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Thursday 29 October 2015

ℚ♫ Wind: Drachengott [1] - K.J.Taylor

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about Wind (, AUS Impulse, 140pages) a Fantasy, book one of the Drachengott series.

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

Hello Katie, welcome and thank you for joining us today.

Here at BooksChatter we love music; do you have a music playlist that you used in Wind, or which inspired you whilst you were writing it?
"I listen to a bunch of different things while writing, often soundtracks. But if I have to pick a playlist for this series, I would of course go with John Powell’s wonderful score to How to Train Your Dragon – 1 and 2!

I also listened to the German pop group Nena, the artists behind the famous song 99 Luftballons. I love their song Immer Weiter."
Unfortunately I was unable to find a version of Immer Weiter. I have added the title track from the same album, Willst Du Mit Mir Gehn.

What was the inspiration for Wind?
"A particular type of character that I became fascinated with as a teenager is the one I call “the messenger”.  They aren’t the hero or the villain, but they’re the one with the important information or the secret skill – the one who helps to motivate the hero (and sometimes the villain as well!).   The messenger can be a mentor character, or a prophet of some kind, or a sidekick.  An example of a messenger character is Rafiki the baboon from The Lion King.  He’s not the main hero of the story, but without him Simba would never have gone back to Pride Rock.

Back when I was a teenager first trying to write novels, I decided to write a series where the protagonist wasn’t the “hero” as such, but instead the one who helps the heroes.  Like most teenage writing it was pretty bad, and in the end I abandoned the whole thing.  But years later I thought I’d have another go at writing a story in which the mysterious seer was the protagonist.

Syn the dragon was originally going to be the main viewpoint character for the entire series for that reason, though in the end Rutger, Elynor, Nils and Karmain were a better fit.

But that was how it started out.  It turns out mysterious seers are hard to keep mysterious if you give them too much screentime!

As for the German aspects of the series, I was taking German classes when I came up with the idea, and decided it would be much more interesting to base the setting on Tudor era Germany rather than your usual bog-standard Medieval England."
How much of yourself is reflected in this series, and how?
"I would say the Drachengott is one of my less personal works, but it does revisit themes of free will which I’ve explored in a lot of my books.  Syn uses people for her own ends – but is she herself being used?  And is it moral to manipulate others if it’s for a cause that is ultimately right?  Or, at least, a cause you believe is right."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us about your cover for Wind?
"Most of the time the author gets very little say in what goes on the cover of their books, though the publisher sometimes will listen to suggestions or feedback.  The Drachengott covers were done in-house by Impulse, and when I first saw them I was delighted.  They’re so beautiful, and I think they fit the series really well."
Why should we read the Drachengott series and what sets it apart from the rest?
"I used some fairly traditional elements in this series, because I wanted to make it a bit more mainstream than my previous books, but I think the best and most interesting part of it is the Drachengott himself.  The protagonists see him as the villain, but his motives and origins remain unexplained.  Nobody really knows what he wants or why he decided to banish Syn and make an enemy of Rutger and the others – or why he allowed them to escape when he’s supposedly all-powerful.  Is he really a god?  Is he insane?  You have to read all the way to the end to find out!  Plus, of course, he’s a dragon the size of a mountaintop – he’s so huge he counts as a landmark, and actaully appears on the map of Wendland I drew.  That’s pretty cool.
I also like the concept of Syn and her dreams.  She sees the future… but it is actually the future?  Her visions only come true because she sets out to make them come true; if she did nothing, they would never have come to pass.  Did she have a choice in the matter?  And who or what is the true manipulator in the end – Syn, her dreams, or the Drachengott himself? "
Can you tell us something quirky about the Drachengott series, its story and characters?
"I love picking names for my characters, and there often is a hidden meaning.  Syn, for example, is a real German word which means “defiance” (it’s also a rather good brand of champagne, hahah).  Rutger, believe it or not, is the name of one of the German tourists who dies at the beginning of Wolf Creek 2!  I went to see it at the movies and thought “Rutger – that’s a good strong German name”.  Elynor was the name of one of the first Queens of England – despite being the English Queen, Elynor of Aquitaine was in fact French.  It’s a nice aristocratic name, and I’ve always liked it.  Nils is the name of the evil lawyer in Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (though we eventually discover it’s not his real name).  As for Karmain, I chose her name from a list of Spanish names.  It’s similar to Charmain, another name I’ve always liked.  Her last name, Costa, is a common Spanish surname which means “coast”.  It felt appropriate since Karmain lives by the sea.

Speaking of surnames, Rutger is initially referred to as “Rutger von Gothendorf”, which is German for “of Gothendorf” and a reference to his birthplace.  The same goes for the others – at least until they earn new names for themselves.  “Überketzer” means, more or less, “master of Ketzer”, and “Schächer” means “thief”.

As for the names of the different groups, “Jünger” means “disciple” (or, literally, “the young”). Gottloser means “godless”, or “pagan”, and “Ketzer” means “heretic”. "
Who would you recommend the Drachengott series to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"Like most of my writing, the Drachengott is pretty accessible. I believe that a story should be told in a nice straightforward manner, without too much fancy language, etc. There is no graphic violence or sex, so kids and teenagers shouldn’t have any problem reading it."
If you could / wished to turn Wind and the Drachengott series into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"One of my lifelong dreams is to one day see a book of mine hit the silver screen, so I spend a lot of time thinking about this sort of thing, as it happens!

This is actually a pretty tough question, though.  The standard response would probably be to say something like “Peter Jackon should totally direct this because he did LoTR and there are no other directors out there who do fantasy omg!”.  Heheh.  If I had to pick a director/screenwriter, though, I’d pick someone who’s good at character rather than whoever worked on the last fantasy blockbuster.  One of the challenges with fantasy – on the page and on the screen – is that the setting and the cool concepts risk overwhelming the characters.  And if you don’t care about the characters, why would you care about the story?  Everyone loved the world building in Avatar, but the characters were pretty boring and one-dimensional, and the plot was nothing new, and boy did people complain about it (I like it anyway).

If I had to pick a director, I’d go with Alan Taylor. He’s already cut his teeth on Game of Thrones, and did an excellent job with Thor 2 – not only was it an epic story with awesome fight sequences, but the characters were spot-on and the humour worked.  I don’t know who the screenwriter/s were for Thor 2, but I’d happily go with them too (I would offer to write the screenplay myself, but I don’t have the skill or experience for that sort of writing.  I should know; I got a rejection all the way from Hollywood when I tried my hand at it!).

As for actors, that’s a tough one too.  I think relative unknowns would be better, really. (Wow, I’m being really cautious and boring with this, aren’t I?).  But the voice of the Drachengott should definitely be a big name.  Someone with a truly impressive voice.  Ian McKellen, perhaps, or Patrick Stewart.  Just add a reverb and some growling effects and crank up the volume, and you’re good to go!  Now that’s got me shivering in awe.  I can just see the posters now! “and Patrick Stewart as the voice of the Drachengott”.

Syn as a human kind of looks like Meagan Fox in my head (I maintain that Ms Fox is actually a very good actor).  I wrote her to be super attractive for a reason other than fanservice, by the way, and that reason is revealed in the final book, I promise!

I should ask my fans what they think – it should make for an interesting discussion, methinks!"
What do you like to write and read about?  Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?
"More than once, well-meaning relatives have asked me why I don’t just write a science fiction story or something like that.  My answer is always “well I’d like to, but all my ideas are fantasy ideas.  I can’t just decide to have an inspiration to write about aliens instead!”.  So far I’ve only written fantasy, mostly for adults. I have explored a bit within the genre, though – I’ve written “epic”, high fantasy, but also YA urban fantasy and a couple of things for kids.  Ironically I was never a big reader of traditional high fantasy novels.  I read a lot of YA fantasy as a kid, but I didn’t like Lord of the Rings, and other books in that sort of area rarely appeal to me.  I find most “epic fantasy” too slow-paced, too dryly written, and too weakly characterised, with too much emphasis placed on the setting.  Which is all very well and good, but it’s pretty hard to form an emotional connection with a place.

(Note: I’m speaking very broadly here.  There are exceptions out there. I just haven’t found that many.  A noteable one would be Game of Thrones; I started reading the books before the show came along and was instantly hooked – and inspired).

What I’m trying to do, perhaps naïvely, is explore different ways of telling these traditional stories, placing emphasis on making the characters and plot realistic, while avoiding purple prose, filler, and other things that irritate me about a lot of fantasy novels.  As the saying goes, if there is a book you desperately want to read but it doesn’t exist, you must write it."
What is your writing process?
"Pretty straightforward, really.  When I come up with an idea for new book I take some time to let that idea mature while I work on other things.  I tell other people about it and ask for their opinions, do some reading up (before writing The Dark Griffin I sat down and researched the mythology of griffins), and sometimes draw the characters.  I often draw a map of the world as well, since experience has taught me it’s useful to have one handy, and the sooner you draw one the better.  Besides, the publishers insist on having a map to go in the book.  It’s a fantasy thing.

Once I’m ready and have the first line and chapter clear in my mind, plus a rough idea of the plot, I sit down and start writing.  After that I generally keep on going with the new book until it’s finished, though I’ll occasionally let it rest and go work on something else until I feel ready to come back to it.  I write beginning to end rather than writing the chapters separately and then sticking them together in the right order (apparently some authors do this), and I don’t use any fancy software – just Microsoft Word.  I only write by hand when I’m on holiday, and my handwriting is appallingly bad."
What is in store next?
"I’ve written a fifth Drachengott book called Rain, which takes place some years after the final confrontation with the Drachengott and features new protagonists, though some old familiar faces will return.  A sixth book, Mist, is in the works.

Meanwhile I have the Cymrian Saga, which began with The Dark Griffin and has plenty more installments written and ready to go – I’ll be publishing those independently, beginning next year.

Other projects are with my agents or being looked at by publishers, including a new high fantasy trilogy set in a completely different world, a YA urban fantasy series, and a children’s book.  My standalone satirical novel, Broken Prophecy, came out in September through Impulse."
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 keep rats!  I haven’t been “ratless” once in my entire adult life, in fact (unless you count those two miserable months back in 2011).

At the moment I have two of them living with me; their names are Spell and Nosewise (believe it or not, “Nosewise” is a genuine medieval dog name).  I made this Twilight cover parody with the help of my rat Joker some years ago – I figured it was the best picture of myself with a rat I have!"

Wind - available NOW!

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