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Friday 28 August 2015

ℚ At The Sharp End of Lightning: Oceanlight [1] - Nicholas R Bates

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about At The Sharp End of Lightning (, N.R. Bates, 446 pages),an Epic Fantasy / Magical Realism, book one of the Oceanlight series.

Synopsis | Teaser | The Series | Author Q&A | About the Author | Tour Stops

A big welcome to Nicholas Bates, thank you for joining us today on BooksChatter.

What was the inspiration for At The Sharp End of Lightning?

"The inspiration for the Oceanlight series comes primarily from my own experience with some very serious issues for the planet we live on.

As an Oceanographer, my research has focused on ocean ecology and climate change…and also the gradual change in ocean chemistry that result from human emissions of carbon dioxide. I felt that I needed to write fiction that addressed these planetary issues…and the book series was a way I could address my own concerns for future generations.

The book series also deals with loss of loved ones and our responses to those events. It also deals with issues of disability and ability. So, even though the book is fantasy, it touches upon serious issues we face individually, and also collectively, as inhabitants of the one and only Earth."
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"One of the major protagonists in the book series is the teenager Einion Morgan Alban. He suffers from haemophilia. It is a bleeding disorder, present from birth, that causes severe internal bleeding in joints and other tissues due to the inability of blood to clot. Although the medical treatments are much improved, it is still a life threatening condition. The haemophiliac cousin of a friend of mine died a few years ago in Louisiana from a severe internal bleed. What still distresses me is that he died due to the lack of universal health care at the time and his family could not afford health care/hospital and proper medication.

Einion is not me, and I am not him, but we do share the same issue of having severe haemophilia. So, yes, I drew upon real experiences especially in writing the chapters of Einion in hospital. My own experience was much, much worse, and perhaps I’ll write about that some day."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us about your cover for At The Sharp End of Lightning - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"I am an independent author and did not consider the traditional publishing route. I had an idea for the cover, and designed a draft using photographs from Shutterstock, and Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. On the recommendation of a published writer friend, I asked a professional design team,, to tidy up the cover. I have redesigned the cover but not sure if I will replace the original cover at the moment. I designed the cover of the second book in the Oceanlight series, The Gathering Places, and my published short-stories “The Fall of Icarus”."
Why should we read At The Sharp End of Lightning and what sets it apart from the rest? What makes your book unique?
"If you like a book that weaves Epic Fantasy, Magical Realism and some Science Fiction, then please read At the Sharp End of Lighting. It is the first book of a series and so not all the answers you might seek will be answered…well not yet. What perhaps makes the book different is the inclusion of ocean ecology and climate change in the framing of the novel, and non-trope characterization. I also wanted to have a fictional character who suffers from disability. He does not suddenly acquire fighting/warrior skills to deal with his problems but he has to deal with events within his physical constraints and when some of those hindrances are temporarily ameliorated. The novel is complex, and I hope the readers will find it rewarding when the unraveled threads of the story begin to tie themselves together. But, all the questions will not be resolved in the first book."
Can you tell us something quirky about At The Sharp End of Lightning, its story and characters?
"Why did I name one of my characters Einion Morgan Alban? I wanted a Welsh first name, and Einion came to mind. I like the fact that you can pronounce his name in different ways. Morgan comes from the Welsh words for large sea. And Alban reflects my love and affinity for Scotland and the Scots."
Who would you recommend At The Sharp End of Lightning to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"I wanted At the Sharp End of Lightning to be read by anyone from the age of early teen to mature adult. I meant the books to be PG-13 so there no gratuitous violence in these books. In my guidance to parents, there is one swear word in the book. It is an expletive that Einion utters after he is pushed off the cliff by the Man in the White Suit. It is what he would have said in that circumstance and so is appropriate for that moment in the novel."
If you could / wished to turn At The Sharp End of Lightning and the Oceanlight series into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"Hmm. That’s a very difficult question. The locations are perhaps the easiest…parts of North Wales, and Scotland, and the wild Sargasso Sea. With some fantastic CGI creations of the ocean world of Oceanlight. Benedict Cumberbatch would make a great villain Fimafeng, and director? Perhaps Terry Gilliam."
What do you like to write and read about? Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?
"I like to write stories for myself primarily and family and, then for readers who get the story. I don’t stick to a strict genre…I write what I’d like to read myself if I hadn’t written the book. I think the Oceanlight book series is a mashup of Epic Fantasy, Magical Realism and Science Fiction genres, with a bit of realism and science thrown in. My short-stories, The Fall of Icarus, have touches of the fantastical about them, but they are definitely not Epic Fantasy of Science Fiction. I am mulling over and researching a literary fiction novella at the moment. But I will return to the blend of Epic Fantasy, Magical Realism and Science Fiction with the third and fourth books in the Oceanlight series."
What is your writing process?
"First, it a vague idea, but then it builds, grows and deepens with possible storylines and characters. Gradually, I make sense of this melee and a “sort of” strawplan develops. I think about the novel and the writing in a very visual way…like a painting or film. Then I start to write a draft. Most often this is in the order of the chapters, but occasionally I have to go forward in the book, write a scene I’ve been thinking about, and then later fill in the gaps. I need a computer; a notepad and pen to write down ideas, character arcs, etc. I do need a cup of good Italian coffee, or a cup of black tea with milk and a little sugar! Once I have a draft, I review, revise and modify many, many times. This is repeated with my editors and trusted readers. Writing a novel is a very long process, and one needs a lot of perserverance…and never give up! At difficult time, I read over a great piece of prose or poetry. Dylan Thomas’s poem “Do not go gentle into that good night” always gets me fired up and in a better mood. “Rage, rage against the dying of the light…”"
What is in store next?
"The second book of the Oceanlight series is ready to publish, but I’m holding off for now to see the reaction to my first two published books. The second book in the series is called “The Gathering Places” and it continues the storylines of the three main protagonists (Yalara, Helia, and Einion) from the first book. At the end of the first book, Einion meets a young Celtic woman, Auron, and their storylines intertwine in the second book. Yalara, the heroine Sea Sprite of the story, meets a human scientist who is dying and she tries to enlist his help in understanding the environmental catastrophe that is affecting their parallel worlds. Will they be able to save Oceanlight?

And what has happened to the murderous Man in the White Suit, Fimafeng, who disappeared after trying to kill Einion? Some of my readers have asked if he will reappear in the second book. Hmm, should I answer this?"
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?
"My wife and I have six cats at the moment. We used to have nine! This is Saby!"

Aww... Saby is beautiful! ... and a cleaner ;-)  Go us cat people!  We currently have eight, and used to have 13... :-p

At The Sharp End of Lightning - available NOW!

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