We’re talking with author Casia Schreyer one last time today and today’s subject is the epic fantasy series she hinted at in her first interview. Okay Casia, are you willing to give us a series title or some book titles for this epic fantasy so we know what to watch for?
Originally there were going to be two novels titled Darkness Falling and Darkness Rising. But I got halfway through the outline for Darkness Falling and realized the book was already at 100,000 words. Most fantasy is between 80,000 and 120,000 words per title, unless you’re a really established author like George RR Martin and you’re writing a book later in a series (because I’m sure Dance with Dragons is more than 120,000 words). Looking at what I had written I found so many places where stuff was missing, and story arcs that felt rushed. I had to add so much to it and it was already pushing the upper word limit. So I had to break the series into three books. The new book, which would happen between Falling and Rising I considered calling Darkness Settling, or Darkness at War, or War of Darkness, or something to that affect. I haven’t nailed it down yet.
Recently, while doing a lot of brainstorming and outlining, I’ve found that there’s still too much to add to Darkness Falling, just relegating the unwritten portion to a new book wasn’t going to do it. So now there’s a proposed first book to come before Falling. I don’t have a title for it at all yet and I’m not even sure if it will be a novel, or a short story/novella like Patricia Briggs did with her Alpha and Omega series.
What is this story going to be about?
The short answer? Twins again. The main characters are once again twins, this time two girls named Sepherym and Meryum Hukaru. They are the princesses of one of two human nations on their planet.
The long answer is pretty long actually but I guess it’s about their life, and how it gets turned upside down by a mad man’s quest for revenge. They have to set a lot of things right so there will be battles and quests and prophesies and history.
Human nations. So there are other races on this planet?
Yes. There are 4 elfish tribes, fairies, giants … it’s a pretty diversely populated place. I had a lot of fun building the cultures of each of the races. The most fun was my humanoid/animal hybrid race. I’m keeping that under wraps until I have some concept art to go with it because it’s going to be amazing.
And will this be a magic rich planet? Or a more subtle magic system like Game of Thrones?
Oh, there’s magic, a lot of magic. The humans are capable of learning a complex system of spells given to them by their goddess. Their is another humanoid race which has a more innate, natural, talent-based magic. These are the two which form the basis of the story I’m telling now. Fairies have no internal magic, but they have magic dust. No, it doesn’t make you fly. I’m eager to explore the elfish magic systems which will be introduced in book 3 and expanded on in book 4 and in the short stories.
On top of all of that there is an elemental based power system which sort of ties all the races together.
You mentioned a goddess. Is this a female based religion?
It’s a pantheon, with several gods and goddesses. As with most pantheons each deity has a gift to give or something to govern (magic, healing, death, love, etc). Each deity also chooses a race to watch over. Humans pray to all of the pantheon but place The Great Lady first. Fairies pray to all of the pantheon as well, but their chief deity is the goddess Olena.
We’ve looked at religion and magic, what about politics?
The humans and elves are in a monarchy stage, a feudal system of government. Each of the human nations has a king and holding lords and minor lords. The elves don’t have holdings, they have tribes, but it amounts to the same sort of hierarchy system with all the tribes answering to the king. I have two theocracies. I also have four matriarchal societies, one is one of the theocracies, one is primitive tribal, and two I have only started fleshing out. I have two reclusive races. I even have pirates.
Wow. This sounds like a complicated place.
It’s turning out that way. I’ve been spending a long time on the world and culture building for this project so each race feels realistic. I mean, fairy dust isn’t realistic at all, but it will feel like a natural part of their culture, and the effects it has on their culture will be realistic. This is why I’m really looking forward to the illustrated world guide.
You’ve mentioned your two main characters, Sepherym and Meryum. Tell us a bit about the girls.
Sepherym is a telepath and a book worm. Meryum is a healer and a fighter. Sepherym will be my politically powerful character while Meryum is taking on a more traditional “strong woman” role in fantasy, complete with sword and breeches.
Sepherym’s story arc is about breaking free, because the males in her life have always sought to control her, her magic power, and her political power.
Meryum’s story arc is about finding control. She’s always been emotional, with a short temper, and a need to act now. She will need to find self-restraint.
I guess it’s about balance. They are strong already, but they are lopsided. They need to find balance, they need to grow up.
Tell us a bit about the rest of the cast.
Oh lord, I’ve got pages upon pages of character notes. You’re not getting all of that into this interview. I won’t even give you a complete cast list. This is a sweeping story that will cover 4 or 5 countries and multiple races after all.
Sepherym and Meryum’s family is small. Their father is King Tritation, their mother is Queen Catrana, or Catra for short. They have one surviving grandparent, Lord Calvin, Catra’s father. They have one aunt, Lady Amelia, Catra’s sister. Amelia is married to James and they have one child, Tatyonym.
The king’s advisor and his family all play MAJOR rolls in the story so I will also introduce them. Jonathan Arbutus is the king’s advisor and Sepherym’s teacher. His wife’s name is Quenella, but she is called Queenie. She is a round faced sweet mothering woman who is respected and often feared for all her soft-spoken nature. They have two sons, Troy and Luke who are close friends with the girls.
Other close friends, allies, fellow squires, etc. include Zaine, Christopher, Andrake, Robin, Avia, Darius, and later, Erjon, Edana, Skyler, Despina, Ashlynn, and Daniel.
The other human nation is ruled by King Jackson and his wife, Queen Arissa. They have two sons, Lars and Kale. King Cabral is the elf king at the time of this series, and L’Darin is the ambassador between the human and elf courts. He and his son L’Damon are the focus of several chapters in Darkness Falling.
On top of that are numerous lords and knights and suitors and enemies and generals and trainers and teachers.
There is a trend, probably because of Game of Thrones, to keep the body count in any war-driven fantasy high. What are your plans for your characters and their fates?
I’m not writing dark, gritty, historically driven fantasy. Of the characters I listed above some do die (no I won’t tell you which ones or how many), but that’s because there is a war going on. I am looking forward to writing the short stories which will be focused on smaller issues and won’t feature quite as much death.
This series is a little more clear cut on who you want to win, but at the same time it’s not as simple as “he’s evil”. The bad guy has quite the back story and while you will never be able to excuse what he has become, I hope that readers will feel sympathetic to his history.
Is there any point in asking about a release date?
Nope, none at all. I have 4 books in the Rose Garden series to complete, 2 Nelly Bean books, and The Underground, a science fiction adventure for middle years on my plate. For now I am happy just working out the outlines and timelines and world building that accompanies this series.
Currently Rose in the Ash is scheduled for release by the end of 2016 or early 2017 with Rose without Thorns and the first Underground book scheduled for later in 2017. Rose Alone is scheduled for 2018 with Rose at the End scheduled for December 2018 or early 2019. The Underground series novelization should be completed by December 2018 or mid 2019 as well.
The Underground Graphic novels will take longer to release, with the first scheduled for early 2018. They will be published in 10 shorter pieces between 2018 and 2021.
The first book in this epic fantasy is not expect to be released until 2019.
This schedule is not set in stone.