I am excited to welcome author Daniel Diehl to our guest table. He was kind enough to talk to us about the challenges of writing and even more so with fantasy. Mr. Diehl, the floor is all yours.
I want to thank Kisha for giving me this forum to talk about my work and, for those of you who are unfamiliar with my ongoing trilogy ‘The Merlin Chronicles’ to introduce you to a rip-snorting fantasy adventure series that has no purpose except to entertain you half to death. The series involves – obviously- Merlin the Magician who winds up in the 21st century where he and his reluctant helpers, archaeology students Jason Carpenter and Beverley McCullough, are forced to battle his ancient nemesis the magnificently wicked Morgana le Fay. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but suffice it to say that in the first two books of the trilogy – ‘Revelations: book one of The Merlin chronicles’ and ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: book two of The Merlin Chronicles’ there are adventures, danger, nefarious bad guys, magic and sorcery enough to keep you entertained for days on end. But Kesha asked me to talk a little bit about how I came to write fantasy and the challenges I faced in the process of compiling ‘The Merlin Chronicles’.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with my previous work I’m going to risk boring you and tell you a little about my writing work over the past 15 or 20 years. In previous lives I did other things but in 1996 I published my first book ‘Constructing Medieval Furniture’ (Stackpole Books). Yeah, I know, a book on building copies of 700 year old chests seems like an odd place to start a writing career but everybody starts someplace and this book must have worked because another one followed in 2000 and just this year my writing partner, Mark Donnelly, and I brought out a bigger and better 3rd medieval furniture book. So between 1996 and 2014 Mark and I have written 20 nonfiction books including a lot of fun history stuff like our biggest hit ‘Eat Thy Neighbour: a History of Cannibalism’ which is now out in 11 foreign translations. Together we also wrote more than 170 hours of documentary television for places like History Channel, History International, Biography, Discovery, National Geographic, and on, and on, and on.
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* This modern-day battle between ancient rivals made it impossible for me to put this book down. ~ Hippie Bookworm.com
* OMG what a book!! I have never wanted to slap a book character as much as i wanted to slap Morgana Le Fay – she is a brilliant baddie. I was gripped from the start and can't wait for MORE. This is bloody awesome!! ~Nicola @ OrchardBookClub.com
Merlin the Magician only exists in myth and legend – at least that’s what archaeology student Jason Carpenter thought until he discovered the mysterious orb that had housed history’s greatest wizard for 1,600 years.
Forced into an uneasy alliance, Jason and Merlin are sucked into a web of deceit, intrigue and murder that sends them on a chaotic race to outwit, and out run, Merlin’s ancient nemesis, the evil sorceress Morgana le Fay, her gang of drug smugglers and a 500 year-old Chinese necromancer. Tis a race against time to complete their quest before an army of dragons are unleashed on a vulnerable and unsuspecting 21st century world.
* If you like history, legend, myth and Merlin... you are going to love this book. It's magical, just like Merlin. ~ Lillian @ Ask David.com
* We made great strides in the first novel but the promise of the next is staggering. The storyline is wildly creative [and] Morgana le Fay is a brilliant baddie. ~ Rabidreaders.com
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But I always wanted to write a novel – something really fun – something people could sink their teeth into – or does that sound too much like Eat Thy Neighbour? Anyway, around 2005 I started work on ‘Revelations: book one of The Merlin Chronicles’ and talked to some of my publishers. Problem was, they all only published nonfiction. So I talked to other houses and they said “Oh, we can’t publish that, you’re a nonfiction writer.” Then after the crash of 2008 the worldwide marked for books plummeted by 40%, ebooks started eating into publishers’ profits and publishers were too scared to do much of anything. By the spring of 2012 I had decided to publish it myself, as an ebook, but then, suddenly, GMTA Publishing made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.
Along the way, somewhere between concept and completion of the first instalment in ‘The Merlin Chronicles’, I did run into some odd reactions. At one point someone said to me that Merlin is nothing but a rip-off of Gandalf. Wow. I gently pointed out that the Merlin legend has been around for a millennia-and-a-half but Tolkien only created Gandalf in 1936 while writing ‘The Hobbit’. This exchange did, however, get me to thinking about the wizard’s place in literature. Besides serving as a model for all wizards to follow, Merlin also set three important roles that most wizard characters take on. 1. Deus ex Machina – Literally translating as ‘god from the machine’ this was a device first used in Greek theater to clean up hopelessly confused story lines. When the playwright couldn’t figure out a solution to a messy plot he simply lowered a ‘god’ character on a rope to magically make everything better. It’s good to have magical powers. 2. The Trickster – People with magical powers seem to be incapable of telling the simple truth. The old gods all lied and included ‘catches’ in any promise they made both to each other and to humans. When Apollonius of Tyana asked for the ability to accurately foretell the future the god’s granted his request but arranged it so no one would believe him. In ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’, Shakespeare’s Puck delights in misdirecting and fooling humans. A close reading of my own Merlin makes it clear that telling the simple truth is far from simple for Merlin. 3. Mentor – Because they are almost universally old (if not ageless) wizards often serve as mentor to a story’s main character. Merlin mentored Arthur, Gandalf mentored Frodo and Dumbledore, et al, mentored Harry Potter. Now I have brought Merlin back to life with a new student who needs his advice, guidance and tough love at least as much as Arthur ever did. This is our hero, Jason Carpenter, and Jason’s experiences with Merlin comprise what is known as ‘the hero’s journey’.
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After being accidentally thrown into the modern world of the 21st century, the wizard, Merlin teamed up with archaeology student, Jason Carpenter to aid him in his battle against the evil sorcerous, Morgana le Fay.
In this second book of The Merlin Chronicles, Merlin braves the mysterious depths of Morgana's underground lair in search of the alien device with which she communicates with the Dragon Lords.
Meanwhile, Jason is forced to battle his way across war-torn Central Africa in search of a legendary gem that holds the key to closing the dragon gate forever. When Merlin is captured by Morgana's thugs, Jason and Beverley, must risk their lives and the future of mankind in a desperate effort to save their friend.
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According to the late, great mythologist Joseph Campbell there are only seven basic storylines and the most popular by far is known as The Hero’s Journey. ‘The Merlin Chronicles’ trilogy is a hero’s journey story. The hero and their story – whatever it may be - is as likely to be real as it is to be fictitious because all fiction is an extension and distortion of real-life. According to Campbell the hero’s journey has an identifiable, 12 step progression that goes like this: The Ordinary World; The Call to Adventure; Refusal of the Call; Meeting with the Mentor; Crossing the Threshold; Tests, Allies and Enemies; Approach; The Ordeal; The Reward; The Road Back; The Resurrection; Return with the Elixir. I can’t go into each of these steps here, but if you know fantasy and/or adventure literature you will recognize most of them.
In fiction every major character from Oliver Twist to Luke Skywalker to the world’s oldest hero, Gilgamesh, has passed through very similar steps to fulfill their destiny. Because fiction is drawn from reality you will find most of these same steps in famous real-life stories from the lives of the Buddha and Jesus of Nazareth to the great medieval knight William Marshal. As you read ‘The Merlin Chronicles’ trilogy keep an eye out for Jason’s passage from each step to the next on his own voyage of self-discovery and his quest to become the hero of his own story.
If you want to know more about ‘The Merlin Chronicles’ trilogy you can read the opening chapters of both ‘Revelations: book one of The Merlin Chronicles’ and ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: book two of ‘The Merlin chronicles’ at Merlin’s website at: themerlinchronicles.com/ Hope to see you there. Enjoy the read, Live the fantasy.