Author Jeremy Hicks is one of the first authors I met when I started going to conventions. Let me tell you, if you’re just starting out and haven’t had the opportunity to meet your fellow authors, conventions can be very intimidating. Meeting Jeremy immediately put me at ease. I knew if all of the authors I met were like him, then I was going to have a great time!
Jeremy has been on my blog before and I am so glad that he’s back to talk to us about his horror novel The Cycle of Ages Saga: Finders Keepers. He’s also giving away a paperback copy! Enter below:
AP: Where did you get the idea for The Cycle of Ages Saga: Finders Keepers?
JH: The idea came from my past role-playing experiences, specifically playing in a D&D campaign run by my friend and co-writer Barry Hayes. We both ran games using several different RPG systems, so our friends used to tell us that we should turn our stories into novels or short stories. When we finally got around to doing that, we decided to combine our ideas, fuse our worlds, and use a plotline from one of his games as the basis of introducing our new world of faraway Faltyr, its places, peoples, and predators. We ended up with a hard-hitting dark fantasy storyline set on a world evocative enough of Earth to be familiar to our target audience but strange enough to feel like an alien world seeded from multiple sources. We wrote a feature length screenplay to introduce it and eventually a novel. While trying to get produced and later published, we tried to get licensed by Wizards of the Coast actually but the deal never materialized. So we settled for forging ahead with our own franchise and crediting our major influences like Gary Gygax, Robert Howard, and even Ronnie James Dio.
AP: Who is your main character? Why are you writing from that perspective?
JH: The main character in Finders Keepers is Kaladimus Dor. Our calamitous mage of Myth is the catalyst for the events that transpire in the first novel, so we feature his perspective heavily in the course of the story. However, the novel is a multiple third-person viewpoint work. Each chapter or subsection is written from the perspective of either Dor or one of the other survivors of the shipwreck that strands them on the island. We wanted to introduce Faltyr through a number of viewpoints, each one from a radically different character, to provide several perspectives on Faltyr and its happenings, rather than using a single limited narrator.
AP: Is there a supporting character that you want to spend more time on in the future?
JH: Barry and I have our favorites. For me, it’s the elven mercenary Yax’Kaqix (pronounced Yahsh-Kah-Keesh). His name translates to Blue Macaw in the language of his people, the Unen’ek elves. I based their culture on an elaboration of Mayan culture that focuses on dragon worship and a dedication to the Eternal War, a millennial long jihad against the insidious forces of Faltyr’s expansive and very real Underworld. Yax is a centuries old lesser noble son who trained as a monk before becoming a high-ranking war mage, often referred to as a Choj’Ahaw or Wand Bearer. Drawn by an insatiable curiosity and wanderlust, Yax travels the world and wages what he deems righteous wars where he can, padding his pocket and increasing his material or magical power along his own Long Road across Faltyr. I’ve completed one story for Yax so far; it’s called “Deep Diving Death Defying Dwarves of the Deep” and can be found in the Dark Oak Press anthology, Capes & Clockwork: Superheroes in the Age of Steam. That tale is set about two hundred years before the events of Finders Keepers and focuses on Yax’s relationships with the Free Dwarves of the Underworld (or Hollow World, as the dwarves call it). It also sets up events that will be concluded in one of our future novels in this saga.
AP: What do paranormal/horror readers have to look forward to in your new release?
JH: Our world of Faltyr is a blend of classical horror and fantasy elements, albeit with our own twist on most of them. In Finders Keepers, there are sad ghosts, angry ghosts, and even hungry ghost who feed on the living. There are also elements of necromancy, featuring exorcisms and the undead. We even feature vampires, although they do not sparkle. They are as dark and bloody as our tale. On a different level, this first installment of the Cycle of Ages Saga feels very much like survival horror, since it involves a shipwreck where most of the crew goes down with the ship and the survivors are hunted by a winged predator from the moment they hit the beach. And for Dor, there is an aspect of personal horror as he is the one who sinks the ship and strands them there in the first place.
AP: Where can it be purchased?
JH: The Cycle of Ages Saga: Finders Keepers is available in trade paperback, hard cover, and e-book through Dark Oak Press. You can also find it online through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Books-a-Million. It is also available in select bookstores in Alabama and other parts of the Southeast.
AP: What influenced you to write this novel?
JH: Originally, we had no intention of writing a full length novel. We wanted to see the Cycle of Ages Saga on screen as a major motion picture, so we wrote it as a screenplay first. When intrigued producers told us that we needed to develop a fan base due to the budgetary considerations, we attempted a graphic novel version, as it would allow us to storyboard the story in the process. However, our artist was unable to complete the project due to commitments with his full-time employer. At that point, we realized we needed to sit down and take a stab at novelizing the screenplay. After an awful first attempt, we started anew, found a professional editor, and then a publisher. To risk a cliché, necessity was truly the mother of this invention.
AP: With this being a Halloween post are you a fan of the holiday? If so, why or why not?
JH: Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. I grew up in a family that enjoyed the scary, spooky, macabre, and horrific, whether it was Vincent Price or Stephen King. I was raised in a haunted house, watched old horror movies, and read/wrote/and listened to ghost stories whenever possible. And one of my first crushes was on Elvira, the Mistress of the Dark. My family even had several hearses over the years that we used for Halloween, haunted houses, and trips to Florida in the summer. Nothing colder than the AC in the back of something designed to haul dead bodies. In fact, I liked them so much that I used to drive an old Oldsmobile ambulance that looked like Ecto-1. I bought it to piss off the preps at my high school, but they loved it as much as everyone else. Although I don’t dress up as much as I used to for Halloween, I started going to HallowCon last year and will be a guest again this year at this great little three-day costume party in Dalton, GA.
AP: What is your favorite Horror movie? Why?
JH: Hmm. That’s a very interesting question. And a hard one to answer, I hate to admit. I like many of them for vastly different reasons. But one of my favorites from childhood onward is a movie that I bought on DVD recently to introduce other people to it. Something Wicked This Way Comes is based on one of my favorite Ray Bradbury stories and is a successful horror tale that Disney sadly will never be able to replicate, even though they are remaking it soon. Much to my chagrin.
As to why I enjoy it so much, it’s Ray Bradbury. It’s hard not to love anything he writes, but he excels beautifully at coming-of-age spooktacular tales like The Halloween Tree and Dandelion Wine. His only rival for me would be Stephen King’s Stand By Me (based on his tale, The Body, featured in Different Seasons). These kinds of stories resonated deeply with me as a growing boy and stuck with me long after I made the transition to adulthood. In fact, I still relish the transition to the fall season as much as the boys in Something Wicked This Way Comes look forward to it, until the Autumn People arrives in town.
AP: Could you see your book in film? Who would you want cast as your characters? Who would you want to direct it?
JH: Since Finders Keepers and its upcoming sequel Sands of Sorrows started out in screenplay format, we have thought about these questions endlessly. In fact, the hard part was transitioning from a visual format to a literary one. Originally, the character envisioned for Kaladimus Dor is much too old now. But I could see Robert Sheehan from Misfits bringing our Master-of-Disaster to life on the big screen. My personal preference for Yax is still Jeffrey Donovan from Burn Notice; he has the right fierce face for our elven war mage as well as the appropriate background in production, martial arts, and action sequences. For Breuxias, we went as far as contacting Peter Mensah’s agent who accepted copies of our screenplays. But our former manager never heard back from him, which isn’t surprising since there was no money behind the project at the time. As far as directors go, I’d love to have Guillermo Del Toro do it. He has the right respect for fantasy, horror, world-building, and storytelling, not to mention he’s a talented writer/director and well-known nice guy around Hollywood.
AP: Tell us which Horror author has had the most impact on you.
JH: That would most likely be H.P. Lovecraft. I read his work heavily during middle school and high school, even going so far as to write an essay on his Cthulhu Mythos. In fact, the last story I completed was a short submission for The Summer of Lovecraft anthology. It was a wild ride through the war in South Vietnam through the eyes of Viet Cong operatives who end up on the wrong side of an otherworldly entity from the Cthulhu Mythos while trapped deep within a subterranean temple. Unfortunately, it ended up in the spam folder apparently and wasn’t even read for consideration. Pretty disappointing since I poured a lot of time and effort into doing Lovecraft proper justice. Thanks, Spam Filter. You and your cousin, Auto-Correct, can **** right off!
AP: Give us a sneak peek at your WIP.
JH: Hmm…that would imply I had a work-in-progress at the moment. Most of my projects are in the stage of being edited or outlined. But I can probably get away with posting a snippet from The Cycle of Ages Saga: Sands of Sorrow without getting into too much trouble with my co-writer and publisher. I hope.
The following excerpt comes from within the first chapter of Sands of Sorrow. Please keep in mind that it is still in the final stages of the editing process.
Dor’s attention shifted to the colorful display beyond the high walls of Eastgate. The aurora danced and played over the desert sands to the north and west of the border city. Known as the Sands of Sorrow, the desolate area between Eastgate and the broken profile of the Meshkenet Mountains was a byproduct of the Cataclysm, the final apocalyptic battle between Artemis and Ra’Tallah. Dor shivered as he recalled his previous visit to that terrifying, twisted wasteland.
The grumbling of his allies pulled Dor out of his horrific reverie. With some considerable effort, he tore his lingering gaze from the hypnotic patterns swirling in the aurora above the Sands of Sorrow.
He took hold of the rope unsteadily and lowered himself through the hole in the roof. The weight of the chest shifted within his pack, causing him to swing wide on the rope toward the wall of the room. The slack on the rope stopped short of sending him face first into the wall. Sighing with relief, he clung to the rope and waited for it to cease swaying.
That blasted chest, Dor thought, it’ll be the death of me yet.
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