"Writing a book is the art of listening to oneself."-Brad Cameron

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Guest Blogger- Victoria Grefer

My approach to research has been a little bit different than I think most other fiction writers use. I’m a graduate student of Spanish literature—in particular, Spanish literature of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries—and it never ceases to amaze me to look back and see the ways my studies have influenced my fantasy novels and in particular, “The Crimson League.”

There are, of course, the more superficial, linguistic aspects. J.K. Rowling’s magic language in the Harry Potter series is based heavily on Latin. Mine is based on Spanish. I named my protagonist “Kora” after “corazón,” the Spanish word for “heart.” Her home village is Hogarane (“hogar” means “home”), and the capital of Herezoth? That would be “Podrar,” from a conjugation of the verb “poder,” “to be able to.” “Poder” also means “power.”
One influence my studies have had on my fiction—one that I’ve never mentioned in any of my blog posts--is the inspiration the Spanish royal court and its legacy of “privados,” or chief advisers, gave me. These men were nobles with immense power, so much so that in some cases—such as that of King Felipe III and his privado, the Count of Lemos—the privado overshadowed and even controlled him in many instances. A famous Spanish poet and novelist of the seventeenth century, Francisco de Quevedo, even wrote a court play about privados to basically suck up to the privado of King Felipe IV. I would translate the title, “Cómo ha de ser el privado,” as “How a privado should be.”

In this play, Quevedo makes the case that the ideal privado must deny himself all personal luxuries, even the chance to properly grieve the tragic death of his son. He must work tirelessly for the good of the king and his realm, with never a thought for himself, his reputation, and his own advancement. I wrote a paper for one of my classes about this play, analyzing two contrasting interpretations of the privado character. It was not until much later that I realized how much the story, and the historical relationship of King Felipe IV and his privado, the Count-Duke of Olivares, influenced my Herezoth trilogy.

First, in “The Crimson League,” I wrote two characters—members of the titular resistance group—who are displaced members of the nobility. These men are great friends. Neslan, the lesser noble, is a scholar and offers much advice and emotional support to Lanokas, the greater noble. He defends Lanokas’s ideas and aspirations to their comrades in arms. Basically, Neslan fulfills the role of the privado.

While I read “Como ha de ser el privado” after finishing a first draft of “The Crimson League,” its effects on my thinking as a novelist are really visible In the later books of the Herezoth trilogy, when a king returns to the throne and a clearer vision of Herezoth’s court emerges. There is always a Chief Adviser playing a supremely important role at the side of the crown.
Of course, things aren’t an exact copy from historical Spain. The sorcerer-dictator in “The Crimson League” has a wife who was born into a family of war-strategists so renowned they earned titles of nobility in previous generations. He named her the captain of his elite guard. No woman would ever have served a military post in seventeenth century Spain. Heck, men were writing plays back then debating whether it was sensible or stupid to give women a classical education. Another important deviation is the prevalence of technology in Herezoth to print newsletters for the nobles and those literate in the population; this was was not as common in the Spain that I study. That said, there is no doubt in my mind that my studies of Hapsburg Spain have had an immense impact on the structure of Herezoth’s government and the relationship between the royal family and its nobles as I crafted it.

I’m currently in the process of taking a leave of absence from my program to find a job. I don’t know that I’ll finish out to get that doctorate, so it’s great to be able to consider how my studies all these years have contributed to and shaped my true passion: my fiction. Whether or not I walk out with that degree, I know my time in graduate school was no waste!

I want to thank Victoria for her participation in what I hope will be a weekly occurrence- guest blogging.  To learn more about Victoria and her writings check out her links below:
twitter handle: @vgrefer
Also, don't forget to write your review for Odin's Light by December 1st to be eligible to win signed copies of both Book One and Book Two of The Zeke Proper Chronicles!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Contest Information!

A BIG thank you to all who downloaded Odin's Light on November 17-18.  There were over 2,000 downloads...AMAZING! But now is the time to read, read, read.

After you finish reading your copy of Odin's Light, please write a review on Amazon about what you thought of the book.  For all who write a review before December 1st, you will be entered into a contest where you can win a signed, paperback copy of Odin's Light as well as Book Two of the Zeke Proper Chronicles, The Serpent's Ship. I love hearing feedback from my fans. 

If you loved Odin's Light, don't forget to get your copy of The Serpent's Ship, also available on Amazon as well as Barnes and Noble.

Check back for the announcement of the winner on December 1st and don't forget to check out my website www.bradcameron.net, "like" The Zeke Proper Chronicles on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter @camgang817.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Binding of Fenrir

I find it difficult to ignore the fact that so many myths from so many different cultures share similar themes. One in particular is the idea that evil can be bound, that it can be literally kept at bay either physically or metaphorically from its continual torment of man. Christian theology tells us that Satan will be bound, that his influence on mankind will be held back for a thousand years. Similarly, in the ancient Norse mythology, we are told that Fenrir, the giant wolf and offspring of Loki would be bound, literally, until the coming of Ragnarok. His role, after his release and during the end of days, is enormous, with far reaching consequences.

The story is told that the gods discovered Loki had fathered three more offspring (their mother being the evil giantess, Angrboda). They were appalled to think that there were three more evil inheritors of the Loki gene running around, shedding misfortune and deceit upon the other nine worlds. And so the gods agreed that Loki’s children must be captured. Bursting into the house of Angrboda in the night, a group of gods kidnapped the children and brought them before Odin. The fate of Loki’s other two children will be the topic of another blog, but for now we focus primarily upon Fenrir, the wolf.

Loki’s other children were hideous to look upon, their fate became immediate, but Fenrir appeared harmless, no different from any other wolf. Odin decreed that they should keep a careful eye on Fenrir, and the gods agreed that Fenrir should be given leave to roam freely among the green and golden fields of Asgard.

But the wolf grew and soon became a great beast.

Odin had been warned by the Norns, the keepers of the well of Urd and tellers of the future, that Fenrir would be the cause of Odin’s death. The gods were alarmed and finally agreed that since they could not kill beast they must catch and fetter him. By no means an easy task.

Fenrir was no idiot. Capturing the wolf would require cunning and trickery. Several of the gods made a chain of iron links and took it to Fenrir asking, “Are you as strong as this?”

Fenrir inspected the chain. “It’s certainly strong, but I am stronger,” he boasted.

The gods wound the chain around Fenrir’s body. “Finished,” the beast snarled. He planted his feet well apart, filled his lungs with air, then flexed every muscle in his body. The links burst apart and the gods sprang back in fright.

The gods lost no time in making another chain, this one twice as strong as the first. “If you can break this chain,” the gods said, “you will be known for your strength throughout the nine worlds.”

The wolf bowed his head, allowing the chain to once again be wrapped around his immense body. He stood up and dug his paws into the ground, straining and straining until a loud crack was heard and the chain lay at his feet, bent and broken.

After this the gods were terrified. They began to consider the fact that they may not be able to bind Fenrir after all.

The All Father, Odin, finally came forward, suggesting that the gods seek the help of the dwarves. Traveling far into the shadowy depths of Svartalfheim, the world of the dark elves, the gods promised the dwarves gold and more gold if they could create a chain strong enough to bind Fenrir. What they created was brought to the realm of Odin, a fetter as smooth and supple as a silk ribbon.

“What is it made of?” Odin asked, fingering the chain.

“Six things,” announced Skirnir, a faithful servant of Freyr. “The sound a cat makes when it moves; a woman’s beard; the roots of a mountain; the sinews of a bear; the breath of a fish; and a bird’s spittle.”

The gods brought the fetter to Fenrir and showed it to him, challenging him once again to test its strength.
Fenrir agreed, but reluctantly, he suspected a trick but did not want to be accused of cowardice. The gods wound the chain round and round the wolf’s neck, body and legs, until it was all used up. Fenrir struggled against it, but the more he strained, the tighter the chain became. Fenrir was finally bound.

The gods drove the beast, still fettered with the dwarves’ chain, a mile down into the earth. Fenrir’s howls were terrible, and slather streamed from his jaws, yet there he waits, bound and gagged until the beginning of Ragnarok, a wonderful story you will see told in my third book of The Zeke Proper Chronicles: The Gates of Asgard.

Odin's Light-FREE on Kindle UPDATE!

With over 1000 downloads on the first day, it is exciting to think about so many people reading Odin's Light.  If you don't have your copy yet, there is still time.  The free kindle copy ends tonight at midnight.

In the meantime, I wanted to write a big thank you to a number of websites that supported Odin's Light by promoting its free kindle days on their blogs, facebook pages, and twitter accounts.  Make sure to check out their websites to return the favor. 


After you download your free copy, don't forget to write a review on Amazon and pick up your copy of Book Two of The Zeke Proper Chronicles, The Serpent's Ship.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Write a Review...Win Some Books!

Odin's Light is free today and tomorrow on Kindle here.  After you download your free copy, I am asking for your help.  All you have to do is read the book and then write a review on Amazon.  Simple. 

Starting today and ending on December 1st, all who write a review will be entered in the giveaway.  The winner will recieve a free, signed copy of Book One, Odin's Light, AND Book Two, The Serpent's Ship. 

Check back for the announcement of the winner on December 1st and don't forget to check out my website www.bradcameron.net, "like" The Zeke Proper Chronicles on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter @camgang817.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Odin's Light-Free Kindle Day

With over 600 downloads last month with the Free Kindle Day for Book One of the Zeke Proper Chronicles, Odin's Light, I had to do it again!  Beginning November 17-18, Odin's Light will be available for FREE...yes, FREE on Kindle. 

After you get your copy, you can enter for a chance to win my giveaway.  It is simple.  Read Odin's Light and then write a review on Amazon.  On December 1st, all new reviews after the November 17th will be eligible to win a signed, paperback copy of Odin's Light as well as Book Two of the Zeke Proper Chronicles, The Serpent's Ship. 

Check back for more information on the giveaway and the announcement of the winner on December 1st and don't forget to check out my website, "like" The Zeke Proper Chronicles on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter @camgang817.