Thursday, 24 November 2016

Alora's Tear Book Tour




Blurb: 

Alora’s Tear, Volume I: Fragments

There is no magic in Vladvir...

Tucked away in a quiet valley, the community of Tolarenz offers a refuge and safe haven for its people, keeping persecution at bay. One young citizen—Askon son of Teral—is destined to lead them, but first he must leave them behind: one final mission, in service of the king.

In the north, leering nightmare creatures known as the Norill gather. Their armor is bone and skin; their weapons are black and crude and cold. They strike in the night, allies to the darkness. It is to them Askon marches, his men a bulwark against the threat.

For there is no magic in Vladvir.

What Askon finds when he arrives seems impossible: smoke and fire, death and defeat, and all around a suffocating sense of dread. The Norill seek something they call ‘the Stone of Mountain,’ but in the half-remembered stories from Askon’s childhood, it was always ‘Alora’s Tear’: a gem with powers great and terrible. A gem that cannot exist.

Unless there is magic in Vladvir…

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Bio:

Nathan spends most of his working days with the students of Genesee Junior-Senior High School in Genesee, Idaho. Whether it’s essay structure, a classic literary work, or the occasional impromptu dance routine, he strives to keep students interested in the fun and the fundamentals of the English language.

When he’s not teaching, he wears a number of hats, though the one that says “Dad” is the most careworn and cherished (it says “Husband” on the back). It hangs on a hook in a house where music is a constant and all the computers say “Apple” somewhere on their aluminium facades. From time to time it is said that he ventures into the mysterious realm called outside, though the occasion is rare and almost exclusively upon request by son or daughter.



Q&A:
1. What inspired you to write the book?
So many inspirations: my wife, who was the subject of the original Alora and Heraphus mythology I wrote when we were in the 9th grade; the beautiful places I’ve visited near my home in the Northwest United States; all the fantasy and sci-fi stories that I loved, even when it really wasn’t cool to do so.
But the book itself came about mostly as a challenge to my own capabilities. As an English major and new teacher, I asked myself if that was all I would do with the education I had earned. Not that teaching isn’t enough of a job—it is—trust me. However, I wanted to be able to show my students, my employers, and most importantly myself that I could not only talk the talk about writing, not only grade academic essays and get students excited about Shakespeare and the like, but to inspire by example. In short, I wrote a 300k word novel (and later separated them into a series of three, of which Fragments is the first) because I wanted to see if I could.
2. How did you come up with the characters?
The author-ly thing to say here would be something about the characters creating themselves, that they popped into my head fully formed, Athena-style. The truth is, the prototype for Askon looked way too much like Orlando Bloom’s Legolas, bow and arrows included. Morrowmen might as well have been fireball-slinging wizard number 137 (“No he’s different because he’s wearing purple!”) while John and Thomas didn’t even exist. I honestly couldn’t relate to you the development of some of these characters because wading through the memory flotsam would look like random brain garbage.
So instead, I’ll say this, when I create a new character now, with some experience under my belt, I think about what will be this person’s defining characteristics or traits. What are their foibles? What are their strengths, weaknesses? What do they look like? The look is key, and my philosophy stems a bit from video game design principles in which characters need to be recognizable by their silhouettes. Simply by seeing the shape of them or the color of their gear, the viewer (and in the novel’s case, reader) knows who they are immediately and can prepare themselves accordingly. This instant recognition can also help when trying to disguise a familiar character. Take away their defining descriptive details, and readers have to guess at who or what is coming next.
3. Did you have any idea what form the story was going to take when you began writing it?
I knew it would be a two part story. At the time I was calling the first book Askons Tale and the second book ————’s Tale (you don’t know him/her yet). I knew that someone had to die (turns out it’s more than that). And I knew more or less the general geography of Vladvir. I did not know about the Norill when I started writing, nor was there a South Kingdom.
4. How did you develop the characters?
See question 2. 
5. Did you struggle at any point?
Honestly, I don’t recall struggling with the narrative itself. The more I wrote, the clearer the story and its world became. If there was a struggle it came after the second draft was finished. At that time I decided to make a run at publishing traditionally. I spent over a year simply writing emails to agents and publishing houses, reading about how to write the perfect query letter, all for some intern to read the first pages and send the manuscript to a sort of digital oblivion.

On top of that, I was looking for editing assistance to make sure that when the book finally did reach the right person it would seem polished and professional by comparison. Turns out there are good editors (like my now indispensable and trusted collaborator ZoĆ« Markham—she’s fantastic) and bad. The bad are those who you can tell immediately want to have written the story themselves, and so they dig their greasy tentacles in and start to twist. It gets pretty graphic, and it’s an experience I’d rather never relive. How dare you remove something so important to the narrative I’ve crafted over a span of several years?! What gall to force one of my characters to behave contrary to their nature?! Such attempts by bad editors, I believe, are well meant, but they simply can’t separate polishing someone else’s diamond from being the one to cut the gem in the first place.
6. What was the best and worst part about writing this book?
For the worst part, see the previous question. The best points are the climaxes and the surprises. For Fragments there’s one of each that I recall fondly. Both occur near the end of the book and are non-trivial plot spoilers, so I’ll leave it at that. What I will say though, is that the surprises are great because they often surprise me. I use a connect-the-dots method for plotting, but sometimes there’s a dot that I didn’t see coming until I’m writing the scene. It’s the best, even when something bad happens.



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The first trilogy is complete and all three books are available:

Volume II, The Elf and the Arrow
Volume III, The Voice like Water
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