Hey everyone. These are a few book reviews of THE SUN-CHILD, my adult urban fantasy. Check it out 🙂

REVIEW ONE

Very interesting novel!

I’m impressed that the author was able to create a new monster. A feat really, considering that nowadays we are rarely surprised. The monster (the sun child/ren) is one that is difficult to define. They are a type of anti-hero, being good and bad, who are recruited into their group to heal and kill on order. They are also capable of love and lust, as well as hatred and guilt.

The story is dark, the characters combative, and the language, in general, is aggressive. my type of reading 🙂

I’d definitively recommend this story for adults who like dark fantasy fiction.

Kelly Walsh

 

REVIEW TWO

The Sun Child tells the story of 22 year old Daniel Maze who belongs to a tribe of superhumans (for lack of a better word) known as the Sun Children with the ability to kill or heal (almost) at will. The Sun Children act as sentinels deciding if a human live needs to be saved or deserves death. While they mainly focus on healing, there is a catch: after every healing, a Sun Child must feed (a.k.a. kill) in order to restore his or her energy. The Sun Children have very strict rules that forbid them from killing innocents, and thus, there is no guilt accompanied by these killings. For the most part.
To make things complicated for the tribe, Sun Children are always on the lookout for Immortals, their enemy tribe. The Immortals are a tribe of super-humans immune to the Sun Children’s power gifted with unnatural super-strength who believe no one should have the power to decide who lives and who dies.
These two tribes exist all throughout the world, living in secret from humans. The story begins in modern-day Seattle where Daniel lives with his soulmate, Kismet, and the rest of his tribe in an underground city hidden from human view. Daniel soon begins to question his own kind and their motives when something unexpected happens and he soon finds himself on the run when Rafael, the narcissistic, power-hungry leader of his tribe learns that Daniel has the potential to become more powerful than he is. As Daniel is forced to leave behind the love of his life and everything he’s known, he’ll soon find himself discovering things about him and what he’s capable of (as well as forming an unlikely alliance with his enemies) that he would have never imagined were possible.

I loved this book because the plot was very unique, full of twists, and constant action. While I kept thinking I could predict the story there were little things that kept surprising me, and I am sure the author will continue the series with as much creativity and surprises. The story is short, concise and there is always something happening. While you don’t really get to know a lot of the characters very well, you do get to know Daniel quiet well and he’s a very interesting character. He´s more of an anti-hero – rebellious, volatile, angry, impulsive. Personally, I didn’t find him a very likeable character (which makes him that much more interesting), but he definitely is capable of growth. The idea of the two tribes (and everything in between) really add to the story, making you want to learn more about this secret world happening right underneath our noses.

It being a first book of course there are some things that can be improved – such as minor grammar errors, more character development for some of the secondary characters, and more detailed scenes (somethings things happen way too quickly), but I believe that this is something the author will develop more as the series continues.

Overall, a great read – quick, fun, and action-packed, I extremely recommend it to anyone interested in fantasy/fiction books!

Ana Cecilia Ulloa

 

 

REVIEW THREE

The Sun Child book is one of those books that is both enthralling and adequately paced. There is rich character developments, and a progressive and symbolic narrative. Daniel’s plight facing the dichotomy between good and evil, which at first hand can be seen as too similar of a motif in literature, is written in a riveting and compelling way. The author holds nothing back, and chapter after chapter my imagination was lost in her descriptions of the warring tribes that play as refreshing and original antagonists. Morality is both ambiguous and clear, evident yet hidden, and relative yet absolute.

A fully recommend read.

Niko SanchĂ­z

Characters – The Elements of Story

This is the second post in a series titled The Elements of Story. In the first post I described WorldBuilding, which is what fleshes out the setting of a story and makes it feel real. In this second post I will be talking about the importance of having legitimately real, complex characters, and how to build a character arc.

Character_PeekingPlaye

Characters are what really grab an audience. A story might be good because the plot is fast-paced and engaging, because it has deep meaning, or because we can relate to it. But what really captivates are the characters that we learn to love, admire, or hate. More than anything, characters are what will keep readers coming back to the same book over and over again, or what will impel readers to read the second installment of the saga, or what makes us remember a story long after we have put the book down.

In order for the story to be good, the characters must feel real. They can’t be wooden copies of a stereotype. They must be fleshed out, have motivations and feelings and agendas. For this to be so, a writer must be a constant studier of humanity. He or she must observe the people that surround him on a day to day life and try to understand them, or think about what it must be like to walk in their shoes. The more familiar we are to the human condition, the better writers we will be.

People sometimes say that the main character must be likable. It’s important not to confuse this with having the MC be a hero, or a goody-goody. You can have a MC that is an antagonist or an anti-hero, but he must have something that appeals to the audience and makes them like them. Humor, a dark and troubled past, pure intentions but complicated situations, etc. If the reader cannot relate to the MC, it’s more than likely he will not end up relating to the rest of the story. Hence, likeability is important, but not to be confused with morality. We can have an entirely amoral and likeable MC, if it’s done well.

It’s also good if characters are complex. If they do or say unexpected things, if there’s more under the surface than what the reader initially expects. They can even be contradictory, and say one thing and do another. Human beings are like this in real life, so why not in story?

Now, for the character arc.

Characters must begin at one place in their life at the beginning of the story and end up at another one by the ending. They must grow and change (either for better or for worse) due to the choices they have made that have led to the circumstances that affect their life. A character can’t be flat, or one-lined. This is boring. The MC of my debut Dark Fantasy novel, Daniel, starts off as being a regular 22 year old with an attitude and ends up hardened by the end of the novel, after having suffered.

We aren’t immune to things that happen to us in our life. Characters, also, aren’t immune to things that happen to them in the story. They, too, must act, react, and change. Just as we do.

There are the basic fundamentals of character building in the story. The third post in The Elements of Story series will be Pacing. How do we write a story in a way that keeps the readers engaged and entertained from the beginning of the page up to the very end?

Until then!

Dark Fantasy

Believe it or not, I am a huge fan of traditional fantasy. I love Tolkien, I love George McDonald, I am in love with Andrew Lang’s Fairy Tale books. I enjoy the archetypes of traditional fantasy: The quest, the hero, the sword, the wizard, the dragon, etc. etc. All of these archetypes strike me as highly spiritual, and even symbolic of deeper inner truths.

gandalf

My first book was an epic fantasy. I started writing it when I was 12 and finished when I was 16. It was totally my practice book, but when I reread that first draft I can’t help but smile when I see how much of it was inspired by these archetypes, and how much of it is valid, even though technically it may not be the best writing. It was, after all, my first book, and I was basically a child.

I actually think about re-writing that first book sometimes.

Then I turned 17, and things got pretty dark. I started reading Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, and really that was it for me. I loved it. I loved the ambiguous morality of the vampire, I loved that some of them relished in their darkness, and others hated themselves for what they were. I loved the term the anti-hero, Lestat, of the chronicles used to describe the world: The Savage Garden, where things like right and wrong are only human conceptions and all that matters is what’s beautiful. That is, aesthetic values above all.

It opened up a whole new world for me, and for some odd reason I identified with it all. I identified with the suffering, I identified with the darkness, and the doubt, and even the evil. Not because I, myself, am evil, but because I recognize we all have darkness within us, whether we would like to admit it or not.

This type of fantasy is called Dark Fantasy. It is the type of fiction that embraces the truth about our own flaws. The unredeemable qualities of the human being are superimposed upon the creatures exposed in these fantastical books, and a medium is therefore opened to psychologically explore these symbols, through fiction.

I loved this type of fantasy so much that my adult urban fantasy book, The Sun Child, was totally inspired by it.

Dark Fantasy is certainly lighter than horror, in the sense that there still usually exists a battle between good and evil forces, when in horror it can just be plain evil. I invite you to explore this type of Fantasy, see whether or not it’s something you might like. It does deal with the shadow aspect of our being, but I believe it’s good to know ourselves, to explore our different facets, and what better way to exercise the imagination than through fiction.

Cheers!

How I got the idea for The Sun Child

The inspiration for my Dark/Urban Fantasy novel The Sun Child came from Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. I was fascinated with her vampires, with how open and accepting of their darkness some of them were and how others were completely obsessed with feeling guilty over what they had become.

I was also intrigued by the notion of morality in a creature that could take other people’s lives so easily, but I didn’t want to write about vampires. It was 2007 and Twilight was in full bloom, and I wasn’t interested in writing in the vein (pun intended) of this popular vampire trend, even though I love vampires.

So I decided to create an altogether different creature, and since vampires were the children of the night, I thought why not reverse this and make my creature a Child of the Sun. And why not instead of using fangs to kill they use a mysterious power that pours out of their eyes through a golden sun-like glow.

And what if–and here is where the morality part comes in–my creature could not only kill humans at will, but also heal them? And what if these two things were closely interconnected?..

So that was how the idea for The Sun Child came about. Of course the romance and the heartbreak and the power struggles and the friendship, all that came later on, making the story stand out on its own. But the inspiration? It’s all Rice.

How I get inspired to write

A famous writer (I can’t think of his name right now) once said that he was always prepared for inspiration to strike, and that it always strikes at 9:00am in the morning.

When it comes to writing, I believe in rhythm. It’s important to write everyday, and equally important is to write at the same time, and preferably early in the morning, when our minds are fresh. This way it becomes a habit. I also like to write for at least one hour.

It’s also good to think about your story, let your mind wander, go over possibilities and dialogues and plot in your head. And then do something else, let your mind rest. Our subconscious minds are very powerful, and usually when we think about something and then give it a rest, the subconscious mind goes on working on it and coming up with amazing plot twists and the like.

Advice for Aspiring Writers

I have some advice for aspiring writers and any one who will take it:
1. Don’t be arrogant. It’s easy to believe your book or manuscript or idea is the best thing in the world, but most likely, it’s not. Extremely few first drafts are even remotely ready to be published. It’s okay. Give yourself time to write and make mistakes, but also give yourself time to edit and review and get opinions from readers and correct those mistakes. In order to get a good product, you have to work on it. Pride just gets in the way.
2. Believe in yourself. There is only one person who can tell the story you have in your head, and that is you.
3. Set deadlines. It’s good to have some sort of structure.
4. Hire a copyeditor. It is not so expensive, and a thorough copyedit will make your book much more credible.
5. Write for at least an hour a day, every day. Be consistent.
6. Before publishing/querying, research as much as you can on how to market and promote your book.
7. Have fun! Writing is an art form, and writers are artists, but it doesn’t mean we should be all serious about it. This is about story, something that delights our hearts and that we all love. It’s fun!

 

The best thing about being a Writer

That feeling that you get when everything in your story just clicks together like pieces on a puzzle, or the characters fleshing out and feeling as real as people in your day to day life, or crying when you’re writing because you’re touched at your own words, or laughing, too, and thinking this must have come from some place else, this must have been given to one by the muses, and the writer is just the channel. Transforming thoughts into words and words into story, and story into personal meaning for every reader… That’s the best thing about being a writer.

 

How I deal with Writer’s Block

One falls out of rhythm sometimes, but I try to regain it by sitting down and honestly, sometimes even physically and mentally battling the resistance inside me, and just typing the words out.

One. By. One.

Once you get into the habit of writing every day at the same time for at least an hour, though, writer’s block feels like much less of a threat. It’s when we fall off the wagon that the danger appears.

 

What is Dark Fantasy?

Dark Fantasy deals with the shadow aspect of our humanity through Story. It is lighter than horror in the sense that there may not be much gore or violence, but it’s not entirely horror-free as there are some scenes involving all this.

The themes of Dark Fantasy are also related to the darker aspects of our psyche. Issues like life and death, evil, power, destruction, and killing are famous in this genre, along with all the psychological and emotional baggage that this entails towards the characters.

Morality is experimented with, as well as personal ethics. All of this, of course, set in some sort of fantastical narrative. It’s an interesting underground genre that is still largely unexplored, but nevertheless a hidden gem.

Worldbuilding

When you’re writing fiction—whether it be urban, epic, fantasy, paranormal, you name it—one of the most important things to bear in mind during the construction of your story is worldbuilding. But what exactly is worldbuilding, and why is it so important?

worldbuilding

Worlbuilding is the action of slowly unveiling your world to your readers through a series of descriptions, dialogue, and narrative cues, in a compelling and engaging way.

It’s necessary for the audience to establish an emotional connection to the characters and the story.

Great worldbuilding should captivate you from the start, and it should be subtle. If it’s first person, the narrative should feel natural. Like you’re really inside the protagonist’s mind.

The protagonist wouldn’t be going over some long-winded description about the world that surrounds him just to introduce it all to the reader and then get on with the plot (this is info-dumping), unless he’s like Anne Rice’s vampires that are obsessed with finding beauty in everything, even evil, or he can play with the rules and pull off something different like Elliot from the amazing debut TV show Mr. Robot did.

But generally, this feels unnatural.

The protagonist would most likely be invested in what’s going on around him, in his own day-to-day life. The story and plot should unravel organically, and the world should open itself up to the reader as the story goes on and we get to know more about the world through the character’s eyes. The trick here is to have an internally consistent world. It should be fleshed out, with its own rules as to how things work.

This is what I like to call Ideological Consistency.

consistency

An inner coherence should run through the world, spinning everything together into a reality that makes sense. When you’re clear, as an author, as to how the world that you have created works, then everything that happens within it will be consistent with its general rules of reality.

This is what makes a world real, on the risk of sounding redundant. It’s what feeds the audience’s suspension of disbelief. An ideologically consistent world is like a Shakespearean Sonnet, it must have fourteen lines, but you can play with the words written within those fourteen lines.

Of course there are other elements that a good story should always have, such as Voice, Pacing, Engaging Characters, and Meaning. Some post-modern writers may disagree with me on that last one… but everything should have meaning, right?

Perhaps I’m simply romantic.

I will be writing about Voice, Pacing and the other elements of story in future posts.