I'd like to welcome author J. Dean, author of The Summoning of Clade Josso, to the blog. First, would you tell us when you started writing? What did you first write?
Fifth grade. The movie RED DAWN had come out, and one of my friends had written what was essentially a two page "clone" story that took place in our school. I read it and decided then and there that I wanted to do the same thing, so I too wrote a clone story (Yeah... not much in the imagination department yet). From there, it stuck with me, even after my friends fell away from it. I couldn't keep from writing; far too fun. It still is.
Tell us about the fantasy world(s) you make up. What are they like?
Imagine if you will seven different universes, each universe containing a world in which exists a different race of beings. Now, imagine each of these worlds having a gateway that leads to a "para-world," a sort of "world between the universes" that acts as an in-between place, like a hallway connecting different rooms. This para-world (called the Meridian) is not a round world. It is a flat plane of existence, filled with diverse climates and terrains, and at its center lies an entrance into yet another place called the Vein. At one point beings could come and go as they pleased through these gateways, crossing from one world to another via the Meridian, living in an existence that could rightly be called paradise.
But something terrible happened. A war between two factions, the Sect of the Awakened and the Heretics (or the Blindmen), caused the slaughter of many beings, and sealed off the Meridian, severing connections between the Seven Worlds. As a result, a terrible evil has spread across the Meridian and seeped into each of the different universes, tainting and corrupting the Seven Races. The Meridian itself was changed. Once a harbor of prosperity and commerce, it transformed into a harsh, deadly environment, filled with deadly creatures and empty ruins that once represented great civilizations. And until what is written in the scrolls comes to pass--that one being from each of the Seven Worlds enters the Meridian and comes to the Vein in order to awake The All, Balys-Crahly--The Meridian and its adjoining worlds will remain in this darkness.
How do you work out a magic system for your world? Do you prefer a lot of magic? Light magic? And why?
I actually don't prefer it. The "magic"--and I wouldn't even really call it magic--has limits on it, in part because it's more or less manipulation by things (maybe beings?) we don't see, rather than being a broad, available "force" like the Force in Star Wars, used by wielders as they please. It would be more accurate to call it "power" which has an external conscious source, but the power has parameters on it, rules that the "users" cannot violate. That being said, there is an incorporation of technology into the stories as well.
I have a couple of reasons for taking a more unorthodox view of magic and power in my stories. For starters, I didn't want to be a Tolkien/R.A. Salvatore clone. The world of hobbits, elves, orcs, wizards, and the like has been done to death, and with this series I wanted completely orginal characters, creatures, monsters, places, etc. Part of that originality came in the form of deciding whether or not to use magic, and instead of rehashing it or doing away with it, I altered it. Some of it I have to keep tight-lipped on, because then it would involve telling you TOO much about the plot, and that means I'd have to tie you up and lock you in the broom closet. And we don't want to do that :D. But I prefer to call it "power" rather than "magic," because there is a subtle difference.
What is the hardest thing about making up a fantasy world? Why?
For me the hardest thing was doing something original. Like I said earlier, the Tolkien path of fantasy has already been trodden by so many authors and epics, and as much as I admire J.R.R. Tolkien, I didn't want to do that. It's easy to do what's already been done; the real challenge is to come up with something different, and that's what the Vein epic is all about. It's an original story, with original characters, in an original setting, with original dangers and wonders. Doing that requires real thought and development, simply because you're scrapping established templates and making up your own. It's a challenge, but in the end it's also rewarding to see people read what's been written and say "Wow! That's really different!" instead of "Oh, nice story."
Tell us about your most recent main character. Would we want to share a meal with them? Why?
Probably not. The first two characters in the first two novels (Clade Josso and Old Velt) were quite pleasant fellows, very kind, noble, and brave. But Kran, well... he's a different story. You see, not all of the characters coming into the Meridian are doing so with noble intentions, and Kran is here for himself, nobody else. The Sect members accompanying him are tolerating him because he's important to the fulfillment of the prophecy in the scrolls, but Kran has no qualms about taking the blaster grafted into his arm and killing somebody who rubs him the wrong way. That being said, he's cooperating with the Sect members while taking his trek to the Vein, but only because it's to his benefit. He is haughty, selfish, looks down on any other being-and he is sure to let them know it without apology.
What about the villain of your most recent novel. How did you make them up? Would we be scared to meet them in a dark alley?
Oh I think so. There are a few creatures that would more than qualify as monsters in the Vein, but I'm most proud of the Cloud Specter. A massive giant that lurks in a rolling black thunderhead, it lowers itself in an inverse position from the cloud (so that, from our perspective on the ground, the Specter is upside down, with its feet in the cloud and its head just above us). It's huge, a behemoth taller than the tallest skyscraper, and it loves to kill anything on the ground with one swipe of its hand--which it can do without any problems.
What is your next project?
Aside from continuing to work on the Vein series (and the third book should be done by summer, God willing!), I'm putting together a short story collection of mostly horror entitled Alternate Endings, featuring highlights from previously released work and also including some new stories I've written, two of which are probably novella length. I hope to have that one ready for summer as well. After all, what's a little summer reading without sending the occasional chill up the spine, right?
Thanks for dropping by to answer my questions.
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