by Daniel Swensen
Story lives as a thief in the free city of Calushain, and has a plan to escape to better life. But when her stash of money is stolen by her brother, she finds herself faced with a death sentence from her crime lord boss.
Desperate to pay off her debt, she searches for a score big enough to earn her freedom. Instead, she finds the orison, a magical artifact that could tip the balance of power between the city and the Empire seeking to conquer it.
The power to change the world is now in the hands of a sneak thief — if it doesn’t kill her first.
- Format: eBook
- Kindle Length: 231 pages
- Language: English
- Publisher: Nine Muse Press
- Genre: Fantasy
- Suitable For: 12 and up
- Purchase: Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Nine Muse Press
Meet Daniel Swensen
Daniel Swensen has written everything from cell-phone advertisements to tabletop roleplaying supplements. He blogs about motivation and craft at Surly Muse, and recently self-published the paranormal short story, Burn. Dan lives in Montana, with his wife and two spoiled cats. Orison is his first novel.
- How did the idea for Orison come to you?
- I think the first seed of Orison was planted when I saw Ocean's Eleven and The Maltese Falcon in close succession. I thought it would be fun to tell a fantasy "heist" story involving a MacGuffin that would change hands, cause alliances to be formed and broken, and generally cause uproar. I also wanted to write a fantasy that was confined to a single city instead of being characterized by a lot of traveling around.
- How has the story evolved since the beginning?
- The first drafts of Orison were very pulpy and fast-moving, with sword fights, more sword fights, and tough-guy exchanges of dialogue immediately followed by sword fights. I let it sit for a year or so while I thought about what sort of stories I wanted to tell, and when I came back to it, I found that I was less interested in the fights than in how each character responded to power: who has it, who doesn't, what people will do for it, what they'll do when it's given to them. I also rewrote the setting and magic from the ground up, because I wanted both to reflect the themes of the book. Magic in this universe is power (as it is in most fantasy); dangerous, and tends to corrupt. The "heist" angle disappeared almost entirely by the end, which suits me fine. Maybe I'll revisit that idea in another book.
- What made you decide to change the focus of the book to the character of Story, who had a much smaller part originally?
- Story was originally a brown-haired guy named Randoval, who was charming enough in a Han Solo kind of vein, but as I re-read my work, I found him kind of drab. Not because he was male, but because he was a very "stock" character, the kind you see all over fantasy fiction. He was wisecracking and sarcastic and kind of inept, and he didn't really have an arc. I also realized that of my many main characters (the original tale had eight), only two were female, and both were basically decoration. I decided to bring some fresh life into the book by replacing Randoval with Story, whom I like much more as a character. I think she's driven and self-aware in a way Randoval wasn't.
- What about the fantasy genre appeals to you?
- I grew up as a nerdy kid who was fond of reading and artistic pursuits, but I was terrible at math and science, so fantasy always called to me more than sci-fi, because I was never very good at the "science" part. Good fantasy embraces miracles in the way daily life often doesn't. The language of fantasy, with larger-than-life characters and adventures in faraway lands and perilous journeys into unknown places, has always appealed to me.
- How is Orison different from a typical fantasy novel?
- I don't think Orison is particularly genre-bending as far as fantasy novels go. What I would hope makes it different is that there's no Grand Quest, no divine mandate or Chosen Ones, no prophecies or markers showing the path to the hero's destiny. There's just the chaos of sudden power, and how a lot of hapless, sometimes broken characters learn to deal with it. I also tried to bring a certain moral grayness to the story without veering off into dark fantasy. All the characters have their agendas, and they frequently come in conflict, but it's not a stark tale of good vs. evil. It's just people.
- What is your writing process?
- I've become a meticulous outliner. For Orison, I drew up a sheet of motivations, personality and notes for each character, then outlined from the point-of-view of each character as if they were the protagonist. I then broke the outline into scenes, wrote a draft, then revised to tighten up all the arcs and pay off all the plot setups. I used to write by stream-of-consciousness, but I found that it just made it too difficult to maintain a consistent narrative. So now I plan ahead.
In the Media
Orison Release Week
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