To begin with, I want to thank Allen for the opportunity to come onto his blog and share about Bane of Ashkarith. He and I had a great conversation about writing and how being a Christian coincides with writing fiction. I’m glad we had the opportunity to connect, and I look forward to reading more of his work. I’ve already started Mindfire, and I’m liking it even though I’m not a big superhero fan. Needless to say, I’ll be looking at some of his other works too.
As far the questions and answers go, I’m going to answer some of the key questions I’ve been asked about Bane of Ashkarith and about myself as an author. I also have a few things Allen asked me to include specifically since they’re interesting points for the novel and about me as a Christian author. So, let’s start with those points.
Q: What are the deities in Bane of Ashkarith and how do you reconcile your faith with having systems of gods or goddesses in your work?
A: Great question! With Bane of Ashkarith, the deities aren’t deities in the traditional sense. They’re beings from another universe and the first creations of those beings. All of them are long dead and gone, though they did have really long lifespans. When it comes to reconciling my faith with systems of gods or goddesses in my work, I usually stick to a set of rules for those.
First, the gods or goddesses are typically not actual deities. They’re usually people with long lifespans and supernatural abilities and magic. Secondly, these so-called deities don’t directly impact anything in society once they’re gone since they aren’t actual gods. Any impact they have is only through what they did during their lives and the ramifications of it.
They serve more as a cultural addition to make the world come alive in a more realistic way than anything. After all, people have beliefs no matter where you go, right or not. So, it makes sense that cultures on another world would to, even if they aren’t true.
Q: How does Bane of Ashkarith fit into the rest of the series in the Alcardian Universe?
A: Bane of Ashkarith is the first in the Legends of Alcardia series. It and the other books in the series take place at varying points in Alcardian history before the events of the main series, Annals of Alcardia. For Bane of Ashkarith in particular, the book takes place roughly seven-hundred years prior to the events of Pathway of the Moon, the first in the Annals of Alcardia series.
Q: How did you handle planning and world-building to allow for so many connections between the worlds and the various series you’ve written?
A: The short answer? A lot of careful thought and note-taking. Seriously, though, that’s exactly how I did it. I thought through all the places I wanted to take the various novels and the series they went with, and then I figured out how they all fit together. I built a timeline too so that I’d know which worlds started when and how.
Q: How did you give your worlds a sense of cohesiveness as you started pulling together the clues and threads leading to the connections you plotted out?
A: This one is two-fold. First, I created an overall system for the connections that would allow for a logical overlap between the universes. Many of the worlds I’ve created aren’t even in the same universe, so that required me to find a way to jump the hurdles the distance provided. The second thing I did after I had the system was to create a shared history. This included both the history for the race that created the Gates or Pathways that made inter-universe travel possible and a history that would lead to the connections between characters in various universes.
To accomplish that, I used the villain from Bane of Ashkarith. Sedra doesn’t make too much of an appearance in the book, but she’s a common theme throughout all the Alcardian novels because she’s the goddess of the main religion. Not that she deserved the devotion she got, but that’s another story. She offered me a way to connect the worlds’ history and continue it forward since she came from a planet in one of the universes where the series, Chronicles of Eclesia, takes place. The story of how she ended up on Alcardia and where she ended up after, causing trouble everywhere she went with her crazed experiments, forms a thread that ends right back where it began on her home planet. And with that thread, I was able to connect the worlds and their histories in unexpected ways.
Q: How do you weave that kind of extensive world-building into your stories?
A: This requires a lot of planning and thought. It’s easy to slip in a new creature from a world here and there or use words from languages I’ve built within a context where readers can easily figure out what the new object is. But including the vast history and the clues necessary to let astute readers figure out how things connect before they actually do is much harder. I’m not always sure I’ve managed it, but it usually involves dropping brief mentions of something that will come into play much later down the road or showing a brief glimpse of a character crossover without really spending any time on it.
Other times, it’s more obvious than that. Prophecies and the curses that sometimes accompany them make for good ways to give some of that foreshadowing. Other times, characters who can see the future may not write it down as a prophecy but may instead directly share what they’ve seen. Overall, though, it’s a great deal of work and planning. Despite that, it’s one of my favorite things about writing within the worlds I’ve created, and I know at least some readers get excited about hunting for the clues to those connections.
Q: Where did you start writing?
A: I started when I was pretty young. As a kid, I loved drawing and writing, so my mother would have me work with the Draw Write Now books to combine my love of drawing with writing. Mostly, she did it to improve my handwriting and to keep me busy, but it got me started on the writing side of things.
Q: What sparked your interest in writing?
A: The thing that really solidified my desire to start writing was my dad. He used to tell me and my younger siblings stories that he made up on the spot for us while we waited in the car for my mom to run errands on a Sunday or while we waited to be seated in a restaurant. I loved hearing his stories. He always told the best tales, and they usually contained some fantastical element, whether it was two children finding a secret portal in the roots of a tree or a hero fighting a dragon. That combined with listening to him read or reading on my own sparked my own desire to write.
Q: With the release of Bane of Ashkarith, where are you headed next in terms of publishing?
A: I’m currently working on a major revision to my first published work, In Darkness Lost. This fantasy novel is one of the ones meant specifically for younger children and teens. The plan is to pre-release it sometime at the beginning of September and then release the book itself at the end of November. With that done, the next goal is to finish up and release the first book in the Chronicles of Eclesia since it occurs in the cosmic timeline before Pathway of the Moon and about fifty years after Bane of Ashkarith.
Here is the Bane of Ashkarith synopsis:
Kaidan Tadegan is working on a new site trying to prove the myth that two armies of the gods clashed there. While on the dig site, he discovers the evidence he's looking for, but he gets more than he bargained for when he discovers a woman's bones in a section of the dig site where no other remains have been found.
As he digs the bones out, he discovers a journal with the woman's body, which tells a story that, if true, will turn the myths of the old world and the established concepts of good and evil on their heads. Startled by the find, Kaidan sets out to discover whether the diary's claims have any validity.
But when the diary leads to a city that's supposedly long gone, Kaidan's journey becomes more difficult than expected. Things become even more tangled when he discovers that the city isn't gone, but it's no place for the living.
Unable to give up on his quest, he forges ahead. What lies ahead is uncertain, and even more uncertain is whether Kaidan will survive this quest. He has only two questions in his mind. Will he find the truth in this city of the dead? And will the world accept the truth?
Buy links for Bane of Ashkarith:
Pre-order on Kobo
Pre-order on Amazon
Ariel Paiement is a fantasy author who writes the occasional historical fiction or science fiction novel. She enjoys all ranges of books and writing when it comes to reading, though fantasy and science fiction are her favorites. She likes to spend time coming up with new ideas or in wild flights of imagination. If asked what she spends most of her time doing, she'd tell you that she spends most of it reading or writing one thing or another. She is the author of On the Narrow Way in the anthology Above and Beneath: The World of Angels and Demons and has also written and published In Darkness Lost, a stand-alone fantasy adventure novel. Her novel, Bane of Ashkarith, is coming out on July 31st and is the first in the Legends of Alcardia series.
Ariel's Social Media links:
Let's welcome back fellow Ambassador International author Joanna White and see what she's been up to.
Hi, Joanna! You have a new story being released soon. Tell us about it. Is it completely new or is it related to Hunter in any way?
I’m glad you asked! Shifter is new but it is a part of the same series as Hunter. It’s Book Two of the Valiant Series. But Shifter is new because it takes place in a completely different world from Hunter with brand new characters. In the overall arc of the Valiant Books, darkness is taking over the galaxy and Radon is searching fo the Chosen to help defeat it. Shifter is the second world Corrupted by darkness, so we’ll have to see what happens with it.
That's an interesting premise! I was wondering, do you have any core methods/practices when you craft your tales?
Firstly, I always talk to my husband because he helps me with ideas. Even if I have an idea to start, he’s really good at combining it with other ideas to make it better. That, and God. If He doesn’t inspire me to write a story, then the story will not get written. I like writing after my mom and sister are sleeping, while my husband is still at work. So, I’ll sit in the living room at the table with my computer. I'll write usually between 7:00 pm and 11:30 pm (when my husband gets off work) and then later after he and I have our dinner and split up for a few hours, around 1:00 am to 3:00 am.
So you're a night owl. I used to be one of those, actually for most of my life. But now, I get up early to do my writing. Speaking of differences, how do you approach writing supporting characters and antagonists, as opposed to the main protagonist(s)?
With all my characters, I try to let them have some freedom. I’ll usually have an outline. I see where they’re starting and where I want them to go, along with a few core ideas I love about them or what they'll go through. I’ll stick with those. But in-between, I try to let the characters come alive as I “feel” what they’re going to do.
That happened a lot with the Valiant Series when I wrote it – moreso than my works today. So, the Valiant characters -- both main, side, and especially the antagonists constantly “ran away from me” (did things that were not planned)!
That sounds like a lot to keep up with. A lot of writing, even before you get to writing the story itself. What’s the most words you’ve written in one sitting? What were the circumstances?
Haha! Oh, man this is such a good question! In the Valiant Series, I wrote one of the prequel books called Paladin, after I had it outlined (all 200 pages of it) in a 24-hour period. Then I sat and wrote for a long time one day, went to sleep and wrote a long time the next day and finished it. It was 27,000 words.
Just recently, I wrote a 50,000 word novel in a six day period. The second to last day, I wrote 12,000 words between 7:00 pm and 11:00 pm. Then, from 1:00 am to 4:00 am. The next night, when I finished it, I wrote the last 15,000 words – again from 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm and then from 1:00 am till sometime after 5:00 am.
That’s definitely the most I’ve written in one setting. My back hurt from sitting in a hard desk chair and my wrist was killing me from typing for so long, Haha!
I can only imagine! I've done some long writing stints but I think I made myself get up and walk around from time to time. You mentioned your husband before. He seems very supportive of you being an author. Can you tell us about him and the role he has in your writing?
I want to say that I wouldn’t be a writer without him -- even though I wrote way before I met him, ever since I was ten. I only wrote what I call modern Christian dramas. That is, until I wanted to write an epic franchise like Star Wars and make it more fantasy style. But I didn’t know how to write fantasy.
While he and I dated, he helped me so much with ideas. He was the first to edit Hunter and without him, all of the fight scenes would have made one of the main antagonists seem pathetic!
I’ve learned so much with him. I can’t say that the Valiant Series is mine alone. First, it’s God's because He worked with my husband and I on it but it’s also partially Michael’s – my husband’s. Every time I needed ideas, he was there and we basically worked on all the ideas and concepts together. Some of the characters are also ones he came up with, so I can’t take all the credit.
He’s also the most supportive I’ve ever seen. He works so I can stay at home and be a full time author, doing what I love and what I’m passionate about. Michael is absolutely fantastic and so good to me.
Having such a supportive spouse is super-important. My wife and I have that kind of relationship, too. I believe having your life partner be your creative partner is a natural extension of the husband-wife relationship. Not everyone gets to experience that but it's wonderful when it happens. So, what are some projects you have in mind for the future?
Funny you ask! As I mentioned before, I just finished writing a novel in about six days. It was my first time writing a romance and a Biblical fiction, so I basically combined two genres I had never written before.
I have a ton of story ideas and other short stories I want to flush out and add more to them. One is called Beside Still Waters and it’s only 30,000 words.
I had beta readers who helped me think of more ideas and things that need to be addressed with it, so whenever God inspires me, I’ll be working on it.
I also have two other stories I’ve started that are unfinished until inspiration hits. One is a modern Christian romance called The Plans I Have For You about a man in a rock band who falls in love with a Christian teacher and he has to overcome his abusive past to move on with his life. The second is a modern fantasy called The Book Whisperer about a girl who can talk to book characters. That’s one I’m really trying to work on. I am interested in writing in new genres to gain experience and challenge myself – to see how many different types of books I can write.
Other than that, because I just finished a novel, I’m at that post-book stage where you get that weird I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-my-life feeling until you find another book to write. Or maybe it’s just me who gets it because I write so much.
Until then, I’m focused on Shifter’s launch and hopefully publishing the other Valiant Books. I do have a lot of family who have encouraged me to edit and submit Born of Sand – the Biblical romance I just finished – for publishing. So basically, I’m waiting for God to tell me what He wants me to do, write, work on, publish, finish, etc.
That's quite a lot on your figurative plate, but I know from experience, that also keeps one's life interesting. I'm delighted you've been able to join us today. Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about you, your books or in general?
I am so passionate about writing. I don’t read much anymore, but I can live these stories as I’m writing them, which is why I do it so much. I want to use these stories, worlds, and characters I’ve created with God’s help and Michael’s to inspire and encourage others, to give them good, clean books to read made and created with God and His Word in mind so that they can read a book without worrying about something bad being in it.
Here is the Shifter synopsis:
Beroan is a shapeshifter, part of the dragon clan. His clan’s Alpha, Sirath, wants to watch the world burn.
For ten long years Sirath has attacked villages, killing thousands of humans and burning towns to the ground. Beroan has had enough, but his resistance will only end in suffering.
Nsi is a human living in a small village with her grandmother and cousin. Her ignorance about the existence of shifters won’t protect her for long. Her family was killed in a dragon attack when she was younger, and now dragons have come again. Now she will stop at nothing until the dragon shifters are stopped, to save humans from suffering the same fate as her family.
Together, Nsi and Beroan will risk everything to save humanity from Sirath.
Darkness is spreading through the galaxy, Corrupting one world after another, and now it has come for theirs. Sirath already belongs to the Corruption of darkness.
He will not stop until he burns down the world and leaves it covered in fire and ash.
Shifter pre-order link
Shifter giveaway link
Joanna White's website
About the author
Allen Steadham is a nondenominational Christian, happily interracially married since 1995. Father of two sons and a daughter. He and his wife have been in the same Christian band since 1997. He plays electric bass, she plays strings, they both sing. It's all good.
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