Fezariu's Epiphany | Fantasy | 16 May 2011
The White Oak, Clarendon's oldest brothel, lured and destroyed men by the thousands. Fezariu was different. He had never been drawn by the White Oak's vices but the brothel had still ruined him when he was just a boy.
Salvation came in the form of the Merelax Mercenaries - Elenchera's most prestigious hired hands. They gave Fezariu the chance to escape from his past. Immersed in the world of dangerous assignments in the colonies Fezariu longed to forget everything about his childhood but only in facing the past would he ever be free of it.
Please describe your writing environment.
The words "chaos," "pandemonium" and "carnage" come to mind. I tend to write in the living room on my laptop and sitting in my late grandfather's rocking chair. I like to have the TV on in the background or failing that some music. A Decemberists marathon often helps me through my writing whether it's a novel, stories or blogs. Concentration can be challenging especially when our six cats are playing out the feline equivalent of Apocalypse Now!
Please tell us your latest news!
I've recently published my first novel, Fezariu's Epiphany, which I intend to be the first of many books that will encompass the Elencheran Chronicles - tales from the world of Elenchera - a world I have spent more than a decade building. These will be self-contained novels, taking place in different eras in Elenchera's history so it won't be necessary to read them as a series, as their only link will be the world in which they are set.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Haruki Murakami is responsible for my favourite novel Norwegian Wood but if pushed to specify a favourite author I would have to choose one of the fathers of fantasy fiction - JRR Tolkien. Middle Earth continues to be the benchmark by which fantasy fiction should be measured and Tolkien's immortality was assured with Peter Jackson's film adaptations (2001-3). Whenever I read The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings I find myself in awe at the work that has gone into creating this amazing world and if you delve into the history of Middle Earth there is so much to discover. Tolkien helped guide me through the layout for my own detailed world history for Elenchera, a challenge that has taken up a decade of my life but one that has proved very rewarding.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I've always enjoyed creative writing and when I left secondary school my English teacher signed an exercise book with the words "Never stop writing prose and poetry. You are a very talented young man". Though those words stayed with me it was another year before I began writing and Elenchera was born. In my first year of college I discovered Playstation RPG Final Fantasy VII which became the most stunning game I had ever played. I was enthralled more by the storyline than the visuals and that triggered ideas in my mind but it took one more source for me to embark on my fantasy writing. In Final Fantasy you have a group of characters that can summon gods in battle and some of these, such as Shiva, I recognised from studying religious education at school. There was another - Odin - that I wasn't familiar with so I searched through an old set of encyclopedias and found not just Odin but Norse Mythology. A combination of Final Fantasy and the Viking myths prompted me to start drawing maps of my own world and I began writing novels and building a detailed history for my creation soon after. I haven't looked back since.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
I've found writing more rewarding since Donna came into my life. I think it's important to have at least one critic, whether it's a friend, colleague or family member, that will offer you an honest opinion. Friends and family had previously assured me my writing was brilliant and without flaws but I never believed them. When Donna began reading my work she highlighted the many errors I had been making. I didn't take the criticism well to begin with but I now appreciate having someone who does challenge my writing and isn't afraid to be honest about its quality. I would also recommend having your own blog and posting anything that interests you. I mostly do reviews but blogs are a great way to share your short stories and to announce any novels you have in the pipeline, not to mention stopping your writing from becoming rusty.
What main genre do you write in?
Science Fiction / Fantasy
What's been the most challenging part of writing for you?
Creating a world history for Elenchera was hard work. I drew hundreds of maps, worked my way through our own world history for inspiration, named countless towns and villages, saw kingdoms rise and fall, islands frequently change hands and single-handedly decided the fates of thousands of characters. The history aside, my greatest difficulty has been in knowing when enough is enough for a novel. Prior to Fezariu's Epiphany I completed four novels: the first three I submitted with minimum corrections and I wouldn't accept that they were not ready. I was determined to edit my fourth novel properly until it was ready but I reached a point where I edited it too much and eventually abandoned the book altogether in favour of writing more of Elenchera's history. With Fezariu I've finally found the right balance.
Who has been your best supporter? How have they been there for you?
My biggest supporter is my no.1 fan, critic and wife Donna. She was fascinated by my writing before we were even together and has continued to keep pushing me to better myself every day. Donna persuaded me to start my blog, The World According to Dave, and was instrumental in helping me shape Fezariu's Epiphany from its original plot to a more emotional and complex narrative. The first draft of Fezariu was completed in September 2009 and it would take another five drafts before both of us felt it was ready. Donna has provided invaluable support to me since we met because she isn't afraid to tell me if something is amiss, be it a weak thread in the plot or a character that brings nothing to the overall story. I couldn't have written Fezariu's Epiphany without Donna and that's why the book is dedicated to her.
Do you like to mix genres?
I admire anyone that looks to break from genre convention and since I started writing it has been my ambition to try and do something different with fantasy. While Elenchera is a fictitious world I have always intended the stories that take place there to stand out more clearly in the reader's mind than the world itself. Fezariu's Epiphany is set in a fantasy world but that is the mere backdrop to Fezariu's story, beginning with a turbulent childhood before exploring his career as a mercenary and fighting in the colonies inhabited by a variety of races. As much as I admire Tolkien's work I wouldn't want to try and recreate the same kind of novels, just as I wouldn't attempt to try my hand at the work of fantasy's Lord of Humour - Mr Terry Pratchett. I want the stories in Elenchera to be accessible to a wide range of readers, especially those that would normally walk past the sci-fi/fantasy section in bookshops and moreover for any reader to be able to dip in and out of the Elencheran Chronicles novels at will, rather than being tied to a series.
What inspires your writing?
I always loved history at school and maintained my studies at college and university, the latter introducing me to favoured areas such as the Vikings and the Norman Conquest. If I'm not reading fiction I'll be lost in a good history book and whenever I'm learning about the past I'm always picking out the most exciting events and conflicts, trying to imagine a similar scenario in Elenchera. When I built the world history of Elenchera one of my biggest sources was Cassel's World History which offered a timeline of all the major events. As vast as Elenchera's history is I know when I next pick up a history book that there will be something in there that triggers an idea, perhaps for a future story or aspect of a novel. A few months ago I read Frank McLynn's Napoleon biography and one part of the Emperor's eventful life has helped me shape part of the ending for my next novel, A World Apart (Ed. Donna notes: This may change once I cast my critical eye over it!).
Do you have any animals? Do they influence your writing?
I take a deep breath and roll my eyes when people ask me about pets. Donna and I own six rescue cats - Kain, Razz, Buggles, Charlie, Bilbo and Frodo (we only named Charlie!) - who have made it their mission to outwit me and make my every day a living hell. They often succeed in this venture but it isn't all bad news. The antics of the six felines have seen them take a starring role in the monthly blogs I write - the Cat Observations and 36 Lives posts. Cat Observations are just my way of sharing the pain with you of being a rookie cat owner (I'd previously only had dogs), while 36 Lives gave me the chance to imagine just what our boys would say about me, Donna and the world in general when left alone in the house. It was also a good opportunity to extend my writing hand to a spot of humour.
Thank you for having me. I've really enjoyed the questions. I hope my answers have offered some enlightenment on myself, my writing habits, the world of Elenchera and, of course, Fezariu's Epiphany.
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