by Graeme Ing
A primeval fiend is loose in the ancient metropolis of Malkandrah, intent on burning it to a wasteland. The city's leaders stand idly by and the sorcerers that once protected the people are long gone.
Maldren, a young necromancer, is the only person brave enough to stand against the creature. Instead of help from the Masters of his Guild, he is given a new apprentice. Why now, and why a girl? As they unravel the clues to defeating the fiend, they discover a secret society holding the future of the city in its grip. After betrayals and attempts on his life, Maldren has reason to suspect everyone he thought a friend, even the girl.
His last hope lies in an alliance with a depraved and murderous ghost, but how can he trust it? Its sinister past is intertwined in the lives of everyone he holds dear.
Can only evil defeat evil?
She glanced at me then the ground below, but only clung tighter. A man appeared at the window, his teeth bared. Four scratches on his cheek oozed red. White drool speckled his trimmed beard. He clawed at her. She scrunched her eyes shut and wailed.
With a crack, the casement tore free, and she plummeted into my arms. We tumbled to the ground and the smoke surrounded us like a pack of wild animals.
I rolled to my feet, helped her up, and dragged her down the street, holding my breath as long as I could. She coughed and choked, resisting my pull. Murder flared in her eyes. I slapped her.
“Trust me. Hold your breath and stay with me.” I yanked her forward.
I shouldn’t have spoken. Smoke surged down my throat and I gagged.
Rage ignited inside me. I wanted to tear out her rabid eyes. My arm squeezed hers until she cried out, and I knew that I could break it with a twist, could snap her entire frail body. My gaze fixed on her pale, sweat-soaked throat. It invited me to choke the life from her, watch her struggle and finally go limp. My pulse quickened. Anger flooded my veins. Then my hands were around her throat, squeezing, crushing. She coughed and drooled thick, white saliva. Her blue eyes locked with mine but she put up no resistance. A smile twitched on her lips as my thumbs dug deeper. Ah, the sweet moment of superiority. How would it feel to kill? Delicious. It washed the tight pain from my head.
Something flickered deep within me. This was wrong.
AN INTERVIEW WITH GRAEME
-What made you want to write?
I’ve had an overactive imagination since before I became a teenager. I was raised on books, especially sci-fi and fantasy, and my parents took my sister and I on exotic holidays to all sorts of countries. That’s a lot of mental stimulus for a kid. I shudder to think how much of my life I have spent daydreaming in lands of make-believe. Ironically, I became an engineer, seemingly at odds with my creative side, but I’ve never lost my sense of wonder and nerdness. Growing up, I devoured every unique world that I visited in the books I read. I wanted to create my own. I drew maps, created complex histories of mythical kingdoms, fought battles and rescued princesses. Frankly, it astonishes me that I waited until my forties to start writing seriously. Now that I have, I intend to spend the rest of my life creating characters having bizarre and romantic adventures in peculiar worlds. I hope others will gain the same sense of wonder and fun from reading my stories as I did from the classic fantasy I grew up with.
-What draws you to fantasy and sci-fi?
I do read in every genre, yes even romance, but fantasy and sci-fi is my passion. The freedom to create an entire world, its creatures, cultures and history from scratch is exhilarating. I have written contemporary but feel hemmed in by the real world. My spy thrillers would likely involve James Bond pitting himself against dragons and alien starships, and I’m pretty sure the franchise wouldn’t allow that. :) I have hundreds of new worlds swimming in my head, and hope I can get as many down on “paper” as possible. I enjoy playing what-if and make-believe, but I also love to populate my creations with characters whose problems and dilemmas mirror our world. Personal decisions and conflicts drive every story, no matter the genre.
-Name a fun fact you learned researching this project.
There are 206 bones in the human skeleton. Who knew? There’s a scene in Necromancer where Maldren is digging up a skeleton from a shallow grave. It sounds gruesome, but what he does with it is actually one of the lighter moments of the book and I had fun writing it.
-Which of your characters would you go out for drinks with?
Oh boy. Probably Phyxia from Necromancer. We know so little about her. She’s immortal, some kind of oracle and drop-dead gorgeous in an elfin way. In the book, Maldren finds her comforting yet enigmatic, never saying exactly what she means, and I can understand why he often gets frustrated by her cryptic answers. She claims to have lived for all the ages of the world, so think of the tales she could tell. As the author, I do of course know her soft spots and favorite foods, so I’m pretty sure I could learn her secrets. She’s a special character to me and she will return in later books.
-For aspiring writers, any tips?
To quote Dr. Susan Jeffers: “Feel the fear and do it anyway.” Along the way you will be plagued by nagging doubts, fear of failure, hatred of your own work, worry about what others will think and a plethora of other neuroses. This is normal. Accept that and keep writing. Write as often as you can. Write for yourself. Write what you enjoy. Edit, revise, and hone your craft. Ignore the naysayers or bad reviews. Keep writing. Most success is perseverance - staying the course. Good luck! Now write your heart out.
-Is there a genre you could never write? Which and why?
A year ago I would have said romance since expectations are extremely high and few men can pull it off. Now I’m in the middle of writing a romantic adventure trilogy. Go figure! No one said I make it easy on myself. I like to think I could make a good attempt at any genre - people and relationships are universal to any setting, so is drama and tension. I’d just have to keep out the dragons and Orcs! I’d have to say that a military or legal thriller is very unlikely for me. I know next to nothing about those fields and don’t relish the extensive research I’d need to undertake to make my book believable. I’d best stick to spec-fic I think, and that’s a very broad genre.
Graeme Ing engineers original fantasy worlds, both YA and adult, but hang around, and you’ll likely read tales of romance, sci-fi, paranormal, cyberpunk, steampunk or any blend of the above.
Born in England in 1965, Graeme moved to San Diego, California in 1996 and lives there still. His career as a software engineer and development manager spans 30 years, mostly in the computer games industry. He is also an armchair mountaineer, astronomer, mapmaker, pilot and general geek. He and his wife, Tamara, share their house with more cats than he can count.
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