Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Feature: Sam Whitehouse, author of The Prophecy of Three Quartet

Today I'm featuring Sam Whitehouse and his novel The Keys of Time, which is the first book in The Prophecy of Three Quartet.

Everything changed for Simon Falke the first time he fell through the fire.

Just beneath the surface of our world, a war between Light and Dark magic has been waging for centuries. Wielded by Morgana, the Dark is growing in power. But a long foretold prophecy, The Prophecy of Three, could change everything.

Not many teenagers can say they are the subject of an ancient prophecy. Fewer still can say they have inherited the powers of a wizard and a responsibility for the fate of the world. Simon, Evelyn and James are three who can. From the moment they learn of the Prophecy of Three, they are thrown into the war against Morgana, whom prophecy states they will destroy.

Immersed in a dangerous new world of ancient magic, power hungry witches, insidious creatures and limitless power, Simon, Evelyn and James must hunt down the Keys of Time. For with the Keys Morgana would be unstoppable…

Not exactly the life of your average teenager.


Excerpt: Beginning of book

           Everything changed for Simon Falke the first time he fell through the fire.

Hot wind forced his clamped eyelids open and he recoiled as flames grew up like desperate fingers from the darkness. Through stinging tears Simon saw that he was standing in thin air. The growing fire rose, swirling high and closing in on him. Then, with no more warning than a lurching sensation in his stomach, Simon was pitched backwards, and the space that had once felt solid beneath his feet, gave way.

A yell escaped him, muffled by the roaring wind. The flames stretched away, flickering back into the gloom, taking the heat with them. An excruciating chill took its place, thickening in the air and erupting Simon’s entire body in goosebumps. He grappled desperately as he fell, but his scrabbling fingers met only cold air and darkness. He was turning and rolling, eyes shut again for fear of what he might see. Then all of a sudden the gushing wind ended. Had he stopped? Daring only now to open his eyes, he found himself floating inches above a rough stone floor that had appeared out of the nothingness beneath him. The musty smell of earth filled his nostrils as he hovered for a moment, quite unable to move. Then voices, rendered into echoes, sounded somewhere behind him and in his distraction Simon hardly noticed as he dropped to a gentle rest on the ground.

“Are the rumours true? She has vanished?” The voice trembled with the onset of panic.  

“I am afraid so.” The second voice was hoarse, as if the speaker was suffering from some illness.

“How did she manage to evade capture? Surely the Elders have power enough to contain her.”

Laughter, devoid of any humour, was the reply before the second voice spoke again. “I think you underestimate her, my friend. The Elders did, and it was their undoing.”

“And what of her book?”

“We need not worry about that.”

Simon rose from his spread eagled position, dusting off the grit coating his sweaty palms. Nausea struck him and he clamped his eyes shut until it passed. As he blinked away the dancing spots of white light from his vision, he glanced around. He could see no people, no sign of the speakers he’d heard. From what he could make out, he was in a long tunnel that stretched away from him on both sides. A dim light was gradually vanishing in the distance to his left, as though coming from a candle or lantern being carried away. But whoever was bearing the light was too far into the darkness to see.

Despite the trembling in his legs and the threat of another pang of nausea, Simon relented to his curiosity and broke into a run. He wanted to catch up with the figures who were taking the last tendrils of light with them, before he was left in darkness. He couldn’t explain his curiosity. He just knew that whatever the speakers were discussing was important.

The air grew chillier with every step he took, so Simon pulled the hood of his jumper up and shoved his hands into his jean’s pockets. As he moved further along the tunnel, the light grew brighter again, revealing more of the tunnel. The place looked to once have been grand. High stone walls veered up on either side of him, cracked and crumbling in places and leading up to an elegant, vaulted ceiling. The floor beneath his feet looked to have once been paved, but dust and dirt obscured all but a few of the cracked and broken slabs. Unlit torches rested in rusted brackets on the walls. Overhead, cobweb-engulfed candelabras hung from the ceiling on ancient chains, creaking in the cold breeze gusting down the tunnel.

That unexplainable curiosity still urged him to keep up with the figures and another burst of speed later he smiled as the light ahead became much brighter. The sound of the voices drifted out of the soft whining of the wind. Simon slowed down as he approached a branch in the tunnel.

“Master, what do you wish me to do?” Simon heard the younger voice say.

“I ask of you only one thing... you know that my passing is imminent,” the old voice said, “and that with every minute I grow weaker, she grows stronger. I ask you to find them. There will be three... yes three I am sure. Find them and train them. They are our only hope.”

What inspired you to write this book?

Ever since I was small, I was fascinated by myths and legends. Arthurian legend (Merlin, round table etc) always held some sort of lure for me. It was always somewhere between fact and fiction and so I thought it would be cool to explore it.

Can you give us an interesting fact about your book that isn't in the blurb?

It has a talking ferret called Puck, who has the voice of a middle aged man.

How did you choose your title?

I played around for a while with titles and decided on The prophecy of Three for the entire series because that is the central focus of all four books. For the sub-title, The Keys of Time I chose that because it is the focus of book 1. I originally had the series titled Merlin’s Three, but when I asked people if they liked it, they said they preferred the Prophecy of Three. And so I went with what the readers wanted.

Tell us about the cover and how it came to be.

The cover was the result of hours of struggling to figure out how to use Photoshop and Gimp. I took some photographs and used various tools (largely by accident) to make it look as cool as I could.

 Did you self-publish or publish traditionally and why?

 I self-published, largely because I wanted full control of the series. I didn’t want anyone telling me which direction I should take the characters and plot and what I could and could not include. I am writing another series, a YA sci-fi which I intend to publish traditionally by offering the manuscript to agents and publishers. But for now, The Prophecy of Three rules my writing. Except when a University assignment comes up and I reluctantly have to leave the series alone for a while.

What do you consider the most important part of a good story?

Dragging your reader along for the ride, making them feel that they are experiencing the adventures of your characters is a must for me. When I’m reading a book I want to be there, in the action, in the battle, running from the enemy. I try to do that in my own writing.

What is your writing process?

 I’ve heard writers who get up and write for a set number of hours each day. But if I did that I would drive myself crazy. I need to feel liberated when I’m writing. If I confined myself to four hours each day, or something like that, I would feel under pressure and it would stifle the writing rather than help it along. I write every day, even if it is only in my head: plotting out the next scene or conversation. I write when inspiration hits and when it doesn’t I edit.

How long have you been writing?

Ever since I knew that books were written by people and didn’t spring ready formed from thin air, I was writing my own stories. I would hand write them and then staple them together and call them books. They were bad, but I still have them.

How did you get started writing?

I wanted to create worlds like my favorite authors. I wanted my own worlds to explore, ones that I had created and had full control over. It just felt natural to write, there wasn’t any point in my life that I doubted what I wanted to do. Writing has just always been there, I’ve always done it.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

A mixture of both, I think. With The Prophecy of Three Quartet I planned out where I wanted the series to go and I knew how everything would end before I even started writing The Keys of Time. I have a notebook filled with character profiles, places, family trees, and the various spells and objects and other things that make up the world of the series. But sometimes I find that I need to change certain plot lines to get to another plot line that will come up later in the series. It’s ever changing.

What part of the writing process is the hardest for you?

Editing. Man, I cannot stand editing. Most of the time, anyway. I’m always itching to write something fresh. But I do find editing an insightful process. Sometimes you go back and think, what made me write that.

What tips can you give on how to get through writers block?

Write something completely different. If Prophecy of Three is giving me a hard time I put it aside and blitz out some flash fiction or a short story, one that I haven’t planned. I have a load of ideas floating around in my head and so I just pick one of those and turn it into a short story. In fact, one of those instances ended up turning into a new fantasy book I’m currently working on.

What kind of music do you like to listen to while you write?

I like silence when I’m writing. But I do sometimes listen to epic movie soundtracks to get me in the mood. If I’m writing a battle scene or action I like to listen to anything by Hans Zimmer or Howard Shore who does the music for The Lord of the Rings.

Who is your favorite author?

J K Rowling. Her world building is unparalleled.

 Who is your favorite character from a book?

 I think Sherlock Holmes (though I’ve never read any of the books) was a stroke of genius. Also any character of J K Rowling’s. She is brilliant at creating rich and developed characters.

What is your favorite book?

 Either Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows or 11/22/63 by Stephen King.

 Read anything good lately?

Under the Dome by Stephen King is a brilliant book. As is the Department 19 series by Will Hill, think spies meet vampires meet Percy Jackson.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

Reading is what I do most of the time when I am not writing, because it fuels my imagination and allows me to step out of my own world and into another. I also like to watch TV shows such as LOST, Fringe, CSI, Supernatural, Game of Thrones, The Mentalist and a dozen more. I like hiking and mountain biking too. It really clears my head.

What advice would you give an author just starting out?

Write and read. Never stop doing both of those things. Writing a lot will help you improve, as will reading. You need to keep the fire of your imagination stoked up all the time.

Have you had anything else published?

I had a few short stories and flash fiction published in my high-school's writing anthology.

What's your next project?

To finish up editing book 2 of the Prophecy of Three, which is due out late December. Then continue writing book 3 and 4. I also have a sci-fi trilogy I am working on for young adults and a fantasy novel about Harry Houdini which I have written the prologue and first chapter for. I think I need to concentrate on the Prophecy of Three at the moment, though, because at times I don’t know which way I’m going.

Author Bio:

It didn't take long for me to know that I wanted to be a writer. From the moment I understood that books didn't materialize out of thin air and that people wrote them, I knew that writing was all I wanted to do. The idea for The Prophecy of Three was born from a love of Arthurian legends and all the fantasy books I read from the moment I could pick a book up. Even when I’m not writing I’m more often than not thinking about it. But when I do have a spare minute I enjoy movies, TV and reading. I’m also a huge Marvel and Lord of the Rings fan.

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