by CJ Perry
GENRE: epic fantasy
The minotaurs have kept Ayla and Deetra’s people in chains for 200 years. With nothing left to live for, and a death sentence in her womb, Ayla trades her soul for a chance to break the curse which holds her people in slavery. Armed only with her faith, she and Deetra start a revolution, and bring about the return of the Goddess of Darkness.
The woman’s lips curved up in a smile but no lines formed in her cheeks. She looked like a living statue, and not one bit like her mother.
“Who are you?” Ayla asked.
The stranger leaned over Ayla, resting her palms on the altar. Her voice took on a hollow yet resonant quality. Her breath suffused the air with a heady fragrance like scented oils.
“I am the dark corner that hides those in need. The eternal ruler of the Abyss.”
“You’re a God?”
“I was once their Queen.”
“Am I dead?”
The Goddess kissed Ayla on the forehead with cold lips. “You are at His doorstep.”
“Where’s my mom?”
“The dead cannot hear your pleas. I have come in her stead, my child.”
Ayla never believed in the Gods. And if they did exist, she wanted nothing to do with any who would leave their people in chains.
“I’m not your child.”
The woman grabbed Ayla under the jaw, fingers digging into her cheeks. Her icy eyes remained impassive but her voice lowered threateningly.
“You are the daughter of Steelhorn, the grandson of Tor, who is my son. I am not just your mother, but the mother of every woman born from a breeding cabin.” The Night Goddess let go of Ayla’s jaw. The closest brazier’s flame shone blue in the Her black tresses. “I have waded through the River of Dreams to answer your call, and this is how you thank me?”
“I’m dreaming?” Ayla asked.
Guest post: CJ Perry – What inspires me the most?
A popular question for any writer is, “Where does your inspiration come from?” or, “Where do your ideas come from?” There are as many answers to that question as there are writers, but they all have one thing in common – powerful emotion. It’s what inspires everyone most.
The definition of inspiration is “The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.”
I almost agree. I believe that feeling happens first, which stimulates and begins the creative process. Invariably when inspiration comes, or is sought, it is born of a strong emotion or desire. When JK Rowling wrote the Dementors into Harry Potter, she pulled the inspiration from the pain of her own battle with depression. How and why did that idea come to her? I don’t know, but more often than not, the ideas happen while Im doing something else.
It’s called the “Aha! Moment,” and statistically speaking, people are most likely to have one during one of two activities; shower or exercise. The mundanity of the task strips away the layers of conscious thought, and allows more access to the subconscious, permitting the solution to reveal itself.
For me, like so many other writers, music is a huge help. As I wrote Dark Communion, I took breaks when I was stuck on a particular scene and just listened to music the suited the mood or emotion of the scene. It made me feel the emotion I was going for in the scene and helped me translate it to words. I must have played “Take Me to Church” by Hozier a thousand times. The mood was perfect in the Hozier song; the understated rage, the soulful pain… it all inspired so much of the story. So, when I need serious inspiration on a deadline, I listen to music in the shower until I turn into a prune. It doesn’t always work. But if nothing else, Im in a better mood.
– CJ Perry
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
My deep and abiding love of fantasy began when I was six when I first saw the 1981 film Dragonslayer on VHS with my father. He loved fantasy movies too, but didn’t have the courage to be a dork about it like I did. That movie was a gateway drug that led me straight to the hard stuff – CS Lewis. I was far too young for such potency but by the time I was ten I had read the whole series. That’s when I found my first Dungeons and Dragons group. When I started playing, my friends and I used pre-made campaign settings and published adventures, but I quickly grew restless with their limitations and trite story lines. I needed my own persistent world: something adaptable to my whim and that no one else owned.
Back in my day, there was no internet, so I took out every book about castles and medieval history from the school library and read them in Math class (I’m still terrible at math as a result). I came up with an entire world and brand new history. I read books on cartography and hand drew maps of my new world. I created a cosmology, a hierarchy of gods, and the tenets of their religions. I read the Dungeon Master’s guide a dozen times, and every fantasy novel I could get my hands on.
Then, one day, I sat down and told my friends, “Hey guys, wanna try my story instead?”
Even 15 years after the original D&D campaigns ended, former players tell me that they share our incredible stories with their children. I’m honored to say that most of those players still have their original character sheets 16-20 years later, and a couple have even named their children after them.
Now, I’m 39 years old and a loving father of 2 girls, and I still play those games on occasion. My passion has evolved into putting those ideas and amazing stories on paper for the whole world to enjoy. My first novel took me and co-author DC Fergerson 10 years to write and topped out at 180,000 words. Being too long and too complex, I finally ended the project and took its lessons to heart.
I learned that Dungeons & Dragons did not translate well into a novel. D&D made for great times, but also for some meandering plot lines, pointless encounters, and poor character motivations. No matter how memorable some of the moments were, if I wanted anyone to read my story, I needed to learn a lot more about writing.
I threw myself into being a full time student of novel crafting. I read every book on writing by Dwight Swain I could find. I paid Chuck Sambuchino (Editor for Writer’s Digest) to critique and edit my older work. I took James Patterson’s Masterclass, went to college, and joined online writing communities. All the while, I read my favorite fantasy novels again, only this time with a mental highlighter. I reworked my stories, outlined them, and decided to start from the beginning.
Many, many years later, I am in the final edit and proofreading stage of Dark Communion, the first installment of the Shadowalker Chronicles. My role as a father of two girls heavily influenced the characters I’d known for over 20 years, shaping them into women that my own daughters could respect. My characters took on a depth and quality that brings them off the page and into the minds of readers, because they have become all too real. I was privileged enough to work on two careers at the same time to accomplish this feat – a fun-loving and involved stay-at-home dad, and a full time writer.
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CJ Perry will be awarding a $10 and a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to two randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour.