Please join me in welcoming author Charles E. Yallowitz to the blog today! His fantasy stories are truly one of a kind, as shown by the Legends of Windemere Series. With the newest book in his series, Ritual of the Lost Lamb, going live within the past week, it’s an exciting time for Charles! He’s here with a guest post that talks about the darker side of this newest novel and why he chose to go that way with the series. Take it away, Charles:
The Decision to go Dark
Thank you to Christy for letting me write a guest post to help promote my newest book, Legends of Windemere: Ritual of the Lost Lamb. This is the 13th book of my fantasy series and it’s where things start to take a dark turn for the heroes. Luke Callindor, who has been around since the first book, has been captured by the evil Baron Kernaghan, who wants to goad the other champions into their final battle. To make sure they know time is running out, the Baron is protecting Luke’s suffering to the team telepath. In order to save him and not walk into a trap, his best friend, Nyx, will start a forbidden ritual that will put her own life and sanity in danger. All of this creates tension with the other champions, which can be seen as things start to fall apart around them.
So, why the quick synopsis as if I’m pitching a book to an agent? The reason is because the series was fairly lighthearted for the first 12 books. Bad stuff happened, but there was always a humor and positivity to what was going on. The heroes managed to rise out of the ashes or pull off a win even if they lost something. Now, there was emotional turmoil and times where they split up because of mistakes. Yet, it never got as dark as what happens here. Luke is tortured and everyone is going to be coming out of this adventure at least emotionally battered. I’ve compared it to a track runner breaking his leg within reach of the finish line, but still having to crawl the rest of the way. That’s where this book starts and it’s a battle for them to get out of the hole that they’ve found themselves in.
This shift in tone is what made me nervous about writing the book because I started off so ‘light and fluffy’. I mean, people got upset when characters talked about sex or hinted that they had sex off-screen. The thoughts of what people would think with this meat-grinder of an adventure really threw doubt into what I was doing. Even more importantly, I knew that I couldn’t write some characters the same as I did before once this was over. That version of them would be too innocent and unscarred considering what happens here. So, there was a lot to consider when I chose to go dark for the series. It didn’t even matter that I’d spend the last two books have the survivors rise out of the ashes and try to find new sources of strength. I told myself that real people lose everything and have to rebuild all the time. Fictional heroes should be able to do the same, but real people don’t have a specific tone to their life that is watched by others. Well, most don’t since there are reality TV stars.
Now, I was left with two choices after I considered that I couldn’t take back the darkness once I published. The first was that I could do something else to get the character and plot development parts of this adventure into the overall series. Maybe have Luke simply be locked up or in a coma back home while they go for the ritual. Only problem here is that I needed to up the cruelty and evil of the Baron, who only gets a few scenes each book. The guy is trapped in a pocket dimension, so he can’t move around. So, some of his agents had come off as more sadistic than him. Luke being locked up wouldn’t really be that bad and it isn’t like he’s the type of person who can be turned. The coma was even worse considering this is a high magic world and healers are everywhere. This wouldn’t force the final battle either, which meant bad tactics from the villains.
The second option was to swallow my fear, ignore my doubt, and go through with it. I didn’t really do well on those first two parts. This wasn’t really an issue when I plotted out the entire series years ago. Luke being tortured as the Baron’s captive had always been a milestone that I was heading for. He’s always gotten out of trouble and retained his confidence that good will always win. This story shows that it isn’t always the case, which opens the door for Luke trying to make sense of the world again. In a way, I think many of us can relate to having the floor ripped out from underneath us. Sometimes what’s exposed are the nails that once kept the floor in place too. We wouldn’t have a word for despair if such a thing didn’t exist, right?
Still, it wasn’t like he was the one I worried about. It was more the readers who see me as a Young Adult author and don’t think anything so cruel should be near the genre. In a way, I’m still worried because this is a big step with a lot of risk. It only takes one horrid scene of yuck to lose a reader, but playing it safe in a long series has drawbacks too. People have given up on the series because I refused to kill any of the champions. At least for now because I’ve made it clear that not all of them are destined to get out of the final battle alive. That’s not enough though and it makes me wonder if promising that light will return to the series will cover what’s going to happen here. Honestly, that’s really all I can do besides hoping that I’m worried over nothing and being my own worst enemy. Let’s be honest. I wouldn’t be the first author to go dark and have misgivings even if it was the right way to go. Just part of the job.
Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you, and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.
Connect with Charles Yallowitz further at the Legends of Windemere blog, and follow him on social media at Twitter and Facebook. Browse his self-titled website too and you’ll see the synopses of his books, as well as learning more about this author.
Intrigued? I know, right?! Check out the entire Legends of Windemere series of books, including the latest one, Book 13, titled Ritual of the Lost Lamb, on Amazon.