Please welcome Seth Hammons, Author of The Keys series. I met Seth through one of my LinkedIn writing groups. When I went to his web-site and read his bio, I was impressed with his enthusiasm and energy. I do believe there are those who are born with certain gifts and I think writing is Seth’s. He pushes himself and takes his writing seriously. I hope that some of you engage Seth with questions or comments and let him know we appreciate his talents and hope that he is successful with his novels.
Seth, welcome to my blog. Tell us a little bit about yourself:
Lisa, thank you so much for having me!
I'm a 32-year-old father of three, married eleven years now to the most wonderful lady. Prior to picking up the pen, I was a store manager for Burger King in Atlanta, where I had worked for nearly fifteen years and met my wife, Crystal.
Two years ago, Crystal was offered a spot at a medical school in West Virginia and a U.S. Army scholarship to go with it. Not wanting to break up our family, we left work, home, and family behind in Georgia to pursue her dream. As our youngest wasn't yet in school, I stayed home and began writing. And it's come to this...
I love storytelling, love the curveballs thrown by others, whether it be on the page, stage, or screen. Stories themselves are often simple and can be summarized in a paragraph or two, but it's how the details are doled out that fascinates me. I liken it to a puzzle; one glance at the end product and the picture is plain to see, but before that, the storyteller is handing you a piece at a time, in no apparent order. Those 'aha' moments when a piece of the story snaps into place, those are what I enjoy the most.
What is your motivation to keep writing your series and why the Fantasy fiction genre?
My motivation is my wife, Crystal. She's been an avid reader as long as I've known her. Glancing over my shoulder just now, I see her collections of Nora Roberts, Julie Garwood, Dorothy Garloch on our bookshelf. Not a week goes by that she hasn't read or reread a book or two. Reading has always been a passion we've shared, and though our tastes are different, they occassionally converge and we'll read at night together.
Crystal believes in me. She's told me she likes my books so much that even if no one else ever reads my work (and let's hope that won't be the case), she'd still want me to keep writing just for her. She's got my back in this, just as I've got hers.
As for why I chose fantasy fiction, it goes back to my thoughts on storytelling. I like the freedom afforded me by the genre, that I can present my characters, locales, and themes in my own way, without the reader bringing too much of their own experiences with them. That said, I consider my world fairly "grounded" for a fantasy series. Magic and monsters are all fine and dandy, but any good story, regardless of genre, is really about people.
Do you write full time or have to keep a ‘normal’ job too?
I would have to check 'C: None of the above'. When we moved to West Virginia, my full-time job became housework, taking care of the kids, and providing logistical support for my wife's studies. Writing was a part-time passion. Now that the kids are all in school, it's a little easier to find time to write, but I would still list 'holding down the fort' as my main job. I expect my mindset will change in the next two years after we've moved wherever the Army sends us and my wife has started her residency. Until then, I'll continue to chip away at this story.
I will add, however, that this project has turned out to be a lot more work than I first anticipated. Beyond the story, there are tons of little things to learn; typesetting, formatting, copyright law, how ISBNs work, coding the books in HTML for Kindle, setting up a website, Author's Page for Facebook, Twitter. Thank God I found an illustrator. I think it would have killed me, learning how to draw.
Tell me about the basis of your novels:
A tricky request, considering I try to run the gamut. Life and death. Mercy and revenge. Love, hate, and self-sacrifice. There are other themes, of course--faith and science, discrimination and misconceptions, imperialism--but those are the main ones.
The story takes place on a chain of islands referred to as 'The Keys' by the Iori Empire, which has ruled the world in its entirety for several centuries. Technologically, the Iori Empire has advanced to something resembling our own late 1800s; mankind has steamengines, guns, and the telegraph. Electric light is being tinkered with.
The first novel introduces the duke's youngest son, the shepherdess whose brother was sent off to war, a drunken sailor, and a mysterious artifact from the time that the Iori Empire first conquered the Keys. I dare not say more.
What is you favorite thing to do in your free time?
Hanging out with my wife, as sappy as that may sound. Whether we're watching our shows, reading, walking at the park... just being in her company is what I like best. It's even true if we're simply in the same room, doing our own thing.
My most peculiar guilty pleasure is probably getting sidetracked while doing research for my books. Yes, I do actual research for a fantasy fiction novel. I couldn't tell you how many mornings my plans to finish a chapter have been derailed by Wikipedia and the rest of the Internet.
In no particular order, I like video games, playing with my kids, singing and ringing handbells in church, a mug of Guinness at the local Irish Pub, and watching the Atlanta Falcons. And of course, reading. I'm currently floating between the "In Death" series by J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts) and waiting for the final "Wheel of Time" novel to come out.
How can people contact you and order your books?
I love to get feedback from readers, especially those who wouldn't typically consider picking up a "fantasy novel". The best way to reach me is through my website, www.sethhammons.com or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. As mentioned earlier, I can also be found on FB and Twitter.
The easiest way to order books would be through Amazon. As I mentioned, they're available in both paperback as well as digital. Amazon Prime members can borrow the first novel for free.
"Unheard Of" is the first novel in the series, and the one you should start with. The second novel is also published, and the third is completed and being released December 1st of this year. The fourth is tentatively slated for June 1st of 2013.
Would you like to give us an excerpt of your work?
Certainly! We'll start at the beginning of the beginning, book one, chapter one.
There was something about the sound of his fist smashing into the other boy's face that gnawed at Chastin, but not enough so that it stopped him from throwing a second punch to the gut. He put his weight behind it, sending the bigger, pasty-faced boy staggering backwards and holding his nose. The two-dozen or so classmates that formed a ring around the combatants held their breaths. Jon Charl gasped for his own. Even Mart and Doge, Jon's usual cohorts, stood in slack-jawed shock, not bothering to lift a finger in defense of their friend.
Chastin didn't care two spits that Jon's father was Minister of Technology for the Keys. He wouldn't have even cared if Jon had been the Vision of the Church. There were some things in this world you just didn't say and expect to walk away unscathed.
It wasn't a heartbeat later that Chastin had Jon to the dirt, keeping a steady rhythm of knuckles to Jon's slightly larger frame. The surrounding boys were no longer silent. Some had taken to cheering Chastin on while others heckled Jon as the blows continued. Doge was shouting at him to stop, but Chastin wouldn't until he was finished.
The taunts and hoots of the schoolboys ended just as abruptly as they had begun, but Chastin didn't bother to look for what had cut short their jeering. He made certain to get in one last shot at Jon's face—was satisfied when it struck true—before an all too familiar hand grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and hoisted him to his feet.
"Chastin Valroy," the headmaster said with a tone that held no surprise. Chastin didn't bother acknowledging his name, savoring the sight of Jon Charl whimpering on the ground and trying to stem the flow of blood from his nose. A second vice of a hand snatched at Chastin's shoulder and spun him around.
"Headmaster Laurens," Chastin replied respectfully. The headmaster was a tall, wiry man approaching sixty years, the golden hairs on his head being slowly betrayed by strands of silver. Despite his years and build, Chastin knew the headmaster was every bit as formidable as the brick walls of the Radiant Academy.
With the corners of his mouth turned down in distaste, Headmaster Laurens's eyes darted to the bleeding and now blubbering figure of Jon. The headmaster let out a grave sigh before his gaze shifted again to one of the other boys who had been watching the fight. "Pocks."
Timidly, Pocks stepped forward. His dark-brownish hair made him stand out in a crowd of other Iori boys, and his scrawny stature made him an easy mark amongst his fellow classmates.
"Pocks, go fetch Master Kaust and have him tend to Jon's injuries." A simple head-bob of acknowledgment, and the boy darted off in the direction of one of the many weathered brick buildings that made up the Radiant Academy.
"The rest of you," the headmaster continued in a cool tone with eyes sweeping the rest of the boys, "had better find yourselves heading home. The next student I see lingering about the school grounds after session will receive a demerit; beginning this moment."
There were a few respectful nods to the headmaster. There was a great deal more of sixteen-year-old boys skittering away from the schoolyard like so many bugs from an overturned stone. Even Mart and Doge had only spared a moment's glance at their fallen friend before deciding it best not to risk the headmaster's displeasure. Chastin watched without envy as his classmates dispersed. He'd known what the fight would cost him and had measured it worth the trouble.
Headmaster Laurens didn't bother to watch the scrambling lot of boys as they fled in various directions towards their homes, his gaze already returned to the fallen Jon Charl. "You will wait here until Master Kaust arrives," the old headmaster glowered. "And you," he continued, gripping Chastin's shoulder so firmly it hurt, "are coming with me to the office."
The piercing, bony fingers that dug into his shoulder were quite unnecessary—Chastin would have marched with pride to the headmaster's office—but he didn't complain as he was forcibly guided to one of the larger brick structures on the campus. A little imagination, and the headmaster became a loyal manservant, massaging his aching shoulder instead of being the source of the pain. The delusion was helped all the more when the headmaster opened the door for him, though the agitated shove ruined it some.
The waiting room outside the headmaster's office was regrettably familiar. Without looking, Chastin could have said what color the curtains were; green—purportedly the shade of the jungles of the Greatlands. He could have pointed to where the jar of sweets was on the secretary's desk. He could have even named the magazines that rested on the coffee table; The Vision's Sight, The Father's Dilemma, and Modern Science. Chastin didn't bother reaching for any of the printed material. He'd already read all three quite thoroughly, and it would be another week or two before the March issues reached the Keys.
"Sit down on the bench," the headmaster ordered as he released his grip and disappeared into his office, closing the door behind him. Such a schoolyard brawl as had just been witnessed on the grounds of the Radiant Academy would usually have required a stern lecture by the headmaster to all parties involved, accompanied perhaps by a switching from one of the more able-bodied instructors. Chastin was well beyond lectures and switching, though.
Chastin could picture Headmaster Laurens preparing to use the telegraph that sat by the miniature replica cannon on his desk. The technology of telegraphy had only reached the Keys a year ago, and the Radiant Academy was proud to be one of the first private institutions to utilize it. It was unfortunate that there was another such machine in Chastin's own house.
"Again, Master Valroy?" whispered Anelia in a tone of mock disbelief and sincere disappointment. Of an age with Headmaster Laurens, his secretary was as much a part of the institution as he was. The students gossiped that she saw a stylist every week to keep her golden curls, though Chastin didn't see the point himself. One didn't stop being Iori with age, neither could all the hair dyes and face powder in the world make you one if you weren't.
Chastin let his eyes shift from the headmaster's door to the secretary, but didn't spare words. It wasn't any business of hers, after all.
Thank you so much, Seth! I hope that you have success with your series! You are talented and you have a good heart, you deserve it in my book! Lisa