Wednesday, August 21, 2013

C.G. Ayling, Beltamar's War, plus #giveaway

AUTHOR: C.G.Ayling
BOOK TITLE: Beltamar’s War
GENRE: Epic Fantasy
GIVEAWAY: An autographed copy of the Paperback version of the novel sent directly to anywhere within the USA and Canada.  As a way to advertise Twitter, I'll also offer to write a customized Twitter Biography for one commenter. That person will need to provide me with a little information about themselves and the name of their Twitter account in order to allow me to "get to know them".  Be sure to leave contact information in your comment to be considered for giveaways.

Please tell us about yourself.
Perhaps the most important thing about me, is that I’m not who I seem to be.  You see, C.G.Ayling is long since deceased – while I’m obviously alive.  I chose to write under a pseudonym for many reasons, some of which are detailed on my blog, but one of which I is not, and which I’ve never before mentioned.  I am a contrary soul – I have a natural tendency to never accept anything at first glance, or at face value. While reading an article by an influential journalist, whose name is long forgotten, I came across a line that stated something like this, “There is never any good reason to write under a pseudonym.”  Never, is an absolute and I don’t subscribe to absolutes. Indeed, I immediately found myself thinking of “good” reasons to write under a pseudonym. The first, and most powerful, was to cast honor on someone other than myself.  Bang, decision made. I knew exactly the person I’d like to honor – my Godfather, Charles Gilbert Ayling, of whom you can read more if you so choose.  Now, in revealing this about myself, you might have learnt something else about me – this might be that I’m long winded, or downright deceptive in a truthful way – after all, look at the length of this paragraph and then realize that I’ve actually told you almost nothing about myself…

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I’m very much a part-time writer. Would I like to be a full-time writer? I don’t know that I would like to be a full-time anything – other than available to my family should they ever need me, which most don’t since they’re all pretty independent souls!  Finding time to write isn’t as much a problem as finding the energy – I have a more than full time job and I really need my sleep. Add onto that home maintenance, week-long 24 hour duty cycles every few weeks, and my energy levels are pretty much done for.

When and why did you begin writing?
For the first twenty years of my career I was a full-time computer programmer. For the next ten I designed and configured computer networks, and watched my life-satisfaction levels erode.  I eventually concluded I needed a creative outlet to replace programming.

What inspired you to write your first book?
Since my dissatisfaction with the world in which we reside has continued to increase with each passing year (and I’ve now seen over fifty of those nasty little things), I decided to write about a better world, philosophically speaking.  Obviously, my contrary nature demanded I make this better world seem like a terrible place – thus the birth of Malmaxa, literally my world.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?
I allow snippets of thought to flow from my mind, through my heart, and into my computer keyboard, which magically transforms them into little things call “tweets”, which in turn are the components of a massive social network called Twitter.

What are your thoughts about promotion?
Honestly, I hate promotion.  Every time I think about posting a self-serving tweet guilt wracks me.  Pretty much the only time I can make myself do so is when a subject comes up in my timeline that prompts a memory about Malmaxa.  Fortunately, that happens a lot as Malmaxa is really a philosophical work more than a Fantasy – see what I mean about contrary?

Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?
Sometimes I wish I had writer’s block. I almost never find myself at a loss for words, or without multiple ideas to utilize in my writing.  That said, I often find my perceptions of social injustice render me unable to write – perhaps distress is a catalyst for some, I fear for me it may be the opposite.  I generally overcome these depressing episodes with sops to my conscience, in the form of tweets.

What are your current projects?
I’m currently working on an apocalyptic thriller titled “Blind Sight”.  Naturally it has elements of the things that motivate me (aka philosophy) in the story, this time carefully disguised as fiction which I hope will be thrilling.

What do you plan for the future?
Continuing my magnum-opus, Malmaxa. It is a very long story, and very far from complete – but then again, humanity is all of those things as well.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?
I have a blog bearing the easy name of – on which you can find random thoughts, samples of my work and links to where you can purchase my novels.
I am active on Twitter, where you can find me as @CGAyling – Twitter is the place to get my attention.
I have a Facebook author page, but I adamantly refuse to buy into that medium and don’t interact on it at all – however it does carry a rather nice feed of my tweets, with all the extraneous conversations removed.
What genre do you write in and why?
Beltamar’s War, the first novel in the series Malmaxa, is categorized as Epic Fantasy – but by now, I’m confident you realize my choice of that category is more complex than at first meets the eye.  What fictional novel is not Fantasy?  Fictional works are all from the thoughts and dreams, and therefore the fantasies, of their authors.  Is Malmaxa really “fantasy” as the current definition of that genre indicates? What you’re going to find is a story about character, and a story about a world utterly different from that within which we dwell.  Malmaxa is a world where many of the things we hold in high esteem don’t even exist.  Malmaxa is world devoid of the concepts that have so badly damaged humanity – in short you’re going to find a world in which the things that are missing are as telling as the things that are present.  I know I should never dissuade readers from reading, but if you’re looking for fireballs, princes, goblins, and trolls, neatly set on a stage where monstrous evil fights purest good – then look elsewhere, you’re not going to find a single one of those things in Malmaxa. 

Do you outline before you write?  If not, what’s your initial process?
This is a very difficult question as the true answer is both yes, and no.  Long before I begin working on the actual writing, I literally dream the story – if the dream is compelling enough then I record elements about it on a voice recorder.  If the voice recorder ends up holding enough information about the storyline when it comes time to clear space so I can record more ramblings, then I transcribe the elements into my computer.  That is the “yes” part of the answer.  The “no” part is that when I actually start writing I let the storyline and the characters develop as they will.  I know it sounds cliché – however I’m confident many authors will sympathize with me when I say the characters are in charge of telling their tales.  Regarding the question of “initial process” – well, I think I’ve covered that quite nicely with my answers to the outlining question.

What comes first: the plot or characters?
Another interesting question. To me, both are equally important.  However, I think most readers are going to believe I favor character over plot.  The reason I think that is because Malmaxa does not have an obvious, overriding plot.  It has multiple sub-plots, each of which tells the tale from the perspective of each of its main characters – and the cast of main characters is substantial.  Those sub-plots are each threads in the overall plot, which I can summarize in a single word – namely “Why?”  Why, has many answers and leads to other single word questions like “Who”, “When”, and “Where”.

Which of your characters do you love/hate/fear/pity the most and why?
I love that question!  The answer to all of those words is a single character – the antagonist, a Warrior named Adelmar (I hope you’ll note my choice of words).  I love Adelmar because he is incredibly fun to write – it is liberating to take all our socially acceptable norms, throw them in the trash, and write the primal character that results.  I hate Adelmar because he is precisely how I define evil – utterly selfishness.  I fear Adelmar because he wreaks havoc on the other characters I love, and he is also more than a little of me.  I pity Adelmar because he is doomed to derision – most readers will feel little or no sympathy for him.  Adelmar is a victim of more than we realize, his circumstances (and a particularly cruel author) have shaped him into something we might find monstrous.  When readers consider Adelmar, I hope they overcome their righteous disgust and realize there are elements of him in every one of us.

Did your book require a lot of research? If so, what kind?
Considering my work is ostensibly Fantasy, where, by definition, things are imaginary, Malmaxa takes a surprising amount of research.  I’ve been described as a nitpicker, and quite rightly so.  To me the tiny little details are very important – perhaps because I’ve come to realize that we can control the smaller things in our lives far easier than the larger.  Because of this character trait seemingly irrelevant details like character names and apparently “made up” words are crucially important to me.  I choose the names of every character with great care, readers interested enough to research them will find clues embedded within them.  By the way, I include a full Glossary, which I encourage readers to refer to if they find themselves confused.  One of the words unique to Malmaxa is “jumenta”, again this is a clue – in Latin “jumentum” means beast of burden, and it might point toward the story’s origin.  Another apparently manufactured word is “Chukrah”, once again the word has a human origin – derived it from the Hindu “Chakra”.  The same goes for the names of the days, and so on – in Malmaxa, the devil really is in the tiny details.

What do you do when you’re not writing?
What every sane man does – I blindly obey my wife’s every whim!  Do I wish I was joking?  Not really, my wife puts up with a lot of nonsense from me, so it seems I should at least make an effort to please her.  All jokes aside, I generally work on our house or on the property, where I do the heavy lifting.  Isn’t it strange how when you’re renting a home, you never have to work on it, yet when you own one the maintenance never stops… I wonder why that is?

What, if anything, bugs you when you read a novel?
Little inconsistencies – I find I’m more willing to disregard the big things than I am the small, nit-picking details.  Something else that destroys my enjoyment is when an element pops up out of nowhere – you know, those scenes that have nothing to do with the storyline and everything to do with satisfying some editor’s need for action or political correctness.

What seven words would you use to describe yourself?
Tolerant, dedicated, passionate, moody, intolerant, truthful, philosophical.

The following excerpt is taken from Chapter 11, Section 3, Titled Victory’s Retreat.

Victory’s Retreat.
Timeline: Late Afternoon, Thorsday, 2nd sixday, 9th Luna, 3600.

The groth, its razor tipped claws gouging for purchase on the hardened scale shields, darted over the phalanx.  Somehow, it avoided all spear thrusts and, with a final bound and a hissing yowl of victory, it leapt down – to land directly in front of Faroene.  It faced the artisans, completely unaware of her, and immediately began advancing toward them, slowly and carefully, anticipating its allies’ arrival. 
Brutally, Faroene struck the beast with her shield, hoping to distract it from the artisans – easy prey for any groth.  The groth, instantly on the attack, spun to face her.  Razor sharp fangs snapping, claws scratching, it focused its full attention on her.

Catching Ripkira’s command to retreat, Faroene dashed past the beast’s left side, keeping her shield between them.

Pivoting, the groth followed – intent on her destruction.

At the cry, ‘Beltamar falls’, Faroene’s heart and throat clenched tight in shock.  Distracted by this terrible news, she moved backwards as the retreat progressed.  Sorely distressed and badly shaken, she moved by rote alone.  Hard pressed to hold off the groth’s constant assaults, in no mental condition for combat, she held her shield low to the ground between their bodies.  Arresting its every attack, albeit barely.

With each thwarted thrust, the groth grew more incensed.

As no further word of Beltamar came, Faroene grew more distracted.

At an eerie wail, the rest of the pack turned tail and fled.  Only this lone groth had traversed the phalanx alive.  Perceiving its master’s horn blown summons, it instantly pivoted to obey – only to find itself trapped, stuck behind the phalanx.  With a vicious hiss, it spun about, fixed its amber eyes on Faroene, and resumed the attack.

Still with no word of Beltamar…

Faroene’s distress turned to anger.

Anger, blossomed to rage.

Each pulsing, fiery surge of her fully ignited Chukrah infused Faroene with energy and battle expertise.  Her body hummed with power, every nerve alive, every sense heightened.  The world and everything within it slowed as she embraced her fury, switching from defensive retreat, into luring attack.  Through her detached mind the disembodied thought floated, ‘Hounds are no match for groth, foolish to call groth, “hounds”.’  Immediately, replying to the silent thought, she grunted, “But I am no hound, groth!”
Stepping back, Faroene felt her right foot striking a boulder.

A normal person would have tripped, and crashed to the ground.

Faroene was no normal person.  She was a warrior, Chukrah matched, and infused with Chukrah power.

Instantly, her foot’s motion switched, from backward to upward.

Through her boot heel, Faroene felt the brush of the rock, as clearly as if barefoot.  As it cleared the boulder’s top, three hands high, she switched her foot’s motion to a smooth, backward sweep.  The boulder’s coarse surface caressed her sole.  Its resistance to her heel told her it was solidly embedded.  Her heel informed her when her foot cleared it, and her sole, when her foot hovered over it.

Changing her leg’s motion to a powerful, downward thrust, Faroene rose, lifting as easily as if walking backwards up a smooth incline.  As her body elevated, she raised her shield, extending her sword wide as counterweight.  Her body supported entirely on her right leg, balanced perfectly atop the boulder.
The bottom edge of her shield was now high off the ground, where a moment before it was less than a hand.  Her sword, outstretched, no longer targeted the groth.

Needing no more opportunity than this, the beast surged forward beneath Faroene’s shield.  Its serpentine-hinged jaws opened wider than any hounds could.  Needle tipped fangs, exposed.
Faroene struck.

Her body lifted into the air as she reversed the upward momentum of her shield, bringing it down on the creature.  The copper bound shield edge crashed into the groth’s back, just behind the neck, slowing the beast’s forward momentum.  Her sword, melded to arm, slashed to her left.  With a decapitation kill impossible due to her shield’s position, she did not attempt such.  She simply let the blade – an extension of her arm – chose its own path.

Her sword struck as high as was feasible, neatly severing the beast’s front legs – just below its shoulders.  Razor edge unimpeded, the blade flowed onward, in a smooth arc.  Her shield, still driving downward, slammed the groth’s legless torso into the ground.

Even with its front legs lost, the groth remained a formidable opponent, and far from dead.  Unable to roll its eyes sufficiently to see its tormenter, it twisted its head left, fixing her with a single eye.
Filled with malice, was that gaze.

Jaws spreading wide, rear claws digging for traction, it started to lunge.  Intent on striking, again.
Looking at the groth, Faroene’s battle heightened senses noted the slit-pupil, within its amber iris, its forked tongue, the razor sharp fangs, the heavy scales adorning its shoulders.

Almost casually, leaning her full weight on her shield, she held the frantic groth fast to the earth.  Her sword reached completion of its forward swing.  With a powerful twist of her wrist, she aimed its tip at the monstrosity’s neck, released the weapon and grasped it overhand.  Reversing her arm’s motion, she stabbed downward through the groth’s neck, driving her sword on, deep into the earth.

Her blade now held the beast.

Doubly pinned by shield and sword, immovable on the ground it lay.

Filled to bursting with a choking mix of rage and despair, Faroene’s mind gradually cleared.  With every sense sharpened, she missed nothing… felt her heart contract, felt blood’s surge through her vessels, felt sweat’s trickle on her brow, felt her eyelid’s drooping in a blink.

Eternity passed in that motion.

Memories of joy, anticipation of pain.

Unbearable love, and its loss.

Filled with unutterable torment, Faroene stood a moment.  A statue balanced on a boulder, frozen by sorrow’s chill breath.

Beltamar’s loss settled on her soul, clasping her spirit within its cold embrace.

“For Beltamar!”  No other outlet for her anguish, than her scream.

With a brutal twist, she wrenched her sword free of the groth.

Heart’s blood – bright in the falling sun’s orange glow – fountained into the air.  Jaws convulsively snapping, the reptilian hound’s head sagged to the ground.

With her shield, Faroene held it there, and watched it die.

That death brought no relief.

Tears welled in Faroene’s eyes, their mist obscuring her vision.  Her body quivered, knees suddenly weak as her Chukrah released her.

Her heart, slashed by sorrow’s sharp blade, bled.


  1. My name is Laurie Burns, my twitter is @lauriecburns.
    I am an ESL teacher, who also loves to write.
    I like to walk my three legged dog and swim at lakes.
    I read all the time and would never leave my house without a book in my purse.

  2. Hello Laurie, thank you for commenting, and replying to the DM I sent you on Twitter - it is great to know we're already following each other!

    Your copy of Beltamar's War will be in the mail very soon. As an aside, isn't it wonderful how our minds create an image of someone from mere words? From your reply, my image of you is that of a caring woman who has learnt to make a few words count.

    Within our minds, each of us has a chance to be free.