– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘The Lost Soul’ blogtour, organized by Patrick Johns.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.
About the Author :
Born and raised in Ramsey, New Jersey, Patrick Johns attended university at Virginia Tech, obtaining an engineering and mathematics degree. Go Hokies! However, writing is Patrick’s true passion. After writing his first novel, Junkland, the first book in The Hoarding series, Patrick left his engineering job to teach English overseas. Patrick currently lives in Spain. When he’s not writing, managing his literary magazine, The Kraken’s Spire, and teaching English, he’s surfing, hiking, or traveling.
Jahrys Grent, now King of Astenpoole, is faced with restoring Astenpoole and cleaning up the Junkland. While King Jahrys reshapes the kingdom, dealing with lords and knights, word of another sorceress, Emilia Danell, reaches Astenpoole. Preparing for another fight, Jahrys worries that Emilia comes for the same reason as the previous sorceress, Nadia Danell.
Once Emilia reaches Astenpoole, Jahrys quickly realizes things are not as they seem. With nightmares plaguing him, and a power he doesn’t understand, The Lost Soul takes Jahrys on a quest beyond the Western Mountains and into his destiny.
First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂
Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
Hello! I’m Patrick. I grew up in Ramsey, New Jersey, and I studied industrial and systems engineering and mathematics at Virginia Tech. After university, I worked for three years as a systems engineer at a large engineering firm just outside of Washington D.C. I knew this job wasn’t where my heart truly lied, so I entered my quarter life crisis, where I spent my time in anxiety, stress, and doing way too much thinking. I was surrounded by a culture that told me I had to stay in this engineering job because a job is a job and it’s not supposed to be enjoyable, only to pay the bills. I began to question this and ask myself, well, why can’t I find a job that I enjoy doing? But the big question was, what could I do?
I began to recall all the times I rode my bike to the bookstore just to be surrounded by books. All the short stories my teachers made me write in elementary school. All the song lyrics and poems I wrote as a teenager. All the books I read in my room and at the beach. And even the creative writing class I took in university just for fun. After nearly half a year of thinking of these past memories, it all came together for me at twenty-five years old: I didn’t want to solve problems in the real world, I wanted to solve problems in the worlds that I create. I wanted to be a writer.
But I was hit with the hardest question of all: What do I write about?
In January 2016, I went to see Aladdin on Broadway. Aladdin is my all time favorite Disney movie. But I felt different this time watching Aladdin on stage. I laughed. I smiled. I cried. I had chills running down my spine. I felt…inspired. I could really relate with Aladdin this time because he was also struggling with his current situation, and he wanted to make a positive change in life. After the play, I knew what I needed to write: a story just as powerful as Aladdin that would make my readers feel inspired to make a positive change.
I returned to Washington D.C. with this new inspriation flowing through me. I was walking through a stairwell, one I walked up and down many times, when the familiar emergency light on the second floor caught my eye. This time, I saw the emergency light differently. It had a little square body and two, round lightbulb eyes; it looked like a Disney character. I did what any normal person would do and took a picture of it. I found a desk and analyzed the photo. I first thought, what kind of setting could I see this character in? I instantly thought a junk land type of setting like the world Wall-e lived in. I then whipped out the Notes app on my phone and began to write an outline. The outline was barely a page long when I finished, but it had a beginning, a fuzzy middle, and an end. Once I saw my end I didn’t hesitate to begin writing.
Soon, something that was planned to be thirty pages turned into fifty pages. Fifty pages turned into seventy. Seventy pages turned into a hundred. A hundred pages turned into two hundred. Next thing I know I’m tubing down a river, thinking of my story, when an idea of a book series pops in my head. I had to rush to shore to write it all down. And that’s how The Hoarding series was born.
I made it my goal to finish Junkland, the first book in The Hoarding series, and then leave my engineering job. So once I published Junkland, I said goodbye to my life in Washington D.C. and moved to Spain to teach English and pursue writing.
Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
When I was really young I would always love getting lost in another adventure with Jack and Annie in The Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne. Like Jack and Annie, I also had a wild imagination growing up as I always pretended I was on my own adventures as a dinosaur hunter, fighting with lightsabers, and even taking my basketball team to the championship numerous times.
I also loved the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. This series introduced me to medieval fantasy. I loved how light and playful the books could be, singing over a feast with a bunch of talking animals, but also how dark the story could get with betrayals and twists planted in each book. I always wanted to embark on my own quest in Mossflower Wood.
When I got a bit older I fell in love with the Harry Potter series. I’ve read this series three times. Each time I read the series through, I pick up on new things. Part of it is because I can relate to the story and characters in a different way as I get older, and also because the way I read stories now has changed ever since I’ve written my own books. I loved this series so much that I even read it in Spanish. If you had to ask which book is my favorite, I would choose The Order of the Pheonix.
Now, I love reading fantasy like A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. I love how realistic he made his world as if it could really exist in the history books. And I also like how he introduces fantasy elements into the story, like magic and dragons and monsters, making it scary as you progress in the story because it slowly creeps away from that normal world you thought you knew to a world filled with the unknown. I’m just hoping he will finish the series. I’ve been waiting for The Winds of Winter for far too long.
Talking about waiting for books to come out…I’m also waiting for the third book of The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss. While waiting for both of these books to come out, I’m chugging along with The Wheel of Time series. I’m currently on book six out of fourteen and plan to be done within the next decade. I am looking forward to the Amazon adaption of this book series! I’m hoping they do just as good of a job as HBO did with Game of Thrones (except for the ending which was probably the worst ending in television history. I couldn’t sleep after the series finale).
Eventually I would like to start reading books by Brandon Sanderson. I’ve heard great things about the Mistborn series.
On the side, I like reading mystery books. Esepcially books like Gone Girl, A Girl on a Train, The Woman in Cabin 10, all those mystery books about an alcoholic woman with problems.
Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
I would love to sit down and have a conversation with George R.R. Martin, the author of A Song of Ice and Fire. I would first want to ask him how much of the story he had planned before starting the first book. A single sentence in a one of his books can foreshadow something that happens two books later. And that’s mindblowing for me. In The Hoarding series, I also like foreshadowing things that will happen later on in my books, but I find it difficult at times especially when the books don’t exist yet. And sometimes I find it hard to imagine that George R.R. Martin also knew exactly how the story would turn out in each book.
I would also like to ask George R.R. Martin how he wrote such real and relatable characters. I did watch one of his interviews where he said it usually took him two weeks to think of Tyrion’s witty jokes. He even admitted he wished he could be as funny as Tyrion. I also wonder how he kept track of all of his characters while writing the series. It must have given him a headache. I watched one interview that said he had a super fan that he would call up when he had questions on his own story about how certain characters were related to other characters, and the super fan would help him. That’s my goal, to obtain a super fan.
I have to pick another author for this next question because George R.R. Martin doesn’t qualify. I would like to ask J.K. Rowling how she wrote books so fast. The Harry Potter books get lengthy in page count, but she still knocked out books every one to two years. It would be nice to know her writing process of how much she knew of the series before starting the first book, how much she outlined for each book before beginning to write, and how often she would write a day. I would also like to know how many drafts she had to go through for each book.
Junkland only took me a year and a half to write. I thought that was a perfect amount of time. But The Lost Soul took me nearly three and a half years from start to finish, but this was mainly because I moved to a foreign country, which, believe it or not, delayed my writing a bit. I’m hoping that the third book in The Hoarding series doesn’t take three and a half years to write.
If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
From my own books, I would like to invite Frayel Aberin for a tea. He’s a very minor character in Junkland, the first book in The Hoarding series. Frayel is a family friend of the protagonist’s father. Even though he’s a minor character, I had so much fun writing him. He’s just a jolly guy, and I feel like he would be fun to spend the afternoon with. He’s the kind of guy at a family party who is always asking if you have a girlfriend/boyfriend, always trying to give advice from his personal experience, and just brightening the mood of the room.
Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
I drink a lot of tea. I’m currently drinking a piña colada green tea as I write this very sentence. I write when my mug is filled. I stop writing when my mug is empty. Then I get up and refill some more.
Also, when I need some writing inspiration, I’ll play music that inspires me. When I wrote Junkland, I would listen to Disney playlists, as the story was highly influenced off of Disney movies. The anthem for the first book in The Hoarding series was “A Whole New World” from Aladdin. My inspiration shifted when I wrote The Lost Soul, the second book in The Hoarding series, however. My playlist for writing this book turned into songs from The Greatest Showman, one of my favorite movies.
Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
I wouldn’t say my stories are directly related to real life events, more indirectly. This makes sense as I never experienced invaders coming down from the mountains with laser-like guns, sucking up everything and turning my home into a junk land (knock on wood). But I will say my work is highly influenced off of the energy I get from real life events. For example, the motivation of writing Junkland came from a break up and working at a job that I didn’t like. If I didn’t go through both of these events, I am convinced I wouldn’t have gotten the push I needed to start writing a book. You can see these feelings being portrayed in Junkland as the main character, Jahrys Grent, has bad luck with girls, but ends up falling in love with someone. He also hates working for his father and dreams of a better life of becoming a knight.
I wrote most of The Lost Soul after I left my engineering job and moved to Spain to teach English and pursue writing. Moving to Spain has been the best decision of my life, but also the most difficult. It is said that when you move abroad, you really discover who you are because you are now able to see your past life with a different set of eyes and begin reflecting on it. When I worked for that large engineering firm, I dreamed of a better life, just like Jahrys did. Now that I received that better life, I’m going through a period of discovering who I truly am and what I truly want in this world. And this reflects through Jahrys in The Lost Soul as he also finally obtained the life he dreamed of, which pushes him to discover that maybe it’s not exactly what he wanted, instead, he wants to discover who he truly is and what his purpose is.
I do think some people have to be worried, as I try to write most of my characters based on people I encounter in every day life. It’s like what they say about your dreams: you can’t dream about someone you’ve never met before in real life. But sometimes these people in your dreams are combinations of people you’ve met. And that happens in my writing, too, when I create characters: they end up being a mixture of qualities, personalities, and traits from multiple people I know.
Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
I’d say I’m a mixture of the two. I like to know my major plot points, but I also like to go with the flow. I think it’s hard to discover most of the story without diving into it. The story kind of unravels as you move along. I also think it’s important to see your beginning and see your end. If you don’t see your end, how do you know what you’re working toward? And once I see a clear beginning, middle, and end, I will go back and develop the story more revolving around these major plot points, which become more clear through the second draft and third draft and so on. If I know I need to go back and fix something, I usually label it with a comment and keep pushing forward. I don’t go back and fix things until I have arrived at the end of that current draft.
When I wrote Junkland I only outlined a few short lines of phone notes before diving into the story. I had my beginning, my fuzzy middle, and my end. The end product was something way beyond what I had originally imagined. I didn’t even think I would publish Junkland. I thought it was going to be a thirty page story.
I mapped out The Lost Soul more than Junkland. But a lot of what I had originally otulined had changed completely when I finished my first draft and progressed through my second, third, fourth, and fifth draft. So I do truly believe a lot of the story can only be discovered when you begin writing.
Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
My biggest piece of advice is to write from start to finish. I had a friend who was a better writer than myself. He would always show me beautifully written paragraphs to the great story idea he was writing. But there was a huge difference between me and him: I finished a book and he didn’t. And it’s because he never saw his end. In fact, he never even saw the end of his first chapter. And that’s a problem.
Many writers get frustrated because they go back and read their writing and see how bad it is. Well, yes, it makes sense the writing is bad as it’s your very first draft. J.K. Rowling rewrote the first Harry Potter book five times. No one will ever see that first draft. So when you start writing your book, write with the door closed as if no one is hunching over your shoulder, judging every word you type. Write with a free mind. If things don’t make sense, that’s okay! Keep pushing forward until the end because you NEED to see the end. Once you do, your story will become more clear.
As I advance through a draft, I always add notes to remind myself of things I need to change later on. I add the note and keep typing away until I hit my end of that current draft. Then I go back and read my notes and start writing the next draft to fix everything. I then add more comments of things I need to fix again, and so on. I know I’m finished with my book when I have no more comments to address.
Just remember: You can always go back an edit what you wrote, but you can’t edit blank pages.
What are your future plans as an author?
This summer I will return to New Jersey to reconnect with my Jersey roots. I want to begin outlining The Palms of Light, the third book in The Hoarding series so I can participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this November where participants have to write 50,000 words in the month of November. It’s a good way to get the motivation to crank out a good portion of a story.
I also want to begin to publish poetry. This year I will be releasing Stages of a Scattered Mess, the first book in A Poetry Collection of Growing Up. This poetry series will include all of the poems I had written in the past twelve years of my life, focusing on the themes of love, breakups, moving on, and change.
My future plans consist of me living on the beach, writing in my office with a beach view, and then enjoying my free time with a sunset surf.
Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
THEY WERE LOST.
They had discovered footprints in the snow—human footprints. To think that there were other people in the Western Mountains was an incredible thought for Gabe Glumbermann. The footprints had vanished, however, when the snowstorm picked up. The snow was falling at a frightening rate; it was too thick to see anything—an endless white. Even the light on their helmets didn’t help their visibility. As the early evening sun disappeared into the thickening gray, Gabe knew they had to find shelter quickly.
They got lucky when Kat had found a crevice they could spend the night in to hide from the storm. They would continue the trail in the morning. Gabe was thrilled to have shelter, but he was afraid that in the morning, the trail of the footprints would be lost.
Gabe stacked rocks he’d found against the farthest wall of the crevice to build a fire. He used the light from his helmet to guide him. With his one hand, Gabe piled them onto the crusted ground, making a circle. This was all he was good for these days: fire maker. Ever since his left hand had been blown away by a Captor blast, people treated him like a cripple, even his closest friends.
Innkeeper Willem, the owner of The Arcalane, had done a good job patching his hand up. It was the last thing Willem had done for him before The Arcalane had been attacked by the Hoarders the night of the Coming of Zalus—when the single full moon of the year appeared in the sky. This once wonderful festival would forever be a painful memory for Gabe. So many of his friends were now dead, including Willem, who had sacrificed his life for the Retrievers to escape.
Gabe still didn’t know how the Hoarders had found The Arcalane. It had been well hidden. Someone must have spoken of our location, Gabe thought as he stacked another rock.
“That fire ready yet, boy?” Landerin Raneir, the former Captain of the Poolesguard, asked. Old Lan was standing at the edge of the crevice, looking out into the whiteness beyond. He was drinking from a waterskin. His suit was glowing blue, like all their suits did, but his helmet was resting on the ground next to him. Everyone else in the crevice had theirs on.
Old Lan reeked of alcohol. Yet, Gabe couldn’t figure out how that waterskin could still be filled with that stuff after weeks of traveling over the Western Mountains.
“Almost. Just waiting for Felix to get back with the firewood,” Gabe said. Gabe couldn’t wait for Felix to return. Perhaps he’ll play ‘Drunken Day at The Arcalane’ tonight. Oh, I love that song! Felix’s singing was the only thing getting him through their journey over the Western Mountains. The song always reminded him of home, and of his friends…All the good times in The Arcalane before the Hoarding.
“The quicker we get that fire ready, the quicker we’ll be able to eat,” Old Lan yelled, tossing the now frozen rabbits they had captured to Gabe.
Gabe grabbed the rabbits as they hit the ground. He always hated when the man was drunk.
“Did you get the Captors charged yet, Rallick?” Old Lan asked, each word slurred and demanding.
“Yes. Taygar and I just finished,” Rallick Henner said, sitting next to Taygar. They were carving sticks to use to cook the rabbits with.
“Where’s Stade?” Old Lan asked.
“He went with that serenader,” Rallick said, gritting his teeth as he ran the knife down the stick.
“Hargh!” Taygar Flebb grunted loudly.
“Quiet down, tubby,” Old Lan snapped at Taygar. “Or else those wolves will add to that missing tongue of yours. We don’t want those beasts tracking us down. They’ve been getting closer every night. Nobody leaves this crevice without asking me first. Is that clear?” Old Lan scanned the crevice, catching everyone’s eye.
“Yes, sir,” they all said.
“When this storm clears, we should turn back,” Ebanie Ivoria said. She was huddled against the crevice wall, clutching Miller, Jahrys’s old pet chicken, close to her chest. She was rocking back and forth. “We have to turn back! There are probably still other survivors from The Arcalane. From the castle!”
“By Zalus, will someone shut her up? She’s been saying the same damn thing for weeks now. My ears can’t take no more,” Old Lan snapped. “Do you want to be eaten by those wolves?” Old Lan pointed a finger into the white abyss beyond the crevice. “Jahrys is probably dead, along with the rest of them, anyway.”
Ebanie shot to her feet, a menacing look on her face. “You don’t know that!” she shouted, voice bouncing off the crevice walls. “Don’t fill my ears with your drunken words! I will not take it!” She was clutching Miller so tightly now that the chicken’s eyes looked like they were about to bulge out of his tiny head.
Old Lan said nothing, only took another sip from his waterskin.
Kat placed a hand on Ebanie to calm her down, bringing the still huffing girl back to her seat against the crevice wall.
“Why do you always have to be so rude?” Kat Laver asked, shooting Old Lan a dirty look.
Old Lan offered a noncommittal grunt, his shoulders rising in a feeble shrug.
“I think Ebanie’s talking the most sense out of anyone,” Tarl Frast said. Tarl had been going through their supplies before Ebanie jumped up. “We should go back. We can’t last much longer out here with these storms and those wolves following us.”
“Back?” Old Lan snorted. “Back where? There’s no home, you fool.” Old Lan took a long swig from his waterskin.
“We can leave in the morning,” Kat suggested, ignoring Old Lan.
“Did you not hear me?” Old Lan spat, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. “There’s no home!” Old Lan screamed, ignoring his own warnings about being quiet because of the wolves. He took another swig from his waterskin and spun away from them. He had turned so fast he almost stumbled over his feet.
Ebanie’s right. He is a drunken fool, Gabe thought, as he returned to his rocks. He’s been drunk ever since we left Palor.
“How can you be so sure?” Tarl asked Old Lan.
Quiet, Tarl! It’s useless trying to reason with this man, thought Gabe, awaiting Old Lan’s reply.
Old Lan was getting frustrated. “I’m sure.”
“You’re just upset because you were left on the wrong side of the wall,” Kat spat.
Gabe gulped, sliding his eyes away from his rocks to see Old Lan’s reaction. However, the former Captain of the Poolesguard kept his back to them.
“You have no home because your home abandoned you,” Kat continued relentlessly. “King Leoné gave up on you, tossed you away like you were nothing. Just like he did with all of us! You have nothing. You are just running away from your problems. You’re a coward! And we all know that isn’t water you’re drinking!”
“Kat, quiet!” Gabe hissed at her.
Everyone looked at Old Lan, waiting for his reaction. But Old Lan simply took another drink from his waterskin and continued to stare at the white abyss.
After a long silence, Old Lan said, “You’re right. King Leoné stripped my role of Captain of the Poolesguard because of that Sir Piller Lorne. After all my years of service…Pah! And you know how they repaid me?
“King Leoné made me a gate guard…A gate guard! And when our home was invaded by those Hoarders, King Leoné ordered Sir Piller to shut the gates, trapping me outside when I was trying to prevent any more people from entering the castle. He knew what he was doing. He thought trapping me on the other side of the wall would solve all his problems. But he was wrong. They will not survive long without us retrieving things for them. They are stuck! They’ll either have to open those gates and fight, or starve to death. Either way—” Old Lan tilted his head back and took a long drink from his waterskin, “They’re all dead.”
Ebanie moaned against the wall.
“It’s okay,” Kat said, comforting her.
“Yes, dead!” Old Lan said without any remorse. “And don’t forget you’re all part of that awful kingdom. King Leoné abandoned you all! Leaving your home to be destroyed by the Hoarders, watching it become the Junkland. Last time I checked, Palor was part of Astenpoole and the Four Cities. So, yes, your home’s gone, too. If you all want to go back to that damned place you can do so in the morning. I’m carrying on, however. To better things. To a better life. And let me remind you, you all would be dead now if not for me.”
Everyone was silent. They all knew it was true; he was right after all. Old Lan had been the one to rescue them from The Arcalane after Willem had sacrificed himself. Old Lan had been the one to take them far from The Arcalane, over the mountains, far away from Astenpoole and the Four Cities. Far away from everything they had ever known.
They had encountered land Gabe had never seen before, like snow, thick shrubbery, and a sea of rocks and pebbles. Food was scarce here. And fights broke out among the group nearly every day. Gabe had thought the Junkland had been bad, but the Western Mountains…They were far worse. He now knew why the old kings used banishment over the Western Mountains as punishment: it was suicide.
Gabe couldn’t stay silent anymore. “We’re lost. You may have saved us, but you led us here and you don’t even know where we’re going, do ya? This snowstorm will erase those tracks as if they had never existed. There will be nothing to follow come morning.”
Old Lan took another swig from his waterskin. “You worry about getting that fire ready for when Felix and Stade return, and I’ll worry about where we’re going. Those tracks were fresh. The makers can’t be far off.”
Gabe let out a sigh and continued stacking rocks.
Everyone was silent after that.
Miller hopped over to Gabe and began to peck at the stones Gabe had placed down.
“What are you doing, Miller?” Gabe asked Jahrys’s chicken. “Go keep Ebanie company. She needs you.”
Miller cocked his head to one side and blinked before wobbling back to Kat and Ebanie. Ebanie opened her arms so Miller could jump back into them. She kissed Miller’s forehead and held him close to her chest.
“What are we going to do for food?” Rallick asked from the other side of the crevice. “I’m starving!”
“Hargh!” Taygar agreed.
“We have rabbits,” Old Lan said.
“Again?” Rallick moaned, rolling his eyes. “What about the chicken?” He pointed at Miller.
Miller poked his head out from under Ebanie’s arm.
“We can cook him once Stade and Felix get back with the firewood,” Rallick suggested. “It won’t be a lot of meat, but at least it will be better than having rabbit again.”
“No!” Ebanie yelled. “Jahrys’s chicken is not for eating.”
“We’re going to have to eat him eventually! Would you rather starve to death?”
“Yes, I would!”
Rallick stood up in anger and marched over to Ebanie. He grabbed Miller by the back of the neck and lifted him up.
Miller was squawking and his legs were skittering frantically in the air.
“Put him down!” Kat yelled, standing up to confront Rallick.
“This isn’t funny, Rallick,” Tarl said.
“Hargh! Hargh! Hargh!” Taygar was wobbling nervously next to Rallick.
Ebanie’s face looked as if it were about to explode.
“SILENCE!” Old Lan’s voice shook the crevice. “No one’s eating that damn bird. Put him down…Now!”
Rallick listened, dropping Miller to the ground.
Miller jumped up and wobbled back to Ebanie. She bent down to scoop him up.
“Everyone will wait in silence until Felix and Stade get back with the firewood,” Old Lan ordered. “Anymore shouting, screaming, squawking, and I’ll tie you up and leave you to the wolves.” Old Lan turned away from them and muttered, “Why didn’t I just save myself?”
They all waited for Felix and Stade to return.
Gabe continued to stack more rocks while he began to mutter, “Cheers, cheers to all the girls in here. We toast to you with all our beer…”
The wind was howling outside the crevice.
As Gabe continued to sing under his breath, the light on his helmet began to flicker. Gabe tapped the light with his finger. The light stayed lit for a few seconds, but then began to flicker again. All the helmets were acting the same way. The whole crevice kept flashing back and forth from light to darkness.
“What’s happening?” Gabe asked.
Miller’s head was spinning around, his eyes looked confused from the flashing lights.
“I don’t know,” Kat said.
“Quiet,” Old Lan commanded. It was the most serious Gabe had heard him speak that night.
Everyone’s attention turned to the white storm outside the crevice. The snow was falling even harder now. Mixed into the whistling wind were shouts, but they sounded distant and were easily swallowed by the wind.
Old Lan stood with a straight back, concentration on his face.
“Run!” a voice echoed through the high winds. “RUN!”
Through the heavy snow, Gabe made out the flickering lights of a blue suit.
“Felix? Felix, is that you?” Old Lan shouted through the wind. “What happened?”
“GET OUT OF THERE!” Felix’s voice whistled back.
“Where’s Stade?” Rallick asked in concern.
“Hargh?” Taygar asked.
“Shut up!” Old Lan snapped. “Everyone grab your things. Hurry!”
Everyone scattered in the crevice, grabbing the charged Captors and their bags. Gabe piled the rabbits into his bag with his only hand. Kat insisted on helping him. Ebanie helped Tarl with all their supplies. Once finished, Ebanie grabbed Miller.
“Run!” Felix repeated. “They’re—”
Felix’s missing words made Gabe lift his head. A dark shadow, illuminated by Felix’s blue suit, shot across the snow, colliding into the serenader. There was a loud pop when the extendable tube on Felix’s suit was torn apart. Screams echoed with the sounds of snarling, tearing, and ripping.
And then silence.
“Felix?” Old Lan shouted, as he took a step out into the storm. He had exchanged his waterskin for a Captor, and he had put on his helmet.
A blue cloud had filled the area Felix had been, but as the cloud faded, Felix was nowhere to be seen. Old Lan raised his Captor. He pointed it left and right, trying to find the shadow that had attacked Felix.
Gabe and the others also raised their Captors. Their suits continued to flicker.
“What was that?” Tarl asked in alarm.
“I don’t know,” Gabe replied.
“Wolves?” Kat asked.
“Where’s Stade?” Rallick asked again.
“Hargh!” Taygar was shaking as he grunted.
“Look!” Ebanie pointed her finger toward the tree line.
More shadows had appeared.
“Wolves,” Old Lan muttered almost to himself. He then turned to everyone in the crevice. “Out the side and into the forest. Hurry now!”
“What about Felix and Stade?” Ebanie asked.
“No!” Rallick moaned. “They can’t be gone. Stade was just out getting firewood!”
Old Lan placed a hand on Rallick’s shoulder. “The wolves got him. Make for the forest. Go!” Old Lan shoved Rallick out of the crevice and ran out after him.
Gabe was the last out of the crevice. He ran as fast as he could to the edge of the forest. Before he entered, Gabe took a glance behind him and caught a glimpse of the shadows closing in on them.
Gabe gulped, picking up his pace as he entered the forest. It was hard to run in the thick layer of fresh snow. Plus, he had never been a strong runner.
The wolves behind kept him moving.
Branches whipped against Gabe’s helmet as he zigzagged through the trees, heart pounding. His legs felt like they were going to collapse. He could barely see anything in front of him because the snow was so thick. The wind howled in his face, and the wolves howled behind him.
The shouts from his friends up ahead were distant now. He could no longer make out Tarl’s shape running through the trees.
Suddenly, Gabe burst from the forest into a clearing. When he reached the center, he stopped. His head spun in a circle, searching. Searching for any sign of his friends. He only saw the line of the forest all around him. He didn’t know which direction his friends had gone.
“Tarl? Kat? EBANIE?” Gabe shouted against the wind. “RALLICK? TAYGAR? Miller?” With each name, his voice shrank.
A sudden flash of movement made him spin around. Then, a snap of a branch came from his left. The growling and howling grew around him, and with it, Gabe’s heartbeat.
In the shadows of the trees, just ahead of Gabe, a pair of blue eyes appeared. And then another. And another. Soon, dozens of blue eyes stared at Gabe.
The snow crunched in front of him. A wolf had stepped out of the shadows into the clearing.
Gabe gulped. “Stay back!” he warned.
A growl sent him running. He turned back around and ran straight ahead. But the wolves were fast, he could feel them closing in. Gabe stopped and turned to face the wolves, gripping his Captor tightly in his hand.
Zalus be with me, Gabe thought as he raised his Captor at the wolves.
But the line of wolves had stopped moving. It seemed as if they were waiting for something.
He heard something move behind him. Gabe spun, and his stomach fell as he gazed upon the largest of the wolves standing before him. It had snuck behind him.
This wolf was nearly the size of a horse. As the wolf stepped closer, Gabe could see every rib outlining the wolf’s side. It looked as if the wolf had never eaten. Not a single hair covered the wolf’s body, either. The eyes glowed blue.
It was not a normal wolf.
The wolf opened its mouth and bared its sharp teeth.
Zalus, help me! Gabe thought, as he tried to stop his Captor from shaking.
As the wolf’s mouth grew wider, the lights on Gabe’s suit, Captor, and helmet flickered. “I don’t want to hurt you!” Gabe said, feeling the shakiness in his voice. The wolf stepped closer, and Gabe pressed down on the trigger of his Captor. His Captor hummed, and the tip lit up blue. But then it faded, and his Captor let out a hiss.
No! Gabe thought as he pressed down on the trigger again and again. Rallick just charged this! But each time, there was just a gentle hiss. Gabe shook his Captor, hoping it would help.
When Gabe looked up at the wolf again, he noticed a blue ball, no larger than his fist, glowing in the space between them. A blue beam floated in a line from the ball into the wolf’s open mouth. Gabe watched the blue ball shrink as the seconds ticked by. When the light from the ball was no more, and the last of the beam entered the wolf’s mouth and the light disappeared, the wolf snapped its mouth shut.
Gabe’s suit was no longer lit. All of the energy from his suit was now gone. Gabe was left in the darkness. The only light came from the bright blue eyes of the wolves that surrounded him.
He didn’t need to see the wolves to know they were charging him. Gabe raised his Captor, preparing to hit any wolf that came close to him. As he heard the first wolf approach, he swung, but he was too slow. The wolf collided into him and Gabe was thrown to the ground. His Captor flew from his hand, but it was still attached to the tube. He wrestled with the wolf, trying to keep its sharp teeth from reaching his throat under his helmet. Another wolf flung itself on Gabe, digging its claws into his suit, and then another and another.
Gabe let out screams of pain as claws and teeth continued to find his flesh. He knew it was over for him.
Gabe yelled out a useless cry for help as one of the wolves thrust its jaw forward.
Then, a blinding white light illuminated the darkness. Gabe felt the weight from one wolf disappear, and then the others. Relief spread throughout Gabe’s body as the claws and teeth left his skin.
When the white light faded and Gabe’s vision returned, he sat up and looked around. Someone had saved him.
He lifted his head from the ground, looking for his friends.
Suddenly, something smashed into Gabe. Gabe felt his helmet snap off. Cold snow met his face. Before he could turn and comprehend what had just happened, he received another blow. He was blinded with pain.
“Bind this one up with the others,” a man’s voice said, unfamiliar to Gabe. It sounded so distant. Hands were upon him. Once he was lifted from the ground, a woolen bag was shoved over his head, and he could no longer see who had saved him from the wolves.
Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Patrick Johns.
The Magic of Wor(l)ds
P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!