Hello, readers…coming to you a bit later in the day. I have a returning author for you to “meet” again. Author Brett Armstrong is here, sharing about his newest release. And a special treat, he has some hand-drawn images of this world he has built narratively AND a giveaway! So, I won’t keep you from the post, but let you have at it:
Thanks, Brett, for being on the blog today! Can you first tell us a little about your new release?
It’s the first entry in a saga that revolves around two characters, Jason and Anargen, who live centuries from one another. Jason has a dark past he’s trying to escape and accidentally stumbles on an inn where the owner is telling a story about Anargen. Jason’s world is an early 20th Century society so they regard the stories from Anargen’s early 17th Century world as fables. But as he listens to the storyteller, he notices the teller himself doesn’t seem crazy. Or like he questions the reality of what he’s saying. Jason gets pulled into the very quest Anargen was on centuries before and their efforts to fulfill this quest span the length of the Quest of Fire series, gradually weaving together and building off one another.
Wow! Just fascinating. What was the inspiration for THE GATHERING DARK?
This book had a kind of fun start. It began as an assignment in my high school creative writing class. We were told to write a three to five-page fairy tale retelling. My teacher was really accommodating for me, so what I wrote was a twenty-seven-page fusion of my favorite parts of Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Chronicles of Narnia. I’ve re-written over and over and over since then. It looks very different, thankfully, from back then. The inspirations, still carry through, along with Biblical influences. I got the idea for swords that burn without being consumed from the account of Moses and the burning bush, for instance.
And this is why I so like your work…creative, imaginative, and has those recognizable Biblical influences.
Now, we know that the writing process is not all rainbows and sunshine. There are things we don’t all love so much. What part of the writing process do you dread?
Everything after release. Tolkien said it rightly when he released Lord of the Rings: “I am dreading the publication, for it will be impossible not to mind what is said. I have exposed my heart to be shot at.” It’s kind of nerve-wracking waiting to see whether people will love what you’ve written the way you did. Writing is like trekking through the mountains for me. During the writing I discover things much like a reader would. I’m also not much of a salesman, so getting the word out about my books isn’t my strong suit either.
So much agree with this. I discover with my characters and readers as I write. And I am not the promoter I could be either.
Here’ s a question for curiosity’s sake…what are you currently reading?
I’m in between reads, but I’m planning to start Jason Joyner’s Launch soon, which is a Christian superhero novel. I’ve been following him as an author and after all the excitement over Avengers: Endgame, I kind of wanted a little more superhero storytelling in my life.
Interesting….I am on a kick to watch all the Marvel superhero movies right now myself leading up to this weekend, when my husband and I will finally watch Endgame. It’s been interesting, this intense movie-watching of one genre…
Now, as my readers, know, I usually “set a mood” when I write with music and whatnot. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?
All different kinds. Classical, movie scores and soundtracks, Christian hymns and contemporary music, select classic and alternative rock, etc. While writing this I really like the sound of the Hunger Games: Sounds From District 12 and Beyond. There’s a lot of folk music in it with that Appalachian sound to it. Which having grown up in Appalachia seems like an obvious choice though it was more for the tonal quality. I feel like even when it’s a happy song, Appalachian music has a kind of somber almost melancholy edge to it. That tenuous balance between tragedy and triumph fits well with a lot of The Gathering Dark. I also really like TobyMac’s Move and Beyond Me for thematic reasons as well.
Neat. I typically do a lot of instrumental soundtracks and had my go-to mix. But recently have made a new mix for each book based on historical time/place.
What about your writing “atmosphere”? Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?
My favorite time isn’t really a specific time of day, its’ that first instant when an idea hits me. Like really hits me and I can’t stop imagining how this bit of a scene or dialogue or sometimes whole chapters play out. I’ve never quite had writer’s block, but normal writing compared moments like those are almost like writer’s block by comparison. They can hit me anytime, anywhere. So long as I have the means to write everything down, that place and that time are my favorites.
How long does it take you to write a book?
It varies pretty wildly. I’ve written books in a few months, others I’ve refined for years. The Gathering Dark took about fourteen years from the first time I wrote about Anargen to holding all 424 pages in my hands. I believe God works everything out in His timing, and with books sometimes there is some essential element of what a book could be that is lacking when you first type “The End.” It’s kind of like making pottery. Every time you hit “The End” again after the first is like the clay spinning around and around, being shaped, reshaped, and ever so subtly adjusted till at last you have something more than the sum all it was composed from. I feel like that might be an “artsy” type answer, but writing is art. And craft. And a journey for reader and writer. Above all, it’s a phenomenal privilege, whether it takes a couple months or a decade and more.
It really is a journey…each time. Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?
I keep a page with some select projects in the works on my website: https://brettarmstrong.net/works-in-progress/. I will say that in addition to those listed there, I’m closing in on finishing edits to my dystopian/sci-fi novel, Day Moon. I’m pretty excited for that because it’s the first time I’ve had expectations from readers. People ask when I’m going to be done with it and that’s a pretty great feeling. Even if it’s also terrifying, because I don’t want to let anyone down. For the record though, I think Veiled Sun is pretty special and works a lot like Empire Strikes Back for my Tomorrow’s Edge Trilogy.
Nice! Well, I appreciate you coming back on the blog and sharing more about your work and especially opening up about your newest release. I won’t ramble on here though, I bet my readers are eager to jump into the details and the excerpt!
Quest of Fire: The Gathering Dark
Jason is an expert at running from his past. When it catches up, he finds himself hiding in a peculiar inn listening to a tale from centuries past.
The story is Anargen’s, a teen who is pulled from all he loves to follow his oaths of loyalty to the fabled King of the Realms. Together with his mentor, Cinaed, he rides north on a special quest to mediate peace talks between ancient foes—the men of Ecthelowall and the dwarfs of Ordumair. Nothing goes as planned. Many on both sides of the dispute despise Anargen’s Order. Worse, an arcane evil has returned to the North. This “Grey Scourge” seeks to ruin the peace talks and ensure a lost treasure held by the dwarfs is never found by those for whom it is meant.
As Anargen’s story unfolds, Jason begins to wonder whether it is truly just a fable. He soon finds himself drawn into the conflict Anargen faced—a battle which has shaped and can destroy his world.
Enjoy an Excerpt
As much as Quest of Fire is epic fantasy and has adventure and action, I think this scene was among the most fun to write. There are layers of things going on here in both Anargen and his mentor Cinaed, with the backstory for Cinaed appearing in a novella that will release soon. It also inspired the song that became the theme music for the whole book (you can hear the melody in the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/embed/t3KEBnl7E80?rel=0).
Anargen ducked a low hanging tree limb. As he passed under it, he felt its gnarled branches rake over his back like fingers through hair. Spurring his horse on a little faster, he worked his way past the offending tree. Rain continued to fall on the stand of trees in a steady downpour. It was as though the Knights were walking through curtains of rain suspended before them rather than it simply falling from the sky.
After days journeying across a rolling plain of tall, verdant grasses, Anargen should have been glad for this forest. It was, after all, far more evocative of the home he’d left behind. Before entering it, however, the wind took on a boisterous bluster, buffeting them as if trying to push them back to the coast. Then came the rains, which persisted ever since. Today marked a full day of rain. A full day of rain in a wood lacking most of the beauty to which Anargen was accustomed. This stand of spindly ironwoods and other gangly trees was bereft of most of its leaves already. Coarse bushes and thorny vines filled out the spaces and complicated the passage. The scent of multi-flora rose was heavy here, almost sickly sweet.
Somewhere in the distance a limb broke loose and crashed with a muted cry to the ground below. Anargen wanted to spur his horse on faster, but the forest passage was too narrow.
At the head of a single file column, Sir Cinaed cut the path. Into the dark, he trilled the notes of a song.
“Will you be home, will our wait ever end?
What friend may we seek, for our hearts’ rends?”
Cinaed’s voice was clear and mellifluous, the best Anargen had ever heard. But the song was about a family waiting for a father who would never come home. It was the saddest song Walhonde’s mountains ever bore.
“When all our journeys’ ways mend,
Will you be home again?
Will you be home again?”
The songs words pierced between the plates of Anargen’s armor. Passing his mail coat unopposed to strike his heart. Memories of a fire, warm and low in his home’s hearth beset him. His father’s laughter as he told familiar stories with fresh mirth. Mother cooking a savory stew from the autumn garden gleanings.
Then there was something new to the scene. Seren’s smile. Her hand soft and sure in his own as they sat by the fire. It was no longer memory but a longing. Hiraeth. Cinaed’s song was more than words now, it was in his very bones.
Anargen shook his head and refocused his thoughts on where he was. In the unfamiliar wood, dark and cold, riding to the unknown. The storm masked the sky and only the luminance of their armor afforded any light.
Amidst the sea of dreariness, the rain drops sticking to their armor did not extinguish the faint flames. As the drops slid down, they glowed. Ahead, Sir Cinaed looked like a body of earthbound stars gliding through the ebon night.
Of a sudden, the song and stellar migration halted, hovering in wait. Sir Cinaed had reached a wider point in the path. The sound of rain striking the softened soil was like the roar of a small waterfall. Over it, Sir Cinaed boomed, “We’re only a mile or so from a village. We’ll stay there the night and head out tomorrow. Pair up so you don’t get lost, the path becomes rather winding soon.”
Amazon – ebook
Amazon – print
More About the Author
Brett Armstrong has been exploring other worlds as a writer since age nine. Years later, he still writes, but now invites others along on his excursions. He’s shown readers hauntingly sorrowful historical fiction (Destitutio Quod Remissio), scary-real dystopian sci-fi (Day Moon), and dark, sweeping epic fantasy (Quest of Fire – April 2019). Where he heads next is as much a discovery for him as readers. Through dark, despair, light, joy, and everything in between, the end is always meant to leave his fellow literary explorers with wonder and hope.
Connect with Brett and his books
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Brett is offering one copy of the Kindle version of Quest of Fire: The Gathering Dark one winner. Please follow the directions on the Rafflecopter below to enter.a Rafflecopter giveaway