Somewhere to review books I'm reading without giving away any spoilers!
I have to thank author Karen Furk and welcome her to my blog today, read on to discover more about her latest book, Mask of the Gods, and to discover her fantastic answers to my questions! Learn about the book, her inspiration, writing techniques and how she chose her character names amongst other things…….
Soul Demons live off the souls of the living.
When Haydan’s home world is invaded by a soul demon seeking an item shrouded in myth and legend, his father evicts him and sends him to safety. His chosen one and warrior should provide reassurance and sanctuary, but neither appears to be working very well. Just when he thinks matters cannot get any worse his scheming grandmother arrives. She has her own plans that appear to involve him, none of which bodes well.
Diego feels confident he has the soul demon under control. Overlooking his devious mother’s involvement, he fails to appreciate that he is not only storm rider elder, but also an elven prince and certain debts are about to become due.
Lavinia worries about her grandson, but also who she left behind in the elven realm a long time ago. Tallin thinks she abandoned him and he is livid. She has everything under control, including Tallin…at least that is what she thinks.
They all need to learn afresh who to trust. With a soul demon on the rampage, an unleashed, angry and betrayed elven king and a long-forgotten mask surfacing, what could possibly go wrong?
The past is about to catch up with all of them. Nothing is going to go as planned because the mask and the gods have other ideas.
Where did you get the inspiration for the book/series?
I was eleven weeks pregnant with my second child when I was made redundant in late 2008 by an inspirational company that I had loved working for. After a break for maternity leave I then worked for some unpleasant and demanding employers who destroyed my confidence and self-esteem. I went through a rough time losing a total of four jobs in five years.
It was a slow, insidious process, but somewhere in the midst of all that my mental health descended into crisis and in 2012, I developed serious depression. My two boys were five and three at the time. On holiday in Scotland I hit rock bottom. I was laughing with my husband and boys outwardly, whilst inwardly I was devoid of any emotional connection to anything. I had no idea who I was anymore, or where I had gone and more importantly if I was ever coming back. There was a grey blanket over everything and all the joy had gone from my life. It was quite a frightening realisation to suddenly become aware that I had effectively left the building with no forwarding address and no plan B.
The weather in Scotland is always changeable. Driving down the edge of Loch Eck one afternoon I had a vision. A bright spark of light appeared by the Loch, a storm cloud dropped to the ground and when it cleared I was staring at a tall, dark haired man with distinctive green eyes – Haydan.
I wrote my way out of depression. Whenever I wonder why I’m doing this I remember back to that moment and the events that drove me there. I used the experiences that almost broke me to rebuild a better, stronger version of me and I’m now able to feel grateful for what I went through.
I don’t know whether I found Haydan, or whether he found me, but it was a defining moment and one that has driven me to write the stories that I am now releasing into the world. Haydan was trying to tell me something that afternoon. I have an active imagination and have always enjoyed reading and writing. It’s time to put that skill to good use.
What is your writing process?
I usually have an idea of the beginning, middle and end of the story before I start writing. Sometimes I draw out a spider diagram of the key plot points I want to cover to keep myself on track. I plan what I’m going to write the day before, so the writing flows. I tend to write the book from start to finish in order when I can, for consistency, although if I have a particular scene in my head I will focus on that. Once it’s out of my head I can move on.
I’m a stickler for making sure there are no inconsistencies or plot holes, so I make a note of pertinent plot points as I go and cross them off once I’ve resolved or addressed them. I also scan the finished document for this sort of thing as well.
Once the first draft is done, I edit it and send it to my beta team. After their feedback is incorporated I send it to my editor. We go through 2 to 3 edits and by then I nearly have my final draft. After another couple of sweeps for errors, I send the draft to my proofreader. Another sweep, or fifteen read throughs (!) later sees it making its way to my formatter. I exaggerate but only slightly. I do read it through a few times and in hard copy too as that way I spot errors easier.
The whole process is a real team effort. If I find an error after all of the above then it runs free into the wild!
Do you write using pen and paper or on a computer?
I write my drafts electronically. I have a MacBook and I love it. It’s portable, lightweight and really easy to use. I tend to keep notes in a notepad I carry on me as I’m editing my work. So I write electronically, but edit using pen and paper. I find I work better that way and crossing things off on a list when I’m editing is satisfying.
Who is your favourite character out of your stories and why?
This is tricky to answer because I like a number of them for different reasons and more are appearing all the time! I would however have to say Haydan, purely because he was the point where this journey began.
He found me in Scotland on the edge of Loch Eck when I was suffering from serious depression and from that moment on, he was introducing me to his world and I was writing his story.
If you were a character in your story, which would you like to be?
Haydan of course! Actually, I want to say a whirling dervish, because as critters go, these guys are brilliant, but I don’t know if they count here and I’ve already talked about Haydan, so I’ll say Isaac or Tallin.
Isaac the unreadable human is good fun to write because he’s trying to figure out what is going on, whilst also embracing all the craziness around him, which I’ve got to admire. Plus, I know what I have planned for him and it’s worth sticking around for! He only plays a small part in Mask of the Gods, but he’s interesting.
Tallin I find intriguing. He’s powerful and enjoys playing games, although in this first book he’s been hurt emotionally and acts to defend himself and protect his realm. I love his sense of mischief and fun which starts to gradually flow through the story as it progresses.
How and why did you choose the names for your main characters?
Haydan – When he appeared in front of me, he told me his name was Haydan. I jest, well only a little. To be truthful he just adopted this name and it suited him. It’s spelt Haydan because I didn’t want to stick with the traditional spelling, Hayden. I’m awkward like that and he’s not human so why would his name be spelt the human way? The name also fits with the cute nickname Maya has for him when she’s younger.
Maya (pronounced May-a NOT Mai-a) – I needed something that contrasted with Haydan, which was short and easy to pronounce. Again, I don’t know where the name came from, but Haydan liked it and the name stuck. Also, it stands for spring or brook in Hebrew and as you get to know Maya over the course of the books you understand how a connection with water suits her.
Arianna – I needed her to have a strong, distinctive name that I could shorten if I needed to. Also and I must have subconsciously been aware of this, because it wasn’t deliberate, all of my main characters have names that sound very different. There’s no chance of a reader getting confused over them because they sound too similar.
Diego – This man oozes control and power. He needed a name that reflected that, plus I like this name and it’s not used very often, so it stands out.
Lavinia – I’ve been complimented by my beta readers on Lavinia’s name. I like the fact that Tallin shortens it affectionately to Levi as well and that suits her character. It sounds regal and is distinctive enough to hold its own alongside Tallin, which takes some doing!
Tallin – I played around with sounds and names until I had something distinctive and regal sounding. My editor says it reminds her of Tallinn, in Estonia, but that’s completely coincidental and I didn’t use that as my inspiration at all.
Karen Furk loves fantasy stories. She has done ever since she was a small, lonely child with an over active imagination. She’s particularly fond of stories that are crammed full of magic, mayhem and magical creatures. Karen’s background in marketing laid the foundations for her writing career which began after a serious bout of depression. No longer able to contain her over active imagination, the stories finally flowed onto a page. She aims to surprise and delight with the characters and worlds she creates. She lives in the North West of the UK with her husband, two boys and a hamster called Rufus (Yes, a girl hamster with a boy’s name. Don’t ask, she just embraces the crazy!). Visit her at karenfurk.co.uk or find her on social media and say hello – she’s on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest under the user name karenfurkauthor.
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