Yesterday’s stop in the Flames of Nevyana blog tour was at the host site, Chapter by Chapter, and featured a Q&A (plus an excerpt and link to the giveaway!)
Describe your book in 140 characters or less (like a Tweet)
Three teenagers must overcome their mutual mistrust to save their land when the sacred secrets of Blue Fire are stolen and turned to evil.
What was your inspiration for writing this book? Was it in a dream? A thought while taking a walk?
I was driving from my home town of Regina, Saskatchewan, to Meadow Lake, about 500 kilometres further north, to do a reading at the library. Whenever I’m on my own in the car on a long trip I do a lot of thinking about writing, and on this occasion I deliberately set myself the task of coming up with a new idea for a YA fantasy novel. I got to thinking about Arthur C. Clarke’s famous dictum that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” and that led me to think that our mastery of electricity would certainly seem like magic to someone from the Middle Ages. From there it was a short leap to the idea of a magic system based on electricity. In my book, Blue Fire is still magic, and is controlled through magical means, but it’s clearly electricity, too. With that idea in mind, I began my usual process of asking myself questions about the world: how would Blue Fire be used? How did the people learn to harness it? Who might be harmed or benefit from it? By the time I got to Meadow Lake, I had the broad outlines of the story sketched out in my head. I think I even talked about it in my presentation that night.
Tell us about the main character(s).
There are three viewpoint characters in flames of Nevyana, each a member of one of the three very different cultures within the Kingdom of Nevyana. They’re all of an age: about sixteen. Petra is a Priest-Apprentice of Vekrin, God of the Earth, one of the three surviving Gods of Nevyana. He’s also the son of the First Keeper of the Temple of Primaxis—the top priest in the Kingdom. Amlinn is the granddaughter of the leader of Clan Therra of the Freefolk, nomadic people who travel the wilderness from City to City, and a devout follower of Arrica, Goddess of the Sun. The people of Vekrin and the people of Arrica mistrust each other, the former seeing the latter as nothing more than lazy, shiftless vagabonds, the latter seeing the former as dull and conceited. And then there’s Jin. Jin is a Nightdweller. They follow Ell, Goddess of the Moon, and long ago she changed them into furred, almost feline, nocturnal dwellers who cannot bear the light of day—and who for centuries have hunted and killed any of the followers of Vekrin or Arrica they find in their forests at night. Because of the threat of the Nightdwellers, Petra and the other followers of Vekrin lock themselves behind city walls at night. Only the followers of Arrica, Amlinn’s people, dare to stay in the forest at night, and only because they have the magic of the Fence, a barrier of Blue Fire that Nightdwellers cannot pass. It is not infallible, however, and when she was little, Nightdwellers killed Amlinn’s parents. Petra, Arrica, and Jin are the most unlikely of allies…and yet allies they become.
Do you have a favorite quote or specific part in the book that you really love?
I like this quote, which is central to the book: “The fact the Gods have not been heard from for five hundred years does not prove they will not return tomorrow. But it seems a thin thread on which to hang the living of your life, and little reason to accept death, suffering, and the slow decline of our civilization.”
Was there a specific part in the book that you had an especially difficult time writing? If so, why?
Each of the characters suffers, at one time or another, what might be called a crisis of faith, as they question the will, and even the existence, of the Gods each of them has sworn to follow. Since I’m the son of a preacher and the finest people I know are people of faith, I found writing scenes in which characters renounce their faith a little uncomfortable. However, I hasten to add that the Gods of Nevyana have no counterparts in the real world and the characters’ renouncing of their faith in them is totally the right thing to do, and no reflection on anyone’s faith in the real world.
What sort of projects do you have going on right now. Any new books coming out?
I’m currently working on two non-fiction projects—a book about Saskatchewan politics in the 1980s and a history of a local engineering firm. On the fiction side, I’m about to plunge into revisions for my next science fiction novel, The Cityborn, which will be coming out from DAW Books in July 2017. After that, I’ll be writing the first two books in a new fantasy series I’ve sold to DAW, tentatively titled Worldshapers. I’m also working toward bringing out an illustrated collection of science fiction/fantasy/horror poetry I wrote earlier this year. I have a middle-grade fantasy/horror proposal with my agent, Ethan Ellenberg, and feelers out for some other novels. Never a dull moment!