Series: The Way to Freedom #1
Published by CreateSpace Publishing on 12-13-2013
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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Kalena awakes one morning to find her world changed forever.... The Imperium Provosts of the Great Suene Empire have come to take Kalena away from her family and friends. All because she is Second Born. The Second Born Rule declares that all second born children above the age of five become indentured to the Empire for a period of thirty years to serve wherever the Empire sees fit. After the thirty-year period, the Kalarthri (as the indentured are called), are then pensioned into retirement by the Empire. Kalena is different in that she has a special gift that is much sort out by the Imperium Provosts. Her mind has the ability to accept the special ‘living’ crystal that is implanted into her head to enable her to partner a Hatar’le’margarten (Hatar) in the Military Flight Corps. Kalarthri who are in the Flight Corps are indentured for life. Taken to Darkon, Kalena is paired with one of the giant, feathered Hatar'le'margarten. But when Kalena accidentally injures one of her Wingmates, there is a race against time to find the one man who can help them. And Kalena and her New Hatar Partner, Adhamh, are determined that they will be the ones to find him.
Interview with Author H.M. Clarke
Can you talk a little about what the book is about?
It is the story of a young girl, Kalena, who is taken from her family and put in service to the state due to an old law and cultural tradition. We follow her as she learns about her new way of life and meet her new friends. We also follow her through her mistakes, one of which could injure one of her new friends for life. Instead of waiting for a healer that might come too late, Kalena and her new friend Kral decide to go out in search of one themselves. During their search for a healer they uncover intrigue, plots and other adventures.
This is the first in a Series that I have written most of the books for that follow Kalena’s trial and tribulations on her journey to meet the destiny that has been fated for her.
Where did you get the idea for the book?
One day over a decade ago, I was sitting in the garden and had an image come into my head of a young girl carrying a ragdoll around with her. And when a few months later I sat down to write a story, I decided to use her as the main character. It sort of evolved from there.
What message do you want readers to get from reading the book?
The main message I hope people come away with from this series is that it doesn’t matter what your name is, what you look like, or what you think you should be. What does matter is what you actually do – both in the moment, and during your lifetime. Actions always speak louder than words.
How long did it take to write the book?
This book in reality took around 2 years to write. That is because I wrote most of the books in the ‘Way to Freedom’ series in one giant spurt. I wrote it in one massive volume, which was way too big for anyone to want to read (unless they wanted to improve the muscle tone on their arms). So I am splitting it up into more easily readable sections that can be carried around in a bag or backpack.
Who is your favorite character, or what character was the most fun to write?
Kalena did get all the attention and she is both a fun and annoying character to write. But the scenes with Gwidion and Ben were amusing and writing about the Hatar’le’margarten eating habits…well, I wouldn’t want to see that – eww.
Can you talk about how you wrote it? Did you do any outlining? Did it take you in any unexpected directions?
I do create an outline for my books – a rough outline anyway….well maybe more a guideline for where I want it to go. This is because (as is always the case), my characters like to run in all different directions, and really don’t like it when I try and lead them where I want them to go. In fact they rebel, or throw a hissy fit, and then storm off in the opposite direction to where I need them to be. Their way usually works out better, but I don’t tell them that…..
I always write my first drafts long hand. It’s easier for me that way to get my ideas on paper and to keep my sentence flow going. When I start the edit drafts, I type it up as I correct and change it. My thoughts seem to fly better with a pen rather than with keystrokes.
If you could go back and change anything in the novel, what would it be?
If I had to change anything, then it would probably be the ending – or more precisely the last three paragraphs. You will have to read the book to see why. If anyone does think they know why, then send me a message or comment via my website – http://hmclarke.wordpress.com/
How did you come up with the cover?
The cover of The Kalarthri is of a Hatar’le’margarten….a picture that I made myself. I like it, but it is not quite how I see them. For the next book I am going to get someone more proficient than me to create the cover art.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always been a writer. Even before I went to school, I used to fill up notebooks by writing the letter H continuously (it was the only letter I knew how to draw), and then pretend to read any story I wanted from it.
What was the first story that you ever wrote?
The first story I ever wrote was for my primary school library. It was a story about Lassie rescuing some sheep. It was completely made and illustrated by myself and I still have it in a box somewhere in Australia.
What are you favorite books and authors?
My favourite authors would be much easier to list. I love Harry Potter – so JK Rowling. I like anything by Stephen Donaldson and Anne McCaffrey. I also like the work of Sean Williams, Sara Douglass, Fiona MacIntosh, Trudi Canavan, Jennifer Fallon, Greg Bear and Joel Shepherd. Hmmm – these are all Sci Fi and Fantasy stuff. Other Genre Authors I like to read are Louis L’Amour , Ellis Peters, Alison Weir, John Birmingham and Matthew Riley.
What are you working on next?
I am currently working on a project called ‘Howling Vengeance’ which is a murder mystery set in the American west with a supernatural theme. I have finished the first draft and am about to start the revision process. This book is due for release in mid-May. ‘Howling Vengeance’ is aimed at a YA to adult audience. The next ‘Way to Freedom’ book will be out mid-July.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
The only real advice I can give is to write. And to read. Both are essential to making a career as an author. Also gaining life experience can benefit your writing as it can help characters and situations be more believable to the reader.
How do you juggle writing with family time?
It is hard trying to juggle a full-time job along with writing. Then on top of that you have to spend time with your family so they still know what you look like and how you sound. You do need to have very good time management skills and also be flexible in your schedule.
We eat together every night as a family, and then I write while everyone is in bed. Then we pack most of the weekend with family outings and activities. I do get sleep, though it’s mostly on the weekends.
Win one of four signed print copies of The Kalarthri. Giveaway dates: Jan 2-Mar 6, 2014 – The giveaway is restricted to the US, UK, Canada and Australia. Enter at Goodreads.
“Wing Lieutenant. Where do you think you are going with that girl?” the Captain’s voice was hard and emotionless and Kalena moved closer to Gwidion. She did not like this man.
Gwidion snapped his feet together and made the Captain a small bow. “We are heading for the Mess Hall Sir.”
The Captain stared at them a long moment.
“Has she been tested yet?” he suddenly asked.
“No Sir. Not properly.”
“Do you think it wise to let her near other Hatar Kalar until you are sure she cannot hear them?”
Kalena felt the hand on her shoulder stiffen. She clung tighter to the Wing Lieutenant.
“Test her for me now Kalar.”
“What? She has only just undergone the Krytal.”
“Talk to your beast now and let us see if she can hear you!” The Captain said leaving no room for argument.
Gwidion opened his mouth to say more but thought better of it.
He looked down at Kalena and she could not help but smile up at him.
“Kalena, I’m about to talk in mind voice. If you can hear me can you repeat it for the Captain.”
Kalena nodded as Adhamh’s voice flooded through her head.
‘Remember. Pretend you do not hear them.’
‘I remember Adhamh.’
Gwidion eyes remained on her but they suddenly unfocused and Kalena heard the familiar whisperings in her mind.
‘Kalena, if you can hear this tell the Captain that he is a fart faced maggot off of a horses rear that needs-‘
‘Gwidion! Be respectful.’ A female voice said sternly.
‘Sorry Jolar but he is.’
Kalena tried not to show any reaction on her face. If she had said what Gwidion had said her father would have washed her mouth out with lye soap.
The Captain’s voice cut through Gwidion’s mental chatter. Kalena shrank back behind Gwidion.
“Kalena, did you hear anything? I did not hear you repeat my words.”
Suddenly she felt her arm gripped by fingers of iron and yanked forward and Kalena found herself face to face with the Captain. His thoughts were jumbled and confused but full of anger and fear. Kalena immediately blocked them from her mind.
“Answer the lieutenant Kalar.”
Tears started to trickle down her cheeks and Kalena tried to stop herself from blubbering. Dimly a roar was heard from outside and she heard Gwidion talking urgently with the Captain.
“-you are upsetting her and her new Hatar partner. He feels her fear through the link.’
The Captain seemed not to hear the Lieutenant’s words.
“Did you hear him?”
Kalena shook her head; her voice did not want to work.
Suddenly the Captain backhanded her across the face. She would have collapsed if not for the Captain’s iron grip on her arm. Her face stung like fire and she felt Gwidion shift behind her.
“Answer me in an appropriate manner, Kalar”
“Damaging State property is not setting a good example to the men Captain Jerant.”
The Captain released his grip and spun around in surprise. The two infantrymen immediately turned and smartly saluted. Kalena jumped back to Gwidion’s side and she felt him place a protective hand on her shoulder as he guided her back behind him.
“Provost Marshall Brock,” the Captain stammered.
The Provost Marshall’s eyes flicked across everyone present in the hallway, lingering longest on the red mark that now rose across Kalena’s face.
“I think you need to come to my office and explain your actions to me Captain. You know there is a ban on children undergoing the Krytal.”
The Provost Marshall then swept past them and continued along the corridor without waiting to see if his request would be followed. Captain Jerant stood a moment glaring hard at both Kalena and Gwidion before turning swiftly to follow the Provost Marshall.