Without further ado, then, here's Sue Bolich, Mistress of the Elements...
Mistress of the Elements... That's Me!
Heh. I wish. This old country girl lives in the midst of awesome nature, but I will never be mistress of it...though I sure am trying my best to write about those who are and figure out how you really do control Wind and Water and Fire! How I wish I could bend fire to my will like my Firedancer, Jetta, or spin wind between my hands like my Windrider, Sheshan, or make water dance to my tune like my untrained Seaborn girl, Nes. Being the mere writer, I have to imagine it; they get all the fun!
People ask me where the inspiration for the Masters of the Elements series comes from. I grew up on a working farm and I live on 20 acres with two horses, a huge dog, and five cats, so to me nature is very close and personal. I think something inside would just curl up and wither if I could not hear the wind moaning around the house on a wild night or step out and admire the stars, or listen to the voices of rain dripping from the rooftop. And even when she is most annoying, Nature inspires me. My EPIC-award finalist novel Firedancer was born of my endless, ongoing battle with the knapweed in my horse pasture, which crops up again and again wherever I thought I had finally eradicated it. Old Man Fire is like that--constantly sneaking up from below to challenge the authority of the Dancers whose job it is to keep it from destroying the whole world.
Anyone who reads my work is usually struck by the way nature appears on the page in vivid, living detail, another character in itself, as it were. I have spent a lot of time rambling in the outdoors, from the high-up wilderness areas of the Cascade Mountains to volksmarching in Germany, admiring little fields and well-civilized pastures sprinkled amid tiny towns that haven't changed much in hundreds of years. I love that continuity, that sense of age and solidity that as these things have been, so they will be going forward. In our highly mobile and transitory society, places have become less precious--those places we lived and loved and sometimes leave behind. Yet we used to defend them with everything we have, because they were the center of our lives, our communities, our families.
Something of that is what drives these books, for the people of my world know how precious is a world forever at risk from something vast and largely uncontrollable, that could sweep everything they love from existence tomorrow. They stand together to fight for their homes, and to me that is the basis of all good fantasy, indeed, all good heroic stories. Whenever ordinary people discover the spark within themselves and push beyond what they think was possible to meet a challenge, it makes for good conflict and good reading. I just have made the villains bigger and way different (and more indifferent to their problems) than you usually find. No evil overlords here, just wild, powerful, elemental creatures with motivations of their own that don't make a lot of sense to the humans standing in their path. Just like Nature herself, in every gust of wind bending the trees. Which one will snap? Which one will stand?
I myself can't master the elements, but I sure am having fun writing about those who can. Oh, I want to be able to call Wind to cool my cheek on a hot day! But, in the interim until I learn how, I'll just have to enlist Sheshan to do it for me...
Firedancer is a finalist for the 2013 EPIC award for Fantasy. You can read the first five chapters for free at my website: http://www.sabolichbooks.com/Firedancer1-5.pdf. You can also buy it and its sequel, Windrider, in ebook or print anywhere books are sold.