I just completed the new line of covers for my Chosen books. Gone is the cartoonish artwork of the original covers, replaced by a more sophisticated look. Compare and comment about the differences on the home page.
My ebooks are now listed with Barnes & Noble. Check out my page at:
Also, the The Chosen One in print form can be found on Google Books at:
Life as a writer is good!
Normally, ebooks are slow and steady sellers. However, for some inexplicable and wonderful reason WIZARD' GOAL - opening volume in my Terrath series - is taking off in the sales charts. Whoopee! Okay, it's not in the bestseller area quite yet. But every writer hopes people will want to read his or her work. So this result warms the cockles of my heart. It also means I'll have to put my nose to the grindstone and finish ENEMY WINTER, which is book 2 and due for release later this year from SynergEbooks.
So thanks to Deb, my publisher, for her tireless efforts, the support of my family & friends, and those bookworms who think that Alan J.Garner's books are worth a read.I'll endeavour to keep up the good work.
When asked what is the world’s oldest profession the majority of people would no doubt say prostitution. And they would be wrong. Storytelling existed long before women, or men, sold their bodies for profit. Demonstrating via gestures and a limited vocabulary, prehistoric hunters would nightly regale the tribe with boastful tales of their hunts around the stone hearth, the flickering flames highlighting their mimed exploits. Jump 10,000 years and humankind has upheld the tradition of storytelling, though mediums have changed as technology has progressed. Movies mimic the fireside actions of our distant ancestors. But before moving pictures came to the fore of human entertainment, stories evolved from being handed down through the generations by word of mouth to being recorded in written form. And so the novel emerged as the principle format for the storyteller. Pen was put to paper and later printed for the masses. Books previously owned solely by the wealthy were made affordable to the general public. Thus, the paperback has reigned supreme in the world of fiction.
But times inevitably change, as do the seasons. The 21st century sees humanity witnessing technological achievements once only imagined by science fictions writers:- a fully functional space station in Earth orbit; the return of manned missions to the moon that will lead to Mars expeditions; medical wonders such as face transplants and biomechanical prosthetics. What has this to do with books, you might wonder? Technology is already revolutionising the way we read. Newspapers can be accessed online. And books are now digitised, whether produced on CD-ROM or the varied ebook formats.
Admittedly, I’m of the old school when it comes to books. My library, both reference and works of fiction, are proudly books of actual paper. I love the smell of a book purchased brand new. I relish the feel of turning a page when I read. My first novel, THE CHOSEN ONE, originally came out in paperback. But then I was introduced to the realm of ebooks by my current publisher at SynergEbooks. Deb Staples is a true visionary and opened my eyes to a medium that is on the cusp of taking the publishing world by storm. Imagine sourcing books that can never go out of print. Imagine books not reliant on paper, making for a cleaner and greener environment. Imagine reading devices, often no bigger than the paperbacks they replace, able to store dozens of novels at a time. That is the reality. The future is here and now. As an avowed booklover I will always treasure printed books. But I embrace ebooks as the next step in literary evolution. Nature’s rule is as valid today as it was millions of years ago when dinosaurs ruled the planet: adapt or become extinct.
I can say with pride that my first novel, the very first book I ever wrote, began published life in print before going digital. I sincerely hope other writers and readers can make this transition. If they cannot, then literature will sadly become stagnant by clinging to the past, in turn recreating the Dark Ages that blighted humanity.
No matter what medium a story takes, whether its screenplay or novel, what makes or breaks plot development is characterization. A tale lacking honest, credible characters will fall flat on its face as surely as a movie that relies chiefly on special effects to flesh out a weak storyline.
So who is more important to the plotting element? The obvious answer is the main protagonist of the piece, the hero (or heroine) of the story. Fair enough. To connect with the reader, the writer needs to provide a believable champion complete with the obligatory strengths and failings. But where would Luke Skywalker be without Darth Vader? I’ll tell you...stuck on Tattooine eking out a boring existence as a moisture farmer. What unremarkable life would have Shea Ohmsford expected if not pitted against the Warlock Lord? And could you even imagine a Middle Earth without Sauron?
Villains are the characters readers love to hate. For all their evilness and bloodthirsty ways, an impressive antagonist is essential for carving out a memorable plot. Baddies are crucial for creating drama and pathos. And, truth be told, what author doesn’t relish breathing life into a character unfettered by morals or fear?
Good, by necessity, must be balanced by Evil. This is a recurring theme in my books. One cannot function, or even exist, without the other. However, it is up to the writer to decide which prevails.
Ever wondered why the fantasy genre has achieved such spectacular popularity in recent years? Sure, it has plenty to do with people seeking escapism, to leave behind the technological rat-race and return to a simpler – yes, magical! – time. But I have my own pet theory to explain the attraction that sword and sorcery tales hold for both readers and viewers. We glimpse ourselves in those peopling otherworldly realms.
Dwarfs are my first example. Those miniature mountain men are the perfect expression of our gluttonous side. They eat and drink to excess, and possess a bloodthirstiness for battle that would have put Attila the Hun to shame. Not to mention indulging a sex drive that could rival dogs in heat! Dwarfs are indeed larger than life; their over-the-top antics more than make up for their physical shortcomings. And that’s what makes them so endearing. We view them as the rowdy children we left behind in order to grow up into adulthood.
In Elves we see the lofty ideals that the human race constantly strives for, but ultimately fails to attain. Elves exhibit a sublime majesty, a oneness with their environment we find enviable. They commune with nature in a way that humankind hasn’t enjoyed since we abandoned the caves to take up farming. However, the flip side of that coin is that Elfkind are never numerous and always on the verge of forsaking the world of mortal men. Increasingly, modern portrayals of them depict a flawed race dogged by humanlike failings. They are what we could have become, should have been, and might never get the chance to be.
And then there are the social misfits. Goblins and Trolls represent the baser instincts, the primal urges that drive all animals. In them we are morbidly transfixed by what we were, emerging from bestial hunter-gatherer societies to become so-called civilised peoples. But in those primitive cultures can also be seen the stirrings of higher intellect that, incredibly and dangerously, sets up apart from other creatures.
So, to summarise ...Goblins and Trolls echo our past, Dwarfs paint a picture of us at present, whilst Elves shimmer as a ghostly future beyond our reach. I should know. My new series Terrath is filled with these traditional races, albeit tweaked with the odd twist here and there to freshen up perceptions. Wizards’ Goal will introduce you to the Fellow Races, complete with all their strengths and weaknesses. You’ll meet the highland Dwarfs, the desert dwelling Trolls and seafaring Elves, as well as the perennial baddies out west, the Goblins. And in them all you’ll find peeks of multifaceted Men and the terrible secrets they harbour concerning the origins of Terrath’s inhabitants.
When asked in what genre I write, the response I give people invariably raises eyebrows. Science fantasy...what’s that? I tell them that it’s the future of speculative writing. Gone are the days when the respective genres enjoyed these rigidly defined boundaries:
Sci-fi, given its grounding in science, makes the implausible possible. Fantasy, which has no grounding in reality, makes the impossible plausible.
In recent years that delimitation has grown increasingly blurred. Sci-fi has crossed the threshold into the realm of mysticism, territory that was once the sole province of fantasy. Star Wars is a readily identifiable example. Unquestionably rooted in science fiction, the use of the Force and the magic-like properties it bestows upon the Jedi (and Sith) practitioners encroaches upon the stock fantasy themes of wizards and spellcasting. Dune is another case in point. Ostensibly written as hardcore sci-fi, the prescient abilities of Paul Atreides and the Guild Navigators borders on the supernatural. And what of Stephen Baxter, Britain’s quintessential master of nuts and bolts sci-fi? His Mammoth trilogy and exceptional standalone novel Evolution cannot be considered as wholly one genre or the other, but a workable blend of both.
The science fantasy label bridges that gap. For me, it encompasses the best of both worlds. Magic and machinery coexist in mutual harmony. A prime example of this can be found in my Chosen Trilogy. How else could I place prehistoric life and extraterrestrials believably in the same setting, melding the disparate concepts of evolution and technology?
No doubt others will disagree with my assessment and seek to preserve the status quo. Naturally, there will always be a place in the literary world for traditional science fiction and fantasy tales. My own new series, Terrath, might be construed upon first inspection as typical fantasy fare. But threaded throughout the unfolding plots are mechanical wonders inspired by the sciences. Therefore, it is neither one genre nor the other, but a fulfilling amalgamation that enhances the storytelling.
Consider this parting thought that, in my humble opinion, sums up matters nicely:
Science fantasy is the child sired by Father Science and birthed by Mother Fantasy.
Novelist Alan J. Garner is author of The Chosen Trilogy and the fantasy series Terrath.