Archive for June, 2013

The Next Generation . . . of Landers

How I longed to type Star Trek in front of this post title!  I remember Star Trek fondly from my childhood, at least the original series and Star Trek: The Next Generation.  We had a little black and white TV when I was young that picked up about three channels, one of which aired Star Trek re-runs.  I loved hearing Leonard Nimoy’s voice intoning “SPACE . . .”  My grandmother, who lived in town and had cable (and a color TV–wow!) had a crush on Patrick Stewart and tuned into The Next Generation, which I suspect is one reason I remember it in such vivid technicolor.  I also credit Star Trek with helping my mother and me through one of her more difficult treatments when she was sick.   We often had the hospital TV on in the background when I visited her, and that afternoon Star Trek was playing.  We howled laughter at the episode where an alien woman in a fur bikini steals Spock’s brain and he wanders around like a zombie for most of the show, his disembodied brain voice echoing in Kirk’s ears.  Of course, Kirk kisses the alien woman before the end of the episode–he always had to kiss someone before the end of every episode.  The kiss sent Mom and me into such gales of amusement that the nurse came to check on us–when she saw what had us in such a state, all she could do was shake her head and go on with her rounds.

But this post is not supposed to be about Star Trek.  So onwards . . . as some of you loyal readers know, I am working on the first book of my new series.  Actually, working isn’t so much the right word at this stage in the creative process as entertaining–writing this story is how I entertain myself when I get home from my day job (now that’s WORK) and on the weekends when I’m not out with friends or traveling.  I have close to 120,000 words written so far, which means I’m over halfway done, since I suspect this book will be around the length of Phoenix Ashes (200,000 words.)  In these days of e-books with their varying page numbers depending on what kind of e-reader you have, it’s much easier for me to understand length in terms of word count than in any other way.  I also have plans for at least two other books, more likely three (I do love groupings of four, four seasons, four calling birds, four elements . . .) and have been scribbling down cryptic notes for these stories when I hear a shred of phoenix song in the distance.  🙂

In The Curious Fear of High and Lonely Places, I included a number of scenes with young children, which might have surprised some readers, considering the Landers Saga is meant primarily for adults and contains quite a bit of court intrigue, sword fighting, illicit romance, and sometimes lethal violence.   However, it’s because the series has its dark moments that I wanted to bring the children to the forefront in several scenes in the last two books.  As a literary and thematic counterweight to the series’ tragedies, the children proved to be invaluable.  Also, they fascinated me as characters in their own right, their growth as important to me as any of the adults’ development.  After all, even Mordric was a toddler at some point in his existence, and one of the children, Dominic, was the first Landers to start talking to me when I first conceived these stories at the age of fourteen, long before any of the other characters showed up.  It’s thrilled me that a number of readers, upon finishing the last book, have asked about the children and/or signed up to be notified when I have the next book ready.  Apparently, I’m not the only one interested in their adventures as they move into adulthood.

For children, everything is new, everything is possible, because they have so little life experience.  If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a hundred times from those of us who grew up in not-so-functional families; as a child the dysfunction seems normal because that’s all you know.  It’s only when you get out in the larger world and start encountering people with very different experiences than yours that you start to realize that no, perhaps your family life wasn’t so normal.  On a lighter note, this innocent acceptance contributes to our ability to believe in magic, an ability we tend to lose as we age.  For me as a reader, the best fantasy writing elicits this dormant ability to believe, this ability to be enchanted, at least until we turn the last page and return with a sigh to our adult reality.  For me as an author, the younger characters’ perspectives on the sometimes terrible events in the Landers Saga elicited a new sense of wonder from me for this world in my imagination.  Like little pied pipers, the Landers children led me on flights of fancy that I never would have believed possible when I finished the first draft of The Witch Awakening back in 2004.  

Even though I was a history major in college, worked in history museums, and write what most would consider historical fantasy, I often speculate about the future.  Just like I’ve wondered what the world was like long ago, I wonder what the world will be like in ten years, fifty years, a hundred years, for people just born or not yet born.  The decisions we make today will ripple down through the generations, a small stone cast into a still pond today perhaps swelling to a tidal wave in a century.  When it comes to the passage of time, we’re all the proverbial butterfly flapping its wings in China.  This is one reason why I’m so eager to follow the adventures of the Landers children, just to see what they do with this strange reality they’ve inherited from their parents.

Although nightmarish in spots, Stephen King’s Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, the novella that inspired my all-time favorite movie, is ultimately a story about hope.  The stories I enjoy most are the ones where the characters endure suffering and ultimately grow as a result; perhaps they have a happy ending, perhaps a bittersweet one, but whatever the ending, they weave their tragedies and joys into a vibrant tapestry that contains all the colors, not just the sad shades, not just the cheerful tints, but both.  The children were my brightest threads in the last book, motivating the adults around them to hope and work for a better world no matter what awful events occurred.

So I invite you to join me and the Landers as I write my way into this better (still mostly unknown) world.  The path winds through an enchanted forest, impossible to fathom around the curve ahead, and the wooded depths are alive with eyes, whether friendly or not, I can’t tell for certain yet.  But I’m going to poke around until I find out . . .

If you would like to be notified via e-mail when I have a new title available, the link to do so is: Click here to sign up for new title notification

If you would like a complimentary Landers Saga bookmark featuring images from some of the book covers and my tagline for the series “Kiss the flame . . . love defies family, king, religion, even death itself in a skewed Renaissance world of witch burnings, sword fights, and court intrigue” please e-mail me your P.O. box and/or street address, city, state, and zip.  Also in your e-mail, tell me who your favorite character is from the Landers Saga and why.  My e-mail is  This offer is valid through the first 50 e-mails I receive–after that, I can’t guarantee a bookmark, but I will answer any questions about the Landers Saga you may have. 🙂

Thank you and as always, happy reading! 


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