Saturday, October 26, 2013

Author interview: Blake Rivers ~ The Assassin Princess

Author Interview: Blake Rivers
The Assassin Princess

She paints a bleeding meadow, a burning sunset over a valley of unicorns...

...But when Ami is stolen from her world, pursued by the dark and powerful Adam, saved by the hooded Hero, she finds out she is no mere girl. Deep within her is a dormant magic with the strength to lead a people and save a land.

She is the heir to Legacy, a mountain city in the far off Edorus Mountains, and Hero of the Guard is to lead her there, revealing secrets and unravelling histories along the way; but always in the shadow is her dark foe, biding his time.

Soon Ami's will is tested against him, and in the battle a darkness unfolds that leaves the fate of the world hanging in the balance. Will Ami choose the light, or be tempted by the darker path of death, destruction and the seductive power of Adam?

An adventure of magic, unicorns, swords and dark forests. The Assassin Princess begins.

I loved reading The Assassin Princess because it carried me away from the feeling of contemporary, popular, battle-hardened fantasy cliches, like orcs, axes, and enormous armies (as epic as those may be!), and transported me into the fantasy realms that enthralled me during childhood, with glowing crystals, dreams, and unicorns. The Assassin Princess is a magical and ephemeral, cover-to-cover read. Mr. Rivers was kind enough to join me on my blog to answer some questions about what I thought were the most intriguing parts of the story. 


Brie: Ami’s journey to Legacy was magical. Can you tell me more about the painting?

Blake Rivers: At the beginning of the book, Ami is finishing off a landscape painting for her university art course. It is of a lush green valley, bordered by a forest and tall mountains, and is being painted at sunset; the sunset is a bleeding red, as if ink has been spilt across a canvas. Grazing in the valley are pure white unicorns.

Ami thinks that this is from her imagination only, one of many visions she has dreamed of since she was little—that part of girlhood that has never left her. However, the dreams she’s had her entire life are from a real place, a real land she has never been to, though is destined to be a part of. As she finds out later, it is her connection to Legacy that enables her entry into it.
Brie: One of the most emotional passages in your book involved the unicorn. The hardships of the unicorn struck me really hard because unicorns are such a powerful image of innocence and purity--it drove home the extent of Adam’s evil. Can you tell me more about your inspiration for writing about unicorns?

Blake Rivers: My inspiration for the unicorns, and indeed Ami herself, comes from my girlfriend. She is that magical young woman to me, and she loves, above all creatures, unicorns. They have always been a part of her life, and so when I included them in the story, I wanted to do something profound with them. Unicorns have been portrayed in many different forms throughout history, and being a mythical creature, they have no set traits anyone can pin down. With my unicorns, I made them very powerful, serious and generous. They are guardians of their own domain and their own herd (or blessing), but wish to be fair with all who come across them. The powers they have are the basis of all power/magic within the book, though the true source of this is revealed later.

The hardships of the unicorn Talos, and his mate Florina at the hands of Adam’s evil intent are integral, for they give the stark contrast needed to outline how ruthless Adam’s quest, how twisted he can be even against such an inoffensive creature.
Brie: The fracturing of Ami’s different selves and the transitions between them was interesting. Can you tell me more about Ami’s different selves, and what made you write them the way you did?

Blake Rivers: Ami goes on a journey in this story, in every way possible. Ami the art student traveled only a short way before power inside her began to take hold, and Adam’s influence began to infiltrate her mind. She was confronted with a choice of three selves, represented physically as mirrors…

This idea occurred to me when thinking about how some people see themselves differently in the mirror all depending on what they are wearing and how they are feeling. Ami sees three reflections. One is as she truly is at that moment, just the art student in a strange land. The second is of the stereotypical princess, dressed in pretty pink, gracious and elegant, but ultimately a slave to her lands and people—an archetype. The third is the person she could be, using the magical powers to become stronger, more dangerous; able to take on the world (worlds) and beat any who opposed her. In such a strange land, her psyche chose the strongest reflection, the one who would carry the art student—out of place, out of reality—forward through the trauma she was soon to face. They represented the potential of the girl, to be as others wanted her to be, to be only all she ever had been, or to be something she could be.
Brie: What was your inspiration for the style of magic used in The Assassin Princess?

Blake Rivers: Where do I start? There are so many representations of magic in the world, but the truest one is the one that everyone has, yet only a select few know how to express. Imagination, and the power to create. If that power could be physical, could be harnessed and used and focused upon specific subjects to create a lake from dry land, to raise a castle from grey rock and stone, to kill at will with a thought… That was what I had in mind. The power to destroy and to create, transferred from the mind to matter.
Brie: I liked the way you created a world, drawing on powerful fantasy archetypes, like the pristine castle of Legacy, the male protector named Hero--and then when chaos tests the world, things aren’t what they seem. Would you care to share more about how you crafted Legacy, and how it was transformed by Adam’s evil?

Blake Rivers: I think the best answer I could give to this is something I once watched in an interview about the writer Stephen King. It was an interview with Tom Hanks while he was filming the lead role in Stephen King’s film The Green Mile. He said that King was able to create good characters, who were flawed, and not so good characters, who were also flawed; King doesn’t create outright evil characters (at least, not in The Green Mile for sure.) With this in mind, take a male protector with the actual name, Hero. Now make him only a man who can fail. Take a girl who finds out she is a princess heiress in parallel existence. Now make her corruptible, and only human after all. Take a man who is evil and cold and powerful. Now make him a shunned son, jealous and envious and jaded by his father, just a man gone-bad. If you take everyone and everything as fallible, the truth of most things, then it is a more honest way to represent this world, and any other, and our people and theirs.
Brie: The Mortrus Lands creeped me out! Can you tell me more about the history and inhabitants of that place?

Blake Rivers: The history and inhabitants of the Mortrus Lands are addressed in my next book, A Step into Darkscape. It is the direct sequel to The Assassin Princess, and explores more fully the origins of what lies within.
Brie: Why do you like to write fantasy? What inspires you to write?

Blake Rivers: My inspiration to write this particular fantasy is my girlfriend, the most magical and surprising, most talented person I know. Why fantasy though? It was the best platform for me to discuss human beings, people in general, without having to look too closely at the world directly around me, a way of organising my thoughts in a place separate from daily struggles. I wanted it set far away, in a place I could landscape and make from the very start, one that was totally my own.
Brie: What other books do you have planned in the future?

Blake Rivers: As mentioned, my next book is called A Step into Darkscape. As of this interview, the first draft is done, and the redrafts shall commence shortly. It is expected to be published in Spring 2014, and shall be available on Amazon in paperback, and for Kindle.


Grab a copy of Assassin Princess! (redirects to Amazon store of your country)

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