Thanks for coming by, Ryan!
R.S.: Thanks for having me.
Please take a moment and tell us about yourself. From the "About Me" section of your blog, I see that you are learning French with a goal of living there for a year after school. Tell us about that and what else keeps you busy when you're not writing.
R.S.: Language has astounded me almost as long as stories have, and from a young age I was creating my own words to add to a personal dictionary – eventually I would have my own language. In most of the stories I wrote as a child, there was some sort of unique language, whether they were magical spells or a backwards English in a mirror world. Even in Aundes Aura, there are traces of the old Válkian language. Essera endivina a sul eternal. May you take to the gods in eternal peace.
If I’m not writing, I’m probably playing music. I love composing music, sometimes just for piano or violin, sometimes for a chamber ensemble. Putting these to a film sequence is always very rewarding.
In describing the "Dark Corner", you say: The Dark Corner of the Mind is the place where all the ideas for your stories spring from. Small details from every occurrence in your life gather there, until there is an eruption. There is no limit to your Corner.
What's your corner look like? And what books and movies have inspired you?
R.S.: My corner is blue and swirly. There you will find characters with faces but no names, characters with names but no faces, and cookies with which to bribe Life when he gets in the way. I’ve been inspired by all kinds of fantasy, primarily the Lord of the Rings films, Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter and the Riftwar Saga by Raymond E. Feist.
Tell us about Aundes Aura. What's it all about?
R.S.: Hamlet says, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” The theme of good and evil is a basic one, but Aundes Aura is what you get when the story is more about shades of grey.
In a world where religion is a dominant force and gods are real, disagreements in regards to beliefs become a major problem. Long ago, the gods sent down “gifts” into the world of Válkia to help humanity solve its problems. Unfortunately, these ultimately served to cultivate problems, as humans lack common sense by nature.
Eoin’s sister, Saera, has one of these “gifts”, which are called Auras. The problem is that in their country, the goddess who sent her Aura down is considered evil. So when people discover that Saera has Aundes Aura, she and Eoin must flee Duthonne with the help of Faine, into Meira where Aundes is revered.
Along the way, they will discover there is something much bigger at hand, and soon they will be involved in heading the Second Revolution.
Aundes Aura will be the first novel of seven or more in a series called The Válkia Chronicles. The novels will be unconnected, except for the world, and non-chronological in order.
Do you have any other writing projects at the moment?
R.S.: I don’t have any other major projects. In fact, I like to focus on one at a time. A novel is a huge undertaking in itself and I don’t gain a great deal of satisfaction until I actually reach the end of a first draft (or so I imagine, as this is the farthest I’ve ever gotten in a first draft, and I’m not quite finished!). I don’t mind writing the occasional short story, but these are only ever for competitions. I’m interested in abstract short stories that make the reader think one thing, but then turn it on its head and the reader discovers the truth.
Ready for the random question? Of course you are! Here goes: If my nosy blog followers could look under your bed, what would they find?
R.S.: A fantastic question! *Looks under bed.* There is an old cushion I made for Year Eight textiles and a basket of various things including So You Think You Know Harry Potter?, the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets cd-rom, a notebook where I used to keep note of my daily word-count and an old story called British Pirate. There are the very beginnings of a Lord of the Rings set-piece I was building with LOTR miniatures on a plain board. All unpainted, never to be finished. Last of all, I have a beautiful French graphic novel, the eighth in a series, evidently, called Lanfeust des Étoiles: Tome 8 – Le Sang des Comètes. Or, “Lanfeust of the Stars: Book 8 – Blood of the Comets.”
Now, Mr. Sullivan, would you like to share an excerpt from a work in progress?
R.S.: I’d love to! Here’s part of a scene from Aundes Aura, where Eoin and Saera have come to the Grand Arena to watch Faine fight, but something terrible happens.
Eoin didn’t know if he wanted to stay and watch anymore. He had come to support Faine, not see him killed. But despite Faine’s defencelessness, Markos was wary. For some reason, he had not yet attacked. He still circled slowly closer. What was he afraid of?
Finally Markos charged. Faine dodged an overhead slash, and while Markos was recovering he kneed him in the face. Markos rolled away and got up, preparing for another assault. He ran forward, but this time when he brought the blade down, Faine caught it by the hilt.
“Eoin,” said Saera, a tone of distress on her voice.
“Don’t worry. He can do it,” said Eoin. The blade was now dangerously close to Faine’s face.
“No, not that. This.” Saera held her hand up, showing her glowing white fingernails. Glowing. They had prayed at the holiest place in Duthonne, yet still the gods frowned upon them.
Markos’s face was filled with malice and a sense of victory.
“Hide your eyes,” said Eoin. He didn’t know where to look. Faine was on the brink of death. Saera was on the edge of being discovered.
The edge of the sword was almost touching Faine’s face.
“It’s getting worse,” whispered Saera.
“That won’t – I can’t –”
Eoin lost all sight as a white flash erupted around the Arena. He crouched and clasped his ringing ears, crying out at the intensity of the pitch. He glanced around for Saera, but all he saw was the white light.
For your viewing pleasure, I also have a fabulous excerpt vlog from the fabulous Elena Solodow, featuring a snippet from Ryan Sullivan's Aundes Aura. Enjoy!