Please help me welcome today’s guest, Jeremy Higley…
Hi Jeremy, thank you for joining me. Please tell us a little about yourself, where are you from? Where do you live now? Family? Pets?
My name is Jeremy. I was born in California, grew up in Alabama, and since then I’ve lived in Virginia, Colorado, and Arizona. Right now I live Flagstaff with a cat named Luna and a bird named Mango. Last May I finished my master’s degree in English Literature, and this coming May I’m getting married!
Where did you get the idea for The Dead Forsworn?
The Dead Forsworn is the second book in my Darksome Thorn series, and the main ideas were formed before I finished the first book, The Son of Dark. In this book I wanted to explore the cost of power, whether that power is something you want to have or something you’d rather avoid. I wanted to show how well-hidden some of the world’s greatest pain is, even in people you might think of as very open. Also, I wanted to take the concept of the technological singularity and find a way to employ it in a fantasy setting.
Was there anything unusual, any anecdote about this book, the characters, title, process, etc, you’d like to share?
If you’ve read the first book, you’ll be happy to know that in the sequel a dragon is born, and one of the biggest mysteries regarding Morkin’s past is revealed. We have some new villains, and some familiar ones. Skel and Smyra grow into their own a bit, and develop some new and rather frightening powers. Also, and perhaps most importantly, the prophecy of the Darksome Thorn continues to unfold. This book will be more epic in scope, with narrative threads that explain some of the broader movements taking place in Duskain as the storm approaches. And yes, it will be longer than the first one.
What is the most difficult thing about writing a book?
Sitting down, turning off all the distractions, and letting my thoughts, hopes, and fears take over for a while.
Are there any tricks, habits or superstitions you have when creating a story?
I never trust my first idea to be original. If it’s the first thing that comes to mind, then of course someone else has thought of it before. I like to twist ideas a couple times, or dig a little deeper to find the idea behind the idea, before I’m willing to commit. Another solid approach, if you can’t dig it deeper or twist it tighter, is to simply take two ideas you like and smash them together. Like colliding particles in a particle accelerator, there’s always the hope of a new discovery.
Do you have another occupation, other than writer? If so, what is it and do you like it?
I work the front desk for a county office here in Flagstaff. As I sometimes describe my job, I help people, and I help people help people.
What was your first job?
When I was 16 I worked as a tour operator for a children’s museum in Huntsville, Alabama. It was a great job, but I wish sometimes I could go back and do it over again. I was so shy and uncomfortable as a public speaker. Then again, if I didn’t have those shy and uncomfortable times, I wouldn’t have my better moments as a public speaker now.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
Smyra, in all honesty, is an attempt on my part to understand those few bullies in my life whose abuse has really stuck with me. I wanted to take the time to write an abusive character, and hang around long enough to understand and even help my audience to appreciate her as a person. Despite all her bravado, Smyra is just as scared and uncertain as anyone else. I’ve actually come to admire her, and if you haven’t yet, just wait for the second book!
What do your friends and family think of your writing?
They’re very supportive. My father is very down-to-earth, but his biggest criticism of the first book was that it was too short. My mother called me the moment she finished the book to ask me what would happen next, and whether any of the characters she liked were going to die. My siblings are always trying to give me new ideas, or asking questions about the story and the world I hadn’t considered before. Also, my fiance is always ready to listen to me ramble on about the characters and the backstories I never get to explore fully and the bits of the world I haven’t been able to fit into the books yet. There’s still so much to explore in the land of Duskain!
How did you come up with the title?
Each title in the series is based off an element of the prophecy written on the blade of the Darksome Thorn, a sword that reappears every thousand years. The prophecy on its blade changes each time, and is really more of a set of instructions on how to defeat the world’s greatest evil. The Son of Dark refers to Skel, and The Dead Forsworn refers to a character you’ve already met, but who hasn’t fulfilled his part of the prophecy yet. If I told you who it was, you’d know which of the main characters is/are going to die in this novel. [winky face]
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I hope they find a message in my writing, but I don’t pretend to know what it will be. The message I’ve taken from it is that promises have a beauty to them all their own, a beauty born in the moment they’re made and the feelings and ideas they represent. Holding onto that promise and keeping it alive is considered noble, but even after the circumstances have changed and things have moved in a direction no one expected and most reasonable people would consider the original promise null and void, there is more than nobility in the keeping of a promise. There’s desperation, and blind faith, and an unwillingness to let the past go. But there is also beauty. It’s the kind of beauty that’s born more of hope than of craft, more of love than design. And it’s real.
Jeremy Higley was born in California but now lives in Arizona. As of 2016 he’s a graduate student working on a master’s degree in English. He’s also an instructional aide at a local elementary school, a novelist, and a contributing editor for a nonprofit student success company called LifeBound.
Blurb for Son of Dark (Book 1 of The Darksome Thorn):
A thousand years ago, the wizards of the Nynsa failed to follow the prophecy of the Darksome Thorn, and now the greatest evil of their time has survived into the next age.
Now, the Darksome Thorn has revealed a new prophecy, and the very evil they failed to kill is working to use that prophecy to his advantage.
Forces of evil run rampant in the land of Duskain. Ancient powers are stirring. A greater darkness is imminent…
…and Skel, the foster son of an elephant herder, finds himself caught in the middle of everything. Will Skel’s newly developing powers be a help or a hindrance…
Marga pointed to the south. Zar didn’t turn, but he heard a gasp of recognition from Skel.
“Aja-aja,” he said with concern. “Three of them, about two miles away.”
Zar sighed in trepidation. The aja-aja were rare, enormous snakes prowling the Eltar plains, preying on elephants and any herders foolish enough to attack them. They had three heads each and stocky, powerful bodies to match, and could grow to over forty feet long. They killed and then predigested their prey by spitting streams of corrosive poison from their mouths.
“The aja-aja will be no problem,” he bluffed, staring into Marga’s eyes. “I have two magic-users with me now, a wizard and a Phage. They’re perfectly capable of dispatching a few overgrown snakes.”
“If so, then I’ll simply have to wait longer to be reunited with my precious one,”
the Wyvern said, eyeing the flattened snake corpses around her.
Something inside Zar began to burn like a fuse at the words “precious one.”
“You knew her before, I presume,” he continued, his voice much quieter. “Before you kidnapped her, I mean, and took over her mind.”
“She was mine to take,” the Wyvern retorted through Marga’s lips. “She was always mine to take.”
The last words hissed from Marga’s mouth like a challenge. Zar’s fingers wrapped around his sword’s hilt. He wanted nothing more at this moment than a way to strike at his enemy, but the Wyvern was far, far away.
“If you want her,” Zar said, “you’ll have to kill me.”
“Too risky,” the Wyvern replied. “You crave nothing more than to die for her. To kill you might break my grip.”
“If you don’t kill me she will never truly be yours,” Zar said. He walked to within an arm’s length of her. “As long as there’s breath in me, I will always be fighting to free
“I’m sure you mean that,” the Wyvern said. “Once you’re dead, there’s nothing to stop me from singing her back to me.”