Welcome back to part two of my Interview with Self-Publishing Author Ben Galley. This time we will talk more about his epic fantasy series Emaneska and how he created it. Here is Part One again for everyone who missed it.
What method did you use to start creating your own epic world? Did it come together bit for bit as the story progressed or did you carefully put each piece together?
It started off with a title, like all of my books. It seems rather clichéd to say it simply popped into my head one day, but in this case it truly did. ‘Emaneska’ was the first word I wrote of the Series. The world then grew with the characters and dialogue, until I was forced to draw a map and solidify my ideas.
How do you come up with the names. Did you play around with already existing ones or do you make them all up?
Most of the names of the characters are based around Norse mythology and the Scandinavian languages, or Norse sources such as the Prose Edda. The gods of the Series have names very similar to those of the Norse pantheon, but I wanted to tweak them a little, to show perhaps a precursory religion. Here’s a little secret for you – one of my best resources for names was the track and album names of a certain band called Sigur Ros.
I looked at the world map, which is incredibly big and saw a kingdom (or country) named Albion. The name is quite common in works by UK authors and has an old tradition and meaning. Other names like Skewerboar or Vorhaug instead sound very Finnish to me. Did you choose the various styled names to give the nations a deeper feeling of culture?
Even though Emaneska is very Nordic in nature, it does involve a lot of over European influences too. Albion is of course the traditional name for Great Britain. Paraia has a Greek feel. Emaneska is a big world, and like Europe, is comprised of many different cultures. So yes, I wanted to enrich my world by featuring and referencing these places, even if the reader never sees them.
A lot of work is done to create culture and traditions, to make a world feel naturally developed over time. How much of the stuff you came up with is used in your story?
Almost everything, though it is spread across all the books, so as not to bombard the reader. The cultures did develop quite naturally. I hinted at aspects in The Written and then had a chance to expand upon (both by design and by accident) in books 2, 3, and 4.
A lot of fantasy books have grand worlds with thousands of thousands ridiculous sounding names within, but most of them don’t feel natural. What do you think is important to make a world feel alive?
A sense of reality. Places mean different things to different people. They are pronounced differently. Shortened. Lengthened. Nicknamed. A bit of juxtaposition too. Not all places that are beautiful have beautiful names, and vice versa. Look at Krauslung. For such a regal and proud city (for the most part that is – docks and alleyways excluded) you might expect a finer name than Krauslung. But I like to challenge those sorts of preconceptions. Readers also don’t like sitting there, trying to pronounce tongue-twisting names when all they want to do is keep reading. It interrupts the flow. I kept my names, both for place and character, very simple. Hardly any surnames. Minimal syllables. It keeps it memorable and flowing. I think the most difficult name I’ve probably included in Emaneska is Hjaussfen. (Hint - it’s a soft J)
Did you create a new race that’s differs greatly from a normal human? Was it hard to create an original one, which doesn’t feel like a ripoff?
No. Emaneska is a largely human world. Although a lot of fantasy features a veritable cornucopia of races - dwarves, trolls, orcs, elves, hobbits etc – once again I found that I wanted to keep my characters and their struggles very human, and therefore easy to relate to. I also like playing with stereotypes, in the fact that my elves were not graceful nor wise, but simply the creation of the daemons, to fight the gods. I believe that’s quote different to the usual idea of an elf, especially Tolkien’s idea of an elf. I couldn’t resist throwing in a little variation here and there - minotaurs, trolls, lycans…
The idea of ripping something off is so very difficult in today’s fantasy. Everyone stands on everybody else’s shoulders. You just have to try your best to be original in the plot and the world. Hopefully I’ve done that.
What makes the magic system used in your books unique and special?
My magick system is based on words. Usually spoken aloud, yet stored in written word. The words themselves are not magical, nor is the ink - it’s their order and arrangement that is special. Spells therefore can be created and forged like armour. They can be carved into metal or wood, doorframes or the hulls of ships to imbue certain properties. Not all can tolerate the feel of magic, and not all can handle it without going mad or dying. Even the simple act of writing it down or carving it into a material takes training, skill, and natural ability. And of course, there are certain mages called Written, which are essentially human canvases for an entire spell book. During a gruelling, three-day ordeal, these mages have spells and runes tattooed across their back and shoulders. This has the effect of imbuing the magick of the written word straight into the very being of a person, meaning they don’t need to read from or memorise spell books, like normal mages or wizards, and can cast spells as naturally as one might draw a sword. This makes them downright dangerous.
Watch out for last part of the interview next week!
Pale Kings (Emaneska Series #2)
Emaneska is crying out for a saviour. The only question is: Can they kill a child to save a world? Emaneska's Long Winter remains as bitter as a blade between the ribs. War is fast approaching. Gods and daemons are hovering on the horizon. Long-lost revelations arrive to haunt the futures of three men. The Pale Kings are rising. While Farden busies himself digging up his past in the strange deserts of Paraia, the stormclouds begin to gather for Durnus, Elessi, Cheska, and Modren. Together with Farfallen and his Sirens, they must fight to survive against the Long Winter, the vicious machinations of the new Arkmage, and the arrival of something much deadlier than both combined. War, deception, and murder are quickly becoming the only paths to salvation…