Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Would you bow down or fight? A Dewdrop Away by C.A. Allen

Rupert has lived his entire life under the cruel reign of the black squirrels. When he finds out that the artifact that causes the immortality of his enemies is missing, he is sent on a quest to find it and claim it for his own. 


Rupert has lived his entire life under the cruel reign of the black squirrels. When he finds out that the artifact that causes the immortality of his enemies is missing, he is sent on a quest to find it and claim it for his own. Rupert is determined to overthrow the evil Emperor Venul and rule justly in his stead, but he is warned by the wise white squirrel Zirreo to be cautious, for countless things can go wrong when holding an object of magic.

Years later, the Dark Wanderer, a shadowy figure claiming to be the servant of the squirrel goddess Astrippa, is loose in Arborand. When friends Mae and Flor accidentally cross paths with him, they get more than they bargained for when they discover that the darkest, wildest legends are often true.

Meanwhile, Theo, an orphaned half-breed squirrel, finds a compass that doesn’t point north and is compelled by a series of disturbing messages to set out with his faithful chipmunk servant Parris to follow where it leads.

What if inequality threatened to take over the land?
What if the gods who ruled your childhood fears came to life?
Would you bow down, or would you fight?

What if fate gifted you with only one journey on which to find out?

“Why squirrels?” 

It’s a question I often get when I tell people what I write, and while I usually just throw out some one-line, half-baked answer and leave it at that, but if I were more verbose or articulate in person, the following is what I might say: 

I first conceived the idea for A Dewdrop Away when I was all of 14 years old. At the time, all I read was fantasy and most of that fantasy involved animals as the main characters. Some my favorites were titles such as Watership Down, the Rats of NIMH series, the Poppy series by Avi, and probably my all-time favorite, the Redwall series by the late and great Brian Jacques. It was simply what I knew best, so it was what I wrote (they do say ‘write what you know’ after all, har de har har). 

Though my passion was unflagging, my self-discipline was…lacking, to say the least, and I wrote maybe four or five chapters of the first draft before leaving it to gather dust for four years. By the time I came back to the story at 18, a lot had changed: I was no longer so invested in anthropomorphic fantasy and I had several other ideas whizzing through my brain, all for stories featuring ‘real’ human characters. But despite this, the world of Arborand called to me; it reached out through unfinished pages and beckoned me back. So I came, and I spent my late teens and early twenties working off and on on a series of four books, of which Dewdrop was the first written. 

I’m really glad my muse pulled me inexplicably back to this great, tree-cloaked sandbox of a world, because Arborand is by far the most vivid land I’ve imagined as well as the one that came most naturally to me writing. Fantasy, with its magic users, fantastical beasts, and epic battles between good and evil can sometimes speak more deeply and intensely about our modern-day world than contemporary fiction can, and that’s one of the (many) reasons I love it. The different breeds or ‘races’ of squirrels within Dewdrop have different personas and stereotypes attached to them in regards to how they’re viewed by others- there are feuds, there is bitterness, there are prejudices based on differences that seem insurmountable, just as there are with people. I don’t write them any differently from how I’d write a human character- except of course for the fact that they have fur, paws, and a tail. And I’ve come to find as both a reader and a writer of these sorts of books that it’s the very fact that these characters are not outwardly human that makes their human qualities really stand out. 

So why squirrels? Because I picked them in the beginning and they stuck with me. Because they’re undeniably pretty interesting creatures to play around with. Because Arborand is 70% trees. Because it’s fun. 

Because why not?

About the author:

C.A. Allen lives in the Northeastern U.S. with her family and one incredibly quirky corgi. She enjoys black coffee, thunderstorms, and the majesty of trees, which inspired the creation of Arborand. From a very young age she observed the secret life of squirrels in her back yard and decided they were an excellent subject for story-telling.

No comments: