Today i bring to you my final spotlight post as as part of the Clink Street Blogival 2016. My aim is to highlight a few authors, there’s so much choice these days too many can be overlooked.
Today it’s the turn of JC Norman, author of Sphere’s Divide: Pilgirm of Element.
Below is the blurb on the book –
Sphere’s Divide is a dark, matured and thrilling romance told in the narrative of a physical and emotional journey designed to push the boundaries of love and morals.
When Leo Raiden discovers the secluded site of a skyship crash on the outskirts of his island he finds a seemingly, single survivor. A new and devastating global disaster threatens Sphere. Raiden, the enigmatic Val and a Caster named Zahied are set upon a mission to a distant land, seeking only information of ancient human knowledge and technologies to protect Sphere from the threat that sits outside its atmosphere.
High Elementalist Acarlie of Eloma, a young girl skilled in the art of manipulating the Element of Wind has finally finished her training and is ready to set off on her dangerous pilgrimage. To visit each elemental stadium and fight in thrilling battles in front of thousands in order to master all the elements and become the Elemental Lord. With her on her sacred journey are her Sacred Guides, Tigian Sheeria and Human Miles, a charismatic mercenary paid to protect her.
Together, these two parties discover their goals lie at the same destination and will pave the way for the most important story in Sphere’s history.
Combining mild science fiction, unconventional fantasy, romance and adventure, Pilgrim of Element is the first chapter to tell a unique story in a new world where humans are no longer a lonely race, but share their world with intelligent, evolved creatures descendant of mammals we know today.
Sphere’s Divide: Pilgirm of Element is available on Amazon
Without further ado i pass you over to JC Norman who will tell you a little more about the characters within the story. Enjoy!
First of all I would like to make a quick disclaimer. I have had to search the internet for ages, trying to find the right pictures for the characters. Trying to find a human-like evolved lion only ends in pictures of a half naked, feral warrior thing that looks like it can’t hold a simple conversation. And when trying to find a picture of a female character come up with poor images of them trying to be sexy. So I have found what I feel is the closest interpretation to my characters without anyone losing the idea of who these characters are.
I guess we should start at the beginning and so should start at Val. In many ways Val is your typical reluctant hero. My idea here was to create a relatable character whom the audience feels a personal connection with. The idea for his story is one of personal discovery. A young man with no memory finding himself forced into the main plot. Since he has no memory nor identity he knows nothing of the world, the people, races or how it works, and so he has a very ‘Earthy’ way of looking at things. I wanted the audience to think that he may even be from a place like Earth and so would ask the questions and see the world as the readers are themselves. As far as heroes go, Val isn’t a very good one. He is not strong, intelligent, doesn’t have a big charismatic nor even a leadership quality to him, but I feel he shines in the most important aspects of what makes a ‘Hero’ and that is his loyalty, perseverance and his ability to decipher right from wrong (something I fully intend to stretch to the limits). He is a character who is dedicated to his friends, following his heart, standing for what he believes in and persevering against the struggle. It’s these qualities that make up each and every person we all know.
My inspiration for Val were characters too many to name since I feel there is a bit of Val in every movie and book hero we’ve ever read or seen. He is your Luke Skywalkers, King Arthurs, Jon Snows, Tiduses, Samwise Gamgees, John McClains, Perer Parkers, this list goes on and on.
Acarlie in many ways is the real hero of the story. Whereas Val shows one side of the qualities of the hero, Acarlie shows the others. Hers is of dedication to her pilgrimage, upholding the laws of her upbringings and traditions and trying to stay true to innocence. She is a character who throughout the story will experience change more than any other. She is naïve and even spoilt and sheltered sometimes, holding up her laws and rules to a fault and is all to willing to reveal her emotions. She however is the leader of the band since she is the Elementalist but cleverly and often steps down and allows the likes of Raiden and Sheeria to make the decisions, only putting her foot down when she feels she truly has to. She is a complex character since many times she sits on two sides of the spectrum of what she feels is important in life and so struggles when she sees the conflict of her options. But within her flaws is her strength in battle. Physically and emotionally she may seem weak but her ability in her Element of Wind is where she shines and gives the readers a light show of action and adrenaline. Hers and Val’s slow romance however is the real star of the show, the conflict of ideas between the characters and the loyalty to each other give the reader a powerful image of conflicted but passionate affection for each other, even if it is never said, I wanted the readers to see this by their actions and emotions rather than them hearing it from them. My inspirations for Acarlie are both Summoner Yuna and Rinoa Heartilly from the Final Fantasy series.
Raiden is one my favourites. He is of a race called Leos, descendants of lions who over the millenniums have evolved to stand on two feet and speak as we have from prime-apes. Raiden is the true leader and alpha male of the group, often only stepping down when the Elementalist must make the decisions that affect the group or when Sheeria steps in. The three of them have a clever triangle of leadership between them and even though Acarlie is technically the leader, it is clear that Raiden is in charge. As a walking and talking lion don’t be fooled by the idea of his character. He is not a mindless and feral, ware-wolf-like beast, or a cliché animal warrior only wanting to ‘spill the blood of his enemies’ ect. Instead, he portrays the idea of the bigger brother or even father figure of the group. Still in the process of grieving for his recently deceased brother, Raiden portrays loyalty to his friends and the trust in their abilities. He is stubborn and quick tempered as you could imagine a lion would be and proud to a fault of his ancestry. Being the last of his kind, wiped out by the humans a century previously he also has a history of hatred for them. But over the years has grown over his young and heated emotions, now only lonely in his race, taking Val under his wing and teaching him the ways of Sphere. It was to him and Val that the mission to discover information about the Black Hole came to and so again this makes him the true protagonist of the story, even though he often steps down and takes a back seat for the likes of Acarlie and Val to take the spot light. Like Val, there are many inspirations for Raiden but I think he also is quite unique, he is a person who has endured and overcome discrimination over the years and has learned to let go of hatred for the people who will eventually make his people extinct. He is the strongest of the cast and has a strong sense of justice, but it is his change in character when meeting the likes of Sheeria and Acarlie and seeing his more sensitive side that is the most fun thing about someone like Raiden. I think there is something of every father figure in Raiden and easily one of the quickest and easiest characters to like and understand.
In many ways Sheeria is a simple character, she is a mother, an older sister, a guardian and a guide for Acarlie. But she also has a complex character in how she sees the world and her complete loyalty to Acarlie. Very much like Raiden, Sheeria is a tigian, a creature that evolved from a tiger and so completes the image of the caring and over protective mother. As a character who was once a mother, Sheeria now fills the gap of her own lost child by raising, training and travelling with Acarlie, loving and protecting her like she child she failed in the past. She is fierce in protecting Acarlie and the strongest female character in the main plot. Her strong and fearless personality even over-shadows Raiden’s and so makes her the third part of the triangle of leadership. Raiden and Acarlie will both listen to her but she often chooses to take Acarlie’s side as her loyal Guide and best friend. The relationship between Raiden and Sheeria too is a subtle and slow process seen gradually in their actions towards one another. But with her loyalty to Acarlie and the teachings she is sometimes a closed book to the likes of Val, she does not see the world from outside her teachings. Her fierceness also comes across with a fiery temper, but this temper is only a manifestation of her dedication to Acarlie, and soon, to her other friends. She, quite simply is the image of that tigress mother in the wild with a cub under her paws and staring at you, daring you to take another step.
The Nameless Mute
This character is a special one, for me especially and from what I have heard, has become a favourite to the readers. The Nameless Mute, a young boy from a dark city that hides underneath another city, a city with no sky. He is a character who has grown up in darkness and has never seen the sky. Often referred to the names of Dude, Monkey, Mute, Aeomon; in truth he has no name, nor does he have a tongue to tell anyone his real name, and so he goes by the names people give him. He is of a species called Aeomon, originally based on the idea of monkeys, aeomon are basically humans with tails. The Nameless Mute however, as a thief, (and not a very good one at that) has had both his tail and his tongue removed after being caught stealing in his life. And so with his terrible lifestyle, missing limbs and lack of sunlight and friends he portrays depression, anxiety and self hatred. I see the Nameless Mute as that part of everybody who has suffered at some part of their lives. A role to remind everyone of the hardships we have all been through in one way or another and the day to day struggle we all face. As a character who cannot speak, he relies solely on his actions, gestures and emotions and so gives the reader a closer connection to his true personality. He is that feeling of rejection you had when you were young and denied by your crush, he is the feeling of loneliness, the feeling that you are different when you look out at everybody else in the world personified in the body of a weak and helpless character. But as we all know, there is more to what meets the eye and on the other side of his character, he is made of the same substance we are. He is thoughtful and sacrificial for the needs of others, confused about his own past and constantly questioning his existence and wielding the legendary fire-sword Fireshaver we are forever reminded that there is something unique and special about this enigmatic character. He in many ways is a protagonist of his very own story that co-insides the main plot, telling the story of how many of us fight ourselves on a daily bases. My inspirations for him are every silent protagonist ever portrayed in JRPGs, letting his actions speak louder than his words. Also he is inspired by non other that my own insecurities, he is the darker side of not just me but everyone. He is the underdog, he is the reject of society, but if you look closer, he has got a heart, he is human (kind-of).
And now for the most important character in the story. The antagonist. To me, the antagonist, the villain, the bad guy is the most important part of any story. Like the rule of the drummer in a band, the better the villain, the better the story. It’s them who keep the plot going, who’s dedicated hard work on f******* things up keeps things interesting and makes things hard for the protagonists. And so, for me, Zane was the hardest character to look up. I searched for ages on what I feel makes a good villain and started watching films just to appreciate how the antagonist works. He is a character who instantly steals the show from even the most charismatic hero, even his presence in the scene brings a tension, mystery and awe, and Zane is no different.
Like Sheeria, Zane is a tigian, and so instantly, his physical appearance is a threatening one, a towering, walking and talking tiger. He however is also the Elemental Lord, an elementalist like Acarlie who has mastered all of the elements around the world and now sits upon the throne of all the elementalists and would be the final stop for Acarlie once she has finished her pilgrimage and would be ready to face her final trial. More importantly however, other than his physical and elemental advantage would be his immortality. Originally born a human millions of years previously and being the saviour to the planet, he merged with the Spirit of the planet and died. Unlike every other soul however who could find that eternal rest, Zane was born again in a different body. A tiny child, unable to speak until he was old enough. This cycle continued throughout the millenniums until Zane finally realised he would never die and truly find that peace of death, until he heard about the Black Hole and now has decided that the only way he would ever truly sleep again, is if the world and every other life form in it would sleep with him. Now weathered with life itself Zane uses his new tigian body and stature of the Elemental Lord to bully his way through Sphere in a desperate race against our heroes. With all these advantages he has against the others though, the best advantage he actually has is his intelligence. He is old, so very old, and with age comes wisdom he uses expertly, having all the time in the world to perfect how to use it. He is a character who understands how others work, a master tactician, a careful thinker, but he is not however a monster. Not just a cackling bad guy bent on world domination, instead it is almost understandable of why he would want such destruction, if only to get the peace he deserves for his previous actions of saving the planet all those years ago. With all these strengths and the world’s strongest army behind his back Zane is the 100 foot wall the protagonists must overcome. He is every obstacle we have ever faced where it feels impossible to win. My inspirations for him include Darth Vader, Sephiroth (FF7), Kazuya Mishima, Brick Top, Zoran Lazarevic (Uncahrted), L (Death Note), Shere Khan and many others.
A quick explanation of the different species to understand them.
Humans: Self-explanatory really. Humans are us (duh). They are the most technologically advanced race and the smartest of all. In many ways they represent the western world by the clothes they wear. After wiping out the Leo race in the Leo Divide, the humans now hold the majority of the world’s power. They are also the more science fiction pert of the story with their technology and inventions.
Elders: These are the opposite of the humans. Called ‘Elders’ because history says that these creatures were on Sphere before the humans. Also because of their image, they look haggard and old with natural wrinkles even at youth. They are the creatures that understand the Spirit more than any other and are the closest link to any form of ‘Magic’ in the story. They also represent the eastern world with their lifestyles and architecture ect. Also they are the only creature that isn’t inspired of actual mammals we know here. Inspired by the Mystics of The Dark Crystal they are kind, humble and sacred creatures who stay out of the politics of the humans and leave them to it. Only stepping up to war with them if necessary.
Leos: As mentioned before, the leos are based on lions. Now all extinct they were once proud warriors who once controlled the world until the humans developed weapons to kill them. Not very intelligent but clearly the strongest and feared by many. Their dress sense is inspired by a primal and indigenous societies and medieval-style cloaks and armours. Over history they have remained loyal servants to the elders, the way dogs are to humans, a fact the humans have always been jealous of.
Tigians: Like the leos the tigians are based on tigers and have a very similar concept to them. But as smarter creatures they stayed out of previous wars and so are more common than the leos. Living in-between both the humans and elders, the tigians have taken a more eastern dress sense like kimonos but would not shy from other forms of attire like ancient Greek-style tunics and gowns. They are a kind race regardless of their appearance and one of the world’s greatest and most numerous.
Aeomon: Originally inspired by monkeys, the aeomon are simply humans with tails. They live very close with the humans but are not as intelligent. Their technology would be something of steam-punk with a Victorian style of clothing most of the time but also fit in with the humans, however they do receive some discrimination since from them since the humans naturally believe themselves better and more evolved.
Kingnines: Kingnines are the result of genetic engineering. After the humans could not get the leos to follow them as the elders do. They instead turned to genetics and developed a quadruped creature that could talk. Mixing the leos DNA with that of wolves they created a mix of the two. Kingnines were created for the sole purpose of killing the leos and serving the humans. There are none in the wild and they only serve the armies or individual humans. They are the most loyal of all the creatures and serve their human masters. But unlike the leos who serve the entire elder species, the kingnines serve only one human at a time.
Finally I have some pictures I searched for to find some ideas of the world itself and the skyships and technology to give you a better understanding of Sphere.
Sphere’s Divide: Pilgirm of Element is available on Amazon