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Once the Borrai, the Gods of Garran, walked among the people, taming the wind and the fiery mountains. Then invaders came from the sky and killed the gods--destroying all who opposed them. A hundred years have passed since the Invaders came from the sky--an advanced alien race known as the Chanden. Now, having suffered many grievances at the hand of the aliens, the tribesmen rise up to find the god-stones and revive the ancient powers of the Borrai--and reclaim their world.
When the Chanden learn of this, they send a spy to infiltrate the Garrans--a young woman named Asta, who has her own reasons for hating the Garrans. She begins to realize that they are dealing with a real power and not a superstition when they get close to finding the god-stones. Can the Chanden be in the wrong?
Can you talk a little about what the book is about?
It’s a conflict of cultures. A highly advanced race takes over a primitive planet, imposing their culture on the natives there, much like Western culture has done on the civilizations it “discovered.” A century later, discontented and angry at the control imposed on them, the natives begin a rebellion—lashing out at the Chanden invaders who now rule their world. They believe that if they find an ancient godstone, they can wake the gods of Garran and perhaps regain control of their planet.
Where did you get the idea for the book?
The story started as a bizarre dream. I was searching in the desert for a stone of great power. With me were some friends. But I had lied to them and betrayed them in order to get the stone. I steal it from them. Later, I go to an ancient building to activate the stone, and I’m wearing some kind of ancient helmet. I fear that what I’m doing will kill me, but I do it anyway.
What message do you want readers to get from reading the book?
Oooh, dunno. I don’t deliberately ply my stories with meaning. I think it is probably more subconscious. But I think themes include mutuality, respect between cultures, and our assumption of ownership over a whole planet. Technology versus nature. That sort of thing.
How long did it take to write the book?
I wrote the original version in 30 days for Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) for the Writing challenge, which is to write a 50,000 word novel during November. I wrote just over 50,000 words. But later, I did extensive rewriting on it and added another 28,000 words and 13 more chapters to round the book and characters out.
Who is your favorite character, or what character was the most fun to write?
I like them all, but Koethe was fun to write. He’s the commander of the Chanden military base on the planet of Garran, and the father of Asta, one of the main characters. Originally, he was one of the antagonists in the story, but the more I wrote, the more I realized that it was his practical nature and loyalty to his home world that made him so. He wasn’t evil. So, his character grows during the story as he changes direction and mindsets.
Can you talk about how you wrote it? Did you do any outlining? Did it take you in any unexpected directions?
I didn’t do a lot of outlining. This was a pretty basic concept that I had from the dream. I had a few scenes in mind that I was working towards, but no outline. During the 30 day writing session, the story took off and found a life of its own. I really found myself in love with the world and with these characters that I hardly knew a month before that.
If you could go back and change anything in the novel, what would it be?
I might change the main character’s name, which is Moorhen, because it’s actually the name of a bird. I didn’t realize that.
How did you come up with the cover?
My niece, Larissa Smith, did the cover. She’s a college student studying art. I gave her several ideas and she gave me some sketches. I provided some desert background pictures and she used one from Goblin Valley in Utah.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
In 5th grade, I decided to become a writer. I loved Star Trek and hurried home every day to watch it. I wrote a Star Trek story of my own (a very bad one) and I was hooked. I also loved reading books, so writers were very high in my estimation.
What are you favorite books and authors?
C.J. Cherryh — for The Chanur Series, The Morgaine Saga, The Faded Sun Trilogy … okay, I like all her books.
Tolkein — Lord of the Rings
C.S. Lewis — Narnia
Patricia McKillip — Riddlemaster Series
What are you working on next?
MAGIC SPAWN. A necromancer from another universe attacks a town in Nebraska on Halloween night. A 17 year old boy, Rian, learns the the his own 10 year old brother, Kyran, is not from Earth—and may not be even be human. The necromancer has come for Kyran. Some humor but also serious moments and drama.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Don’t spend all your time writing one book. The next one will be better. It’s easy to get bogged down on a novel during rewriting. If you take too long, then the story will change and morph maybe too much.
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“What is our status?” asked Koethe.
“We’re tracking movement of rebel troops now,” said an old Chanden war chief, whom Moorhen later learned was named General Godwin. “We have them outnumbered and outgunned. They’d be fools to go through with the attack.”
Koethe glanced over at Moorhen. “But I have a feeling that they will. Isn’t that so?” He didn’t really expect an answer, and the native Garran didn’t bother to respond.
“You found your daughter, I see,” said the General.
“Yes,” said Koethe. He turned to her. “Now, Asta, tell me–what happened?”
His daughter, Asta, looked at them. “The gods of Garran are displeased with you and your people. You have disrupted the land with continual conflicts and your harvesting.”
They stared at her and laughed. “You can’t be serious,” said General Godwin. He looked at Koethe in question.
Asta fixed her unnatural, bright blue eyes on Koethe. “You think you are the gods of Garran–but you are not. You think that the land belongs to you, but it does not.
From now on, you will accept the clans as equal to you.”
For a moment no one spoke. “They’ve done something to her,” said Koethe, glaring at Moorhen, “Something having to do with the god-stone.”
“She picked up the stone,” said Moorhen, “and it bonded with her. We did nothing.”
“And you,” Asta turned to Moorhen, “also will not fight the Chanden. The shedding of blood is abhorrent to us. We will not permit it. Your Shaheak have been warned.”