A triple shot of authors today. The first one knock on my door and when I answer, rushes in and dumps a mailbag full of letters in the middle of my floor. Immediately, my cat comes out to start sniffing around. I’m amazed because: A). who writes actual paper letters anymore? and B). Who’s going to clean up this mess?
“I was hoping to use your computer to answer some of these fan letters,” he says.
“Uh,” I stammer, “Who’s going to clean up this mess?”
Unfortunately, questions to authors don’t get answered the way I like.
“Okay,” I say and point to the laptop, “have at it.”
I’ve had a lot of questions from readers since I committed to being a writer, and I haven’t taken the time to answer each and every one of them. Today, I’ll attempt to make some progress toward that goal. For the privacy’s sake, I’ll condense the names of the inquirers to their first initial only—and I’ll remove any part of the question that might indicate an identity, too. Let’s get to it then!
I love the Feasts series, but some of the characters are really despicable! Are they based off any people you know, or know of, in real life? —M
Good question, M. Well, seeing as how we’re all influenced by our environment, I’m sure that at some point, somewhere, I’ve met a ruthless woman—or two—like Gloriatrix, or I’ve seen a man with the striking charisma of the Wolf. However, these characters aren’t based off anyone in particular. The only exception to this would be Alastair, who’s a cross between Cary Elwes’ character from the Princess Bride, Captain Jack Sparrow, and a Shakespearean antihero.
I love the Princess Bride (both book and film) and its influence—romantic, comedic, dramatic—had a tremendous impact on my young imagination. That movie, as well as all the bizarre, aerialist, shrieking anime antics that my friends and I watched in my teens (the secret to why I love action scenes so much!).
Some of the scenes in the book are really beautiful, and some are really horrific. How can you write from one extreme to the other? Don’t you find it hard to write the awful stuff? —K
Part of the writer’s toolkit, is the ability to distance yourself from your surroundings and perceptions, and to, ideally, form something based not solely on your own judgments–rather, something that challenges your beliefs or that is outside your realm of experience. I feel we’re strong enough to discuss and create any material, or face any trial, so long as our heart is in the right place.
That’s just a fancy way of saying I think I’m very good at make-believe and I try to challenge myself by writing situations and characters outside of my personal comfort zone. Did I enjoy writing about Augustus; the pedophile, megalomaniac, all around terrible person? Objectively, I wasn’t thinking too much about him at the time, I was immersed in the narrative, and certainly more focused upon Macha—her welfare and courage was the real meat of that arc, not the perverse predilections of a madman. Now upon rereading the material, I had the same reactions as many of you toward Augustus: revulsion and condemnation.
That’s the point, though: don’t skirt around issues of evil, crime and darkness any more than you would devalue the virtues of love, comradery and hope by treading lightly with your words. The most horrible events happen all around us, daily, in tandem with life’s beautiful events. We shouldn’t only pay attention to what we want to see, to what keeps us comfortable: that’s a myopic, vegetative existence, and it leads to silos, stupidity and bigotry. Occasionally, we need to be scared and horrified. That’s part of being human.
For more of my thoughts on Evil and its portrayal, check out these posts:
And thanks for the great question, K!
What is the one thing you wished you’d never done in your career? —D
Hmm…I like to look at mistakes as stepping-stones, however, if I could take one thing back (and this is sage-advice for new authors): I wouldn’t invest any kind of money in an advertising campaign until I had more books under my belt. We didn’t spend a lot of money on the small campaign I did at the end of 2014, though no one knew who theF I was, or they thought I was Rihanna’s ex and were surely disappointed when they followed me on Twitter.
From a practical, business standpoint, it’s like advertising when you only have one product in your store. Wait until your merchandise is fuller and then start shilling. Build a presence and personality that people know, first, and you may not even need to spend a dime on marketing. But that takes time, and we’re not always patient. Being a writer is a waiting game, though, whether you go it alone, with small press, or with Simon & Schuster pondering your latest manuscript. Don’t expect breakthrough or lasting success in a day—that kind of charmed luck would be better spent on repeatedly playing the lottery.
You say you’re a cat whisperer; what does that mean? —J
“Person who talks to cats.” I wish there was a less spinsterish way to say it, but there you go.
I’m closing up the mailbag for today. In case you weren’t aware of how to contact me, you can send me any questions or comments via the Contact Form.
I’ll answer your questions in a somewhat timely fashion. (I’m much chattier on my FB page.) I look forward to hearing from you.
All my love,
Feast of Chaos
Four Feasts till Darkness
Christian A. Brown
Genre: Dark Fantasy/ Literary/ Romance
Publisher: Forsythia Press
Date of Publication: September 23rd, 2016
Number of pages: 698
Word Count: 250K
Cover Artist: Dane at Ebookcoverlaunch
Menos has been destroyed. No corner of the realm of Geadhain is safe from the Black Queen’s hunger. Zionae—or the Great Dreamer, as she has been called in ancient tongues—has a thirst that cannot be quenched until all of Geadhain burns and bleeds. She preys on the minds of weak men and exploits human folly for an unhuman end. She cannot be defeated in her current state, but the answer to her downfall may lie in the land of her past.
It is with this aim that a Daughter of Fate, Morigan, and her brave and true companions venture to the mysterious Pandemonia, the land of chaos itself. Ancient secrets and even older power lurk in its swamps and deserts. Life itself becomes uncertain, but the Hunters of Fate have no choice: Pandemonia must give up its secrets if they want to find the Black Queen’s weakness.
Elsewhere in the realm, alliances form and break. Dead men rise and heroes fall. Eod prepares for war. In hiding, Lila, the bearer of its destruction, will be given a chance to atone and answer for her sins. Will her actions save Eod, or has she damned it with her crimes?
Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/rURqUni_lco
Heathsholme was quaint—Central Geadhain’s darling, as the locals proclaimed. Looking down upon it, passengers on skycarriages were often struck by the fact that the realm possessed the look of a joyfully made quilt. Red-leafed orchards, yellow fields of flax and corn, patches of blue brocade that were swimming pools and watering holes…all threaded with brown branching roads. Sweet winds blew down from the North year-round, bearing only cool and refreshing properties until winter rose to claim the throne of seasons. When the North wind came, it froze Heathsholme’s pools into skating circles and decorated the large trees with grand chandeliers of ice. In the depths of that season, the staunch apple trees finally died. Their fruits fell to the ground and were collected. Their blossoms broke from their branches and filled the air like flocks of migrating winter birds. During this season, families came from the West, South, and East to visit Heathsholme and enjoy great outdoor festivals of food, music, mulled cider, and wine—for which the region was also famed.
Partly on account of the season’s coolness, these celebrations happened around great bonfires. At night, when the happily drunk howled at the moon, a primal spirit took hold, and effigies of nameless spirits were burned in the pyres. No one could remember why or how the Vallistheim tradition had been born, only that it was a remnant of the customs once imposed by Taroch. The ancient warlord had been fascinated by the Northmen’s rites, and had introduced many of them to Central Geadhain. Vallistheim—the winter festival—was believed to bring bounty and luck in the New Year. Over time, polite society had done away with many of the less pleasant sacrificial details to make the ritual friendlier to outsiders. Now only one cow from each of the barns and byres that rose on rings in the hilled highlands around the heart of the township was cooked in a great feast, without having been ritually slaughtered first.
In the uncultivated grasses past the city proper and its farmlands, a dedicated explorer could find the remains of crumbled churches that had been built to honor the now vanished religion of Taroch’s fancies. Runes that the sages had translated into such names as Freyallah, Odric, and Helhayr were found chiseled in the mossy arches of these grounds. These sites of an ancient religion were thought by modern minds to be haunted or perhaps protected by the ancient spirits or warriors mentioned in the stones. It was the sort of refuge where a monster, fearful of being seen, could find sanctuary.
About the Author:
Bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Feast of Fates, Christian A. Brown received a Kirkus star in 2014 for the first novel in his genre-changing Four Feasts Till Darkness series. He has appeared on Newstalk 1010, AM640, Daytime Rogers, and Get Bold Today with LeGrande Green. He actively writes a blog about his mother’s journey with cancer and on gender issues in the media. A lover of the weird and wonderful, Brown considers himself an eccentric with a talent for cat-whispering.
1 signed paperback copy of Feast of Chaos
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