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Monday, June 21, 2010

Author Guest Blog: Stephen Zimmer, Author of Rising Dawn Saga and Fires of Eden Series


Visit Stephen Zimmer's website Here and Facebook Page Here
Check out The Rising Dawn Saga Here
Check out The Fires in Eden Series Here
Order personalized copies of the books here




I came across Stephen Zimmer's series last year. Like many sci-fi/fantasy readers I didn't know much about him or his series. However I have to say that I have been very impressed so far with what I have read.

When I was approached for a blog tour in honor of the release of this third book, The Storm Guradians, which is the second novel in the Rising Dawn Saga. I thought it would be a great oppertunity to allow Stephen himself to introduce himself and talk a little bit about his series, what it's like writing a fantasy/urban fantasy series, where some of his series influences come from, and what it's like to incorperate artwork with a novel.

Without further ado, Fantasy Book Critic is proud to introduce, Stephen Zimmer!

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If you like making the discovery of a new book series that you can completely immerse into, one that opens doorways into realms full of adventure, with layers, range, and plenty of depth to explore, then I hope that you will take a few minutes and read this little introduction. You just may discover an author who is entirely committed to delivering you precisely those kinds of things, and a whole lot more.

Even though The Storm Guardians, book 2 in my epic urban fantasy series The Rising Dawn Saga, is my third published novel, I am a newer writer to most readers of fantasy and urban fantasy. As such, I thought it would be good to give you a little idea as to what my work is about, my foundations, and some of the other things involved with my book releases, such as the extensive art and illustration involvement from fantasy artist Matthew Perry.

First of all, I have two series underway and moving forward.

One, The Rising Dawn Saga, is epic urban fantasy, which kicked off early last year with the release of The Exodus Gate, and now has a second installment out with The Storm Guardians. It is a tale that is steeped in the paranormal and supernatural. Mythical elements are drawn from a wide range of origins, including Sumerian/Babylonian, Persian, Asian, Celtic, Russian, and Greek, among others. Spiritual lore derived from Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and other faith traditions are woven into the story as well. With doses of science fiction, mystery, and techno-thrillers, and a few other ingredients, it makes for a rather unique, fun series, one that even readers who don't normally read fantasy or urban fantasy can enjoy (and I have heard that from some readers of this series already). A new discovery lies around each bend in this saga!

My other ongoing endeavor is the Fires in Eden series, which began with Crown of Vengeance last fall, and is epic medieval fantasy in nature (with some twists, such as several modern day characters that go through a mist and find themselves within the world of Ave). Like the Rising Dawn Saga, it draws in influences from all across the world, balancing fantasy elements familiar to genre readers with things that are fairly original, or at least uncommonly encountered. I think readers are going to be amazed as the range in this one is steadily unveiled. The next book in the series is scheduled to come out this winter.

I am on a very dedicated schedule with my editors, which will see a new book out roughly every seven months, alternating between the two series. As I have been developing these series since the mid-1990's, I have a great amount of material in place already, and it will not present much of a problem to keep to this pace. I am very focused on making sure my readers get new titles in a relatively timely fashion. I do understand how frustrating it can be to wait around forever for a new installment in a series, and I personally want to assure any readers willing to take up my work that I will strive to make sure that does not happen with my books.

The stories themselves are epic in scale, told in a multi-threaded fashion, where each thread is titled by the character from whose point of view the segment is being done. I really like this particular style, as it enables you to tell stories within a greater sphere very effectively, like sections of a larger tapestry. Even though the overall tale is very epic in scope, the multi threaded style allows you to zoom in for close, intimate visits with a variety of characters. It also allows for a range of perspectives on the greater story, as various elements of it are seen
through the eyes of characters both heroic and villainous in nature (and a few shades in between). Whether it is the dark sorceress and CEO Dagian Underwood, who is preparing to unveil a world-changing technology, or the high school student Seth Engel, who encounters the An-Ki while hiking in the woods, there are characters to fascinate and others to bond with.

Admittedly, this style does not result in something that can be considered light reading, but it does create the kind of depth and scope that allows readers who like to explore layer after layer to really escape into a fantastical, encompassing journey. As a reader, I always loved these kinds of stories myself, which makes the creation of these series so much fun. A reader can make what they want of it, whether that is simply an enjoyable fantasy read, or something that might be thought-provoking in light of the things going on around us today.

Now, into my foundations as a writer and storyteller...

My first influences were J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. My mother read me Tolkien aloud when I was about 7 years of age, from The Lord of the Rings to the Hobbit, and it certainly had an effect on me. Not long after, she bought me the Chronicles of Narnia books, which crowned my love for fantasy. Since then, I have had many other writers that I consider influences, such as Clive Barker, George R.R. Martin, and Glen Cook, in more recent years, writers such as David Gemmell, C.S. Friedman, E.E. Knight, Guy Gavriel Kay, and Brian Keene.

Another significant force in my writing is the fact that I love history, ranging from the accounts of world cultures to the esoteric and mystical. I think this is strongly reflected in the orientation to detail that I have in my work, whether it is sprinkling in hints during the Rising Dawn Saga regarding characteristics about Enki from Babylonian/Sumerian accounts, or referencing something involving the depictions of the fallen angels or Watchers in the apocryphal Book of Enoch.



Also impacting my work is the reality that I am a rather lucid dreamer, and often get vivid dreamscapes, or conceptions of creatures, that make their way into my descriptions of places and things within the books. To cite one example, this really helped with my characterizations of the shapeshifting, wolfish An-Ki in the Rising Dawn Saga. Likewise, it greatly helped my visualizations of The Abyss and the Middle Lands.

One pleasant surprise that many readers discover when getting one of my novels is the amount of artwork that is included. Extra content like this is rarely encountered in a novel release today. I always wanted to have some significant amounts of artwork in my novels, which to me makes good sense as we live in a very visual age, where graphic novels and the like are well established. In this regard, I was fortunate enough to have that happen from the beginning. Matthew Perry, who is an outstanding fantasy artist (who can be found at perrypixel.com), has produced around forty full page illustrations between the three novels, in addition to the cover art. Matt does get to play within the worlds of the books, as the only times that I have asked for anything to be corrected is when there is something that very noticeably, and specifically, contradicts what is in
the text.

This has made for some very humorous moments, such as when Matt rendered his first draft of Gorynych, a dragon from Russian mythology that appears in The Storm Guardians. Matt was very pleased with his work when he handed it over, and even though I thought that the dragon looked fantastic too, I had to gently remind him that Gorynych is very pointedly a three-headed dragon in the text, and in the references that I had given him. Matt's draft was of a one-headed dragon. He and I had a good laugh about that one, as he had gotten so immersed into the drawing that two entire heads had been overlooked in the design!

I have really enjoyed seeing Matt's take on the various elements within the books. I always provide him with passages from the text pertaining to certain creatures or scenes, as well as talk with him about things I had in mind when writing those segments. I also provide him with extra
background, if it involves something influenced by, or based upon, an existing myth or other type of lore.

The collection of imagery that has resulted really does give people a good sense of what can be found in the books. We have made good use of the artwork even beyond the books themselves, creating some sharp art card sets for each book that are given out at conventions and book signings, in addition to a new t-shirt series that was just unveiled this spring. For me, it is definitely a great addition to the book releases, and one that I really look forward to with forthcoming installments.

I truly believe that urban fantasy and fantasy readers that pick up one of my books will discover something that has had great deal of care and consideration put into its creation and release. There are a number of characters to meet, many places to visit, and threads that will flow
smoothly from title to title. I do know where these stories are going, so I am confident of delivering a satisfying conclusion to each series that will not leave loose ends.

I am a very accessible author as well, and readers are invited to contact me anytime they want to ask questions, or find out more about my work. I hope that this little article has given you some insight into my books and what I am about. It would certainly be great to hear from you, or meet you at a book signing event in the future. Thank you for taking the time to read this!

-Stephen Zimmer
June 19, 2010

2 comments:

ediFanoB said...

Thank you so much for this guest post. I'm a fan of Stephen Zimmer and his books. I really hope that more people get interested in his books.

I'm a lucky guy because I received a copy of THE STORM GUARDIANS which I will read and review in July 2010.

fatass_loser69 said...

I met Mr. Zimmer recently and found him to be a very well mannered man. He talked to me in a way that was not degrading and engaged with me a very enticing conversation that may, in the future, help my own dreams of becoming a good writer become reality. I am unfortunate to say I have not read a full work of his, yet, but from what I have read his books are captivating and filled with adventure, also with a strong descriptive sway that makes the book feel more life-like.

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