Today is a very special day, indeed. Not only is it St. Patrick’s Day (you may have noticed an excess of green around here), but far more exciting, the über talented Roland Yeomans from Writing in the Crosshairs is here to talk about world building and his new Kindle ebook, THE BEAR WITH TWO SHADOWS.
♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣
Welcome, Roland and Happy St. Patrick’s Day! It’s great to have you on this side of the comments. Thank you so much for letting me be a part of your blog tour. Let’s dive right in, shall we?
I know you’ve touched on this in earlier interviews, but for benefit of readers who haven’t been able to follow every step of your tour, tell us a little about the world you created for THE BEAR WITH TWO SHADOWS and what sparked it?
♣ My mother, of course, wove stories in the frigid darkness of that frozen-in Detroit basement apartment. She used legends she remembered of Celtic heroes and the mysterious Sidhe. She also used the teaching tales told her by her Grandmother. I rembered her teaching tales to me. Those I used as well. But as I grew older, I built on what she had given me.
- What were the moral codes of the Celts, Sidhe, the Lakota, and the other races still living in Hibbs’ strange world without the White race?
- Why did I remove the White race?
We sometimes think: oh, if only there were no Moslems to terrorize us, no Russian Evil Empire, no Chinese Giant threatening us with its sheer size and icy regard of us! You could go further: if only no rich, no elite, no Republicans, no Democrats, no politics.
John Lennon said: if only no religion, no faith in God.
I chose to remove the Whyte race. And those races that remained still warred with each other.
The supernaturals were no better. They massed into the horde called the Darklings to terrorize those less powerful and fewer than they. The Sidhe ate their own in endless clan feuds. Which is why Hibbs found that there were far fewer males than females due to the casualties. Also I showed different ways in which the void of the Whyte race had robbed the world in literature, invention, and social progress. I could have removed the black race or the Chinese or the gender of men, making women have infants another way or making the remaining people immortal — all showing why the parts of the whole each have their vital function — showing it takes all the colors to bring depth to the canvas we call life. But I had other themes to interweave in my story, and the thirty Iscariot coins demanded I remove the Whyte race as the catalyst, which sets Hibbs on his quest.
Most of us are writers here, so I have to ask, how much world-building do you do before you put fingers to keyboard?
♣ I do a “crime board” of sorts, showing how economics, religion, politics, and greed impact the world I made.
In FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE, I envisioned a world of layers.
First: the layer of the world we see now about us.
Second: the world behind the curtains where revenant Abigail Adams rules America Corps as Madame President. And Empress Theodora rules Europe’s revenants in a form of the Roman Empire that never truly went away — but rules the European state heads from the shadows. And China and Japan being ruled by aliens fleeing Lovecraft’s Old Ones (Ningyo’s). In essence, the Ningyo rule the revenants even through the use of their advanced intellect. No slave is so useful as the one who thinks himself King.
Third: Samuel McCord, having been dragged against his will in the mid 1860’s by President Johnson and then Grant into shepherding a treaty which granted the Lakota their own nation in America’s center — he made damn sure the treaty with his name attached would never be broken: Neither Indian or White may cross the borders of the Great Indian Nation. Deadwood acts as the embassy of sorts for the U.S.A. Of course, both Indian tribes and the American government hate McCord.
When you put such detail into your world, the plot seems to take on a life of its own, raising, then answering intriguing questions.
Do you approach world building in the same way for all your stories? Is it more difficult to create a world from scratch than to start with a well-known city like New Orleans and build from there?
♣ When you research the legends and ghost stories of New Orleans. It sparks story ideas. Of course, old-standing musings take part too. Watching JURASSIC PARK, I wondered if Man evolved from apes, what manner of being would have evolved from raptors? How would they live, where, and what would their social structure be?
I considered New Orleans with its proximity to water and the waterways, then the swamps would be an ideal location. I looked for an applicable Indian legend and found the Soyoko — who then proceeded to makes the lives of Samuel McCord and Victor Standish … interesting (especially when civilization died after Katrina.) Think about building a house from scratch, then re-modeling. The re-modeling is always the more challenging and difficult of the two. Starting from scratch gives you elbow room and leeway to adapt that remodeling does not. Same with world-building.
What else do you want us to know about world building or THE BEAR WITH TWO SHADOWS?
♣ With THE BEAR WITH TWO SHADOWS, world building became a musing game. What myth would I use for the Sidhe? Having decided upon the myth of them being the undecided angels in the war of Question against Answer, I had to decide what their fate would do to their mind-set, their aspirations, their very natures.
I decided that you take you wherever you go. Undecided some of them would always stay. Some would rebel against their former choice of not deciding and rush rashly into one disasterous mistake after another. Some would choose the middle course, reflecting then acting — usually as meddlers in human affairs.
When I started world building in my fable. I thought about the world … as the Lakota saw her. The Turquoise Woman. And I set about to insert her into the reason why the Whyte race was no longer around — and nto the solution. I thought about what her perspective would be : certainly global, certainly not particulary fond of the maggots called Man that chiseled away at her or ignored her completely.
And what would her personality be like? Certainly shaped by the totality of all she saw, all the life forms on her body. Would she feel lonely with no one to share it with? It occurred to me lonely would be too small a word for what she felt. And that would set her up to be manipulated and betrayed by the being calling himself The Dagda, who also saw the cosmic view.
Lonely, betrayed, cast aside, The Turquoise Woman would do what? Like a human bereft of her only child, perhaps she would snatch a child not her own. What would happen then? And so Hibbs, the bear with two shadows, had his beginnings and his end.
What question didn’t I ask that I should have?
♣ None. You did a brilliant job, Viva. You humble me with your great kindness and insight. I hope I did some small justice to your questions.
Okay, I probably shouldn’t have included that last bit – now I’m blushing. But this is exactly why you are so well-loved, Roland. You make us feel special. Thank you so much and best of luck with THE BEAR WITH TWO SHADOWS. It’s been an honor having you here today. I hope you will return with each new book – I foresee many in your future.
THE BEAR WITH TWO SHADOWS
In a land just beyond your mirror lies a realm few discover. It is a magical, dangerous dimension. There lurks your darkest nightmares and your fondest hopes.
For nearly two thousand winters there, the seasons have flowed inevitably one into another. Life is as it always has been. The Huron war with the Iroquois, the Commanche with the Lakota, and the Apache with everyone.
Across the great waters, the Mongul storm the great wall of Chin. The samurai of Nippon invade Indus. And the vast Collisium lies in ruins, overgrown with vines and olive trees.
The deer and bear roam the deserted villages of Gaul. And the lonely wind whispers through the towering monoliths of Stonehenge. The race called Whyte is not even a memory. Except to Estanatlehi, The Turquoise Woman, once named Gaia, Goddess of the Earth, by the People she alone remembers.
All of which means exactly nothing to the young bear Hibbs. For as long as he can remember, he has been raised by The Turquoise Woman, whom he simply calls GrandMother.
Trained by her, hunted by the Lakota, accompanied by the strange hawk, Little Brother, Hibbs has happily ambled from mountain to desert to forest, even sometimes across the great waters.
Often he has asked GrandMother why she has led him to so many different lands. The answer has always been : Because a moving target is harder to hit.
He thinks it is a joke. It is not. He is hunted by more than the Lakota. He is being hunted by a being now known as the Gray Bear, though that has not always been his name.
Hibbs is the unknowing key to rescuing the race once called Whyte from oblivion. For that very purpose the Turquoise Woman has raised and trained him. But now she repents of her actions.
She has grown to love the young bear. And for the Whyte race to live, Hibbs must die.
So she has hidden him in the ancient land of Eire, home of all manner of strange beasts and wonders, ruled by the stag-being Cernunnos. Here she hopes she can cause Hibbs to be lost among so many fearsome creatures.
Hibbs, large of heart, bold of spirit, cannot see pain without trying to help. He has become a healer. And heal he will do no matter how much Cernunnos protests.
And protest the tyrant does — with his vast army of Darklings. To survive, Hibbs and Little Brother must escape, using a mysterious construct called a Sidhe Mound.
Estanatlehi sees her plan to save Hibbs further unravel as the bear and hawk find themselves in Avalon, now being bloodied by an eon-long civil war.
There, in the crystal and gold palace of Caer Wydr, Hibbs interrupts the dark ritual, Diatheke, setting the race called Whyte a step closer to their destiny and himself into a desperate struggle of spirit with the Gray Bear.
♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣
Okay, folks, Roland is offering some AWESOME signed editions to celebrate his blog tour:
• NARCISSUS IN CHAINS by Laurell K. Hamilton
• ODD THOMAS by Dean Koontz
• HANGING OUT with the DREAM KING by Neil Gaiman
• WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE by Jim Butcher
To enter, leave a comment.
For another TWO entries: Link to Twitter or Facebook. (Be sure to email Roland at firstname.lastname@example.org to let him know.)
AND if you post a legit review of THE BEAR WITH TWO SHADOWS on Amazon by March 31, you will get THREE entries in the drawing. (Drawing on April 1)