I'd written five books before I finally plucked up the courage to write epic fantasy. It's always been my favourite genre so perhaps I was a little apprehensive to take it on. But come on... epic fantasy. It's a made-up world and it's epic! So what writer wouldn't want to take up the challenge?
Where to start? I decided it would begin with a map. I became fascinated with maps when spending the summer holiday with my grandmother when I was around 8 years old. She had a huge world atlas from the 1930s, and my brother and I spent hours thumbing through the pages and tracing the outlines to draw our own maps. I was captivated by the exotic names of remote lakes and mountain ranges and would invent some of my own.
So... I thought, why not start with building the world, then determine what sort of people lived in these lands, and how were they influenced by the terrain. I must have spent about a month with pencil and paper creating my world. From the start I decided it would be a large world to make it more interesting. So, from the Nordruuk border in the north to the Caerwal Mountains in the south is around 1,000 miles, and about 500 miles from east to west.
Well, who would want to read a story about a land where it takes only a day or two to cross? Although, I guess that would make for another interesting story if everyone lived on each other's doorsteps :0)
When the basic map was done, I set about thinking about the history and where to start my story. This was harder than I anticipated and spent another month fleshing out an imaginary history, and again, what sort of civilisations and races would be shaped by events.
Then onto the monsters! This was fun. I wanted to avoid dragons and as many as the usual beasts you find in fantasy. They've been done so often, and by writers better than me, so I decided to make up my own. Again, they have a history and a reason to be in my world. And what are their strengths and weaknesses. It's too easy sometimes to have an all-powerful monster that turns up and destroys everything in its path (yes, dragons I'm pointing at you!). So, I wanted my creatures to be more realistic (yes that's a contradiction) and fallible. Scary obviously, but not so powerful they can’t be defeated.
So, once I had my world, history, races, and beasts, I had to name them all. This is another task that I hadn’t really given much thought to previously. I needed names for mountains, rivers, lakes, seas, cities, ports and villages.
And then fantasy names for all the people (I could never understand why Stephen Donaldson named one of the most intriguing characters in epic fantasy, Kevin???) My names had to sound different depending on which part of the world they were from, and definitely not like the name of someone who might live next door.
And still I wasn’t ready to start writing. I’ve got this world in my mind; now where do I start the story? I had around five thousand years to play with but chose a period when the Five Realms was at its weakest after three hundred years of famine and plague – why not, eh :0)
So, there you have it. I hope I’ve made the right choices and you enjoy the series. And I always have the option of going back in time and writing another series later!
It's taken a little longer than I'd hoped (unfortunately my 'day job' has to take priority), but the third book in my Song of Echoes Epic Fantasy Series comes out tomorrow! The kindle edition is available on 20th, March 2023, and the paperback will be published mid-April.
Sea of Souls is the third installment of the five book series, although as I flesh out the scope of the fourth, it might end up needing six to complete the story!
The feedback from my invaluably beta-readers reading the first draft was encouraging. Then completing the final manuscript took just about two months.
I'm really pleased with the result, if I say so myself. The story is split into 3 POVs as Elodi, Toryn and Nyomae take different paths to fight back against the threat from the north. New characters are introduced (good and bad!) as the plight of the Five Realms enters a dangerous phase.
The artwork is by Kentaro Kanamoto who has done the covers for the previous books in the series. I think it's pretty obvious that I love his work, well who wouldn't?
EXTRACT from Sea of Souls:
Elodi made her way down the rocky path to the pebble beach. She walked out to the shore as the boat grounded. The man climbed out, staggered, then fell into the water. Elodi’s heart went out to him, but she stopped herself from going to his aid. He recovered his footing and took hold of the rope. But the task of pulling the craft onto the beach proved too much. He gave up and dropped the rope. Elodi waited with her hand on her sword. Yet she doubted the poor soul could take many more steps as he slipped and stumbled on the wet stones.
Elodi called out. ‘Stop right there. Please do not take another step.’ The man straightened as best he could, but his wet cloak looked too bulky for his thin body to support. She shuffled a little closer and held out her lamp. ‘You have landed in Mund, Ward of Farrand. I am Lady Harlyn...'
So now it's onto book 4. I don't have a title as yet, but I've almost completed the plot structure and will make a start on the first draft within a week or two. I'm hoping to devote more time to writing and have set myself the target to publish by January 2024... but I won't be holding my breath :0/
You can order Sea of Souls using the button below. Please note, it will be at a special launch offer price of $2.99 / £2.50 until the end of March (a saving of 40%ish)
I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it!
I've been encourage by the reviews of the first two books - well most of them :0) It was quite a nervy few weeks when I published the first book after committing to write 5 in the series. What if everyone hated it? Should I continue?
Thankfully, it hasn't come to that, and many readers have also rated the second book, 'Age of Shadow' highly - with some saying they enjoyed it even more than the first :0)
So, now I'm fast-approaching the half-way stage with the third in the series. Unusually for me, I came up with the title before I'd written 10,000 words. The working title, 'Something of Something' (yes, I think I'll stick with this formula) quickly morphed into 'Sea of Souls'. Hopefully, this will become obvious when you read the book!
As the story expands and we head up the east side of the Kolossos Mountains, I'm also going to split into 3 strands by adding Nyomae's adventures. I feel this will help with developing the story, plus save Nyomae having to explain to Elodi and Toryn what she's been up to. Just a quick heads up - she discovers something pretty huge about a certain person on the dark side.
And now to the cover. I cannot rate Kentaro Kanamoto highly enough. I love his work and am so pleased with the first two covers. So, naturally I asked him to do the third. I can't do a full cover reveal yet as a) it's not completely finished, and b) I haven't paid for it yet! But here's the tiniest of details of the cover just to whet your appetite --->
As you can tell, the story moves out to the coast, but this time it's the other side of the Five Realms. I've had two covers with Toryn so I thought it was time to give Elodi that accolade :0)
Kentaro has sent a couple of interpretations of what she might look like, and one perfectly depicted her. Now what she's doing at the east coast, you'll have to wait and see!
I hope to have the first draft ready by the end of July and sent out to my invaluable beta-readers. If you want to volunteer, please let me know. As a thank you, I name characters after my readers who have taken the time to read and feedback their views. I 'fantasize' their names and come up with a selection, then ask for them to choose - a new character in book 3, Amyndra, is one example :0)
Once I get the responses back from my beta-readers I hope to crack on and get the kindle edition out by late September, then the paperback sometime in October.
This is the third out of the intended five, but I have some ideas for going further back into the past of the Five Realms, or as it was back then, the Seven Realms. However, I have to be pragmatic about my writing, so that depends of the sales. Even though it's technically a hobby for me, I do spend close to two hours most days writing. But with the cost of everything rising I still have to earn a living from my main role as an Alexander Technique teacher and may write another book on that subject.
I also have some news to come out soon regarding the first book - so, watch this space!
Roy is an indie author who writes the type of book he would enjoy reading himself. He writes in his spare time and would love to become a full-time author one day. He's also teacher of The Alexander Technique and athletics coach.