Series: Guardian of the Core #1
As Edwyrd Eska approaches his two-hundredth year as Guardian of the Core, he must find an Apprentice to train under him. His title and role compels him to safeguard and govern his universe, Gladonus, as each Guardian before him has done and those after him shall continue to do until relieved of such duties by will of the Ancients. Prince Hydro Paen, Eirek Mourse, and Zain Berrese—amongst other contestants—receive invitations to compete in a quest of Trials intended to determine who becomes Eska’s Apprentice. An old adage goes: “the toughest trials test you truest” – and these events challenge their fortitude through tenuous partnerships, intellectual rivalries, and battles of weapons’ mastery. Along the way, each contestant must attempt to overcome personal demons that haunt them. In this tale of ideal dreams and lucid aspirations, these competitors find theirs threatened by deceit, betrayal, sabotage—and even flesh—as all become vital to success…
Today I am interviewing author Michael Thies about his upcoming fantasy novel The Trials of the Core, to be released December 10, 2013.
Interview with Author Michael Thies
Can you talk a little about what the book is about?
Sure, the book, The Trials of the Core, is a fantasy story that takes place in a futuristic society and revolves around three main characters: Zain Berrese, Hydro Paen, and Eirek Mourse. Each character (along with others) gets invited to partake in the Trials hosted by Guardian of the Core (the most sought after position), Edwyrd Eska. The events that are supposed to test intelligence, partnership, determination and fortitude really end up becoming a catalyst to producing unbecoming qualities in all the characters. Through deceit, betrayal, sabotage, and secret alliances all of the characters are pushed past their breaking point and eventually one character wins and other characters lose but all contestants find that the Trials have changed them in some way, good or bad, as they go their separate paths.
Where did you get the idea for the book?
My friend and I actually had tried making a card game back in middle school. I also did a short story in middle school about this great battle at a coliseum where gods clashed and died. Then, I found that short story while cleaning out my room one day and I took some of my friend’s photos and started to create characters and plotlines to go with them. And, now, it’s here!
What message do you want readers to get from reading the book?
That regardless of who we are, we are all equals. You can be the poorest person in the world or the richest and although the quality of life may be different, what you can afford may be different, we are equal human beings and have equal rights when everything is said and done. As such, we should be treated equally.
How long did it take to write the book?
6 years!!! But I started as a junior in high school and the reason it took me so long is because I didn’t want to JUST be a writer in college. I wanted to have a social life too! And keep my grades up! So, needless to say, I didn’t get as much writing done in college as I would have liked but I kept at it and managed to pound out a draft each year.
Who is your favorite character, or what character was the most fun to write?
I think that the least archetypical character in this book is Zain Berrese. He definitely has the most potential throughout the whole series and something that was brought to light to me by my developmental editor. However, the funnest character to write in perspective would have to be Gabrielle Ravwey. She only has one chapter in the entire novel but there are a few reasons why I liked writing from her perspective. (A) she’s a woman and it was an interesting challenge to nail down a woman’s personality being a male myself. (B) She is very clever and catty and I loved writing how she did things purely to deceive everyone around her and fit in. For example, she is typically a vegetarian but because she was the only female accepted in the competition she ate meat with the rest of the men. She is typically very straight and organized but she leaves her room messy to make it appear that she isn’t calculating. I loved it. I will be trying to work her more into the series so I can write more of her perspective.
Can you talk about how you wrote it? Did you do any outlining? Did it take you in any unexpected directions?
My first draft was 35 chapters long and extended past the novel much more than what this covers. In fact, this whole novel was covered in 12 of those 35 chapters. The second draft I expanded those 12 chapters to 25 and it was filled with action, but no characterization. So those 25 chapters went to 50 chapters in the third draft after I filled it in with more characters and good backstory. And then from there it was tightening prose and reducing the “what if” scenarios that all authors should be thinking about.
Before my very last draft I outlined how I wanted to structure the novel because drafts 4 and 5 I had a very concise pattern for the three main characters it would go: Eirek, Hydro, Zain, Eirek, Hydro, Zain, etc. Because of this pattern my story was limited (something my developmental editor pointed out) so I looked at the story, and focused on where I wanted each character to be by each trial and which parts of each trial could be told best by what characters. So now it is all randomized for who goes where.
It did take a few unexpected turns when I was planning on how to make it more suspenseful. For example, I deleted one character’s perspective in the last draft and saved it to be an Epilogue at the end in order to make the rest of the book more suspenseful. Very good advice from my developmental editor.
If you could go back and change anything in the novel, what would it be?
In the third trial there is a weapons’ tournament and I think I would have changed the order of how the contestants face one another. Due to some circumstances before that trial two contestants should have been forced to face each other right away instead of waiting for the final bout to do it. I actually was thinking about doing it this way but that would involve an extensive rewrite and there would be one battle that would be very diluted in terms of conflict since neither character has a problem with one another. So, really, it’s a horse a piece.
How did you come up with the cover?
I had a different cover originally (one with five different planets) but the cover is THE MOST IMPORTANT PART of your book. It is your best piece of marketing. The original cover I had was too busy and categorized my book as a high science-fiction novel—something I didn’t want. I chose to go with a simpler style of one iconic image (that of the wax seal that gets stamped on each letter that goes out to every contestant). The red and gold interplay is very nice and really makes the image “pop” I think. I went about doing this because my original idea was to have the wax seal embossed to add another dimension to the cover, but that process is too expensive for a debut author like myself. But, it does sort of model some of George R.R. Martin covers which are very popular at the moment and even Hunger Games in a sense.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Well, actually, I had an advertising course my freshman year in college, and it stated that in the first 24 hours J.K. Rowling sold 5.6 million copies of her fifth Harry Potter book. Her fifth one! Not even the seventh. If she managed to get a dollar per book in royalties, not even two, that is some serious dough. Although those are pretty high goals to try to achieve, having the ability to wake up, engage yourself in something you love and work from home is fascinating. That, I think, is one of the biggest perks of being a successful author. Although, until that point, you are merely a starving artist working three jobs and trying to find time to write on top of it.
What are you favorite books and authors?
George R.R. Martin is a genius in the series. His books are amazing and the TV show on HBO is very good as well. Patrick Roffuss (Kingkiller Chronicles) is decent, but I found that when I was reading the first book it was kind of contrived. For the first couple that I read (Angels and Demons and The DaVinci Code) Dan Brown was a really good author and I like the way he had short chapters to speed you along the reading process. Very clever. Then, he kind of fell into a routine of having the same sort of plot every single time so I kind of became disinterested with him after that.
What are you working on next?
I am working on the second book in the series right now. I approximately have two-thirds of it done and have a tentative release date for early to mid 2015, so look for it! As far as titles for it go, my original title was going to be Separate Paths. But, I do not think I am doing that anymore. Perhaps The Great Inferno or The Meeting of the Twelve would be a more appropriate title for the second book, but that is still up in the air.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
The most important word that authors can learn is: perseverance. No one writes a perfect copy on their first draft. Writing is not a get rich quick scheme. It is a hard profession, much harder than everyone gives it credit for. Even after you write the book you need to market it and then continue writing the next one. There is no stopping. But, what you need to remember, is to persevere through it all and don’t let the writing process really change you much as a person (like becoming to introverted). That is also a parallel for my book because an adage in my universe goes: The toughest trials test you truest. And although writing a book is tough, you will definitely find out who you are by the end of it; it is one of the best processes of self-discovery out there.