Welcome to Rave Reviews Book Club’s BOOK & BLOG BLOCK PARTY
at Siân Glírdan – The Way of the Bard, the main author blog of RRBC Member of the Year 2016, author Jan Hawke! (aka Siân Glírdan) – 😀
Location: N. Cornwall, UK
Today’s giveaways are…
- *One (1) promotional Guest spot on Siân Glírdan – The Way of the Bard (‘Desert Island’ interview or other feature)
- *One (1) hand-made deck of Jan’s fantasy tarot cards (the Fool, or Trickster is on the wallpaper this month!)
- *One (1) $/£ 10 AMAZON gift card
making 3 lucky winners for this stop!
Just post a comment on the 14th April to be in the draw to win – good luck!
Slight change of plan with my second giveaway – I dropped the T-Shirt in favour of my exclusively designed fantasy tarot deck as this formed the basis of the cover design of my latest book, A Freebooter’s Fantasy Almanac.
Last year I made a decision to start publishing my fantasy titles under the pen name of Siân Glírdan, so, instead of going to my book blogs this time around on the block party tour I’m concentrating on my author blogs instead. Siân Glírdan – The Way of the Bard is my new, dedicated author blog that launched shortly before I published A Freebooter’s Fantasy Almanac (AFFA) last summer.
My inspiration for the cover of AFFA came from the major arcana characters of the my fantasy Tarot cards, so I’d like to share with you the various design decisions that led to my choosing The Tower, which made the cut for the final cover decision at the end of the post. The brief was drawn up by my Siân persona and the central ‘character’ in the novel, the elf, Janowyn, who is my main roleplaying alter-ego…
First, we were drawn to the Hierophant card, connected to Norse mythology and the god Odin’s gift for prophecy and creativity. Included in those abilities is the willingness to accept pain and suffering…
This particular image did not sit right with the personality of the book’s central elven persona.
Next we considered the Hanged Man, an ambivalent card, normally speaking of betrayal and again linked to Odin when he was hung upside down from the World Tree, Yggdrasil.
The imagery here was too much associated with the opening scene of the fantasy movie ‘Willow’, and so was passed over.
Odin had become a fixation! The King of Swords was briefly considered as a warrior persona, until we were sharply reminded that this was about a voyage of self-discovery and not the art of warfare…
As you can see, the final image considered for the cover, The Tower (full colour version), does contain mythological and natural elements that communicate the primary theme of struggle with significant challenges. The stormy sea and lightning speak of overwhelming physical and emotional hardships, whilst the god-like figure of Poseidon and white horses represent the Fates. The battered lighthouse shows a precarious hope for deliverance.
The colour change to grayscale on the skyline, for the final cover solution (see below) also helps to convey the fantasy and real worlds colliding.
Milele Safari – An Eternal Journey …twines around a single day, in an unremarkable border village that snuffs out the lives of four people and shatters many others, only to draw the survivors back to a different time and, perhaps, a hope of atonement and peace. Step out on the journey and discover an Africa that could have been, is and might one day come to be.
Editorial Review (Sue Bridgwater) ~ It was Dorothy L. Sayers who noted, in ‘Gaudy Night’, the significance of what she called a ‘chance assemblage of persons.’ Who knows what they might talk about? Who knows what each is privately remembering?
In the ‘present day’ of this debut novel, Jan Hawke exploits the potential of such a gathering to the full. Sophie is our main focus and way into the story, and from the beginning we are aware of her memories of previous times in Africa and the pain and loss she suffered then. Meanwhile, on the surface, she and her companions are enjoying their safari, chatting about animals they have seen, animals they hope to see, battling scorpions and drinking beer.
Just to make it really hard for herself, however, Jan Hawke then delves back not only into Sophie’s personal African tragedy, but into the memories and sorrows of many other characters, into the violent history of genocide and civil war, into myth and folklore and into the tangling together of some of those stories.
This is a bold venture for a first novel, but Hawke knows how to do it. The multiple strands of story, the different time-periods, the pain and the happiness, are skilfully brought together so that events and people are solid and four-dimensional, so that the reader can walk into these histories of love and loss and hope and sorrow, and feel as keenly as if they were there.
While reading, one is always aware of how solidly founded the story is on Hawke’s knowledge of Africa and her love for it. All the details that anchor the tale in our own non-fictional world are the fruit, not of targeted research, but of felt conviction.
This is a book worth reading. In the flood of available fiction in which we feel we may drown, this is one to seize hold of and keep. Buy it.
A Freebooter’s Fantasy Almanac ~ a sort of real cyberspace memoir
This is poetry, wrapped in fantasy, within a memoir… Or, to put it another way, it’s a true tale that applies to many fantasy fans and gamers who can’t be bothered with keeping their realities separated from their more lurid inventions. In my case this is a sort of ‘real’ cyberspace profiling, during a phase of my life when roleplay truly did need to be therapy, because what was happening around me for real, was not what I wanted to participate in. So, buckle up your swash and prepare to witness a titanic battle played out on the field of sanity – where what happens in your head is the only truth that matters.
Editorial Review by Ron E. Yates ~ Writing, as any author will tell you, is an intensely personal endeavor. We scribblers pour heart and soul into the scenes and incidents we create or recreate from our own lives. That’s what makes good writing unfeigned and heartfelt and it’s what brings readers back to our work again and again. What Sian Glirdan has compiled in her “Freebooter’s Fantasy Almanac”-a work she calls a “sort of real cyberspace memoir”-is a deeply personal examination of her life. She opens the shutters and windows to reveal “struggles with health, achievement, emotion and, most of all, dreams and imagination.” This is not a linear narrative or memoir, but an effort peppered with original poetry, painful recollections of personal tragedy and suffering, and inspiring reminiscences of happiness and exhilaration. It is a book interleaved with both fantasy and reality-a challenging work that will carry the reader on a journey of discovery. It takes courage to write like this because in doing so, Sian Glirdan has opened herself up to great scrutiny. No doubt the impetus for this work is as much catharsis for her as it is an unearthing of emotion for the reader. The following passage I found especially revealing: “In our inner life we are all essentially alone with our thoughts and feelings, although those can be expressed of course.
“In our inner life we are all essentially alone with our thoughts and feelings, although those can be expressed of course. Thoughts however are another matter. We are selective in what thoughts stay that way, unspoken, and which are communicated. In a way this exercise is for my own thoughts that I hold close and don’t necessarily speak them to anyone, but want to get them out there somehow. Therapy if you like, but not to a person as such. My stunted way of steering my own course ‘as fair and true’ as I can manage these days.”
As a true Freebooter Sian Glirdan is taking us, as she says, “Into uncharted waters without a map of any real description, or even an idea of what to expect.” Climb aboard for a cruise into an inspired sea of illusion and imagination, moored by authenticity and unremitting experience.
Other places to find me & my books!
Sian Glirdan blog
Dreamworlds Publishing blog
Milele Safari blog
A Freebooter’s Fantasy Almanac
and finally a link to the blog for my latest work in progress
The Haven Lands blog