Tag Archives: Fantasy

Interview: Poppy Reid

11853927_1654184644868390_889607995_nThis week, I had the pleasure to interview Poppy Reid. Despite us sharing a last name, I had never met Poppy before I joined twitter last year. She’s a great, supportive author and helped me out a lot by editing my short stories. She also wrote a really great fantasy book The Blood of the Fallen

First, let’s get to know Poppy with some fun, quirky questions!

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three books would you want with you.

I assume you mean books I’d want to read, as opposed to huge tomes I can use to make a fire or island survival guides. I’d probably take ‘Outcast’ by Josephine Cox because I love the drama and romance. Another drama I love is Flowers in the Attic by Virginia Andrews. After those two I’d probably be thoroughly depressed so I’d have a fun book as a pick-me-up – probably “Is it just me?” by Miranda Hart. It’s more of a biography than a novel, but it’s so funny!

Yeah, the last thing you’d want is to be depressed while stranded on a desert island!

What animal best describes your personality?

I’ve never heard that question before! I suppose I’d say a squirrel, because they hide their food to prepare for winter. I’m fairly decent at planning ahead.

If there was one place in the world you’d love to visit, where would it be?

There are hundreds of places I want to go. Right now my dream is to travel the world. I’d love to visit New Zealand one day – go kayaking, skydiving and hiking on the gorgeous islands.

New Zealand is a beautiful place!

Are you a cat or dog person?

Definitely a dog person. I used to be scared of dogs as a kid but I love them now, I can’t see one without squealing and wanting to pet it.

Right!

If you could have a dinner with one historical person, who would it be?

Probably Martin Luther King. He was a great inspiration to many.

Now that we got the fun questions out of the way, let’s get down to the brass tacks!

Besides writing, what are you passionate about?

Travelling. It’s my dream to travel the whole world, working, earning and writing as I go. I might start next year!

Good luck with that! I could never do that, I would get too stressed about the details!

 What drew you to the craft of writing?

I’ve been writing since I was a little kid. If it rained when I was at school and we couldn’t play outside, I’d be curled up in a corner writing a story. When I got my first computer (a huge, heavy old thing without internet that used to belong to my mum), I’d sit in my room for hours and hours working on the Fire Princess series (which unfortunately got lost after we moved house). I’ve always written, and always enjoyed it.

When writing a novel, are you a detailed planer or do you fly by the seats of your pants?

I have pages and pages of notes, comments and highlights on my computer. Sometimes I come across an ancient version of a book I’d written and laugh at the old – and sometimes terrible – ideas I’ve had. I don’t plan every little detail but the basic story, notes on characters and a timeline is on a separate document as a reference.

I have a hard drive full of stuff I wrote back in the late nineties when I was in high school. It’s dreadfully hilarious.

Your novel Blood of the Fallen is a sword-and-sorcery Fantasy. What is your favorite part about writing Fantasy?

I absolutely adore fantasy. It’s completely limitless. You can create an entirely new universe with its own rules, its own hierarchy, its own laws. You can control the magical elements, the weaponry, the creatures and the people. Fantasy is definitely my favourite genre for those reasons.

I think we’re on the same page!

Inspiration is such a fascinating phenomenon. Where did the inspiration for the Blood of the Fallen come from?

I’ve always been kind of a hopeless romantic, enjoying romantic books and movies. I always wanted to create something like that but didn’t fancy focusing on just a romance book. Since I love fantasy, I created the world of Theldiniya and developed the relationship between two people whose love could never be accepted by others – something I experienced when I was younger, and wanted to incorporate into my first book.

What has been the biggest obstacle you faced when you self-published your novel Blood of the Fallen?

Formatting! I didn’t enjoy having to sort out the front cover, page numbers, page size, etc. It was a massive pain in the butt.

Oh, yes. The joy of formatting. I’ve only had to do shorts, I can only imagine an entire novel.

I understand you are living abroad in Japan. What is it like to live and work in a foreign country?

If you enjoy being considered exotic, working in Japan is a lot of fun, if a little challenging at times. Once you’re over the homesickness and craving your country’s food (it took six months to stop fantasizing over sausage rolls) you start to get used to it and really feel at home. Japan is a great country in many ways – it’s safe, clean, the people are polite and it’s an entirely different culture. I did get a little culture shock when going back to England for a week, though – I forgot to tip the taxi driver (tipping isn’t done in Japan) and felt really bad about it afterwards.

I’ve always wanted to return to Japan, well Okinawa. I was there at a really young age, too young to remember it outside of my parent’s home videos.

Last, do you have any advice for a new or aspiring author?

First of all – write every day! Even if it’s nothing to do with a project you’re working on. Read a lot, especially friends’ and acquaintances’ work. Enjoy what you do – don’t think of it just as a way to make extra money. Get people to read your work and take criticism well. I actually wrote a small piece on being a writer on my blog which answers this question. Click here to check out Poppy’s Article!

Yes. Learning to take criticism is important. We are usually blind to the faults in our work until someone points them out.

Now that we’ve gotten to know Poppy a little bit, let’s check out an excerpt from her novel, Blood of the Fallen.

A1c9ZO68mEL._SL1500_Theldiniya has been torn apart by two hundred gruelling years of war, both sides forsaken by their ancient gods. One last desperate strike by the Tyrans has prophesised doom for their people, yet, undeterred by the Seer’s cataclysmic predictions, a clan of Tyran warriors have moved east to attack a small Elven village. The Seer turns to Villid, his last true friend, in hopes that he will help protect the Elf Seer and save the Tyran people. When Villid is framed for a crime he didn’t commit he finds an unexpected ally in Aya, an Elf girl, forcing them to rely on each other to survive. In such turbulent times an unlikely friendship is formed between those who once would have been enemies…

You like that one?” Shade suddenly hissed. “The one in green? You want her, do you, Tyran?”

Villid didn’t respond. He glanced round. The Tyrans had now completely surrounded the square, well-hidden in the shadows, waiting for the order to attack. Here and there he thought he saw the hilt of a sword, or a movement from one of the soldiers. The Elves round the tables, however, were oblivious to their hunters. Villid could see women and children sitting, eating, clapping and smiling at the beautiful dancers in the middle. He didn’t like this at all. Battles and arenas were one thing, but the slaughtering of the innocent?

The music had reached its climax and was starting to slow down, and then the dancers were entwined round each other, their arms outstretched, still and silent, smiling down at the crowd. All too soon their performance had ended. Villid knew it – the moment would come any second.

“Shade,” he whispered desperately. “We… we shouldn’t…”

“I tire of this,” Shade interrupted, as several of the Elves started to get to their feet and applaud the dancers. “This is it. So what was the one you wanted, six-one-twenty-seven? That one in green?” and he took aim with a long, sharp dagger from his belt.

It was like an instinct. Villid slammed as hard as he could into Shade’s shoulder, throwing him off his aim. The blade cut through the air as fast as lightning…”

If you want to read more (and you should, Blood of the Fallen is a great read!), you can pick it up from Amazon and Amazon UK!

Poppy Reid was born in Wick, Scotland and grew up in various parts of England before going to York St. John University to study Linguistics. She now resides in Nagano, Japan and works as an English teacher. Poppy adores writing, and has written several books and a numerous amount of short stories and informative articles online.

 

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Review: Blood of the Fallen (Blood Scrolls Trilogy 1) by Poppy Reid

Blood of the Fallen (Blood Scrolls Trilogy 1)

by Poppy Reid

Reviewed by JMD Reid

 

A1c9ZO68mEL._SL1500_On the eve of the Tyran’s attack on a small, Elven village, a Tyran warrior named Villid is approached by a Seer. Villid respects the Seer and listens to the old man’s prediction that cataclysm will befall the world if the Tyrans kill the Elven seer. But the Tyran warleader is bent on exterminating the elves. Villid’s loyalties are torn and he makes a fateful decision.

Aya is a young, Elven woman, an acolyte of the Elven seer helping her village get ready for a festival. But horror descends as the Tyrans attack, and Aya finds herself saved by a Tyran warrior. Forced to join with Villid, the pair are hunted by the Tyrans as they search for the Elven seer. But enmity burns in Aya’s heart. Her people were just butchered by Villid’s. Can they work together, or will their races bitter history drive them apart?

Blood of the Fallen is a fun read. Villid is torn between his loyalty to his people and his loyalty to the Seer, forced to make a moral decision. Aya starts out as a weaker character, the innocent waif, but she gets her eyes opened by the far more world-wise Villid as the pair are both the hunters and the hunted. The plot takes a number of twists and turns and at the end, I was left wondering what would happen next.

Poppy Reid’s first book might not be the most original fantasy plot, but it is written with heart and with characters that you’ll come to care for. I enjoyed this book immensely. Poppy is just starting out, but I know she’ll have a great writing career ahead of her. So if you love a fun Fantasy with great characters, you’ll love Blood of the Fallen!

You can pick up Blood of the Fallen  from Amazon and Amazon UK

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Review: Born of Water (Rise of the Fifth Order Book 1)

Born of Water (Rise of the Fifth Order Book 1)

by Autumn M. Brit

Reviewed by JMD Reid

81vG6hkWFyL._SL1500_On the night of the summer solstice festival, Niri, an acolyte of the Church pf the Four Orders, hunts through the streets of to find the girls he had witnessed during the ceremony. The girl had shone with potential—she was an Elemental. And Niri had to find her. Niri was a water elemental, like all elementals, she was raised by the Church, taken from her family at a young age. And if she doesn’t find this girl and returns empty handed, she knows her punishment will be sever.

But when she finds Ria, the potential, with her best friend Lavina and Lavina’s brother Ty, Niri can’t bring herself to ruin this girl’s life. But when a group of armed men accost the group, Ria uses magic. Not elemental powers, but the forbidden arts that had caused a war a thousand years ago.

Panic fills Niri. She knows that the Curse, a shape-changing beast bred to hunt down mages, is even now coursing from the Temple of Solaire to hunt them down. Niri can’t stand by and let this young, innocent girl be killed and flees with Lavinia, Ria, and Ty by boat, sailing south to the lost Temple of Dust where, according to a message from Niri’s mentor, answers might be found.

Born of Water is a fun read. Autumn sets the stage right from the beginning, putting you in Niri’s panic mind as she searches the city for Ria while reflecting on the cruelties the Church of the Four Orders is capable of committing. When she decides to betray her order and join the youths in flight, you understand why.

The journey is full of much bickering. Niri is the oldest, but she’s barely an adult, and Ria and Lavinia are teenagers. Their flight is punctuated by teenage squabbling and angst that seems quite real, but can be a little tiresome.

But the book really shines with the magic, from the way Niri’s eyes cry tears of lavender when she works magic, to the battle between elementals. The action scenes are crisp and imaginative, with some creative uses of the powers. The book has a level of adrenaline through much of it that keeps you reading, wanting to find out what new obstacle the band of four will have to contend with as they sail the world. And while the teenage angst can be annoying, it fades as the four work through their problems.

If you’re a fan of fantasy and great world building, then you’ll love Born of Water. I can’t wait to start reading the sequel, Rule of Fire. Born of Water is a great foundation for a fantasy series!

You can buy Born of Water from Amazon. Follow Autumn on twitter @Weifarer and check out her blog.

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The Colors of Fantasy

For the longest time, the Fantasy genre has been dominated by protagonist that do not represent most of the world’s demographics. Often male, and almost always white. The roots of this are easy to see. The modern Fantasy genre was birthed out of the Epics and Romances of Europe. Fantasy settings were often just Medieval Europe with magic. And when you needed your villains, why, you just looked to the east where the swarthy and exotic races of Fantasy Asia lived.

All writing is influenced by the era it is produced. Once It was perfectly acceptable to have your protagonist be white and your antagonist not-white. Luckily, we do not live in one of those close-minded eras. I grew up believing the color of your skin doesn’t matter. The capacity for heroism dwells in the hearts of all of us, and the siren’s call of evil sings in the depth of all our souls.

So why do you still see Fantasy dominated by White protagonist? Is it because the majority of authors in the field are White? Perhaps it’s because the largest market for English literature is (in no order) USA, Canada, Australia, and the UK? Is it a subconscious act. Do these authors look at the Fantasy stories they were raised on and propagate what they read? Or is it a limitation of imagination that locks them into a Eurpoean-centric fantasy world?

Fantasy is an amazing genre. It doesn’t have to be limited to knights, castles, and wizards. You can set your world in a Victorian era, a bronze-age, a tribal landscape. You can conjure worlds that could never exist in reality, the work on principals of physics or theorems of magic that are impossible in our more mundane universe.

And the races you populate your world in can be just as creative. You don’t have to limit yourself to the constrains of the old. Why couldn’t the courtly intrigue of a seventeenth-century France be populated with Black-skinned aristocrats as they scheme and plot for power? The center of culture and learning could be a society inspired by the Indian subcontinent. And the fierce barbarians pressing at the edges of a might civilization could be White.

Or you can get really creative. Why limit yourself to the races that we have on Earth? Create your own. Take elements from different cultures. Let your imagination populate your world with a diverse mix of fleshed out societies. There are a rainbow of skin-tones, eyes, and hair colors to paint the canvas of your Fantasy world with. So create a world that wholly unlike our own, and share the amazing depths of your imagination with us.

And the most important thing to remember is that any human is clever. Regardless of how technological their society is, how learned their scholars are, how civilized their nation appears, even the most primitive of humans had the intelligence to grasp new concepts, to adapt to new circumstances, to innovate. That’s who we are as a species. So let’s celebrate our diversity in our writing.

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World Building: The Little Details

When you’re writing speculative fiction, you have to create a world. For some that means building on what already exists in our world, but for others (particularity in the Fantasy genre) that means creating your own, unique universe from your imagination.  It can be a daunting task and you can be tempted to take short cuts.

imagesMy beta reader for my WIP, the amazing Valerie Hemlin, gave me a wonderful bit of advice: readers want to “feel, smell, breathe, and taste the world he’s in.”

So what does that mean?  When your characters are having a meal, describe it, put little world-building nuggets into their meal. When they’re riding down a road, describe some wildlife, the landscape,. What colors are the flowers and the trees? What sort of wildlife populates your world? It is mundane or fantastical? Are there unusual sights or smells? Bring to life the world your characters are walking through.

MB_worldbuildingIf you can make it feel as vibrant as our world, your readers will fall in love with it. Half the fun of reading Fantasy, at least to me, is the world building. Worlds that could never exist in our universe can be brought to life by a skilled author.  People read fiction for entertainment, to escape whatever problems they face in their world. So take them to fantastic places, wow them with your creativity. Get them excited and talking about what they read.

Caliborn_worldbuildingSo don’t skip the little stuff. Don’t get too caught up in the grand plot that you’re unfolding. If people don’t care about the world you’re putting at stake, then why are they going to keep on reading? Make it real, make it believable. Let your readers “feel, smell, breathe, and taste” your imaginative universe.

Thanks to Valerie for sparking this blog post. Follow her on twitter @VHemlin, she’s very supportive of authors.

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New Release: The Assassin’s Remorse

The Assassin’s Remorse

by J.M.D. Reid

 

I am proud to say I’ve published my first short story on Amazon! The Assassin’s Remorse is a tale close to my heart, drawing close to some of my personal beliefs. You can buy the Assassin’s Remorse from Amazon, Amazon UK, Amazon CA, and Amazon AU for $0.99. And for those who have subscribed to Kindle Unlimited, you can read it for free!

TheAssassinsRemorse2“What had she tried to say to him at the end?”

Cerena’s face transformed in the last moment’s of her life, the fear fleeing, and a strange, calm serenity overtook her. Her lips moved, whispering three words.

The Assassin was forever changed.

A decade of blood stained his hands. None of his victims had ever weighed down his conscience. He was merely the tool, the living weapon wielded by his employers. His victims had begged for their lives, had cursed him with their dying breath, and stared in uncomprehending disbelief.

But none had ever been calm in their final moments. None had ever stared up at him with such serenity.

Cerena’s blue eyes and her final words haunted the Assassin. Three simple words plunged his soul into torment.

Could a heart that had long been dead and desiccated beat with remorse? Can the Assassin survive against the crushing weight of his crimes?

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Review: The Universe Builder: Bernie and the Putty

The Universe Builder: Bernie and the Putty

by Steve LeBel

Reviewed by JMD Reid

 

What if God got a C- in Universe Building 101?

UntitledThis one sentence blurb captured my imagination and I had to buy this book. Steve LeBel has created a unique world were Gods work for the Company building universe for reasons. The reasons don’t matter, what matters is the fascinating why they build their worlds as they try and create new and interesting realities.

Enter Bernie. He’s wasn’t the best student in school. He has some difficulty with ethics (he foolishly believes higher life forms shouldn’t be snuffed out at the whim of their creators). But he is the son of the famed builder, so Ezrah (head of HR), with the urging of his secretary Suzie, decides to gamble on hiring young Bernie, assigning him to Shemal’s department.

Only there’s one problem. Bernie’s childhood rival and bully, Billy, is Shemal’s nephew, and Billy is looking to get payback on Bernie. As Bernie tries to build his first universe and pass his probation period, Billy begins to sabotage him to get Bernie fired.

With the help of his friends Suzy and Lenny, Bernie fights back against Billy’s attacks on his Universe. But unbeknownst to Billy, higher life had formed on his Universe and the inhabitants, led by Alcandor struggle to understand the cataclysm befalling their world.

Steve has created an absolutely interesting world. The Gods exist in a world not unlike ours. They go to school, they have jobs, they get married and have kids. But they also create universes and its fascinating reading about Bernie and Billy’s war as Bernie has to fix every problem Billy causes.

And while there war is going on, he explores how primitive people attempt to explain the events beyond their understanding as Alcandor’s people are afflicted by Billy’s attacks. The characters are great, and Bernie and Suzy have a cute relationship that grows so slowly as the dense Bernie finally realizes Suzy is more than just his friend.

You will not be disappointed by The Universe Builder. You can buy it for $4.99 on Amazon.

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