I’d like to welcome B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Gordon Long today. Brought up in a logging camp with no electricity, Gordon Long learned his storytelling in the traditional way: at his father’s knee. He now spends his time editing, publishing, travelling, blogging and writing fantasy and social commentary, although sometimes the boundaries blur.
Gordon lives in Tsawwassen, British Columbia, with his wife, Linda, and their Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Josh. When he is not writing and publishing, he works on projects with the Surrey Seniors’ Planning Table, and is a staff writer for <indiesunlimited.com>
Thank you for chatting with me today, Gordon! Please, tell me how you discovered indieBRAG?
I’m a staff writer for Indies Unlimited, and the name has come up multiple times as the Minions gather around the gruel pot and chat about writing.
Tell me a little about your book, Zoysana’s Choice.
They say creativity comes from putting two old elements together in a new way. I took my favourite tragic hero, put him in a fantasy world, and gave him a sympathetic, loving stepdaughter instead of a vicious, overly ambitious wife (Shakespeare fans will have fun finding the tributes). And then I told the story from the girl’s point of view. So Zoysana is a young woman of mixed heritage, trying to find a place for herself in a changing world at the same time as the man she has come to love as a father is doing his worst to mess things up.
How did you come to write this story and how many book swill be in the series?
That’s rather complicated. I have always been in awe at the way Anne McCaffrey turned her Fantasy series, Dragon Riders of Pern, into Science Fiction by writing a space-age prequel series. So, once I got going on the first three books of the Petrellan Saga, (Books 4-6) and the history of the society became more and more important, I began to think how interesting it would be to go back and find out where these people came from. So for the next three (Books 1-3), I jumped back 400 years. It was all sorts of fun writing them all at the same time, inserting hints in the later books that readers can find in the prequel series. The seventh book is meant to tie it all together, but I haven’t exactly figured out how, yet. These are mostly stand-alone novels, with the main character from one book taking a supporting role in other books. So Zoysana hires Jhanes, the main character of The Innkeeper’s Husband, to help her fight the Inari, who become the fighting force under Anine, the main character of Mercenary’s Dream. And so on.
Steven Spielberg did it in Star Wars, why can’t I? I’ll tell you why. Because I don’t have a multi-million-dollar marketing campaign to tell everyone. I really appreciate you giving me the opportunity to explain.
BTW, The Innkeeper’s Husband is launching this month. Watch for it on Smashwords and later on Kindle.
What age audience is this story geared towards?
This book is specifically aimed at the “New Adult” audience: People of age 20-30, interested in stories about characters finding their place in society. However, it is also designed for YA readers (some violence, but very little blood and gore) and for older readers as well.
Is there any real historical significance or themes in your story? What is the time period for your story?
Because it’s Fantasy, the era would correspond with European late medieval society. There is a rough parallel between the Kyabrans, the old empire, and the Romans, although in Books 2 and 3, I play fast and loose by giving them 18th century sailing technology. I find it fascinating to set a novel in a historical or fantastical era where social change is happening, because I can draw parallels to the changes happening in our society. Zoysana would be a member of a visible minority in our society, with all the problems and opportunities that implies.
Tell me a little about Zoe
Zoe is a demonstration of how a sympathetic, friendly person can be rather hard to get along with at times, no matter how hard she tries. She was raised in isolation by her Kyabran grandfather, who gave her the best martial arts and diplomatic training in the world, but not much social interaction. When he dies, she is taken in by Barent, First Prince Ascending of the Arlyn Dynasty of Petrella, and brought up in Arlyn Castle. This makes her sympathetic, cooperative, and well mannered. It gives her a copious mental capacity, incredible fighting skill, and powerful leadership qualities. It also makes her stubborn, self-righteous, and serious. And, deep inside, it leaves her with a feeling of not really belonging anywhere. When a trader lord from Kyabra appears, she jumps at the chance to go with him to the source of her other heritage, and incidentally escape from the difficult choice of whether to be loyal to the kingdom or to Barent, who is in the process of royally messing everything up, doing the wrong things for all the right reasons.
When she returns to Arlyn Castle, she discovers that the conflict was only set aside, not avoided, and she has to make a choice that will affect her for the rest of her life.
Where can readers buy your book?
Search by title at Barnes & Noble and iTunes.
What was your writing process for this story?
When I first started writing Zoysana’s Choice, I was doing it very part-time while working and raising a family. I would get an idea for a chapter, sit down and write it, and maybe leave the MS for a month before I got another idea. Very “seat of the pants” writing. I started with a prologue showing the meeting of Barent and Zoe when she was 9 years old and her grandfather had just died. That became too long for a prologue, so I set it up as an independent short story, “Requiem for A Hero,” which is available free at Smashwords
Then I wrote Zoysana’s Choice. Then I wrote most of Innkeeper’s Husband, Book 5. Then part of Mercenary’s Dream, Book 6. By then I was seriously thinking about becoming a writer, and I planned Book 1 of the prequel series out more carefully, setting up the structure and the conflict more to normal novel standards. I now have half of Book 2 and most of Book 3 finished, and seven or eight random chapters of Book 7.
Once I started self-publishing, I had to go back and seriously rewrite Zoysana’s Choice, applying everything I had learned in the 5 other novels I have published in between. Likewise Innkeeper’s Husband and Mercenary’s Dream.
As my writing career progresses, I do more and more planning before I write, but once I get writing, I go where the muse takes me. Characters often take over a scene and tell me what they’re going to say and what they’re going to do.
What do you like most about writing in the Fantasy genre?
My first delight is in creating characters, no matter what genre. But in Fantasy I love creating the worlds. I spend a lot of time thinking about the societies I am creating, and making them realistic. I also freely admit that I create societies to be in some way a reflection of our own, and use the similarities and differences to emphasize the themes of my novels. I’m a traveller and a big fan of geography, so I create maps, including climate and prevailing wind patterns. I always know how many days it would take a rider to go from one town to the next, or how long it would take someone to walk to the next village. I take most of my names, both people and places, from real geographical names. It gives them a sense of ethnicity.
Is there a message you would like to give to your readers?
My messages are all there in the themes of my books. Look for them as you read; I try not to make them obvious. In the words of Mark Twain (or was it Thumper the Rabbit in Bambi ?) “If you ain’t got nothin’ to say, don’t say nothin’ at all.”
Thank you, Gordon! Please visit with me again at Layered Pages!
The next book in Gordon’s Petrellan Saga, “The Innkeeper’s Husband,” is available at Smashwords
Coming soon on Kindle.
A message from indieBRAG:
We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Gordon Long who is the author of, Zoysana’s Choice, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Zoysana’s Choice, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.