Today I am interviewing Aaron Hodges, author of the new fantasy novel, Soul Blade, final book in The Sword of Light trilogy.
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DJ: Hey Aaron! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Aaron Hodges: Sure thing D.J. I’m a fantasy writer from the country of New Zealand, although right now I’m living in Argentina. I’m an Environmental Scientist by profession, but a few years ago I got tired of the office and quit to see the world (my Overseas Experience or ‘OE’ as we call it in New Zealand). During my travels I picked up an old novel I’d written when I was younger and began to rewrite it. I finally published that first book, Stormwielder, back in December 2015 and to my surprise it kind of took off. Since then I’ve been desperately trying to keep up with the demands of my fans for books 2 and 3!
DJ: What is Book 1: Stormwielder about?
Aaron: Stormwielder is the first book in my trilogy, so it involves a lot of world building. At its heart though, it’s a tale of redemption. It starts with the introduction of a young man named Eric, who has the power to manipulate the weather. Unfortunately for him and everyone else, Eric cannot control his magic, and inadvertently destroys the unsuspecting town of Oaksville. That act quickly becomes the motivating force behind Eric’s character, as he struggles to find a way to redeem himself. Amidst that struggle, Eric finds himself drawn into an ancient conflict between the Gods and the dark Magicker known as Archon. And it’s all downhill from there!
DJ: What were some of your influences for Soul Blade and The Sword of Light trilogy?
Aaron: I first came up with the idea for this trilogy while I was in High School, so many of the plot and character elements came from what I read back then. Certainly the epic fantasy novels of David Eddings influenced the ‘worldwide conflict’ facets of the story – where the characters of good must join together to save the world from some great evil. But as I’ve grown, other influences also crept into my work. I like to think authors such as Sara Douglass, David Gemmell and Ian Irvine have helped me develop more depth to my characters and world, while still retaining the epic fantasy style plot at its centre.
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 will sympathize with them?
Aaron: Hmm, well, I’ve already talked a little about Eric. His primary motivation throughout much of the series is redemption, and a lot of his actions reflect that. He is a determined young man and he rarely gives up.
Personally though, one of my favorites is the young woman, Enala. As a character, she experiences some of the worst events in the series. Her parents die saving her from hunters, the dragon she rides is murdered, and her only friend in the world is swept away by a raging river. She comes within inches of losing her mind, but bit by bit she claws herself back from the edge. And no matter how grim a situation or challenge, she never stops searching for a solution.
Then there’s Gabriel. One of my darker creations, Gabriel begins as a character obsessed with vengeance. His parents and fiancé were killed in the storm that tore apart Oaksville – the storm Eric caused – and he quickly sets off to take his revenge. As the story progresses, he is consumed by his hatred, and commits some unthinkable acts of his own in his quest for vengeance. That is, until he meets Enala.
DJ: What is the world of The Sword of Light trilogy like?
Aaron: Well, as you might guess from the name, there are three countries in my story – Plorsea, Lonia, and Trola. There is peace between them now, but five hundred years ago Lonia and Trola were determined to wipe each other from the map. The conflict between them cost the lives of thousands of young men and woman, until at last the priests of both nations came together to end the violence. Between them they worked a great magic and brought the spirits of the Three Elements (Light, Sky and Earth) to life – creating the Three Gods. The Gods ended the conflict between the two nations, before the Goddess of the Earth took a group of refugees into the wasteland created by the Great Wars and created the nation of Plorsea.
Afterwards, there was peace between the Three Nations. That is, until the God of Light disappeared, and the dark Magicker Archon rose to rule the wasteland to the north of the Three Nations. While Archon was eventually defeated and pushed back to the northern wastelands, his power is now growing again, and there are few left to stand against him.
Here’s a map of the Three Nations for those interested:
DJ: Can you tell us about the magic in the Three Nations, as well?
Aaron: Sure thing! Well, as I mentioned earlier, there are Three Elements to magic in my world – Light, Earth and Sky. A Magicker can only control one element, and usually only a part of it. For instance, the Sky controls wind, lightning, hail, rain, etc. But a Magicker might only be able to control the wind or lightning, not both (Eric is unique in that he controls the entire Sky element).
In the inexperienced, magic is connected solely with a Magicker’s emotions. So if one is angry or threatened, their magic will rise up to defend them. Unfortunately, their magic will not necessary stop once released, even when the threat is gone. This makes an inexperienced Magicker extremely dangerous to everyone around them.
To gain control over their magic, a Magicker must master their emotions. This is done through meditation, which allows one to focus their mind and free themselves from the pull of their thoughts. Once this is achieved, a Magicker can then reach inside them and draw on their magic. However, this is not without its own dangers. Magic has a will of its own, and its craves freedom. Each time a Magicker uses their magic is a battle of wills, as the magic struggles to overwhelm them and gain control of their body.
If a Magicker loses the battle with their magic and cannot regain control of their body, they eventually become a demon.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Soul Blade and completing the final book in The Sword of Light trilogy?
Aaron: The plot twists! 😀 Okay, seriously though, there have been a few questions readers haven’t stopped asking since the first book, and I’m pleased to say they have finally been answered! Things like, What happened to the God of Light, what does Archon want, how the hell are they going to win this fight?
I really enjoyed finally unveiling the answers to those questions. There’s a certain satisfaction to seeing twists you’ve been planning for years come to fruition, and I really hope readers appreciate the planning that went into them 😉
DJ: How have the reviews been from readers, bloggers, and reviewers for the first two booking the series? Is there anything that your audience seems to be particularly enjoying or is eager to find out more about?
Aaron: Mostly positive – I had a few issues with typos when I first started out, that have since been fixed! Reviews for book 2 (Firestorm) have been very positive, and I hope it will be the same for Soul Blade! The general impression most have left is that the books are about standing up against evil and never giving up, no matter the odds.
And in the words of one reviewer: “Toughest…. Baddies….. Ever……”
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish Soul Blade?
Aaron: Haha, probably what happened to the God of Light. It’s a twist that in hindsight probably shouldn’t be too surprising, but so far I haven’t heard of anyone guessing the truth. It will be interesting to see how people react. Other than that, the final battle with Archon should also get a few mentions.
DJ: I’m always curious when authors finish a series, how close to the original course they stayed when it is finally completed or if it ended up evolving and changing. Did the plot stay the same as you had first imagined it? How about the ending? The evolution of your characters?
Aaron: Well, as I said earlier, this series began waaay back in High School. So it’s definitely evolved a bit over the years. For instance, there was pretty much no romance in the earlier versions I’d written (not that my books are packed with much now!). But it is surprising how much they did stick to the general outline I had planned. Certain scenes played out a little differently in the end and a few extra characters now colour the story, but in essence it is the same story I began with. Only with a richer world, a deeper backstory, and greater character development than what I managed at seventeen!
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 Stormwielder that you can share with us?
Aaron: I’ll give you two from Stormwielder, the first book in my series:
“Fear is natural. We are all afraid at times. But you must not run from fear. If you do, it becomes a beast that will devour you. Real mean take their fear and learn from it.” – Eric’s father
“True bravery means pursuing what you want, no matter the obstacles. The world may end tomorrow, but what matters is what we do with the time we have left. Otherwise, we are already lost.” – Inken.
DJ: Now that Soul Blade is released, what is next for you?
Aaron: Well, I’m going to take a breather, finish up my travels through South America (Chile and Southern Argentina to go!). And then I actually already have the beginnings of a new series in my mind – although this one will be Science fiction! The series will follow a group of youths who wake up in a prison with no memory of the outside world or their own lives. But whatever their pasts, they soon find out their future is not looking bright. Readers can signup for a free copy on its release here.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Author Newsletter: http://www.aaronhodges.co.nz/newsletter-signup
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Aaron-Hodges/e/B018KY4ZIA/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
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*** Soul Blade is available TODAY!!! ***
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All three (3) paperback books in The Sword of Light trilogy!
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The Three Nations are crumbling.
Darkness is gathering.
And only Eric remains to stand against it.
Eric stumbles through the wilderness, searching, hunting – desperate for sign of his sister. But the girl is gone, stolen away by the power of the Soul Blade. With each passing hour its hold on her tightens, her spirit fading before the onslaught of its magic. If he cannot save her soon, it will claim her soul. And he will have to kill her.
Meanwhile, Gabriel is locked in the cells beneath Ardath. The darkness presses in around him, absolute, suffocating. Time, hope, sanity, all have long since slipped beneath the waves of his despair. Only it remains – the unrelenting voice of the demon. It haunts the darkness, tempting him with promises of freedom.
How long can he resist its call?
Aaron Hodges was born in 1989 in the small town of Whakatane, New Zealand. He studied for five years at the University of Auckland, completing a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and Geography, and a Masters of Environmental Engineering. After working as an environmental consultant for two years, he grew tired of office work and decided to quit his job and see the world. During his travels he picked up an old draft of a novel he once wrote in High School – titled The Sword of Light – and began to rewrite the story. This book, Soul Blade, marks the final conclusion of that epic tale.
Fans of Aaron can signup for updates and special offers at: aaronhodges.co.nz/newsletter-signup/