There are a number of ways that stories come to me, one is using writing prompts because they always spark ideas or images in my mind. Some result in a short story or, occasionally a poem, but others have become full blown novels.
I recently responded to the prompt below and the character emerged complete in my mind. I could see him walking along the sidewalk, and the effect he had on the people he passed. He may appear in a future novel – who knows. Some characters stay with me and after a time begin to demand attention. This one is mysterious and I am keen to know his backstory and his future plans.
Heads turned, chatter ceased and whispers began as the tall, dark clothed man strode along the high street. His focused gaze ahead, never glancing at the store fronts, or the recoiling of other pedestrians as he passed by. The summer atmosphere cooled as an ominous air pervaded his very being. The holiday town was used to many visitors but this one was different and dangerous.
Would you like to ‘meet’ this character?
One prompt that resulted in a published book was my novella, The Rython Kingdom, which was actually a series of prompts that combined into the basis of the story. The prompts were – blue beads, a beast and a medieval town. You can read the full story (and its sequel if you want) here:
Another inspiration are dreams. And the reason, I have a small notebook on my bedside table. If I don’t write it down immediately, the dream dissipates never to be remembered again. The opening sequence of The Commodore’s Gift was a snippet of a dream that just needed to be used in a story. At the time, I had no idea that Owena, would become such a integral part of the story and evolve into it’s central character.
Do you have questions about my writing inspiration? Please ask on the comments, I will be happy to answer them all.
As writers and authors, we all daydream of the day our novel is made into a movie. The thrill of seeing our story come to life on the big screen (or even a smaller one!) is something we all crave at one point or another. When we are writing our stories, we get images of our characters in our heads, sometimes it is actors we already know or we create an inspiration board from photos found on the internet.
Forgetting for the moment the practicalities of actually getting the actor you want – who are your chosen ones? Who is on your wish list?
I am sharing a couple here and would be interested to know if you ‘saw’ them the same way I do, when you read the books.
1.You describe your stories as epic fantasies with dark undertones. What drew you to this genre and type of story?
I have always been drawn to dark and gritty genres in all types of entertainment – horror films, true crime shows, certain types of music, etc., so I believe a touch of this will always show through in my writing. Part of the darkness I mention is also due to subject matter. I delve into the human mind and look at how psychological aspects might affect people and the choices they make. However, my books are mainly influenced by more classic fantasy with a medieval world, swords and bows, and a bit of magic. This comes from reading other books of this genre (such as those written by David Gemmell), but also from playing plenty of video games growing up, as well as watching animes and reading mangas.
Furthermore, I tend to add a third genre into the mix – romance. I’ve always loved a bit of romance, especially the slow burns and classy steamy scenes. The best of both (or all?) worlds! In my own opinion, anyway!
2.When you were creating the background world to The Light of Darkness series, did you have a specific place in mine?
Not really, other than I wanted a world where the characters would see all the different season. I think it adds a certain beauty, with the budding flowers in spring, the light and heat of summer, the shifting colours of autumn, and the snow and darkness of winter. I suppose it is not too dissimilar from where I live myself. I would say the Midlands (where most of the series takes place) is probably a north- to mid-European climate. However, the expanded world has everything from swamps, mountains, lowlands, steppes, deserts, and so on, and the reader does get to meet people from plenty of these places as the series progresses.
3.How did the characters develop as you wrote the novels? Were you surprised at any changes to their personalities?
I usually design my characters quite meticulously ahead of writing, but since I’m a pantser, they do tend to do their own thing in the end. Some end up as a love interest, where they weren’t initially cast for such a role, whereas others change in ways the reader might not expect, depending on how their motivations and actions are portrayed.
The one character who really took his sweet time to settle into a groove was Edric. He is part of the main cast, and is the main character of one of my prequels (The Redeemed). He is rude at times, obnoxious at others, and suffers from a snappy attitude, but as the reader gets to know him, you get the feeling there is more to him than meets the eye. There is a reason behind his abrasive personality and why he acts like he does. As I finally wrote his complete backstory, I mainly changed some of the ways he spoke. I didn’t soften him, as such, but I streamlined his outward communication and interaction with others.
4.Do you see yourself in the stories?
The one character I based the most on myself is probably the main character – Anaya. Like me, she tends to do things with conviction. We’re like a dog with a bone, and won’t relent until we have given something our all. She is fiercely loyal and tries to help others whenever possible; also traits I can see in myself. Oh, and we always burn food while cooking. Don’t even get me started on this one.
5.What made you write the prequels?
As a new author, I’ve had (and still have) a lot to learn! One of those things was how to build a newsletter successfully. When delving into this subject, I researched the most popular sites to do build a following, and I found myself needing a reader magnet to join in on all the fun. I tried to think of a story that would be short, but meaningful, to really complement the series. And thus spawned the idea for my first prequel – the origin story, Righteous Dawn. It takes place 4 decades before the series, and offers a glimpse into how the Priesthood was initially formed.
My second prequel, The Redeemed, I wrote because a dear friend of mine wanted to read Edric’s story. I felt it was a good idea because he has an immensely heavy backstory which I thought should be told. Not that the reader doesn’t get to experience some of this through the series, but it’s much more touching and heartfelt in the way I fleshed out his backstory through The Redeemed. Edric is also a favourite character of mine, so it felt right.
6.Do you have a regular writing routine?
With 3 kids, aged 5, 3, and 0 (9 months)? That’d be a no, I’m afraid. Although it is regular to the point of me literally writing whenever I’m allowed, pretty much every day, after the kids have gone to bed and until I near fall asleep on my keyboard!
7.Where do you prefer to write?
In the best of worlds: on my own, using my laptop while listening to some nice music.
In reality? On my phone, while feeding the baby and taking her to bed… You know – mom life! To be honest, I’m happy as long as no one is screaming while I’m trying to write. That’s a win in my book.
8.Has any aspect of your traveling enabled your writing?
The biggest enabler of my writing is my husband, and what I mean by that is not purely because he supports me, but because he has fed me a lot of the English language. Expressions – and words – which I previously didn’t know what they were. Our relationship and, subsequently, my travels to England has enriched my language immensely, and my books are definitely the better for it.
9.When did you start writing?
*Drumroll* to ready you all for the most common answer known to man!
I have been writing since forever. But I started doing it more seriously with a close friend and neighbour in my preteens. We wrote A LOT, and it was absolutely atrocious, but we had so much fun! And I was hooked. I’ve been writing ever since, but mainly little snippets here and there, and I never really finished anything to the point where I would even have someone else read it… Well, until now, that is!
I finished my first book in 2019, The Power of Conviction, which is currently being released by Fallbrandt Press. It is also my first complete novel in English, and I’m super happy with how it came out!
10. Tell us about your latest novel.
The Power of Conviction (release date January 27th) is the first book of The Light of Darkness series, and it centers around the priestess Anaya. She is skilled wielding the Light and thus highly ranked, battling alongside her spiritual brothers and sisters. As part of the Priesthood, they attempt to put an end to the demonic incursion, paving their way through blood and gore on an almost daily basis.
But things are not always what they seem, and Anaya’s beliefs are challenged through the story. She is forced to choose between heart and duty as fate, prophecies and an impossible love will blur the very line between good and evil.
Now, go read it!! There are another 5 of these bad boys coming!
11.Where do you see your writing career going in the next five years?
The absolute dream would be to write full-time. But if I at least manage to be a part-time writer, I think I will be pretty proud of myself. My recent signing with Fallbrandt Press has really given me the confidence that this is a career I can pursue and I’m like that dog with a bone now! I won’t let it go!
12.Do you have a specific message for your readers?
Feel like some medieval action, fighting, magic, blood, and gore, but still sweet romance, steam, and heartache? I’ve got something I think you might enjoy! Check out my series, The Light of Darkness!!
And sign up to my newsletter and receive my two prequels for free! The link can be found under question 14!
Also, don’t hesitate to follow me or send a message on social media. I love to connect with readers and all kinds of bookish people!
13.Who are your favorite authors?
My absolute favourites have to be David Gemmell, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Janny Wurts! They are my primary sources of inspiration, and I absolutely love their work!
14.Please share your social media sites and website link.
Visit my website for more information, and sign up to my newsletter for those freebies!
Catrin Russell is a Fantasy and Romance author from northern Sweden. Her books are all written in English and are mainly part of the Epic and High Fantasy Genre. However, she does use influences from Dark Fantasy, and a touch of Fantasy Romance. Growing up outside a small town, basically in the middle of nowhere, Catrin eventually moved to Stockholm, where she studied computer game development and design. Meeting her soon-to-become husband online, she lived outside of London for the best parts of a year, before finally settling down in Piteå, back in Sweden. Since then, two children and two dogs have joined the family. With a background in design and holding a degree as a registered nurse, she writes novels in medieval settings, with plenty of action and romance. She often brings moral struggles, or highlights issues in society, into her writing. Another subject that is often highlighted is mental health. Catrin also creates concept art, bringing her characters to life on the screen, and her own cover designs, much of which can be seen on her social media pages!
Talking about my newest YA book, Clickety Click but also my other books too.
So now I’ve actually watched myself on this TV interview (cringe but I don’t think I was too awful!!!) I can share it – go to 11.04 on the time line. I wanted to thank my gracious hosts for inviting me onto the show. It was a lot of fun.
On today’s post I am reflecting the post I put onto the above group with the added bonus of an excerpt. The novella is actually two stories in one, the story of Guillem’s adventure and the tale he relays to the King’s court.
Bio: Mandy Eve-Barnett resides in Alberta, Canada but is originally from England. She is a multi-genre author and freelance writer and lives and breathes the written word and creativity in all its forms. She is the Secretary of her local writing group, the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County, and President of the Arts and Culture Council of Strathcona County.
Mandy publishes regularly on her blog – http://www.mandyevebarnett.com – where she has built a thriving writing community – sharing tips, news, interviews, and excerpts. She has published three children’s books and her adult novella, set in medieval England, The Rython Kingdom. She has also co-written a guide to memoir writing. Currently working on four manuscripts Mandy is never happier than writing and creating imaginary worlds.
Link to excerpt of The Rython Kingdom https://mandyevebarnett.com/my-adult-books/
The Rython Kingdom – Chapter One
“He’s coming! He’s coming! Guillem Ruet is here!”
Guillem smiled at the group of children running beside his horse as he rode toward the castle’s drawbridge. Dirty and barefooted, these youngsters would not be lucky enough to hear his newest tale, first hand. That pleasure would be for the inner court alone. It was a strange and most complex tale and all the more mysterious for being made of a dream.
Shouts of his approach preceded him, thrown from one person to the next across the dirt track and woven among the shacks lining it. The summer heat had denuded the earth of moisture; dust swirled around his mount’s hooves, creating a cloak of fine grains behind them, shrouding rider and horse. Ahead, the King’s standards lay limp against their poles high above on the castle turrets; thin strips of coloured cloth obscuring the lion head emblem of the king. More children, and some adults, ran beside him, eager to witness this famed troubadour first hand. The talk among the courtiers and peasants alike had been of his arrival and little else for many weeks.
As Guillem entered under the portcullis, it brought back memories of returning from battle years previously. Conquering heroes were showered with flowers and rewarded with grand feasts and warmed by many a maid. Serving as a knight in his younger days, Guillem had been admired for his prowess in battle, but now he was even more revered as a troubadour. His tales of battles and faraway lands held audiences spell bound as he punctuated them with displays of swordsmanship and the exhibiting of combat scars. So popular was Guillem that a feast or festival without his presence was considered incomplete. Fierce competition between lords kept Guillem’s purse and belly full as he traveled from one borough to the next, shamelessly attending whomever paid the highest fee. His new life fulfilled his wander-lust. Being confined to one place filled him with dread as did faithfulness to just one maid. Why restrict yourself to one when there were so many to pick from – all willing to bed the famous knight and troubadour?
Word had reached him a month prior notifying him the king himself requested Guillem’s presence at court. It was an honor to be bestowed with such a command and Guillem did not hesitate to comply. Not dallying at Lord Suffolk’s seat; as was his usual habit. Normally, he would take advantage of the many benefits afforded him but, this time, he packed his saddlebags the very same night and set off toward the king’s domain at daybreak. Several requests for his presence had made it to his ears as he traveled but each was declined in favor of an audience at the king’s court. Once it was common knowledge the king had requested Guillem to speak, Guillem knew he would be able to use it to increase his fee.
Ahead of him now was the sovereign’s castle keep with sentries standing at both sides of a stairway leading up to massive oak doors. The excited crowd jostled for position to get closer to Guillem and perchance to touch him or his fine mount. A herald sounded his trumpet as Guillem dismounted. The shouts died away as all eyes centered on the keep’s massive doors. They slowly opened. All knees bent and heads bowed as the regal figure of King Henry was revealed, resplendent in deep purple robe and golden crown. With measured steps, King Henry descended the stone stairs.
“Welcome, Guillem Ruet, your reputation precedes you. My courtiers and subjects have talked of little else but your arrival for these many weeks. Come and drink ale with me. You must be weary from your journey.”
Guillem bowed deeply again then handed his horse’s reins to a saddle hand, who was fidgeting beside him. As the boy led his mount away, Guillem could hear the lad’s excited whisper to the surrounding crowd.
“Look, look, I have his horse to care for.”
Careful to remain a step behind, Guillem followed his King into the castle’s dark interior. The huge stone blocks prevented the heat of the outside world from entering. Guillem shivered involuntarily. I should have taken my cloak out of the saddlebag before releasing my horse into the care of the boy. Then another thought struck him and he turned to see his horse being led away on the far side of the courtyard – he had not secured the small box. He had promised a mysterious old man he would not let it leave his possession and now it was in the hands of a young stable lad.
“The fire will warm your bones, Guillem. Is something amiss? You seem anxious?”
“Thank you, Sire. I relinquished my cloak without thinking but I also forgot to retrieve a certain object.”
“Do not worry, Guillem. I will have your saddlebags brought to your room presently. If there is anything missing I shall deal with the culprit myself. But for now….” The King raised a hand to summon a serf, “Stephen, a robe for our guest.”
A young man appeared from the shadow of a stone column and presented Guillem with a thick woolen robe. Its heavy warmth felt pleasing. Serfs opened an inner door as the King approached and allowed the two men to enter the great hall. Long oak tables flanked the centre aisle below a raised platform where the King’s ornately carved table and throne stood. Following his sovereign’s lead, Guillem walked toward the roaring fire at the far side of the huge room. Its radiant heat was welcome in the cool interior of the castle.
“Sit with me, Guillem, you will soon warm. Bring ale, Stephen.”
“As you command, your majesty.”
The serf had moved so silently that Guillem jumped when he responded to his master’s command.
“Guillem, why do you start so?”
“Sorry, Sire – I was unaware of your serf’s presence; gave me a bit of a shock when he spoke.”
“Not so surprising, Guillem, we call him Silent Stephen. He seems to glide instead of walk, although to watch him you cannot see any difference from any other man’s stride.”
“Strange indeed, my Lord, is he born of a witch?”
“Actually no, Guillem, his mother was a maid to my mother. He has grown up within these walls and knows no other life than to live and serve here.”
The Rython Kingdom is available as a print book at http://www.dreamwritepublishing.ca/retail/books/rython-kingdom
Also available as an ebook from all Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes and Noble.