Section #4: About Your Current Work
JL: “Etched in Soul and Skin” was released on May 17 this year. It’s available at the big e-book retailers like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords and the publisher’s website.
The plot follows Adanna, a member of a nomadic tribe who wanders through a world of untouched wilderness and overgrown ruins. While she and many others in the tribe can use powerful magic, it’s no defense against the sky demons: terrible creatures that attack only at night. The sky demons take people from the tribe in their terrifying raids, including Adanna’s mother.
However, these sky demons are not magical beasts or anything supernatural. They’re men and women from the flying city of Shuran. Their home faces a terrible energy crisis: the powerful engines that keep Shuran aloft require magic to run, magic that only comes from people like Adanna and her tribe. If the ‘sky demons’ didn’t do their terrible jobs, the entire city and its half-million inhabitants would come crashing to the ground.
In Erik’s first raid on the ground, he captures Adanna. However, the new ‘sky demon’ sees something special in Adanna and rebels against his people to free her. However, in rescuing her from Shuran’s engines, he has only stranded them both on a flying city that is rapidly running out of fuel.
JL: “Etched in Soul and Skin” is basically the same story you've seen in “Dances With Wolves” or “Avatar”, but done in the opposite. Instead of the young military man from a technological society learning to live in a more natural one, and eventually defending them from his old comrades, a young member from the natural society is brought to the technological one.
Another thing I worked hard on in the narrative is making the inhabitants of Shuran as sympathetic as possible. Yes, the engines and the system that ‘feeds’ them is monstrous, but it’s the only thing keeping hundreds of thousands of people alive. It’s a moral dilemma you don’t often see in stories like this, or at least glossed over completely. Likewise, it gives my villains a depth many steampunk or adventure stories often lack.
JL: Like in all my books and stories, the hardest part is always the first word of the first sentence. I've had times where I've sat and stared at an empty first page for hours at a time, for days on end, because I couldn't think of a satisfactory first sentence. When it comes time to write, I always have the opening images and scenes vivid in my mind, I just can’t find the right words to portray them.
JL: My favorite part of “Etched” is the middle of the book, when Adanna experiences culture shock on the streets of Shuran. It’s much lighter in tone than the rest of the book and gives a look at the “other side” as it were. My favorite passage to write is one in which she is given a big puffy dress to better fit in with the crowds on the street. However, she had other ideas for the garment…
JP: I would have probably fleshed a few things out a bit more, especially the people who live on Shuran. Writing those middle chapters was very fun and I shouldn't have cut them so short. I also wish I had added a few more pages with Allison, the antagonist. While I feel she is a very solid character with a good arc, she should have been given a bit more time in the limelight to emphasize some of the choices she made.
How to find Joshua and his book: