What kind of books did you inhale when you were a kid?
I had an abiding love affair with horror—mostly centering on Stephen King and Peter Straub—with occasional sidetrips elsewhere (yes, I admit to hiding out with a friend and reading Flowers in the Attic). My real love, though, was fantasy. Tolkien, Le Guin, Beagle, Lewis, Zelazny, de Lint, Cooper…. You get the idea.
I still read a lot of fantasy today. Neil Gaiman, for instance. I so want to be him when I grow up! I’m not sure what attracts me so deeply to this genre. Some beautiful writing, of course. But maybe also the promise of endless possibilities—journeys through the wildest reaches of the human imagination. And yet the best fantasy books also tell us something about human nature, even when the people in the story happen to possess magical abilities or pointy ears or dragon-scaled tails.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that when I generated my very first novel, Stasis, it was a fantasy too. A dark fantasy, set in a city-state in an alternate universe, with wizards and sailing ships and a forbidding keep. There was a tiny bit of romance too—a forbidden attraction between Ennek, the son of a dictator, and Miner, the prisoner Ennek saves.
I wrote Stasis as a challenge to myself during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Not long after I began writing, it became clear that Ennek and Miner’s story was too big and sweeping for a single book, so I ended up writing a trilogy. And now I am so pleased that DSP Publications is releasing second editions of the entire trilogy. I hope you decide to take a voyage through this particular fantasy realm.
What are your favorite fantasy worlds and authors?
Excerpt from Stasis
The dream started as it always did. He was very small, and he was descending an endless stairway that circled and twisted like an insane snake. He didn’t want to go, but his feet wouldn’t stop, and he knew that if he didn’t walk, he’d tumble down the stairs instead. At the bottom of the stairway was a long corridor in which pale spiders lurked in enormous webs. He was frightened of the spiders and tried to hurry past them. And then there was a door, tall and so narrow he could barely slip inside.
The wizard was in the shadows at the edge of the room. He was gray—gray hair, gray shirt and trousers, a long gray coat, gray skin. His face was as bloodless as death, and his lips were peeled back to expose long, yellowed teeth. His hands had too many fingers, each multijointed and much too long. One of the hands rested on the shoulder of the boy beside him, a youth with hair like tasseled silk and a face that might have been smirking or caught in a rictus of fear. The boy’s mouth was smeared with sticky scarlet, and more of the stuff coated his outstretched palm. “Sleeping potion,” he whispered. “Just what a restless sleeper needs.”
At the center of the floor was a hole. If he looked into it—and Ennek always did; he couldn’t help it—he saw empty space and, beneath that, the sea. The waves boiled and tumbled, and Ennek could tell they were rising and would soon enter the room, filling it.
At this point in the dream, Ennek would whirl around and try to find the door, but it would be gone. The shape of the room itself would shift, like lungs moving in and out, and Ennek would realize he was actually inside the Chief, and the Chief was the keep. Thelius and the boy would watch silently as Ennek ran around, trying desperately to find his way out, until he began screaming. He’d awake hopelessly tangled in the bedsheets, sweaty and feverish. If he tried to speak, his voice would be hoarse.
Tonight, though, there was a difference.
He still looked down into the hole, and the waters were still getting nearer, but now he could see a hand—a pale human hand—sticking up through the waves. It was attached to a skinny arm. Another arm breached the surface, and then so did a head, bald as an egg. The head turned and looked upward. The man’s eyes were the exact color of the sea around him, as if the ocean was inside him too. He blinked with lashless lids and choked a little on a wave that washed into his mouth. “Help me,” he said, not a shout but a quiet plea. “Help me, please.”
Ennek woke up then. And when he did, he remembered.
Praesidium is the most prosperous city-state in the world, due not only to its location at the mouth of a great bay but also to its strict laws, stringently enforced. Ordinary criminals become bond-slaves, but the worst punishment—to be suspended in a dreamless frozen state known as Stasis—is doled out by the wizard and reserved for only the most serious of traitors.
Ennek is the youngest son of Praesidium’s strict Chief. Though now a successful portmaster, Ennek grew up without much of a purpose, unable to fulfill his true desires and always skating on the edge of the law. But he is also haunted by the plight of one man, Miner, a prisoner for whom Stasis appears to be a truly horrible fate. If Ennek is to save Miner, he must explore Praesidium’s deepest secrets as well as his own.
About the Author
Kim Fielding is very pleased every time someone calls her eclectic. Her books have won Rainbow Awards and span a variety of genres. She has migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States and currently lives in California, where she long ago ran out of bookshelf space. She’s a university professor who dreams of being able to travel and write full time. She also dreams of having two perfectly behaved children, a husband who isn’t obsessed with football, and a house that cleans itself. Some dreams are more easily obtained than others.