Today is my stop on the War of the Snakes blog tour and I am here today with an interview with the author!
Title: The War of the Snakes (The Ethereal Series #2) Author: Julian Cheek Publisher: Clink Street Publishing Published: 7th April 2020 Format: Paperback Source:: N/A Add It:Waterstones. Goodreads. Summary:“Dreams can’t be real, can they?”
Such is the gnawing question reverberating through Sam’s head as he battles with a dilemma, which refuses to be ignored.
In his dreams, he is always confronted by one simple point: Muanga-Atua exists! And for some un-asked for and un-wanted reason, he – Sam – is expected to save this place from the calamity that engulfs the people of the Turangai. Not only that, but he is also supposed to have some sort of incredible power by which he is expected to destroy both the Bjarke and their leader, Lord Elim, the Turangai’s oppressors.
“But that is ridiculous! Right?”
Determined to ignore all that occurs in this so-called ‘dream world’, he does nothing. That is until one cold, grey, autumn morning a TV news flash captures a shocking series of events, which leads to one undeniable truth; what he has tried to ignore all along in Muanga-Atua has somehow incredibly exploded into his world and it is searching… Searching for him.
His do-nothing approach is just not good enough. Not now. He will have to go back to Muanga-Atua to seek out this power he was supposed to have obtained. Find the power, accept what it can do through him, and go out into that awful place to do battle with someone, or something that makes his very blood run cold.
But how? How can he go into this world and be all that the Turangai think he is, when he still cannot accept the truth? That he is ‘The One’. Sam, Wielder of the Staff of the Ethereals and saviour of their world. And now, apparently, of his own as well.
What is your favourite thing about writing books? For me, my favourite things is the wrestling, trying to find the right/best way to describe a scene such that the reader is instantly transported into that environment, regardless as to whether they have ever experienced the same for themselves or not. And when there, for them to then associate with the scene, experience or event unfolding, and this, start to associate with the story as a whole.
Who is your favourite character in your book and why? Alice! I loved playing with the fact that she is a total enigma to Sam. In book One and Two he doesn’t know whether to blush, curse, get frustrated or run away, but there is something about Alice that gets under his skin, so he is almost powerless to keep away from her. Without giving too much of the story away, Alice is also key to Muanga-Atua, the alternative world Sam discovers. The reader is slowly introduced to her, and hopefully, is kept guessing till the very end. However, when Sam discovers who she really is, well, the reader will just have to read to find out.
What is your favourite drink to consume while writing? Part of the reason for writing this trilogy, (of which “The War of the Snakes” is book Two) is because when my wife and I went to New Zealand on sabbatical, we were so amazed with the place, in terms of the scenery, culture, grandeur… and coffee, that we wrote a blog (http://www.hobbitsandseals.wordpress.com) about our experiences, and interestingly, an awful lot of coffee is consumed. So, coffee, which I find comforting, or a G&T, which is of course, the best cold drink, ever
Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing? Of course not! Although I am sure my partner, Mitch, would easily be able to rattle off numerous habits, which, whilst not bad in themselves, annoy her! I will leave it for her to come to my rescue. Probably looking out the window and day-dreaming, rather than concentrating on the subject at hand…. And waffling, I am very good at just rambling on and on and…. Hmmm. Enough said.
How do you research your books? I do a lot of reading and go online frequently during research periods. Another aspect, for example, when describing the scene in Paris, Cannes, Madrid, New Orleans, etc. (and, no, I will not be writing any spoiler alerts here!) is that we travel a lot and soak up the culture and landscapes as much as possible. We both write, and this comes naturally to us, so we are not describing areas or places which are unrealistic.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? I take my writing seriously and so I would describe myself generally as a plotter. The story needs to have some structure from which to build itself. However, once I have refined this “skeleton” I would rather that certain aspects are allowed to wander into the “pantser” home, rip off the curtains and turn up the music till the windows crack. Both feed off each other.
If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why? In Piers Anthony’s Adept Series, he paints a fantastic world called “Phaze”. If one could combine the world of Phaze with that of Lord of the Rings, that is where I would like to live. I love wide open scenery with huge mountains that break the skyline, and then disappear into the forests where mankind becomes so small in relation to the ageless trees, earth and nature.
If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why? Thomas Covenant, from the Stephen Donaldson series, would probably be the one fictional character I would love to try to befriend. It would be fascinating to sit with him and learn all about wisdom carved from adversary. But, like most best friends, it would be bloody difficult to stop myself thumping him at times for his sheer bloody-mindedness. Sorry, am I allowed to say, “bloody”? No? Bugger!
About the Author
I am an architect by profession and have been practicing for almost thirty years. My passion for design and for creating lasting spaces has pushed me to the forefront of this field and some of my projects include Mercedes World in Brooklands, NikeTown in Berlin and Europe’s largest pharmaceutical project for Hexal in East Germany. Currently, as Head of Design for a leading International developer, I am looking after the design and delivery of the first Versace-branded residential tower in Europe, in London.
It has long been my drive to challenge and test the people I work with, to demonstrate to their respective audiences how best to explain a concept. It is this vision that I hold closely to in my direction in creating stories and ideas such that the reader is also able to quickly understand what the story is about, and also to associate themselves with it and the characters within.
I live with my partner and our dog in Hampshire. Collectively, our four children have all grown up and flown the nest and we now enjoy seeing our own children learn themselves the tough lessons that life sometimes throws one. Mitch, my partner, is my inspiration and joy. She is my rock and we often discuss ideas for plot lines ( we both write) and both love bouncing ideas off each other.
The subject matter that forms the trilogy, “The Ethereal Series”, of which “The War of the Snakes” is book two, was brewing in my mind for quite a few years. I wanted to explore the idea where the “the good guy” doesn’t always win. I describe this as “In our lives, we all often hit obstacles that cause us to react, sometimes with frustration, rage, despair. Often, we carry this burden by ourselves, too afraid, and at times, too British, to share these with others”. The series, tries to unpick the various and numerous layers of the “onion skin” that Sam, the main protagonist, has built up around himself over the years, due to a tragedy he is unable to cope with. It is, hopefully, a story that a great many readers will associate themselves with, either from personal experience, or through friends who have gone through deep valleys, or may still be in them. The book is not intended to be too dark, so a few wobbly bridges are thrown it at times so that the reader is reminded that all is OK ultimately.”
As a Christian, my faith is important to me, as are my beliefs. A life message I have learned and now try to carry around with me, is that every person is precious. It does not matter what creed, race, sexual orientation, religious standing or place in society one finds themselves in, rather what does matter, is that when all the “stuff” is peeled away, whether self-built or applied by others, God sees us for who we really are; which is a beautiful creation, made wonderfully, and with care and attention. I try to share this in my outlook and acceptance of others. This lesson has been taught, often through extreme tragedy and loss, as well as times of great joy. These are reflected in the various scenes Sam and his family find themselves in.
The bright times include when I spent my youth growing up in South Africa. As a child growing up in what, for me, was a beautiful country, where kids did not differentiate between skin colour or culture, the pure exhilaration of being able to explore the mountains, the lakes and rivers and the landscapes, often at great peril to life and limb, cemented a rich tapestry in my life that helped me to look outward and see how peaceful things are, when one is able to turn one’s head to one side for a moment and smell the flowers.
A darker side was the struggle when my two children were diagnosed with an incredibly rare genetic disorder of which, only 12 have been recorded. The first child was born in Germany and whilst I could speak German, the medical and technical issues around the condition and trying to speak to doctors about it, led to extreme periods of sadness. Often I was told by one of the doctors that, in their opinion, my daughter had this or that condition, and would probably die before they were 4. The angst that came from this, only to find out some months later, that actually, the doctors were shown to be wrong and that my daughter now had “this” condition (probably), and that life expectancy was not very good, was beyond description.
In this darkness, a light was switched on by the healing touch of a wonderful church, and of being introduced to many other children who were in a much worse condition than my daughter. I learned that it was OK to be scared and afraid and worried, but that if I looked outside for a moment, all was at peace. The children are now both leading active “normal” lives and are 24 and 21 respectively and they both delight and frustrate as children do. I wouldn’t swap them for the world. Valuable life lesson there.
Both me and Mitch enjoy painting. For me, my forte is portraiture and I find that by studying this subject matter, it helps me to see the nuances that make up a person’s face or a setting for a scenic composition. It is a challenge to try to capture the character. A lesson I take with me when writing.
In conclusion, if there was a strap line I would want to adopt or uphold, it would probably be, “Laugh when there is no reason to, and never forget to stop looking out. Peace reigns even in the worst of chaos!” I trust that the reader will immerse themselves in “The War of the Snakes” as well as my first published novel of the series, “The Awakened” and be there ready to support me and the travails of Sam when book three comes to print in Autumn 2021