Covers are something that we have been developing and when we get the opportunity we like to improve where possible. So here we have a new set of covers for our 1st editions. Hope you all like them .
The next few months are going to be pretty busy for JW Whitmarsh so we thought we’d give a taste of what is to come, along with a rough timeline and a short quote from the author on each.
Enchantress Destiny – due 1st of May, 2016
Nexus-Fiction: Is there much of a gap between Enchantress Apprentice and Enchantress Destiny?
JW Whitmarsh: No, none at all really. Chapter 1 follows on from where we left Apprentice. The first third is very much a continuation of what was set up previously. Thereafter we seen the quest heading towards its final destination.
NX: Is this the last we’ll see of Caleigh and her friends?
JW: Each Elemental Book, Water, Fire, Earth etc is set in a different part of the world so what comes after The Book of Water isn’t necessarily in sequence. That said, the events set in motion in The Book of Water will have a global effect and whoever is left standing is going to want to have a part in what happens after.
The Book of Water – due 3rd of June, 2016
NX: So we’re finally bringing out The Book of Water as a single volume. Is this how you see the story?
JW: Yes, absolutely. But I’m also a reader and I appreciate people like to break things down. The main advantage in having them together like this is people will approach them in sequence and don’t have to worry about having read something first.
NX: Will there be anything new?
JW: There may be appendices about some of the background information and characters. We shall see.
Valkyrie Rising – due 1st of July, 2016
NX: So Valkyrie Rising is volume 4. Is it necessary to have read 1-3 first to understand it?
JW: Short answer is no. It’s set in a parallel Norse world as opposed to the Celtic one and features a new set of characters. Valeria’s journey runs largely concurrent with Caleigh’s for the first part of the novel and then carries on for a few months after.
NX: Will readers of The Book of Water have a better understanding?
JW: They will have a better understanding of the world and how magic works and things like the Society of Shadows. Elsewise it’s a new beginning.
NX: So we shouldn’t expect any cross-over?
JW: Not yet with this one. Ultimately, there will come a point when all the distinct elements converge but you’ll have to wait and see precisely how they pans out.
Mars Fallen – due October 2016
NX: We have another origin story here. Can this too be read as a standalone?
JW: Yes. Less so than Valkyrie Rising but it’s quite possible to understand everything with no prior knowledge of the other books.
NX: So we should expect this one to be completely self-contained?
JW: Not completely. As it takes place a little bit later we will start to see some progression and consequences from The Book of Water.
NX: And we’re in ancient Rome this time?
JW: Well, Sena but yes the setting is the classical world. It’s not entirely the same. In this world the Empire in the west has clung on for a hundred years or so longer than its historical counterpart.
NX: Since we’re on the topic, when is the Elemental Cycle set precisely?
JW: You have to remember this is a parallel-world and one that has been hugely influenced by magic and magical turmoil. Some things have been invented much earlier as a natural consequence of magic use. For example, glass-working in a world where people can wield fire would happen many centuries earlier, I think. Likewise, religion would have developed very differently when most miracles were explicable through spells and learning.
Roughly speaking, the current time period in the world of the Elemental Cycle is somewhere in the region of the 5th to 6th centuries. Unfortunately, not that much is known about a lot of the world in this time so what I write about is illuminated by better documented periods. Valeria’s Scandinavian world is approaching the Viking era, which is actually 2-3 centuries later.
Ultimately, the world of the Elemental Cycle is a celebration of mythologies so it tries to reach the defining period for those. There is no century that would conveniently align with all of that.
NX: Does this convergence have an effect in terms of the current state of each culture?
JW: Yes, to a degree. We are not going to see samurai and hoplites alongside knights in full plate armour charging against cannons. The Senatian soldiers of this time wear mail; the lorica segmenta is acknowledged as something from the past. The knights of the west wear mail and haven’t started jousting, which, incidentally, already makes it more historically accurate than the medieval tales of King Arthur.
NX: This all takes us up to October this year. How far ahead have you planned with the series? Can you give us a hint what the following three books will be?
JW: Book six is A Clash of Gods, which will be the second book in the Book of Earth. At some point the second book of the Book of Fire (provisionally titled Venus Ascending) will branch off from that. The two may initially run parallel to each other. At the same time in another part of the world the first part of the Book of Air is due to start. It may have started already in terms of the timeline.
NX: Will all the Elemental Books be trilogies?
JW: That remains to be seen. I think that’s something that should be dictated by the story rather than neatness. Maybe it will be two books or one. How do Nexus feel about a tetralogies?
In light of the forthcoming release of the third part of the Book of Water, Enchantress Destiny being released at the beginning of may and the complete trilogy version being released a month later. We thought we’d look at this question more generally.
The trilogy is a well-known staple of films, books and games. So much so that almost everything now has to be a trilogy. The number three is very satisfying but is it always what people want?
Tolkien famously never regarded The Lord of the Rings as a trilogy. That was his publishers idea. Yet when it came to making the films splitting it into three was a no-brainer. Is this the eternal truth? Is it that writers prefer a single, complete story whereas the audience needs a more digestible chunks?
We’re polling this on twitter at the moment and would be really interested to know people’s thoughts with regard to books and fantasy books, in particular. In the meantime, here’s a (very) short case for both sides.
Every writer wants their book read and many people would be intimidated by a 900-page brick. Length can be an initial barrier for many, even if in the event they would be able to manage. This remains true even once a reader has decided to take it on. War & Peace is famously one of the least finished books. We all like a sense of progress and huge books don’t make it easy for us. When you’ve read 100 pages you should feel like you’re well into a story and not just scratching the surface. Reading is a time-consuming process the less like a slog it seems the more people will do it.
First of all, a distinction should be made. There’s a difference between a book having two sequels and breaking up a longer tale. The reason writers don’t like their books split into three is because they are not three separate stories. It is a single story that should be read in order. Who wants to read Return of the King if you haven’t read the other two first? Also, this artificial split puts a lot of pressure on the first book to be the gateway to the others as well as being a complete story in its own right. We don’t judge films and plays simply by watching the first act. Novels should be no different.
As of today Enchantress Apprentice is officially on sale. Click here for the links by country. We like to show thanks to our most committed fans therefore early purchasers will be rewarded with a lower price for the first month.
If you are a little behind and wish to catch up, do not despair. Enchantress Awakening is still available. Buy now and begin the journey.
So here we are. With Enchantress Apprentice – Part Two of the Book of Water coming out tomorrow we thought it would be a good chance to catch up with the author, JW Whitmarsh once more. This is the first of three interviews that we will be posting on this website over the coming days and weeks. [Minor spoilers possible for those yet to read/finish Enchantress Awakening].
Nexus-Fiction: So a month in and now we are talking about Enchantress Apprentice. Does it feel like just yesterday that Enchantress Awakening came out?
JW Whitmarsh: Not really. This month has been pretty busy so it actually feels like quite some time ago.
NX: How distant do the stories feel to now? I mean you wrote a lot of the material some time ago.
JW: That’s true but still the story feels quite close. I’ve had to look at it again in a different way with trying to turn the Book of Water into a trilogy. I’ve spent quite a bit of time walking with Caleigh recently.
NX: On the subject of Caleigh, how do you pronounce her name? I’ve heard people say it different ways.
JW: It’s a Celtic name but there isn’t one correct Celtic or British accent. The derivation of the name is disputed and I think there are several variants that are acceptable so cay-lee, cal-ee, kelly, or even keely would be fair, depending on your own accent. I recently read a theory that the name actually comes from the Greek Callisto, who was a nymph, which is, shall we say, an interesting coincidence.
NX: I’m not convinced it is a coincidence but I can tell when an author is being circumspect. Staying on the subject of Caleigh, while trying to avoid spoilers as much as possible, where is she at the beginning of Apprentice compared to Awakening?
JW: I take it you mean in terms of her character as opposed to geographically?
NX: Yes, and in terms of her progress as a wizard.
JW: It’s very different. She is now a firmly established Apprentice and Librarian of Elevered. There’s an argument to say that in Awakening she is following the journeys others have given her (at least initially). In Apprentice the journeys are very much of her design. Of course she is still guided by Loreliath and Tovrik but she is using her own interpretation much more.
NX: Is she a match for other wizards yet?
JW: Obviously it depends on the wizard but she is getting there. We saw glimpses of that at the end of Awakening but it goes further in this story. Her enemies are starting to learn they need to take her seriously.
NX: Do we learn much more about the Coven and the Society of Shadows?
JW: Yes, definitely. We’ll get to put a lot more names to faces with the Coven and see that they are not necessarily homogeneous characters. It’s the same with the Society. When we first meet them we only see them as direct actors. In Enchantress Apprentice we begin to appreciate that their influence is more pervasive than that.
NX: More society to go with the shadows?
JW: Yes, you could put it that way.
NX: What about the good guys? Will more be added to the cause?
JW: Without giving too much away I can say that’s a pretty safe assumption. We’re definitely in the recruitment phase now.
NX: At the end of Awakening we saw Caleigh struggling to contain her powers. Will this be a problem for her again?
JW: I think you can see this as a development on her part. I think by the end of Awakening she has understood that repression doesn’t work for her so partly it’s that need to embrace her wilder side that persuades her to venture out from Elevered.
NX: So we shouldn’t expect to see Caleigh taking up the nun’s habit in Apprentice?
JW: Not unless it’s fancy dress night.
Enchantress Apprentice will be available from Amazon kindle and all kindle apps from the 1st of April 2016. To find the link you need for your local Amazon market click here. It is currently available for pre-order too if you wish to ensure you get it the moment it comes out.
Meanwhile, there’s still time to buy and read Enchantress Awakening. American readers can currently get it at a limited-time discount until the next book comes out.
We’ve been trying to set up a weekly blog on a Friday but, unfortunately, all our writers are busy today. JW Whitmarsh said something about having to finish a manuscript (Enchantress Apprentice). We’ll give a pass for that one. JWW Devlin claims he is immersed in ‘research’ currently (for which we read making plans for the 6 Nations) and Wil Easton is busy with ‘projects'(which probably means annoying scientists with hypotheticals).
In the absence of our writing staff the task falls to the humble minions of Nexus Fiction to fill the gap. Given that we’re not as opinionated as our creatives we’ll focus on what’s upcoming on the site.
In the next few days….
New blog from JWW Devlin looking at the positives of adaptations.
Extended pages on characters in JW Whitmarsh’s section. Now relating to people we expect to meet (or are referred to in) Enchantress Apprentice.
New blog from one of our writers (they won’t escape us this time).
In two weeks….
Until then, have a great weekend. Remember, Enchantress Awakening is still on sale. If you haven’t read it yet there’s still time before the next part comes out.
Take care and live well,
To recap, in this last series of interviews with JW Whitmarsh, author of Enchantress Awakening we have been talking about the nature of magic in the world of the Elemental Cycle. Here we continue of that theme.
Nexus: Ok, so a more general question about magic and magic learning. How common are wizards within the world of the Elemental Cycle? Would there be one in every village?
JW Whitmarsh: That’s quite a nice idea. They could be the counterpoint to the village idiot. But no, I don’t think it would be quite that common. Off the top of my head, I think a reasonable estimation would be something like for every thousand people, there’s one person who is magically-gifted and for every hundred people who are magically-gifted, one of them would be a true mage.
NX: What’s the difference between a mage and one who is magically-gifted?
JW: Plenty of people are able to work some kind of magic but only a few of them can cast spells. That’s the major distinction. Someone who is magically-gifted might be able to make magical potions or craft magical items but no amount of wand-waving would enable them to make an apple catch fire.
NX: Where do spellsingers fit into this?
JW: A spellsinger is an exceptionally talented mage, maybe even a one in a hundred occurrence among those who can cast spells. They are mages who have such an intrinsic connection to the flow of magic that they can learn spells in a fraction of the time it would take others.
NX: So they are wizarding geniuses?
JW: I wouldn’t use that term because that implies a connection to intelligence. Spellsingers are not necessarily any smarter. They are more like ‘naturals’ in sport who are already brilliant at the age of 18.
NX: How hard is it to learn magic for mages?
JW: Very difficult at first. It’s not equivalent to learning at school. It’s an entirely holistic process so at times it may more akin to learning to dance or do a martial art, at other times like learning a language and others it would be a creative process. And it won’t be the same process for everyone.
NX: So if I came into my gift today, how long would it be before I can start using spells?
JW: Assuming you’re not a spellsinger?
NX: Yes. Let’s just say I’m an ordinary wizard, if there is such a thing.
JW: It would depend on your Art and your personality. Some aspects of magic require more study some require more intuitive understanding.
NX: But if you took an average?
JW: I think after 1-2 years you should be able to do the basics.
NX: And to be competent?
JW: Oh, I think you’d need to put in your 10,000 hours like with anything else. The only difference compared to other things like a sport or playing an instrument is that you wouldn’t peak. Mages continue to gain power as long as their mind is sharp.
NX: How long do mages live?
JW: It is variable. Ageing only really happens in the Plain of Reality so the greater the connection the mage has with the various other plains the less he or she will age.
NX: Which means Summoners would be more or less immortal?
JW: More or less.
NX: And for other mages?
JW: Without the influence of these other realms I would say a mage would likely live as long as any human could if they stayed in good health. So mages would routinely live into their nineties, which in their contemporary environment where most people are stricken down with illness before they get to that age would make them seem ancient indeed.
NX: We’re going to talk more about Enchantress Apprentice nearer the release but is there any hint you can give us about how Caleigh’s magic will develop?
JW: It’s certainly very different to where it is at the beginning of Enchantress Awakening. The question is no longer whether she is a wizard and what kind she’ll be it’s more a question of what she uses her power for. She’s a much less passive learner even though she’s aware she has a long way to go and there are threats out there to which she is not equal yet.
Nexus: Going back a bit. You were saying that each division of magic is a tribute to the mythology of that region. Could you give us a summary of each?
JW: Ok, so as I said before Water Magic draws on those Arthurian traditions and ancient British folklore so we have things like Druidry and magic relating to standing stones as well as shape-changing and mind control. What next?
NX: We already mentioned Fire Magic, let’s expand on that.
JW: Well, Fire Magic has been channelled through the worship of the Pantheon so the spells of each discipline reflect that deity. Spells from Mars aid in battle while spells from Venus are related to seduction and love.
NX: Why is Neptune listed under the Spirit branch and not the Water branch?
JW: For two reasons. The first is that we shouldn’t take the elements too literally. Water is more about empathy than the sea and Neptune was not traditionally concerned so much with that. On the other hand, there is a link between the Spirit and prophecy and Neptune was often associated with that.
NX: Ok, what about Earth Magic?
JW: Earth Magic is based on Nordic folklore so, for example, in the fire branch runes play an important part whereas in the Air branch the role of the Skald is very important.
NX: What is a Skald?
JW: They were revered storytellers and singers. I like the idea of their songs having a physical effect on those who hear them.
NX: Tell us a little about Air and Spirit?
JW: Air is tied to the traditions of the east so it’s various branches pay tribute to the martial arts and distinct history of each region. Spirit is more based around the great civilisations of the middle-east and Africa. So we might see genies and mummies and ancestor worship in there.
NX: And then there is the Sixth Element: the Gate. How would you describe this?
JW: This is the magic of Summoners who can open gates to every plain of existence even those of Darknesss and Light.
NX: Would they be able to summon demons and angels for example?
JW: Summon and banish, although neither task would be easy.
NX: Which region of the world does this magic represent?
JW: It doesn’t. This is the magic of beyond our world.
NX: Does that make it more powerful?
JW: Potentially. But there are no true Summoners currently active in the world. Unless you count the betrayers borrowing Xyraxis’s power.
NX: Does that mean we won’t see much Light and Dark magic?
JW: Not necessarily. There are some who wield it who are not Summoners. The Society of Shadows use Dark Magic as much as they can and you’ll get to meet someone in a forthcoming book for whom Light Magic is of fundamental importance.
Welcome to the third of our interviews with the author of Enchantress Awakening, JW Whitmarsh. Today we shall be concentrating our questions on the matter of magic in the world of the Elemental Cycle.
Nexus: The magic in the world of the Elemental Cycle is pretty systematic and comprehensive. Just how many spells are there?
JW Whitmarsh: There are any number but in terms of what a wizard might use…hang on, this is a maths question…I suppose if I wrote them all down there would be between 800-1,000 depending on how many combinations you could think of.
NX: 1,000! That’s a lot of spells to devise. Have you thought of all of them already?
JW: Give me time. So far I’ve devised the common spells and the spells for Water Magic, Earth Magic and Fire Magic and few for Spirit. So that’s probably about 600 or so thus far.
NX: Oh, a mere 600. Nothing really. Why did you decide to split up spells into different schools of magic? Wouldn’t it have been much easier just to have one list of spells that everyone can use like in Harry Potter?
JW: I love Harry Potter and I love the magic of that world but no, it was always the plan that there would be limitations. I think sometimes limitations liberate us because we are forced to think more inventively, ironic as that sounds. I wanted the wizards of my world to be distinct and have their own ‘magical personality’. If Caleigh, Gideon and Tovrik were presented with a problem they would think about the solution differently. Why shouldn’t their approach to spells be different as well?
NX: Sure, but you could still have had only four Arts. Choosing to make the magic of each region distinct is creating a lot more trouble for yourself.
JW: That’s true but it’s good trouble. By the same virtue I could have made the Book of Water the only story but instead I chose to spread the story across the entire parallel world.
JW: The short answer is I thought it would be more interesting.
NX: And the long answer?
JW: I wanted to pay homage to world mythology. That was always my starting point. The Book of Water is based in Celtic mythology, the Book of Earth in Norse mythology, Fire in classical mythology etc. I wanted these events to be happening in every corner of the Earth and one way of drawing on these disparate mythologies was to embed it in the magic they use.
NX: So, Water Magic is the magic we would expect from Celtic mythology?
JW: Yes and from Western Europe in general. It’s the magic of Merlin in his various incarnations and the magic of fairy tales.
NX: Is there much crossover between different Arts in different places?
JW: Absolutely. Caleigh for instance is influenced by the elements of Water and Fire so any other Art that has either of these elements will not be completely foreign to her.
NX: What about when it’s the same two elements just in a different order? Would the water branch of fire magic be right up her street?
JW: Very much so. I think for Caleigh, learning the magic of Venus, Diana and Juno (the Moon magic of the Imperium) would be like someone versed in Spanish attempting to learn Portuguese. Likewise, the water branch of Air Magic in the east would seem very familiar to Gideon.