Next update September 4
Only four days until Children of Fire is out in North America! In honor of the impending release, here is part two of your CoF primer!
Last update I talked about the style and tone of my Chaos Born trilogy; this week I’m going to talk about the characters and setting, and how I approached the daunting task of introducing an entire world I created to new readers.
But first, a little housekeeping. I’ve already posted a bunch of the official reviews for Children of Fire. Next week there will be a whole bunch more coming out, as well as several interviews – follow my Twitter feed to see them as they go live. But we already have a starred review in the print edition of the August Library Journal. The review isn’t online yet, but here’s their final verdict: The reader is left not knowing where the story will end up but definitely wanting to be along for the ride. Recommended for all lovers of epic fantasy.
The release of Children of Fire isn’t the only thing going on next week. I’m also appearing at The Twig Book Shop in San Antonio on Saturday Aug 31 from 11am-1pm for a book signing. I’ll be joined by several other sci-fi and fantasy authors, including Kevin Hearne.
And I’m confirmed for signings and even a panel at New York Comic Con in October. Once I start getting exact dates and times for my various appearances I’ll post them here and on Twitter.
Okay, I think that brings everyone up to speed. So let’s dig deeper into Children of Fire. This is far and away the most ambitious and expansive story I’ve ever told – it’s an epic fantasy tale, with a heavy emphasis on epic. I’ve created an entire world, and I want it to feel real to my readers. The story also involves a lot of characters and it covers many, many years of time. I could see how it could be a challenging (but ultimately very rewarding) read at first as you experience multiple point of view characters spread across an entire continent over the course of several years.
But I don’t want anyone to be scared off by the size and scope of the story I’m telling, so for those who want it here’s a (99% spoiler free) introduction to some of the main characters. The book focuses primarly on four children – two boys, two girls – who are all born under a cursed moon: Keegan (male), Scythe (female), Cassandra (female) and Vaaler (male). These Children of Fire are touched by Chaos because of a ritual cast by an ancient, imprisoned demigod named Daemron the Slayer, and each of the four children represents one aspect of what Daemron used to be when he was the champion of the Old Gods: wizard, warrior, prophet and king.
With the first chapters of this book, I wanted to show how the lives of these children were affected by their (unknown) heritage, how it shaped them as they grew up and turned them into the characters they become as adults. Because each child is born in a different part of the world, this also gave me an opportunity to take readers on a whirlwind tour of the land I’d created by focusing on the births and key events in the early lives of Keegan, Scythe, Cassandra and Vaaler.
As we follow these four children, you’ll experience small rural villages and the dangrous slums of a major port city in the Southlands. You’ll witness the lives of minor nobles scrambling to rise in the political hierarchy, and you’ll visit the forbidden city of the Danaan people hidden in the deadly North Forest. By moving through so many locations and political/social stations, I’m also able to share bits and pieces of the history and current political climate with readers while they’re getting to know these characters.
However, because the children are quite young at first, I often approach these chapters from the viewpoint of the characters surrounding them: parents, guardians and servants. I’m also introducing other key characters to the plot: the monks of the Order, a fanatical religious group that wants to find and suppress Chaos magic in all its forms; a powerful mage named Rexol and a rogue member of the Order named Jerrod who dares to work with him.
With all the characters, locations and action going on, I can see how it might feel like you’re being thrown into the deep end. But I wouldn’t just leave you there to drown. The early chapters of the novel are critical to the story, but they are also about establishing the tone and feel of the world and the characters. And they’re written almost as stand alone vignettes; each one a little mini-story on its own. So don’t approach this like it’s some kind of test where you have to memorize every detail; just sit back and enjoy the ride and before you know it, everything will start to fit together. By the time all the storylines start to intersect (spoiler, I guess) your relationship with these characters will allow you to appreciate the story even more. (At least, that’s my intent.)
For those of you familiar with my other works, this is a bit of a departure for me. My other books are usually limited to 3 or 4 main pov characters, and I tend to keep the action fairly linear and straight forward. But as I said earlier, this tale is much more ambitious and epic than anything I’ve done before. It forced me to challenge myself as an author, pushing my talents and trying new ways of telling a story.
In the end, I think the payoff is well worth the effort. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Children of Fire is the best thing I’ve ever written. And in just a few short days, I hope thousands of you (millions? dare to dream) will get to experience it for yourselves.