The Aldaya Series
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Date of Publication: Sept. 14, 2014
Number of pages: Estimated 276
Cover Artist: Natalie Spasic
On an ancient planet within our galaxy, a dark and fearsome terror has awoken from its long slumber. Its task is to work quietly from the unseen, spreading dissent through the vulnerable territories of the free races; weakening them for its master. By a chance meeting, it comes across a young girl in the swampy and mist choked lands of Endmoor.
Her name is Mim, and the pairing of her platinum hair and violet eyes has not been seen since the Great War 1,000 years earlier; and has attracted unwanted attention. Knowing it hunts her, Mim flees and starts on a journey that takes her far across the Great Isle of Aldaya; the only landmass that now sits above the waves.
Unbeknownst to her, she is the key to unraveling the darkness that is falling over the Great Isle; an emptiness that threatens to swallow not only Aldaya, but the Sphere as well, and all its futures to come.
Her words caught in her throat and she was unable to breathe. The woman at the table was the strangest looking person she had ever seen. Her body was thin and gangly, and her pale skin stuck out jaggedly in places as if it were trying to cover too many bones. Even sitting down Mim could tell she was tall, and her thin robes were midnight black and hemmed in places with dark maroon embroidery.
Then Mim took in her face, and it was paler and more terrifying than the rest of her body.
Her cheekbones were set a little too pointy and high. The mouth was nothing more than a thin slit stretched too far across the length of her face. The nose looked as if it had been removed, shrunk, and poorly placed back on. And her eyes were ghastly and titled upwards too far, and completely black with veins around the outer parts. Their color matched the hair that came down from her dark hood, which had jagged protrusions poking out at a few points near the back.
“Oh! I didn’t smell a child,” the creature said. As her black eyes met Mim’s purple ringed with blue, she stopped. “Well, what do we have here? How strange...” She got up from the table and circled her. At full height, the creature stood at least two feet taller than Mim.“I can smell the sweet scent of youth a mile away, little piglet, yet somehow I had no idea you were here.” A cold, pointy, finger ran across Mim’s cheek and up to her temples. “And what strange eyes you have.”
Mim was rooted to the ground and dared not move. Whatever stood before her seemed to be a demon that had jumped off the pages of one of Ilanya’s stories, and as she glanced towards Miss Barley and Candy for direction, the two were expressionless. They stared ahead in some sort of trance. What was wrong with them?
A lightning bolt cracked overhead and the woman let out a high-pitched laugh. When her oversized mouth opened, Mim could see two rows of sharpened teeth that filled the inside: one in the front like normal, and another jagged row sitting just behind it. The two figures that accompanied her said nothing, remaining still and hidden under their cloaks.
As she looked down at the blond girl, for the first time in over a thousand years, curiosity crept into Morra’s mind. The girl had no smell, and try as she might, Morra Losis couldn’t sense a trace of her except with her vision. But even stranger were her eyes. Purple eyes like those she had only seen many ages ago, and the bearers of them had disappeared from the sphere before the Great War in the north had begun.
But yet here in front of her one remained, and she wondered to herself whether her queen would find interest in this young human. Oh, most certainly, she thought. This revelation was the only thing keeping her from devouring the succulent girl on the spot. But if she lost her now, she would have to hunt for her like mortals did, and that was certainly not going to happen. Then the most wonderful idea came to her mind.
With the centaurs it had always been the hunt, the Dwarves their precious jewels, and the Elves their knowledge. But with humans it had always come down to their desire for freedom and independence. And although she hadn’t been awake for long, she knew in this age that true freedom could only be attained by one thing:wealth. She knew exactly what this poor little mongrel desired most just by looking at her torn outfit and dirty hands. “Well, it seems that one servant around here knows how to appease a guest of status. And I have always prided myself on paying the help.”
Morra Losis snapped her fingers and one of the tall hooded figures glided over, producing a large coin purse. She dipped her hand in and pulled out a large handful of endins and sprinkled them into the pot of meat with a smile. The taller creature then went back to standing by its twin before she drew herself closer to the girl onceagain. “That is for the meat, dear.” She then reached into a pocket from the inside of her cloak and pulled out a very small black purse. It was made of a shimmery fabric and all over it were dark maroon shapes. “And this is for you.”
As her hand placed the small pouch in the girl’s free hand, a tremor went through her. She could barely contain her appetite. She grabbed Mim’s jaw with one hand and effortlessly lifted her off of the ground, running her forked purple tongue up Mim’s cheek. The pot dropped to the ground, sending pieces of raw pork and coins spilling onto the rough floors. Her grip was so tight that she felt the girl’s jaws beginning to crack. She hadn’t had a meal this intriguing in an age, and her resistance was crumbling to the need to satisfy her hunger. What can one little bite hurt? she thought. But as she thought of her master, she quickly let go, dropping the girl back to the ground and turning back towards the table. As she bent down and picked up a raw piece of intestine and dangled it in front of her face, she said, “I just don’t think this will do. I certainly do not eat off of the floor, and when I feed I have always desired something with a little more...spunk.” She turned towards the dark greasy haired girl and let out a low gurgle, briefly revealing her jagged rows of teeth. Lifting her enchantment, the girl came out of her stupor, and after a moment began shrieking and backing away.
Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
-In the beginning I never wanted to be a writer full time. It was always just a hobby that I enjoyed part time during school. But as the world of Aldaya began to really take shape, it became more obvious to me that I could really make something out of it. Then when the reality of the post graduate world set in, I realized that I wanted to do something I loved and enjoyed. I didn’t want to be stuck in a profession that I dreaded everyday. So that’s when I made the big push to make this a career move.
When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?
-I guess when I finally hired my agent, got a professional editor, found my artist, and the series began to take shape. Once my team was assembled it really sunk in that it was real. But my first “aha” moment was when I downloaded it for the first time. But a writer is a writer in their heart, so probably some time long ago. :)
How long did it take to get your first book published?
-A full year, at least. If you count the time it took me to develop the series, the world, its history, its characters etc it was 10 years. But once the actual publishing process started, and my team and I working on it professionally, it was one year. And I really stress to other authors not to rush this process too much. Yes its important to stick to your schedule, but your first book is your outing onto the scene and it needs to be done well. Take your time and be happy with your product.
Do you do another job except for writing and can you tell us more about it?
-I went to college for Meteorology and obtained two degrees, and am always looking for jobs in that field. I have always been fascinated by weather, but currently I manage a restaurant that I opened with a very close friend of mine. I love it!
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in less than 20 words what would you say?
-My latest book is titled IN YOUR DREAMS, BOOK I OF THE ALDAYA SERIES. I don’t know if I can summarize in 20 words, but I’ll try. A girl with a mysterious past is plunged into a perilous adventure, and all futures to come are at risk? Geeze, that’s terrible!
Who is your publisher? Or do you self-publish?
-I self-publish. I’m not sure I would like to be a self-published author forever, but it does have its pros. I have more control over the product that I put out. However, the marketing power of publishing houses is something that I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to duplicate.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
-Well I haven’t nailed that down yet. The first book isn’t a true representation of a timeline. I hope to comfortably release one every six months. Keep your fingers crossed. :)
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
-This book is the first in a double trilogy, so its completion comes first. But I have a lot of plans for future writings, and some of them will cross over into something other than fantasy. I like fiction, but an upcoming project might drift out of it. I’ll keep everyone posted. :)
What genre would you place your books into?
-Fiction->Fantasy Adventure->High Fantasy-> Epic Fantasy
What made you decide to write that genre of book?
-It has always been my favorite genre. I was a Potter kid, and before/during that I was always lost in some works of Tolkien or Robert Jordan's.
Do you have a favorite character from your books? And why are they your favorite?
-I can’t have a favorite. All of my characters hold a special place in my heart and are like my children. I care about each and every one of them.
How long have you been writing?, and who or what inspired you to write?
-I have been writing for nearly eleven years, but always doodling when I was a child as well. My mother is a published author in medical science, so she inspired me. But in the realm of fantasy is has always been Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, and Robert Jordan.
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
-I have a routine when I’m working at home. My usual is to get settled in my den. I have it all decked out with lamps and old books, big armchairs and stuff. It’s very early 19th century England and I love it. I have to get the energy and the mood just right, so I turn on my lamps and maybe light some sage, turn on some Loreena McKennitt radio on Pandora and close my eyes and just go. But I find I get stifled if I write there for too long, so I try and travel and be outside as much as possible. If you ever run across a tall guy on the bluffs of the Mississippi river lugging around a typewriter, it’s probably me.
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
-I do. Even nasty and unprofessional ones an be constructive. Criticism makes you become better and strive to grow as an artist. However, I don’t waste my time on hate mail. That is not a review.
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
-I storyboarded the series out, from beginning to end, before I ever started writing the manuscript for book one. Once that was done, I got a clear view that it would be six volumes, and each book already had its flow. That is when I developed the titles for each one.
How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
-I get inspired by stuff around me. Signs, posters, speech etc. For example, Tinril is the name of the elven Island off the southern coast of Aldaya. I got the inspiration from a little sign in a neighboring village that reads, “Tinner’s Mill”. I put a few sounds together and that was that. :)
Are character names and place names decided after their creation? Or do you pick a character/place name and then invent them?
-For me it’s both. However I will change names around if I don’t think it fits.
Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
-For me, my characters evolve on their own. I’ve never needed to create a certain character to put traits into, they just come about naturally. And good characters have a depth to them that encompasses many facets of personality.
Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like Aesop's Fables type of "The moral of this story is..")
-A huge message of tolerance. The world is changing, and in my writing I show young and old readers alike that there is no place for stereotype's, bigotry, and hatred any longer. We all need to embrace our existence here and live the lives we were born to. That is probably the main underlying message transferring through.
Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?
-I prefer hardback, but they are extremely hard for indie author’s to produce. It costs so much to put them out that I can’t justify the prices yet. I’m a first time author and very few people outside of my family and friends would buy a hardback for $35. Unfortunately, I only make a dollar or two per copy. But alas, they are my favorite and I hope to put Aldaya in hardback format soon.
What is your favorite book and Why? Have you read it more than once?
-My favorite books are The Hobbit/Lord Of the Rings Trilogy. And I think I’ve read them around five times each. I haven’t read them in a while, but I hope to pick them up again at some point in the next few years.
Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favorite/worst book to movie transfer?
-I have respect for producers and screen writers that turn novels into books. Its very difficult, because on paper you have no restrictions. I have been disappointed, but have also been very pleased. For example, I think Peter Jackson did an excellent job transferring Middle-Earth onto the big screen. Yes, there was issues, but the positives far outweighed the negatives. And I would hope to someday see my characters in some sort of film.
Your favorite food is?
-I don’t have just one. But my favorite type is Greek/Tapas. Yummmmm!
Your favorite singer/group is?
-Fleetwood Mac/Stevie Nicks. Hands down! I’m a huge Stevie fan and dedicated my first book to her. She is also the basis of a character in Aldaya’s histories as well.
Your favorite color is?
-Oh geeze, this is always such a tough question. It usually depends on my day or mood, but I have always loved blue. And green. And yellow. And grey. And purple.
Your favorite Author is?
John Swan has been an independent fiction writer since 2003, with the Aldaya Series being his first published work to date. During that time, he attended Southern Illinois University and graduated with two degrees, both with high honors. He has an Associates in the Sciences and a Bachelors in Meteorology and Climate sciences, with emphasis on research and written dictations.
He spent several years during school helping to open and manage a French Bistro before moving to Honolulu, HI, where he worked for the local Parks and Wildlife service and was finally able to give his writing career the full attention it needed.
His love for writing began at an early age, never passing up chances to submit his works to young writers’ forums through school and his local community. He grew up on a small farm in southern Illinois, but spent his summers in an enchanted little blue cottage on the banks of the Mississippi River. In this valley is where he wandered beneath the trees along the bluffs with his best friends, and where tales of hobbits, mages, boy wizards, enchanted wardrobes and Native American folk lore shaped his writing style and drove him to create an entire universe all his own.
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