"Vigorously told deceptions and battle scenes." ~Publishers Weekly review of Eolyn

"The characters are at their best when the events engulfing them are at their worst." ~Publishers Weekly review of High Maga

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Magic of Flight

In Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials, Serafina Pakkala, like the other witches in her world, achieves the power of flight with branches of Cloud Pine.  I really liked this idea when I read the trilogy, and so adapted it for Eolyn's world. 

Flying is not nearly as easy for the Magas as it is for Serafina Pakkala.  (Nor, for that matter, is it as easy for them as it is for Harry Potter and his friends.)  It requires integrating the power of the staff of High Magic with the magic of flight found in a particular kind of fir tree.  The fir's capacity for flight, in turn, is released by brewing together special herbs and a mushroom that appears only in spring, called white magenta.  The process is described in detail in Chapter 15 of Eolyn, when the young maga prepares to return to the land of her birth, after many years of growing up in exile and isolation. 

I'd love to be able to simply snatch a branch off a tree and lift up into the air, but me, I need a jet plane to fly.  Which isn't a bad way to do it, really.  This weekend I'll be getting on a jet plane and travelling to Europe to visit friends and family, and to pay my last respects to my maternal grandmother and all the wonderful memories she gave me during her long and fruitful life.  I'm not sure how consistent my internet access will be during my travels, so you may not see a post here for a couple weeks; say, between now and December 1. 

However, there will be a lot of exciting things happening over Thanksgiving -- some, in fact, happening right now -- that I want you to be aware of.

This week on Heroines of Fantasy, Terri-Lynne DeFino has us writing a collective story about Maia and the magic/horror of light.  Come join the fun; read the crazy twisting tale we've crafted so far, and add your own five lines as the muse inspires. 

Speaking of Terri-Lynne DeFino, the Kindle edition of her wonderful novel FINDER is being offered for a special price of $2.99.  This is a limited time offer, so take advantage of it while it lasts.  The sequel to this book, A TIME NEVER LIVED, will be available next summer, which makes now a great time to read the first book, if you haven't already.

During the week leading up to November 29, Hadley Rille Books will be celebrating its birthday with special offers on all its titles, and even giveaways -- yes, you understood correctly, FREE books -- for selected novels.  For regular updates on this great event, you can friend Eolyn on Facebook, or check in on the Hadley Rille Books website.  You may want to start browsing some of Hadley Rille's titles now. 

Next Monday on Heroines of Fantasy, author Kim Vandervort will be up with her regular monthly post.  Then, on Monday November 28, we have some very special guests:  Carlyle Clark and Suki Michelle, co-authors of the awesome sci fi and fantasy adventure, THE APOCALYPSE GENE

That should be enough to keep you all busy and entertained while I'm out of town.  I wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving week next week, and I look forward to seeing you back on this blog in December.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Season of Loss

Anni Kircher with her daughters Uschi and Helga
Well, it’s been a rather difficult semester this fall. About a month ago, my childhood home burned down. Last week, my maternal grandmother passed away. The first event was quite unexpected; the second, while expected, brought on a much deeper sadness.

When we went to visit the remains of my childhood home, it was eerie in many ways, seeing what had once been the ‘safe place’ of my youth charred and gutted by flames. I couldn’t help but remember Chapter One of EOLYN, where my protagonist's village and home are consumed by fire. I thought that a curious coincidence.

Now, the death of my grandmother has me thinking about Eolyn on deeper levels. Last week on my livejournal blog I wrote a brief reflection about Oma Anni’s life, the courage and determination that helped her survive two great wars, and the stories from that time that have most resonated with me over the years. The trials faced by my grandmother in World War II – as a mother of two young girls, alone amid chaos – had a strong influence on me growing up, and colored my view of war and warfare in ways that I think are irrevocable.

I’d like to write a longer post on this at some point, but for the moment I’m too emotionally tired to think through it all coherently. Suffice it to say that I suspect Ghemena’s intense loathing of war, an attitude inherited by her ward Eolyn, somehow has its roots in these stories told by my family.

There’s another element here: Growing up among a family that knew the reality of war -- not so much as soldiers, but as civilians, as women and children – can have a tremendous impact on one’s world view. This was a situation that set me apart, I think, from many of the children I grew up with in the United States; and having had that experience, I now believe, helped me understand Eolyn in ways I might not have otherwise when the time came to write her story.

Well, that almost suffices for a full post right there. Unfinished thoughts, I suppose, are better than no thoughts at all.

Just a few announcements for this week:

On Heroines of Fantasy, we are discussing Villainesses and Anti-Heroines. Also, I have a special treat there: an audio-recording of scenes from my short story ‘Creatures of Light’. Please stop by to have a listen and join in our discussion.

Author Eliabeth Hawthorne has posted a new review of EOLYN for Adopt-an-Indie Month. You can read and comment on her review of EOLYN either on her blog Ermilia, or at the Adopt-an-Indie website.  Also on the Adopt-an-Indie website, Eliabeth has posted an author interview with me, in which I talk about the challenges and rewards of writing EOLYN, and the advantages of publishing with a small press.

Signed copies of EOLYN, both hardcover and paperback, are now available at the Avila University Bookstore, 11901 Wornall Road, Kansas City, MO. 
If you're curious to learn more about my grandmother’s life, you can read my dedication to her at my livejournal blog.

Wishing everyone a good week.