We've decided to try something different. Today we're talking with author Jeremy Higley, a fellow California-born author who has written his first novel, The Son of Dark (Book 1 of The Darksome Thorn). It’s a Sword & Sorcery adventure featuring a character named Skel in the magical land of Duskain.
1. Thank you for speaking with us today, Jeremy. I'm a longtime fan of Sword & Sorcery, so I'm eager to hear more about your upcoming novel, The Son of Dark (Book 1 of The Darksome Thorn). Tell us more.
Sure! I started writing The Son of Dark during my senior year of college. It took me about three years to finish. Now that it's done, I still struggle to summarize the story properly without feeling like I'm leaving things out. The main character, Skel, is a wizard in training and the foster son of an elephant herder who resents him. At the age of 14 his world falls apart when his master leaves unexpectedly, and his true father shows up to tell him about the prophecy that led to his birth. The same night his infant foster brother is kidnapped by a magical dream cult called the Dun Ko. The book also follows the journey of a former pirate turned merchant whose wife has been possessed by a dragon. As Skel searches for the Dun Ko and the lost child, he gets tangled up in the man's quest to find a cure for his wife's enchantment. Meanwhile, the good and evil wizards from an age before are becoming active again as the prophecy of the Darksome Thorn, the same prophecy without which Skel would never have been born, is weaving the past and the present together in preparation for a dark threat approaching from beyond the horizon.
2. I notice you have set your story in a purely fantastical world, with no historical counterpart. Some authors set their tales of action and the supernatural in historical times and places and others set them in fictional worlds but are based on historical or mythological places, such as Robert E. Howard's Conan stories. I'm wondering why you set The Son of Dark in places like Nynsa and Duskain, that seem made up whole cloth.
My first experience with fantasy was The Chronicles of Narnia, which I read at a very young age. I remember feeling impatient at the beginning of every book for the characters to find their way into Narnia. I was so excited when I found books like The Hobbit and The Belgariad, high fantasies that plunged me into their make-believe worlds right away and turned my own world off while I read.
When it comes to writing, my approach to world-building is to come up with a couple dozen impossible things I'd like to see in a fantasy, then find a way to mash them together into the same place and timeline. I find a story that incorporates the parts of the world I'm most interested in, and while writing the story I fill in all the gaps. It's funny. I often learn more about the world while writing the story than I do while building it in the first place. It's like the difference between reading about a country and actually visiting it.
3. Your hero, Skel, sounds like he stumbles into the adventure. Is he an accidental hero, led by the Jedi-like mentor, Orihah? And if so, will he stay that way? And, is that Skel on the cover??
That is actually Skel's father on the cover. He more than anyone pushes Skel into the role of hero, though Orihah certainly helps to prepare him for it. Orihah might well be like a Jedi mentor to Skel, except he leaves the same night that Skel's adventure begins. Training is essentially over at that point. The adventure itself is a conflict between the vague prophecy he'd rather not think about and the pressing needs of his fellow adventurers and his family.
Skel is not so much an accidental hero as a reluctant one. He wants to do the right thing, and he would like to help everybody, but he hates being the center of attention. He's like a main character who wants to take the role of a supporting character, but Fate won't let him. The most fascinating part of his journey, for me, is his development into a leader. He certainly isn't there by the end of the first book. He likely will have an awkward relationship with his role for a while yet. Indeed, I think I'll always see Skel as an unassuming soul whose greatness is thrust upon him by forces beyond his control.
4. As this is book one of a series, it’s clear you're planning more stories about Skel. What are those plans?
Oh yes! I don't want to spoil too much, but you can look forward to more instructions from the Darksome Thorn, the arrival of a cursed army to Duskain led by a twisted and powerful villain, and a great and final war to heal the broken mind of Mis, the goddess of magic. You can expect more bizarre races: like the Heids, an underwater race of humanoids who reproduce by splitting, or the Faceless, a race of goblins who live underground and have no noses or eyes, but whose hearing is so sharp they can sense the dimensions of a room and feel the approach of enemies. One of my favorites is the race of the Mydras: imagine an army of human soldiers with the curse of the Hydra, and you'll have the right idea.
5. Thank you for talking with us, Jeremy. And best luck on all your projects!
Thank you for having me! This has been a great experience. Best of luck with all your writing projects!
A thousand years ago, the wizards of the Nynsa failed to follow the prophecy of the Darksome Thorn, and now the greatest evil of their time has survived into the next age.
Now, the Darksome Thorn has revealed a new prophecy, and the very evil they failed to kill is working to use that prophecy to his advantage.
Forces of evil run rampant in the land of Duskain. Ancient powers are stirring. A greater darkness is imminent...
...and Skel, the foster son of an elephant herder, finds himself caught in the middle of everything. Will Skel's newly developing powers be a help or a hindrance...?
Marga pointed to the south. Zar didn’t turn, but he heard a gasp of recognition from Skel.
“Aja-aja,” he said with concern. “Three of them, about two miles away.”
Zar sighed in trepidation. The aja-aja were rare, enormous snakes prowling the Eltar plains, preying on elephants and any herders foolish enough to attack them. They had three heads each and stocky, powerful bodies to match, and could grow to over forty feet long. They killed and then predigested their prey by spitting streams of corrosive poison from their mouths.
“The aja-aja will be no problem,” he bluffed, staring into Marga’s eyes. “I have two magic-users with me now, a wizard and a Phage. They’re perfectly capable of dispatching a few overgrown snakes.”
“If so, then I’ll simply have to wait longer to be reunited with my precious one,”
the Wyvern said, eyeing the flattened snake corpses around her.
Something inside Zar began to burn like a fuse at the words “precious one.”
“You knew her before, I presume,” he continued, his voice much quieter. “Before you kidnapped her, I mean, and took over her mind.”
“She was mine to take,” the Wyvern retorted through Marga’s lips. “She was always mine to take.”
The last words hissed from Marga’s mouth like a challenge. Zar’s fingers wrapped around his sword’s hilt. He wanted nothing more at this moment than a way to strike at
his enemy, but the Wyvern was far, far away.
“If you want her,” Zar said, “you’ll have to kill me.”
“Too risky,” the Wyvern replied. “You crave nothing more than to die for her. To kill you might break my grip.”
“If you don’t kill me she will never truly be yours,” Zar said. He walked to within an arm’s length of her. “As long as there’s breath in me, I will always be fighting to free
“I’m sure you mean that,” the Wyvern said. “Once you’re dead, there’s nothing to stop me from singing her back to me.”
Publishers Website: http://www.classactbooks.com/index.php/component/virtuemart/cat-young-adult/the-son-of-dark-tales-of-the-darksome-thorn-book-1-detail?Itemid=0
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Son-Dark-Darksome-Thorn-Book-ebook/dp/B01IG983XC/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=U