A frozen land plagued by monsters with Cameron Wayne Smith

Follow me into a frozen land plagued by monsters – interview with fantasy author and Glimpses anthology contributor Cameron Wayne Smith.

Cameron, thanks for joining me. When did you know you wanted to write and why did you begin?
Back in school I was somewhat of a joker and often turned essays into snarky stories. The teachers never really appreciated my humour, but a few of these single page stories did make it through the school. I don’t have any of these anymore, but if I did, I probably wouldn’t let you read them!

In 2012 the missus and I bought a Landcruiser camper to travel around Australia. We hit the road and I thought it would be fun to write stories while doing so. I started writing my first novel seriously while we were running a pub in a small town called Thangool. I did start very casually, but that was the point I decided to write.

What has the writer’s journey been like for you?
Well, the day we hit the road and the day I started writing a novel were one and the same. I’ve loved travelling around this beaut country, working from place to place, and writing along the way.

That first story I started, in 2012, was a fantasy story taking in a lot of creative ideas I had come up with when I was younger. I ended up self-publishing that story in 2015 (In Innisfail, QLD), the sequel in 2016 (In Esperence, WA) and the third episode earlier this year (In Queenstown, TAS). The whole series was discovery written without a target audience. Sadly, the originality made it quite difficult to market, but it will always hold a special place in my heart!

The concept of Holtur—a town in the midst of a frozen, desolate land, plagued by monsters and full of mystery—came to me late last year. Originally because I wanted to try my hand at writing a vampire story. My goal was to not have them sparkly, romantic, linked to were-creatures, or the result of an infection. I’ve got nothing against the way vampires have been used in the past, but I wanted a completely original take on the creatures, while still taking some elements of the classics. I wanted to create monsters.

I like the sound of your vampires!

The first step for my Holtur plan was to write a story displaying how horrible this town would be to reside within. I feel I did that reasonably well by bringing a cowardly outsider, Vivian Patressi, to the town and creating a story about his attempt at survival. At first, his attempts convincing Captain Sonja Bluwahlt, and her band of monster slayers, to fight his battles for him does little but amuse her. Experiencing the horror of the town through Vivian’s experience explains why, to both reader and the less than heroic protagonist, the slayers laugh at his problems. The vampires are hinted at during Vivian’s initially romp through the town, but the folk of Holtur have no idea that the ‘leeches’ are in any way humanoid.
The biggest change I’ve made between series is going from discovery writing to plotting. This year my writing journey has been quite interesting, landing me in the magnificent (but cold) Tasmanian hinterland, and I’m keen to see how the rest of 2017 unfolds.

So, would you now describe yourself as a “plotter” rather than a “panster” aka discovery writer?
I honestly do not know if I could label myself as one or the other. The Necrosanguin series was all discovery written, but The Holtur Trilogy has been planned… Well, it was supposed to be! In The Holtur Curse, chapter 10 has now gone for six chapters. So, I’d say I’m a primarily a plotter now, but the ‘pantser’ within likes to beat up the plotter from time to time! Without ruining the story, this section of the story, in plot form, was basically ‘x attacks y, but z goes and brings w along, now v has to solve the problem’. I didn’t realise at the time, that actually meant I’d have to write an epic battle the length of a novella, it happens!

Ah yes, I’m with you there. I have a final battle sequence I always knew would be two chapters, but I didn’t expect each of those chapters to be double the length of the others!

Where does the inspiration for what goes into your stories come from?
A lot of things! Where I’ve been and things I’ve seen and done. Books, movies, and games too!

The second half of my first story I got to work on not long after going to the USA and doing some ‘tunnel time’ at iFly in Chicago. My partner and I did quite a bit of skydiving that year and used the wind tunnel to improve our skills. The characters in my story travel to an incredibly large tower in a wealthy city, and I thought, why not throw a massive air vent into the tower for transportation? Of course, that lead to the next obvious question: Why not have a battle in that giant wind tunnel? Being fantasy, and marketed to no-one in particular, meant that it all came to life!

Necrosanguin also has a heavy ocean theme throughout the series. During the time I did most of the writing my partner and I spent a lot of time in and around the ocean.

This year, living in a cold, mountainous region, I’ve written about a variety of wyverns (if you don’t know what a wyvern is, for my style think dragon, but four limbed, less regal, more savage and numerous) and creatures I could imagine lurking in and around mountains. The shroud are probably my personal favourite creation this year; they’re a skinny, insect-like creature with large claws and translucent skin. These things are awkward, like a fish out of water outside of the ‘fog’, but within their special environment, they are practically infallible. I’m sure you can get a bit of an idea where some influence for this came from, but driving through winding mountains, in a fog so thick I could barely see, was what really made my mind wander!

For media that has inspired me, I’d have to say the two biggest things are the video game series Monster Hunter and the card game Magic The Gathering. The Monster Hunter games are, not surprisingly, games full of monsters. It’s a series that my partner and I have enjoyed playing together when we have spare time. Magic cards are an unlimited source of inspiration. I don’t play as often as I’d like to, but just gazing upon the sensational artwork on the cards can help me find inspiration.

The ‘kehrip’ creature from the Necrosanguin series was loosely based on two things I thought were scary as a kid: raptors from Jurassic Park and xenos from the Alien quadrilogy. While books have inspired me also, I cannot think of anything in particular that strongly influenced any of my creations.

Tell us about your Glimpses short story, Flight of Flame, and how it relates to your series, The Holtur Trilogy?
The Holtur Enigma was quite an ominous ride from start to end, and I wanted to create something lighter to bridge the gap to the upcoming sequel, The Holtur Curse. I also made the decision to switch point of view characters between each book in the trilogy. Flight of Flame was a great opportunity to take Sonja out of her element by throwing the veteran monster slayer into a ‘wyvern piloting course’.

Thank you, Cameron, for sharing your author’s journey and giving us some insight into your stories.
Glimpses, an anthology of 16 fantasy stories including Cameron’s Flight of Flame can be found here: http://books2read.com/glimpsesanthology

You can connect with Cameron and find more of his works using the following links:

Free book: The Holtur Enigma: http://www.cameronwaynesmith.com/books/the-holtur-enigma/

Free bestiary (email sign up): http://www.cameronwaynesmith.com/scholars-of-the-bristrunstium/join/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cameronwaynesmith/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/camocamocamocam

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14592508.Cameron_Wayne_Smith

Book review: Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft

I have another book I rate 5-stars to share with you.
Here is a thoroughly absorbing book best classified in the Steampunk sub-genre of fantasy. In fact, the first Steampunk story I’ve read.
Senlin Ascends is set in a mythical version of The Tower of Babel with apparently Victorian era characters that mostly seem to be quasi-British. We have airships docking at the various “ringdoms” of the tower and many examples of steam powered machinery.

Thomas Senlin is a studious Headmaster lacking somewhat in passion and spark who has an encyclopedic knowledge of everything around him based on what he has read from books. His real-world experience of most things appears absent. Newly married, he brings his young vivacious wife on a honeymoon journey to The Tower of Babel and promptly loses her in the crowded markets around its base as she sets off to find a “scandalous” dress to wear.

Poor Mrs Senlin appears to have to work far too hard to get the kind of attention from her new husband that a bride would expect on her wedding night. She resorts to innuendo – “would the Tower [of Babel] be tall enough to fill the well beneath it” to try and encourage him. Senlin is not a man of action. If he wants to try and find his bride lost somewhere in the 60 levels of the Tower of Babel he will have to become one. Senlin and his wife appear to be poles apart and early in the story, I felt the urge to grab Senlin by the lapels, give him a shake, and yell at him to show some bravado.
Josiah Bancroft is a talented story teller. Long before the end of the story, I realised that is exactly how I’m supposed to feel about Thomas Senlin, at first. But he is destined to ascend not just the tower, but his own claustrophobic limitations. At this point, I will mention that I think the book cover design is a work of genius. Go and take a hard look at it.
Josiah does an incredible job during in the narrative of simultaneously doing many things – building a world of plotting villainous characters, showing the world of the tower seducing Senlin into abandoning the hopeless search for his wife, giving the impression of his wife moving ever further out of reach into a disastrous new life while Senlin is ever more desperate to find her. It’s a little like one of those nightmares where you are trying to reach the door at the end of a corridor that seems to stretch further into the distance the more you strive to try to reach that door.
As it says in the book description, Senlin must become a man of action and that propels the story on a new and more dangerous course.
Senlin Ascends was one of those books where the stuff I have to do in my life got in the way of me reading it. It’s going up there on the shelf next to my other all time favourite books.
If you hold a flintlock pistol to my head and force me to find fault with this book there is just one thing I can come up with.
Early on in the narrative and also during the climax, perhaps when Josiah is trying the most to impress the audience, he might have tried just a tad too hard. I felt there were occasionally a few too many metaphors per page. It’s a subjective opinion that feels a bit like whispering to Michael Angelo that he may have overused that particularly vivid shade of blue he likes in his painting of the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
Yep, Senlin Ascends is beautifully and almost poetically written and deserves to be recognized as a classic story in the Steampunk genre.
So far I’ve successfully talked my mother, my wife and one of my friends into buying it. Don’t miss out yourself now!
I’ve moved straight on to reading the next book in this series.

Book Review: Kings of the Wyld

Rating: 5 stars

Kings of the Wyld could be described as the genetically engineered offspring of the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy, David Gemmell novels (Winter Warriors springs to mind), and the Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual.

Kings of the Wyld book cover

A quick note: If you are offended by the frequent use of the “F” word and similar, this book is not for you. It comes up a lot in character dialogue. Considering the setting and characters, it does not feel excessive.

Kings of the Wyld presses my buttons on many levels. Let me start by saying I’m 47 and a portion of my youth was spent playing and “dungeon mastering” the role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons. Today, I have what you might call a normal life (wife, children, career) aside from the fact I’m also a fantasy author (you can take the man out of the game, but you can’t take the game out of the man). I have a few minor aches and pains, and I’ll never fit in those clothes I wore as a teenager again. This is relevant because…

Kings of the Wyld is about a band (Dungeons and Dragons style adventuring party) of middle-aged overweight and often drunk ex-mercenaries that emerge from what passes as normal retirement to get the band back together.
Their mission – rescue their front man Gabriel’s daughter from inevitable evisceration by almost the entire contents of the Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual besieging the city of Castia where she is trapped.
The monstrous ensemble is called the Heartwyld Horde led by the sympathetically tragic Lastleaf – a Druin who seems to be a bit like an elf except with bunny ears. And he rides a Wyvern. I should point out here that this book does not take itself at all seriously except for a few genuinely poignant moments (wipes tear from eye at the memory of the closing scenes). This book has given me so many laughs!

Who are the band?

The hero of this tale is Clay whose inner monster was tamed by a loving wife and a darling daughter. He has long since hung up Blackheart – a wooden shield made out of a Treant – and retired. Then Gabriel comes calling.

Gabriel – divorced father of the damsel in distress and would be wielder of a potent magic sword except that he sold it to the cad now married to his ex-wife.

Then there is the wizard Moog who mourns the loss of his husband to the incurable “rot” disease from which he also suffers. One of the hazards of wondering the Heartwyld. He makes a living as an alchemist selling “Phylactery” which is best described as Viagra in gaseous form. And he lives in a tower that is almost exactly the same shape as a “thingy.” If you wonder what I mean by “thingy” just go back to that Viagra reference and I’m sure you’ll get it. The knocker on the door to his tower is a particularly amusing character named Steve who struggles to speak due to the brass ring in his mouth… and I thought I was cool having a brass dolphin on my front door.

Matrick is the band’s drummer, sorry, knife-wielding warrior thief that somehow became King. The Queen has managed to produce 5 heirs to the throne, none of them fathered by Matrick himself and, oh yes, the Queen wants him dead. Extracting him from his former life to reform the band is trickier than you might think…

Lastly, there is Ganelon who is remarkably forgiving of the fact his former bandmates left him in a quarry turned to stone by a Basilisk for 20 years.

Other characters help and hinder them on the way, and I shall always remember the Ettin Dane and Gregor with fondness. (An Ettin is a two-headed giant in case you’re wondering).

After suffering the indignity of being robbed by a band of girls named the Silk Arrows (twice!), the band’s expedition takes them through the Heartwyld that is still remarkably full of trouble considering so many of its denizens surround Castia for the whole story. The trip is complicated by the fact Matrick’s wife (the Queen) hired a bounty hunter to assassinate him. Is the bounty hunter a shadowy figure in a hooded cloak? Bobba Fett’s twin brother? Nope. A bad-ass Daeva – false god nightmare of a winged woman with her own band of red-robed monks held in her thrall all riding in a skyship!

This story is chock full of humour, monsters, magic and magical weaponry, more monsters and touching moments. And touching moments with monsters (some of them wielding magical weaponry). If you’ve ever wished you could read a story with a wondrous variety of monsters all doing their worst, Kings of the Wyld is like a bowl of every flavour ice cream with a chocolate flake stuck in it plus syrup and those little coloured sugar tubes on top (I know them as hundreds and thousands). There are probably some marshmallows jammed in there somewhere too. Pure indulgence.

Of course, none of this would be worth our reading time or the 5th star if it were not woven into a compelling story. Make no mistake; this is not a regurgitated video or role-playing game. As a student of story craft myself, I know a well-structured story when I read one, and they are not found in the fantasy genre often enough. Nicholas Eames knows his stuff – the story twists, turns and pinches in all the places it must to cast its spell over any fantasy fan even if they never played Dungeons and Dragons. It’s been a very long time since I last enjoyed reading a book this much. Count me in for the sequels.

If all this were not enough, Kings of the Wyld asks one of life’s most compelling questions. The answer to which the wizard Moog and every child under the age of 8 already knows…
Do owlbears actually exist?

Get a free fantasy book from me by joining my readers group mailing list.

F101: Intro to Fantasy

Some time ago I wrote my “gate way to the fantasy genre list”. Here is another such list from an author who’s debut novel I’ve almost finished (more about this in a future blog post). I dare not tell you how many of the books on this list I’ve not read lest Nicholas sends the denizens of the Heartwyld after me – and I have no skyship to escape in!

The Heartwyld

Good morning, class.  My name’s Nicholas Eames, but don’t call me Mr. Eames–that’s my father’s name!

*Crickets chirping*

Okay.  Moving on.  We’re all here for one reason: we love fantasy books, and it is absolutely imperative to us that others like them too.  You might liken us to a horde of theocratic zombies who won’t rest until everyone we know is, as the saying goes, one of us.

Alas, convincing others that fantasy books are head and shoulders better than books from any other genre (excluding sci-fi, but we’ll get to that later) isn’t always easy.  I mean, you’d think it would be obvious, right?  Writing is, after all, an exercise in creativity, and fantasy books, by their very nature, are more creative than plain old fiction.  Now don’t get me wrong–fiction is great, but except for a few notable exceptions (aka. Salman Rushdie’s magic realism) it remains…

View original post 2,634 more words

Want to explore 30+ magical worlds?

I invited 30 authors to share their magical worlds with you. For this week only (plus a few extra days), this collection of stories is brought together in the Magical Worlds Fantasy Book Giveaway. There’s a great variety of fantasy books here – heroines, heroes, dragons, mermaids, a unicorn and of course, magic — and I’ve never seen most of these of these books before.

Early results from my 2017 “Why do you love fantasy fiction?” survey tells me that most of all you want to escape into worlds unlike our own. That’s why I asked authors for fantasy books that are set (or at least partly set) in worlds that are not Earth – it’s just what you’re asking for!

Get some free magical worlds books here:

Magic Through the Ages: An event for fantasy readers


6 May at 10:0022:00 US MDT (check your timezone here)

I will be online 10pm to 11pm UK time, 3pm to 4pm US MDT.

To celebrate the release of the new novella, The Fall of an Overlord, by Kevin Potter, we have 19 fantasy authors (ranging from dark and epic fantasy to urban fantasy and everything in between) who will be around to hang out, answer questions, and give away some awesome books.

All authors involved have at least one book available during the event for 99c or less!

Come join us for a day of great conversation, awesome giveaways, and if luck holds, a bit of insight and a few sneak peaks into their writing worlds, methods, and some extra backstory behind the characters, plots, and settings you love.


Richard A. Bamberg
“Wanderers 2: Apprentice”

Christine Church
“Beyond Every Mirror”

Meg Cowley
“The Tainted Crown”

Susan Faw
“Seer of the Soul”
Kindle: http://amzn.to/2p6mgvX
Others: http://books2read.com/u/3neJko

Adrian G Hilder
“General’s Legacy”
Kindle: http://amzn.to/2oLGpUR
Others: http://books2read.com/tgov1

KK Jacobs

Julianne Kelsch
“A Dance of Crystal and Flame”

Alisha Klapheke
“Waters of Salt & Sin”

JT Lawrence
“Grey Magic”

Russ Linton
“Pilgrim of the Storm”

M.M. Perry
“Whom the Gods Hate”

Kevin Potter
“The Fall of an Overlord”

Kylie Quillinan

Sandra Seymour
“Breed: Slayer”

Lydia Sherrer
“Love, Lies, and Hocus Pocus”

Jack Simmonds
“Alfie Brown: The Boy with Purple Eyes (Who Discovered He Could Do Magic)”

Cameron Wayne Smith
“The Holtur Enigma”

S.C. Stokes
“When The Gods War”

Steve Turnbull

See you there!

A plea for reviewers – can we open up a dialogue about self-published books?

Becasue a self-published book taken through the right publishing process can be as good, or even better than, traditionally published books…

Nail Your Novel

So I find a lovely-looking review blog. The posts are thoughtful, fair and seriously considered. I look up the review policy and … it says ‘no self-published books’.

Today I want to open a dialogue with reviewers. If you have that policy, might you be persuaded to change it? Or to approach the problem in a different way?

I used the word ‘problem’. Because I appreciate – very well – that in making this policy you are trying to tackle a major problem. Your time as a reviewer is precious – and let me say your efforts are enormously appreciated by readers and authors alike. You get pitches for many more books than you can read and you need a way to fillet out the ones that are seriously worth your reading hours. A blanket ban is a way to fend off a lot of substandard material and save you…

View original post 1,510 more words