The Cracked Altar by Timothy J. R. Rains w/ Interview

Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Title: The Cracked Altar
Author: Timothy J. R. Rains
Genre: YA Dark Fantasy
Publisher: Creativia
Release Date: Nov 19 2018
Edition ~ 3rd Edition/Format ~ eBook & Print

A missing princess. A city under siege. A compendium of the blackest sorcery.

The Grand Mage of Caragol is the most dangerous man in the realm, so when Kerstin steals his spellbook right out of his tower, she lights up a firestorm of trouble.

An army sweeps through the city of Klomm, but countless lives are a petty sum for such great power. With the spellbook, Kerstin can deal with the villainous Count Olgris, and the unspeakable horrors conjured by the Grand Mage.

But she is dancing on a spider's thread.

Meanwhile on the other side of the kingdom, fifteen-year-old Hinkle walks a tightrope of her own, spinning a web of dangerous lies around her new master, Sir Gilkrist of Lothellae.

When Sir Gilkrist’s quest brings them to Klomm, she discovers the secrets she’s been hiding are darker than she ever imagined. A diabolical scheme threatens to engulf the world in shadow and blood - and it has everything to do with her Aunt Kerstin.

But can Sir Gilkrist help her... or will he devise a dark purpose of his own?

Book Links

Congratulations on your book release, The Cracked Altar.  How did you select the names of your characters?
Thanks very much.
I made a lot of names up myself, such as Hinkle, Zhildok, Count Olgris… Other names, like Sir Gilkrist, Kerstin, and many of the lesser characters I chose from baby name sites—usually based on whether the meaning of those names were appropriate to for that character, and whether I liked the name. There are also three knights in the story named after Arch-bishops of Canterbury. You might say it’s a bit of an Anglican Easter-egg.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters that seem real to life?
One of the most exciting parts about writing a novel is bringing characters to life and, in a sense, getting to know them. The thing is though, that if you do this right, you can’t just do whatever you want with your story; you can only have your heroine do or say something that is true to who they are. That’s when your story essentially writes itself.
When you have a flamboyant character or a character with a strong personality, it’s easier to stay true to them. In The Cracked Altar, Kerstin was the easiest character to write simply because she is so distinct. I could hear her voice very clearly. It’s the more mundane personalities that I find challenging. Their traits are subtler. They whisper rather than shout; it takes more concentration to stay within the current of their personality.

What kind of research went into writing The Cracked Altar?
I actually did a massive amount of research, covering most aspects of society in the middle ages. I don’t think there is a single paragraph where some sort of research isn’t involved. That said, it is a fantasy novel, so while history has had a large influence on the world building, it deviates pretty frequently from an authentic feudal-age society. My portrayal of medieval life is heavily romanticized.

Have you collaborated with another author? If Yes Who? If No is there an author you would love to collaborate with? If so who and why?
No, I haven’t. But if I could choose any author from among the living to sit down and write a book with, it would be Garth Nix. I was a big fan of Sabriel and The Abhornson Chronicles. He put together a fantastic world with unique magic and intriguing characters. And he’s got a wealth of experience in the industry. I think he would be a great guy to work with. He seems like he’s got a lot of tact. I could learn a lot from him about writing and being an author.

In all of your books, what was your hardest scene to write? If given the opportunity to do it all over again, would you change anything in your books?
I find it difficult writing scenes that are really sexual, that involve rape or some sort of sadistic violence, or scenes that are really dark in a supernatural sense. It isn’t that it’s hard to come up with or that I find it upsetting to imagine, I simply think it is very important to get those scenes just right. I feel a big responsibility to treat that sort of material carefully and make sure that even when I’m allowing the story take an extreme direction, it’s done tastefully.
For instance, there is a scene in the novel I’m currently working on (a norse fantasy based on the saga of Hervor and Heidrik) where the King of Sweden—who really hates Hervor—has managed to capture her, and is about to abuse her in a pretty demented way. This was a tricky scene to write because I didn’t want to spill over into excess—that’s just bad storytelling—but I didn’t want to pull too many punches. Scenes like that need to be written exactly the way they should be written, because they’re so delicate. But the way is narrow and treacherous, and it’s easy to slide off the trail to the right or to the left. That’s when I’m going too far, or not far enough. It’s walking the razor’s edge so to speak. It’s a big concern for me and I take the responsibility very seriously.

How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?
I may be interpreting this question incorrectly, but when I hear the words ‘making demands on the reader,’ I think of how my mom told me when I was a kid that the first little bit of a book is usually boring and that I just need to stick with it until it picks up and gets good.
I try to avoid making that kind of demand.
A reader should never have to knuckle down and slog through any part of a novel; the story should be laced with tension from the very first line and lure them onto a rollercoaster of suspense and relief. It should be effortless to read—in fact they shouldn’t be reading at all, they should be watching a movie in their mind.
That’s where the balance comes in. What details do I need to give in order to allow another person to experience this scene with vivid colour and motion? But without slowing down the pace of the story; without breaking the spell of their captivation and letting them realize that they are reading a book? That requires empathy, introspection, and a lot of re-reading. It’s what makes writing art.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I do read my reviews. Nothing puts a smile on my face like a good review where a reader really connected with my characters and felt transported to another world, and got to experience a story that I brought to life. That makes my day.
Writing isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s a lonely, frustrating vocation, fraught with endless rejection and disappointment, constantly overshadowed by the heavy mantle of self-doubt. A good review is a ray of warm light piecing into the cold underworld that is a writer’s existence. Those words of encouragement help me to press onward, reminding me that I have not toiled in vain, but that someone somewhere out there has found value in my work.
Bad reviews are also important.
Sometimes a reader just didn’t like the story, and that’s okay. But sometimes bad reviews point out where I have failed. I look at that as an opportunity to improve. I want each book I write to be better than the last. It takes a critical eye to weed out which bad reviews have value and which ones don’t, but that’s part of being a professional: accepting bad reviews and using them to your advantage.

What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
There’s a fine line between arrogance and confidence, and while every writer needs the latter to be able to persevere toward success, I sometimes suffer from a swollen head. I think that in many respects that comes from compensating for a lack of confidence and a myriad of insecurities. But pride—even a façade of pride—gets in the way of learning. And the reality is that I have a lot to learn, not just in writing, but in every aspect of life. I would like to set my pride aside and gain confident humility, and be one step closer to becoming a rightly ordered person.

Do you have any interesting quirks or writing rituals?
None of this is very interesting or unusual to me, but I am a very routine based person. Everyday I wake up at 4:30am, take an ice-cold shower, and say the daily office before putting in a solid three hours of writing. Any author work (interviews, review requests, emails, literary community favours, etc.) gets done in the evening after my daughter is in bed—assuming my wife is working the nightshift.
She will tell you I often seem preoccupied and not really with it. I am a hopeless daydreamer—it would be really bad if I ever got a motorcycle.
Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with sentences or paragraphs scrolling before my mind’s eye. It can be somewhat painful to try to hold onto those thoughts, like I’m squeezing my fist tight with incredible force, and I need to write them down to release them. Therefore, I keep a notepad on my bedside table; in the inside-breast-pocked of my leather jacket; and in my car, tucked between the driver’s seat and the centre console… a bit of advice from F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Any last thoughts for readers?
Be kind to one another.

Bewitched at a young age by all things to do with swords and magic, Canadian fantasy author Timothy J. R. Rains spent his youth slaughtering Minotaurs in the misty woods of rural Nova Scotia.

He studied cartography at the Centre of Geographic Sciences and has a degree in theology from Briercrest College. When he isn’t caught up in another dimension, he’s usually out in the middle of some cold river with a cigar in his teeth and a fishing rod in his hands. He lives with his wife and daughter in Riverview, New Brunswick.

Author Links
Amazon Author Page
Facebook Page 
Twitter  @TimothyJRRains


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I would love to hear your thoughts. :) HAPPY READING !!!!