Monday, 25 September 2017

Author Interview: David Burrows

Who are your favorite authors?
Of course I love Tolkien and Lord of the Rings. My favourite of his works, however, is the Silmarillion. That's a truly a wide sweeping epic, spanning generations.it's a difficult book to get into but some of the tales are brilliant. I also like David Gemmel's Legend. That helped to inspire me to write. I loved Druss as a concept and he seemed to be so real. I enjoy reading and modern authors have added gritty reality to fantasy. I like Brent Weeks, Joe Abercrombie and George Martin in particular, but unfortunately these authors came too late to influence me. Although I enjoy the gritty reality in their tales, I still like traditional fantasy. A tremendous book I recently read was the War of the Fae by Elle Casey.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first book I read was probably Edgar Rice Burrough's Mars series. He wrote to a formula, the hero falls in love, The girl gets captured and the hero sets out through an alien world to find her. He also wrote Tarzan which are brilliant books. I also read Dune and Lord of the Rings and the latter certainly had the biggest impact, but i still have a soft spot for the Mars series. They were written in about 1910!!
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up near Blackpool which was a great place to be, as a student. I had plenty of jobs in the area including; bingo calling, a horse racing game on the prom, theatre hand, working at Blackpool's Pleasure Beach, amusement arcade attendant, working on farms amongst others. They helped me to gain confidence and to people watch, to build characters for novels. The area was also close to the Lake District and I went mountaineering a lot, which helps writing scenes where characters travel over rough terrain and in inhospitable conditions. I was also in the cadets, TA. and a Saxon/Viking re-enactment society and that was truly epic in understanding fighting with a sword, shield and spear.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book, Drachar's Demons, is fantasy and is about an Eldric Lord called Lothanol. He is caught spying on the demon world and his people suspect he is trying to make a pact with the demons. In my book, sorcerers use the spirit world for their magic and elementals such as air, fire, water and earth are the basis of their power. Lothanol discovers imps (lesser demons) and he learns to increase his power. Through the imp, he also learns to summon more power via demons. They are incredibly difficult to control and the risks are immense. His people cast a spell on Lothanol and banish him. However, he influences their spell and the pact with the demons is made. He promises them 100,000 souls and only all out war will deliver so many. Drachar's Demons is the prequel to the Prophecy of the Kings.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Getting feedback from readers is brilliant. One lady said she slowed down when reading the final volume in the Prophecy of the Kings series, because she didn't want the tale to end. That's an immense compliment and made all the hard work worthwhile. Keep the reviews coming, it's amazing! I have some lovely reviews - have a look at my website http://davidburrows.org.uk/
How do you name fantasy characters?
Writing is hard work and I find it especially difficult to create new names. Inspiration came when I decided to use the names of friends and family, but as anagrams. My favourite character is a witch in Book Two (Dragon Rider) called Ariome, an anagram of Moira, my mother in law’s name. I was in deep water when I happened to tell her what I’d done. Fortunately, she took it well and we do still speak to each other. Just.
How do you create your worlds?
Some of the ideas in my book came from our own history and periods that interest me. The main theme of my novel is a race of people called the Eldric. Their legacy was very much like the Roman legacy is to us, today. We have Roman ruins that tell of a dominant race of people who ruled at a time when most other societies lived in wooden buildings. I wanted to create a sense of wonder and of superstition. I achieved this using the Eldric's mysterious disappearance and the cyclic demon threat that occurred every 500 years. This made the people’s superstitions real, but vague as they didn’t record their history. I also looked to our Saxon heritage where people were much more likely to believe in imps, fairies and dragons as they lived so close to nature. I liked that sense of naivety. We all have a huge sense of wonder that stems from our childhood and I wanted to capture that, but in an adult world.
What do you want your readers to feel and think about you books, what is your goal?
That’s back to creating a deep sense of wonder and superstition. I wanted the books to be creepy, with a real sense of loss. The main character, Kaplyn, is taken to the very brink of despair, but he manages to keep going. The final battle certainly hangs in the balance and frankly could have gone either way in my mind. My goal was to create a sweeping tale that was more than a little bitter sweet.
At what age did I start writing?
The original idea for the tale came to me when I was about 17. However, at that time I only wrote a few pages. A friend asked to see them and then nagged me every time we met as to when I was going to finish the book. Frankly, I had barely started so I felt like a fraud. However, I was very curious as to what was happening in the tale. I had a very vivid initial scene in my mind, of a cave, two brothers and betrayal. I didn’t know how they came to be there, or what would happen to them. I knew that only one brother would escape and in so doing took with him all the demons from hell. His escape was fraught with danger and all around him souls were gibbering and shrieking. I really enjoyed writing how this scene came about and then even more so when I worked out where the tale was going. Strangely, it was like reading a novel rather than writing one. At times I was really stuck and had to await inspiration. When inspiration finally came, it was like turning the page of a novel and I would dash to pen and paper and take the characters to the next inevitable cliff-hanger. I finally finished all three books when my children were teenagers. All in all – it took a very long time.
If you had a chance to spend some time with one mythical being, what would it be and why?
In my world I created krell, grakyn and shaol amongst others. I certainly wouldn’t like to meet any of them, especially on a dark night. Having a shaol would be handy; a guardian spirit that watches over me. Meeting a fairy would be good. At least that would be small and inconspicuous. I think talking to a mythical being may get you arrested otherwise. A genie would be high on the list. I’d ask for as many wishes as I wanted, although that might be a bit dangerous if I talked in my sleep. Wow, a dragon like Smaug would be cool. In my tales dragons are very dangerous and manipulative, so that may not end well. Demons, again these feature in my books and there’s no way I’d ever want to meet one of them. Father Christmas would be jolly but I may be on his naughty list, so again that may be disappointing. Back to the fairy, I think. Just so I could prove mythical creatures existed even if it was just for me.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

The Poisoned Chalice by Bernard Knight: A Good Read Rather than Excellent

The Poisoned Chalice (Crowner John Mystery #2)The Poisoned Chalice by Bernard Knight
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I didn't enjoy this as much as the other books. Perhaps the formula the author uses in his writing is becoming too familiar, or it was simply less of a story compared to the other books. These books are slow reads, but beautifully crafted. The author gets the period spot on with wattle and daub buildings, mud strewn streets, draughty houses and yet warm inns. I have perhaps tired of some of the characters and I think I would have murdered his wife, Matilda, by now. However, John de Wolfe, being the Coroner has his hands tied by law. Once again there is murder and this time rape. John stumbles along and given his previous performance at solving crime, this novel relies on others to solve these ones. The author throws in ordeals, a little bit akin to a history lesson and whereas in other boos this felt part of the plot I did feel myself saying, oh no, not again. Still, a good read rather than excellent.


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Friday, 1 September 2017

Dunstan by Conn Iggulden

DunstanDunstan by Conn Iggulden
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I am a fan of Conn Iggulden, but Dunstan was not up to his usual standards in my opinion. What he gets right is the sense of the period and he has a great ability to do this. You feel transported to the 10th C. This is an amazing period in history with kings coming and going at an alarming rate. The one consistency is Dunstan who starts life in an abbey and through an ability in many skill-sets manages to rise through the clergy. The tale is mainly believable with some action, but focusing more on political intrigue.

What I didn't like was Dunstan himself. Arrogant characters sometimes work but on this occasion he grated. I didn't really care for Dunstan, so felt that I wasn't sufficiently engaged with the character to care whether he lived or not.

It was an enjoyable tale, but I didn't feel compelled to get the next one in the series.


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Wars of the Roses: Bloodline by Con Iggulden

Bloodline (Wars of the Roses, #3)Bloodline by Conn Iggulden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another griping read and the battle of Towton was awesome. Edward IV is a great character in this book and Iggulden has a plausible tale for the two kings, Henry VI and Edward clashing. I hadn't realised that both kings were on the throne at the same time and that London had bared its gates against Henry VI. At a time when traitors were hung drawn and quartered this was an incredibly brave thing to do. Iggulden brings history alive. Gone is the dryness of history as taught in school, but with intrigue and murder as a backdrop, his tales are marvelous and vibrant. This period of history is the original Game of Thrones.


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