Today I am interviewing D.B. Jackson, author of the new epic fantasy novel, Time’s Children, first book in the Islevale Cycle.
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DJ: Hey D.B.! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
D.B. Jackson: Gladly – and thanks so much for taking time to chat with me. I’m a veteran of the fantasy and science fiction field, having been at this professionally for over twenty years. Writing as D.B. Jackson, and also under my own name, David B. Coe, I’ve published twenty novels and at least that many short stories. I’ve written epic fantasy, urban fantasy, media tie-ins, and a bit of science fiction. I’m probably best known for the the LonTobyn Chronicle, my first series, which won the Crawford Award, and for the Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy set in pre-Revolutionary Boston. I also have a Ph.D. in U.S. history. Most important, I’m married to the World’s Best Spouse, and I have two daughters, ages 23 and 19.
DJ: What is Time’s Children about?
D.B.: Time’s Children is the opening volume in an epic fantasy/time travel series. It tells the story of Tobias a fifteen-year-old time traveler, or Walker, as they’re known in Islevale. He is sent to a royal court, where the sovereign directs him to Walk back in time 14 years to prevent a war. Just after Tobias arrives in that past, though, the sovereign, most of his ministers, and most of his family are killed by assassins. Tobias survives, as does the sovereign’s infant daughter. Tobias, with help from Mara, his friend and love, who follows him back through time, has to keep the princess safe, restore the royal line to power, and find his way back to his own time. But he’s being pursued by the assassins, and, well, it kind of takes off from there.
DJ: What were some of your influences Time’s Children and the series?
D.B.: The world itself is an homage to Ursula K. LeGuin’s Earthsea. The original Earthsea trilogy has long been among my favorite works – along with Lord of the Rings, it’s the reason I fell in love with fantasy. I’ve created lots of worlds through my career, but I wanted this one to be different from those others, and so I made it a world of islands and seas, archipelagos and straits. As I say, similar to Earthsea, though it has plenty of unique elements.
And then, I would say that I was influenced in this project, as with all my work, by the novels of Guy Gavriel Kay. Guy may well be my favorite fantasist. I so admire the flow and beauty of his prose, the complexity of his settings and characters, the intricacies of his plotting. I strive for the same qualities in my own writing.
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?
D.B.: Okay, so I left out a key detail in my summation of the plot. When my Walkers move through time, they age in direct proportion to how far they go. Tobias and Mara go back in time fourteen years. They start as fifteen-year-olds. They arrive in the past as twenty-nine-year-olds, at least physically. Emotionally and intellectually they’re still themselves – basically kids. So these teenagers are thrust into the middle of intrigue and danger, they have to take care of an orphaned princess who is being hunted, and to everyone around them they look like adults and are expected to act that way. That, to my mind, is a pretty compelling circumstance.
And then there is Droë. She is a Tirribin, a time demon. She preys on human years for sustenance – she kills to feed, by sucking the years out of people. But Tirribin don’t feed on time Walkers, whose years are altered and therefore soured in a way. Droë is a friend to Tobias, but she is also infatuated with him. She’s jealous of Mara. After Tobias goes back in time and creates what Droë calls a misfuture, though, she is dependent on Mara to help repair history. Tirribin are pretty cool beings. They never age – consuming years as they spend them. They’re obsessed with good manners. They can be vicious predators, but they’re also quixotic like children. And they can be distracted from the hunt by a riddle. But you’d better make it a good one…
DJ: What is Islevale, the setting for Time’s Children like?
D.B.: As I mentioned, it’s a world of islands, and so there is much variety in landscape, history, religion, governance, etc. There are several ongoing wars and lots of international rivalries. The most powerful land is Oaqamar – imperialistic, ambitious, ruthless. Its primary enemy is Daerjen, which lies at the center of the Ring Isles. Daerjen is where Tobias is sent; the war he’s supposed to prevent is between Daerjen and Oaqamar. The northern isles – the islands of the Sisters and Sipar’s Labyrinth – are where most magic wielders come from. There are patriarchies and matriarchies. There’s lots of commerce, and every island has its manufacturing or agricultural specialty. There is a God and a Goddess – Sipar and Kheraya. Some people worship one, some the other, and some people worship the Two – another source of rivalry and tension. People from the north, including Tobias and Mara, are dark-skinned. Those in the south are paler, so there are racial tensions as well. It’s a complex world. I’m actually pretty proud of it.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Time’s Children?
D.B.: Wow. Tough question. I love the Islevale books. (Time’s Demon, the second in the series is nearly complete. It comes out in May 2019.) I suppose my favorite thing about writing them has been the sheer scale of the storytelling. I started my career writing epic fantasies – big, multi-strand plots with lots of point of view characters and sprawling worlds. After several years of this – and eleven novels – I moved to urban fantasies, which tend to be leaner, more directed, with fewer subplots and protagonists. Now, I’m back to epic fantasy, and I have loved writing on this scale again. In Time’s Children, Tobias has his own plot thread. Mara has hers. Droë has hers. The assassin has his. The narrative jumps from one point of view to the next – from one time to the next – and in the end they tie together. If anything, the second book is even more complex. Writing these books has been tremendously challenging, but also incredibly fun.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
D.B.: I think they’ll be talking about a couple of things. One will be the implications and paradoxes of time travel, of misfutures and altered histories and the possibility of repairing a timeline that has been altered in a hundred subtle ways. (Spoiler alert: It’s probably an impossible task…) And I think they will be talking about Droë and her fascination with the idea of human love. She is a powerful driving force in Time’s Children and Time’s Demon. Droë may well be the most original and fascinating character I’ve ever created. I can’t get enough of writing her.
DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began the Islevale Cycle? Time’s Children is only the first book, but is 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?
D.B.: There is a lot to these stories – intrigue, action, suspense, romance, the puzzle of time travel. There’s a lot for readers to enjoy here. I think they’re fun books. But yes, there is also a theme, a serious one. I believe ultimately these books are about family and love, about our need to feel that we belong to a family unit, about our near compulsion to create familial stability as a hedge against chaos and loss, about the power of such bonds. My wife and daughters are everything to me; there is nothing in my world more important than them, and so I was naturally drawn to this theme. In the same way, Tobias and Mara and the princess, Sofya, forge a family out of tragedy and death, sacrifice and pursuit. Their love for one another is what gives the books their emotional power.
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 Time’s Children that you can share with us?
D.B.: I do, but the set-up a bit complex. After Walking back through time, Tobias encounters another pair of Tirribin – Teelo and Maeli. They’re also fun characters, and Maeli in particular is acerbic and difficult. They introduce Tobias to an Arrokad – sea demons. Arrokad are powerful, wise, but also capricious, sexual, and utterly self-serving. This particular Arrokad, Ujie, is beautiful and she emerges from the sea naked to bargain with Tobias. When their negotiation is done, Ujie walks back into the sea while Tobias and the Tirribin watch (remember, the Tirribin are essentially child demons). So this is how the scene ends:
“Farewell, Walker,” Ujie said. She crossed to the stairs, her hips swaying, torchlight shining on her shoulders.
Teelo sighed again, watching as she began her descent to the shore. “She’s beautiful. Sometimes I wish–”
“Don’t,” Maeli said, a warning in her green eyes. “That’s just disgusting.”
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Links to book sites: http://smarturl.it/timeschildren
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions! 🙂
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*** Time’s Children is published by Angry Robot and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Nobel | Goodreads | Kobo
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A time traveler trapped in a violent past must protect the orphaned child of a murdered sovereign and find a way home, in this astonishing epic fantasy novel.
Fifteen year-old Tobias Doljan, a Walker trained to travel through time, is called to serve at the court of Daerjen. The sovereign, Mearlan IV, wants him to Walk back fourteen years, to prevent a devastating war which will destroy all of Islevale. Even though the journey will double Tobias’ age, he agrees. But he arrives to discover Mearlan has already been assassinated, and his court destroyed. The only survivor is the infant princess, Sofya. Still a boy inside his newly adult body, Tobias must find a way to protect the princess from assassins, and build himself a future… in the past.
Jon Hollins is a pseudonym for urban fantasy author Jonathan Wood whose debut novel (No Hero) was described by Publishers Weekly as a funny, dark, rip-roaring adventure with a lot of heart, highly recommended for urban fantasy and light science fiction readers alike. Barnesandnoble.com listed it has one of the 20 best paranormal fantasies of the past decade, and Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse novels described it as, so funny I laughed out loud. His short fiction has appeared in Weird Tales, Chizine, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies, as well as anthologies such as The Book of Cthulhu 2 and The Best of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Year One.