21 June 2009

Guest Author: Miriam Newman

Please help me welcome Dark Castle Lords author Miriam Newman as she celebrates the release of her novella, SPIRIT AWAKENED!

In a pre-medieval land recently torn by war, a woman with no speech and no memories struggles to survive. Drawn to a small farm, she encounters a man equally in need, though for different reasons. They are each other's only hope, and the future for their land. In a time of spiritual awakening, can they and their country survive? Or will the twin enemies of fear and persecution triumph?

What led you to write this book?

The book originated with a mental image of a girl who is pregnant, unable to speak or remember, but who knows that she is in a dangerous, war-torn place. Thrown back upon basic instinct, she barely manages to survive until the birth of her child and then, despite her fears, has to find a way to ensure both of them will live.

What makes this book so unusual?

One of the things that made it such a challenge is that it's 46,000+ words about someone who never regains her memory or much speech. Personal influences shaped my ability to even write a book, which has no dialogue for the first three chapters! After a serious head injury in my late teens, I suffered from amnesia. Subsequently, when I worked in various aspects of psychiatric social work and was employed by a home health care agency, I had occasion to work with clients who suffered from receptive and/or expressive aphasia--that is, they were unable to understand speech and/or to process speech in order to reply. It is an extremely challenging condition. Next I had to imagine a man who would be able to deal with this in a pre-medieval society. And then I had to get him down on paper!

Sounds like a challenge! How long did it take you to write this?

The draft was finished in approximately 90 days, and then a brave lady from my writers' group critiqued the whole thing. She did that in the course of about six weeks. I started to have members of another critique group go over it, too, but by then I had spilled the beans to my publisher and she wanted to read it.

How long did it take her to accept it?

One day.

Wow--a lady who knows her own mind!

She certainly does.

Did it require much research? Ninety days isn't a lot of time!

No, it isn't, but another unusual thing about the book is that it's a fantasy historical. Even though aspects of pre-medieval Europe are recognizable, they are mixed with elements of world-building that characterize fantasy. I have created my own world, containing the European influences I have mentioned, but laced with lore from the Golden Horde of Genghis Khan, Tibetan and Native American myth and custom. And those are areas in which I was already well-read.

Have you done this before?

Yes. My "Chronicles of Alcinia"--The King's Daughter and Heart of the Earth--are also fantasy historicals. For those, I drew heavily on of Romano-British, Celtic and Viking history, myth and legend. And I wrote them while I was in Ireland, which was a vast and incredible influence on the books.

Any such plans for your future books?

I honestly don't know. When I sit down with the idea for a book, I never know if that's what is actually going to come out on the keyboard. It's like some inner force starts typing and sometimes I don't even get the book I had in mind. Talk about a pantser!

Do you have forthcoming releases?

Two. Sometime later in the summer I should be announcing a release date for Scion: House of Bardin. It's a futuristic in which you will not have to look far for the influences of Ancient Rome, even though it is set on another planet.

And then in November, Dark Castle Lords will release a Christmas anthology titled Season of Love. I have joined three other DCL authors in a sampler of contemporary, paranormal and science fiction romance. My story there is titled "Peace on New Earth," and I didn't actually realize until I had finished it that American Colonial history was at work in that one. It's a light romance, sort of Pilgrims meeting natives on a far distant planet. Unfortunately, the pilgrims have infected their hosts with a nasty, deadly virus. So peace for anyone may be very short-lived, because these natives aren't going without a fight.

Any plans beyond that?

I don't know, but the year 1066 keeps rolling around in my mind...



Thanks for stopping by today, Miriam. Best of luck with your work!

Readers, are you curious about SPIRIT AWAKENED? If so, leave a question or comment for Miriam. I'll draw a winner at random next Sunday. Best of luck!