Today we welcome Canadian author Dyane Forde to the blog, for an interview and to hear about her books.
Dyane Forde’s love of writing began with an early interest in reading and of words in general. She was always amazed at how linking words together in different ways had unexpected and pleasing results. People enjoyed what she created! This sparked a life-long desire to write all types of things, from short stories, novels, flash fiction, poetry…she enjoys trying genres and forms of writing which are different from what she’s used to; every story or book represents new joys and challenges. Dyane views writing as an amazing and intimate communication tool, meaning that it becomes a means through which she seeks to connect with others on a level deeper than intellect.
Dyane is a social worker by profession. Learning to see the world through other people’s eyes…
So, as some of you know I have finished my 4th, or 5th…or 6th revision (I forget!) of Wolf’s Bane, book 2 of my fantasy series Rise of the Papilion. Since doing that, I found that I have reconnected with my characters and their stories, not to mention that I feel like I have vastly improved the story from where I had left it when I thought it was “finished”. I put that in quotes since every writer knows no book is every really finished, rather it can be edited and revised until kingdom come! Anyway, today I decided to get back to writing after weeks of editing and I’m happy with this little scene I came up with for Book 3 (still un-named). It’s a draft of course, but it was so much fun to write I had to share it. And, sure it’ll change over time, but I post it now for those out there who read The Purple Morrow and are hankering for more. Plus it’s a boost for me, one which I hope will motivate me to switch gears back from editing into writing.
So, for this excerpt, we jump right over book 2 (Wolf’s Bane), but don’t worry. Once I get the draft back from the beta-readers I’ll post excerpts. In this scene, Kelen returns to North Country and meets his adoptive father, Oren, who has since reclaimed his position as Naagra-Oni (head of the Seer Order). Note: in Wolf’s Bane, Kelen discovers that the Naagra Order isn’t as honest as he had thought and that even Oren has something big to hide… And for those who know the story, who’s sword is Kelen so attached to? 😀
Oh, and here’s an image to give you an idea of what my man Kelen might look like (minus Captain America’s shield and Iron Man’s helmet, of course…):
Exceprt from Chapter 9
Kelen settled himself in the sparse room, the one adjoining the Naagra-Oni’s vast chambers and which Oren had had adapted from a storage closet into a suitable living space. The days were difficult for the Naagra-Oni, largely due to his own doing, and he wanted to ensure his body-guard was within calling distance at all times. Kelen did not care that the room was mostly barren save for the essentials: a functional cot and blanket, stacked shelves to stow his belongings, pegs for his clothes and a decent sized fireplace. He needed nothing more than these small comforts anyway.
Easing out of his armour, he let them drop to the flags. They metal pieces clattered when they landed, the only sound to be heard save for the rapid lapping of the fire on the logs. His bones were weary from carrying too much weight for far too long, and as he rolled his shoulders and stretched his neck, they begged for rest.
Kelen sat on the edge of the cot. Every time he did this, he marveled that the thin fabric managed to hold his weight. Naagra, for those are for whom these simple beds had been made, were as tall as Garguul but not nearly so heavy in girth. The first time he had sat on a cot, he half expected to fall right through, legs splayed and dangling from the wood frame like those of a deer as it struggled out of a ground trap. But one thing he knew about the Amani: they were particular in all they did, seeing to it that everything around them was as perfectly functional, perfectly rendered, perfectly perfect as they believed themselves to be. Every time. Pressing his hands into the cot’s fabric on either side of him, Kelen shrugged and stretched out on it with his hands folded behind his head.
These four walls had been his home for months since he had left the Deep Southernlands. He had fled the marsh and its horrors for North Country, cutting like a scythe through the midland’s forests and plains. He stopped for no one, sleeping and eating as little as possible in order to regain the northern road as quickly as possible. The Northland wilderness, cold and restless as a veiled woman of the night, called to him, luring him back to the birthplace of his own destruction. He could think of nothing else, only of going home.
Upon his return to Illunga, unaware of all that had transpired with his adoptive father since leaving the northlands two years ago, Kelen had looked for him in the Naagra-Oni’s quarters in the north wing. From his stone desk, kissed by the dancing light of the fire, Oren’s eyes had grown wide upon seeing Kelen’s form in the doorway. His irises immediately darkened with suspicion, or fear, or both. But then, a strange look crossed his face as a distracted air took hold of him, as though he were listening to some voice that only he could hear. And then he smiled. Not his usual, cold smile, but one only thinly veiling satisfaction. He was as a cat who has cornered a mouse, a boa constrictor flicking its tongue before wringing its prey to death.
“So, you’ve come home.”
“You are late. The others have returned some time ago. I was beginning to despair, thinking something terrible had befallen you.” Firelight agitated by a draft of cool air flowing in from the hall played across Oren’s face.
Kelen was not fooled by the words of concern. He closed the door behind him and approached Oren’s desk. “Things did not go as planned.”
“And I am eager for you to tell me all. I do not know if you are aware, but Olly and his closest men have not yet returned.”
“Nor will they.” Here, Kelen allowed his only emotional reaction, a slight furrow in his brow. “They were outmatched by a foe they could not hope to defeat.”
“I see.” Oren folded his hands, letting them fall to his lap behind his desk. “I have also heard rumors about you from the men who did return. They say you abandoned the army, for a woman, no less.”
Kelen sneered. “I don’t care what they say. You gave me orders to go after the Papilion and that’s what I did. Olly was left in charge of the men and put under orders to continue the original mission. What happened after that I do not know, as I was separated from the corps.”
Oren’s steely gaze held him fast. Kelen wondered what the old man saw and if he would believe the slightly altered version of the truth.
“This is your version of the story, one that sets you in a better light than what has been recounted by more than a hundred men. And yet, the men who were with you and who knew you best, the very men who could confirm your story are dead. At the hand of some unbeatable opponent who mysteriously vanished into the southern air. Like that!” he mused, snapping his fingers for emphasis.
“As I said, Oren, I do not care what people think or say of me.”
“Where is your axe?”
Surprised by the question, Kelen’s hand flew to the empty space between his shoulder blades. “Another unexpected event. It is gone.”
“Well,” Oren said, waving to his attendant, Lapi, in the corner of the room, “we shall have the Rovers order you another. A Rover is not a Rover without one.”
Kelen held up a hand, stopping the hump-backed servant from leaving. “No need. I’ve since become attached to another weapon of choice.”
To this, Oren raised an eyebrow. “Is that so? How unusual for a Rover.”
“People change, Oren.”
At this, Oren carefully set both hands on the top of the desk. “That may be true for some people, Rover. But not for you. May I see this new weapon?”
Kelen gripped the tightly bound bundle which was attached to the belt at his waist. “One day,” he said, his voice as cutting as steel, “but not today. It must be properly tended to as it’s something I picked up along the way.”
Standing, Oren left the safety of the desk to walk approach Kelen until he was within arms’ reach. Kelen could smell the pomade slicking back the man’s unruly hair and the expensive perfume leaching from his skin. Oren’s pale skin peeked out from the neck of the purple, velvet robes and white fur trim of his seer garb. He knew Oren wore no armour underneath the swathes of material and that at this distance, the Naagra-Oni would make an easy kill. But he put those thoughts behind him. Time was ticking. And good things came to those who wait.
“What is your intention here tonight?” Oren demanded.
“I was called here. I believe we share a common Master.”
“Is that so? And you’ve met?” Sudden interest brightened Oren’s tone.
“More than once.”
“He comes to you directly?”
“Dreams mostly, though we have…met…in the everyday world as well.”
Oren scowled at this, but he quickly regained control. “How much do you know?”
Knowing Oren as well as he did, Kelen discerned the unspoken question underlying Oren’s words: What do you know of your origins in the northlands?
Backing away slowly, Oren maintained Kelen’s icy stare. “So, you wish to work for me, is that it?”
“It is the Master’s will that I act as your guard.”
“And you accept this?”
“It is the Master’s will,” he repeated. “It is my duty to accept.”
The carpet silenced Oren’s steps as he finally retreated for the desk. The silk cushions of his chair also made no sound as he sat. “Can I trust you?”
Kelen’s stare did not waver, but a muscle in his jaw tensed. “You can trust me to follow my orders.”
“Then,” Oren said, “that will have to do for now.”
The temple clock struck the midnight hour. Running his hands through the tangles in his hair, Kelen let go of the memory as his eyes fell on his pack and the wrapped weapon still attached to it. Rising, Kelen pushed aside his discarded armour with his foot as he crossed the room to retrieve his gear. Back seated on the cot, he opened the straps to separate the pack from the long, tightly bound bundle. When it was free, he let the pack drop to the floor.
The curved weapon had been cleaned and meticulously restored, the stop at a weapons’ smith in Azoolah the only one he had permitted himself after deciding to go north. Since then, the lone arm had never seen the light of day but waited in its wrappings.
Kelen blew out the candle and let the fire in the grate burn low. Tonight, he would dream and, as happened most nights, he would be visited and instructed. The Master would transform his dreams into nightmares, infuse his soul with darkness and horror; the Shadow would corrupt his every thought and every emotion down to the very last fiber. The mark on his arm was proof it this. It would darken; every night it became a shade blacker.
The curved weapon weighed on Kelen’s chest. He gripped the hilt through the dirty, threadbare cloth until his hand cramped and refused to open on, even when he willed it to.
Kelen gripped the weapon and bore the pain because when he was lost to the enveloping darkness of sleep, the pain was the only thing that prevented him from being swept away.
This is really interesting. Michelle Abbott, romance author and blogger, has interviewed Jeru, the main character of The Purple Morrow! I’m so proud of him–he did great! Read on to meet this great character and overall amazing guy.
Note: Michelle moved her blog and as the interview is no longer available I decided to repost my version here.
Today I welcome Jeru, the main character from The Purple Morrow.
Hi Jeru. How would you describe your story? Is it a horror, thriller, or maybe a romance?
Hi Michelle! It’s great to meet you.
(Laughs) As for your question, if you ask me, I say the story is a horror. I mean, all I wanted was to live the normal, quiet life of a clan hunter and trader, but all that got turned upside down once those damned Rovers ploughed into the south bent on destroying it and after the Purple Morrow showed up–night after night–in my dreams. Seeing the Morrow is pretty significant and when I finally found out why…! (Sips water and runs a hand through his hair). Anyway…getting mixed up with Kelen, the Rover commander who literally wanted my head, also sucked, as you modern people say. I still have the scars from our fights to prove it! But meeting him did cause me to meet my wife, Nyssa, so that part wasn’t bad (grins).
But if you ask Dyane she’ll say it’s a fantasy novel with action, mythological and romance elements. Not too heavy on the romance though! She’s more interested in lopping off heads and writing macho axe-and-sword duels than sending me off with Nyssa to some cozy love nest for pages at a time. You know, I’d been meaning to talk to her about that one day, but with running for my life and trying to understand the Morrow’s long-forgotten lore, I guess I just never got around to it. (Laughs)
Where is your story set? In another world, the past, the future?
My clan is the Wolf Clan, and it’s located in the lush forests of Marathana. That’s our continent. See, there are four main Clans, three of which broke away from the Mother Clan generations ago when three brothers decided to settle the south. Sage Clan, the wisdom and law keepers, settled in the mountains, while the Water Clan, from which our line of healers come, settled the eastern cliffs. Earth Clan, of which Wolf Clan is a sect, settled the forests. As a clan, we’re known for our stubborn loyalty, and for our dedication to tradition and to the clan’s common good. Marriage and procreation are key values and central to our survival, especially with the ever-present threat of Rover attacks, which is why my refusal to remarry after the death of my first wife was such an aberration. Also, it was foretold that Marathana’s saviour would come from my clan. That’s…where I come in. I’m still not sure how I feel about it.
Can you tell me something about the land you live in? It seems different from the world I know of today.
Well, Marathana is divided into the Northlands, which are populated by the greedy and destructive Northmen–the Rovers are their army of marauders, the Southernlands which is where my people live, and further down are the Deep Southernlands, which is largely desert. There’s a miserable little hole there called the Badlands. That’s where the half-breed spawns of the Northmen and Southernmen are sent because anyone found to have Rover blood is immediately exiled. That’s how hated the Rovers are. I’ll let you figure out how the half-breeds come to be; I’d rather not speak of things like that in mixed company.
Aside from that, I guess we’d appear pretty primitive compared to you: we’ve no lights, or cars, no ‘tech’ as I have heard some of you mention. But it’s a beautiful land of mountains and rivers and plains. Silver Falls is one of our most important and sacred features…though, sadly, it’s also the location of one of the saddest events of my life: the death of my first wife…um…next question?
For the benefit of the readers, what do you look like?
I’m 24, have black shoulder-length hair I often keep tied back, and have green eyes. Apparently, I’m the only living person with eyes this colour and they’re the sign of my destiny. As for the rest of me, I think I must be attractive since Dyane often describes me as having ‘full lips’, as being ‘lithe’ and ‘graceful as a cat’. I think there’s even a line somewhere in chapter six about my skin ‘glistening in the sun’ from sweat during martial arts training. (Grins and shows off delightful dimples and straight, white teeth) I don’t mind, though. I figure the more she likes me, the better my storylines will be! You know, the positive effect of strong inspiration and all that. (Laughs).
From the excerpt I read of your story, you seem sad and lonely. What caused you to feel that way?
Yeah, life hasn’t been kind to me. Ten years ago, the Rovers razed our village and my family and a lot of villagers were killed. It was lonely growing up in the aftermath of all that, especially as an orphan. Luckily, I had Lark, my best friend, and Mara, the healer, to help but I guess you never really come back from something like that, do you?
And, as I mentioned before, five years ago I married my first wife, Aliyah, only to have her die on our wedding day. I…thought it was my fault. A man’s supposed to protect his wife, right? Anyway, after all that I kinda felt like life had it out for me. I just closed off, lived quietly with my head down. Until the Morrow showed up and messed all that up!
Can you tell me more about the Purple Morrow? I know it is a butterfly that you have been dreaming about.
Well, butterflies are revered by the Clan as symbols of hope, change, second chances and so on. There’s some sort of mythology tied to it as well, and I spend a lot of book two unraveling what it’s all about. But basically, when one is seen in a dream or a vision, it’s thought to be some kind of sign. What’s also important is the fact that the rarer the butterfly, the more important the message or ensuing destiny. The Purple Morrow is the rarest of them all, so you can understand the trepidation I felt when it started showing up in my dreams!
I can tell your dreams disturb you. How long have you been having them?
For weeks! I felt so stupid being afraid to sleep for fear of dreaming about what is essentially a beautiful insect, but knowing its significance…anyway, they nearly drove me crazy! Poor Lark. He got the brunt of it all. (Laughs)
How did you meet your friend, Lark?
Oh, Lark and I have been buddies since we were kids. When my family was killed he sort of stepped in as big brother and best friend. He’s easygoing and fun and dependable– the kind of friend every guy wants watching his back. Half the time nothing he says makes any real sense, but when it came to getting me to see Nyssa as a possible wife, by some magic I’ve yet to understand, the man actually spoke sensibly. At the time, it was maddening!
What do you think are your best attributes?
I’m just a regular guy, an Everyman, trying to live right in a difficult world. I think I’m loyal and honest and I genuinely care about people. And even though it might take a while to get me going, when I know what needs to get done, come hell or high water, I see the thing through.
And what are your worst?
I’m stubborn. I get set in my ways and it’s hard to change my mind. I mean, it took the Morrow, Mara, Lark, Nyssa, nearly getting killed by Kelen more than once amongst other things to get me to accept the challenge the Morrow set for me. Yep, stubborn as a mule, I am!
Will you be appearing in any future books?
Yes! I’ll be in all the books since the trilogy is mostly the story of how I become Marathana’s deliverer. But in Wolf’s Bane, book 2, other characters take on larger roles and we see more of the other people groups living in Marathana. For example, Kelen, a crowd favourite, becomes co-main character as his role in the story and in my life moves to the forefront. What happens between he and I at the end surprised even me. I can’t wait for book 3!
Michelle, thanks so much for having my on today. I hope I did Dyane proud…and that she’ll remember it when it comes time to finish book 3 as in add more love scenes! (Coughs) Anyway, Michelle! It was great to talk about The Purple Morrow and the world I come from. I hope you’ll have me back when Wolf’s Bane comes out, hopefully sometime later this year (2014)…
So, as promised, Writer Chicks returns with more from my discussion with author, blogger and micro-publisher TA Miles. What follows is a compilation of some of the larger themes pulled from our 8 page chat, where we touch on subjects such as where we find inspiration for our stories and characters and just what these characters mean to us…
We pick up the discussion on the subject of sequels…
TA: Sequels in books tend to gain depth the way movie sequels don’t, lol. I think they do come more alive simply for the fact that they (the characters) and their circumstances become more familiar. They begin sharing more and in greater depth. And this isn’t just between you and them, but among themselves as well.
The inspiration for my stories seems to always be by chance circumstances. I’ll happen to be listening to a piece of music that has someone show me something in vivid detail, or I’ll look at a picture, or be out walking and I’ll hear someone’s voice or their personality will manifest. One aspect of the Bhast series was inspired by a racing video game. One of the characters showed up while I was playing it and told me that they’re an athlete. For Immarcescible, it took meeting several characters all sharing various stories (some of them on Bhast) for me to finally meet the person who all of the stories are essentially revolving around. So I have folders of pieces from different times and places, and they kind of worked me backward to the starting point. My personal interests…the things I believe draws these characters to me lie strongly in spiritualism, history, and culture along with things metaphysical/paranormal. You’ll find if you explore that ghosts, spirits, angels, and various entities appear frequently and even in worlds not Earth there’s always a lot of demonstration/presence of culture. I think the last and probably more important thing to them is my fascination with and willingness to understand psychology…not in just clinical terms, but sociological. I learn a lot through them and through myself, and through people in general. I love to observe and ponder humanity.
And now I get to ask you…what do you think draws your characters to you? 🙂
Me: In terms of the characters…I think they are built or manifested based on the story that needs to be told. When I was thinking about the themes for The PurpleMorrow, I really wanted to write about redemption and how a person comes to that place, if they can. Somehow I knew the main character had to be a man even though I had never really written from that POV before. I had no idea what he looked like really or much about him until I started to write. Then he became a hunter, was from the Wolf Clan which was a part of a Mother Clan and a sister to two other Clans. Sort of like connect the dots. In regards to Kelen, the other MC, I sort of had a ‘vision’. I was walking home from the bus thinking about what my book needed next and I knew I wanted to highlight a particular Rover to create a main villain. Then Kelen’s whole introductory scene popped into my head. I was soooo excited to write him! To this day people tell me he is one of their favorite characters. Secondary characters seem to crop up when they are needed and take form based on what the story is telling me. The more I write and the more I get to know this particular story the easier it becomes to hear each character’s voice. So, I write intuitively often starting from the beginning and writing right through to end, just making it up as I go along based on what feels right at the moment. 🙂
TA: I remember hearing about how you met Kelen, which was one of the things that let me know what style writer you are. The style you and I go with I call an organic style. We just let things grow naturally. That isn’t to say that the other end of the spectrum is ‘processed’. I consider the planners and outline writers to be landscapers or architects. They envision something in advance and then build it to suit that vision. And, of course, there are many styles that would fall in between. It’s all personal and ultimately doesn’t matter because the end result is someone’s piece of art. I don’t know why people think writing is any different than any other art form. You have an inspiration or a vision, you develop a style, and you work it.
I love to start at the beginning and go, not knowing the outcome. It’s so much more engaging for me. I’m a naturally curious person and I love to solve puzzles and explore. 🙂 Currently, we have a significant mystery stacking up on us in the sequel to Blood Lilies. I have no idea what they’re going to do about it.
Me: Yes! The mystery! I’m taking a pause from my dragon story because even though I know what follows in terms of a loose outline, I don’t know how to get there yet. So I’m waiting for the story to work itself out. One day I’ll sit at the computer bursting with ideas and I’ll continue it. It’s really cool to run into someone like you who understands and can relate to the process that works for me. I suspected from the time we met on the sci-fi group that was the case. 🙂 We should start a group for ‘touchy-feely’ writers lol
TA: Lol! We could be our own therapy group. I had similar suspicions when we met. It’s great to stumble into a kindred spirit. 🙂 I know what you mean with having to step away for a while sometimes. It’s why I have several WIPs. Sometimes the characters in one world or story just need to take a break. I’ll go spend time with other people for a while and get back to them later. The last thing I want to do is force them. And some of them get irritated with that kind of pressure anyway. They’ll tell me when they’re ready…or when I’m ready to comprehend what they have to say in some instances. And, of course, when I’ve been away from one group of characters for a while and get back to them I get all sappy and ‘I’ve missed you guys!’….which is a good feeling and provides the energy to get writing.
Me: Oh! That’s cool. You do get it! I remember reading an article where the writer listed the pros and cons of not writing multiple WIPs at the same time, concluding that only writing one at a time was best. But not for me. I get burned out when all I do is work on the same thing for a year or more at a time, which is a truth I just discovered. Now that I have multiple things going on, granted it takes longer to finish a project, but I feel more interested and stimulated about writing. Plus, it’s fun to dabble in different styles and formats instead if just books…
What I loved about this discussion and why I chose to post it, is that it highlights the fact that everyone finds passion and inspiration in different ways and that it’s okay! It’s great to meet others who may have similar or even different ideas and be able to share on these subjects. Not just about the technical stuff but also about the heart of the craft we so love. After that discussion, I felt so energized and inspired, and even now, months later, I still feel that way.
So what about you, Reader? Have any thoughts or comments you’d like to share? How do you go about finding your characters or stories to pen? How do they develop from your initial idea to the full-fledged final version? Who do you talk to about writing and what do you usually discuss?
For those who wish to learn more about TA Miles and her work, you can find her at Raventide Books.