Welcome back to Ink & Magick, what sort of spell can I get for you or your character today?
The spell of merely listening to my story. Isn't that the most powerful and loving spell ever?
I agree. Please, tell us about your #fantasy novel The Constant Tower.
Sickly fifteen year old Prince Psal, the son of the nature-blessed warrior-king Nahas, should have been named Crown Prince of all Wheel Clan lands. A priest-physician like his friend Ephan, Psal lacks a warrior’s heart, yet he desires to earn Nahas’s respect and become a clan chief. If he cannot do this, he must escape his clan altogether. But his love for Cassia, the daughter of his father’s enemy, and his own weaknesses work against him. When war comes, Psal defends Ktwala and her daughter Mahari, wronged by Nahas, and speaks out against the atrocities his clan commits, further jeopardizing his future. And now the mysterious towers that keep humans safe from the Creator's ancient curse are rebelling. A prophecy exists—not that Psal believes such matters—of three great ones who will find the Constant Tower and break the power of the third moon. Could Psal, Ephan, and Mahari be those great ones? Psal must risk losing his father’s respect to find his destiny, and with his friends face the dangers of the unmaking night to find the Constant Tower and save all of humanity. Excerpt:
Atop the nearby hill, Psal waited for his father to speak.
“I like this woman Ktwala and her clan,” the king said to Gaal and his captains . “No doubt some of you have also noticed the beauty of these Iden women.”
“That we have,” Seagen answered. “They’re all lovely .”
“Well,” Lebo said, “not all. But the lovely ones are lovely.”
The king laughed. “In the days of my Father, we stole such women. As many as we desired. In the past, I forbade it. But now…Tsbosso’s treachery, the edict of the neutral clans, and these years of war—well, we can hardly put down our weapons and go about seeking wives, can we? And the lack of women in our longhouses has caused turmoil.”
“But earlier .…” Psal tried to push away his growing fear. “You spoke of an alliance?”
“I cannot afford to leave their brothers alive.”
Psal looked down the hill at the Iden children playing with the Wheel Clan boys near a fire. The small boys in loincloths, their buttocks bare; the girls in hemp or buckskin skirts and beaded necklaces . His heart went out to them. “This is a small, small, small people, Nahas.”
“Not small enough .” Nahas looked down at Ktwala who stood speaking with Ephan.
Wow, there seems to be a lot going on here. Tell me about the world/society you've created here. In the world of Odunao, people are moved around at night across the planet. Nothing human is anchored to the ground but landmarks and geography change. This has affected the way societies and clans have developed on the planet. Technology is about controlling our life and degrees of control imply degrees of power. The largest clans live in longhouses. They are very knowledgeable in technology—in this case “tower science” or “tower lore”—and they have control over the night. Their technology makes them powerful and wealthy. People from poorer clans or who are solitary have little power over where the night tosses them.
Since it is a fantasy, there are of course tropes. For instance, is this world the way it is because of a curse of some kind? Can night be restored? Is there a chosen one who will take away the power of the night to toss people to far-flung areas? But the tropes are flipped. In many stories, "a boy goes on a journey." But what can the boy do if he cannot go on a journey? To leave the safety of the longhouse means one must remain inside at night or risk being flung to strange parts of the planet. And what does courtship and marriage look like in a world where people are tossed about and have no real permanent home unless they are part of a powerful clan? What laws would the god of such a planet decree?
What's the magick like in your world? I'm not sure if the occurrences on the planet of Odunao are science or magic. There are different kinds of events that we might consider strange. The characters, however, tend to consider most of these occurrences as normal. For instance, the towers are sentient; they know how the studiers who control them think, they rebel against people who are evil. The towers move through space by dissolving into the night then reappearing somewhere else in the morning. Controlling the towers is considered tower science and the tribe that is most technological, the Wheel Clan, aren't generally believers in magick. There is also a kind of telepathic empathy where characters are able to sense a heartfelt thought or idea in the mind of a friend. The characters can literally hear each other's inner but unsaid plea. The events that are considered magical in this land might be the fact that there are the clan of the dead (dead loved ones), and the clan of the unfleshed (demons.)
Which one of your characters surprised you?
Ephan, an albino character who is a studier of worlds. In the book, a studier of worlds is a character who studies the worlds of language, medicine, herbs, geology, all sciences, and of course tower science. In my first draft, Ephan was merely a studier. Then, I described him: "Pale hands over paler hair." Suddenly, he became one of the most important characters in the book and became the king's adopted son. He is kind, a bit spacy, and prefers to be far from diplomatic games. He also sees visions of the unfleshed ones.
Who is your favorite (or least favorite) character and why?
My least favorite character is Cyrt. I can't say I hate him because I don't hate any of my characters in any of my books. Plus, he does have a good side. He loves kids; he is honorable. The biggest trouble with him is that he is the king's right hand man and assassin, and he is a eugenicist. In the Wheel Clan, the clan to which Psal and Ephan belong, strength and health are highly prized. They kill "damaged" children—"children damaged in the hand of the Creator"—or they make them studiers. They treat the studiers very badly, so much so that the studiers often become addicted to some medicinal herbs. Cyrt is the best warrior and has great disdain for anything or anyone he considers damaged or impure. As I said, he loves children. But his treatment toward the disabled children is full of contempt, which is why he is continually disgusted with Psal, the king's Firstborn son.
What can we expect from you next? I'm working on two second parts of trilogies. The first is SeaWalker, which is the second part of a trilogy based in the fae world of Malku. Malku consists of faes, merfolk, humans, and various combinations thereof. The first part was called The Charcoal Bride and that was about the beginning of a royal curse. The main character of Seawalker is the king's best friend and he was raised among the fae. The story is about how he comes to term with living in the human world. (Read my interview with Carole about her book The Charcoal Bride here.)
The other trilogy is the Nephilim Dystophia and the first book was The Daughters of Men. I'm working on the second part, which is entitled The Chimeran Queen. It's a world where there are different kinds of humans. Chimera, standard-issue humans, nephilim, and the undying but ever aging clones. In the second part, we see how Queen Medusa begins to rule in the terraformed world of Otaura.
Well, you sound quite busy. Good luck to you!
Thank you so much for interviewing me.
Carole McDonnell is a novelist, a writer of fiction, devotionals, poetry, reviews, and essays, and her works have appeared in many publishing venues, in print and online. She lives in New York with her husband, two sons, cat Freddie and dog, Hemotep. She's written for as long as she can remember. Her Jamaican family was always telling stories, and her mother had memorized the opening chapters from several books, such as Ivanhoe, A Tale of Two Cities, etc. She was especially good at adapting. Somehow she felt the stories she had inherited from the European tradition (stuff we learned in school or watched on TV) always needed to be tweaked to include (subtly) matters that were important to a little Jamaican girl growing up in a Jewish-neighborhood in Brooklyn. She remembers the day she decided she was a writer. It was the day a classmate grasped a poem she had written from from desk and brought it to the teacher who proclaimed the poem "great." She was hooked. She studied Literature in college, not creative writing because she wanted to write great literature that would be ageless. She still hopes her stories will be timeless. Her reviews appear in print and at various online sites. Her first novel, Wind Follower was published by Juno Books in September 2007. She writes in the following genres: African-American fiction, African-American Christian Fiction, Christian Fiction, Science Fiction and Fantasy, Black fiction, African American science fiction, Women's Poetry, African-American poetry, Black poetry, Steampunk, steamfunk, and afrofuturism.
You can get your copy of The Constant Tower on Amazon.