The Writer's Mind
One of the most common questions you hear asked of authors is 'where do your ideas come from?' If you read a few interviews, you'll find a wide variety of answers, many of which are pre-formulated to evoke laughter or feelings of inadequacy. Part of the problem with the question, I think, is that so much time has often passed since the author had the idea for the book, he or she likely doesn't even recall the impetus for the novel.
In the case of my upcoming book, When Shadows Fall, it has only been a couple of months since I began work on the project, so perhaps I can give you a tour of the writer's mind (please tread carefully...there's a lot of darkness and it's a bit messy).
I had finished writing the third book in my Icarus Fell urban fantasy series and began work on another project which, I'm sorry to say, didn't go so well. It did, however, put me in the mood to write epic fantasy; it had been nearly six months since I completed the Khirro's Journey trilogy, so it was time.
Step one to story idea: choose your genre (or sub-genre).
Once I've settled on what kind of story I want to write, I try to think of a ways to make it a little bit different from the norm. In the Khirro's Journey trilogy, I chose a non-traditional protagonist. For this series, I decided to have a prophecy discovered on an ancient scroll. Not so different, you say? How about a little confusion as to who the prophecy refers to, both on the good side and the evil side? I'm interested.
Step two to story idea: think of a twist.
The third thing that came to me as I ponderied the nature of this prophecy was the term 'Small Gods', which then became the title for the series. Something about it captured my attention, possibly because when we think about gods, we don't think of small things, but big, all-powerful beings. This prompted me to sit down and really think about the Small Gods, their role in the story, and other details about my world in general.
Step three to story idea: build your world.
As the world came together, more characters and story ideas came to light. I started thinking about having two groups known as Small Gods to throw more uncertainty into the prophecy. When I began digging into the religion, which I decided to be Goddess-based, I wondered what it would look like if the devotees of the religion were all women. What would happen to the men? What if a sect of men broke off and were secretly in opposition to the women? The more I thought, the more possibilities screamed at me to get writing.
Step four to story idea: imagine the possibilities.
The last thing I decided on—which is something I hope most authors do when they set out to write a new book—was to challenge myself. Not only does When Shadows Fall follow four different story lines, but I was determined to make the voice of each different and distinct. But it gets worse...in the second book, which I am currently writing and expecting to be ready for a Dec. 1 release, I am writing one story line from the POV of a blind character—no description based on sight—and another from the POV of a character who doesn't speak the same language as any of the other characters. Fun stuff.
Step five to story idea: challenge yourself.
So there you have it...where a story idea comes from, at least in the case of When Shadows Fall. For me, it is rarely in a dream or a flash of light, fully-formed and ready to put pen to paper—it's work. Not as glamourous as thinking a muse sits on my shoulder and whispers, but it gets the job done.
A hundred seasons have turned since the Goddess banished the Small Gods to the sky, leaving the land to mankind alone.
For Prince Teryk, life behind the castle walls is boring and uneventful until he stumbles upon an arcane scroll in a long-forgotten chamber. The parchment speaks of Small Gods, the fall of man, and the kingdom's savior—the firstborn child of the rightful king. It's his opportunity to prove himself to his father, the king, and assure his place in history. All he needs to do is find the man from across the sea—a man who can't possibly exist—and save mankind.
But ancient magic has been put in motion by a mysterious cult determined to see the Small Gods reborn. Powerful forces clash, uncaring for the lives of mortals in their struggle to prevent the return of the banished ones, or aid in their rebirth.
Named in a prophecy or not, what chance does a cocky prince who barely understands the task laid before him stand in a battle with the gods?
About the Author
Bruce Blake lives on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. When pressing issues like shovelling snow and building igloos don't take up his spare time, Bruce can be found taking the dog sled to the nearest coffee shop to work on his short stories and novels.
Actually, Victoria, B.C. is only a couple hours north of Seattle, Wash., where more rain is seen than snow, and the dog is too small to pull a sled. Since snow isn't really a pressing issue, Bruce spends more time trying to remember to leave the "u" out of words like "colour" and "neighbour" then he does shovelling (and darn those double l's). The father of two, Bruce is also the trophy husband of a burlesque diva.
Bruce has been writing since grade school but it wasn't until a few years ago he set his sights on becoming a full-time writer. Since then, his first short story, "Another Man's Shoes" was published in the Winter 2008 edition of Cemetery Moon, another short, "Yardwork", was made into a podcast in Oct., 2011 by Pseudopod and his first Icarus Fell novel, On Unfaithful Wings, was published to Kindle in Dec., 2011. The second Icarus Fell novel, All Who Wander Are Lost, was released in July, 2012, and the third, Secrets of the Hanged Man, in July 2013. Sept., 2013 saw the publication of Blood of the King, the first book in the Khirro's Journey epic fantasy trilogy, followed by second book, Spirit of the King, in Dec., 2012, and the third, Heart of the King in Jan., 2013. He has plans for more Icarus novels, several stand alones, and several more books in the Small Gods series.
From the Prologue of WHEN SHADOWS FALL
“Give it to me, Vesi.” She held out her hand, expectant. “We must speak the words to prevent this from happening again.”
Her fingers brushed the edge of the paper, felt its roughness, its power, but then it disappeared. Ine’vesi pulled it away and glared at her, his brows drawn together.
“Prevent it?” he asked, incredulous. The priest shook his head without removing his gaze from her eyes. “We must take this to Teva Stavoklis and leave instructions on how to bring us back.”
Rak’bana’s mouth fell open. How did she not see this coming? She’d heard his words bordering on sacrilege, seen his disdain toward the Goddess in this time of judgment. But her sight had been clouded by the dreams, her mind filled with visions of the gray man, the Mother, the man from across the sea. She’d neglected to think for a moment that her twin brother—the man with whom she shared the priesthood and trusted more than anyone short of the Goddess herself—could have anything but the same goal as her.
How wrong she’d been.
“We can’t let this happen again, Vesi.” She despised the desperation creeping into her voice. “The generations that come after us must know.”
Another rumble echoed through the chamber, this one louder than the last. Ine’vesi sneered. “We are in agreement, sister. This cannot happen again. The Goddess cannot be allowed to treat her loyal subjects in this manner. They must be given a way to prevent it, and bringing us back is the way.”
“No. We deserve it. The Goddess never intended us to live this way. We--”
The priest took a step back and her gaze fell to the parchment he held in his right hand, out of her reach. The visions that visited her dreams meant nothing if she did not set them to words on the scroll, left them to be found when the time they were needed came. If she didn’t, she’d have failed the Goddess.
“The scroll will go to Teva Stavoklis, to be used when the Goddess again over-steps her bounds. To ensure her subjects are never again punished for being human.”
Rak’bana narrowed her eyes. “We are no longer human, Vesi.”
“No, I suppose not,” he conceded and took another step back. “We are closer to gods, aren’t we? Small gods, perhaps.”
She bit down hard and fought against the oncoming tears choking her throat. A louder rumble, and this time the walls trembled. The long pike of one of the Sek’bala warriors shivered in its hand, the metal shaft rattling against its gauntleted fingers. Rak’bana directed her gaze toward the massive suit of plate, lowered her chin and raised her hand. She wiggled her fingers the way she did when she called the water to her bidding and her brother realized her intent. Ine’vesi’s head snapped to the side, eyes wide as he looked to the Sek’bala, expecting it to come to life.
Rak’bana leaped toward him and snatched at the roll of parchment, her fingers grasping the edge. It took only an instant for Ine’vesi to realize she’d tricked him. The priest danced back two steps, but she’d gotten a grip on the scroll and it unrolled between them. They both stared at its blank surface as another ball of fire struck the building and a shower of sparks spilled through one of the high windows.
They raised their heads; their eyes met.
“Bana,” he said, voice calm and even, though his eyes reflected different emotions. “Don’t do--”
“When days of peace approach their end.”
“And wounds inflicted are too deep to mend.” Fear and disappointment surged through her, but she forced herself to speak clearly, drawing out the words to their full power, ensuring the parchment heard her over the reverberating impacts shuddering the walls. “A sign shall come, a lock with no key.”
“Borne by a man from across the sea.”
The wavering light of the flames licking the world flashed on Ine’vesi’s blade. Rak’bana had an instant to recognize the slender knife before he jerked her toward him and plunged the tip between her ribs.
The wicked point tore through her flesh, found its way between the bones, and pressed against her heart. The agony of the wound stole her breath, but the anguish of her brother’s betrayal crushed her soul. He pulled her close, the loose parchment folding between them, and a fresh wave of pain crashed through her, transported along her veins to the tips of her fingers.
“I am sorry, Bana, but it must be this way” he said, his tone quiet amongst the thunder of the Goddess’ judgment. “We are gods.”
Find out more about me at: www.bruceblake.wordpress.com
The Pirates (The Lady Corsairs Part 3)
The Master (The Lady Corsairs Part 4)
The Master (The Lady Corsairs Part 4)
Find out more about me at: www.bruceblake.wordpress.com
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