Did you see my review of Liefdom by Jesse Teller? No!! well click here to read it quick!
Today I’m very glad to continue my 10 questiosn with feature with non other than Jesse Teller himself who very kindly took the time to answer some of my questions.
I do hope you enjoy, keep reading to the end for sneak peak of whats to come next from Jesse!
Q1 – For anyone who’s read my reviews they will already know about the life of Gentry Mandrake but for those who’ve not had a chance to read the book yet can you give them a little insight into the story?
Okay, so Gentry Mandrake is a fairy. In my world, fairies are born to a different realm called The Veil, and every time a fairy is born, a child is born. That fairy and that child are bound together. The fairy serves as the child’s immune system to magic and other properties of my fantasy world. If the child dies, the fairy dies, and vice versa. All children are born innocent. So when Mandrake is born and he’s of monstrous size, has natural armor, and natural weapons, it begs the question, what kind of monstrous baby could have inspired such a monstrous fairy? We find out during the course of the book whether Mandrake is really a monster, serving a monstrous child, or if he is something else.
Q2 – I love the idea of the connection between humans and fairies..and especially the idea of the consequences of being a bad human/fairy has on the other.. Where did this idea come from and did it take a while for you to develop it fully?
Well I guess you could say parenthood. If a parent goes sour, usually the child does as well. Not all the time, but sometimes. So, in my world, when a fairy becomes jaded and dark, so does the child, and vice versa. This puts fairies as the guardians of the child’s innocence. Just as, in many ways, a parent is the guardian of a child’s innocence. When a person goes truly evil, when a child goes truly evil, it’s soul is severed from the fairy, and the fairy has a chance to turn itself back. This is the shift between changeling and imp. This mimics parents and children too, because when people become truly evil, it’s not necessarily a reflection of the way they were raised. At a certain point, they just cannot blame the parents anymore for their own decisions. In Liefdom, as in most of my work, I’m studying the relationship between parents and children.
Q3 – Something that really sticks with me from the book is the progression Mandrake goes through as the story develops. My number 1 must for a book is character development and I loved how you managed this. Was it hard for you to find the right balance between action and character development?
Not really. Character development is not an engine in itself. A lot of writers consider themselves masters of a train yard. On one track, they have plot development, on another they have character, and still another they have scene development, setting, voice. To these writers, they are managing the travel of all these different trains on many different tracks, trying to get all the goods, all of the story, in one place at one time, at different paces, with different strategies. For me, this analogy doesn’t hold up. I’m more like an arsonist burning the story to the ground. Create certain things, let’s call the heat of the fire the plot, the smoke is character development, the fire itself is the action. All these things go up simultaneously. All these things happen at the same time. So, the action creates the character development. I don’t see them as separate entities at all, just one great conflagration.
Q4 – How long have you been a writer and what influenced you to first put pen to paper?
Well it was my first writing assignment, right? That’s when everybody starts writing. They’re in grade school and they’re told to write some sort of short story. Mine was about a purple hippopotamus. I was in fifth grade. Some writers, it starts in college, when they can put together their ideas and they are driven. They’re telling themselves, this is what I want to do for my career, and they’re moving towards that goal. With me, I didn’t have that. There was a whole life full of distractions. I wrote occasionally. I wrote when I was given an assignment to. I didn’t really start creating a world until I was much older. Didn’t start writing with purpose until high school. But the thing that told me I really wanted to do it was the way it felt. Telling a story, creating a story, something captivating, something that pulled the reader, if just for a second, out of their world, their understanding. I was aware of that in fifth grade. I became aware of it with every story I told. It gets seductive after awhile. Coming up with a story for people to talk about, for people to experience, you can get carried away with it if you let yourself. It pulls at you, gently at first. If you write another chapter tonight, then you can spend the day talking about it with your wife, with your friend. It gets seductive. It can turn you into a junkie if you let it.
Q5 – Would you contemplate writing a book in any other genre?
I’m working on an autobiography. I’m not intellectual enough for sci-fi. Not funny enough for comedy. I’d love to be able to write historical fiction, maybe medical drama, but these have a lot of research to them. I respect authors of all genres, but fantasy is really my thing. In fantasy, if you can dream it up, you can find a way to make it happen. In fantasy, you can be undone by an infection, or standing your own against thousands of men. Fantasy is really the only language that I speak.
Q6 – How important is feedback from your readers?
Well, you can’t grow without feedback. That’s just a fact. If you’re writing in a bubble, you can’t expect to move on when you find yourself churning the same ground over and over again. I’ve got two people who have read everything, and they keep me honest. When a new review comes out, good or bad, I’m excited about it, because I learn from all of it. I find peer review to be the most helpful, hearing the opinions of other writers. But everybody who reads my work has an opinion, and I’d love to hear all of them.
Q7 – Who have been your biggest influences within the writing community?
Anybody who works really hard, who puts out quality work relentlessly. Glen Cook was really big for me in this respect. He put out a lot of solid work and I liked his gritty take on the fantasy genre. I went to a lot of workshops with an agent named Donald Maass. He had a big influence on how I wrote, process and technique. I’m inspired by author/marketers. There are indie authors who write and publish their own work and then spend years marketing it and getting it out to the world. That’s just inspiring to me. I can’t really pull that off. I’m obsessed with the work. I find myself working late at night, isolating myself in the work, pounding out one word after the next. But my wife does all my marketing. If she didn’t, nobody would ever hear of me. I’m not even sure I would ever publish, just sit in my basement and pound out one word after the next.
Q8 – What books are currently on your reading shelf?
Paradise Lost, John Milton. This has been a dream for a long time, a long time. The idea of the process of writing this piece sets my imagination on fire. This guy was blind when he wrote this epic poem. He was blind, which means he couldn’t write it out himself, he had to dictate it. When you’re writing, part of your mind’s eye is in the place that you’re writing, but your actual eye is on the board or on the screen. You’ve got that veil between you and the world that you’re writing about because you’re looking at a screen. This veil, this tiny step of distance that most writers have, Milton didn’t have. So when he described the fall of Lucifer, he was in the air tumbling at the same rate as Lucifer. When he described the building of the castle Pandemonium, he stood on its foundations as it was being erected. He knew the fires of Hell. He knew the bliss of Heaven. He experienced it all as he was dictating it. I’m also going to read the rest of Robert E. Howard. I’ve got his complete works. He’s my favorite writer of all time. I want to say I’ve read everything he’s done. He was a contemporary of H.P. Lovecraft. He wrote pulp fantasy and horror, created Conan, Kull, Bran Mak Morn. He wrote Solomon Kane, the puritan warrior witch-hunter, demon-hunter. Can’t get enough of that guy. I’ve got some of my own contemporaries on the list as well, other indie authors, Dyrk Ashton, Josiah Bancroft, M.L. Spencer. It’s an exciting time to be a reader. Before now, there was never really a viable way for a writer to get his or her work out unless they were traditionally published. Now there’s a free flowing of ideas and experimental projects that we’ve never seen before.
Q9 – What’s the best bit of advice you would give to those considering writing a book?
Write all the time. Pick a small window of time during your day every day and allow yourself in that time to obsess about your work. Throw everything else away, just for those brief half-hour, two hours, four hours, throw everything else away. Allow yourself to say, “Nothing else matters at this moment but my work.” And then just go, just pound out the words, just write and write and write, and when the timer goes off, and it’s time to go back to the real world, do so, content in the knowledge that tomorrow that same window of time will be open to you.
Q10 – Future plans? And will we see Mandrake again any time soon?
My future plans are to publish 1-2 novels every year for the rest of my life. I’ve got a book coming out in October where Mandrake makes a cameo. But in the releases for the next 15 years, we won’t see Mandrake. As time progresses, I believe he’ll come back into the main story unfolding of the world, but for now, Liefdom is the only glimpse we have into Mandrake. I’ve written a number of rough drafts, they’re poised and ready to go. I’ve got a lot of story saved up, waiting on a shelf. So keep your ear to the ground. You’ll hear more from me soon.
What’s next for Jesse.. well pn the 5th October his new book Song is released!
Here’s the blurb –
Some of the darkest minds in Perilisc attacked Mending Keep, releasing all its prisoners. Despite his strained relationship with the crown, Rayph Ivoryfist calls old friends to his aid in a subversive attempt to protect King Nardoc and thwart terrorist plots to ruin the Festival of Blossoms. But someone else is targeting Rayph, and even his fellow Manhunters might not be enough to save him.
Jesse has kindly given me a excerpt to share with you all, do let me know what you think of it. If you like what you read head to Amazon to pre-order your copy now!
The Guard of Mending Keep
One Year After The Escape
The serving boy’s face was stained green with disgust and horror. He looked about to be sick, about to flee, about to weep. Rayph saw the trembling lip and the panic in the eyes, and he knew what the boy was carrying. It was small, maybe a little over a foot wide, spherical, and covered with a towel. The boy wove a path through the reclining bathhouse patrons and made his slow, methodical way around the main tub to the corner where Rayph sat with his good friend, playing crease and taking in the steam.
As the boy drew closer, the dread that rose up within Rayph prompted him to turn to Dova and grimace. Rayph moved his tile, tapping it lightly with his finger, and shook his head.
“I’m afraid we are about to be interrupted,” Rayph said.
The boy trembled beside the gaming table. His white, sweating face held the world’s shock, and Rayph nodded at him. “Set it down.” He waved his hand across the boy’s eye line and muttered his spell’s incantation. The serving child’s face smoothed clear of all trepidation, and he let out a long-held breath.
“Where did you get it?” Rayph asked.
The boy’s dark eyes looked troubled even through the effects of the spell. “He hurt me,” the boy said.
“Hurt you how?” Rayph asked.
The boy pointed to his temple. “He got in here. He burned me.”
Rayph clenched his fist and anger bubbled deep within him. “What did he look like?”
“He was trimerian, but his third eye,” the boy rubbed his forehead, “it seemed to be flaming. He stunk of sulfur.”
Rayph’s blood ran cold, and he stood. “Watch the boy. Lock down the house. If he returns, do not engage, just defend, Dova. He is beyond even you.”
He looked to his ethereal friend, naught but churning wind where his body sat. The towel draped over Dova’s shoulders and tied around his waist, the only indicator of his form.
Rayph grabbed the boy’s shoulders a little too rough, just a little too hard. “Where did he go?” Rayph tried not to let fear get the better of his voice, but it trembled. There are so many innocents here. If he unleashes, how much of the city can I save? The answer was very little.
Dova exploded with a slight puff of wind. The towels fell to the floor. Rayph could feel his friend fill the room, warm air, fluttering and vibrant with life, swelled, blowing curtains in a flurry. The doors to the bathhouse slammed shut.
“Where did he go, son?” Rayph asked the boy.
“Who said he’s gone?” The voice held a new lilt of arrogance to it, a soft tinkling, musical and filled with spite. The boy leapt back. His forehead ripped open, betraying an eye. His back split and out flapped two wings that bled greasy smoke.
“Clear the room,” Rayph commanded as he loosed his spell. The power of the spell’s thrall was so great that every reclined man leapt to his feet and rushed for the door. The doors flew open to slam closed again. Every lamp in the room surged, hissing flame before dying completely. The room was thrown into gloom, the only light issuing from the great opening in the roof centered over them.
With a flick of his wrist and the uttering of a command word, the air around Rayph’s right hand tore and his sword dropped from the wound. The air zipped closed again, and Rayph turned to the serving boy, who hovered before him.
“You harm that boy any further and I will hunt you, Meric. I will plunge into that darkness you surround yourself in and I will rip you from it.”
The boy tossed his head back and unfurled a hideous laugh that trembled the ceramic tiles of the wall. “I have not come to quarrel with you, old friend.”
“You and I were never friends,” Rayph said. The sky above the opening darkened, and Rayph stepped closer. “Why have you come here? Why show yourself now, after this many millennia?”
“The nation is wide open, dear friend. No one is watching over Lorinth in your absence. You have forsaken your post.”
“I still guard this nation. I serve not the throne, but this is still my home. I will return as court wizard one day.”
The boy’s head lobbed back, and he poured out another hideous laugh, so violent the corners of the mouth split, and the boy coughed blood. “Too late, Rayph, you will return too late.” The head shook. “You have not yet looked at the present I left for you. How rude you are, Ivoryfist.”
Rayph extended an arm toward the table and muttered a word. His eyes stayed locked to Meric as the object floated the room to hover before Rayph. With a jerk of the cloth, he unveiled the severed head. Rayph looked in horror at the face, so contorted in pain from its last moment he could not recognize it.
He stared at it. The left side of the face was badly burned, the neck severed with some keen, hot blade that cauterized the wound perfectly. Deep claw marks covered the right side of the face and neck. Blood stained the chin and mouth.
Rayph’s heart broke out in a rampaging rhythm, and his mind burst into flames as he recognized the face. “No.” He looked away, but his eye was drawn to the head again as the identity of the head locked in his mind. “It can’t be.”
A gurgling laugh filled the room, and Rayph summoned forth the power to smite Meric.
“No, Rayph, you mustn’t!” Dova screamed. He threw his whistling form before Rayph, and two thrumming hands landed on his shoulders. The air that comprised Dova’s body filled with the water of the tub they stood in, making a figure of rampaging moisture. “If you engage him here, you will destroy my city. You must not.”
“Listen to Dova, Rayph. He always was one for caution,” Meric said. “Caution and cowardice looking so much alike and all.”
“Rayph, who is it?” Dova motioned toward the head.
“Stoic,” Rayph breathed. “He has killed Stoic.” Saying it aloud let the words take on meaning. His friend was gone, his guard, dead. What would become of Mending Keep? Had they all fled? Had the world’s unkillable fiends made good an escape?
He knew the futility of the words before he spoke them but felt helpless to say anything else. “I will make you hurt for this, Meric. In this one act, you have killed yourself.” Rayph felt nauseous.
“Step aside, Dova,” he said.
“Oh, my dear Rayph, please do keep tight check on that temper of yours. I would hate to reduce this city to rubble because you threw a fit,” Meric said. The black smoke issuing from the flapping wings filled the room with unbreathable air. “Stoic is gone, as are his charges, but that does not mean we need come to blows. I was not the one that killed your boy.”
“This head was severed with your blade. Do not try to deny it.”
“Yes, for easier transportation, I assure you. He was dead long before I got there.”
Was Meric lying? Did he have any reason to? Why bring the head at all? Meric was not one to gloat. It was not his way. Why alert Rayph the prison had been broken in to? There was an element to this Rayph could not see, something big moving powerful pieces about the board.
“Who did this?” Rayph asked.
The boy laughed again, weaker this time. He doesn’t have much time. I have to get Meric out of that boy as soon as possible.
“I won’t do all of your work for you, Ivoryfist,” Meric said. Lightning flashed outside, the inky clouds that followed Meric everywhere boiling in the sky above them.
“Does this mean you’re coming off sabbatical?” Meric asked.
“I will find out who did this and why, and when I do, if your name comes up at all…”
The boy laughed again, a hissing wheeze that scared Rayph.
“Remember who helped you when it all comes out, Rayph. Remember who alerted you to the break. You owe me now,” Meric said.
“I owe you nothing. You did not do this for anyone’s reasons but your own.” It’s big. It’s really big, but I can’t see it.
Meric laughed again. The wings pumped, throwing blood through the air, and the boy’s body lifted.
“Leave the boy!” Rayph said.
“You don’t give me orders any more, Rayph. Those days are over.” The boy’s body lifted high above the bathhouse, and Rayph splashed into the center of the tub to stare up at darkened skies. With a deafening explosion, Meric broke loose of the boy’s body, and the child dropped. Rayph set his feet and watched as the body tumbled. The boy dropped through the opening in the ceiling, and Rayph caught him in his arms. The sky opened and rain hammered the city. Rayph looked up at his friend and grimaced.
“I must leave, Dova,” Rayph said. “But first I have to know what happened to Stoic. Can I use your lab and summoning room?”
“Everything I own is at your command, Ivoryfist, you know that.”
The boy woke up screaming.
Did you enjoy that? if so why not pre-order your copy of the book – Amazon
About the Author
Jesse Teller fell in love with fantasy when he was five years old and played his first game of Dungeons & Dragons. The game gave him the ability to create stories and characters from a young age. He started consuming fantasy in every form and, by nine, was obsessed with the genre. As a young adult, he knew he wanted to make his life about fantasy. From exploring the relationship between man and woman, to studying the qualities of a leader or a tyrant, Jesse Teller uses his stories and settings to study real-world themes and issues.
He lives with his supportive wife, Rebekah, and his two inspiring children, Rayph and Tobin.
SPFBO 2017 entrant
Literary Titan Gold Book Award Winner, April 2017
Drunken Druid Editor’s Choice, March 2017
Drunken Druid 2016 Book of the Year Short List
Hungry Monster Gold Book Award Winner, September 2016
“Jesse Teller is a talented author with the future in his hands.” —Peter Tr, booknest.eu
“A very strong author who boldly builds the world he has created with strong themes and no apologies.” —Dianne Bylo, Tome Tender Book Blog
“Jesse’s newest project, Song, is part of his Perilisc fantasy world: a richly detailed setting, ripe with legends, magic, and secrets whispered but not yet explored.” —Bookwraiths.com