Author interview with Scott Oden

Moonlake: Hi, Scott. I read all of the chapters of Twilight of the Gods (TOG) on your blog over the Christmas break and it’s funny. I started wondering about Njall from book 1 who I wasn’t really interested in throughout A Gathering of Ravens (GOR). And the epilogue of GOR also gave me an expectation that Etain is going to make a recurrence. But from TOG, I’m getting the sense that neither of these two would reappear. 

So without giving away spoilers for book 2 since I fully intend to read it once it comes out, I’m wondering how standalone is each book of this series from all the others?

Scott: Each book is fully standalone, with the only recurring character being Grimnir, himself.  He’s functionally immortal, so except for violence he can live forever. Too bad he really loves violence 🙂

200 years separate A Gathering of Ravens and Twilight of the Gods; 130-ish years between Twilight and the proposed third book, The Doom of Odin.

Moonlake: But what about the loose ends in book 1 (Griminir’s revenge and the other characters in GOR besides Griminir)? Are they going to be short stories one day or readers just have to make a guess themselves or perhaps they would be alluded to indirectly in TOG or book 3, The Doom of Odin?

Scott: I don’t think I left any loose ends in the first book (at least, none I’m aware of).  There’s an epilogue that briefly details what happened to Etain and some of the others. The historical figures resume their historical paths, and Grimnir goes on his way.  That said, he does mention a few of the characters on Twilight of the Gods, and there is one surprise in there for folks who’ve read AGoR. A rather BIG surprise 🙂

Moonlake: Okay, we will quickly turn to another question before we give away any actual spoilers. So I’m personally a die-hard fan of LOTR. But despite that, I was never interested in Tolkien’s orcs. But after reading GOR, I would actually like a peek into your kaunar society that I don’t think we are going to see in the Griminir series or are we?

Scott: In Twilight of the Gods, there’s a fairly long section from Grimnir’s POV, detailing a bit about their society — where they dwelled, various roles, his father, and a good bit about his Mom.  I also included a bit about the other heads of kaunar clans.

Moonlake: Cool but I was hoping for a prequel. So if you were to write one, in what ways are you going to present the kaunar society and the other lore-rich aspect of the world? And would the prequel be about a younger Grimnir? 

Scott: I would love to do a Silmarillion-esque story of how the kaunar came to be . . . who the Nine Fathers were before they were taken and turned from dvergar to kaunar; the story of their fight with the AEsir and their flight to our world.  I think that would make an awesome companion piece to the series.

Moonlake: I would so love to read that one day. And now, here comes the tough question. What do you think is the overarching element on all of your work spanning between historical fiction and fantasy that readers would be drawn to if they only read one of the genres? And what would be the attraction for someone who never reads either genre?

Scott: I think the draw for people from both genres, and for those new to both, would be the world-building — the ability to relate the ancient/medieval world in such a way as NOT to alienate the modern reader.  I pride myself on being able to evoke time and place, on conjuring a dead society from dust and research so as to make it interesting to lay readers and acurrate enough for some deep readers and scholars. This sounds like an arrogant boast, but it’s the one constant piece of praise that spans all of my novels.

Moonlake: Yes, that’s why I’m drawn- the immersion factor. That and I’m a sucker for lore, as most predominant fantasy readers are.

Now, the final question: can we get a sneak peek into The Doom of Odin without any spoilers being given? And actually I realise this might be tough question #2 or the tough question *mischievous wink* 

Scott: I don’t have anything in a state to share beyond the rough of the jacket copy.  Here it is:

[To save space, I’m going to redirect you all to Scott’s own teaser post on his own blog]

Moonlake: Sounds right up my alley. Epic fantasy is actually my main staple and this sounds like my level of epic-ness. So that concludes our interview. And as of the time when this interview is out on my blog, the Twilight of Gods is out already. So if it interests you, be sure to grab and leave a review if you please. I’m sure to grab a copy and read it this year. As it was, it’s already on my TBR list this year, as my blog followers would attest.

Thank you, Scott, for your time. And best wishes.

Scott: Thank you for the interest!  I hope you enjoy Twilight of the Gods 🙂

Moonlake:I’m a cautious reader and I already sneak peeked what you put up on your blog so I’m pretty sure I would 🙂

Gaming and writing

I am someone with selective taste and that extends to the number of genres I read as well as my hobbies. I’ve previously blogged about jigsaw puzzles, I constantly blog about reading and today I’m going to talk about my gaming hobby and how it figures into my writing. 

Firstly, I do two different types of gaming: PC gaming which are mostly hidden objects but sometimes include match 3 and time management games. I was very into roleplaying games but I had given up the PC variety because they were too time consuming. Nowadays, I only play in roleplaying games of the dice-rolling variety (ala Dungeon and Dragons or Steve Jackson & Ian Livingstone plot-your-own-advenutre/gaming books for those who don’t know what I’m talking about) and that is confined to one weekend session every week. 

So how does gaming figure into my writing? Well, it:

  • Fills up my creative well by exposing me to ideas about character, plot, elements of magic etc. 
  • Similar to the above, I do need a little pure leisure time for a balanced life and gaming fills that spot 
  • For the roleplaying game, I have hopes that it would eventually feedback into improving one of my shortcomings as a writer which is in characterisation. I often have difficulty getting into my characters and my weekly session gives me an opportunity to become another character for 4 hours every week so I’m hoping that eventually I will be able to apply such role-playing skills in getting closer into my characters so that I can write about them. 

What other hobbies do my writer followers have that figure into your writings? I would be interested to hear about them in comments. 

Chinese Lore- A selection of Mythical Flora (2)

I usually run my Remarkable Women in ancient China (RWAC) series this month but I didn’t want a break in between the Mythical Flora series so I decided to move back the RWAC post to next month.

Face Tree

Physical Description:

A tree with branches that sprout peach-like fruits with human faces

 Lore:

Another lifeform classified as Yao (see Lore section for Shadow Wood)


Leaning Mulberry

Physical Description:

Made up of two large mulberry trees that lean towards and support each other.

Lore:

The place where Xi He’s chariot containing one of Three Legged Crows rose to the sky from (see Three Legged Crow entry in [7438|Good Omen Chinese Mythical Lifeforms])


Construction Wood

Physical Description:

A tree without any off-shoots, with interweaving branches and roots at the top and bottom respectively. Its leaves are like nets and of an indigo colour. Its branches are violet and much like old-fashioned TV antennas found on rooftops*. Its flowers are black, its fruits yellow and olive-shaped. The whole tree has a shape akin to a cow. Its barks peel off easily.

*The actual text makes the comparison to a certain type of tree but I can’t find the English translation for this specific type of tree so I just substitute it with what the tree reminds me of upon finding out what the tree mentioned actually looks like

Lore:

It was said that these trees grow on the shore of what is now known as the Black River that flows past the Gan Su province and Inner Mongolia. According to legends, Construction Wood was used by Huang Ti to construct a ladder that connects Heaven to the mortal realm that deities use to ascend to Heaven.


Yan Wood

Physical Description:

A tree that bears apple-like fruits that are edible once its skin turns red. 


Zhu Yu

Physical Description:

A lump of grass with similar shape to Chinese leek or Chinse chives that sprouts a few flowers of indigo colour

 Special Properties:

It will fill the stomach but only when pulled freshly from the soil.

Tales of Inspiration (2)

Today I’m going to talk about the inspiration behind my novella A Thread of A Chance and how the external impetus+internal processing framework discussed in the first post of this series works in giving birth to this particular story. 

The external impetus actually comes in two parts: the first is the anthology series I was part of and now closed the door on which had set themes for each issue. The theme for the very first issue was shapeshifters and that’s the keyword that partially gave birth to A Thread of A Chance. The second part of the external impetus was a single term from this Hong Kong kungfu TV drama I had watched: The One that Escaped. That’s it: those 2 terms combined gave birth to A Thread of A Chance. 

Now the internal processing part. Actually, I think I’ve mentioned this before but I don’t have a thing for the shapeshifter term at all. Like I actually thought it was lame even though I was the one who came up with the term (ironic, right? Basically, I came up with the term cos that was the term that seemed to be the common thing between all of the stories going into that issue 1 of the anthology. I’m a practical person so that was the practical term that I came up with). So how does my mind deal with this? Well, it thought outside the box and ta ta, I came up with a constellation that is a shapeshifter and named such. What about that term from the kungfu drama? Somehow my mind tagged it to the end of the ancient Chinese phrase that says “Fifty great paths, The Heaven creates Forty Nine” which meant there was always an element of change (I think, I came to Australia when I was 12 so while I have a strong interest in ancient literature, I’m not 100% confident that my understanding is always correct when it came to such archaic terms). Then my mind took it further and combined it yet again with this idea I had of geomancers (people who practice feng shui, that Chinese practice of placing objects in certain spots around your home/work space to enhance luck) as mages and gave it the new phrase with the tag-on term a new meaning: that it was about “a thread of a chance”, the whole term being a direct translation out of Chinese. 

And that’s it for today. If you feel like this story of the inspiration source behind A Thread of A Chance is interesting, let me know in the comments. 

Moonlake’s Fascination with the Fantasy Genre

Fantasy is my main staple in terms of reading and I only write fantasy. Why this fascination with fantasy, you ask? And what’s so fascinating about fantasy? 

My answer for the why is simple: this is just the genre that I’m most drawn to. Now, if I drill down to the underlying causes (as I am wont to do, I have a philosophical streak in me as you can probably tell if you’ve read about my personal reflection spell), there are two types of attraction for me. The first is a form of escapism from mundane reality. I’m a routine person and excitement doesn’t happen that often in my life and when it does, I don’t always like it. So in a way, reading fantasy is the best of both worlds for me, allowing me to experience excitement and adventure from a safe distance. The second is that I like stories with deep themes, that help me reflect on life, on one should view things, on how one should behave or react to particular situations, on what to believe in etc. So fantasy, or I should say epic fantasy really since I predominantly read epic and occasionally mix it up with sword&sorcery, just happens to be one genre abounding in stories with deep themes. 

Besides deep themes, I also often find the fantasy setting, or more specifically the lore, fascinating. In this way, Lord of the Rings remains my firm all-time favourite and I’ve stuck with Raymond E. Feist for too long than I should. Don’t get me wrong, I still think he’s an outstanding writer for his earlier Midkemian series. But… I’ll rant about it another day. I’m fascinated with lore because this is how the child in me who believes in magic and adventure lives still. Actually, I have never believed in magic as a child but I definitely believed in adventures. My fascination with lore, though, seems to be inexplicably tangled up with magic for reasons not quite clear to me. Perhaps without magic, I don’t feel like the setting is actually a fantasy setting and it doesn’t provide as good an escape from reality? I cannot say for sure. 

And that’s it, why and what I find fascinating about fantasy. What about you? Let me know in comments.