Series: The Merlin Chronicles #1
Published by GMTA Publishing on 9-25-2013
In Revelations, the first book of The Merlin Chronicles, archeology student Jason Carpenter discovers a mysterious orb that has housed history's greatest wizard for 1,600 years. Forced into an uneasy alliance, Jason and Merlin are sucked into a web of deceit, intrigue, and murder in a race to outwit and outrun Merlin’s ancient nemesis, the evil sorceress Morgana LaFay, a gang of drug smugglers, and a 500-year-old Chinese necromancer. It’s a race against time to complete their quest before an army of dragons is unleashed on a vulnerable and unsuspecting 21st century world.
Interview With Daniel Diehl
Can you talk a little about what the book is about?
Merlin the magician only exists in myth and legend – at least that is what archaeology student Jason Carpenter thought until he discovered the mysterious orb that had housed history’s greatest wizard for 1,600 years.
Forced into an uneasy alliance, Jason and Merlin are sucked into a web of deceit, intrigue and murder sending them on a chaotic race to outwit, and out run, Merlin’s ancient nemesis, the evil sorceress Morgana La Fay; a gang of drug smugglers and a 500-year-old Chinese necromancer. It is a race against time to complete their quest before an army of dragons is unleashed on a vulnerable and unsuspecting 21st century world.
Revelations: book one of The Merlin Chronicles is an adventurous blend of Arthurian legend, biblical prophecy, classic wizard fantasy and contemporary urban fantasy to create a world exactly like ours – except that Merlin and the age of magic return full-blast to battle ancient evils and save civilization.
What makes your book unique?
While Merlin – or Merlin clones like Gandalf and a dozen, dozen other Merlin-like wizards – is hardly unique what makes Revelations: book one of The Merlin Chronicles so different is the fact that it brings the age of myth and magic into the very real, modern world. By thrusting an Arthurian character into today’s world I set up two distinct dynamics; first, how does a 1,600 year old wizard deal with the modern world and, second, how does the modern world deal with Merlin?
Where did you get the idea for the book?
Curiously, I had no intention of writing a novel as I was busy with my non-fiction writing when the idea for Revelations: book one of The Merlin Chronicles came to me. And when I say “came to me” I mean that the dog and I were walking through the woods when the entire first third of the book came to me in a single flash. I know how odd this sounds – and it has certainly never happened to me before nor since – but that is the way it happened.
Is there any message you want readers to get from reading the book?
Messages are for non-fiction. Fiction should be written, and read, merely for the sheer escapist joy of the experience. The more disconnected from the mundane, and often frightening, realities of our daily lives the story it, the more pleasure it is likely to bring to the reader.
How long did it take to write the book?
As this was my first novel, and I was concurrently working on numerous television documentary scripts and non-fiction books, it took me nearly five years to complete the work. Subsequent novels – including the next installment on the trilogy, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice will be released May 21, 2014 – have taken notably less time. Practice may not make perfect but it certainly makes you better.
Who is your favorite character, or what character was the most fun to write?
Boy, that is a tough one. Getting to know Merlin was an absolutely wonderful experience. He is a trickster, a bit of a liar and he likes his booze, but deep down he is a very good, kind man who has survived an unimaginably hard life. On the other hand writing the character of Morgana le Fay was an absolute hoot. She is pure, dripping evil and is a completely over-the-top baddie. Critics, reviewers and readers have all loved her.
Can you talk about how you wrote it? Did you do any outlining? Did it take you in any unexpected directions?
As a longtime non-fiction writer I was already accustomed to doing huge amounts of research and copious outlining for all of my previous books. When I began writing novels I stuck with a process I was familiar and comfortable with. The vast majority of the locations used in Revelations: book one of The Merlin Chronicles actually exist and were heavily researched. As I mentioned, the first third of the book came to my pretty well formed, but I had to outline the remainder of the story in such a way that it progressed from the end of the part I already had and took the story along a logical path to the ending that I wanted and which would make a logical place to pick up the second volume in the trilogy.
If you could go back and change anything in the novel, what would it be?
One of my characters was under-used. She had more potential than I at first realized and since Revelations is kind of a buddy story centering on Merlin and his modern-world protégé, Jason Carpenter, she was inadvertently left without a sufficient part in the overall plot. Not to worry, in volume two of the trilogy she makes sure that Jason and Merlin know exactly how unhappy she is at being left out of their adventures and becomes a central character to the development of the rest of the story.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I’m not sure I did. I think it just happened, somehow.
What was the first story that you ever wrote?
Actually the first story I wrote wasn’t a story at all. Back in the early 1980s I had a business that restored Victorian era houses and I wrote a series of articles on restoration and 19th century design for The Old House Journal. Over the next decade and a half I continued to write articles as a sideline and it wasn’t until 1995 that I wrote my first book – but that was non-fiction as were my next 20 titles. Fiction is still new and fresh for me and I love the freedom you have to invent alternative realities.
What is your favorite genre, and why?
Here again, I think this is two different questions. My favorite genre as a reader is horror; not gory slasher horror but the kind where the slimy thing crawls up out of a sewer and forces a group of plucky kids to confront it. But my mind simply doesn’t work in a way that would allow me to write horror. Consequently my favorite genre as a writer is definitely fantasy; the ability to take the real world, twist it out of shape and rework it into something completely unexpected is a huge amount of fun.
What are you working on next?
The second installment in the Merlin trilogy is being released on May 21 so for the past few months I have been diligently working on the third installment. So far, all I can guarantee is that the second book – The Sorcerer’s Apprentice – takes some very unexpected directions and the third book is way stranger than anything a reader could possibly imagine from the first two books. But I think that is what good writing should be about; taking the reader down new, strange and completely unexpected pathways.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
The world of publishing is an entirely different place than it was when I first went into writing fulltime in the mid-1990s. Then, with a bit of talent and a lot of drive, you could earn a decent living as a writer. Now, my best advice is: don’t give up your day job and be prepared to devote 70 percent of your time to acting as your own publicist, and doing so for pretty meager returns.