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Monday 12 October 2015

ℚ The Key of Alanar: The Alanar Ascendant [1] - Rory B. Mackay

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about The Key of Alanar (, Blue Star Publishing, 484 pages) a Fantasy / Sci-Fi novel, book one of The Alanar Ascendant series.

From the explosive opening paragraphs to an ambitious multi-dimensional finale, THE KEY OF ALANAR is epic in every sense of the word.

The product of two decades of work, this visionary fantasy / sci-fi thriller will take you on an exhilarating and unforgettable journey. Spanning ten millennia it’s an epic but also intimate tale, driven by a strongly character based narrative.

THE KEY OF ALANAR is not only a page turner, but pushes the boundaries of storytelling as it builds to a mind-bending climax exploring the nature of life, death, the universe and reality...

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

Hello Rory, welcome and thank you for joining us on BooksChatter.

What was the inspiration for The Key of Alanar?

"The inspiration for my latest book, The Key of Alanar actually goes back a long, long way.  I knew from quite a young age that I wanted to be a writer and that I had stories I wanted to tell and share with the world.

When I was a kid I had this idea for a story about a group of people who had lost their home after some kind of invasion, and were journeying in search of a new home.  Over many years this idea took shape in my mind and became the basis for The Key of Alanar.  To say that this book has a long genesis is an understatement.  It's the story I've wanted to tell almost my entire life!  Somewhere along the line it became a deeper and more nuanced tale; a story about life, loss and hope; about surmounting our demons, finding redemption and becoming all that we are capable of being."
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"I'm there in every page and in every character to a greater or lesser extent.  I really poured my heart and soul into this book, and I hope that it shows.

The characters go through a lot of pain and hardship in the course of the story, so I drew upon some of the most difficult experiences I've had in life to create emotional authenticity.  I also incorporated so much that I've learned over the years--mentally, emotionally, spiritually.  Although it's written as a fantasy thriller, there's also a deeper philosophical and spiritual undertone to the book: musings, reflections and explorations of the nature of life, death and reality.  So the book is definitely highly reflective of who I am, and my journey through life."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover.  Can you tell us about your cover for The Key of Alanar - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"I always knew I wanted this cover to be an image of David, the central character, stepping into or out of the gateway (an inter-dimensional energy portal; a key part of the story).  I loved the idea of a figure silhouetted before this wondrous cascade of energy.  I hired a designer from Damonza and he did an incredible job and was a pleasure to work with.  The cover is everything I wanted it to be and I'm very proud of it.  It's simple yet eye-catching, intriguing and beautiful."

Why should we read The Key of Alanar and what sets it apart from the rest?

"As I write, I'm concerned with two levels.  First of all, I want to tell an exciting and action-packed story with strong characters that engage and compel the reader.  My characters are flawed and relatable and always undergo a transformative journey over the course of the book. They learn, change, grow and develop as people.  The second thing I focus on is creating stories with a little depth.  There are so many books out there—with thousands more being published every single day.  I always ask myself why I'm telling this story, why the world needs another book and what it can bring to the world that will enrich the lives of the readers.

I use fiction to explore ideas, to meditate upon the nature of reality, reflecting upon life's challenges, and how we can find wholeness, purpose and peace.  This might sound lofty, but I endeavour to weave these threads with subtlety and never let them override story and character.  The Key of Alanar and my other books can be read as simple adventure stories, filled with action, drama and excitement—or they can be read as stories with an element of philosophical depth.  I've always been a deep thinker and naturally quite spiritual; and this is reflected in my work."
Can you tell us something quirky about The Key of Alanar, its story and characters?
"Here's something I've never told anyone.  The character of Mariane is loosely based on an aunt of mine, who is now sadly no longer here.  She was always forthright, outspoken and rather prim and proper.  As kids, my sister and I were always warned not to be rude in front of her—although we often were, inadvertently or not!  She was lovely though and mellowed in later years.  I miss her.  I wanted to include an older female character to balance out some of the younger characters in the story.  In the end she probably wasn't much like my aunt at all, as I exaggerated her qualities and made her more feisty and argumentative, but I still think she's a likable character!"
Who would you recommend The Key of Alanar to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"This book is aimed at Young Adult and above (probably age 14 upward).  It's very epic in scale, spanning 10,000 years and mixing fantasy and science-fiction but it's a strongly character based story.  The story takes the characters through hell and back, and can be quite dark at times.  There's a battle being waged in the mind and heart of the protagonist as a dark sorcerer seeks to steal his soul and manipulate him into perpetrating a great evil.  It can be a little intense and there is loss and some painful times for the characters, but it's in no way gratuitous and the book is aimed at a general audience.  It should appeal to fans of fantasy, sci-fi, adventure and also anyone who enjoys a very human story told with a slight metaphysical undertone."
If you could / wished to turn The Key of Alanar into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"I'd love for Ridley Scott and Peter Jackson to team up to create the movie version of The Key of Alanar!  I feel a collaboration between these guys would bring so much visual flair and an immersive and wonderfully nuanced creation of the world of Alanar.

I actually don't know who might play the characters—I should maybe get thinking and pass my recommendations onto Ridley and Peter ;)

As for locations, when visiting the mountains of Andalusia in Spain, I immediately thought of the kingdom of Lasandria!  That would be a perfect location.  Some of the forestlands and mountains of Scotland would be wonderful for scenes following the characters' exodus from New Haven, and when on holiday in Gran Canaria I thought the hills were very like the mountain kingdom of the Sulyahn as I'd visualised and described in the book.  I love it when I visit places and get a strange sense of déjà vu, realising that I've described very similar places in my books!"
What do you like to write and read about?  Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?
"At the moment I love fantasy and sci-fi.  That's what I grew up reading and watching and it fully captured my imagination and heart.  I loved Star Trek growing up, and some of the more intelligent sci-fi films.  I love stories that challenge, provoke and make us think; stories that allow to us question, explore and dream! "
What is your writing process?
"It's a three-step process.  Once I have the idea in my head, I begin to narrow things down, working out the kind of story I want to tell and how I want to tell it, and I create a blueprint.  Essentially I figure out exactly how the story begins, develops and ends, and how the character arcs all play out.

From this blueprint I move to the second stage—which is the actual writing! I sit down and hammer away at the keyboard until I have a completed first draft. This can take quite some time. I'm generally quite a slow writer.

The third and final stage is then to edit and polish it until I'm happy with it.  Again, this can take a long time and, as in the case of The Key of Alanar, I can go through dozens and dozens of rewrites."
What is in store next?
"The working title of my next book is Shattered Time and it is the second book in the Alanar Ascendant series, following on directly from The Key of Alanar.  It also ties things in with my first novel, Eladria; bridging two worlds as David unites with Eladria (literally the girl of his dreams!) to try and save his world in the face of increasing danger.

This then leads directly into War of the Gods, the final book in the series.  The stakes keep getting higher and higher.  The world of Alanar will be torn apart as an ancient war from a whole other dimension reaches a terrifying climax.  There will be deaths, births, betrayals and terrible sacrifices as the fate of an entire universe hangs in the balance!  I can't wait to finish this series and share it with the world."
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?
"I have a rescue dog from Spain, a podenco called Cosmo.  He's the sweetest little guy and one of my very best friends.  He often lies by my side, or even on my lap, when I'm writing!  In fact he's just jumped on my laptop and broken one of the keys.  Oops.  He's best friends with Millie, our family collie, and my sister's dog Leia.  I love animals so much, and always have."

Aww, he is so gorgeous - I love his eyes!  Hello Cosmo!
Thank you for sharing so much with us, Rory.  We certainly look forward to the Alanar Ascendant series!  Have a great tour this week!

The Key of Alanar - available NOW!

UK: purchase from purchase from Nook UK purchase from Kobo UK find on Goodreads
US: purchase from purchase from Barnes & Noble purchase from Kobo

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