It’s my pleasure to welcome Noor Al-Shanti, the author of several self-published fantasy novels. She will talk about writing around similar events from different POVs, in celebration of her upcoming novel, Isaree of the Wild Isles. Which will be released on December 22, 2023. It’s already available for pre-order and you can also request an ARC!
Let’s go and see what this is all about, shall we?
Noor Al-Shanti loves to read and write epic fantasy but hates writing bios. She also loves languages and has enjoyed participating in this feature!
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Sometimes you write something and just get it out of your system and move on. But certain ideas or events are bigger than that and so sometimes you find yourself spending more time writing around them, turning them over in your mind, and exploring them from different perspectives. One such event that I’ve found myself exploring from different angles, over and over, is a Sorcerer invasion of a city.
It’s a huge event with so much storytelling potential: an army of soldiers who have magical powers instead of just regular weapons descending upon a city and invading it. That can have so many life-changing impacts on the people involved in so many different ways, so maybe that’s why I’ve written about such an event in a few of my stories.
In Children of the Dead City I explored the stories of characters who were very young when the Sorcerers came and invaded their city. The novel focused on their journeys as they grew older and tried to come to terms with what had happened and fight back against these Sorcerers. It focused more on the aftermath of this event rather than portraying it directly. The characters had to live under the control of the Sorcerers who now ruled with an iron fist:
“You know as well as we do that taking a breath of fresh air is dangerous in this land.”Hawk (From Children of the Dead City)
But of course, these children had some pretty haunting memories of what happened and how it affected them and sometimes these traumatic memories come to the surface. The same character, Hawk, tries to fight against being consumed by these memories when he gets sick.
He clutched at his chest, trying to find the pendant that hung there, to hold onto the reality of it, the reality of his age and the time in which he was living, but the shadows surrounded him on all sides and the fear grew in his heart and he was only a frightened little boy.From Ch 18 (Children of the Dead City)
It’s not just the memories that are traumatizing. Because the Sorcerers have tightened their control over every aspect of life in the city these children continue to suffer in different ways and the feeling of helplessness against the much more powerful Sorcerers plays a big role in their lives.
He let his anger grow; he fed it like you would feed wood to a flame. He gave it all his memories: all the times Sorcerers had laughed at him and his friends, spat in their faces; all the times that they had threatened them with swords; all the times he had had to watch Hawk and Raven being searched and beaten before his eyes by the Demons. He fed it the memories of his dead friends, those who had died slowly over the years, of hunger and despair, and those who had fallen ill and died of the terrible unhealthy air of the tunnels, and those who had died tonight, buried in the tunnels.
And because he could do nothing about it, Tern’s anger suffocated him. It made more tears.From Ch 26 (Children of the Dead City)
Tern was only a baby when the Sorcerers invaded and most of the main characters in the book weren’t even in their teens when it happened so they really had to slowly come to understand what that big, frightening event meant to them as they grew older. Many of them were orphaned during the events, so they didn’t have their parents to help them make sense of it either.
There was another generation that was greatly impacted by that event. The generation of people who were already adults or young adults before the disaster hit. In Children of the Dead City, I never really explored what it must have felt like to be there as an adult during the attack, struggling to survive and get your family to safety because as an adult you know exactly what’s going on and how bad the situation is. This was part of the inspiration for When the Traveler Stands Still.
Sedra wondered, then, if it would be her last sunset. It was a strangely unmoving thought in the midst of all this chaos. She had no time to worry about her own potential death when so many others were in danger.From Ch 8 (When the Traveler Stands Still)
Of course, just because they’re adults when their city is invaded by the Sorcerers, just because they know what’s going on, this doesn’t mean that they aren’t feeling helpless or that they always know what to do. In a way, it’s these desperate kinds of situations that call for the experience and wisdom of the Travelers who play such an important role in this novel.
“I don’t have time to think of all the things that might save us. If I had an answer I would act on it. All I can do now is save the people in front of me, protect them for as long as I can. You can do the same.”Traveler Nanoka (From When the Traveler Stands Still)
It is the Travelers who are able to help them keep going when they feel at their most vulnerable.
Nasl wondered, then, how he looked to others, looking in from the outside. He wondered if they realized that a gentle wind might break him.From Ch 11 (When the Traveler Stands Still)
Of course, such an event doesn’t just impact the people that are right in the middle of the battle. Those armies that invaded the Land of Sunsets in When the Traveler Stands Still caused a lot of destruction on their way to those big cities they wanted to take over. There were many villages in the Uplands that were in the way of this mobilizing army and they had to deal with all kinds of trouble just because of their geographical position.
I explored these effects by starting my upcoming novel Isaree of the Wild Isles in one of these villages. The villagers hear that the Sorcerer armies are coming through and that they are taking anyone with magical power – or anyone strong enough to be made to work the mines – by force. This is what sends Isaree and her friends on their journey away from home, through the wilderness, trying to find anywhere where they might be safe from capture.
These surroundings were familiar and reminiscent of home, but Isaree found it difficult to take comfort in that. The ever-present danger of the Sorcerers made her feel as though the mountainside she had once loved so much did not really belong to her anymore. She saw creeping and invisible Sorcerers in every shadow instead of feeling at home and confident in the wild like she used to. It was a strange, deep kind of loss that she did not know if she could share with anyone. She did not know how she would explain it.From Isaree of the Wild Isles
What will Isaree and her friends find on their journey, other than this loss of home?
If you liked what you read, please consider pre-ordering Noor Al-Shanti‘s upcoming novel, Isaree of the Wild Isles, or if you are interested in reviewing, request an ARC now!
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