Thursday, July 29, 2010

The inspiration of archaeology

When I walk through museums and look at antiquities I think about the people whose hands once touched the artifacts. I think about their lives and how the relics were used. Looking upon a big broadsword from the Middle Ages I wonder if it was ever used in battle...and if that blade ever killed somebody.

Going further back in time, the glimpses of ancient and mysterious civilizations brought to us by archaeologists have always excited my imagination. I believe my fascination with the dim ages of human existence contribute to my work as a fantasy writer. Archaeology can only provide a few clues to how ancient societies functioned, and then my hungry mind fills in the gaps.

Over the last couple years, I've been studying the writings of the famous myth researcher Joseph Campbell. While reading a collection of his essays called "Myths to Live By" the other night, I came across a passage that reminded me of the fantastic scope of human history and the frightening dramas that once sustained many societies.

While discussing the role of ritual suicides in ancient societies, Campbell wrote of this astounding scene discovered by Sir Leonard Woolley from the excavation of royal tombs in the city of Ur.

"Sir Leonard, as he tells, was excavating in the ancient temple cemetery of the old city from which Father Abraham is supposed to have taken his departure, when his men's spades broke into an astonishing series of multiple graves, some containing as many as sixty-five individuals laid to rest in courtly array. One of the best-preserved was of a woman named Shub-ad, buried with her court of some twenty-five attendants directly above the entombment of a male personage named A-bar-gi, with whom sixty-five or so had been laid to rest. The richly attired Shub-ad had been brought into her tomb on a sledge drawn by asses; A-bar-gi, possibly her husband, in a wagon drawn by oxen. Both the animals and the human beings had been buried in the monstrous grave alive: the court ladies lying peacefully in rows, in court regalia, wearing hair ribbons of silver and gold, red cloaks with beaded cuffs, great lunate earrings, and multiple necklaces of lapis-lazuli and gold. The girl harpists' skeleton hands were still resting on the harp strings -- or where the harp strings once had been. And the instruments themselves suggested in form the body of a bull, with its beautiful golden bull's head bearing a rich lapis-lazuli beard. For this was a mythological bull: the divine lunar bull whose song of destiny had summoned these two willing companies -- first of the buried king, then of his lady -- to rebirth through death." (from page 64)

What a vivid scene! My imagination swiftly filled in the likely fact that these willing sacrifices required some strong drugs to be buried alive, but no matter. I suppose they believed in the spiritual necessity of their performance. I assume today's leaders are happy that elaborate sacrifices are no longer necessary, at least in the literary sense. Now I wonder if there were a few courtiers who defected in the days before the great sacrifice because their faith collapsed in the face of mass death. Did they flee into the desert and take up with bandits? Were they captured by slavers? See, I've already got a start to a good story there.

Think about which societies summoned from the dust of time inspire you and leave a comment.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Movie about Robert E. Howard - review of The Whole Wide World

I recently ran across a gem of a movie called The Whole Wide World. Directed by Dan Ireland, the 1996 film attracted my attention because the famous writer Robert E. Howard was a central character in the story. Most famous for creating Conan, Howard is a writer who inspired my love of the fantasy genre. His work has a worldwide following despite his less-than-literary pedigree of being a pulp writer in the 1930s. His tragic 1936 suicide I think has simply added to his fame. His readers can easily see into his beauteous and epic imagination, and they surely suspect that this world was not grandiose enough for him.

The movie, interestingly, is presented from the view of Novalyne Price, played by Renee Zellweger, who always seems to be both compelling and adorable in all her roles. Set in 1930s Texas, Novalyne is among the new breed of young professional college educated women. She works as a school teacher and takes her career seriously, but she also has ambitions to be a writer. She is keenly interested to meet Robert E. Howard, played by Vincent D'Onofrio, because he is a published full-time writer. She is so bold as to call Robert's house, but his sick mother never gives him the messages and Robert is always too engrossed in his creative work to notice a ringing phone. Eventually, Novalyne takes the extraordinary step of going over to his house. Her female colleagues are utterly disapproving of Novalyne's shamelessness, but it is easy to see that they are jealous of her for doing what she wants.

An awkward and rocky relationship ensues, but the writing genius of Robert keeps Novalyne interested. The story proceeds to give insights into Robert's creative core. He is shown as deeply immersed in the stories, or yarns as he calls them. He whacks at hapless corn stalks with an old sword or jogs through town performing an imaginary boxing match. In addition to his odd behavior, his sexually charged and violent stories easily earn him the label of town weirdo.

At a supper in which Novalyne introduces Robert to her mother and grandmother, and they talk about writing, Novalyne declares that maybe she can be both a writer and a teacher. Without missing a beat, Robert in all seriousness says, "It doesn't work that way."

This is an evenly paced yet quiet movie. It is a story with dialogue upon which you hang on every word. Emotions are vivid, and the division of Robert's affections between his ailing mother and Novalyne reveals yet another layer of his tortured existence. Despite his love for Novalyne, his heart cannot yield the commitment he has made to his writing craft. He knows to produce his best work, he must give of himself fully. The increasing amount of care that his mother requires begins to interfere with his writing, which adds to his rising despair.

Without revealing any more twists and turns from this riveting drama, I'll conclude and only add that it has a beautiful tear-jerker ending. If it was possible to create a chick flick about the man behind some of fantasy fiction's most swaggering and womanizing heroes, then this is it.

Monday, July 26, 2010

African heritage inspires Jason McCammon's fantasy adventure writing

Freelance camera man and gaffer, Jason McCammon has created the African culture inspired fantasy novel Warrior Quest: Search for the Ifa Scepter and the children's illustrated version The Adventures of Farra and Bomani. Although his film and television gigs and wedding events keep him busy and traveling in locations ranging from New York to Miami, McCammon has added creative writing to his life and is admittedly addicted to his new passion for authoring adventures.

Jason McCammon shared his excitement for expanding the fantasy genre to include his African heritage in an interview last Friday.

When did you realize that you wanted to write a fantasy novel inspired by African cultures?

I have been writing for about 10 years now. In my experience, once I started to create, the need just intensified and the ideas just kept coming. The hard part is arranging all those ideas into a story that makes sense.

I wanted to write fantasy because I love the genre. Anything creative really. The African themes came because I am of African decent and the absence of the genre made me feel sort of empty.

Who is your favorite character in Warrior Quest? Describe what you think readers will like about this character.

The most obvious hero of the story is Bomani. But I really began to like Farra more than anyone. She is the real hero of the story. Without her, Bomani probably would have destroyed himself, mentally. I think that her kindness and innocence coupled with her inner strength really grabs people.

Are there any specific African cultures or folklore traditions that you have studied and that inspired your writing?

I looked at Yaruba, Massai, Swahili, and others. As a whole, I tried not to be too one-sided on any culture. When you look at the drawings, you will see different things mixed together. As well as whole new concepts. There is some Ifa in there that you will find in the title but I talk about that more in the second book.

You expressed on your Facebook page that performing bookstore readings was a new experience. What have some of the public reactions to your readings been like?

I've worked with still cameras and motion cameras and one thing that I have learned about myself is that I'd much rather be behind the camera than in front of it. So, reading in front of people makes me a bit nervous. It is something that I will get better at with practice and time. At my first reading at Barnes & Noble, I read two chapters. I was amazed that when I was done, every single kid in the audience was begging for a copy. Too bad Barnes & Noble didn't cary them and I couldn't rightfully sell them a book on their property that they didn't have in their inventory.

You also created an illustrated children's version of adventures from your novel. That must have been a big project. What prompted you to develop your story for younger readers as well?

This whole project started as a visual piece. It started as a feature length cartoon. A, “Disney Chaser,” as I like to say. And keep in mind that this was before the Princess and the Frog. So The book was adapted from the screenplay. But since the screenplay was rated G and the book was more like PG or PG-13, I still wanted the younger audience to be a part of it.

Any additional comments?

Since many have already asked, yes, I am working on the next book. And am about 60 percent complete. I have yet to find anything more rewarding in life that creating.

Excerpt from Warrior Quest: Search for the Ifa Scepter

Broke was right. Farra was broken. Just as any great man or woman can reach their breaking point, no matter how big and strong, Farra had reached hers. She was in a state where hunger and thirst no longer mattered. She had experienced so much discomfort, that right now she just wanted to be comforted. If she had her choice, it would have been her mother, in her home, in her bed. But she wasn’t home, and the one thing she knew was that she didn’t want to be alone. On the other hand, she couldn’t bring herself to move either.

Bomani looked at her for moment before giving in. He sat down next to her against the wall; totally confused as to what to do next. He could have held her, but it hadn’t occurred to him to do so. For now, just being there was enough.

Farra’s whimpering had stopped. No tears had fallen from her face; she was beyond that now. She leaned over and rested her head on Bomani’s shoulder and fell asleep. It was at that point that Bomani understood. He didn’t need to do anything more. He felt an overwhelming calmness as the small girl lay against him. It was comforting. He felt like a parent and a child all at the same time. He embraced both these feelings and before long he laid his head back on top of hers and he too had fallen asleep.

See McCammon's work at his website The Ancient Lands, and, judging from the high praise of his Amazon reviews for Warrior Quest, he'll be enjoying his writing and entertaining others for many years.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What if Medusa hit the dating scene?

This week's Friday fun plays with online dating profiles and shows that the singles' scene is harder for some than others.

Mature single female seeking male for possible romance

For the man looking for a lady who's a little different, I'm your gal. For starters, I'm fluent in Greek and have a few pet snakes. (You must be relieved to read a profile of a lady not talking about her cats, right?)

I'm not a high maintenance lady either. I don't even worry about bad hair days. I just accept that I can't do anything with it. I'm NOT damaged goods either. I've never really had a chance to develop a deep relationship, so that's why I'm putting my profile up here at

I'd like to meet someone special, who's not totally focused on looks. Don't worry! I'm NOT fat.

Because I'm a mature lady I've had a chance to realize that I can be intimidating to men. They won't even look me in the eye (and I don't think it's because they're staring at my boobs). Men just seem to turn to stone around me. I don't know what I do to bring out this reaction. I get the impression at first that men are actually pursuing me, but, when we meet, then they just freeze up. I guess the hunt was more fun for them than the catching part.

So, if you've ever wanted to pet a snake on a first date and meet a lady who will appreciate your company, please contact me.

Reply to user name GorgonGirl. If your message is sweet, I'll send you a photo.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Book Review: The Invisible Sex - Uncovering the True Roles of Women in Prehistory

I have always been fascinated by human evolution and the mysteries of the prehistoric era. I think this field of study that pieces together rare clues and proposes possible narratives appeals to my imagination. The vast bulk of the human story is unrecorded, and, as the authors of The Invisible Sex point out, the prehistory pieced together by paleoanthropologists has overlooked the important role that females played in the evolution of humanity and the technological and social development of our species.

The Invisible Sex is a collective work by J.M. Adovasio, Olga Soffer, and Jake Page, and their premise is that the once male-dominated world of paleoanthropologists and archeologists largely left women's prehistory unconsidered and unexplored. Unearthing stone spearheads and knives naturally made scientists create the narrative of man the hunter, and women were mere afterthoughts necessary for reproduction.

As the researchers who authored the book go on to demonstrate, an unbiased or liberated view of the evidence shows that females contributed significantly to human evolution, language development, social development, and technological advances.

Family Communication

By studying fossil evidence, the authors proposed that the ever increasing brain sizes of human ancestors and then humans created a demanding birth process that was most successful when a female is assisted presumably by other females. This situation probably fostered the development of more advanced communication. Improved communication would have allowed for more successful births with the resulting reward of increased survival rates.

Furthermore, the prolonged childhood of humans and their ancestor species produced an exceptionally intimate and enduring relationship between mother and child. During this long relationship, it is logical to propose that language continued to develop. Humans and their ancestors would have also been increasingly aware of their family and interdependence within the group, which would have continually nurtured complex communication.

Because of the central role of women within the family unit, the authors conclude that they were crucial to the formation of language. Modern analysis of human brains shows that females in general have enhanced communication capacities.

Three Generations are a Charm

Among the myriad fascinating facts and ideas presented in The Invisible Sex was the Grandmother Hypothesis. Fossil evidence shows that tens of thousands of years ago a tipping point was reached in which a significant number of early humans were surviving to a relative old age. This provided the group with elders or grandparents. These elders were able to help raise children and act as sources of wisdom and knowledge. This demographic shift to more elders is associated with the creative/symbolic revolution in artwork with early humans. More elders meant more cultural innovations and a more successful society.

The Venus of Brassempouy, fragment of 25,000-year-old ivory figurine recovered in France.

Mistresses of the Plant World

When the authors turned their attention to technological breakthroughs among early humans, they made a very compelling case for the preeminence of women. Fiber arts such as spinning, weaving, and sewing have overwhelmingly been associated with women in recorded history, and it is supposed that women were behind most of these inventions. An advance known as the String Revolution was an exceedingly important technological breakthrough that increased people's capacity for survival. With string, bundles can be tied up, more things can be carried, and more technologies like snares, fish lines, nets, leashes, handles, and weaving arise. String leads to more complex tool making because objects can be bound together.

The archeological record of the fiber arts is exceedingly tiny because of their perishable nature. A few examples exist from impressions of strings and nets left in sediments and from artifacts recovered in the anaerobic environment of bog funeral sites. Evidence cannot decisively prove whether women or men actually invented string. The invention likely happened in many locations independently, but the logical conclusion that women in general invented the fiber arts has support. In hunter gatherer societies, women tend to gather more than hunt, and this full-time immersion in the plant world would give women the greater opportunity to experiment with plant fiber resources.

The next advance for humanity that arose from the plant world was agriculture. Evidence supports the theory that women invented agriculture. One telling example came from the analysis of bones from the ancient Cochise cultures in Arizona about 3,500 years ago. Roaming people develop pronounced ridges on their femurs. Studies showed that at the rise of agriculture among the Cochise, femurs of women did not have the ridges that showed in earlier specimens, indicating a more sedentary life. The femurs of men continued to show the ridges for a longer period. Concluding that the men were still hunting and roaming while the women were purposefully tending plants in a settlement is logical.

Impressions About the Book

The Invisible Sex is packed with hundreds of ideas, archeological finds, and paleoanthropological studies. The realm of prehistory is wide open to interpretation, but the facts and ideas presented in this book rightfully highlight the crucial contributions of women in the development of our species.

As a read, this book is very meandering and could have benefited from subheadings and charts. It does not start off with a bang either. After introducing its fascinating subject, it then plows through a lot of admittedly tedious and inconclusive discussions of hominid evolution and behaviors. The last half of the book, however, abounds with concrete evidence and ideas about the late stages of prehistory right before recorded history.

A person would have to be initially interested in this subject, like me, in order to appreciate this book. I have no doubt that this one is in the library of one of my favorite authors Jean Auel, who is famous for her fictional Earth's Children sagas set in prehistoric times. She is even mentioned in the preface as a funder of a 1991 conference where the authors began to share ideas.

Overall, The Invisible Sex is an important and thorough work on the subject of human prehistory. As with all social sciences, the genuine consideration of women's contributions will greatly expand the intellectual reach of the study of human prehistory.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

History and Women blog from novelist Mirella Patzer attracts readers with gloriously unique content

The History and Women blog by novelist Mirella Patzer boldy promises readers that it is "A celebration of history and women - glorious, sinful, and shocking."

That was certainly enough to get me to subscribe, and I've been thoroughly enjoying her posts for weeks. Mirella has a great sensibility for selecting fascinating subjects from the greatly overlooked arena of women in history. Her research meanders through true crimes, classic paintings, ancient romance, legends, fashion, and much more including book reviews. People looking for a new blog to follow that is not like all the others, should explore her History and Women blog.

I contacted Mirella the other day to compliment her on the blog and she generously answered my questions.

When did the History and Women blog begin?

History and Women was born in May 2008 - so it's Taurean like me. It is very much a work from my heart, born from my love for history and women through the ages. Ever since I was a very young child, I loved reading stories about princesses and queens. I read every fairy tale book in the neighbourhood library several times over. This fascination never died and I created the blog to indulge this passion. Slowly, the blog gained popularity and no one was more surprised than me to learn that people were actually reading and enjoying my posts. I've been blessed with wonderful support through my readership and this drives me on.

Most of your historical articles are about people and events of which I've never heard. What are some of your source materials?

Basically, all I look for is a name of a woman in history which I encounter accidentally or by reading other blogs and sites, television, or simply by googling something generic like 'countess' or 'murderess' or 'poisoner' and go from there. Wikipedia is a great source and one article often leads to another. I also subscribe to,, and Saint of the Day. Vicki Leon's Uppity Women books are wonderful and they sit on my bookshelf always ready to give me an idea. Once I find the name of woman I'm interested in, I gather the various resources and piece together a bio in my own words. My list of names is very, very long and slowly, I'm slowly making my way through this list. I also like to vary my content by adding articles that are historical and of interest to women such as my article on chopines, a shoe famous during the Italian Renaissance.

Do you know approximately how many regular readers you have?

That's a difficult question to answer because it's hard to pinpoint all the readers from the various sites and subscriptions I have. If I were to add them up, a rough estimate would be somewhere around 750 to 1000 and it is growing daily. I have some wonderful followers who leave comments every time I post something new. And because I'm diligent in returning the favour by visiting or following their blogs, I've made some wonderful cyber-friends along the way too.

Do you find the History and Women blog to be a good platform for marketing your novels?

Yes, I think it is one more avenue to show the world that the book exists, but I'm careful not to over-do it. I want the purpose of the blog to be a venue for women of all ages to visit and learn about the many fascinating women of history, not to be pressured with advertisements or book promotion. Having said that, however, if I feel a particular book written by other authors is significant to the theme of history and women, I'll definitely feature them. I'm currently working on Catherine de Medici.

I realize this is subjective but in your opinion which woman you profiled was the most scandalous in her day?

Of the various women I've written about to date, Countess Elizabeth Bathory is the most heinous, scandalous woman. It chilled me to the bone when I wrote her bio. I wrote it in first person narrative and you can read it at: If you read her bio, I think you'll agree. (After reading, I totally agree. A ghastly out-of-control person to be sure.)

Any additional comments?

I'm always humbled and thrilled when a reader like you makes contact with me or leaves a comment. I always respond and reciprocate. Truly, I'm grateful for every visitor and it encourages me onward! Thank you so very much for inviting me to your blog for giving me the opportunity to meet your readers.

About Mirella Patzer's fiction:

An accomplished short story writer, Mirella has expanded her talent to novel writing. In March 2010, the Eternal Press released her novel The Pendant.

A lost ancient treasure. A 100 year family feud. A woman who must choose between two men: one bound by a dying wish, the other bound by desperation. And a passion richer than the bloodstone pendant she wears around her neck.

Available in trade paperback, PDF, and Amazon Kindle.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Three times the petting! Three-headed dog needs new home

Friday fun - Introducing a new posting category for joking around. Enjoy this week's spoof on pet adoption ads wet with mythological slobber.

Aging large breed working dog is free to a loving home. He answers to the name Cerberus, and has the unique feature of having three heads. This extraordinary animal has spent a lifetime as a guard dog in a highly aggressive environment but is ready to retire into the care of the right owner.

Age has mellowed the demonic tendencies of Cerberus. He admittedly needs a firm hand, but has lots of love to give. His original owner Hades is no longer willing to maintain his famous guard dog after the installation of a computerized and weaponized surveillance system. The callous disposal of older working dogs is a quiet tragedy. Don't let the aggressive past of Cerberus make you dismiss his potential to be a loyal companion. In the right environment Cerberus would provide faithful service.

People who might be a great match for adopting Cerberus are:

  • Carnival business people - The freak appeal of Cerberus combined with his bonus ability to guard your motor home is too good to pass up. He'd be a real moneymaker.

  • Missionaries - Send other people's guard dogs to Hell and get those pamphlets to their doors. Bonus! Rare breeds make great conversation starters.

  • Seniors - Really show those bossy busybodies in charge of your retirement community's association what you think of their size rules for pets. As an added bonus, Cerberus loves children, so he can entertain your grandkids.

If you're interested in adopting Cerberus, please respond to

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sony's Reader Store now has The Rys Chronicles...almost

This has been the year in which I expand the availability of my fantasy novels. Through the distribution company Smashwords, my work has now been placed in the Reader Store for Sony. I'm very pleased to be in this marketplace, but apparently the first book in my series, which is free, was not listed at the store. Perhaps the Sony store is not accepting giveaways?

There are many places online to access the first novel in the series Union of Renegades: The Rys Chronicles Book I. So, readers who happen to start my fantasy series do have the ability to purchase the rest of it at Sony.

Links to the rest of my fantasy series at Sony:

Book II - The Goddess Queen
Book III - Judgment Rising
Book IV - The Borderlands of Power

Of course, I expect it will be difficult for readers browsing at Sony's ebook store to discover my series because the first part is not available. This is disappointing for me. I'm not expecting a lot of sales from this outlet because of this serious omission.

Readers who would like to sample my fantasy fiction, can download Union of Renegades: The Rys Chronicles Book I for free from my website. I have an LRF format or epub version that will work great on Sony products.

Also on the merchandising front, I see that the Search Inside the Book function is now working at my Amazon trade paperback listing for Union of Renegades. Preparing the files to send to Amazon was not difficult. I used the PDF file from the production of the paperback plus images of the front and back cover. Then I placed them in a zip folder and uploaded them to the Amazon system. I'll have to mark my calendar to get this done for my other books. The Search Inside the Book feature is supposed to help sales. It is one of those things I should have gotten done years ago when my novels were first published. Of course, back then I was working full time and had a tendency to be pregnant. I guess my schedule has finally opened a little...or at least becoming more flexible.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Making progress on my Sony ebook reader woes

As I lamented earlier, my beloved Sony 505 ebook reader had slipped into a coma. It had refused to turn on, and I suspected that its battery was no longer able to take a charge. After a week of ignoring the problem I decided to plug it in and charge it again. I left it plugged in all night. In the morning, it actually turned on! I cleared out a couple of ebooks, suspecting that maybe I had filled up its memory. I have yet to try plugging it into the library management software on my computer through the USB cord. This action was what prompted the coma. I'll take this next step eventually. Maybe I will try loading that update for the software that I have been ignoring for a while.

While my Sony 505 was flirting with death, I had time to consider what I would buy if I had to get a new ebook reader. I of course considered the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook. Although I like shopping at Amazon, I do not appreciate the limited formats that it will accept. The Nook was more attractive because it accepts epub files, which are emerging as a cross-platform standard. It is always better to have an ebook file that can be used on multiple devices long term instead of a device-specific format like the books for the Kindle. However, I still remained attracted to the Sony ebook reader product because of its broad ability to use several formats. As a writer, I often like to toss raw manuscripts into my Sony ebook reader without having to fuss with converting them to something else. My Sony can read a rich text format document saved out of Word, and that remains an attractive feature for my purposes.

Hopefully I will be able to nurse my Sony into a full recovery so I don't have to spend money on a new one. It was fun daydreaming about getting a new ebook reader though. It has been a while since I bought a new gadget.

New fantasy ebooks at the Amazon Kindle store

After years of missing out on all the action in the Amazon Kindle ebook store, all four fantasy novels of The Rys Chronicles are now listed. I've read that Amazon has the largest market share of the ebook market, and I'm glad to present my fantasy ebooks to that large audience that shops primarily at Amazon.

The Kindle versions of my fantasy ebooks work and look fine. My mom tested them out on her Kindle.

Union of Renegades The Rys Chronicles begin in Union of Renegades with this character-rich adventure that follows Dreibrand Veta, an ambitious warrior who seeks to rebuild his noble family’s fortune. He joins the powerful rys spellcaster Shan, whose race possesses magical powers and whose Queen Onja rules many human kingdoms as their Goddess. The wicked tyranny of Onja disgusts Shan and he desires to seize the rys throne from her.
The third renegade is Miranda. After escaping from her abusive slave master, she becomes a crucial player in Shan’s bid for power. To weaken Onja, Shan raises rebellion among her human subjects and gathers allies to his cause. Shan demonstrates his magic in battle and convinces his followers that the fearsome rys Queen can be overthrown. For over two thousand years Onja has ruled, but now, not even fear of her ability to enslave souls will stop her ambitious enemies.

The Goddess Queen The Rys Chronicles continue in the second book The Goddess Queen as Shan’s rebellion grows. Queen Onja sends her Kezanada agents to hunt Shan with enchanted weapons, and she also begins to teach another rys in the ways of battle magic to aid her in the coming war. Dreibrand Veta, now Shan’s general, works hard to prepare their armies for the invasion of the rys homeland. Miranda dedicates herself to Shan and his rebellion even when it means breaking the strict patriarchal traditions of the larger culture. Once the armies begin to march, everyone must endure the many horrors of war. Tempers fray and ambitions flare as the costs of attacking Onja mount. But Shan stomachs his guilt over inspiring such conflict and finally challenges Onja in a duel of magic. To defend her throne, Onja summons her magic secrets that have been buried since ancient times.

Judgment Rising In the third installment of The Rys Chronicles, Dreibrand Veta discovers that he will have to win his kingdom all over again. The empty Wilderness that he claimed after the war with Onja was once occupied by the high civilization of Nufal where lived humans and magical tabre. A sweeping genocide crushed Nufal and now thousands of years later the avengers of the tabre rise to take their overdue retribution.

The rys King Shan joins Dreibrand to face the powerful tabre who have emerged from their enchanted hibernation. Colossal battles of magic and bravery result in stalemate and each side withdraws to raise an army for the final battle that will bring judgment for an ancient holocaust.

The Borderlands of Power Nufal is invaded and human warriors fight alongside their rys and tabre champions in a grueling clash of muscle and magic. Grim struggles smash strategy into chaos, and loyalties degenerate into desperate choices for survival. Tempet and Alloi, driven by their desire for revenge upon the rys, push King Shan deep into the violent reservoir of his power.

Still reeling in the aftermath of battle, Dreibrand Veta scrambles to assert his authority upon the remaining forces of the Atrophane Empire if he is to defend his land and overturn the censure that disgraces his name. Rebellion on the imperial frontier complicates these goals as does Shan's sudden unpredictability as an ally. Miranda braves the snows of the Rysamand Mountains to demand that Shan pay his debt to her by helping Dreibrand. Only ambition keeps despair at bay as forces vie for dominance in the borderlands of power.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

African inspired fantasy fiction - Interview with Milton Davis author of Meji Books 1 & 2

Chemist by day and science fiction and fantasy writer by night, Milton Davis is the author of the African-inspired epic fantasy Meji. This two-book saga follows the destinies of the twin brothers Ndoro and Obaseki in the lush, dangerous, and diverse continent of Uhuru. Drawing upon African myth and folklore, Davis crafts compelling character-driven adventures set in an alternative African-style world shaped by the ancient cultures of humanity's birthland.

Davis has also authored other works, but my interview with him focuses on Meji Book One and Book Two.

Who are your favorite characters in the Meji epic?

My two main characters are my favorites. Ndoro is a strong, determined person who is confident in his abilites. Obaseki is more thoughtful and sensitive. He's more concerned about others than himself. I also like Inaamdura. Some readers see her as a bad character, but if they pay attention they'll understand her motives.

(See characters biographies and artwork)

Do you know of other examples of African culture inspired fantasy? Or, are you pioneering a subgenre?

Charles R. Saunders is the true pioneer of Sword and Soul. His Imaro stories and novels, published in the late '70's and early 80's, set the standard.
Surprisingly enough I never read any of Charles' book before writing Meji. It was only after I completed Meji that I discovered his works. I was able to connect with him online; he read the Meji manuscript and volunteered to write my intro. He also wrote the intro to my upcoming book, Changa's Safari, and we're currently working on a Sword and Soul anthology entitled, "Griots."

Describe the spiritual and/or magical systems portrayed in your fantasy setting.

The spritual/magical systems of Meji are a composite of various African spirtual and magical beliefs. Africa is a vast continent; in the past each tribe had its own spiritual base. There are some common themes which I used as well as a good dose of imagination.

In your feedback from readers, what do people say they like best about Meji?

It's hard to say what people enjoy the most. Many like the interplay between characters; some like the world of Uhuru and some enjoy the actions scenes. Most enjoy the fact that it takes place in an African based culture which makes it fresh yet familiar.

Have you ever visited any locations on the African continent?

I've never been to Africa. I hope to go one day, maybe after I sell enough books!

What specific regions and cultural/tribal traditions in Africa are specifically inspiring to you?

I don't have a favorite. As an African American my ancestors are most likely from the West African region, but I'm fascinated with the entire continent. If I had to choose I would say the Western kingdoms of Ghana, Mali and Songhai.

Are there any fantasy genre books or movies that especially stimulated your imagination and prompted you to become a fiction writer?

Like most sword and sorcery writers Robert E. Howard was a major inspiration. I was also a big fan of Michael Moorcock. I used to love the old fantasy claymation movies. Jason and the Argonauts was my favorite!

Some fantasy fiction tends to have either strong male or female appeal. I found your male and female characters to be equally compelling and written with genuine feeling. Do you think your fiction has general appeal for both men and women or does it skew toward a particular gender?

In the past fantasy seemed geared more toward men. Recent writers are more even handed in their portrayals. I try to respect all my characters and present them in a fair way, even my villians.

Do you have any additional comments?

Thanks for the interview. I'm glad you enjoyed Meji. There's much more to come.

You're welcome, Milton. I was impressed with his writing and the ease with which his characters came to life in my imagination. I wish him success as he expands my favorite genre to include the cultural imaginations of more people.

Purchase Meji Books 1 and 2 and art prints too.