Renee Writes

Fellowship of Fantasy Writers Blog Tour – V.M. Sang

Today is day 13 of the tour, and I’ve got another character interview for you from V.M. Sang. Here’s what she has to say about her life and her writing:

vivpicI can remember writing a story about a dog when I was quite small. I know I was small because I spelled ‘of’ as ‘ov’ all the way through. I can’t actually remember how old I was though.

Later, at school, I enjoyed writing stories. If we were given an essay that was mainly descriptive, I did not enjoy it nearly as much. I remember that I once wrote a story of 20 pages in my exercise book. I enjoyed doing it. I have no idea how my teacher enjoyed marking it, though! I remember that I got a good mark for it.

Later, in my teens. I wrote a ‘book’. It was a romantic story about a group of girls going on holiday to Italy and meeting a group of Italian boys and some English boys. It all ended tragically though, as the main Italian boy was killed in a car crash when visiting his English girlfriend.

Reading has always been a passion of mine. My mother used to say that you could forget about talking to me if I had my head in a book. Story telling seemed to follow this quite naturally. I told myself stories all the time, but only myself. I think this changed when I started playing Dungeons and Dragons, but here I am getting ahead of myself.

I trained as a teacher in Manchester, and while on my second teaching practice, which was in a junior school in Irlam, just outside Manchester, I was teaching a class of 9 year olds. At the end of one lesson, a boy, with the wonderful name of Fred Spittal, came up to me with a book in his hand.

‘Have you ever read this, Miss?’ he asked.

I replied that I hadn’t. The book in question was one of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

‘Well.’ said Fred. ‘you should. It’s very good, but you ought to read The Hobbit first as it sets the scene for these books.’

A few weeks later I was in the college library and I saw The Hobbit on the shelf. Of course. I got it out and was immediately hooked. I read the Lord of the Rings trilogy, then the C.S.Lewis books. There was little else in fantasy at that time though.

Many years later, I was teaching at a secondary school in Croydon, London, when a couple of my colleagues started talking about Dungeons and Dragons. I said I’d always wanted to play and so they suggested I join them in a game with several other members of staff. We played each lunchtime until they both left the school and then I became the DM and started a club for the pupils. It was during this time that I created a scenario that I called The Hunt for Sauvern’s Sword. During this time I also discovered the Dragonlance Chronicles, which I also enjoyed tremendously. I would also recommend Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time and Brandon Sanderson’s Mistwraith books. There are so many fantasy writers who have influenced me. Robin Hobb, Marian Zimmer Bradley, Terry Pratchett, Terry Brooks, Susan Cooper, Stephen Donaldson, David Eddings to mention just a few.

During the summer one year I decided to turn this scenario into a book. There was no thought of putting it into print at this time, though. I wrote during the holidays between exam marking and lesson planning. When I retired I found t he time to finish it.

I don’t think that many of my players would recognise it now. though. When writing it, it took on a life of its own, and the characters had quite a lot to say in its development. I am sure that any authors reading this will understand what I mean. Perhaps non-authors will wonder about it. Characters can suddenly say or do something that you had not planned. This certainly happened a number of times, especially a revelation made by my young thief! I believe that Tolkein had no intention of putting Boromir’s brother in The Lord of the Rings, but he ‘came wandering out of the forest of  Illian.’

What was intended to be a single book has now morphed into several under the title of The Wolves of Vimar. As yet I don’t know exactly how many books there will be. The first two (The Wolf Pack and The Never-Dying Man.) are available from www.Amazon.com/ and www.amazon.co.uk/ and other amazon websites. The third will be published, I hope, early next year. I am also working on a novel based in Roman Britain and I have a recipe book in print too.

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vivwolfpackcoverThe Wolves of Vimar
Book 1
The Wolf Pack

Carthinal is a half-elf apprentice mage looking forward to taking his tests to end his apprenticeship when he finds a mysterious prophecy in an old book.

On the way to Hambara to take these tests the caravan that he is travelling with is swept away by an unseasonal flood on the ford across the river Brundella. Only Carthinal, his master, Mabryl and a young elven cleric manage to get to the far bank, but Mabryl is seriously hurt and the elf, called Asphodel, is inexperienced in healing and can do little for him.

Using a travois that Carthinal built, the three set off to try to reach Hambara in order to get help for Mabryl at the temple of Sylissa, but unfortunately the mage dies en route.

The pair meet with a dwarf, Basalt, and a ranger, Fero, on the way and the three of them arrive in Hambara, but not without trouble on the way.

Meanwhile, a young Horselord couple have eloped from over the Western Mountains and have come to Hambara to find work. They meet up with the four travellers and the group is given the task of finding a long lost magical sword that belonged to the legendary king, Sauvern.

Carthinal takes his tests and passes them with flying colours, but Asphodel falls foul of the Great Father, leader of the temple of Sylissa in Hambara, and is expelled. The friends decide to accept the quest and begin to do research.

The quest leads them to almost certain death in the snows of the mountains and they find help in the most unexpected places. They find the sword, defeat its guardians and set off home. But they cannot return the way they came and so must travel through the land of Erian. They are captured, but manage to escape with unusual help.

On returning to Hambara they have some surprises waiting for them.

They meet with tragedy and love in equal measure and all face their worst fears None of t hem returns unchanged.

Buy the Books

The Wolf Pack (Book One)
The Never-Dying Man (Book Two)

Now for an Interview with Carthinal from The Wolves of Vimar series:

Where were you born?

In Bluehaven on the Middle Sea.

What was you childhood like? Was it happy?

At first it was very happy, but later, not so.

Please elaborate.

My father was an elf from Rindissarillishon. He came to Bluehaven on a diplomatic mission. As you will know, Bluehaven is the port where people leave to go to Asperilla, the capital, on Holy Isle. My mother met him when my grandfather arranged for a banquet in honour of the guests. My grandfather was the president of  the Merchant’s guild. They fell in love, and despite opposition from my grandparents, due to the different life expectancy, they married.

After a few years they had me. We were well off and had a large house close to my mother’s parents. Both my parents doted on me, as did my grandparents too. My mother was an only child, you see, and since elves have few children they did not expect more.

I had a nanny but my mother was always there whenever she could be, as was my father. They took me out with them whenever possible too.

It sounds ideal. What went wrong? You said  that later it was not so happy.

His face fell:  It was the War of Succession. Do you know about that?

No.

Well. The sister of the elflord had had twin boys. The succession in the elves went to the eldest boy of the sister of the elflord, or nearest other female relative if he had no sister. When the Elflord died, both boys claimed the throne saying that he was the elder. A war broke out between them and my father insisted that he go to fight for the actual elder boy. My mother was upset, and tried to persuade him not to go, but he insisted he do his duty. It was the first time I ever heard them quarrel.

What happened then?

My father was killed. Right at the very end it seems. I was very little and don’t remember much detail. My mother was distraught. She returned to her parents’ house and locked herself in her room. Eventually she killed herself. I was not told this, of course, but I deduced it when I got older.

Here he paused and looked into the distance before once more coming back to the present. I allowed him a few minutes to gather himself.

Did you continue to live with you grandparents?

Yes. They looked after me for the next few years then, but they were old and first my grandmother and then my grandfather died. I was still very young. They had left the house to me, and the money got from selling my parents’ house, and they arranged for my nanny to continue to look after me. She did her best, but she couldn’t replace those I had lost.

I am sorry for your loss, Carthinal.

Thank you. It would seem that in spite of everything I was still in a privileged position. I had money and a home, and people to look after me, but those people cheated me.

He beat his fist onto the table and an angry look clouded his indigo eyes.

Please continue.

Somehow the steward and the lawyers managed to gain my property and money. They then turned me out into the street. I was only a little kid, about ten years old. I didn’t know what to do. I wandered about, slept in doorways and stole to eat. One day a girl came up to me and took me to a person she called the leader of her gang. He would not be happy with me stealing on his patch, she told me, and so I joined the gang.

I am not proud of that time of my life. I fought other gangs, stole and maybe even killed during those fights, I don’t know, but it was do that or die. The gangs were ruthless. I even became the leader eventually, and may have ended up on the hangman’s rope.

What changed it?

It was a travelling magician. I now know that he was only very low level, probably a failed apprentice, but to me he was wonderful. I watched him time and time again and began to copy his words and actions when I was alone. One day an archmage called Mabryl saw me. I’d just managed to bring a little flame on my finger; a feat most unusual for one untrained. Mabryl approached me and I thought he was going to arrest me. He asked me to come to his house. I’m afraid that I swore and spat at him. He approached me several times to no avail, then told me that his door was always open for when I decided to learn magic properly.

How long did that take?

Several months. I approached a number of times but lost my nerve, but when I did, Mabryl welcomed me with open arms.

Why did you eventually take up his offer?

I thought that magic would give me more power in the gangs. Perhaps I could become the overall leader of the thieves, but Mabryl changed that. I was difficult. Wild and undisciplined. I gave him a lot of trouble, but he was patient and persevered and eventually I became what he wanted and, as they say, the rest is history.

To see who posted about me today, visit the Events page and don’t forget to enter the Giveaway. There are many great prizes to be won!

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