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.

Friday, March 27, 2015

suddenly all bets are off - Earth Reclaimed series by Ann Gimpel

Resilient, kickass, and determined, Aislinn's walled herself off from anything that might make her feel again. Until a wolf picks her for a bond mate and a Celtic god rises out of legend to claim her for his own.


Resilient, kickass, and determined, Aislinn's walled herself off from anything that might make her feel again. Until a wolf picks her for a bond mate and a Celtic god rises out of legend to claim her for his own.

Aislinn Lenear lost her anthropologist father high in the Bolivian Andes. Her mother, crazy with grief that muted her magic, was marched into a radioactive vortex by dark creatures and killed. Three years later, stripped of every illusion that ever comforted her, twenty-two year old Aislinn is one resilient, kickass woman with a take no prisoners attitude. In a world turned upside down, where virtually nothing familiar is left, she’s conscripted to fight the dark gods responsible for her father’s death. Battling evil on her own terms, Aislinn walls herself off from anything that might make her feel again in this compelling dystopian urban fantasy.

Fionn MacCumhaill, Celtic god of wisdom, protection, and divination has been laying low since the dark gods stormed Earth. He and his fellow Celts decided to wait them out. After all, three years is nothing compared to their long lives. On a clear winter day, Aislinn walks into his life and suddenly all bets are off. Awed by her courage, he stakes his claim to her and to an Earth he's willing to fight for.

Aislinn’s not so easily convinced. Fionn’s one gorgeous man, but she has a world to save. Emotional entanglements will only get in her way. Letting a wolf into her life was hard. Letting love in may well prove impossible.

Clinging to their courage in a crumbling world, Aislinn and Fionn vow to save Earth, no matter what it takes.

In a post-apocalyptic world where most people have been slaughtered, the Celtic gods and a few humans with magic are all that stand between survival and Earth falling into chaos. The combination of dark sorcery leveraged by the enemy is daunting. Destruction is all but certain if the small enclaves of humans who are left can’t get past their distrust of the Celts.

Captured by the enemy, Aislinn Lenear wonders if she’ll ever see her bond wolf or Fionn, a Celtic god, again. She’s had nothing but her wits to rely on for years. They haven’t failed her yet, but escape from her current predicament seems remote.

An enticing blend of dystopian urban fantasy and romance, this second volume of the Earth Reclaimed Series provides fertile ground for Aislinn and Fionn’s relationship to deepen. Headstrong and independent, the pair run up against each other’s demands time and time again. Fireworks spark. In the end, they learn to savor every moment in a bittersweet world where each day may well be the last.

Power so old, deep, and chilling it hurts to think about it will overrun Earth if nothing changes. Targeted, furious, and fighting back, Aislinn runs wide open, gathering allies and putting her life on the line.

Aislinn Lenear has traveled a long road since the dark gods invaded Earth better than three years ago. After seeing her father slaughtered in front of her, and her mother sink into madness, Aislinn built strong walls around her heart. First her bond wolf, and then Fionn MacCumhaill, changed all that, but she and Fionn are far from home free.

Four of the six dark gods are still sowing destruction, and they’ve joined forces with Lemurians, a desperate lot, running just ahead of the tide of their own mortality. In a bold move, they try to coopt a group of young dragons, and very nearly succeed. Dewi, the Celtic dragon god, and Nidhogg, the Norse dragon god, banish their brood to the dragons’ home world, but they refuse to stay put.

In a fast-paced, tension-riddled closure to this dystopian, urban fantasy series, Earth's Hope sweeps from Ireland to the Greek Islands to the Pacific Northwest to borderworlds where the dark gods live. Fionn’s and Aislinn’s relationship is strained to the breaking point as they struggle to work together without tearing one another to bits. Fionn is used to being obeyed without question, but Aislinn won’t dance to his tune. If they can find their way, there may be hope for a ravaged Earth.

Challenges of Developing Great Characters

If you’re an author, your characters are all different parts of you, right? Not exactly… Yes, they all emerged from the depths of your subconscious, but they are not you. If they were, all your characters would be so alike there’d be no tension in your stories. And not much in the way of interest, either. 

There’s a technique used in Jungian dream analysis where the dreamer writes down the major elements of the dream, free associates to each and then engages his/her psyche in something called active imagination—something like a spirited discussion with one’s soul. Jung used to have out-loud dialogues with a projection he named Philemon. They even wrote letters back and forth to one another. Yes, yes, I know. Today he would’ve been labeled certifiably insane, but in his day, he was seen as a visionary. 

Jung tapped into the imaginal world when he and Philemon had conversations. Writers also tap into the imaginal world to bring stories to life. Sometimes, when I’m hot and heavy into the midst of a novel—or even a short story—my head is so full it’s hard to re-focus on the “real” world. But who’s to say my imaginal world is any less “real” than the one where I see clients, push paper about on my desk, and am both wife and mother?

It’s odd, but everything co-exists nicely—at least for the most part. You need to have a life outside of writing to be a writer. Otherwise, where would your ideas come from? There might be a few, but they wouldn’t carry you very far. The very best writers write from a richness of experience. At least in my opinion, you need to keep refreshing that experiential base to have grist for the authorial mill.

Back to characters. I’ve been thinking a lot about George RR Martin lately and his character, Tyrion Lannister. Tyrion is an antagonist, or is he? He certainly has a host of unsavory character traits, but he has empathy and compassion along with them. Because he’s a dwarf, he’s been the butt of other’s jokes ever since he was born. He manages his bitterness with a quick wit and a self-deprecating sense of humor. The bitterness is why (and how) he murders his jerk of a father. The compassion is why he doesn’t force his child-bride, Sansa Stark, to consummate their marriage and one of the reasons he doesn’t try harder to find her after she flees. Of course, the other is because he’s imprisoned, accused of the murder of Joffrey Baratheon.

Joffrey is one of Martin’s rare characters who is truly one dimensional. He’s a bastard in more ways than one. Product of an incestuous liaison between Cersei and Jaime Lannister while Cersei is married to the King, Joffrey doesn’t have even one saving grace. I figure Martin killed him off because Joffrey had become an embarrassment and an inconvenience, and Martin didn’t know what else to do with him. As a reader, I felt relief when Joffrey was finally out of the picture. Too bad he left too late to save Sansa.

Regardless of the glitch with Joffrey, the magic in Martin’s writing is he’s able to build characters his readers care about. He does that by making them each unique and by giving them impossible responsibilities that tax their personalities to the max. Struggle and resolution make for fine story-telling. Martin is a master at recognizing each of his character’s abilities and shortcomings. For example, Catelyn Stark’s efforts after her husband Ned is murdered are limited by her own particular set of weaknesses. It’s those weaknesses that are her eventual undoing, binding her to a half-life, as revenge annihilates her.

This post is getting too long, so let me throw it open to you. Which characters have stuck with you long after the book is closed? What was it about them that made you care?

About the author:
Ann Gimpel is a mountaineer at heart. Recently retired from a long career as a psychologist, she remembers many hours at her desk where her body may have been stuck inside four walls, but her soul was planning yet one more trip to the backcountry. Around the turn of the last century (that would be 2000, not 1900!), she managed to finagle moving to the Eastern Sierra, a mecca for those in love with the mountains.

It was during long backcountry treks that Ann’s writing evolved. Unlike some who see the backcountry as an excuse to drag friends and relatives along, Ann prefers solitude. Stories always ran around in her head on those journeys, sometimes as a hedge against abject terror when challenging conditions made her fear for her life, sometimes for company. Eventually, she returned from a trip and sat down at the computer. Three months later, a five hundred page novel emerged. Oh, it wasn’t very good, but it was a beginning. And, she learned a lot between writing that novel and its sequel.

Around that time, a friend of hers suggested she try her hand at short stories. It didn’t take long before that first story found its way into print and they’ve been accepted pretty regularly since then. One of Ann’s passions has always been ecology, so her tales often have a green twist.

In addition to writing, Ann enjoys wilderness photography. She lugs pounds of camera equipment in her backpack to distant locales every year. A standing joke is that over ten percent of her pack weight is camera gear which means someone else has to carry the food! That someone is her husband. They’ve shared a life together for a very long time. Children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out their family.


Ann Gimpel, Author said...

Thanks so much for hosting me. Love the feel of your blog! Also the title. If anything has "myth" in it, I'm all over it.

GZM said...

Ann, you're welcome!
As for the name, our first choice was Legendary Books, but there were too many names with the word 'legendary' in various options so we chose instead mythical - turns to be for the better.