made by past leaders continue to haunt the Keepers and the peoples of Tranthaea? Will we get to learn more about Tranthaea’s history in the rest of the trilogy? Ahhh, a very astute observation. Yes, the past is extremely important to the events of the first book of the trilogy, and will continue to be so in the next two books. I have a very thorough chronology that details major events in Tranthaea's history, going back hundreds of years, which I often refer to as I write. Tranthaea's history is long and rich, and the decisions that have been made, the baggage that has been carried, and the effects that those have on the present are driving forces in the trilogy, as you have seen, and will see again as the next two books are written and released.
I hope that you all are intrigued, Humble Readers. This book is a wonderfully entertaining read, and creates a new and exciting fantasy world for us all to escape into.
The Keeper Chronicles: Playing With Fire is available from Amazon. And don't forget to check out JR Vikse's website to learn more about Playing With Fire, The Lazy Postman, and his other projects.
And, Humble Readers, I am offering you a chance to win a copy of Playing With Fire. Tell me in the comments what your favourite fantasy series is, and why everyone should read it. Giveaway winner will be announced on September 29, 2013.