Author Interview: Joshua Palmatier

Today I am interviewing Joshua Palmatier, author of the new epic fantasy novel, Reaping the Aurora, final book in the Ley series.

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DJ: Hey Joshua! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Joshua Palmatier:  Certainly.  I’m a fantasy author with DAW Books who also happens to have a PhD in math.  I teach at a college in upstate New York and write the fantasy novels on the side.  At this point, I have three complete trilogies out—the “Throne of Amenkor” trilogy, the “Well of Sorrows” trilogy, and the just finished “Ley” trilogy.  I also have some short stories published in various anthologies and edit themed anthologies as well.  I formed a small press called Zombies Need Brains in order to continue editing anthologies.

DJ: What are Reaping the Aurora and the Ley series about?

Joshua:  REAPING THE AURORA is the third and final novel in the “Ley” series.  The basic premise is that humans have tapped into the power of the ley lines—the magical lines that connect stone monuments (such as Stonehenge)—and they are using the ley lines sort of like how we use electricity.  In the first book, Kara learns that she’s a Wielder, one of those that can manipulate the ley.  Allan, a guardsman, learns that he somehow disrupts the ley lines.  In the first two books, due to the abuse of the ley, it shatters, basically creating a catastrophe that thrusts the relatively advance society of the city of Erenthrall (and the rest of the world) into chaos.  Kara, Allan, and the rest of those they gather around them fight for survival while attempting to repair the damage that’s been done.  REAPING THE AURORA focuses on their last ditch efforts to repair the ley before it rips the world—and reality—apart.

DJ: What were some of your influences for the Ley series?

Joshua:  I can’t point to any book specifically, but I can say that in the 80s I was reading a ton of fantasy and almost all of them mentioned the ley lines.  It was a quick easy way to identify to the reader that they book they were holding was a fantasy.  It became a trope.  But I was always annoyed because no one seemed to be actively USING the ley lines, not in any significant way.  That stuck with me, so I began to ask myself how the ley lines could be used so that they were an integral part of the story, not just some colorful accent to the story.  That was the start of the “Ley” series.  Obviously more was involved—a cool idea does not a story make—but that’s where the world itself was born.

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?

Joshua:  The main characters are, of course, Kara and Allan, with some other character—Morrell and Cory—coming into significance in the third book as well.  Kara, of course, has the ability to manipulate the ley lines, which makes her cool automatically.  Allan is a guardsman in the elite Dogs, but he finds out that they are much more brutal and vicious than he can handle.  Both of them are caught up in personal struggles—learning how to use the ley or dealing with the horrific Dogs—but at the same time they become inexplicably caught up in the politics of the ley lines.  They are ordinary people, perhaps with some extraordinary powers, and they end up struggling to survive and right the wrongs that others have perpetrated on the world.  I think their struggle is what readers with sympathize with.

DJ: What is the world and setting of the the Ley series like?

Joshua:  I think the world of the “Ley” series is a little unique.  It’s set long after the society has tapped into the ley lines for power.  So it’s advanced beyond what most readers would think of as a fantasy setting.  It’s more like New York City, but with ley power instead of electricity.  Most of the first and third novels are set in cities—Erenthrall and the Needle—only the second book has a significant portion set in a rural setting.  After the first novel, the world itself is in jeopardy, so there are unnatural auroral storms that can warp the very fabric of reality when they sweep by.  There are distortions the size of entire cities that shatter reality into shards.  And massive earthquakes that threaten to tear the world apart.  All of these are connected to the ley and the disruption caused by the abuse of the ley system.  Through all of the books, there is an underlying threat of violence—first from the Dogs that patrol the city of Erenthrall, then from the savagery of a world thrown into chaos, and finally from the terrorist group that helped bring about the Shattering the ley in the first place.  I think it’s a very recognizable world, parallel to our own at the moment.  In the beginning, the baronies are being ruled by Baron Arent, who controls Prime Wielder Augustus, who controls the ley.  They’re using this and the brutal Dogs to keep control of everyone else.  But after the ley shatters, the world is fractured into a bunch of different groups, all vying for the same resources.  The strongest rise to the top, including the terrorist group called the Kormanley, who’s ruled over by a man they call Father.  He’s more of a religious figure, mostly because he has visions and uses those visions to control his followers.  It’s a complicated world, hard to summarize like this.

DJ: Can tell the readers about the ley magic?

Joshua: This is much easier.  The ley lines are basically a magical energy that connects rock formations across the entire world.  Actually, the ley lines are natural and the rock formations are the symbols that we have erected to locate some of the more crucial nodes, where ley lines intersect.  We learn how to tap into the energy of the ley and use it to heat and light our homes, use it for transport, etc.  In fact, we learn how to augment the power of the ley and make it stronger.  This is what ultimately leads to its abuse and the shattering of the ley network.

DJ: How have the reviews been from readers, bloggers, and reviewers for the first two book of the Ley series? Is there anything that your audience seems to be particularly enjoying or is eager to find out more about?

Joshua:  I think what people are enjoying most is the world itself, its familiarity, while at the same time retaining the fantasy setting.  And I also think they’re enjoying how I twist some of the standard fantasy tropes, especially in the first book, SHATTERING THE LEY.  It doesn’t end as you’d expect.  But I think what people are going to miss the most when they finish the series are the characters.  I definitely finish their stories, but it’s obvious that their lives move on after the last page.  I hope the characters live on in readers’ minds.

DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Reaping the Aurora?

Joshua:  I think the best part about writing REAPING THE AURORA was seeing all of the varied plot threads that had been started in the first two books come together into one unified story.  This happened at the end of the first book as well—plot threads weaving together in a way I hadn’t seen or planned—but when it does that across the entire series … well, it kind of gives me, as a writer, a little chill.  Seeing how everything ended up fitting together in the end is always thrilling.

DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?

Joshua:  Well, I hope about how all of the characters contributed to the final climactic scenes!  And also how they wish the series could continue on.

DJ: Did you have a goal when you began writing the Ley series? Was there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?

Joshua:  I wouldn’t say I had a set goal that I wanted to pound into my readers, but I do think that as I wrote, I realized that the series is kind of a cautionary tale about abusing or misusing natural resources.  There could be serious consequences, ones that could destroy the world.  Obviously in the fantasy setting, you can make that an immediate and significant threat.  In the real world, it’s a little more subtle.  But we should still be careful of how we use our resources—oil, in particular, but others as well.  There may be unintended or unexpected consequences that we can’t control and that could destroy us.

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?

Joshua:  I’m an organic writer, so I don’t really plot things out or outline in any way.  But I do start with a rough idea of what I think the books and series will do.  In this case, the story evolved as it was written significantly.  REAPING THE AURORA in particular is completely different than the book I expected to write when I started.  The first and second book are pretty much what I had in mind, but that third book—totally different, down to setting and characters involved, and … well, everything.

DJ: Now that Reaping the Aurora is released, what is next for you?

Joshua:  Well, I’ve started a new series.  New world, new characters, everything.  Completely different from any of my previous series (they were all connected, set in the same world, just at different times in that world’s history).  I’m again playing around with a world constructed around a particular “magic” and I’m again using more of a city setting for the fantasy.  Cities appear to be a strength of mine, in writing.  I’m only about six chapters in at the moment, so it’s still evolving, so I can’t really expand much beyond that.  But I’m definitely still writing and hope this next world is as exciting and different and cool as the world used in the “Ley” series.  *grin*

DJ:Where can readers find out more about you?  

Blog:  jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/joshua.b.palmatier

Goodreads:  www.goodreads.com/author/show/359573.Joshua_Palmatier

Kickstarter:  tinyurl.com/InsurgentUrbar

Twitter:  @bentateauthor, @znbllc

Website:  www.joshuapalmatier.com, www.zombiesneedbrains.com

DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about Reaping the Aurora and the Ley series that we haven’t talked about yet?

Joshua:  Um … I think what I’d like to emphasize is that the “Ley” series is not your typical fantasy series.  The setting is different, the world is different.  It has a much more “modern” feel to it, but it’s definitely a fantasy world.  The characters aren’t all powerful; I think they’re much more relatable and “real” than that.  I think readers will grow to love them.  It’s just … not your typical fantasy.

DJ: Is there anything else you would like add?

Joshua:  Nope!  I’m good!  Thanks for the opportunity to appear at your blog!

DJ: You are welcome! Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!

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*** Reaping the Aurora is published by DAW Books and is available TODAY!!! ***

Buy the Book: 

Amazon | Barnes & NobelGoodreads | Kobo

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About the Book:

The final book in the thrilling epic fantasy Ley trilogy, set in a sprawling city of light and magic fueled by a ley line network. 

In a world torn apart by the shattering of the magical ley lines that formerly powered all the cities and towns of the Baronies, there are few havens left for the survivors. The uncontrolled distortions released by the shattering have claimed the main cities of the Baronial Plains. And many of the Wielders who controlled the ley died in the apocalyptic cataclysm their manipulation of the ley created.

Wielder Kara Tremain and former Dog Allan Garrett, survivors of the city of Erenthrall’s destruction, have seized control of the new Nexus created at the distant temple known as the Needle, the stronghold of the White Cloaks and their leader, Father Dalton. With Father Dalton a prisoner, Kara intends to use the Needle’s Nexus to heal the major distortions that threaten to shake their entire world apart.

But while she and the remaining Wielders managed to stabilize Erenthrall, they have not been able to stop the auroral storms or the devastating earthquakes sweeping across the lands. Now they are hoping to find a means to heal the distortion at the city of Tumbor, releasing the nodes captured inside. If they succeed, the ley network should be able to stabilize itself.

But the distortion over Tumbor is huge, ten times the size of the one over Erenthrall. Kara will need the help of all of the Wielders at the Needle in order to generate enough power, including the rebel White Cloaks. But can Kara trust them to help her, or will the White Cloaks betray her in order to free Father Dalton and regain control of the Needle, possibly destroying any chance of healing the ley network in the process?

Meanwhile, Allan journeys back to Erenthrall, hoping to form alliances with some of the survivors, only to discover that Erenthrall itself has sunk a thousand feet into the ground. The vicious groups that plagued them on their last visit have banded together under a new leader–Devin, formerly Baron Aurek’s second-in-command. While discussing an alliance with the Temerite enclave, Devin’s men attack, forcing Allan and the Temerites to flee back to the Needle, leaving Erenthrall in Devin’s hands.

But the Needle is no safe haven. Father Dalton’s followers have begun to rebel, starting riots and creating unrest, all of it targeted at Kara and the Wielders. The tensions escalate beyond control when Father Dalton declares he’s had a vision–a vision in which the Needle is attacked from the north by dogs and from the south by snakes; a vision that ends with the quickening of the distortions called the Three Sisters to the north . . . and the annihilation of reality itself!


About the Author:

Joshua Palmatier was born in Coudersport, PA, but since his father was in the military he moved around. Alot. He’s lived in the states of Pennsylvania (three times), Florida (twice), Washington, California (briefly), Virginia, Texas (twice), and now resides in upstate New York. He has spent the majority of his life so far going to school, earning a Bachelors of Science and a Master of Arts degree in mathematics from the Pennsylvania State University, followed by a PhD in mathematics from Binghamton University. He is currently teaching mathematics (what else) at the State University of New York–Oneonta, taught for two years at Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania, and taught for three years at Bloomsburg University while taking a break between his masters degree and the PhD.

Joshua started writing science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories in the eighth grade, when the teacher assigned a one page Twilight Zone-ish short story. He wrote a story about Atlantis. It was from the perspective of one of the inhabitants as he escaped in a spaceship, watching his world being destroyed by water from one of the viewports of the ship. He got an A. Joshua has never stopped writing since, mainly focusing on novels.


 

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