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Guest Post: Author Steven M. Booth Discusses His Geek Interests and How They Informed DARK TALISMAN

She’s been banished from her home without a word of explanation. Assassins are hot on her tail, and she’s fleeing without a plan. On the whole, her future looks pretty grim. Then again, it’s nearly impossible to catch a dark elf. And even tougher to kill one.

Meet Altira. She set out to rob a sultan, and ended up stealing the deadliest gem in the world. This mistake could cost Altira her life – or save her race, and possibly the world as she knows it.

As Altira struggles to triumph over the vast forces arrayed against her, she acquires (mostly against her will) a rich cast of unexpected allies – perceptive dwarves, giant Phoenix birds with mysterious powers, and ephemeral creatures made from nothing but air. Together they must find a way to defeat the army of assassins set against her, overcome the wrath of three nations, and forge allegiances with despised enemies, to reveal the truth to a people kept in darkness for millennia.

Steven M. Boooth works with artists in the film industry to create some of the most spectacular effects and animation on the silver screen. He has worked as a software developer, programming the production and artist tools used to convert 2D to 3D films, on films such as Transformers 3, The Green Lantern, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Smurfs.

Steven combined his love of the natural world with his ability to think outside the box, developed after working in computer software for over 30 years, to imagineer the fantasy world of his first novel, Dark Talisman.

Steven took some time to discuss his own interests and how they have found their way into his work and how you can enter to win a Kindle HD!

By Steven M Booth

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants.

–Albert Einstein

Fantasy is by far the most popular genre. Nine out of the top ten movies of all time fall its domain and I think the reason is obvious. It’s pure escapism. Avatar is the number-one film not just because of the brilliant vision of James Cameron, but equally, because of the time-frame. We all needed to escape to Pandora in 2009. The same could be said for Harry Potter. How many of us wish we could stroll down Diagon alley, or take extension classes from Hogwarts?

The desire to escape has driven the popularity of, and many of literary successes of the last decade.

So, in a very real sense, Dark Talisman stems not from my understanding of the world, but rather my desire to escape from it. I’ve always loved this genre; always loved the way it lets the imagination soar. I vividly remember reading Tolkien, curled up in my bed when I was twelve, and yes, betimes by flashlight. It took me to a better place, a wonderful, safe and thrilling world, and I loved it. I was captivated by it. I also loved the Golden Age of Science Fiction, and the simple wonder and sheer exhilaration of that more innocent age. We seem to have somehow lost that wonder and simplicity, to be replaced by a jaded, indurate, seemingly insatiable desire for either the spectacular or the appalling. Dark Talisman is an attempt to return to that simpler time, to a safer, brighter form of story-telling.

Many writers have followed the path forged by Tolkien, but few seem to have emulated his contemporary and good friend, C.S. Lewis. Certainly, Narnia has enjoyed a resurgence of late, but although the Chronicles are very nearly as popular as the Ring Trilogy in terms of sheer sales, where are the Terry Brooks, and the Robert Jordans emulating C.S Lewis? They seem absent, and I think we need them. I think there is still a hunger for stories with more innovation than aggression; stories driven more by honor and faith and sacrifice than by revenge and animus. They still need to challenge our youngest and brightest, to be sure, and do it with humor and tension and conflict, but within a space that is still wondrous and fun. No matter what happens in Narnia, you know that Aslan will make it right in the end. I miss that.

As regards the nuts-and-bolts of Dark Talisman, and the greater series in which it rests, I must confess to be driven by J.K. The overall concept of the Guardian Chronicles was frankly derived from a frustration; by the need to scratch an itch. As the epic tale of Harry Potter progresses, one of the early sub plots skillfully woven into the tale was the relationship between Harry and Dumbledore’s pet Phoenix, Fawkes. Specifically, on page 315 of my edition of Chamber of Secrets (with acknowledgements to Ms. Rowling) we read:

A crimson bird the size of a swan had appeared, piping its weird music to the vaulted ceiling. it had a glittering golden tail as long as a peacock’s and gleaming golden talons, which were gripping a ragged bundle.

A second later, the bird was flying straight at Harry. it dropped the ragged thing it was carrying at his feet, then landed heavily on his shoulder… it sat still and warm next to Harry’s cheek… and he felt the bird’s golden claws squeeze his shoulder gently.

You can count the number of times Harry Potter is comforted by physical contact in the entire series on the fingers of one hand. It’s extremely rare. I was frankly captivated by the above sequence. Wow, I thought… how cool is that? Harry and Fawkes versus the Basilisk! How awesome — a dynamic duo between a wizard and a Phoenix. The possibilities are endless!

So Chamber of Secrets ended with this marvelous, magical avian dragging five or six people out of an inescapable pit, single handed, and obviously, I wanted more! I fully expected J.K. to develop this marvelous team… but alas, she had other plans. The next volume, Prisoner of Azkaban had almost nothing in it about Fawkes, nor did the subsequent tome, Goblet of Fire have anything more to add. I lost hope. But then regained it when volume five was announced: Order of the Phoenix.

YES! I elated. FINALLY!

But it was not to be.

Phoenix turned out to be unrelated to Fawkes… or at best, distantly related. And as the series ended (spectacularly I have to admit), no fantastic partnership between Harry and Fawkes developed.

So… I made my own.

The Guardian Chronicles is the story of a bunch of Phoenix birds that do, in fact, befriend humans (and other races), and the interaction has proven to be a gold mine.Dark Talisman  is the first volume in the series, and intended as an introduction to the lands, the characters, and the conflicts therein. And although my Phoenix are much bigger than Fawkes, and look more like eagles than a peacock, and have some impressive magical abilities, their essential function is the same — to lend eternal wisdom and to guide the hero toward the goal of surmounting all the obstacles and in the end, returning home, transformed.

To celebrate the release of Dark Talisman, click below for your chance to win a Kindle Fire HD and a digital copy of Dark Talisman!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



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