Monday, December 5, 2011

Author Spotlight: Interview with Eric Diehl

1. Quickly, give us the title and genre of your book and a 30-word or less tagline:

Water Harvest / SFF
A lunar warlord and his wizard-like accomplices overthrow the preeminent planetary Rule, intending to seize control of the Harvest of atmospheric moisture. New alliances form as old ones fail.

2. How did you come up with the title of your book or series?

My original intent was for it to be a work of hard science fiction, based on an issue that would be plausible no matter where it was plunked down in the universe; that being brutal competition over so precious and finite a resource as water. While that remains the theme of the novel, some unexpected characters turned up and so thoroughly entertained me that I allowed the story to take a more fantastic track than was its founding premise. 

 3. Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

Oh my, that’s difficult, as I have an attachment to so many. One possibility would be Hacch, but I won’t elaborate and spoil the surprise. There’s also a competition between the protagonist and his sidekick, Dirc Cutter—the latter of whom is prone to tomfoolery—but I suppose I’ll settle on the main character. One of the things I like most about Cairn is that though he is morally strong, he becomes so deeply embittered that he fears he’s lost his soul to a desire for revenge at any cost.

4. How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?

If we’re speaking of ‘least favorite’ in terms of being the most vile, I’d probably have to give the nod to the mage Gezladorn over the warlord Teigor Valiir. On the other hand, if we’re speaking of who is most evil by virtue of weakness of character, that would probably be Tai, the prince of House Tyrgon, who is essentially a sociopath too easily molded into a proxy by Gezladorn. A clue might be that the chapter in which he is introduced is titled ‘Kinslayer’.

5. If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be?  Why?

The book is still new on the market, and so I could probably better answer that question if I’d spoken to more folk who’d read it. What comes to mind now is that I might try to further simplify the characters’ and places’ names, because one reader did ask me what drug I was using when I made them up ;-).
In all honesty, though, I don’t think thay are particularly cumbersome. I do admit, though, that the first draft was a purple tongue-twister—even I had trouble remembering who was who before I cleaned it up!


6.  Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:

 At the outset I was having difficulty outlining the entire thing to my satisfaction, and I finally just took what I had and started writing, without knowing how everything would fall into place. Though there were admittedly some blank days, that strategy actually worked well for me and in some cases it was almost like reading a novel when surprising events and/or characters made themselves known. Most days I’d end with a long walk, during which I’d furiously brainstorm how the next scene would play out. Sometimes I’d get up in the middle of the night to jot down a thought before it was lost to dreams. Water Harvest doesn’t leave you wanting for a resolution, though there is a loose sequel and I had fun inserting some foreshadowing to pave the way for it. I wonder who will pick up on those tips? The clue at the end is fairly obvious, I believe, whereas the earlier hint is not so much so.

7.  Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

 I used to fly gyrocopters (there’s a picture in the “What About Eric?” page on my website), but in more recent years I’ve been satisfied with my life-long obsession with motorcycling. I’m no competition for Jay Leno, but I own four bikes now and my lifetime total is 49 (I’m shooting for 100, but don’t tell Sue). I still write software and coach motorcycle safety classes. My current woodworking hobby is turning on a lathe, but in the past I’ve built furniture and several electric guitars (I play the guitar, but I’m not especially good at it). I’m in the early stages of making a mess on the potter’s wheel.

8.  How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

My email is writer@ericdiehl.com, and my website is www.ericdiehl.com). It was the first website I created, and I’ve since just added to it from time to time. It’s kinda funky and I could make it look more “professional” but for some reason I like it and so am leaving it be for now.

9.  What can we expect from you in the future?

I’m finishing up the next-generation sequel to Water Harvest, which will likely be titled “Guild of the Viizar”. I’m also seriously considering self-publishing (on Kindle) a collection of short stories I’ve written over the years (a mix of Horror/SFF), and I am still thinking about where I’ll go with my next novel.

10. Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?

If you’re at all like me, just sitting down and starting to write helps a lot, as I tend to think more intently while at the keyboard. I’ve read that some authors do a complete outline first, but I believe I’ve read of more who do not and to a greater or lesser extent just go along for the ride. It’s also helpful to read plenty of books about the art of writing (in so doing I saw the error of my early efforts—‘popping heads’ POV, purple-prose, too much back-story, etc.). Also, do a LOT of editing. I’ve spent considerably more time editing than I have with the first draft (if I ever want to really beat myself up, I’ll someday go back and read that first draft---ARRRGGHHH)

11. Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Just that I’ve really enjoyed my efforts. When I started writing I knew that being published was a long shot, but you’ll never know if you don’t give it a try. 


12.  And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us:

 
The prologue is on my website, but here’s another snippet:

     They strolled hand in hand through the heady scent of night-blossoming jaspur and prickly mountain heather, and though Cairn felt a slight tremble course through from head to toe it was not from a chill. Four luminescent orbs of varying size floated amidst clusters of icy pinpricks painted on the dark canvas far overhead. Cool moonlight shone down, and dim shadows, stirred by a breeze in the limbs above, writhed in a sinuous promenade across their path. Though the veiled nighttide dance presented an eerily graceful effect, Cairn scarcely noticed.
     Instead he felt warmly, fuzzily, befuddled.
     In a spot out of the shadows he turned to look upon Neilai, thinking to trace the line of her cheekbone, to touch upon the fine hair at the nape of her neck, and to flow with the curve of her chin and the delicate turn of her ear. But he could not do so, for her green eyes held him captive. Widely spaced, infinitely depthless and so purely innocent, he sank into waters at once pristinely cool and sultry warm. How easily he could drown there. He knew that he stood grinning foolishly, like an adolescent pup still wet behind the ears, but he simply did not care.
    “Oooph…” Neilai thrust an elbow into his ribs.
    “And just what do you gawk at, silly man?”
    Cairn struggled to find his tongue. “Ahhh… why, of course it is you, Neilai! How could any man resist?”    He fashioned what he imagined a noble expression. “Even a man of the most austere character would find his wits swept away by your beauty—reduced to a stammering schoolboy with his pulse drumming in his ears.”
     She pursed her lips into a pout. “Oh? And so it is naught but superficial appearance that holds your interest? What will be left when that fades, pray tell?”
     “Well… I cannot deny that attraction,” Cairn fumbled, “but that is only the first blush of a complete rapture.” He leaned forward to kiss her, and she lightly brushed his lips and put a hand to his chest, pressing him back.
     His heart puddled to his toes. “Neilai? Do I displease you?”
     She frowned. “Why would you think that? I’ve just kissed you—you find my affections lacking?”
     His eyes went wide and he spluttered. “No! Of course not! It’s just that—”
     She shushed him with a finger to his lips. “Are you still such a boy that you cannot tell when I’m teasing?” She pointed to a pair of shadowy figures on the opposite side of the gardens, and spoke in a hushed voice.    “We are not alone here, my gangling buffoon. Since we last met I’ve waited too long for your kiss; I’ll not spoil it by staging a spectacle in front of others.”
     Cairn’s alarm calmed to a canny innocence, and he smiled broadly. “Well then, since you know that I’m little but an unworldly naïf, you’d not feel threatened to accompany me to the secluded alcove at the rear of the gardens?”
     Her eyes went half-lidded. “Huh! You think I do not notice certain attributes that suggest less than innocent intent?” She smiled mischievously. “But if you’ll promise reasonably proper behavior…”
     She took his hand and turned, pulling him into the shadows.
                                                                      *             *             *

     A formation of BladeWarrior Palace Guard escorted Gezladorn and his small entourage to the Royal Chambers, and there they found the lunar sovereign, Lord Teigor Valiir, ensconced in his throne-like perch. Grand Marshall Gendart Grussven sat to the rear; an ugly, stolid man, his build mindful of a barrel of ale. In contrast to the stellar placement of Lord Valiir above the head of the table all other seating bordered on tawdry, but the Grande Maester paid no heed as he seated himself at the table’s opposite end.
     “My Lord,” said Gezladorn with a cursory bow, “if you will permit?” and without awaiting a reply the Viizar fell into the elaborate preparation of his pipe. When he held a flame to the bowl a plume of yellowish smoke rose and an odorous haze soon spread as the wafting rings the Maester blew upward sagged and settled back down. Minutes passed; Gezladorn drew the process out, reveling in the rushing sensation of toxin satiating his lungs. He idly pondered the molding that trimmed the high ceiling of the chamber and he smiled broadly, all brilliant white teeth in a jet black face.
     Lord Valiir sat frowning, his shoulders hunched and his palms spread wide on the tabletop, until his patience broke. He fanned a sheaf of paper-work to drift the fumes away. “Must you perform this vile ritual, Viizar?” He curled an upper lip. “That, and your penchant for snuffling, or injecting, or however else you ingest these odious drugs? Might you imagine that such an activity is poorly suited to a royal audience?”
     Gezladorn leveled an opaque gaze upon Valiir. “My Lord, surely His Excellence understands—for the most adept of the Maesters, this is not a matter of personal choice.” He canted his head and spoke with an oddly lyrical rasp. “A Maester must sacrifice of himself to achieve this level, and one concession that I make is dependence upon psychotropic drugs. The sad truth of it is—were I to curtail my use for any length of time, I would, quite simply, die.” Gezladorn smiled, all perfect teeth. “And so you see, My Lord, that it is in your best interest that the Grande Maester not be remiss in his dosing.”
     Teigor grunted and waved a hand in dismissal. “Yes, yes, so you say. But let us delay no more. I am certain that you’ve heard of the botched Harvest raid on Kast’ar, and the resultant call from the House Elders—their resultant demand, I should say—for what they would term ‘negotiations’?”
     Gezladorn fingered the Maester’s Eye pendant that hung from his thin neck. “Yes, My Lar, the winds have whispered such tidings in my ear. They have also told me of blatant aggression… of undue violence…” He giggled as the seductive words spilled from his lips like a harlot’s bosom from an unlaced bodice. He took a coy tone. “Methinks… the Elders of Kast’ar may suspect that My Lord was involved?” He raised a hand to cover his snicker. “Might they be correct in their suppositions, I wonder?”
     “You wonder, do you?” rumbled Valiir in a black tone. “You’d be well advised to keep a close rein on your cogitations, Viizar. But though it is no concern of yours, the answer is no—it was not Suaron behind such a bungling misstep. Such would be foolhardy at best—putting at risk all our preparations. I would guess it to be the work of the colony on Denstad; that ragged band of misfits is little more than leftovers from a prison camp, after all.”
     “Ahh, yes. Denstad is most assuredly a haven of pirates, brigands, and trollops.” Gezladorn smiled widely, and Teigor narrowed his eyes to regard the Viizar with a suspicious gaze. Valiir huffed and rapped his knuckles on the table.
     “Now tell me of your circumstances, Maester. Will the appointment of Gar sa’n Alar as Zemplar of the Kast’arin House Alliance interfere, in any way, with your responsibilities per our agreement?”
     The Maester’s eyes widened. “Oh my. I should think not, Lord Valiir. Why would it? I have already demonstrated unhampered access to Alar. At the time of my visit no one had the slightest notion that I was on the grounds. Indeed, I spent some moments standing directly before Lord Gar’s son, with nothing else to distract his attention, and he was none the wiser of it.” Gezladorn shrugged. “A mere political appointment could have no bearing upon any efforts of mine, as such Works are rooted much more deeply than are the superficial endeavors of mankind.” The chromium streaks in the Maester’s pitch-black beard writhed like bolts of lightning in a stormy night sky as he spoke.
*****
Thank you Eric for taking part in my Author Spotlight interview!  I hope your writing continues to flourish and we hope to see more of you in the future. 
 ***** 
If you or an author/illustrator you know is interested in being interviewed, feel free to send me an email at jejoescienne@yahoo.com

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