Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Deborah Hangs Out - Summary and Video!

I had a lot of fun on Juliette Wade's "Dive Into WorldBuilding" hangout. It was great to have a chance to talk about The Seven-Petaled Shield...and a bit strange to see myself on video. Here I am!

We were very fortunate to be joined by author Deborah J. Ross, who came to talk to us about her wonderful trilogy, The Seven-Petaled Shield. She told us that it was inspired by an exhibit of Scythian art that she saw, and was a way for her to branch out beyond the tired tropes of pseudo-Celtic and Western European fantasy.

The Scythians were nomadic horse-riders in the central Asian steppe. They had shamans called enarees who, among other duties, would be asked to test the truthfulness of any charges brought against someone in their community. Enarees were men who wore woman's clothing and occupied a cultural niche in between the men's world and the women's world. One fascinating thing about them was that they kept the Romans at bay for hundreds of years.

Deborah began by writing four short stories set in a fantasy version of the Scythian world, known as Azkhantia. She wanted to write a novel, and found the right additional axis of tension when she realized she's referred to a place called Meklavar as "where witches dwell." She then expanded Meklavar into a society based on very ancient Judea. The Meklavarans have a very old written scripture, and literacy is very important to them, as is the knowledge of languages. Any given Meklavaran will typically know 3 or 4 modern languages and 2 extinct ones. Their magic is based in the scriptural stories.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Margaret L. Carter on "Hidden Gifts" in GIFTS OF DARKOVER

On a wondrous planet of telepaths and swordsmen, nonhumans and ancient mysteries, a
technologically advanced, star-faring civilization comes into inevitable conflict with one that has pursued psychic gifts and turned away from weapons of mass destruction. Darkover offers many gifts, asked for and unexpected. Those who come here, ignorant of what they will find, discover gifts outside themselves and within themselves. The door to magic swings both ways, however, and many a visitor leaves the people he encounters equally transformed.

Gifts of Darkover will be released May 5, 2015, and is now available for pre-order.

Here Margaret L. Carter answers questions on her story, "Hidden Gifts."

Tell us about your introduction to Darkover. What about the world drew you in?
 The first Darkover book I ever read was The Bloody Sun (the original edition), and I was enthralled by it. At the time, I didn’t know it was part of a series. That novel makes an excellent introduction for a reader because it’s told from the viewpoint of an outsider. (Even though the protagonist spent his childhood on Darkover, he thinks of himself as Terran and is learning about the world almost from scratch.) I love the motif of a character who uncovers buried secrets about his own past and unsuspected truths about his own nature and talents. Later I picked up the first anthology, The Keeper’s Price, which presupposes a lot of knowledge about the setting, but I was intrigued rather than confused. The handling of culture clash in the series fascinated me, and when I read The Shattered Chain, I was completely drawn in.

What inspired your story in Gifts of Darkover?
 The guidelines for Darkover stories often mention “unusual use of laran." I wanted to do something with one of the most unusual laran phenomena, teleportation, which (I think) is shown in the novels only in the context of matrix work. What experience might make a person unaware of the extent of her power desperate enough to perform such an act on her own? For a protagonist, I chose one of my favorite character types, the “Ugly Duckling” who discovers her “swan” traits only when pushed to her limits. In a way, this story echoes my first Darkover tale, "Her Own Blood” (in Free Amazons Of Darkover), which also features a nedestra heroine discovering her laran.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Thunderlord snippet - Temptation

Please remember that this is a work in progress and drafts have a habit of changing drastically from inception to finished book.

From Thunderlord Chapter 9

Luck rode with them, for when they reached the main track, they saw no sign of their pursuers. Without any need for speech, as if they had one thought, they urged their horses into a rough, ground-eating trot. Edric had already traveled this section of trail twice before, but now he counted every minute, every hoofbeat. The wind fell away, and the air, which had been growing progressively more chill, turned milder, but he was not lulled into believing the clouds would dissipate. This was the pause as the storm gathered force.

“There!” Edric broke his silence to indicate the crossroads, now only a short distance away. The side trail was but minutes away….

Clouds darkened the sky. The air tasted of lightning to come.

Closer, now…Kyria on his heels, the pack horse’s gait jarring his bones… He could see the flat place where they’d camped and the main road leading down and away, curving around the shoulder of the hill --
Two riders emerged from behind the hill, followed by three more.

Behind Edric, Kyria let out a cry of dismay. Edric hauled on the reins. The pack horse resisted, dipping its head. Kyria’s horse crowded its rump and it threatened to kick. Edric jerked the horse’s head up, trying to think. They had enough room to turn around, but this trail would only lead them back to the fortress.

They hadn’t been spotted, not yet.

He glanced up at the clouds, denser now and laden with promise. The wind picked up again. Use me, pleaded the storm. I am yours for the taking, all the power of wind and lightning….

Something inside Edric yearned to answer the storm, to seize control of it. He had the power to save both of them, to save Kyria, and all he had to do was reach out with his mind. Use his Gift, as he had been born to do….