One week to go!

apprenticeblueEnchantress 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.

 

AwakeningcoverblueMeanwhile, 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.

Interview with the author III (part 3)

AwakeningcoverblueTo 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.

Enchantress Awakening is available now to buy for Amazon kindle. 

Interview with the author III (Part 2)

AwakeningcoverblueIn the first part of the interview we talked about the diversity of magic within the Elemental Cycle, which is where we continue.

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.

Interview concludes in Interview with the author III (part 3). 

Interview with the author III

AwakeningcoverblueWelcome 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.

NX: Why?

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.

Continues in Interview with the author III (Part 2) >>>>

 

 

New Front Covers

Right now we’re working with some very talented photographers and illustrators to really bring the world of the Elemental Cycle to life. In the meantime we thought we’d update our covers with an image that relates to each story.

[Minor spoiler warning] For those who are interested these two images are not random. The photo on Enchantress Awakening is of Avebury stone circle, which the keen reader will note bears a strong resemblance to the village of Stonecairn in the novel. Standing stones are a re-occurring motif in the novels and have practical as well as symbolic use.

Obviously, the image for Enchantress Apprentice is of Stonehenge, known as the Great Henge in the world of the Elemental Cycle. We get to visit there pretty early in the second part of the Book of Water, so it seemed an appropriate choice.

Let us know if you have any thoughts on these? Did anyone prefer the plain covers? Do you prefer photos or illustrations for book covers? We’d be really interested to know what you think.

 

Interview with the author II (continued again)

Here follows part 3 of our second interview with JW Whitmarsh author of Enchantress Awakening

AwakeningcoverblueNX: Ok. So in the previous parts you gave fan fiction and RPGs as examples of fantasy with adult interactions. Now we’re going to talk about Game of Thrones.

JW: You’re making it sound like these are separate interviews.

NX: It’s a page space thing.

JW: Right. It just makes me seem like I have endless free time. I do work sometimes, for the record.

NX: I’m glad to hear you don’t consider this work. So, Game of Thrones. That’s definitely intended for an adult audience.

JW: Exactly. Given how controversial all the sex is you’d think it would drive away viewers but that doesn’t seem to be the case. The world of A Song of Ice and Fire is one that embraces it’s earthy side. There’s very little fading to black there, Theon’s emasculation notwithstanding.

NX: Yeah, I’m kinda glad they didn’t show that.

JW: Yes completely, but it is strange in a way that a literal dismemberment is something we as viewers find harder to absorb than a beheading. Your quality of life after a beheading is somewhat worse, I hear.

NX: The sex in Game of Thrones is quite different than in the Elemental Cycle, isn’t it?

JW: Yeah. In most of George RR Martin’s writing there is some kind of twisted dynamic taking place, a power play or an expression of a character’s psychosis. Jon and Ygritte’s storyline somewhat stands out for it’s lack of creepiness.

NX: And it’s a storyline that people really invested with. It’s probably the only one that would fit comfortably into the Elemental Cycle. Could you see yourself writing a relationship like that?

JW: Absolutely, but if that relationship happened in the world of the Elemental Cycle, Ygritte would probably be the protagonist.

NX: So you wouldn’t have killed her off?

JW: Anyone can be killed. Being a protagonist doesn’t make you safe necessarily.

NX: Do you have a safe-list of characters who will never be killed or is everyone in danger?

JW: The correct answer here is to insist that no-one is safe. In reality, stories demand certain things and some roads are just more interesting than others. I don’t think surprising your readers is reason enough by itself to kill someone. There should be a storytelling logic. On the other hand, sometimes the logic is that it is simply not believable that everyone you like will survive simply because you like them.

NX: Have you ever thought of reprieving anyone or dooming someone you had planned to spare?

JW: I would say the fate of most characters is often in flux. Only a minority have fixed fates for good or ill.

NX: Is that another way of saying even you don’t know who is going to survive to the end?

JW: Yes. But considering what lies ahead for our heroes the chances that they will all make it are pretty slim.

Thanks to all who’ve read through to the end. We will try to fit in the last of the three interviews about Enchantress Awakening in the next week or so. Next time we will be discussing the role of magic. 

Interview with the author II (continued)

Here follows part 2 of 3 of our second interview with JW Whitmarsh author of Enchantress Awakening 
AwakeningcoverblueNX: Just to recap, you mentioned fan fiction, RPGs and Game of Thrones as examples of how their is an audience for adult fantasy fiction. Let’s take those in turn. How does fan fiction relate?

JW: A lot of fan fiction is based around taking characters from fantasy series which we might term PG or 12A and putting them into more adult situations. Clearly there is an appetite  for this. Let’s not forget 50 Shades of Grey started as Fan Fiction based on the Twilight series and that was consumed by how many millions? Moreover, I think writers and fans of Fan Fiction here are picking up on a certain tension within fantasy. We take these beautiful characters and put them into life-threatening and highly emotional and often very violent situations but then fade to black when it comes to them doing the most vital of acts. I don’t see it as surprising that people would want to see that side too.

NX: What’s your take on Fan Fiction in general? Writers often have mixed views.

JW: Mixed views would probably describe my position too. First of all, if you get to the point where people are writing fan fiction based on your books it’s a pretty good seal of approval. As to the the process itself, I’m kind of torn. I would always encourage people to write about what interests them but at the same time I would personally always choose to create my own world and characters as far as possible so I could have full ownership of the story.

NX: How would you feel about people setting fan fiction in your worlds?

JW: I think if you’re going to write inside someone else’s creation you need to respect the boundaries of the canonical material. First of all, you should abide by the lore. If you it says you can’t cast the same spell in succession, you don’t do that. If time travel is stated as impossible, you don’t do that.

Next and just as important is character integrity. I hate seeing adaptation on TV or film even where characters behave in a way that is completely different to how they were written.Then, I think you need to respect the plot too. You shouldn’t try to rewrite the original story into something else.

So given all that, I would define ‘good’ adaptations, spin-offs and fan fiction etc as ones that stay within the spirit of the original. Everything added is something that could have happened but we just didn’t get to see it. So if someone really wants to know what happened to two minor characters we meet along the way and that’s not a story I’m ever going to write then sure write that story if you want.

NX: Ok. I think RPGs were next.

JW: I think RPGs are a great example of how there is an appetite for adult interactions within a genre. You look at Bioware games or something like the Witcher series, they don’t shy away from the fact that the fans who explore those worlds also want to explore the relationships between their characters. People might say ‘aren’t video games for kids?’ but the Dragon Age games are all 18-rated and still sell very well. I’m not saying they sell because of the adult content, as they are great games anyway, but they recognise that romance is something that usually involves coupling at some point.

NX: Favourite Dragon Age characters?

JW: I think I’d have to have Isabela and Varric in there. I love Leliana but I actually like her interactions with the dog the best. The dog brings out the best in a lot of them. Anyway, that’s a terrible party. Can’t have three rogues.

NX: Do you think the characters in Enchantress Awakening fit into the warrior, rogue, mage dynamic?

JW: Haha. I didn’t devise them in that way. I suppose it depends how you define the classes. There’s a fair few warriors, like Penric and Ceol and mages in Caleigh, Gideon and Tovrik etc. Not so sure about rogues. Maybe Ellie.

(Interview continues with reflections on Game of Thrones and other fantasy series) >>>

 

Interview with the author II

 

AwakeningcoverblueNexus Fiction: Welcome back. This is the second of our interviews with JW Whitmarsh author of Enchantress Awakening (now available on Amazon).

JW Whitmarsh: How many of these are we doing?

NX: Well, you know how much we love trilogies…

JW: So three?

NX: For each book. (Moves on swiftly before author has a chance to run away). Ok, in today’s interview I’d like to ask you about genre and what kind of audience you see reading Enchantress Awakening. I’ll start off by asking about the sex.

JW: Ok.

NX: There’s quite a bit of it the Elemental Cycle.

JW: There’s some.

NX:  Enough to put it out of the children’s section in libraries.

JW: Certainly.

NX: Why did you choose to go that way? Weren’t you tempted to write a story that could be read by all?

JW: The temptation is definitely there. Of course you want as many readers as possible. And considering people I know are now reading what I’ve written, it would have been a lot easier on me.

NX: Then why not?

JW: There are reasons to do with readership and there are literary reasons too.

NX: What are the literary reasons?

JW: The basis of the story is about Caleigh’s gift, which is to sense what other people desire. As she becomes sexually awakened, she becomes attuned to other people’s sexual needs. Why sex? As, I think, Tovrik explains, sex is one of our strongest desires and it seems to me if someone was able to look into our desires, sex would be pretty high up the list. Also, it’s a desire that differentiates us as adults from children, which fits with Caleigh’s own journey into adulthood.

NX: But Caleigh isn’t an adult by a modern definition.

JW: In terms of her desires she is. But, more importantly, in the world she occupies she would most definitely be considered an adult. If she were any older the chances of her being unwed would be much slimmer.

NX: And what are the readership reasons?

JW: It’s similar in a way. I wanted to tell the story of a young adult that would be appropriate for people of that age and older. Lots of people grow up loving fantasy. You might read the Chronicles of Narnia and the Hobbit in early adolescence then age with Harry Potter through your school years. By the time you’re 14-15 Lord of the Rings is definitely within your grasp. So where do you go after that as a young adult if you still love fantasy? I wanted to respect that audience by writing something with adult sensibilities.

NX: You are sure that audience exists?

JW: Absolutely. I can give you three examples off the top of my head. Fan Fiction, RPGs and A Song of Ice and Fire/the Game of Thrones TV series. (To be continued…)

 

 

 

 

Release Day!

Enchantress Awakening is available today. You can finally read in full the first part of Caleigh’s journey in the Book of Water. Click here.

Ever wondered what desires lie in the hearts of others? Caleigh, a young handmaiden from the unremarkable town of Connlad, knows exactly what people want. What she doesn’t know is how she comes to have this gift and what it means nor does she have much time to find out, as with her new knowledge come visions of a terrible past whose return in already in motion.

Meanwhile, the knowledge that she is the object of many a man’s fantasy is having an effect on her that her squire lover may be unequal to containing.

Where to turn for advice? With only her free-spirited best friend and a maker of remedies to confide in the chance of answers seem slim. Fortunately, there is one wizard left in the world and she has met him – the only trouble is everyone knows he’s only pretending.

Follow Caleigh, as she struggles with the burden of her message and the burning desires with which she is beset. From her sleepy town to the high towers of a great and secretive fortress lies a journey not just of self-discovery, in a land where the magically-gifted are often persecuted and slain, but the burden to carry a warning that may very well save the world.

Set in a parallel Arthurian-era world (post-Roman Britain) Enchantress Awakening is the part 1 of 3 of the The Book of Water, Book One of the Elemental Cycle.