Advertising material for my publisher – advice sought
Mightier Than The Sword UK Publications is revising its website. As part of this revamp, I recently received a request to write little paragraphs about the Tales from Ragaris, AND each of the books, under a whole host of supplied headings.
This is where I’ve got to so far, and comments/assistance would be welcome from anyone who’s read (or might read) any of them. The aim is to attract someone who knows nothing about them!
(Many of you longsuffering people will have seen much of this before, and are at liberty to skip.)
The Tales from Ragaris Series.
General Overview and Genre The Tales from Ragaris are stories of murder and intrigue in a world without mobile phones and cars. There are many such fictional places, but Ragaris is distinctive in being generally magic-free, and for taking the equality of the sexes for granted. I call this mini-genre Swords Without Misogyny.
Aims In traditional story, men fight dragons and each other – women are pretty, and reward the men with their love. In traditional fantasy, ridiculously over-talented humans, mostly men, save the world or their kingdom by fighting a series of bloody and/or spooky battles. My aim is to present Medieval Fantasyland in peacetime, with women and men mostly struggling to do the right and Christian thing, with only a normal allowance of good looks, talent and charisma – and still keep readers on the edge of their seats, unable to put the book down.
Major themes include (I think!) how all this might work in a pre-industrial society, how people (and not only monarchs) can change things without too much violence, how people struggle to be good. The individual books also have themes: one could say that “We Do Not Kill Children” is about loyalty, “The Tenth Province of Jaryar” is about nationalism, and “The Servant’s Voice” is about paranoia, and the power of the written word – but these themes tend to emerge during the writing.
Major influences on my writing. In my Acknowledgments I mention Katherine Kurtz and Marion Zimmer Bradley (and should probably add Robin Hobb), but there are many more. “The Tenth Province” contains a faintly Christie-ish scene, with Fillim Queensister in the role of Poirot. The predicament of George RR Martin’s Ser Ilyn Payne contributed considerably to “The Servant’s Voice.”
Who I’m writing for. I write for people like me, who find swords and honour enthralling, want women to have roles other than love interest, don’t understand modern technology, and don’t want to read about rape.
These books will be enjoyed by fans of… I admire both Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” and Ellis Peters (Brother Cadfael), but I like to think my books might also be enjoyed by people for whom one is too brutal, and the other too romantic. At the risk of boasting, I think I write pretty sparky dialogue.
“We Do Not Kill Children”
How do I feel about the way it turned out? As I said on a friend’s website: “It’s a story about people waving swords around, swearing (and breaking) oaths of loyalty, and investigating a murder – so you can imagine how much fun it was to write.” I remain astonished that my idle folly eventually turned into an actual coherent plot.
What was the inspiration behind the book? Looking back in 2013 at a set of miscellaneous scribblings, I unexpectedly found two things: an unjustly convicted man called Dorac followed into exile by a boy; and the Place to Die. When their story had progressed far enough that they needed a home address, I remembered the story I wrote twenty-five years ago, and the continent of Ragaris. Moral: do not throw away your unpublished manuscripts!
What are my favourite things in the book? All my books contain lengthy scenes with a lot of varied characters in a room together, and the plot moving fast. These scenes are very hard to write, but hugely rewarding if they come off.
When in a cruel mood, I relish the chapters about Dorac’s unpleasant fortnight abroad.
Why is it part of a series? WDNKC started as a piece of fun to distract me from other things in my life. But when it was finished, I realised that I’d now written two books set in Ragaris, and the seven nations had scope for more.
I’m supposed to add a brief overview of the plot without spoilers; and my favourite lines from reviews, and then: Why should someone buy the book? If the above doesn’t sound interesting, they probably shouldn’t…
“The Tenth Province of Jaryar”
How do I feel about the way it turned out? I set out to make certain points, and play around a bit with fictional conventions. I think I did these things, so I am happy!
What was the inspiration behind the book? On the one hand, the Scottish Wars of Independence – and on the other the forgotten poor but wise man in the ninth chapter of Ecclesiastes. I wanted to write his story.
What are my favourite things in the book? Perhaps the choices made by King Barad, Meriden and Talinti, who all at different points say things I think should be said, but too often aren’t.
Why should someone buy the book? To see if you can be the first person to spot the clue at the very beginning.
“The Servant’s Voice”
How do I feel about the way it turned out? I found this one very hard to write: partly plot-wise, and partly because (as said above) I love writing dialogue, but had chosen a protagonist who was speechless. So I am pleased that in the end it all seemed to work out.
What was the inspiration behind the book? The ruthless but civilised society of Ricossa seemed a good place to explore two things: the life of someone whose powers of speech had been sacrificed to the needs of the rich; and the question of how the lowly could try to effect change.
What are my favourite things in the book? Can’t decide on this one: any suggestions?
Why should someone buy the book? To learn the political significance of the geranium – and how someone who can’t talk can solve a crime.
Love from the PPI Blogger
PS There will be no blog next week (half-term.)