Today I am very excited to welcome author Blaine D. Arden to Joyfully Jay! Blaine recently released her book The Fifth Son, which I reviewed here early today. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Blaine, thank you so much for joining us!
Thank you for having me. *sits down in comfy leather chair and leans back* Oh, really cozy here. *grin*
I reviewed your book earlier today, but do you think you could take a minute to tell us a bit about the story from your perspective?
Well, The Fifth Son is about Llyskel, the youngest son of a King who lives in a magical world, but possesses no magic himself. Though he lives among his family, his people, he’s a bit of a loner, partly through the sheltered way he’s been raised, partly because he keeps himself apart as well. Because he could never be a soldier like his brothers, he threw himself into his painting, something he excels at. His paintings hang all over the castle, and even a queen from a neighboring country is interested in his work.
What Llyskel likes painting most is the shooters soldiers use to focus their magic, especially their stunning spells. He’s obsessed with them. It fuels a desire in him. One that Ariv, a captain in his father’s army picks up on and wants to help Llyskel fulfill. Unfortunately, not everything goes to plan and Ariv isn’t the only one interested in Llyskel, though not for quite the same wholesome reason.
It’s a story about learning to live with limits, obsessions, and desires without letting them rule your life.
I thought the story was quite interesting, especially the idea of being the sole person without magic in a land where everyone has power. Can you tell us more about what inspired the story?
I blame this whole story on Storm Moon Press’ Weight of the Gun anthology. I read the call for it, thought ‘no way in hell’, closed the tab and suddenly had an idea for a story. *sigh* A classic curse of the plotbunnies, it was.
Since I write mainly fantasy, I quickly came up with the image of a young prince who desperately wanted to be stunned during sex. Then I started thinking about why he hadn’t done that yet, and came up with the idea of overbearing parents who kept their son from being over-exposed to magic, because he didn’t possess the ability himself, due to a birth-defect.
All this, because I read an anthology call about gun-porn.
Llyskel is an artist, and I think the book does a great job of letting us see the world through that artistic lens as he does. Do you have a background in art? And if not, was it difficult to create the world through an artist’s eyes?
I have no background in art whatsoever, none aside from what I learned in secondary school, and I can assure you, I’ve forgotten most of that. Those lessons were only interesting if you were already interested in drawing. For someone like me, head filled with stories, but no real talent to draw—I’m more of a numbers kind of girl, numbers, languages and writing—they were more frustrating than anything else.
As for it being difficult: Llyskel came to me as this young, artistic and frustrated prince, sick of being mollycoddled, ready to face his desire. I may have mentioned before that I’m an instinctive writer, and with Llyskel’s artistic background, I just let him show me how he saw the world and tried to convey his thoughts, his experiences. He was so immersed in his own world, and, by association, so was I.
Most of your books are set in a fantasy world. What draws you to these types of stories? Is it difficult to create a new world in your books, or is it easier to have the freedom to set your own rules?
My reason for writing fantasy may also expose my biggest flaw. My knowledge of the world I live in isn’t very good. I’m not politically minded (or interested) and I grew up in a small city in the Netherlands where I happily dreamed my childhood away. It took me years to realize just how big the world actually was. So, I’m not particularly well versed in the differences in cultures, countries, and customs. Contemporary is not a setting in which I can just make things up as I go along, not the way I can when writing fantasy.
I fell in love with the fantasy genre by reading about elves, dragons, and magic. For a dreamer like me, reading fantasy is the best way to disappear into a different world for a couple of hours. When I started writing fantasy, it was the same. I would disappear into a different world and would start building them from scratch and preferably very unlike our own modern world. I love building worlds and cultures, love inventing worlds that don’t NEED electricity because they have a magic system that sustains them as well as electricity does ours.
Can you tell us a bit more about what you are working on now and what we can look forward to from you in the future?
I’m still slaving away on a short story set in the world of The Forester, about a mute magical baker with a penchant for scarification. Next to that I’m building a background for a trans* story idea that came to me while doing an exercise from Ursula Le Guin’s Steering the Craft. It’s just bits and pieces at the moment. So, not even a real view on what the main focus of the story will be… yet. All I know is that when I finished that exercise, I knew Pip (my main character) deserved his own story.
Something else that’s in the pipelines is two more The Forester stories to round up Kelnaht, Taruif, and Ianys’ stories. I also have plans to edit a novel I wrote over a year ago, about a blind curse-breaker who fights for acceptance, and hope to submit that before end of this year. Of course, my SF novel Aliens, Smith and Jones is coming out in July through Storm Moon Press. It’s about Keiran, a personal assistant tracking alien artifacts, who struggles to understand the strange pull he feels toward Noah, a former alien, while forces without as well as within are working against them to keep them apart. Plenty of work to do this year.
If readers want to learn more about you or your books, where can they find you?
They can find me at the following places:
Twitter: @BlaineDArden http://www.twitter.com/BlaineDArden
Thank you so much for coming by today to talk to us about The Fifth Son! It was so nice to have you here!
*reluctantly gets up out of the comfy chair* Thanks for having me. It’s been fun *grin*