Genres: Epic Fantasy, Fantasy
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Sandrena of the Mist Clan has been chosen for an impossible task: to kill an ancient god bent on consuming the Fourth World. Failure leads to the destruction of mankind. Yet even success could end in true death for Sandrena and her five companions.
Armed only with a magical spear whose power she can't unlock and plagued by memories of a life she never lived, Sandrena must bind her group together if any of them hope to survive.
She must become Spear Mother.
Interview With Author Brandon Lindsay
Can you talk a little about what the book is about?
Sure. Spear Mother is an epic fantasy novella that takes place in the Fourth World, the same setting as my other books, Dark Tree and The Clans. Six women from around the world are called by a demigoddess to band together on a mysterious mission. Only when they have accepted the call and come together do they learn the purpose of their task: to kill a god that wants to destroy all of humanity. This god had once ruled the world, but had been ousted by the god of humans. Now he wants it back.
The leader of this group of women is Sandrena. She has a magic spear, but she has no idea how to use it to kill the god. She is also haunted by memories of someone else’s life, memories of a world that seems impossible to her. Somehow she and her companions must find the key to killing this god before everyone is wiped out.
What makes your book unique?
The first and most obvious difference is the world, which is actually one of seven metaphysically distinct yet connected worlds (hence the name for the series, the Fourth World). In this world, humans are not born, but come into being fully-developed with souls resurrected from one of the other worlds. Each world has a particular purpose or test, which prepares souls for the final world, where the god Berahmain wages the War beyond Time. Success in a given world’s test is the only way to ascend to the next world. Failure means moving back a world. Think of it as Dante’s seven-tiered Divine Comedy mixed with Norse-flavored battle karma, and you more or less have the picture.
The world is so different from our own world that I have to put a lot of effort into ensuring it is self-consistent, which usually happens in the editing process. It’s quite a challenge for me. On the other hand, it does give me a lot of opportunities to write stories that simply aren’t possible in a more conventional setting, so it ends up being worth it.
The other major difference is that Spear Mother is a shorter work with a complete, epic story arc, which seems to be rather rare in epic fantasy. Shorter works in this genre usually narrow their scope of consequence a great deal to match the word count, and as a result they don’t have the same epic feel as their series-length counterparts. They usually feel incomplete to me, and don’t have the same satisfying impact that I expect from epic fantasy. Spear Mother, as well as many of the other stories in the Fourth World, was my own remedy for this bleak situation. I want to turn my story’s world upside-down in as few pages as possible.
Where did you get the idea for the book?
It’s difficult to pinpoint where I get ideas, though I’ve found that usually I get struck by an image or a feeling from some other work. Sometimes these images come from other books, sometimes from music, and sometimes from a movie or TV show.
I can say where I got the tone of Spear Mother from, and that is the anime Elfen Lied. I remember getting my heart ripped out and stomped on by that one and thinking, “Hey! I want to stomp on hearts, too!” So I decided that’s what I would do with my next story, which happened to be Spear Mother. (disclaimer: no hearts get literally ripped out in my story, though they do in Elfen Lied)
Is there any message you want readers to get from reading the book?
While I sometimes try to convey a rather concrete theme through my books, Spear Mother was more about invoking certain emotions than any agenda. No subliminal messages this time.
How long did it take to write the book?
It took only three days to get from conception to completion of the first draft. The editing process took quite a bit longer since other people had to help me with that.
Who is your favorite character, or what character was the most fun to write?
Sandrena is by far my favorite. Thinking about her still makes my heart hurt… which is all I ever wanted from any of my characters.
Can you talk about how you wrote it? Did you do any outlining? Did it take you in any unexpected directions?
Sometimes I outline, but this story was pure binge writing. I had to do some world-building for this story, but since it takes place in the Fourth World, the same world as my other stories, a lot of this work was already done. Other than that, I only started with a few rough concepts and a mission: create my most emotionally intense and satisfying story yet.
If you could go back and change anything in the novel, what would it be?
Quite a bit of time passed between the first draft and publication, so pretty much all of the changes I wanted to make were already made. I’m pleased with the result.
How did you come up with the cover?
I used the same template for Spear Mother as I did my other books, since I wanted to retain a visual theme across all Fourth World works. However, I made one significant change. The central graphic on the other books’ covers were fairly abstract, but for Spear Mother I used a giant eye instead, since this reflects a moment central to the story. I like the change. It’s quite creepy when taken in context.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I was in elementary school when, inspired by Michael Stackpole, I tried my hand at a BattleTech novel. It ended up as a few pages of terrible handwritten drivel on yellow legal paper. I’m not sure where those pages are now; probably in a landfill where they belong. I took up the craft again in high school when I began writing what I knew was going to be a game script for the first true Final Fantasy-killer (back before Final Fantasy started killing itself). Finishing the first draft of that script was one of the most emotionally satisfying moments in my life, though I soon learned that the chance of my game actually getting made was a firm zero percent. Then when researching careers in game writing, I found that writing short stories and novels were probably the more sensible option for a writing career. And after I started reading fantasy novels, I realized that this was what I wanted to do with my life.
What was the first story that you ever wrote?
I consider the game I mentioned as my first serious story. It was a far-future dystopian time travel story called Paradigm. Midgar from Final Fantasy VII was the inspiration for the setting. I wanted to do something similar to Final Fantasy, but do it entirely in a science-fiction context, since I was a sci-fi snob before I was ever a fantasy snob.
What is your favorite genre, and why?
Epic fantasy, by a long shot. Fantasy, because I have the heart of an explorer and love seeing new worlds. Epics, because they are often broader in their scope of consequence. Seeing chains of causality spanning continents as well as centuries is intellectually satisfying to me.
Growing up I always read sci-fi, particularly space operas and dystopian works. I will always have a soft spot for those, though I don’t read them too often nowadays.
Are there any books you are absolutely inspired by?
There are a few series that made me who I am today and they are: the Wheel of Time, by Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson; the Sword of Truth, by Terry Goodkind; the Malazan Book of the Fallen, by Steven Erikson; and the Stormlight Archive, also by Brandon Sanderson. Without these, I probably would never have been interested in fantasy or writing novels. My life would be very different now if I hadn’t discovered them, though I imagine I would still be a writer in some fashion.
What are you working on next?
I’m currently working on another fantasy series. I don’t have an official title for it yet, but I’m tentatively calling the first book The Fall of the Moon. It has a lot of magic, but otherwise the world-building is much more conventional than the Fourth World. This gives me the opportunity to focus more on character and plot than the metaphysical implications of memory after cross-world resurrection (as interesting as that is). It is also different in that the cast of characters remains consistent throughout the series, providing a stronger point of connection for the reader. The main theme of this series is one that we’ve seen before, but given the state of our world, it is one I believe we haven’t seen nearly enough of: hope.
I will definitely return to the Fourth World in the near future. I have quite a bit of material yearning to be used, including a sizable chunk of the first novel in a trilogy that will resolve all of the major conflicts in the series.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
There’s a lot of good advice floating around out there, but I think one piece of advice is particularly important: be genuine. Readers may want a story, but they don’t want to be lied to. Write what you really want to write about, and write the story you wish was in the world already but isn’t. I would temper this by saying this is only half of our job as writer; the other half is to write in a way that our readers can relate to. I believe that the best writers have intimate yet universal conversations with their readers. This is what I strive to achieve in my own writing.