Inside the Book:
A Gemmell Award-Winning Series
Malian of Night and Kalan, her trusted ally, are returning to the Wall of Night—but already it may be too late. The Wall is dangerously weakened, the Nine Houses of the Derai fractured by rivalry and hate. And now, the Darkswarm is rising . . .
Among Grayharbor backstreets, an orphan boy falls foul of dark forces. On the Wall, a Daughter of Blood must be married off to the Earl of Night, a pawn in the web of her family’s ambition. On the Field of Blood, Kalan fights for a place in the bride’s honor guard, while Malian dodges deadly pursuers in a hunt against time for the fabled Shield of Heaven. But the Darkswarm is gaining strength, and time is running out—for Malian, for Kalan, and for all of Haarth . . .
It’s All About The Characters
One of the reasons why I love writing Fantasy is because it’s all about possibility and wonder—the excitement of new ways of looking at the world, and the flexibility to play with those possibilities. But it’s the characters that really matter—the people who have all of the normal challenges and problems of just being human, but must also deal with the additional challenges that arise when magic starts getting thrown about.
Although I should stick with saying “characters” and not “people”, as not all great characters in Fantasy-SciFi are people: for example, the ent, Treebeard, in JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, the daemon Pantalaimon in Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass, or the legendary helmet, Nhenir, in my own The Wall of Night series.
As a reader, the characters are almost always what make the difference between my liking a book and loving it. I enjoy interesting and quirky ideas, and worlds that stretch my imagination, but if I don’t care about the characters, then it’s very hard to really care about the book. Whether I love them or hate them, I want to be engaged—to laugh and cry with the characters through the action of the book, to hold by breath when scary stuff is happening and breathe a sigh of relief when the protagonist wins through… Or doesn’t, as with Ned Stark in GRR Martin’s A Game of Thrones.
But I’m also a writer and creating character is essential to the process. I still want to be engaged by them, but not necessarily to like them. And sometimes, it’s when someone tells you that they don’t like a character that you think: “A-ha, my work here is done!” This happened with The Heir of Night, the first book in The Wall of Night series. An early reader said: “… but I just hate the Earl of Night. He’s such an anal retentive @#%*$&!.” He couldn’t quite understand why I immediately punched the air—but I had worked really hard on that particular character and the reader’s response was exactly right.
And sometimes it is the characters you have to work hardest on that are the most rewarding—not because they are likeable necessarily, but because they are human. So the Earl of Night is an anal retentive @#%*$&!, but that is not all he is. Working to achieve that fine shading as the story unfolds is very rewarding for me as a writer.
Writing character can be a little like quarrying for gemstones. Some characters you have to chip away at patiently until the shape of the personality reveals itself; with others it’s just a single tap and the perfect jewel falls into your hand. A new character, Myr, in Daughter of Blood, was like that. Once I got her name right (that step was vital!) the character of Myr was just there, whole and pretty much complete. The main character, Malian, was more complex—but she has been through a lot in the past two books, as well as being crucial to the resolution of the story, so her character’s journey is complex and consequently requires considerable care and thought.
Yet in the end, however they arrive, each character has to be real once they take their place in the story. However minor their parts, they all have to have their backstory and reasons for being who and where they are, so they live and breathe on the page—and draw the reader into the magic of their lives.
Meet the Author
Helen is giving away print copies of The Gathering of the Lost & The Heir of Night
- By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
- One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive both copies – US ONLY
- This giveaway begins January 18 and ends on February 12.
- Winners will be contacted via email on February 13.
- Winner has 48 hours to reply.