The Importance of the Impossible
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The Next Big Thing

Posted by A.E. Marling in Author Interview

By official decree of the fantastic writers Jeff Salyards, M. Todd Gallowglas, Jennifer Brozek, and Moses Siregar, I am The Next Big Thing.

That thunderous boom you just heard was the explosion of my ego, and the following flash was the flaming whip of my editor’s mind reigning in said ego so it can be harnesses and led to do some proper, dishonest work and write this post.

Before I begin with the interview portion of the post, I must thank those outstanding citizens who nominated me.

The boundless rage building up in Jeff Salyards could have turned him into an underground prize fighter or an action hero of a B Movie, but he channeled his efforts into the more respectable dark-fantasy writing.

M. Todd Gallowglas kicks ass and tells stories at Ren Fairs. And right now, there aren’t any Ren Fairs. Luckily, he also writes epic fantasy.

Jennifer Brozek steals her urban fantasy ideas from the faerie queen. No one has betrayed Jennifer’s secret yet. And lived.

Moses Siregar is a mild-mannered writer of epic fantasy who definitely is not a superhero. There’s no evidence that he has a golden cape emblazoned with “III,” at least the images caught on camera are blurry due to terrific speeds as the human apocalypse of justice dispenses the supernatural forces besieging the country. Erm, what was I saying? Mild-mannered fantasy writer, yes indeed. And now onto the questions.

1) What is the working title of your next book?

My most recent book is The Gown of Shadow and Flame.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

Stories bore me where good people do good things, and the same is true for bad people doing bad things. What interests me is when untoward circumstances force good people to do bad things, or bad people who despite their worst intent end up doing good.

Gown of Shadow and Flames fits the last example. Celaise does not see herself as evil, merely a woman who had to take a certain course of action to survive. Other people would not be so generous in describing her, that is, if they survived the encounter.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

It’s Young Adult Fantasy, meaning that reading it will make adults several weeks younger. Ask any doctor.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

My knowledge of adolescent actors is not prodigious. To be fair, the same could be said of adult actors, directors, and celebrities in general. I would feel far more comfortable about any question regarding a character in the novels of Terry Pratchett, P.G. Wodehouse, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, or Tolkien.

I will say that the part of Jerani should be played by a gentleman of African descent with a lean strength and a kindly face. Celaise should be played by a young talented actress with Native American heritage, whose eyes reflect mischief from the bonfire of her magical dress and whose smile haunts your dreams.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Sometimes evil has to be the hero.

(To be fair, that was a tag line, not a synopsis. Deal with it.)

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?


I independently produce and publish my books, hiring editors, illustrator, and graphic designer.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

A little over two months, thanks to my relentless spirit and consistent sacrifices within a pentagram of black candles made of tallow from billy-goats that knock trolls off bridges. When it comes to dedication to my craft, I leave no soul unsold.

I would like to assure you that no animals were harmed during the following two months I spent editing the manuscript, no matter how much I wished to hurt something.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

In the Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder, a young healer has to hide her talents to protect herself from persecution. Prejudice is also faced by the woman warrior in Graceling by Kristen Cashore, in which mismatched eyes hint at a deep deadliness. My story also involves a young woman hunted for her magic, though Gown of Shadow and Flame turns the flickering lantern a shade darker.

Celaise also fears for her life, believing those she saves will return the favor with murder once they learn her true nature. The difference here is that their retribution would be deserved. Celaise’s magic is a ravenous, consuming thing that shreds lives. In most other stories, Celaise would be the villain, but in Gown of Shadow and Flame, she must work with the tribesman Jerani to defeat a rival clan of predators. She comes to appreciate his noble and caring spirit, and wrestling for control with her magic allows her to recover a piece of her own humanity.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Oreo pizza. Never has evil incarnate been so, so sweet.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

What was that? An invitation to pitch a novel? Very well, but only because you insist:

Her brother throws the first stone. Her family tries to kill her, but Celaise chooses to live, even if it means leaving humanity behind.

She weaves a gown from strands of night and despair. The forbidden magic protects her. It isolates her, and it binds her to a three-headed overlord.

Her lord commands Celaise to save lives, on pain of death. She rescues Jerani, a warrior adorned by a sunburst of scars from a tribal ritual. Jerani fights to defend his family and their sacred cows from crystal-eyed monsters roaming the savanna. He learns to rely on Celaise’s magic, she on his strength.

Jerani thinks her divine, a volcano goddess. Celaise dares not confide in him. Engulfing the throngs of beasts in the inferno of her dress will loose her magic’s hunger. Then the greatest threat to Jerani and everyone else she has come to care for will be herself.

To discover the novel on Amazon, click here.

Now, as soon as the thunder of the drum roll dies down to the aching rumble of anticipation, I will introduce my picks for The Next Big Thing:

Melissa McPhail, who lights the torches of imagination with her epic fantasy Cephrael’s Hand.

Robin Lythgoe, whose thief-and-dragon fantasy As the Crow Flies made me smile for hours.

Shannon Mayer, whose Priceless is currently a bestseller in Occult and Futuristic Fantasy.

Jennie Ivins, who out of the bubbling pot of motherly ingenuity is writing the fantasy Mark of the Essence.

And K.C. May, whose The Kinshield Legacy fantasy series has delighted thousands.

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2 Responses

  • I like your new blog design! It feels clean, open, and friendly.

    I enjoyed your post. Your writing style cracks me up, and I’ve been delighted to discover that your natural sense of humor carries through nicely into your stories.

    You mentioned good characters who end up doing bad and bad who end up doing good. I suspect you would enjoy the TV show Wonderfalls (long gone but still available via NetFlix and on DVD). Inanimate objects (mainly representations of animals) tell the lead character what to do and she reluctantly does them. These acts usually end up in a disaster that somehow works out well in the end.

    Thanks again for a great post. I enjoyed reading about Gown of Shadow and Flame.

  • I really enjoyed reading this glimpse into your YA Novel (“It’s Young Adult Fantasy, meaning that reading it will make adults several weeks younger.” Love that line!) as well as your psyche. Your sense of humor makes me laugh, and I admire your commitment and enthusiasm for writing. You are an inspiration. “Gown of Shadow and Flame” is still patiently waiting for me to get to reading it, and I can’t decide if I’m frustrated about that or pleased about the current reading project. 😉 Hiresha is one of those people I love to read about and see how her mind works, how she sees things—but she’d probably drive me crazy if I met her. (I just imagined putting her and Crow into the same room… oi! Don’t know whether to cover my eyes or watch.)

    And what a lovely, lovely surprise to find myself on your list of picks for The Next Big Thing! Many thanks for that, and for your fantastic support and example.



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