The Iron Ring
Part 1 of the Saga of the Redeemed
by Auston Habershaw
Tyvian Reldamar—criminal mastermind, rogue mage, and smuggler of sorcerous goods—has just been betrayed by his longtime partner and left for dead in a freezing river. To add insult to injury, his mysterious rescuer took it upon himself to affix Tyvian with an iron ring that prevents the wearer from any evildoing.
Revenge just got complicated.
On his quest to get even, Tyvian navigates dark international conspiracies, dodges midnight assassins, and uncovers the plans of the ruthless warlord Banric Sahand—all while running from a Mage-Defender determined to lock him up. Tyvian will need to use every dirty trick in the book to avoid a painful and ignominious end, even as he discovers that sometimes even the world’s most devious man needs a shoulder to lean on.
What part of the writing process is the easiest/hardest for you?
I generally have an easy time getting the big ideas down—I know what I want the book to be about, I know what characters I want to have, and so on and so forth. Accordingly, the beginning of the book is always the easiest for me and, by extension, the whole first draft tends to flow right along. What is hard is getting the ending to fit. My characters have this annoying habit of not doing what I want them to when I want them to do it, and so they don’t always end up where I need them to be for everything to come together at the end. A lot of my revision is focused on getting things into line.
Who is your favorite character (that you’ve written)?
Tyvian Reldamar, the main character in the Saga of the Redeemed, is by far my favorite character I’ve ever created. He’s been kicking around in my head since high school and he’s become a little voice at the back of my head I always hear. I always know what Tyvian would say to somebody (and it’s almost always cutting and sarcastic). He’s a darker and more dashing alter-ego of myself, in some ways. Like, if I were a hyper-competent manipulative jerk instead of a down-to-earth, obsessively honest, friendly person, I’d be Tyvian. There are times I wish I could just unleash Tyvian on people—just open up that locked door at the back of my mind and just let him run amok. Can’t do it, though. The life of a criminal mastermind is exhausting.
Are any of the characters inspired by someone in real life?
Well, not exactly, but sort of. The characters in my novel tend to be funhouse mirror versions of some people I know. They aren’t really like them, but I’ve taken certain aspects of their personality and amplified them. My wife, for instance, is the inspiration for Myreon (my wife is a dedicated civil servant with a strong sense of right and wrong) but amplified until she is something quite unlike my wife. Tyvian’s mother, Lyrelle (who has a bigger role in the rest of the series) is based a bit off my own mother: an intelligent, stylish, formidable woman of means. Lyrelle, however, is far more manipulative and far less honest than my mother has ever been.
I feel like I ought to pause here and speak directly to my mom: Mom, you are not Lyrelle. Tyvian is not me. I don’t hate you or mistrust you at all. It’s just a book. They are just characters.
Man, now that I’m thinking about it, this question is going to get me in trouble. I can hear the phone call now. Ah, well…
Do you listen to music while you write (if so, do you have a playlist I can share?), or do you prefer quiet?
I need silence to work—any music or really any substantive noise at all makes it very hard for me to hear what I’m writing (and I do “hear” it). That said, I often listen to music before or after I write that helps inspire me for the mood I’m trying to set in a scene. I don’t exactly have a playlist, though. I listen to a lot of movie soundtracks and a lot of classic rock. For the record, in any scene where Hool is present, you need to imagine the Hall and Oates song “Maneater.” Seriously, I think I hum it every time I think of her.
Describe your book in a tweet (140 characters or less).
Ooo! Ooo! I can do this! Okay:
A criminal mastermind seeks revenge, but a cursed ring won’t let him misbehave. How does one get revenge without misbehavior? Find out!
How’s that? I gotta say, brevity isn’t really my thing.
Does writing come naturally to you, or did you have to work harder in order to get that story in your head down on paper?
I paradoxically find novels much easier to write than short stories. A novel is a journey, and once I have an idea of where I want to go, I just sit down and write. It takes a while, sure, but the whole process seems second nature to me. Short stories, while I do write them, are harder to get right since there’s so much less to fiddle with. I have to have the whole thing nailed down before I even start or I very quickly get stuck and I can’t figure out how to fix it save by starting over entirely.
If you could have a casual, 30-minute conversation by the fireplace with any author, living or dead, who would you choose, and what would you ask?
I know this might sound a bit cliché, but I’d love to talk with JRR Tolkien. Not about elves, though, or about Middle Earth. I’d talk to the man about languages. I’d want to ask him about what role he feels the sound and taste of a language plays in how people behave and understand themselves. I’d ask him about Beowulf, too, and bring him Seamus Heany’s verse translation, just to see what he thinks of it. That would be really neat.
What event or accomplishment would you consider to be the highlight of your career thus far?
Well, aside from scoring a book deal—which has been a goal of mine since I’ve been a kid—the biggest professional accomplishment I’ve had to date is winning the Writers of the Future Contest this past year (I’ll be receiving the award in April). If you haven’t heard of it, it’s an international short story competition for science fiction and fantasy authors who are just starting out. It’s judged by real luminaries in the field of speculative fiction, too—folks like Jerry Pournelle, Larry Niven, Brian Herbert, Nnedi Okorafor, Brandon Sanderson, and on and on and on. That folks like that took a look at my work and decided it was worthy of an award from among who knows how many submissions means an awful lot to me. It makes me feel like I’m not crazy and this isn’t some kind of big fluke—it makes me feel like I might actually have a shot of doing really well as a fantasy author.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received in your life?
This advice is going to sound crazy, but it really has been the greatest advice I’ve ever gotten. After I graduated college, my Dad came up to me and said “Auston, whatever you do, don’t worry about money. There’s always money out there. Do what you love, and worry about the money second.”
I know: crazy, right? Who can’t worry about money? But, dammit, the man was right. I know so many people who went the easy route—got a lucrative job, made the money, and are either miserable, frustrated, or a combination of the two. Me, I’ve been broke for most of my life, but I’ve made ends meet by working whatever job came along and invested my energy, my mind, and my soul into what I love. Sure, I’m not a rich man (and likely won’t ever be), but I’m a happy one. That is far, far more important to me than making an easy buck.
Of course, part of that advice also needs to be taken in context: I was a kid who was graduating from a good college with limited debt and with a solid work ethic and a good head on my shoulders. My parents gave me those things—a huge gift—and the advice might not have worked otherwise. It worked for me, though.
- Coffee or tea?: Tea, assuming I drink either. I’m really more of a water or orange juice kinda guy.
- Paper book or ebook?: I love paper books for the feel and the ease of reference, but I do have an e-reader and use it often. It’s just so convenient!
- Summer or winter? Summer all the way. Winters up here in New England are a difficult beast.
- Werewolves or vampires? I guess I’ll go with vampires, assuming they’re the kind that live in dark castles and brood underneath dark capes and not the kind that go to nightclubs in latex.
- Morning person or night owl? I have two small children, and so my days begin at 6am and end at 10pm no matter what I think about it. That said, I’ve always been a bit more of a morning person. Honestly, I’m a mid-afternoon person.
- Pantser or plotter? A little of both. I hate exhaustive outlines, but I do need something to guide me. I usually set up a loose outline and then see where it takes me.
- Pepsi or Coke? Neither! Root beer for me, please!
- Dogs or cats? I like both, but dogs are my one true love. I always say this: cats are like having a roommate, dogs are like having a kid. I prefer my kids to any roommates I’ve ever had, no matter how much trouble they cause.
- Drink: Root beer or lemonade. I don’t actually drink alcohol.
- Food: A nice, juicy hamburger with lettuce, onion, mustard, mayo, and ketchup. Done medium rare on a seedless bun.
- Movie: Man, I can’t decide that! Let’s go with Casablanca, The Shawshank Redemption, and Willow.
- TV show: Star Trek: Deep Space 9
- Book (or genre): Fantasy, obviously.
- Late night snack: Anything made of chocolate.
- Writing tools: Anything with a real keyboard and a word processor.
- Sport: Epee, specifically.
- Vacation destination: Somewhere with a decent beach and good surf.
- Music: AC/DC, the complete works.
- Way to relax: A hammock in the sun with a cool breeze and a good book.
About the Author:
Auston Habershaw is a science fiction and fantasy writer and author of The Saga of the Redeemed (part one to be released by Harper Voyager in February 2015). You can find links to his stuff through Amazon or Goodreads (see the links to your right!). He got second place in the Writers of the Future Contest in the first quarter of 2014 (Volume 31), so he presumably has some idea of what he’s doing (though not the *best* idea, obviously). He’s also an English professor, a pretty good storyteller, and a big time geek. This blog is for him to discuss and explore some of the crazy ideas that are usually kicking around in his head, throw out some of his homemade RPGs for people to use or see, advertise his budding writing career, and see just what this whole ‘blog’ thing is about. Enjoy!
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