Monday, August 18, 2014

Interviews with Indie Authors: AE Marling

Today on the blog AE Marling joins us to talk about his Lands of Loam series. Four out of five of the Lands of Loam books follow the Enchantress Hiresha on her journeys through the lands of loam where she is beset by blood sorcerers, feasters, deities of varying degrees of malevolence, humanity, and, worst of all, drowsiness. The series is full of vibrant characters, locales that come to life before your eyes, and imaginative plot twists that keep you turning pages. I have read all of AE Marling's currently published works and have enjoyed them all. 

You can find all of his works listed on his Amazon Author page.

For a bit of background on the author himself I will quote his author bio from his website

A.E. Marling wrote his first fantasy novella after his freshman year in high school. In college, he found nothing gave him a greater urge to write than science lectures, and he sat through a lot of ‘em. He has yet to repent his fascination with fantasy and is intrigued by its grip on the human imagination. 
Both ambidextrous and word-voracious, his diet ranges from Arthurian legends to Jane Austen. He denies being a running addict, though he has to shout it over the noise of the treadmill. He dances as directed by demons. And, yes, he partakes in fantasy-related gaming. His best writing ideas pounce on him when he would rather be sleeping, thanks to insomnia. 
His current lair is in California, in the namesake city of element 116, Livermorium. His thoughts touch ground there between flights.
This is what he looks like:

And here are some of the beautiful covers to his stories:

If you haven't had a chance to read his work, I really do recommend it. 

 **Please be warned that if you are highly spoiler sensitive there are one or two teeny tiny spoilers in the interview, mostly in regards to book one. Questions and answers that contain anything remotely spoiler like will be marked with<>** 

And now, without further ado, the interview (same disclaimer about silly questions as the last interview) as a nod to Hiresha's preferences all answers are written in purple:

1. What is your name? No, really. Do your friends call you AE or what?
My friends call me Alan, but I was named Alcatraz Eventide Marling, after the place and time of my conception. My parents are real kidders.

2. You have chosen to write female protagonists in all of your published books to date. Is that coincidence or is there a particular reason for that? If there is a reason, do tell. Also, do you expect to ever write a male protagonist?
The Hobbit had no female characters, and the Lord of the Rings featured scarcely more. Those pillars of fantasy were written last century, but even in the recent movie Guardians of the Galaxy, the male heroes outnumbered the woman four to one. When only a single woman is present in a story, she may suffer from a tokenism effect. As the only representative of her gender, the author might write her without fault, inhumanly beautiful and badass.
Though I loved all the stories mentioned above, I see no reason more male-dominated tales need to be written. My goal is always to feature heroines who triumph in spite of their faults, with a supporting cast of characters which also include at least as many women as men.

3. You have created a very intricate world in the Lands of Loam. Which came to you first, the world or the characters that populate it?
The characters have evolved multiple times over the years as I changed the world beneath their feet. In this reincarnation, Hiresha is less supreme with more human weakness in her invisible illness. Her sleeping disease only makes her more impressive when she nonetheless emerges victorious.

4. You are an independent author, yet you have amazing cover art, excellent ebook formatting (presumably excellent print formatting but I've only ever read your work as ebooks so I wouldn't know), as well as quality copyediting: How did you accomplish these feats of publishing?
I find my stylus-wielding champions through Deviantart, searching for illustrations of similar tone to my writing. My friend is a merciless graphics designer, and he does the right thing in ignoring my advice and following his own artistic sense. I laboriously format my own text. I hire freelance editors, and I update the eBooks with new additions when any wily typos escape into print.

5. May we talk to Hiresha for a question or three?
Very well. As her humble scribe, I will record her answers.

6. Please ask Hiresha to use her dream lab to revisit her state of mind before her less than pleasant visit to Morimound a few years ago (ie the beginning of the series). From that perspective, if she could choose an animal companion, what kind would she choose?
She sees no point in any animal companion, but if she has to choose one, it would definitely not be a fennec fox. All that yipping and chirping would only distract her in her lucid dreaming. The golden-tailed vermin would no doubt try to gobble down her jewels at first opportunity, and its ears are indefensibly large.

7. When Hiresha says that purple is objectively the best color, how does she take into account that one cannot be certain that all humans perceive colors the same way?
She was of the opinion that most people perceive scarce little of anything, and anyone incapable of seeing the superiority of purple should not be taken seriously.
In her later memoir, Dream Storm Sea, she learns the value of alternate points of view. She has some incentive to change her mind, as it is required to overcome a multi-tentacled mastermind that would’ve otherwise stopped her escape.

8. And finally could Hiresha tell us who the very first enchantress was? What was her name and how did she discover her abilities?
There are pernicious rumors that the first enchantress was a harem slave captured from the Viper Sands, and she was noted by how her jewels glowed while she slept. Hiresha would like everyone to know this is untrue. The study of enchantment has always been practiced by the most reputable ladies from well-mannered families.

9. And, is there any chance we could talk to Tethiel for a bit?
Very well, but he’s likely only to answer ridiculous questions. Only the dull discuss anything of importance.

<>10. What was Tethiel's favorite food before it lost all of its appeal?
In those days he was most interested in fermenting sour wine from good intentions.

<>11. Could Tethiel inform us as to whether or not animals can become Feasters? I only ask because his horse seems suspiciously calm in the presence of him and his "children."
An astute observation. Eye-Biter is quite the nefarious steed. I may just be a scribe with minor knowledge in the arcane sciences, but I suspect that the animal might indeed also draw power from the fear of others. Such monsters are generally called ‘dire.’

12. What does Tethiel fear?
That someday he may be caught wearing a wrinkled jacket with a poorly chosen buttonhole. People will forgive murder so long as it wears a handsome coat.

13. Alright, back to Mr. Marling. Mr. Marling, what's your current/next project? How many enchantress novels do you expect in the series? (Ok yeah, I totally snuck two questions into one there.) 
I am currently editing a middle-grade manuscript for younger readers and those who prefer a few less loops of convolution in their stories. It is called Magic Banquet, and Lord Tethiel features as one of the guests. I will soon begin the second draft of another story, this one for young adults, and to get a sense of it think Vikings in Yosemite National Park. The next story I plan to write will feature both Lord Tethiel and Enchantress Hiresha, and that, her fifth, may be the last where she plays the part of the protagonist. In each story she changes as a person and most often innovates new ways to use her powers of enchantment. By now it's difficult to find plots that challenge her as a character.

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