Now that we’ve run a sweepstakes, we invite you to enjoy the first two chapters of Blake Charlton’s Spellbound, sequel to Spellwright, which is out on September 13!
In a world where one’s magical prowess is determined by one’s skill with words and ability to spell, Nicodemus is a wizardly apprentice afflicted by a curse that causes him to misspell magical texts. Now, the demon who cursed him has hatched a conspiracy to force Nicodemus to change language and ultimately use it to destroy all human life. As Nico tries to thwart the demon’s plan, he faces challenges from all sides. But his biggest challenge is his own disability, which causes him to create chaos wherever he goes.
As I’ve noted in past interviews, 2011 is looking like a boom year for fantasy—and not only in the “urban” and “epic” tradition of fantasy. This month, Howard Andrew Jones has published The Desert of Souls, a historical sword-and-sorcery debut novel set in eighth-century Baghdad. Jones promises a sweeping adventure, pitting his scholarly Dabir and martial Asim against murderers, Greek spies, and a search for the lost city of Ubar—the Atlantis of the sands.
The adventures of Dabir and Asim have appeared in Jones’s short stories for the past ten years in publications such as Jim Baen’s Universe and Paradox. In addition to writing short stories, Jones has served as the managing editor of Black Gate magazine since 2004. In the below interview, Howard shares his thoughts on his debut, literary inspirations, and writing and editing.
2011 is shaping up to be an, shall we say, “epic” year for fantasy literature, with offerings from a diverse field of authors ranging from established stars to promising debuts. In April, Peter Orullian will make his entrée with The Unremembered, the first book in The Vault of Heaven series. Peter has already stirred up interest in the world of Unremembered with his online short story Sacrifice of the First Sheason. Interestingly, Peter brings his unique background as a musician to epic fantasy. Recently Peter and I chatted about writing, music, and The Vault of Heaven.
Far as I can tell, authors should be to cover art as cheerleaders are to a football game. Lemme ’splain. Just as cheerleaders might inspire their team by throwing each other around, so authors might inspire their art directors and artists by submitting various passages, describing a feel for the book, and advising how the cover might improve the reading experience. This general lack of control is a large source of anxiety for many authors. We had control of every single letter inside, but now that we’re on the outside…well…we have only metaphorical pompoms.
So, if we’re smart, we jump about with inspiration for our art department, and try to shake off any bad-cover nightmares that (if one writes epic fantasy) include metal bikinis or other artistic no-nos. Fortunately for me, my team is one of the best: Tordot’s own brilliant Irene Gallo carries the art director’s whistle and clipboard; fantasy-art-minor-deity Todd Lockwood plays starting pigment slinger. After the beautiful art they produced for my first novel, Spellwright, I had been eagerly waiting for their art for the sequel, Spellbound, due out Summer 2011. They’ve exceeded my every expectation.
The inspiration for this post came to me when convincing an actor friend to record an excerpt of my novel Spellwright. We did everything we could to make sure the result was lovingly, if not professionally, produced. It might not win any awards, but it’s still free and (hopefully) fun. If curious, have at the embedded vid below.
I relish nothing so much as listening to a good book. So when working on this sample, I got to thinking about the unsung history and importance of spoken stories.
The first stories were told and heard, not written and read. All that stuff with letters, punctuation, and (finally) spaces between the words? New fangled gizmos compared to the ancient technology of the story—which was invented God knows when, by God know whom, but probably beginning with well-fanged megafauna, frantic running, passionate screaming, and ending with an excited Homo sapiens retelling the now lost tale, “Hunting Saber-toothed tigers with unsharpened sticks and why we are TOTALLY FRACKIN’ DONE WITH THAT SHIT!” One would think that, given this esteemed origin, the spoken story would hold a venerated position in humanity’s hearts and minds. At least in my modern American world, it is shockingly not so. Around here, human hearts and minds (and possibly other major organs) venerate the written story above the spoken. Oh, hey, now that I’ve served you a steaming (crack)pot full of theory, would you like a side order of fanciful anecdotal evidence? Thought so. Here goes: yesterday I was walking in a lush, green North California field and I came across this scarecrow. We struck up a conversation. Really. No drugs or anything. Like, for serious.