What is the real inspiration for creating a broken universe?
As writers, one of the most important things we do is create worlds that cause our readers to reflect on the state of our own world. Earth is a diverse place with many belief systems. But some of these belief systems are so offended by others that they will oppress, humiliate, and even kill each other for the sake of how they see the world.
So what can we do about it?
In our novels, characters are rooted in societies separated in “shards,” microcosmic cultures that grow independently of each other. In our soon to be released novel, Child of Stone, there are two societies with opposing viewpoints who hate each other so deeply, that they have been trying to annihilate each other for 2,000 years. Though the novel pushes forward though adventure, excitement, and romance, the real question we are posing to our readers is, what could you do to stop it if you lived there?
We believe that it only takes a single visionary, someone who is willing to sacrifice their life to the fight, to change the world. That’s what our characters stand for: the right to live your life freely, to make your own choices. Other people’s view does not dictate your destiny. We want to inspire our readers to take up this cause and be the force of positive change in their own cities, in their own countries. To make a stand for freedom and choice. To protect those who do not have the means to protect themselves.
Just like Raeylan, Margariete, and Esilwen.
I was engineered for war.
As an elite soldier of the Blended Coalition, I go where they tell me. I don’t ask questions. The mission. That’s all there is.
But somethin’s changin’. Gods and magic? That skrit makes my head hurt. Things aren’t what I fraggin’ thought they were—or was told. Turns out the Coalition is rotten from the inside. Orders don’t make sense. I feel doubt in my gut. Now I’m stuck, tryin’ to decide what to do.
But somehow, I got the feelin’ I ain’t gonna get a choice anyway.
My head is spinning and my heart is still beating hard, hanging onto every last word written in this book. Talk about gripping and riveting; captivating and mind blowing; and non-stop adventure and suspense. Unbelievably fantastic and amazing. I am speechless and beyond words, though I will try and make some sense when writing this review.
First of all I would love to thank the authors for providing me with a copy of Guardian of Time, in exchange for my honest review. I am forever thankful for being given the opportunity to read this book, as well as their first book of this awesome series.
Guardian of Time is so different to Phoenix Angel. In fact, it’s a prequel and centers around the lives of Margariete and Esilwen aka Maggie and Lily. When they met and what their lives were like in a different time and space, knows as Shards. I lost myself in their story and the fantastical world that the authors have created. A world full of mythology, magic and duty. At every turn, I was catapulted within every detail of this finally woven story, and lived and breathed it just like the characters did. And, just when you think you have figured something out, you are thrown into another direction, where your heart gets crushed, or you are angered and shouting at the many villains that keep popping up in this book. Yes, I missed Kyle (though I know he will be popping up in the series soon…he must LOL), but this didn’t take away from the many layers going on in this book. And, I fell more in love with Margariete’s twin brother Raeylan. Talk about stoic and dutiful. The lengths that this King would do for his Kingdom and his people, but more so for his beloved sister and younger brother. No wonder he stole Esilwen’s heart…sigh!
Not only is this book fantastical and magical, but it is dark and gritty, and shows all the facets of human frailty and weakness; as well as love, honour and duty. I loved how all these themes were individual threads that, when woven together, with all the other elements and details, become this natural flowing story. You never get bogged down or feel like things and dragging or lulling. Instead, you thrust into it with fever and grip your seat. This really is a ride you all need to go on to experience for yourself. I cannot say another thing, there really is no other words that would do it justice. It really is a must read and I cannot wait for the next installment so I can read about Margariete, Esilwen, Raeylan and Kyle’s fate and how they got to our world, in our present time. I wait patiently, though I hope I don’t have to wait to long. Utterly brilliant…bravo Amanda Gerry and Christy Hall!
See more reviews by Heinzypop at http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/4557869-sylvia-heinzypop
This a warning to all who have not read either Phoenix Angel or Guardian of Time, there are spoilers below. Stop reading now before you ruin the end!!!
So as it turns out, we always get the ending wrong the first time. When developing our books, C. Hall and I always get together to outline each book before we write it. We discuss what needs to happen for each character and decide what needs to happen in the story. Conflict and such. Our books are written in sections, separated by the different story arcs. We always get the first ones right, following a natural progression for our characters and their storylines.
But then there’s the dreaded end…
We always get wrong the first time. Its happened so many times, that we now know that the original ending we prepared will be thrown out the window, probably aimed at the cat, for all its worth.
So how different were the endings? We already discussed Mark, the impossible character to kill. But now I must mention the earthquake that never happened. In our original outline of Phoenix Angel, Bonneville High School was going to be destroyed by magic cast by Kirion’s Faithful Legion, an earthquake spell that would haven been the demise of the school. But as we reached the end, we realized that an earthquake would be too chaoic, limiting our ability to introduce key members of Kirion’s fold. Instead, we chose to make it Carter’s fault. When he connected with the large ball of expanding light energy, he had a choice to make. Would he choose to preserve himself, or stop a disaster? In all fairness, Carter didn’t know he was making a decision that was quite so important. So now we ask ourselves: how much of Kirion was still inCarter when he chose to sacrifice half the school?
The changed ending of Guardian of Time was quite a struggle. Remember how we framed Margariete for Katrina’s murder? Yeah, that’s not how we originally wanted it. We had first planned to frame Esilwen. We had hoped to show Raeylan’s struggle in choosing between love and his kingdom. But the logistics didn’t quite work out. For one, Esilwen was never solitary access to the secret passages of Castle Viridius. With the passages connected to only the king’s and queen’s quarters, it became a key piece of evidence that strongly implicated Margariete’s guilt. The second reason we changed our minds was because of Terail. His vendetta was against the Viridius family, not Esilwen. It simply made more sense for Terail to frame Margariete, taking advantage of her in the process. But the main reason for the change was the most important. What could cause Raeylan more growth then to choose between his twin sister and his kingdom? Of course, in the end, he realized that Terail was the real murderer and pardoned Margariete. Still, his love for his sister was critical in bringing down the First Kingdom.
Our pattern has still not changed. When the time is right, I will blog about the changed endings of the third and fourth books, Maiden of Life and The Mystic. But that is a story for another day.
How did Mark do it? How did he survive the first book?
In our original outline of Phoenix Angel, to put it bluntly, Mark was supposed to die. Feralblade was going to kill him. It was our way as authors to show just how ruthless the assassin could be. But Mark, our “red shirt,” is the only character who is based on a real person. Yes, rose-wielding, soda-spilling, truck-obssessed Mark is a real person. And to no one’s surprise, Fictional Mark and Real Mark are carbon copies of each other. (Oh, and the truck is real too, though its demise wasn’t Kyle throwing Carter into it. It was rolled and smashed in a ditch due to Mark’s weakness for speeding.) Back to Mark. So why did we deviate from the plan? After all, Mark in real life can be…irritating, especially when…well, that’s a story all its own. So we thought, “hey this will be fun.” Mark’s going to die.
But then we reached his death chapter. My hands hovered over my keyboard and I stared at the blank page. After several minutes, sitting at my desk and unable to complete the task, I went downstairs to my sister’s, C. Hall’s, classroom. I stood dumbfounded in front of her desk. She looked up at me, her eyebrows raised.
“What?” she asked.
“I can’t do it,” I replied. “I can’t kill him.”
That is when we proceeded to laugh. Mark’s goofy demeanor had saved him from death. Consequently, he has now become on of the favorite characters of our readers. And us, admittedly. Mark has lived to fight another day and we are left with a conundrum:
What do we do with him now?
Only time will tell.
But in the mean time, for those of wonder what the real Mark looks like, here’s a picture.
So we can’t tell you how excited we are to have our first official review of Phoenix Angel! You can read it here https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/gerry/phoenix-angel/.
And what do we have to say about being compared to the princess of all slayers in the demon infested town of Sunnydale? “We saved the world. I say we party!”
What makes a character great? How do you set them apart from those who have come before? And how do you create one that will be remembered?
All of these were questions that we asked ourselves before creating the main characters of our books. To find the answers we had to analyze other memorable characters. What makes a character unforgettable? Some of our favorites: Han Solo, Captain Jack Sparrow, and even Elisabeth Bennett. All of them are referred to time and again. Why? One simple answer: all of them have a flaw. An important flaw. One that is both their greatest strength and their greatest weakness. For Han Solo, his weakness is money. We are entertained by his self perseveration through this trait, and enjoy watching him struggle with decisions. Captain Jack Sparrow is outwitted by his own ambition. He amuses the audience by outsmarting his enemies, but he sometimes becomes too confident in his abilities and in the end its costs him his greatest love; the Black Pearl. Elisabeth Bennett relies on her pride to survive the rigors of the societal rules of the 18th century British aristocracy. But it causes her to perception of others to become skewed, as well as making her vulnerable to their lies.
All of these characters have something else that makes them great. They evolve and learn, growing from the mistakes they’ve made because of their flaws. That is what we wanted for our own characters in The Shardwell Magic Series. Maggie Brooks is strong because of her temper, but gets into trouble because she is unable to control it. Lily Ivers is well liked by everyone. Her compassion gives her great charisma and kindness that sways the opinions and feelings of others. However, that compassion is often laced with her naivety. She can be too trusting, and is easily taken advantage of by others.
This is how the everlasting friendship between Maggie and Lily was born. Lily is able to dampen Maggie’s temper, while Maggie is able to see through the deceptions of others to protect Lily. They, in the words of a famous cliché, complete each other. With this dynamic friendship we added our previous ideas about magic, and thus Phoenix Angel started to become a reality.
One bright, sunny day as my sister and I were on our way to our family’s annual Yellowstone camping trip, she said to me, “Wouldn’t it be interesting to read a book about a girl who was reborn every time she died but couldn’t remember her past?”
And the Shardwell Series was born.
We were so excited to tell our story, we started writing right away. What began as one teen fantasy novel soon expanded to a series, five books of adventure and heartbreak about two best friends who, strangely, were a lot like ourselves, with a friendship that even death was unable to sunder. Kinda how we felt about each other.
So we brainstormed. We created and argued. We threw things at each other. But in the end, we designed characters we loved and enemies we feared (the wolves are the stuff of my nightmares, while my sister insists that movie theater projector booths are the creepiest places on the planet) that were more real than anything we might have designed alone.
The Shardwell Series is not for the faint of heart. It is not your average, formulamatic teen series of pastel romance and sparkly dreams . Our characters feel the fierce stab of love, delve into the terrifying realm of magic and–sometimes–submit to the icy hand of death.