Today I am interviewing Edward Lazellari, author of the urban/epic fantasy novel, Awakenings, first book of the Guardians of Aandor trilogy.
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DJ: Hey Edward! Thanks for stopping by to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Edward Lazellari: I don’t like cauliflower. (It looks like albino broccoli.) I think the original Galactica from the 1970’s show is a more beautiful design than the recent one, even though the latter show was better written.
I grew up in the Bronx. I started my genre career at Marvel Comics in the late 80s as an artist–I discovered that I enjoyed writing stories more than drawing them. I was a mediocre illustrator, but I’m a good writer. I have five more sci-fi/fantasy series to get out of my brain, and at least one literary novel.
DJ: What is Awakenings about?
EL: It’s about a group of refuges from a medieval alternate reality that end up in modern day New York as a way of escaping their war. They are guardians protecting an infant prince. It’s as if Bran and Arya Stark of in Game of Throne were able to cross dimensions to avoid their enemies in Westeros. Except they and their guardians get amnesia. Their enemies discover the ruse and send assassins here to kill them. It’s thirteen years later, and the guardians are awakened to their true identities and the dangers that come with it.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?
EL: It’s an ensemble cast. The heroes are annoyingly a lot like us–flawed and just trying to get through each day. Cal is a cop living and working in The Bronx. He was a paladin back in Aandor, a nobleman. Seth is a photographer of nude women and in a downward spiral. He’s immature, selfish, and his friends have given up on him. He’s just not a nice person at the start of the book. He’s angry at having been abandoned at an early age and he takes it out on people…uses them, especially women. His character arc is the most ambitious in terms of his road to redemption and forgiveness. Catherine’s just a normal wife and mom in the Bronx. Just as she’s thinking of going back to school, her life explodes when her husband’s past catches up with them. Daniel’s an abused thirteen-year old boy who’s wise for his age and too smart for his own good. His arc has no magic or fantastical element in the first book. I love that I get to show the kid’s character, raw and unsensored. He’s thirteen and has a crush on his friend; he has girls on the brain because he has hormones. He’s loyal. He doesn’t let bullies have their way with him. Daniels’ the kid we all wish we had as a friend. He has this rotten family life. Alcoholic step dad, pill popping mom, and he’s trying to raise his four year old sister. He’s a hero without ever having put on a spandex suit. He’s the anti-Harry Potter…no one showed up to take him away, with a big vault full of money at Gringots, and everyone tripping over themselves to help him. He does it on his own. There’s something unique about the good wizard, but it’s a surprise in the book so I don’t want to reveal it here. The villains are interesting too; you learn more about their motivations in Book 2.
DJ: The novel’s synopsis mentions these “otherworldly beings” and “creatures” – could you elaborate on who or what they are?
EL: Like I said, there’s something unique about the wizard that I won’t reveal. The villains possess a half troll, who’s an apprentice wizard, and a sharply dressed half giant trying to find the guardians in New York City. They zombifie a private detective to find the guardians; Colby is the type of detective the Enquirer uses to dig up headlines. Dorn’s an entitled privileged sociopath who’s in love with his aunt. He’s also the prince’s distant cousin, but that won’t stop him from killing the boy.
DJ: “Otherworld beings” makes me think that maybe this series takes place in more than New York… Do we get to see any of that world or learn much about it the Awakening?
EL: The other world does not make an appearance in the first book except in dreams and flashbacks. This book is all USA, which is why Tor promoted it as “Urban” fantasy. The series morphs from urban to a classic high epic fantasy by book 3. It’s not a procedural like Dresden Files. More like King’s The Dark Tower. Aandor is modeled on Camelot as far as how characters think of the city, but by the time we get there, we learn it has slums and dirty politics like all cities. It’s more like medieval Rome in some ways–a cross roads of the world where immigrants come to find a better life. All the places mentioned in books one and two appear in book 3.
DJ: I also have a feeling there is going to be some type of magic?
EL: In Aandor, magic is everywhere. Wizards pull it from the air to power their spells. Earth is a desert when it comes to magic. The wizards here have to procure it and store it from lay lines and lay pools, both bad guys and good. The multiverse is explained in the chapter titled Onion Theory. Each layer of the onion is a brane, or universe unto itself. And those closest to the center of the onion are juicy with magic, which flows freely in veins throughout the multiverse and surfaces on worlds in the form of lay lines. Those furthest from the core of the onion are dry. Earth is a little past the middle of the onion toward the outer edge of the multiverse. Aandor is its counterpart closer to the center of existence and saturated with this energy. Clerics believe this energy is the blood of the gods coursing through creation. Wizards just think it’s a secular power source that they like to manipulate and experiment with.
DJ: What were some of your influences for the Awakenings and the whole Guardians of Aandor trilogy?
EL: Roger Zelazny’s Amber series was the biggest influence. Game of Thrones of course, though I started this book before I’d ever heard of GRRM. Harry Potter, Lord of The Rings. I like how magic is sparse in Game of Thrones and Lord of The Rings. People don’t just use it to brew coffee or sweep the room. It’s a serious matter to use it at all. Wizards save it for when they really need to use it. And most people never meet a wizard in their life.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Awakenings? What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
EL: The challenge of writing a novel is both grueling and joyous. When you start out writing a story, you are not aware of the subconscious themes. It’s only after you’ve finished it and begin to revise that your subconscious thoughts are revealed to you. I was surprised at how male-centric Awakenings is. Missing fathers, dreams of fathers, abusive fathers, ineffective fathers, and ideal fathers. The main conscious theme is identity. Who am I? Who are you really? Once you’ve stripped away privilege and the environmental influences of the place you were born into, and placed as a blank slate in a new environment, do you find out what you really are? Are you in the same role as the place you left or would have been had you stayed in the other place? Is a knight on that world still serving as a knight here? What does a prince become here when he’s shunted into foster care with a drug addict mother? I’ve been told by readers who also read nongenre/literary fiction that Daniel’s storyline is their favorite.
DJ: When we first talked on email, I apologized for being late on my response due to a random increase of hours at my job. You understood, and went on tell to me how busy your job and life is – and left me feeling like I had nothing on my plate compares to your schedule! Could you tell the readers how much outside of reading you are involved in?
Where do you find the time to write? More importantly, where do you find the motivation to keep writing? Surely there must be times where you only want to go to sleep or lay on the couch and watch TV.
EL: I never meant to make you feel like you had too little on your plate. I wish I could take things off my plate and devote more time per week to writing (and so does my editor–lol). I’m motivated to write because that’s the thing I want to do most. I want to be John Grisham or Stephen King, not for fame or riches but because they get paid enough to live on their writing and so everyday that’s all they do. I was single a few years ago and that gave me a lot of my own time to do with as I pleased. I also had a less important role at my job, where I am currently a manager. I used to work a 40 hour week and these days its more like 50-60. So all these little things crept up on me, and it makes the time I do write more precious. I do watch TV to relax. Favorite shows are Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Grimm. It’s a brain dampener for sure, but my brain’s on all the time and turning my mind off through the idiot box is better than drinking or drugs. The motivation to write comes from other books. I like to see what authors are doing and it inspires me; I dissect dialogue and prose, study metaphor and symbolism. It’s like a puzzle to be figured out. But there, too, time is a premium. I used to read 52 novels a year just for pleasure. I’m down to about 13 now because of time. I guess I could watch less TV.
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from Awakenings that you can share with us?
EL: I have a ton of them, but I’ll share two.
- “Un-fucking believable,” Seth said. “This is why I’m homeless? Why Joe’s dead? Our lives are turned inside out because of a handful of privileged brats with supercharged family trees playing pass-the-chromosomes. Who else bought the farm so these creeps can act like the Kennedys of Tolkien land?
- “Are you the devil?” Colby shouted.
Dorn considered the question. “I’m not as forgiving,” he finally said. “Find the boy.
DJ: What is next for you?
EL: A break to enjoy fatherhood. My wife and I are expecting a little girl in July. Then either a sci-fi series, YA stand-alone, or a literary novel. Might also try my hand at writing for TV or film.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Edward-Lazellari/e/B0052XOD6M/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1
Facebook: Edward Lazellari
Facebook: Guardians of Aandor
Goodreads: Edward Lazellari
Linkedin: Edward Lazellari
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
EL: It was my pleasure DJ. I’ll get back to you on that Blog piece.
DJ: I look forward to it! 🙂
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*** Awakenings is published by Tor Books and is available TODAY !!! ***
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Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Nobel | Goodreads | Kobo
About the Book:
Cal MacDonnell is a happily married New York City cop with a loving family. Seth Raincrest is a washed-up photographer who has alienated even his closest friends. The two have nothing in common–except that they both suffer from retrograde amnesia. It’s as if they just appeared out of thin air thirteen years ago, and nothing has been able to restore their memories. Now their forgotten past has caught up to them with a vengeance.
Cal’s and Seth’s lives are turned upside down as they are stalked by otherworldly beings who know about the men’s past lives. But these creatures aren’t here to help; they’re intent on killing anyone who gets in their way. In the balance hangs the life of a child who might someday restore a broken empire to peace and prosperity. With no clue why they’re being hunted, Cal and Seth must accept the aid of a strange and beautiful woman who has promised to unlock their secrets. The two must stay alive long enough to protect their loved ones, recover their true selves–and save two worlds from tyranny and destruction.
Awakenings launches a captivating fantasy saga by an amazing and talented new storyteller.
Born and raised in New York City, comic books were an important part of Edward’s youth and he spent many years working for Marvel Comics. He wrote his first professional story for Marvel Comics Presents starring Namorita (a.k.a. Kymaera) and illustrated the tale as well. After years as an illustrator, Edward returned to school to study English literature and creative writing at Rutgers.
His first published prose story, “The Date,” a dark comedy about a gigolo hired by conjoined twins, appeared in the October 1999 issue of Playboy magazine. This was an important boost to any budding writer’s confidence and contributed to his finishing his first novel, “Awakenings.” Edward has just completed the third book in the Guardians of Aandor series, “Blood of Ten Kings,” which is pending revisions.
His genre influences include: Stephen King, Roger Zelazny, Alan Moore, George R.R. Martin, Ann Rice, John Grisham, Neil Gaiman, J.K. Rowling, Philip K. Dick, Isaac Asimov, Jean M. Auel, Ben Bova, Arthur C. Clarke, Larry Niven, Frederick Pohl, Diana Gabaldon, Jim Butcher, and Glen Cook.
Literary influences include: William Shakespeare, John Steinbeck, Charles Dickens, Jonathan Franzen, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ayn Rand, Margaret Atwood, Jane Austin, Frank McCourt, Mary Shelley, John Irving, Aldous Huxley, Homer, Dante, and Voltaire.
Edward enjoys playing with his new baby daughter as well as his many hobbies such as poker, bike riding, playing softball, and pissing people off on social media through the use of rational thought and common sense.