I am so pleased to welcome my guests today, Charles David Carpenter & D.W. Jones—and not only have they agreed to let me ask them some questions, but they’re also giving us a peek into their novel, Necromancers’ Pride: Quest for Elderstone, which was released just last month. I have been following along on their website since I met them on Twitter, and I can say that you, gentle readers, are in for a treat!
About Charles: Besides being a writer, I am a martial artist who was born and reared in sunny Southern California. Yes, I am the rare native who was actually born here. See, we do exist. As a martial artist, I have learned how to fight people. As an Angeleno, I have learned how to fight traffic. Traffic is tougher, by far. I attended California State University Northridge, but my love of writing was instilled in me by my father. My family has always said, “Before he could talk, he could write.” Thank you, family.
As an avid lifelong reader, I have always dreamed of creating a world into which I could immerse myself and feel safe. Writing has given me an outlet that allows for expression behind the shield of different characters and places. Growing up, some of my closest friends could be found in the pages and verses of fantasy stories. I am so excited to now be able to add to that collection of friends with some of my own creation.
About D.W.: I spent my formative years in Washington, D.C. I know about cold. I was accepted into the prestigious Duke Ellington School of the Arts in high school and several years after graduating from Northwood High, I made my way to Los Angeles, where I have lived for the past ??? years. So now, I know about sunny and warm. Um, sunny and warm is better.
Stories of daring adventures in faraway places with action and romance helped me to avoid the pitfalls of the streets, inspiring me to dream bigger and reach farther. Those stories still inspire me today.
In 2003, we joined creative forces and began collaborating on the very successful original comedy series for the internet called CAN WE DO THAT?
Like night and day, we are two uniquely different authors who came together to form what we feel is a dynamic writing team. After several screenplays, tv pilots and commercial copy we embarked on writing our first novel series.
Necromancers’ Pride – Quest for Elderstone is an epic fantasy novel for teens, young adults and people of all ages. This mystical tale of adventure, magic, valor and survival awaits you. Don’t forget to tell the enchanting soothsayers, warriors and wizards that we said hello.
We welcome you to visit necromancerspride.com and join us on our journey as we continue to expand the world we’ve created. It is a world in which we can all enter and indulge our desires to become the heroes we have always dreamed ourselves to be.
All righty, then! Tell us a little about your novel.
Charles David Carpenter: Well, first, we want to thank you for allowing us to chat with you and your readers.
D.W. Jones: Absolutely, good looking out! We really appreciate it.
CDC: At its core, Necromancers’ Pride – Quest for Elderstone is magic, swordplay, exotic locations, amazing creatures and unforgettable characters. It’s a coming of age story wherein the characters are thrust into a situation were they have to grow up quickly.
DWJ: They are young, trying to deal with the demands thrust on them to save mankind.
CDC: Their abilities give them unique coping skills and their histories give them perspective, but the problems they encounter are very real.
DWJ: Exactly. It’s useless window dressing if the themes and motivations that drive the characters aren’t honest.
CDC: Well put, sir. I think I’m rubbing off on you.
DWJ: Thanks. Though, I tend not to use ‘you’ and ‘rub’ in the same sentence … pretty much ever.
CDC: Touché. Having said that, below is a brief synopsis of the book:
Powerful, dark and sinister forces seek to rip apart the very fabric of the Known Kingdoms. With the peak of the 1000-year magical Caredon Cycle almost upon them, the Necromancers battle against time as they plot to dominate all the Strands of the Magics and conquer the world of the living.
Velladriana Ral, a young slave from the distant land of Lyndria, has no idea of the mystical powers growing inside her. Through a daring rescue by Corwyn Du’Serradyn, an Oslyn cadet from the Glass Tower, Velladriana escapes her tormentors. A strange attraction now links the two of them together, and their destinies intertwine as Corwyn finds himself unwittingly appointed to protect Velladriana, whose mystical powers can either save the future of humankind … or destroy it.
They must first make a long and dangerous journey in search of an enchanted place called Mount Elderstone. Once there, they hope to find the answers they seek.
That sounds intriguing, and my interest is piqued even more by the “hope” there in the last sentence in place of the usual “where they will find the answers.” I think most people assume a happy ending, but don’t tell us “yeah, it all works out neatly in the end.” Why bother reading the book after that??
So how did the two of you start writing together, and how do you handle the writing partnership? (Who does what?)
CDC: Well, we started writing together about eleven years ago.
DWJ: We joined forces on a web series for the Internet called ‘Can We Do That?’
CDC: Right away, it was pretty clear that we made a good team. After the show wrapped, we kept writing together.
DWJ: We’ve written several feature scripts, television pilots and spec commercials. What he does well, I don’t, and vice versa.
CDC: And there is a lot that he doesn’t do well, trust me. As for how we handle the writing, well … I do all the heavy lifting. The brilliant action sequences, poignant life observations, witty banter and unexpected plot twists, I do all that.
DWJ: Ha-ha, he wishes. We both come up with plot points and character development, and then I turn him loose on the pages. As you can see, he is never short on words.
CDC: Maybe his assessment is slightly more accurate than mine. Slightly. As for the words, why say something in six words when sixty will do?
DWJ: Whereas I believe that if it is the right six words, that is where the real magic lives.
CDC: So, we come to a happy medium. D.W. is really great at streamlining the story, striking a great balance between action and narrative. He has a great ear for keeping each character’s voice true to that individual. He also is very aware of info dumping.
DWJ: Hey, if it bores me, it will bore you. I want our readers to join us on this adventure and be hooked from the very first page. With so many distractions out there to pull people’s attention away from reading, I want to never give them reason to put the book down. Info dumping will definitely do that.
CDC: I feel free to write every image and construct I can imagine because I know I have him there to edit out that which is superfluous and stifling to the story.
DWJ: And I could have said all that in six words.
CDC: Very funny … though true.
Now you make me wish I could be a fly on the wall while you’re working … It sounds like you both have fun working together, and I think that has to show in the work you do. What was the toughest challenge you faced when writing Necromancers’ Pride: Quest for Elderstone, and how did you overcome it?
CDC: Getting him to see that I am always right is pretty challenging. The biggest challenge for me, though, was in trusting my ability to do this story justice and tell it in the fashion in which it deserves.
DWJ: Which I know is what he does well, so I never worry about that part of the process. My biggest challenge was in keeping us moving forward. At first, it was draining on both of us when we battled over using one of Charles’s thousand dollar words or simplifying the adjective, what narrative to keep or what to take out. Now understand, it wasn’t an admission of who was right or wrong, we just had to use what option told a better story. What was the sexier choice?
CDC: As much as it is said writing is done in a bubble, you have to let people in to honestly critique your work. Be they beta readers, editors or friends, you need to share your world as it develops. Having D.W. there to share in the creation allowed us both to look beyond our own trepidation and have fun doing what we love, which is writing/storytelling.
I agree with you! My writing partner and I are both working on independent stories set in the same world (the characters will eventually come together), and I am always amazed and delighted at her perspective and the way it affects both the world and the story. She was an invaluable editor for my first novel, which I wrote without an outline. Are you story architects (plotters) or discovery writers (pantsers)? Tell a little about why you work that way!
DWJ: For the most part, I’d say we’re pantsers. We get together and lay a basic skeleton down, and then I let Charles work his magic and flesh it out.
CDC: I do like having a basic roadmap. However, we both believe in letting the characters dictate what happens as they are exposed to it. By keeping a loose framework, we can honor the spontaneity of the situation.
DWJ: Basically, what I just said.
CDC: So we’re a little of both, we’re plantsers.
I think that is the perfect way to approach a story. It gives the writer a direction to go without chaining him or her to a line-by-line recipe. One of the fun things about writing that way is how the story and characters can take the most surprising paths. It’s like… magic!
Choose one fantasy element you used and talk about what it adds to your story.
DWJ: Well, we both feel the most important elements in any story are the characters. Without real, fully developed characters, no one will be invested enough to follow them on their adventures.
CDC: Both the protagonists and antagonists. We want all of our characters to be as human (whether they really are or aren’t) as possible. If they are multifaceted and interesting, people will laugh with them, cry with them and ultimately care for them. Good and evil is rarely black and white. We want readers to enter the world of Necromancers’ Pride and know that they will always encounter complex and interesting characters to bring the world to life.
Why do you think the fantasy genre appeals to so many readers?
DWJ: I think it connects with the child in all of us. It gives us the opportunity to willingly suspend our disbelief and be carried off into a different world. We all get to be the heroes or villains, warriors or wizards, soothsayers or bards we always imagined ourselves to be.
CDC: Fantasy connects us with our dreams. See … I can do six words, too.
DWJ: Well put, sir.
Oh, that was a perfect answer. So now we come down to the final and most important question: Chocolate or vanilla?
CDC: Being mixed myself, I like them mixed.
DWJ: Neither, lactose intolerant. I’ll take sorbet.
CDC: Thank you once again, Robin, and your readers, for giving us some time to share with you.
DWJ: Yaay Ya!
All right, being the chocolate fanatic that I am, my mind went straight, to “Ooo, chocolate sorbet. With coconut milk!” It has been a real pleasure chatting with you both and learning more about how you work.
And now guess what! We have an EXCERPT from Necromancer’s Pride: Quest for Elderstone!
“That is impossible,” Corwyn countered. “I have never heard of such a thing.”
“That you have not heard does not make it untrue. History is written by the victors, after all.” Mama Weaver stood and looked at them both. “The Pride has finally been born. The dark Magi have used many a fell craft to discover this. If the Pride falls into their hands, they can shape the world into their image, an image that is a perversion of life. The dead will be born and the living exterminated. This plane of existence will become a hellish underworld with the Necromancers in complete control.”
“What are you saying?” Corwyn asked.
“The final words that you spoke, ‘Il gardis manthea,’ do you have any idea what they mean?” Mama Weaver asked Velladriana.
Velladriana shook her head. “I have never heard them before.”
“They are from the ancient tongue. They mean … I am the master.” She stared intently at Velladriana.
“A power within you is being awakened, a power greater than that of even the mightiest of Necromantic Magi. You, child, I fear, are the Necromancers’ Pride. And if that is the case, then you are no longer safe here. You must leave at first light. The Necromancers will be coming for you.”
“And you,” she turned toward Corwyn. “Have been appointed to keep her safe.”
“What?” he asked, stunned by what Mama Weaver was saying. Corwyn locked eyes with Velladriana, who stared back in a quiet stillness.
“Finding her was no accident, boy,” Mama Weaver declared. “In the lateness of this hour, your destinies are intertwined. Corwyn Du’Serradyn, Oslyn of the Glass Tower, in your charge lays the salvation of the world!”
The silence echoed like a precursor of fate.
In the depths of Crag Drannon, darkness stirred. Lord Cartigas stepped onto the balcony of a room in the Flaming Tower, looking eastward across the Tearfall Mountains and toward the mighty Nortgard Forest. As a sinister smile stretched across his decaying mouth, his eyeless sockets locked onto something in the distance.
“Now,” he whispered, his voice rolling like distant thunder. “The Pride has been awakened.”