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Friday, July 25, 2014

GUEST POST: "Getting Started Is The Hardest!" by Jason K. Lewis

My fantasy series 'The Adarna Chronicles' is set, for the most part, in the empire of Adarna. The world that the empire of Adarna exists within is directly comparable (in many respects) to Earth in the classical period. I refer to it as a historicalish fantasy world. It's not a parallel universe or a world with a slightly different history, but it does share some striking similarities to the real world.

I debated for some time whether I should go for an alternative reality version of Rome, but by creating Adarna I gave myself the freedom to stray from reality to a greater degree whilst at the same time allowing myself some scope to surprise the reader with the differences (which are many), between the world of Adarna and the real world, that are revealed as the series progresses.

The tale came together in my mind around a single scene that I just could not shake out of my head. The problem was that the scene took place in the middle of a battle. I spent a year dismissing the idea as I knew that starting a book in the middle of a battle was not the best way to engage the reader, as they would not be invested in the characters (essentially they would not care if the characters lived or died). Having wrestled with this problem for what seemed like an age, I decided that I just had to start writing. For some strange reason, whilst anything after the battle was easy to write, there simply wasn't anything to find (in the depths of my subconscious) prior to the battle that had any real relevance to the story. It was as if (and this sounds a little corny, I know) the story just wasn't there before the battle.

'Empire Under Siege', the first book in the Adarna chronicles begins in the chaos of battle and because of this the writing style for the first few pages is urgent, staccato and, perhaps, disorientating, but I would imagine that is exactly what a battle is like. I had to get through the first few chapters to establish some key plot points going forwards. There have been a few comments from reviewers in this regard but most agree (thankfully) that it works out alright as the rest of 'Empire Under Siege' deals with the aftermath of the battle itself and builds the characters and the interactions that (in my mind) are an essential build up for the rest of the series.

A large part of the book revolves around the impact that trauma can have on individuals and it is fair to say that at least one of the main characters may be suffering from a form of post traumatic stress disorder. I wanted to try to look at what really happens to men who survive these situations as (I think) in many fantasy books this is not addressed and the hero just struts through the book, essentially invincible, to the end. This aspect of the series is definitely influenced by stories that I have heard from my grandfather, whose own father survived the first world war and was highly decorated for bravery. I never met my great grandfather and I don't think he had PTSD, but his story (which I may try to tell one day) and that of his family has made me think deeply about the nature of good and evil and how the 'little man' must feel when caught up in events beyond their own control.

Having been an ardent fantasy fan from the age of nine, when I first read 'The Lord of the Rings', I would say that I have a diverse portfolio of influences. Professor Tolkien stands head and shoulders above all in my mind and I don't think he will ever be equalled, but other influences include:-

Stephen Donaldson(both the excellent 'Thomas Covenant' books and the 'Gap into conflict' books), who brings stark realism and harrowing themes to his work on occasion. He also builds great characters with depth and realism. I hated Thomas Covenant on sometimes, but I hated him because he was written as a complete and imperfect human being.

David Gemmell - What is there left to say about the late, great master of action? I read 'Legend' and fell in love with his writing. No one writes battle scenes quite as well as he did and I think I drew much from him when writing the action scenes in 'Empire Under Siege'.

Terry Pratchett - This might seem like a strange one but there is a lot to be said for using a fantasy world to highlight the inadequacies of our own society and its rules and institutions.

Julian May - A great science fiction author whose influence can probably be seen in the 'bear, bull and hawk' in my work- although not directly, for the record (slight spoiling ahead) they categorically are not aliens. The 'Saga of the exiles' is, in my view, a truly brilliant piece of work.

There are, of course, many other influences, but I think these are the ones that have most affected my writing of the 'Adarna chronicles' the most. I am now working on the second book of the Adarna chronicles, which is entitled 'Phoenix Rising' and should be out before the end of July. I love it when readers reach out to me through social media, it is really good to get constructive feedback so I would encourage anyone who wants to know more about my work to do just that....

Official Author Website
Buy the book HERE

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Jason K. Lewis lives in Britain with his wife and young son. He spent his childhood glued to books by authors such as David Gemmell, Stephen Donaldson, Julian May, Stephen King, Terry Pratchett, C.S. Lewis, George R.R. Martin and J.R.R.Tolkien. He is the author of the science fiction Novelette 'Paradise' and the fantasy 'Empire under siege' which is the first book in the epic Adarna chronicles.


Promoting Authors said...

The Adarna Chronicles looks like a fantastic read. I love the covers and the fact the story begins in the middle of the action interests me. I will definitely check this series out.

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