The wait seems to have been interminable, but yesterday saw the publication of my latest book, THE CALL OF EIRIAN.
This YA book is the second of THE FAELIN CHRONICLES trilogy, coming out under the pen name C. Aubrey Hall. I’ve always found the middle books of trilogies to be challenging to write. Similar, in fact, to the soggy center of any story where it is so easy for the tale to falter, sag, slow down, or just sink.
However, I don’t believe THE CALL OF EIRIAN suffers from those maladies. My young characters–twins Diello and Cynthe (having been orphaned in the first book, CRYSTAL BONES)–are well on their difficult journey to the kingdom of the Fae. They’re in a race against Nature; winter is coming fast. They’re hindered by not being able to use their magical powers; using magic leaves a trail for the goblins to follow. And although they’re certain that if they can just reach the Fae their problems will be over, they find that the land of Embarthi is less than welcoming to Faelin such as themselves.
Politics, adventure, and magic are entwined in this book, as in most of my fantasies. I think fantasy is always a setting for a power struggle. Whether you’re in a cute Brian Jacques yarn about an evil Portuguese rat trying to conquer the gentle mice of Mossflower or a Robert Jordan epic, the political struggle is going to be there.
I have to admit, though, that quests are not my favorite plot structure. Unless it’s a l-o-n-g chase, the conflict can unravel into just one mishap after another. I prefer tightly focused antagonism. Quests also offer a challenge in that a writer has to keep topping each segment of adventure as the story builds to a climax.
And of course, being that it’s a middle book, the climax has to resolve the immediate problems of the characters without tying up the whole story.
Despite the hard work, coming up with the magical elements of Embarthi was a great deal of fun. I looked forward to that just as I hope readers will look forward to reaching Queen Sheirae’s palace. Originally, I wanted to pay homage to some of the visual effects of the Jean Cocteau film, Beauty and the Beast, but that didn’t come across as I’d hoped and it was cut. Trying to think up the architecture for a race that can fly led to much pondering in my office chair.
The trogs are back. The goblins are back. We find out a bit more about the Samal wolves. But I confess that my favorite part of the book involves the lions of Embarthi.
Did I plan those big felines ahead of time? Nope. They just roared their way into the book and stayed there. I’m glad they did.