May 1st, 2011

book and glasses

Happy Book Day to Benjamin Tate a.k.a. my friend Joshua Palmatier...

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you for your reading pleasure... a guest post (and a new edition of a good book)

Please welcome Joshua Palmatier, also known as Benjamin Tate, the author of "Well of Sorrows" - about which, well, let me let him tell you about...

First of all, thanks to Alma for giving me the chance to guest blog today. I hope you find me as entertaining as I know Alma to be. *grin* YOU COULD WIN A FREE BOOK! But first you should read this post. HA!

For those who don’t know me, my real name is Joshua Palmatier and I have committed trilogy under that name: “The Throne of Amenkor” trilogy, actually. I have also written a few short stories under that name. In addition, I’ve also become an editor (along with my friend Patricia Bray), with AFTER HOURS TALES FROM THE UR-BAR now on the shelf about a magical bar that travels through time, and another anthology, THE MODERN FAE’S GUIDE TO SURVIVING HUMANITY, coming sometime next year.

But today I’m here as Benjamin Tate, whose first book, WELL OF SORROWS, is coming out in paperback with an incredibly kick-ass cover:

The cover rocks. Feel free to pet your computer screen. I believe that the story inside also rocks, and that the cover captures the essence of that story perfectly. Which brings me to what I’d like to talk about today: the heart of the idea that drove me to write WELL OF SORROWS.
If you sit down and think about fantasy novels, one of the main reasons to read them—at least one of the main reason I read them and like to write them—is because they take you to someplace different. They take you to a different world, one that resembles our world to some extent, but is fundamentally different. And the reason I keep reading them is because I want to experience this world along with the characters. In essence, the fantasy novel is really a novel all about exploration, and the characters and story are really the guides. They already know the world and so we piggyback with them and get to see the world as they see it, get to live that world through them.

So I had this idea: what if the characters didn’t know what the world was like? In the standard fantasy, the characters already live there, so they’re used to the world and we’re simply living their everyday life through them. In other fantasies, another trick of the trade is used for this exploration: the fantasy character is transported to our world or someone from our world is transported to their world. So we experience this new world as they do, with their fresh eyes and virgin experiences. But what if the fantasy characters themselves have no idea what’s ahead? What if the land that they intend to travel has never been explored by someone from their culture before? Then everything is new—both for the reader and for the characters. This takes the “exploration” that’s involved in all fantasy worlds to the extreme, I thought. And what better way to set that up than to have our characters exploring a newly discovered continent.

What surprised me, when the idea struck, is that I haven’t read many fantasies with this kind of idea as part of the plot. The only one that came to mind was Juliet E. McKenna’s “Einarinn” series, where settlers once journeyed to the new continent and vanished. In the books, that original settlement is rediscovered (sort of a take on the disappearance of the Roanoke village in Virginia). But I couldn’t think of anything I’d read where an entirely new continent was open for exploration, like discovering and settling the Americas. And then it hit:


*cough cough* OK, it’s probably been done before, I just hadn’t found and read it yet. But the idea caught hold. I wanted to write a fantasy where the characters literally climb into their wagons and head out into unexplored lands. On the way, they find danger and see landscapes like they’ve never seen before. They run into new creatures—some deadly, some not—and encounter new races, people with cultures vastly different than their own . . . some deadly, some not. *grin* And ultimately, even though they have some small, subtle magic of their own already, they discover magic like they’ve never seen before, magic that the main character, Colin, a young boy dragged on this excursion against his will by his parents, must use to survive this harsh, beautiful new world . . . even though it may threaten his very humanity.

And that’s only the first half of the book. HA!

In any case, I thought the journey interesting. I’m hoping you find it the same. If you’d like to learn more about Joshua Palmatier’s or Benjamin Tate’s, writerly exploits, check out or And for a chance to win a copy of the book, leave a comment! Someone will be chosen at random and will be sent a copy of WELL OF SORROWS!

Thanks again, Alma, for letting me guest post today!