Monthly Archives: November 2012

Spirituality For an Advanced Civilization

Human society is changing. We all know this. It’s been changing in fundamental ways ever since about the 15th century, when Europe began the transition from its medieval cultural identity to its modern one. The changes have been political, moral, economic, cultural, artistic, and spiritual. It’s the last category of change I mainly want to talk about in this post, and to present some speculation about where we are going in that respect, but first it might be useful to take a brief look at the changes overall. We are making a transition every bit as vast as the one our distant ancestors made when they settled down and started farming, and I suspect we’re only about halfway through it.

Medieval Europe exhibited a complex of features that were broadly common to all civilizations of the time, including ones that had never had any contact with each other, so that it’s meaningful to speak of an “agrarian civilization paradigm” that’s common to all (or very nearly all) pre-industrial civilizations. These features include (besides the building of cities and reliance on agriculture for food supplies, which are the defining characteristics of civilization itself):

  • A dominant class of warrior-aristocrats owning (or at least holding) all the best land, with high status in society and a warrior tradition, and usually actual soldiering and war-leading responsibilities.
  • A class of forced laborers providing the work that supported the aristocracy (usually slaves, but in some cultures a different type of bonded laborer, and that was so in Europe where the laborers were serfs, not slaves).
  • Established religion that was closely tied with the state, whose priesthood held high status beside the nobility, especially in its loftier ranks.
  • Drastic subordination of women to male dominance, in comparison either to pre-civilized societies or modern societies, with most women reduced to brood-mare status as a possession of men.
  • Religious ideas that separated man from nature and encouraged human domination over nature, as well as reflecting the authoritarian and hierarchical character of secular society.

There were some other features that were nearly but not quite universal. Monarchy was the prevailing government form, but republics of one kind or another did exist as exceptions. Most religions featured a pantheon of gods or a sole god who was separate from nature and dominant over it and over mankind, but again there are exceptions. The bullet-points above describe literally every civilization from the building of the first cities (some eight thousand five hundred years ago) until the world began to change in Europe in the 15th century. That’s a span of roughly seven thousand years, a blink of an eye compared to the duration of pre-civilized cultural forms (100,000 – 200,000 years) but still in historical terms a very long time.

All of the so-called “great religions” emerged during those seven thousand years. All of them are products of the agrarian civilized paradigm and all carry a set of moral messages appropriate to that paradigm — and increasingly inappropriate to life in modern society. Today we are in the midst of a spiritual revolution to make the Christianization of Rome, the stormy emergence of Islam, and the Protestant Reformation, all rolled into one, look like nothing. Today, every one of the “great religions” is under siege and in the process of being transformed — often against the will of its practitioners or at least of the conservative wing of them — into something radically different from its traditions. Each carries deeper spiritual messages that may endure, but each also declares doctrines that will not survive the transition in our culture, and for many of them these doctrines are defining — and that means that in a sense, none of today’s great religions will survive. The changes go very deep.

We can no longer regard ourselves as masters of the planet, or regard all life as placed here for our benefit. That attitude is destroying the ecological base on which human society depends. We must adopt a new vision of our place in nature, as its caretakers and guardians not its rulers and exploiters.

We can no longer regard women as subordinate to men. Increasingly, modern society is characterized by a degree of gender equality that has not existed since hunter-gatherer times, if even then. The implications of this change alone for sexual morality and family structure are overwhelming.

Perhaps most essentially wrenching, we can no longer regard truth as eternal and unchanging. We live in a world that changes so radically that there are almost no constants. As part of this, the ability of any religion to insulate itself and its believers from external challenges has vanished.

In all of the most advanced societies today we see polls that reflect these changes. The fastest growing (and in many countries already the largest) category by religious belief are those who follow no religion. Polls generally don’t distinguish the components of this category, which includes the subset of atheists who reject spirituality altogether (note in passing that there are atheists who don’t, the most famous example being the Buddha), but also includes those who are “spiritual but not religious” and those who, like myself, are both spiritual and religious but decline to self-label.

Spirituality is a genuine human need, and so non-spiritual atheism is never likely to be universal. But religion as it exists today cannot endure. What we are likely to see more and more is spirituality that:

  • Is constantly in flux in its details, while maintaining constancy in its core
  • Reflects a melange of ideas from many different religious traditions, old and new
  • Incorporates the moral messages of man-as-guardian and of gender equality in all the ramifications of both

There are several ideas found in many of the “great religions” that cannot continue in such an environment. These include the inerrant truth of scripture (any scripture), the claim to unique and absolute possession of the truth by a religious tradition (any religious tradition), and of course any moral idea that conflicts with the required values of life in an advanced civilization (including much of traditional sexual morality, as well as traditional attitudes towards authority, secular or spiritual).

We see these changes ongoing already. It’s fascinating to watch, at least for me.

Image credit: rolffimages / 123RF Stock Photo

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The Worm of the World

Drawing by Theodoros Pelecanos, in alchemical ...

In building a fantasy world, one of the most enjoyable activities is to add its monsters. Here’s one of mine. Of all the creatures I’ve introduced into any fantasy work I’ve ever written, I believe my favorite is the Worm of the World, which appears in The Green Stone Tower and in my upcoming Goddess-Born.

In some superficial respects my Worm is a stock beastie. It borrows from the Ouroboros image of the serpent devouring its own tail, which has significance in alchemy and in some mythologies, relating to the cyclical nature of time and life and the circular quality of the alchemical Great Work. Larry Niven also used a superficially similar creature in The Magic Goes Away, where the World-Worm was a dying god. However, I think there are aspects to my own Worm that make it sufficiently different certainly from what Niven did and as far as I know from what anyone has done. (I’m sure that if I’m wrong about that, someone will correct me.)

The Worm is one of the Not-Gods of the world of faerie or the New World as its own inhabitants call it. Some ten thousand years ago, the gods decided to concentrate all of the magic among humanity in the hopes of making it stronger and eventually raising more human beings to godhood. They did this by transporting the magicians to another world through the passageways afforded by the Green Stone Towers. The gods themselves followed the magicians to this other world, and there they and the magicians built an evolving society that had become very magical indeed by the time my tale begins.

But the New World had divine powers of its own: the Phoenix, the Moonbird, the Turtle King, the Wolf Lord, the Tree Spirit, the Mightiest Troll, and, greatest of them all, the Worm of the World. These beings, although similar to the gods in power and wisdom (well, except the Mightiest Troll, who is not very wise at all), were not gods. All of the gods were once men and women who had made a journey beyond death to become truly immortal. Since they were like the gods, but not gods, the People (as the magicians’ descendants took to calling themselves — the people of the Old World refer to them as the faerie-folk) called them the Not-Gods.

Here is how Malatant, Lord of Shadow, the god of cold, shadow, and the evil in the hearts of men, describes the Worm of the World:

“The Worm is the greatest of the powers of the New World, the beings called the Not-Gods. It is the keeper of the world’s magic and the guardian of all its life and health. It takes the form of a mighty serpent that circles the whole world. In the mountains far from my city there is a high peak with a cave at its base, and from this cave the head of the Worm comes to work its magic, speak its rare words, and devour its prey. The Worm always chooses its prey from the flawed, the selfish, the cruel, and the powerful who, if left alive, can work great harm in the world. In this it is not unlike me, but when the Worm has chosen someone to consume, it puts the death of its prey to a good use, which I generally don’t. Understand that the Worm is not a true beast and does not need to consume flesh as beasts do. In a sense it feeds on the pain of its victims, but even that is only incidental. What it actually feeds upon is their struggle, their desperate and futile attempt to keep themselves alive. The pain is merely a way to ensure that they do struggle.”

“Pain?”

“The Worm swallows its prey whole and they slide living into its stomach, where they are digested alive. The process is very painful, as you might imagine.”

This in essence is my Worm of the World:

1) It takes the form of an enormously long snake that circles the world underground.

2) It is the guardian of the New World’s life, health, and magic. It keeps watch over the ecosystem and promotes the well being of all life in the world that is its domain.

3) As part of this responsibility, the Worm summons the most evil and powerful individuals from among the People, using its vast telepathic strength, and eats them. It swallows its victims alive and subjects them to a long, intensely painful demise in its belly, feeding on their desperate struggles against the pain and converting that energy into health, life, and magic for the world.

For those who aren’t chosen by the Worm as its prey, it is a powerful benefactor whose work helps make the New World a more magical place than the Old World. (Although the People still avoid it — the Worm is just plain scary!)

For those who are chosen to be devoured by the Worm, though, it’s an incredibly terrifying monster! As described by Gilusa, the evil priestess who has escaped its lure by coming to the Old World, in a conversation with Edwin (who is also not at all a nice person):

“It eats people, and I knew it wanted to devour me, and if I had stayed in the other world, by now I’m sure it would have. I used to dream of the Worm, Edwin. I had awful nightmares about it as a girl, dreaming that I stood by the Worm’s cave trembling in fear. I saw the great serpent head come from the cave and the terrible eyes fix on me. I could do nothing but stare back as the huge mouth opened and it came for me to swallow me whole. And then I would wake up screaming.”

“What a horrible dream! Is there really such a creature?”

“Oh, yes, the Worm is real. It devours only the strong-willed and only the magical. It feeds on their magic more than on their flesh. Maybe it feeds on their pain. I doubt it needs food at all in the ordinary way of a beast. To be eaten by the Worm is the most dreadful death I can imagine. One is swallowed whole and burned to death by the acids in its stomach. It’s even worse than it sounds, because the chosen prey is always a sorcerer and my power would work to heal me and keep me alive in the Worm’s belly to suffer even longer until I was too exhausted to heal. The Worm can feed on someone for a long time if the mind is strong. I don’t know how long I would last, but it would not be brief.

“Worse still, it called to me, Edwin! It was so powerful, so hard to resist! I knew what would happen to me if I went to the Worm, but when I heard that horrid voice in my mind, I wanted to go. It was terrifying! It started calling me when I was a teenage girl and resisting it got harder and harder as the years went by. Sooner or later, I knew the Worm would win. I knew that I would suffer and die horribly in its stomach. It was only a matter of time.

“So as you can imagine, I was very happy to receive this mission from the God of Shadow, for the Worm cannot reach me here and I cannot be drawn by its call. I haven’t dreamed of the monster since I climbed the Tower.”

Good incentive to climb the Green Stone Tower and escape to the Old World, clearly!

So that’s my Worm of the World: a benign power of good providing health and magic to the world, and at the same time a terrifying monster that summons its helpless prey with irresistible power and subjects them to a grisly, horrible death. The ambiguity of it is one of the main reasons it’s my favorite among all my creatures.

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World-Building: Some Extreme Possibilities

Fantasy Art by George Grie

Fantasy Art by George Grie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The art of fantasy storytelling is in its main points just the art of storytelling, where characterization and plot and style are the elements of a good tale. But what makes fantasy fantasy instead of some other sort of storytelling is the fantastic elements, and in the art of world-building one can (but need not, necessarily) go hog-wild.

Normally, one doesn’t. Most fantasy worlds start with some historical world as a canvas (or the present-day world) and add some fantasy elements in a controlled, moderate way to differentiate it from the historical reality. One can easily recognize the template of Medieval Europe in Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire, for example, even though Europe in the Middle Ages didn’t have dragons, icy Others, or weirdly elongated seasons.

In some, maybe most, fantasy world-building, this is the format: the strange and fantastic is subtle. But here are some examples of possible fantasy worlds where the imagination can run amok. These are extreme sorts of fantasy worlds, and telling a good story in the context of them would be a real challenge for the writer.

Humanity is enslaved/domesticated/ruled by something non-human. Gods walk the Earth and rule everything and human beings are their slavish creations. The world is controlled overtly by demons who enslave all of humanity, choose victims for torture and other nasty fun, and cook and eat human beings from time to time (preferably boiling them alive or, even better, roasting them slowly alive on a spit). A race of quasi-humans, superior to humanity in culture, intelligence, and magic, longer-lived, etc. rules and humanity endures in its shadow; the quasi-humans may be benign or malevolent or something in between. Super-beings have arisen (perhaps powerful sorcerers who have made themselves immortal) and live among humans demanding service, dominating them completely.

Stories that can arise from a framework like this include struggles by human resistance against the non-human domination, conflict between factions of the non-humans that sweep humans up in them on one side or another, or small-scale personal dramas that occur with the state of humanity as a backdrop. A twist would be to portray the non-human dominators as the good, sympathetic side, and human rebels as opportunistic, selfish thugs or misguided idealists.

The world is one of many worlds, accessible by magic and interacting routinely. Connected worlds are a staple of fantasy, but usually such worlds interact only rarely and with difficulty. What if the connection among multiple worlds was routine and people and other beings passed between them all the time? This would result in a wildly different society than any that has historically existed.

For example, what if our own world was linked by magical doorways that could open randomly almost anywhere — in a physical doorway, or the entrance to a cave, or on a bridge — leading to worlds inhabited by quasi-humans, or with primitive technology but advanced and powerful magic, or with advanced technology compared to ours, or with advanced technology AND magic, and there was no way to control these doorways but people were constantly moving from one world to another? Or worse still, what if the same thing was happening but with an unlimited variety of worlds, randomly selected? Maintaining any kind of stability or centralized government would be very difficult, and human adaptation to that insecurity — the possibility of being instantly transported elsewhere or of something materializing into one’s life from another place beyond comprehension.

If this began happening suddenly the result would likely be apocalyptic and humanity would be dealing with the breakdown of civilization, mass starvation, chaos. It would certainly create a lot of possibilities for plot lines, but one would have to be careful to keep the story comprehensible.

There is no physical world as such; everything is the creation of the will, with powerful god-like wills creating islands of reality and lesser wills modifying it locally. I actually began writing a story along these lines once, in which powerful beings — local gods — created enclaves of territory where they set the rules of physics as well as those of society, and each of these enclaves were surrounded by a fog of indeterminacy. A person could escape from an enclave into the fog and try to creates his or her own domain, but this was seldom successful as few had the requisite strength of will.

This is a kind of anything-goes fantasy world that could be host to story lines involving rebellion against an enclave-maker, attempts at fog-settling, or maybe the emergence of a person whose strength of will was so strong that he will bring stability to the world after all — in one direction or another — perhaps even two such persons with conflicting visions.

The world is an illusion created by people or creatures who have imprisoned us within it and are using us in some way. Perhaps they feed off human emotion, or are conducting a great experiment. Nothing is what it seems, and behind the illusion is a reality that can be penetrated only with difficulty. Stories in such a milieu could involve escape from the illusion, rebellion against its creators and masters, or characters who rise to join them and find out that a greater conflict in reality renders all the turmoil within the illusion irrelevant and insignificant.

There is a reason why one seldom sees fantasy worlds that are quite this bizarre. It’s hard to write a story in such a setting that will be believable and that readers can relate to. The first one is actually not as difficult as the others and something along those lines has been done before, but most fantasy makes more modest amendments to the reality we all experience.

Still, it would be interesting to see fiction that goes all-out in this way done successfully. I may give it a try one of these days.

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Spirituality Without Labels

Buddhism

I used to call myself Pagan or Neopagan. I no longer do. I haven’t rejected any significant spiritual ideas from the days when I did call myself a Pagan, and I certainly haven’t converted to another religion. What I find myself doing is rejecting the label. In fact, I find myself rejecting all labels.

The problem with labels when it comes to spirituality is that labels — “Pagan,” “Christian,” “Muslim,” “Hindu,” “Buddhist,” “Mormon,” whatever — come with definitions, and to define is to set limits. And that means that when you give your spirituality a label, you set limits on it. The label doesn’t just mean “I am this,” it also means “I am not that.” To label yourself is to tell your mind that it may consider ideas only in a certain group and must preemptively reject ideas that are beyond that group. Not only is this inappropriately self-limiting, but in today’s world with instant communication flying around the compass of it, it becomes harder and harder to to. To label oneself is to place oneself under siege, so that one is always resisting the attack of heretical notions, not because one disagrees with them in any reasoned way, but simply because to accept them would call one’s self-definition into question. And yet to wall oneself off so that one is not confronted with ideas outside the boundaries of a religious label is increasingly impossible.

Because of events in the last few decades, I’ve seen Christians in America reacting defensively to the increasing visibility of Muslim ideas and quotations from the Quran. I’m not just talking about the extreme fringe that wants to deport all Muslims and go to war with every Muslim country and is behind the ridiculous legislation to ban Sharia from U.S. courts (from which it is already banned by the First Amendment, as is all religious-based legal argument), but also the more moderate disquiet seen among Christians who aren’t certifiable nut-jobs. There’s a sense among them that Christianity is under siege. Of course it remains overwhelmingly in the majority among Americans while Islam still represents a tiny (if growing) minority, and Christianity has always been banned from holding an official, privileged position by that same First Amendment that bans Sharia from the courts, so on that front there’s nothing to be lost. But in a very real sense, those Christians who see their faith as being under siege are right. It isn’t under siege at large, but it is under siege within their own minds.

A quote from the Quran may seem wise and appealing. A Christian may be tempted to look into it further, to read the Muslim holy text in the whole, to attend services at a mosque and see how Muslims worship. (The discovery that there are neither orgies nor human sacrifices involved may be further disquieting.) If these ideas are appealing, does that mean that Muslims are right and Muhammad was a Prophet of God? But if I decide that, I would have to stop praying to Jesus, and I like praying to Jesus; he comforts me and gives me hope. I can’t be a Christian and a Muslim both at the same time, can I?

Well, no — within the context of those two religions’ self-definition, you can’t; as everyone should know, while they agree on many points of doctrine, Islam and Christianity each reject certain key points of the other’s belief system. Islam rejects the divinity of Christ, and Christianity rejects the prophet-hood of Muhammad. What one can do, however, is to reject both of those labels, and one is then free to approve and agree with any ideas from both which seem useful, and from all other religious traditions as well. One can be neither a Christian nor a Muslim, yet find much in the teachings of Jesus or of Muhammad that is wise and good.

The same process is going on within all religions at this time and is a product of the cultural globalization that results form the Internet and from economic globalization. It becomes more and more difficult to wall oneself off from ideas outside one’s spiritual self-definition, and because of this, more and more difficult to preserve the purity of a doctrinal label. This is no doubt disquieting to those who find comfort in self-labeling and self-definition, and especially to those who have been taught that if they don’t believe certain things God is going to punish them with eternal damnation and torture, but for me — and I believe for many others and ultimately for the world — it is liberating.

The idea behind separation or church and state, or one idea behind it, and also behind freedom of speech and a free press, is to have a “marketplace of ideas.” Now, in a marketplace of goods, one does not expect or want to see goods available only in packaged bundles, but one prefers also to be able to buy things individually. Why should it be any different with ideas? Does one have to buy into the whole corpus of Christian doctrine with its bloodthirsty God and crude divine/human-sacrifice model of redemption and threats of incomprehensibly vicious punishment for innocent differences of opinion, in order to recognize the wisdom in Jesus’ teaching that the foundation of morality is to love one another, or his wonderful metaphors for enlightenment found in the parables of the mustard seed and the leaven? No, one does not.

We should all bear in mind the Sufi parable of the blind men and the elephant. This is the story of a number of blind men (six in most versions) who were curious about the elephant and went to discover what they could about the beast. One stumbled against the elephant’s side and proclaimed that the elephant was like a wall. Another laid hands on its trunk and claimed that it was like a snake. The others, encountering the animal’s ear, tusk, leg, and tail, proclaimed the elephant to be like a fan, spear, tree, and rope respectively. The blind men began arguing heatedly with each other and were soon pounding one another with their canes, each of them partly right, but all of them wrong.

The metaphor is obvious: when it comes to divine reality, we are all at least somewhat blind and there is no literally true statement about that reality that can be made using human language. (Even such a basic question as polytheism versus monotheism represents an argument among blind men about the elephant. Is the universe one thing or many? Clearly, it’s both.) One important step in removing our blinders is to reject the labels that can often amount to blindfolds.

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Goddess-Born

As I said a couple of weeks ago, my new fantasy novel Goddess-Born, part of the four-book Tale of Two Worlds, is almost ready for publication. I’ll post links for purchase of the book here when it goes live, which should be in the first week of December, but what I want to do now is to offer a free copy to anyone who is willing to write a review. An honest review, that is. This isn’t, “I’ll send you a free copy if you promise to write a 5-star review full of praise.” It’s “I’ll send you a free copy if you promise to write a review that actually tells prospective readers about it, what you liked and disliked, and whether they should buy the book themselves.” That will benefit me, as well as readers, best.

If you would like to do this, please email me at briandrush@gmail.com and I’ll put you on a list to send a coupon for a free copy in a couple of weeks when the book is published and available for purchase. It will be in e-book formats only but should be available in all of those. Here’s a synopsis of the book to help people decide if they would like to take me up on this offer.

Sonia is the child of a goddess and a god. The world where she lives heaves with revolution and is threatened by a sorceress who wants to bring it to ruin. The revolution that toppled the monarchy has been seized by a tyrant mage, the lover and protégé of the sorceress, and Sonia must stand against them and restore the people’s chance at liberty.

Sonia’s divine mother fostered her with a merchant’s wife, and so she grew up as the offspring of a wealthy couple in the Kingdom of Grandlock, believing they were her real parents. But as the goddess had asked when she gave her to Emily Sandburr to raise, on Sonia’s fifteenth birthday, her foster mother told her of her true heritage: she is the daughter of the goddess Illowan, Lady of Light and of the god Malatant, Lord of Shadow.

From that day on, Sonia became a devotee of both her divine parents, even though she has never met them and they reside in the other world, the world of Faerie that can only be accessed by the magical Green Stone Tower and its endless stair.

Although mortal as the gods’ children always are, Sonia is a talented sorceress and must confront the destiny her divine mother foresaw for her. A renegade priestess of Malatant has come from the world of Faerie, a warped and evil woman who lives to bring chaos and ruin. She has gathered a secret following called the People of the Shadow, among them Edwin, a talented sorcerer who aims to overthrow the kingdom. For the Kingdom of Grandlock suffers under the oppressive and obsolete rule of its noble class. The slumbering wrath of the common people is waking up and the country heaves with revolt. Revolution is in the air, but the cruel priestess Gilusa and the sorcerer who follows her twist the course of the revolt to impose a monstrous tyranny. Taking over the palace and the government in the people’s name, Edwin sends an endless line of victims – nobles at first, but ultimately anyone who threatens his power or that of his priestess – to the torture chambers and the gallows. There is no one who can hope to stop them except Sonia. She must face the tyrant sorcerer who rules Grandlock and ultimately confront Gilusa herself, accompanied by only three companions.

One of these is her lover Malcolm, who is also of divine parentage, being the son of the Lord of Art and of the Mother of Life. Another is General Tranis, a dark faerie warrior from the other world who has fallen victim to Gilusa’s spells; he has broken free for the moment, but will Gilusa be able to regain control over his mind and will? The third is the young Queen Luisa, Grandlock’s last monarch, deposed by Edwin, who seeks vengeance for the brutal slaying of her parents. The four of them stand alone against the stolen might of a nation and the incomparable sorcery of Gilusa.

Magic has warped the nation’s course and bound the people into tyranny, and Sonia’s magic must set it straight before the people can rule themselves. A priestess of Malatant has betrayed her god’s trust, and Malatant’s daughter must put matters right for her father’s sake as well as her own, while she finds the balance between Light and Shadow within her own nature. Nor will the gods help her, neither her own parents nor Malcolm’s, for in their ruthless wisdom and foresight the gods leave men and women to solve their own problems and in that way to grow or die – even when the mortals are their own beloved children.

Again, if you would be willing to write a review of Goddess-Born in exchange for a free copy, please email me at briandrush@gmail.com and I’ll put you on a list to receive a coupon for your free copy.

Another article on spirituality and fantasy storytelling will appear here tomorrow.

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Breaking A Chain

A while back, my friend Sherrie Cronin, author of two fine books that I reviewed here and here, tagged me to participate in a kind of chain letter thing. It was an invitation to talk about a work in progress according to a particular format, and I was also supposed to find two other authors to do the same thing.

I said I would. (Sigh.) Sherrie’s a wonderful writer and also great as a beta reader, and I’d normally do anything reasonable to help her out, but I shouldn’t have agreed to this. I found that I couldn’t push this idea on other writers with any real energy, and so herewith I (halfway) weasel out of an agreement and break the chain as it was originally designed. Has to happen eventually, so let it happen with me.

BUT — any of you folks reading this who have a book of your own, consider it an opportunity to do the same for your own work in progress. If at least two of you do, hey, I haven’t broken the chain after all! If you’d like to do that, please just answer the questions in bold below on your own blogs.

With that said, on to fulfilling the other part of what I said I’d do.

What is the title of your next book?

My next book is called Goddess-Born. It’s part of a series called A Tale of Two Worlds. Although this is a series, my goal is to make four independent stories that don’t have to be read in any particular order. Goddess-Born is the second book in the series. The first is The Green Stone Tower.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The original seed idea came from an old video game called “Masters of Magic.” That game featured two planes of reality with towers that linked the two. The towers were hard to get control of, but once you did you had access to the other plane, and one of those was a good deal more magical than the other and had higher rewards.

As always, of course, from that seed idea a lot developed organically, and the tale has grown way, way beyond that simple concept. It does however include two worlds which are linked by towers that are difficult to use.

What genre does your book fall under?

It’s large-scale, epic fantasy.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

That’s really hard. To be completely honest, I’m not knowledgeable enough about movie actors today to make a good choice.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

The child of a goddess, fostered among mortals, must confront an evil priestess attempting to plunge the world into chaos, as the society where she lives heaves in revolution.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Self-published.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I’m still not quite finished, but very close. I started work on it last June, right after publishing the first book in the series, The Green Stone Tower. So that means it’s taken me about five months; that’s for a book of roughly 100,000 words.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

One that includes similar ideas of revolution and the impact of magic on social development is Illusion by Paula Volsky.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I don’t think there was any one thing. I’m always playing around with new ideas for stories. In this case, the setting was already established in The Green Stone Tower, along with some of the characters.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It ties together the ideas of a monarchy with an obsolete hereditary aristocracy confronting social change arising from entering a modern age, with the fantasy elements of magic and real, tangible gods and goddesses. It has, I hope, engaging characters and a gripping plot. The main character, Sonia, is the daughter of the Goddess of Light and the God of Shadow, and I’ve done my best to grow her as a tribute to that conflicted heritage.

I’ll have more to say about Goddess Born at the time it’s published and becomes available, which should be before the end of the year.

My apologies to Sherrie for breaking the chain (if I did).

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