Of Weft and Weave-Review & Author Interview

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As you can see from the series image cover,  The Realm of Dica Series is rich, complex and vast. The covers and artwork are all done by the author Clive S. Johnson. In fact, throughout the print books he has scattered beautiful pencil drawings of his own. Ever since I read and reviewed the first book in this series, Leiyatel’s Embrace, I’ve been wanting to ask Mr. Johnson some questions. So stick around because after my Of Weft and Weave review are some answers I think you’ll find fascinating.

Five Stars for Of Weft and Weave

 

CoverClive S. Johnson’s second installment in the Dica series is a delight. It is more fast-paced than Leiyatel’s Embrace with many of the cast of characters of the first novel returning in an attempt to figure out what the heck is going on in their land and is there a way to fix it. Let me state right at the beginning that my heart goes out to Lord Nephril, the long-lived Master of Ceremonies to the many kings of Dica. The journey that takes him from his solitary existence atop the Graywyse Defence Wall to another world in The Lost Northern Way is almost as fascinating as the inner transformation that occurs to him in the process.

 The story opens with the ever faithful and a touch more worldly (at least more so than other inhabitants of Galgaverre) Pettar delivering a mysterious message to Nephril. Mysterious because it is written in the old language, which the aged Nephril can’t recall. In an attempt to decipher it, they cross paths with Steward Melkin. The scene early on with Melkin, and his mind for mechanization, is not only interesting but appears to set a major theme for the novel. When I read it my first thought was, “This is steampunk before steampunk was cool.”

The plot clothes itself in the attire of the expedition. Tolkien springs to mind, though Nephril is neither Bilbo Baggins nor Gandalf, even though I caught myself seeing shades of both from the corners of my eyes. Nonetheless, the adage “the joy is in the journey” certainly applies in this case, particularly with supporting characters with names such as Storbanther, King Namweed, Lady Lambsplitter, Dialwatcher, Breadgrinder, Lord Que’Devit, Steermaster Sconner . . . and the list goes on. In addition to Nephril and Pettar, I have a soft spot for Phaylan and Penolith and, as a wordsmith, appreciate how the soft sound of their names fit their characters.

Some of the plot twists I saw coming, and others I did not, the balance of which made the reading experience even more enjoyable. Speaking of balance, I questioned in my review of Leiyatel’s Embrace how much the author intended the novel to be allegorical. After reading Of Weft and Weave I am further convinced of its allegorical nature given the themes of balance and imbalance, political corruption, death and rebirth, and its apparent nod to the industrial revolution.

It was said of E.B. White that he couldn’t write a bad sentence. Mr. Johnson is one of the few writers I would also put in that category. His flair for detail and description is exemplary. “Like polished slate seen through muslin veils, faint glimpses of torpid sea floated in and out of sight as the swirling mist slowly billowed inshore,” and “He realised she smelt of rose petals and sandalwood, that her skin had a lustre all its own, and her voice a lulling depth that drew tingles to the spine” are but a couple examples (the spelling of realised and lustre being the Brit style, of course).

 If you enjoy literary fantasy—and Of Weft and Weave is fantasy, as the limb of Leiyatel would attest—this is the book and series for you. In fact, I purchased the paperback edition and was rewarded, as mentioned earlier, with Mr. Johnson’s fine sketches as well. Of Weft and Weave is a marvelously rich experience that I most highly recommend.  

Now an Interview with the author Clive S. Johnson

Author book image

Thank you, Clive, for agreeing to this short interview. Let’s begin by talking about the title, Of Weft and Weave, and in particular how it relates to Nephril. Not wanting to give away too much of the plot, at one point I was reminded of the shaman’s or wizard’s death. Clearly Nephril is not a wizard, yet to quote Studman, “Father always said [he] created [his] own fair wind. Said it seemed to follow [him] around like a tame bear.”

 

“No, thank you for asking, Tim.

 Well, the title, Of Weft and Weave, has a number of facets, but in the case of Nephril, it refers to the alteration to his structure that was carried out in Leigarre Perfinn, as touched upon in Leiyatel’s Embrace, and from which he gained his immortality, some two thousand years earlier. This alteration gave him a kindred affinity with the preserving power known as Leiyatel, made him a part of her—I can say little more without giving too much away, I’m afraid—and hence why he experiences a “shaman’s death”, as you term it, when he travels beyond her embrace. The protection it has given him up until reaching the Gray Mountains is what was noted by Studman as his father’s reported comment. It may help if I quote from Leiyatel’s Embrace, where Storbanther tells Nephril, in chapter 40 : “You see, Nephril, your having weft and weave of Leiyatel, for your own protection, unbalances everything”.

Of Weft and Weave is also appropriate in the sense of everything being interrelated, co-dependent, that no one part of a world can be altered without affecting the whole fabric, another major and recurring theme of the novel.”

Clive, There’s an interesting exchange between Dialwatcher and Breadgrinder concerning imbalance. Since I refer to the theme of balance and imbalance in my review, would you elaborate on this? After all, Dialwatcher and Breadgrinder appear to live in a very ordered world, one that perhaps once reflected Dica itself?

“You’re right: their small world of Nouwelm is indeed very ordered, and yes, it does reflect what Dica once was long before Nephril was born. The balance referred to is quite simply their taking from Grunstaan—their own smaller version of Leiyatel—no more than what Grunstaan itself can supply in the way of preservation. It’s analogous to our own world’s balance: that we should take no more than can be afforded by the Sun, our own Leiyatel.”

I wrote The Wastelanders out of my concern about the environment. Your work also speaks to me of environmental concerns. Please share why you initially wrote, and continue to write, the Dica series. Was there, or is there, anything in general that spurs you on?

“You’re right to be concerned, as we all should be. But that’s not the nature of our species, nor of life in general—something I address in more detail in the later volumes. As an engineer and a scientist, I’ve known since the ‘70s what course we were set upon, but I also knew that it was something people didn’t want to hear. So it was frustration, really, more than anything, that kept me engrossed in searching out the story of Dica. What every reader says is that “It’s a vividly real place to them”, and that’s because it’s our own world seen through different and perhaps fresher eyes.

 On a purely selfish level, that the message hasn’t overpowered the story has given me so much creative satisfaction. In fact, many readers don’t even notice it, which is fine, because a book’s prime justification must be that it’s a damned good read—what all fiction should be. For those who do come away from it with an awareness of its underlying message, I reckon they do so more receptively, not having had it “pushed down their throat”.

What this and my later volumes have allowed me to do, and why there are finally six in the series, is explore the complexities, the contradictions and confusions, the entrenched views and misplaced sentiments surrounding this issue. All the stuff that makes for the messy and confusing reality we now find ourselves in, and for which I’m honest in showing that there aren’t any easy answers—if any at all.”

Readers often see things in a novel the writer may not have realized were in there, Clive. In other words, subconscious messages or themes make their way into a work. I wonder if my interpretation of the Dica series as being allegorical is intentional on your behalf. The reader is seeing a world in transition where the natural and mechanized are melding. What are your thoughts on Of Weft and Weave (and Leiyatel’s Embrace, for that matter) as allegory?

 “I’m sure you’re right. I have always tried to be honest in my writing, to explore both weaknesses and strengths both in myself and the world as I see it, sometimes overtly, but I’m sure, often without realising. There’s certainly intentional allegory: my need to express my own views, but also much of my own observations of how our world works—or doesn’t. I think, in many ways, that’s why I relish the created-world genre. It gives so much more scope to come at familiar things from totally unexpected angles, to give a fresh spin on them. And yes, the resurgence of a mechanized world is intentional allegory, but you need to read the next volume, An Artist’s Eye, for more on this.”

Allow me to end this interview on a lighter note, my friend. You are that rare mix, the scientific-artist/artistic-scientist, which brings to mind writers such as Issac Asimov and Alan Lightman. For you, how does the scientist influence the artist? And if you produced a book cover that resembled the Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s album, who would I see in that montage?

“Ha, thanks, and I suppose I am indeed an unfortunately rare specimen in our increasingly specialized world, which has largely lost the Renaissance Man. Leonardo Da Vinci must be spinning in his grave.

I think it’s given me a thirst for knowledge and understanding irrespective of the perceived widely separated camps of artist and scientist. I’m just as fascinated by what a work of art tells me, or a beautiful or ugly view, as I am by a law of physics, and have never been able to see them as different. It’s meant that, for the Realm of Dica series, there’s no traditional fantasy genre magic involved, no wizards and warlocks; everything in the world of Dica is predicated on science—so there’s no convenient plot or narrative get-outs used. It’s all good old Newtonian mechanics with a fair bit of cutting edge quantum physics thrown in, and the whole tale follows a logical progression.

 But more importantly, as far as most readers will be concerned, I hope it’s vividly brought alive by my artistic vision, and my artist’s observations. The folk of Dica feel as real as you or me because they’re the product of a lifetime of distilled people watching. And for fiction, that’s what really makes the difference.

 As for your last question, well, it would end up being overcrowded, so there’d have to be a cull for the final cover artwork. People who would certainly remain would be—in no particular order—James Lovelock, the originator of the Gaia hypothesis, Mervyn Peake for his superlative Gormenghast trilogy, Gerard Manley Hopkins for his staggering poetry, to whom I’d have to add Shelley, Keats, Browning, Walter de la Mare and a whole host of others, oh, and Emily and Charlotte Bronte, Richmal Crompton of the Just William series, SF authors like Vincent King, Olaf Stapledon, then William Morris, Lewis Carroll, E R Eddison, David Hockney, Ernest Rutherford, Erwin Schrodinger, Thomas Malory, Dickens, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, William Hope Hodgson, Hermann Hesse, Salvador Dali, Hieronymus Bosch, Albrecht Durer, Tolstoy, Stephen King, Tolkien… Oh, damn; think I’m going to have to start culling again, aren’t I?”

Thank you for allowing us a glimpse into your creative process and creation of The Realm of Dica Series. I look forward to reading more.

And now for all of you who would like to join me in this most intriguing series, here are Clive’s links.

Clive’s website’sBuypage, which has all the outlet links.

Twitter @Clive_SJohnson

Facebook page

Amazon author page US

Amazon author page UK

Goodreads author page

Clive’s blog

Clive’s website

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A Royal Release for Lizabeth Scott

Thursday, January 7th was a special day for a good friend of mine. I met Lizabeth Scott on Twitter last year. I don’t remember the exact day, or even month, but I do remember that the day I befriended her we had a riotous conversation. I was impressed with her charm and intelligence, but especially her sharp wit. Since then we’ve started following each other on Facebook and although she writes in a very different genre than myself, her writing is crisp and intelligent. She joined in on our Holiday Story Hop and I truly enjoyed her story, Christmas Dreams.

Liz Scott Profile Pic

Who exactly is Lizabeth Scott?

In her own words, Lizabeth is a voracious reader, full-time romance writer, wife, mother, and PA to two terrier terrors. Liz is the author of The Royal Vow and Hearts of Gold Series, and she’s a Carolina girl who loves sand between her toes as frequently as possible.  She’s also known as GumShoeMom on the Geo Caching circuit.

Today I’d like to help her celebrate the newest release, the fifth book in her Royal Vow Series, Sweet Temptations. Congratulations Liz!

 

SweetTemptCover

Giving in to one simply divine temptation changed the course of her life forever. Chellie’s world spiraled out of control, and she had no one to blame, but the one man who lied and betrayed her. Her one night of unrivaled passion became the worst and most cherished moment of her life.

Prince Siran SuMartra stood fourth in line for the throne. Nothing was expected of him, and that’s exactly what he delivered. The image he put forth to the public was becoming tiresome to maintain. When he woke disorientated in yet another strange bed, with a woman he couldn’t remember, he knew it was time to change and take his place beside his brothers.

Years later, two very different people come together and discover they’re bound through a common bond. Prince Siran sets out to make amends. Chellie knows putting her trust in him again would only lead to another sweet temptation.

“One night of simply divine temptation changed everything.”

Sweet Temptation buy links:

iBooks

Amazon

Kobo

GooglePlay

Connect with Liz Scott:

Twitter: @LScottBooks

Facebook: facebook.com/LizabethScottAuthor

Website: lizabethscottbooks.com

Email: Lizabeth@LizabethScottBooks.com

Subscribe to Liz Scott: http://tinyurl.com/Subscribe2LizScott

Blog: http://lizabethscottauthor.blogspot.com/

One Lovely Blog

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This blog hop is designed to show our readers a more personal side. We list seven interesting facts to help cast light onto that tough writer’s persona we all like to project. Believe it or not, one of the hardest things I’ve done was to come up with a bio for my book. I use the same one on my blog. But I am human and like everyone else I have dreams, hobbies, problems and goals. I see this as a way to share some of them with you, my readers.

The rules are that I share 7 Lovely Facts about myself, and links to at least 15 blogs that I enjoy reading. If I have nominated your blog, please don’t feel any obligation to join in but if you do, please link back to the blog of the person who nominated you (that would be me), share 7 facts about yourself and nominate 15 blogs (or as many as you can).

I was reading some of the other blogs on this tour…. There are some remarkable and gifted writers here and I’m happy to be in their company. Many thanks to the talented JMDReid, whose blog, The Storm Above, is all about his writing, featuring his upcoming book of the same name. He’s just published his first short story called The Assassin’s Remorse. Cheers to you, my man.

Here we go with 7 Lovely Facts about me:

1)   In High School everyone thought I was going to be a sports-writer because I love to write and I love sports. I played football, (tight-end and linebacker), baseball (starting 2nd baseman and outfielder), and hockey (left wing.) At the time I thought it’d be cool to combine my two loves. Imagine being paid to watch games. Then I got into photography and thought I could add that to my repertoire. We didn’t have a school newspaper, but I do remember that several of my photographs made it into the yearbook.

2)   For a year in college I majored in Forestry. I love the outdoors and wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps – he was a Ranger in the forest service. When I was young he often took my brothers and me on fishing trips and hikes up in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. I believe that my love of the outdoors and consequently the environment stems from my fathers dedication and love of his job. It turned out that my desire to write was much stronger than my grasp of chemistry and dendrology, so I changed my major back to English.

3)   If I could have had a first career, it would have been a musician. That seems to be a common thread through many of these blogs. I’m beginning to wonder about the old adage that says, “short story writers are failed poets and novelists are failed short story writers.” Are all writers failed musicians? I don’t know . . . but I do know that music has always been an important part of my life. My uncle gave me my first guitar – an old Harmony. Guitars have come and gone but I still own that one. My parents enrolled me in guitar lessons when I was 10, and my guitar teacher’s name was Melody! If that wasn’t a sign of a budding music career then I don’t know what was . . .alas, I haven’t played in several years, now, but I like to think that it’s kind like getting on a bike . . .

4)  I run marathons. If you know me, that’s not a big surprise. But many of you don’t know that I started running to help my heart. My cardiologist told me to change my diet and get regular exercise. I went through two exercise bikes before I started seriously running again. When the last one broke down, I’d had it with stationary bikes, laced on the running shoes, and haven’t looked back. I ran my first half-marathon in Houston in 2010 and my first marathon in San Diego in 2011. This January Houston will be my sixth 26.2 miler, and then in April I plan to tackle the 50K trail run at Brazos Bend State Park here in Texas. On my bucket list are the Boston, New York and Marine Corps Marathons.

5)  I do most of the cooking in our house, not because I have to, but because I love to cook. I learned to cook for myself in high school because I wanted to make good pizza. From there the sky was the limit. My father always said that everyone should have a trade as well as a career. And since I graduated with an English degree, I thought that was sound advice. I started cooking for Byron Franklin Catering here in Houston in 1980. I teach middle school now, but the ten years I spent in The Kitchen were a great experience. My culinary series, The Neil Marshall Mysteries, are loosely based on those years.

6)   You all know that I teach, but did you know that I taught for 2 years at an at-risk school in HISD? I got my teaching certificate through an alternative certification in Houston Independent School District. The school I taught at right after I was certified was an inner city middle school. I loved those first two years, met some great people, role-models actually, but they were challenging. I got a job the next year at Fort Bend Independent School District and have been here for 20 years.

7)  Finally, I fly-fish. I didn’t pick up the sport until I was 32. My wife and I took a marvelous trip to her home state of Colorado. I’d wanted to go there since I was a kid. At the time, her family had a cabin in the Rockies near Decker and it was beautiful. She taught me how to fly fish on the lakes near the cabin. I love it. Fly-fishing is my laid-back civilized alternative to trail running, though the thrill of a trout hitting my fly is just as exhilarating and never gets old.

Those are 7 facts about me, lovely or not. Some of my favorite blogers are listed below. Participation is optional of course, if you have already been tagged for this, so sorry! If not, share some of you with the rest of us.

A link to each writers’ blog is embedded in their name or their blog, while their books, if any, have the direct links in the titles.

Chess Desalls author of Travel Glasses THE CALL TO SEARCH EVERYWHEN, Book One~a great title don’t you think? And Book Two. INSIGHT KINDLING, IS COMING SOON. Her blog is a lot of fun. Besides information about her writing, she posts flute noodling, “kind of like writer’s doodling,” she tells me, but they are very good. Every Friday she publishes a Frabble. What is a Frabble? Check out her blog and find out.

Lynette Creswell is the fantasy novelist from the UK who recently interviewed me (find that interview here.) My first Internet interview and she is very supportive on Facebook and Twitter. Lynette is a very talented writer who writes short stories, teaches Creative Writing workshops for local school children, and her Magic Trilogy series is a top seller at Amazon. Her newest book, ‘Clump, a Changeling’s Story, ‘ a fantasy adventure about an unlikely hero, unexpected love and deadly betrayal is coming out later this year. Sounds fun, Lynette!

Lee Mountford writes a great blog called Creating Bad, informative, provocative, and diverse.  I’ve been one of his biggest supporters. He was one of my first Twitter buddies. His short story “The Box” published in the Horror Anthology, SERRATED TORMENTING TALES OF MACABRE, just came out on Halloween. I’ve read it and it is quite good. Congrats!

Clive S. Johnson  writes an interesting blog on Goodreads and is also a good Twitter pal. In addition to being a kindred spirit, he is an artist, freelance editor, poet & prolific author of the REALM OF DICA fantasy adventure series available at all good outlets. I’ve started Leiyatel’s Embrace, the fist book in that series and I love it. He is currently working on his sixth book in the series, Starmaker Stella. Good luck, Clive.

Nicholas C. Rossis is another prolific writer whose works include science fiction, epic fantasy and children’s stories. Perseus, an epic fantasy series, and his science fiction short story collection, The Power of Six, have both reached number 1 on Amazon! His blog is chock full of content. Everything from advice on writing, marketing and publishing, to guest blog posts and author interviews are included. Visit the site just to see his many photos of Greece, where lives. He tells me Texas is his “fav” place, but after Greece? I don’t believe him. Thanks Nicholas for all the support on Twitter and Facebook.

Janna Kaixer dubs herself a left-handed 17-year-old writer, writing with a mix of night-owl enthusiasm, chocolate and tea. She says her blog: Words of Procrastination from a Young Writer contains productive procrastinations. It describes her writing process, daily life and random questions sure to tickle your fancy. She is currently working on an Urban Fantasy loosely set during the Industrial Revolution. She lives in New Zealand, or as she calls it, Middle Earth. And she listens to great music when she writes. Let’s all support this talented young writer.

Margurite Madden is the author and publisher of three books Once Upon a Western Way, Keeping a Backyard Horse, and My Butterfly Cancer. A Leukemia survivor, she founded a company Metamorph Publishing whose blogspot gives tips on writing, marketing ideas and hosts interviews with other writers. A little butterfly told me that she is planning two more books. Way to go Margurite!

Clive Eaton has a blog called Marketing Tips for 4 Authors full of very useful insights, tools and advice for every type of writer. His first novel, The Pyramid Legacy has a sci-fi plot twisting the fibers of history together with those of the future. Operation Stonehenge, coming soon, postulates that the architects of The Great Pyramid and Stonehenge were related. His website also has articles, interviews and helpful links. Clive has also been very supportive to me on Twitter. Thanks Clive.

Steve Lebel is an author of the humorous fantasy The Universe Builders about a young god who just graduated from God School out to build his first universe. Steve wonders if the years he spent as dungeon master or whether his favorite player-character a chaotic-good elven fighter/mage influenced his choice of topics. Whatever . . it was a winning combination. The Universe Builders won a finalist award from Stargazer Literary Prizes for Visionary & Metaphysical Fiction. Very impressive Steve!

MAScott is the pseudonym for a spousal writing team. They prefer the term because it best describes their relationship as a whole and how they write ~ as equal partners.  Their guiding principal is “The person with the best idea leads.” Together they write adventure and romance. Their tagline says, “We’ve seen reality and it’s not for us!” They also have another blog, The Steampunk World of MAScott and one in development Romance ~ Suspense ~ Mystery. Well, here’s to another spousal writing team that make marriage and creativity work together.

Nonnie Jules Besides writing a terrific blog, Nonnie has two books out ~ “THE GOOD MOMMIES’ GUIDE TO RAISING (ALMOST) PERFECT DAUGHTERS,” 100 Tips On Raising Daughters Everyone Can’t Help But Love! and Daydream’s Daughter, Nightmare’s Friend. Her next book, “THE GOOD MOMMIE’S GUIDE TO RAISING (ALMOST) PERFECT KIDS,” The Next 100! is scheduled for release in between December, 2014 – January, 2015.  A children’s book is also scheduled for release sometime in the near future. Nonnie lives by the the premise that a candle looses nothing by lighting another candle. Her limitless help to other writers is awe-inspiring. She recently started a publishing company and is also the president of Rave Review Book Club. Thanks to her and RRBC for all the help and support they offer. Nonnie you are awesome!

Bruce A. Borders is another prolific writer who has a terrific blog. Inside Room 913, Miscarriage of Justice, and Over My Dead Body are only a few of his numerous books, including the popular Wynn Garrett Series and can be found at most online retailers including Amazon. Find the print editions on his website. He is also a very talented singer/songwriter. Check out the link on his site to hear to some of his music also available on iTunes. I’ve listened to many of his CDs but my favorite song is  “There’ll Never Be Another Johnny Cash.” Bruce is a man of vast talent and has been a great supporter of mine on Twitter. Thanks, man.

Jared Rinaldi  is an actor, writer and student of life. His first novel, Hyperion begins the Bridge Burner trilogy. The second, Pyronic Technique is due out shortly. He also has a short story collection Tales from the Mountaintop available on Amazon, His blog says he is greatly influenced by music in his writing ~ a kindred spirit. I just started following his blog but so far I am thoroughly enjoying it.

Kathryn C. Treat  is a real warrior. She has been battling a life-threatening allergy to molds and chemicals. Her book Allergic to Life is a harrowing account of living with chronic illness. Her blog continues that chronicle. She has been through far more than anyone should have to, yet she finds time to write, blog and help other writers. She is an inspiration. Right now she is going through a very hard time and I don’t expect her to join in on this blog hop, but her story is so amazing I wanted to include her just to share her courage and show my great admiration to a brave and valiant soul.