I hope you enjoyed a fabulous holiday period. I certainly did. It was largely ‘computer off’ and ‘Lego on’ for me over Christmas, a great family break. Talking of family, I’ve an interview for you today with author David A. Cleinman who writes of an altogether less happy family.
Hi David, happy new year and thanks for spending some time with me to answer a few questions. Let’s talk about your novel, Principle of Destiny, which features a woman as its lead character. Why did you, as a male author, choose a female lead? Were there challenges to writing the opposite gender, and, if so, how did you address them?
I chose a heroine for a few different reasons. The biggest was probably based on how few female leads are written by male authors. Having a female lead allowed me a wider range of emotions and sensibilities, which are a strong part of my writing. And, in a political commentary, sometimes a woman shows wisdom somewhat better than a man. Alyssa’s strength of will is the key to the story, and there is no doubt in this author’s mind that this shines through much stronger with a she than a he. Sexism aside, most readers tend to expect a male lead to be tough. When a woman proves to be their equal, it opens up entirely new avenues of thought.
How would you describe your main character, Alyssa? The setting for your book is traditional fantasy, but would you describe Alyssa as a modern or a traditional character?
I would say Alyssa has very modern and progressive ideologies. She would be equally at home in a palace or a capitol building. She has strong instincts, physical prowess, and a stubborn streak that surprised even me. Her willingness to put herself in jeopardy for what she believes is simply amazing, and perhaps a bit unnecessary at times. My favorite aspect of her is her ability to run like the wind. There’s a hidden analogy there, somewhere, and I’m still working it out.
That sounds fresh. I like something a little different in my fantasy novels. What marks your novel out from standard fantasy fare?
Aside from the strong heroine, and the lack of mythical figures that are common to true fantasy, is the fact the there is no magic. The setting is semi-traditional fantasy, but really is closer to a turn of the 20th century. Electricity is in use in places, wealthier people have motor vehicles, and telephones. There is an established economic and trade system. Alyssa’s sole purpose is to end the feuding and bickering between kingdoms that has erupted since her father decided he would control them through economic coercion and power positioning, rather than unite them and work with them. It’s a David vs. Goliath type story in some ways, and War and Peace in others.
In every way this story is about survival, about ethics, and about fighting for rights, both Princess Alyssa’s personal rights, as well as what she feels is right.
Now that does sound interesting because I took a similar non-traditional fantasy route with several of my stories. One of the most notable aspects of Principle of Destiny is the challenge at its heart, an extreme endurance test turned into a ritual, political contest. What made you choose this, and how did you make it so realistic?
One of the perks of being a King, positioned in the one spot that everyone needs to access for survival (Lake Tramontane: the single northern lake from which almost all trade is distributed), is the ability to make ridiculous laws and edicts and have people willing to follow them. It’s an ancient device used by conquerors throughout history. Make a population dependent on you, and soon they will do pretty much whatever you say. When the only individual the challengers need to beat is the sixteen year old son of the king, Prince Tobias, it is an easy sell. The surrounding nations firmly believe they can provide challengers who will beat him. They are tricked by their own ignorance, in some ways, not thinking clearly enough to realize that maybe the king is not being entirely forthcoming. Tobias has trained all his life for this, and perhaps has help that the challengers do not, nor know about.
The race itself is so realistic because it is actually based on real races, through real terrain, with genuine character reactions and interactions. Alyssa makes this particular event memorable by how she suffers again and again, and yet endures at every obstacle.
Are there more stories to come set in the Kingdom of Landing that is the setting for Principle of Destiny?
I have considered it, but at the moment, no.
How do you find the time to write novels while having a real life too?
My writing, by and by, is my life. My only regret is that I did not put the effort into it I should have since I started my first epic fantasy at thirteen. Having just turned 47, I know that now is the time.
You certainly sound serious. What advice can you give to aspiring authors?
Write. Don’t worry if it’s good, bad, or even terrible. Just write. Passion provides power. Time and effort will perfect the product. Read as much as you can in the areas/genres in which you wish to produce your works.
What’s next for David A. Cleinman?
Toys In The Attic is live as Indie eBook.
I am writing a young adult fantasy series set between the human world and the world of dragons that have been estranged from humanity.
Two other fantasy series are in the works.
A sci fi novel that I wrote in 1998 is being re-tweaked soon.
As always I continue to blog and research for my various projects.
Thanks Tim, for giving me the opportunity to share my works with your readers!
You’re welcome, Dave. If you want to find out more about David’s writing, take a look at his blog: http://davidcleinman.com/writings/