Tink...tink...tink...anyone out there? Hi! I'm Barbara Donlon Bradley - Author - editor and slightly crazy - ask anyone in my family. I hope to use this blog to talk about writing, editing and whatever pops in my head. Hope you enjoy.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Latest Guest - Mathias G.B. Colwell!

I want to welcome Mathias G.B. Colwell! First I’d love you to introduce yourself.

I’m California raised. Well traveled. I love pizza and fish tacos. I enjoy outdoor activities like snowboarding or playing soccer or basketball, but I’m just as likely to stay inside and read a book or watch TV. Currently I work in higher education. I love the work of many authors, but Robert Jordan, Patrick Rothfuss, David Eddings, Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson, and JK Rowling are among my favorites.

Tell us about your latest release.

Among my latest releases is a book called Dusk Runner, Book 1 of The Dark Arrow Trilogy. It’s sort of a classic adventure tale, a high fantasy sword and sorcery type book where the primary race of beings are elves. It has action, romance, magic, and it moves along at a fairly quick pace making it an easy and enjoyable read.

Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.

1.) Who is your favorite villain – it can be from a book (even one of yours), movie or TV show. And why?

Does Gollum, from The Lord of the Rings count? On second thought, I’m not sure that he does. If we decide that Gollum doesn’t count as a true villain, then I think I would actually have to go with a group of villains. I really enjoy the Forsaken from The Wheel of Time, by Robert Jordan. Collectively, they represent just about every conceivable reason for a person to become a villain, along with many personal motivations, their own inner set of intrigue and power squabbles, and some truly evil intentions. Villains really don’t get much better than the Forsaken, although I admit, I am partial to WOT so maybe my opinions are a bit biased. 

2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why?

That is a tough question. I guess I’m going to have to go with Beathan, a character from one of my series called The Collector Series. Beathan is a half-human, half-fairy with a penchant for theft and mischief. He’s my favorite for a number of reasons. Firstly, I think he’s exciting and a bit unpredictable. Secondly, he enjoys creating a bit of chaos and I’ve always enjoyed characters who add to the general madness of a story just a little bit. And lastly, he is just really fun to write, probably more fun to write than just about any of my other characters, which has made me rather fond of him.

3.) What do genre do you write? What made you pick that one?

I like to think that I write primarily fantasy, although some of my work might more aptly be classified in a slightly different section of speculative fiction. It’s pretty simple, I try to write stories that I would want to read and I happen to love a good fantasy series.

4.) What are you working on now?

I am currently finishing up Entrance to Dark Harbor, Book 2 of The Dark Arrow Trilogy. I’m also outlining and preparing to start writing Book 3 of that same trilogy.

5.) What got you to start writing?

This may sound slightly self-centered, but I remember a long time ago thinking that I wanted to somehow be remembered after I was gone. What better way to be remembered, than by being immortalized through the pages of a wonderfully written story?

6.) Where do you get your ideas from?

Anywhere, really. From reading or watching TV. From a dream. From the way a shadow plays across the ground. From a particularly evocative piece of music. I find that my ideas have come from a variety of different places and I tend to enjoy the fact that inspiration can come from just about anywhere.

7.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?

That one of my happy places is the Dr. Seuss section in a bookstore. Actually, that might not be surprising at all, since he is moderately beloved by a wide variety of readers.

8.) Do you have any special talents?

I can robot whistle (aka hum and whistle at the same time). It’s one of those things you sort of have to hear someone do to understand.

9.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why?

I don’t know if anyone specifically said this to me, but a lesson I learned and took to heart early on, and a lesson I still rely on quite frequently, is to learn how to deal with rejection and failure. You’ll fail and get rejected a lot as a writer. And that won’t stop even as you write and publish more. Developing a thick skin is important if you want to be able to continue to practice your craft.

10.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about?

That is also a really tough question, with so many possible answers. I’m a huge sports fan, in particular a fan of the English football (soccer) club Manchester United. I grew up watching them play and absolutely fell in love with them as a teenager with (unrealistic) aspirations of playing professionally. As such, I would love a sit down chat with the club’s most famous, and recently retired, manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

11.) What song would you say describes your life?

I enjoy Mumford and Sons quite a lot, and they have a song called Hopeless Wanderer. I don’t know if it completely describes every aspect of my life, but the wanderer part seems to fit pretty well, considering that I’ve lived on four continents and traveled to over thirty countries.

12.) If you could come back as any animal – what would it be?

I’m going to be cliché. Something with flight. I guess an eagle of some kind. Although lounging in a tree as a leopard runs a close second. Maybe we should go with a mythical creature instead? Isn’t a griffin essentially a combination of a large feline and a giant bird? That would combine my two answers into one.


Excerpt:


Djumair Silverfist had been a traitor for nineteen long years and a coward for most of his life. He was the most dangerous type of coward there was, a bold one. He reflected idly on his life as he awaited the final orders for his next mission. Djumair let his thoughts drift even further from the next task and more upon his own being. He was not someone to question the decisions of the past. They were gone and could not be remade, so why bother with them? However, he was not above succumbing, every now and again, to the self-reflective melancholy one reserved for time spent sifting through memories over a goblet of wine and a good view. Djumair looked off the edge of the platform, not five feet from where he sat, at the plains interspersed sparsely with copses of trees beneath him. Even though he was alone, and had nobody with which to share his thoughts, he allowed his mind to continue its backward journey. He was a solitary person after all. In many ways he preferred to be alone and it seemed fitting to reminisce by himself.
Permission granted, he continued to remember. Not for the first time, nor for the last, his mind pondered the curious tandem of cowardice and courage that was Djumair Silverfist. He knew exactly what was required of a person to be on the winning side of conflicts in life, and he did whatever was necessary to ensure that he never lost. That fact, in and of itself, was his craven fault. Yet it simultaneously lent credence to his arrogant understanding of his own dangerous competency when it came to vanquishing a foe. He feared the price of losing so greatly that he knew he was a coward to the very core of his being. However, he was bold enough to know which decision or action, in the right circumstances, would be enough to ensure that he avoided failure, pain, and any other unpleasant consequences of defeat. Sometimes those decisions were difficult, but he made them all the same. Therein lay his courage, the ability to make challenging decisions. 
His mind flashed back to that fateful day nineteen years ago, when he unleashed the flood of water that burst open Verdantihya’s fabled gates—ripped them open from within. Bleeding and broken, he had sacrificed everything to avoid death, to avoid losing. He had joined the winning side, that much was clear. While he now sat and sipped wine freely on a slaver’s deck, his former kinsmen fought, died, bled, and were captured. He thought of them as ‘former’ because one couldn’t really claim to belong to the very people who they had betrayed. This sense of un-belonging defined Djumair, but it was a fair price for his own freedom, though not without pain.
Djumair had spent the better portion of the last two decades fighting a war for a king who he did not love and a Grand Marshal who he did not respect, and it had all been by his own choice. Many long years ago, when he had first felt the icy fingers of fear twisting in his belly, he had chosen this path. The first invasion had been sudden and swift, and the humans had established such a strong foothold on the continent that he had known his people had no hope of triumph. He had done the only thing possible, he had defected to what he knew would be the winning side. It had been a decision motivated by fear, but the choice in and of itself had not been one that was without the need for courage. It was a strange internal parallel in which he lived; fearful enough to betray his people and avoid defeat, and brave enough to make the hard choices in life, the choices that cut ties to one’s heritage.
He broke from his reverie as he watched a servant approach from across the open-aired room. The wind swirled gently, high up on the eastern most Pillar in the land. Djumair reclined in a lounging seat with a view. It was a seat reserved for the slave captains who frequented this last outpost before heading north to begin a raid, or heading east to deliver the latest batch of captives to the humans. The wind was a dry breeze billowing up from the southeast. It carried the scent of smoke from the Camps and the dust from the land further beyond them as it curled up over the edge of the platform, leaving the ground far below it, hundreds of feet down. It was still strange to Djumair, even after his long years in this southern land, that the air could be so dry. This wind had a strangely familiar smell to it, a scent for which he felt the inklings of recognition. However, just when it felt he was about to lay hold of the memory of that particular scent’s origin, it slipped away from his mind’s grasp. He didn’t like that. Djumair couldn’t shake the odd feeling of importance for whatever it was he could not remember. It never paid to forget important information.
He took another swill of the white wine that sat chilled in his goblet, the contents creating tiny droplets of condensation on the exterior. It was not the most popular of beverages among his southern compatriots, but it was light and tangy. It soothed his dry throat and reminded him of the pleasures of this land, pleasures he was not likely to forget seeing as they were, in large part, the reason he had chosen this course in life. Wine of this vintage had been impossible to find in the north even before the invasion, let alone now, with the northern people of Andalaya scattered to the four winds across their mountain lands.
The servant finally reached the small, stand table to Djumair’s right. He carried a silver pitcher polished to perfection, full of wine no doubt, should Djumair require more. It was the joy, and the nuisance, of being important. People to do his bidding, and at the same time, those same people were the ones who often interrupted the few quiet moments he had to himself. The swallow of wine tasted sour as Djumair grimaced slightly at the bothersome servant. The boy should be able to see that his wine glass was still half full and in no need of refilling.
The servant was young and dark haired like all of his people, and as he drew closer he must have seen the dangerous glint in Djumair’s eyes. The boy hesitated as if considering retreat, but then continued once he realized that he had come too far to leave without offering more wine. Fear shone in the boy’s eyes as he approached. Djumair knew the fright that his name inspired in others. Just because he knew he was a coward, didn’t mean that others did. In truth, most men were cowards at their core, he was just one of the few who admitted it to themselves. He embraced it and let it become a strength rather than a weakness. He let his fear push and prod him until it became a source of ingenuity and boldness rather than a reason to run from a fight. But this boy didn’t know he was a coward. Instead, this servant saw one of the most feared warriors in the land, someone known for chopping off his own hand in order to win a battle. It was good the boy feared him. He liked it that way.
Djumair Silverfist watched the boy’s eyes glance down at the immaculately forged silver fist attached to the end of his left arm. It was sculpted to perfection to resemble the very likeness of a living hand closed into a fist. It lay, along with his left arm, on the armrest and it glimmered in the setting sun.
“Would you care for some more wine?” the servant stuttered, his black hair hanging down the back of his tan, brown neck. All of the boy’s kinsmen were tanned and brown, courtesy of this southern sun. For a brief instant Djumair felt bad for the boy. He was a servant, not a slave, but in this society of warriors and conquerors, once you accepted the role of servant, it was yours to fulfill for the rest of your life. The boy would never escape it. The pity was fleeting as Djumair remembered the boy’s interruption of one of the few moments of solitary respite he had to simply enjoy the little things in life, like a sunset and a glass of wine.
He shook his head curtly. “Would you have me become drunk and susceptible to any sellsword who wishes to come my way?” He barked in response. “One glass of wine is enough for any man who calls himself a warrior. Once you have had more than one, you cease the right to claim that title. You then become a drunkard and just another body for your captain to throw at the enemy.” His words might have been a little harsh, but the boy had annoyed him.
“Yes, Silverfist, I mean, Sir,” the boy spluttered quickly to repent, “what do I know of battle and fighting? Of course, you are right.” He spun too quickly as he turned to walk away, and the pitcher flew from the tray, spilling its contents all over the ground.
The servant spun back to face Djumair, clearly expecting a tongue scathing remark at the very least, if not a command to the whipping post or worse. Djumair sneered slightly as he sat on the lounge chair, still reclining through the entire interaction, and watched the boy as he clutched the tray to his chest in fear, awaiting the consequences for spilling the wine.
His own image as reflected in the tray caught Djumair’s eye, and he gazed upon his reflection as he pondered how he should punish the servant. From the polished, gleaming surface of the tray, light blue eyes stared back at him. Pale features, unlike the servant’s, looked at him, and blond hair adorned the top of his head. The sides of his head were shaved in the manner of the warriors of the south, and his long, flowing locks of blond hair flowed off the back of his head just past his shoulders like a white-gold mane. It was not held in a braid, but it was gathered at intervals by loose, rawhide ties to keep it from getting in his way as he moved or fought. The hairstyle left the sides of his head clean, revealing ears that were pointed at the top, protruding in the manner of both his northern heritage and the servant’s people. Dark or light of skin, the pointed ears were a common feature between the two races.
Djumair had a small, silver ring in his right nostril, but the most distinctive marks upon his face were the three blood red tears tattooed on both of his cheeks as if falling from the corners of his eyes. Traitor’s Tears. They marked a person who had betrayed Andalaya in order to serve the King of the South. A decision Djumair Silverfist had made long, long ago. The tattoos were on his cheeks by choice. He had been the first to betray and had been the first to be tattooed. What was now required of the northerners who chose to give their lives to serve their new masters, he had pioneered as a twisted memorial to whom he had once been. In a strange way everything about him was defined by choice, from the biggest decision to the smallest decoration on his body. Nothing had been forced upon him, and nothing would be.
He stood up slowly, faced down the servant with a penetrating gaze, and then backhanded him across the face as hard as he could. The boy dropped in a heap, and by the time he managed to pull himself together, Djumair had long since sat back down on his chair. He could hear the boy’s sniffles, and feel the sting on the back of his good, right hand from the impact. It set his pulse racing and his blood buzzing. Even the slightest hint of combat made his whole body feel as if it were on fire. He was a warrior through and through. He feared death, but it did not keep him from the challenge of the fray. This however, was a simple disciplinary action and he calmed his fighting instincts.
         “Go. Now. Get a rag, or better yet, remove your shirt and wipe up that mess,” Djumair said flatly as he gazed at the view before him. Maybe he could recapture some of the serenity that had preceded this unfortunate encounter—unfortunate for him, since it had interrupted his quiet. Djumair cared not a whit for the pain the boy was suffering.



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