As everyone knows, one of my deep passions is writing, but along with that comes a love of books and the people who write them. When I read a novel which moves me so deeply, I find myself staring at the words in amazement, in awe that the author came up with this idea and presented it so beautifully.
I thought I’d start using this blog to occasionally share my love of writing with other fellow authors who have the ability to move people with words. Learning about them, for me, is incredibly interesting and I hope you find it as fascinating as I do to imagine how these wonderful people come up with such incredible ideas.
So, with that, hailing from Oxford Mississippi, the hometown of Ole Miss, I’d like to introduce a wonderful author, Mr. Frank Tuttle!
Frank is a fantasy writer of the very popular Markhat the finder series —THE MISTER TROPHY, DEAD MAN’S RAIN, THE CADAVER CLIENT, HOLD THE DARK, THE BANSHEE’S WALK and THE BROKEN BELL. His newest fantasy series, starting with “All the Paths of Shadow”, published by Cool Well Press, is out now and available from Amazon, B&N and Cool Well Press.
Please tell us about your book and what makes your novel different than others in your genre?
My book, ‘All the Paths of Shadow,’ is a fantasy in which a very bright young woman named Meralda finds herself in the middle of one of those moments that make history. Meralda is the Royal Thaumaturge to the Kingdom of Tirlin. She’s not only the youngest person to ever take that title, she’s also the first woman to do so. She’s under a lot of pressure even before the real trouble starts, just having to prove every day that she earned her title.
Meralda is a bookish sort who would be perfectly content to stay locked up in the Royal Laboratory all day, tinkering with her magical instruments and doing arcane research. But when the book opens, she’s been ordered by King Yvin to move a certain huge tower’s shadow so he can deliver a speech from its base without being in the dark. Meralda is annoyed at being forced to undertake such a ridiculous task, but he is the King, so she proceeds. Before long, she discovers that the old stories about the tower being haunted are true, and that her meddling may have awakened an ancient evil she doesn’t think she can defeat.
Throw in the arrival of a mysterious shipload of foreigners and the commencement of the Fifth-Year Accords, which bring all the Realms together, and poor Meralda is indeed in a mess.
Why is my book different? Well, for one thing, ‘All the Paths of Shadow’ is a sort of anti-quest fantasy novel. You won’t see a tiny band of misfits charge off in pursuit of some magical dingus that can slay the Generic Dark Lord and save the day. Meralda has a job to do, and she stays to see it done. Too, Tirlin is much more cosmopolitan than most fantasy settings. Meralda drinks coffee, reads newspapers, takes horse-drawn cabs to work, and even watches dirigibles soar past overhead.
How did you come up with the idea for this book?
It all started with a philodendron plant I used to keep on a table. That plant became the inspiration for Mug, Meralda’s best friend in the book. Mug is a magically animated dandyleaf plant, who has twenty-nine mobile eyes and the ability to speak. Most of the wizard types in the books I’d been reading were all power-mad old men, so I created Meralda, a studious young woman who loves magic as a field of scientific inquiry, not as a means to power.
So I had Meralda in mind, and Mug, and Tirlin and the Realms just sort of grew up around them. I wanted something different from the stock fantasy kingdoms, with their dirt roads and high keeps and thundering around everywhere on horseback. So Tirlin was born, and if I had to pick a fantasy world to be stuck in, it’s the one I’d choose. First, because they have those two essentials for life, donuts and coffee, and second, because they have running water and flush toilets. And good restaurants. So yes, I traded Elves and wood-sprites for cafes and pastries, and I still think I made the right decision.
Do you find writing for the YA audience easier or harder? Have you always written YA and why?
I’ve written several short stories which wound up being YA stories. My Wistril the Wizard series is 3 stories (one of them a novella) long, and the Jere the Harper tales are YA too. I didn’t intentionally write them that way. I enjoy that kind of fantasy fiction — by ‘that kind’ I mean a sort of straightforward tale of magic without graphic violence, sex, or language. Maybe it’s my homage to Tolkien and Fletcher Pratt and L. Sprague de Camp and Poul Andersen. I do have darker, more adult stuff, but even it’s pretty mild by modern standards. It’s actually easier for me to write in YA mode; I’m not really that bloodthirsty as an author. I don’t write ‘down’ or write specifically to kids — I just don’t include scenes where someone gets dismembered by a lusty werewolf. I’m not interested in creating that kind of experience.
Do you plot? Outline? What’s your writing process?
I tend to plot and outline short stories more than I do full-blown novels. ‘All the Paths of Shadow’ was originally plotted out on a long dry-erase storyboard. I don’t think I’ll do that again for the sequel, although I will have a good idea of how events unfold before I ever get started.
My writing process is pretty simple. Go to work, come home, help out with the cooking and cleaning (yes, I do, every day), take care of the dogs, and then head up to my PC in the study for whatever writing I can wring out of my head. I usually sweep the study with Billy Idol blasting on the stereo, and then I turn the music off and start pounding away at the keyboard. And tweeting. Can’t avoid the Twitter!
What are your current projects?
Right now I am maybe halfway done with a new Markhat novel entitled ‘Brown River Queen.’ The instant that’s done, I’ll be starting the sequel to ‘All the Paths of Shadow.’ It will be called ‘All the Turns of Light.’
Tell me something about yourself others might not know?
Hmm. Well, I own and ride a motorcycle, I do some amateur paranormal investigating now and then, and I’ve built a lot of furniture, and even a couple of houses. Seriously, did all the framing, roofing, drywall, plumbing, all of it. Grew up among carpenters, and a lot of it stuck with me. I also live on a small corner of the old family farmland, which proves once and for all I lack any sort of ambition whatsoever.
Too, I am the undead spawn of Count Dracula himself, but don’t print that, because the Van Helsings are still trying to track me down and they tend to kick in doors and tromp dirt all over my carpet. (sorry Frank, had to print it – it was too good to keep a secret!)
Frank, thank you so much for allowing us to peek into your writing world. For those of you who would like to learn more, please feel free to connect with Frank at his webpage, blog, on Facebook and Twitter at: