Jun 24, 2014

Book Tour for The Valley of Decision by Shannon McDermott

A themed book tour through Prism Book Tours.

We're launching the Book Tour for

The Valley of Decision

by Shannon McDermott

“A solid fantasy that wears its spirituality lightly yet effectively.” 
~Kirkus Reviews (read the entire review here)

We'd like to introduce you to the characters and the story-book world of The Valley of Decision. From the races that inhabit the world (Trow, Fays, hobgoblins, Men) to the different nations (Alamir, the Coldlands, the Dochraitay) to the places (the Northwood, the Black Mountains, Ataroth), there is a lot to explore! Come follow along:
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The Valley of Decision
by Shannon McDermott


Adult Fantasy
Paperback, 416 pages

May 31st 2014 by SALT Christian Press




Where the Black Mountains pierce the sky, they divide the south from the north, Alamir from the kingdom of Belenus. Belenus, the undying master of the north, commanded Keiran – the Captain of the Hosts – to conquer Alamir. But the Captain is deep in conspiracy, and he has his own plans.

The Valley of Decision is a fantasy novel, a saga of slavery, freedom, and choices.
Introduction to The Valley of Decision
When I began researching folktales in order to write The Valley of Decision, I gave particular attention to the elves. Fairies, they’re also called, or faeries or fays. By whatever name, what are they?

That was the question I tried to answer, and my trouble was that I found too many answers. Elves, or faeries, might be almost anything: good or bad, ugly or beautiful, large or small, living in hills or mountains or forests.


Their origins were also diverse. Some said the faeries were fallen angels (demons?), others that they were the spirits of the dead (creepy!). One story has it that when the first baby laughed for the first time, that laugh shattered into a thousand pieces and became the fairies – quite charming, actually. Another story holds that Eve once hid some of her children from God, and He declared to her, “What man hides from God, God will hide from man.” These children and their descendants became the Hidden People, the elves.

Tolkien presented his Elves as a distinct race, neither angelic nor human in origin. Disney, not surprisingly, dusted off the baby’s laugh story for its fairies. Meanwhile, Darby O’Gill and the Good People – published more than a century ago – adopted the fallen-angel theory, with a few modifications. (The angel Gabriel has a starring role in the tale, with an Irish brogue and several politically incorrect opinions.)


When it came to writing my own story, I had to craft my own rendition of the ancient legend of Faeries. To put it simply, I had to decide who and what they were. 

I picked the name Fay and adopted and revised one of the old tales. The story I created for the Fays became the most important element of the entire mythos of The Valley of Decision. It came to determine who they were, and what they did, and how they treated the humans who were, after all, the heroes of the story.

Shannon McDermott is a Christian author of speculative fiction, as well as a humorous detective series called "The Adventures of Christian Holmes". She has written both fantasy and science fiction, and has yet to decide on which one to like better.

She was born to Wisconsin, expatriates in California, grew up on the East Coast, and now lives in the Midwest. Her principal hobbies are politics, history, novels, and coffee.





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Coffee Books & Art interview with  Shannon McDermott

  • Did any real-life political incidents or maneuvering make it into the book?

Not really, though I come close when I have one of the characters mention how Belenus had brutally crushed the rebellion of a city called Droheda. “The Dochraitay still told each other in whispers the tales of the sack of Droheda.” Droheda is named for Drogheda, an Irish city besieged and taken by the British under Oliver Cromwell. Not only did the British slaughter the soldiers and officers defending Drogheda, they also executed the friars and priests within the city. They even murdered in cold blood prisoners who had surrendered to them, and massacred many civilians as well. Cromwell went to Drogheda to “reduce it to obedience”, and he did so ruthlessly.


  • What sacrifices have you had to make to be a writer?

Mainly, the sacrifice of not pursuing other things. It takes a lot of time, a lot of commitment, to produce a book. And sometimes I wonder: If I had set aside writing, what else might I have done, and where would I be now?


  • Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?

Yes, I think so. Everybody knows the maxim “Don’t judge a book by its cover” - but everybody does it anyway. A good cover catches a reader’s eye and gives him a positive impression of the book. A bad cover either leads people to pass right over the book, or else to form a bad impression of it.


  • What do you think of “trailers” for books?

Personally, I don’t pay a lot of attention to book trailers, but so what? Other people might. It’s hard for me to judge how effective book trailers are in creating interest in a book. It can’t hurt, at least, and maybe it will help.


  • How did you come up with the title? Names?

The title comes from a Bible verse found in the Book of Joel: “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!” For the names, I established this pattern: of Gaelic origin, unusual enough that the names would not be common in our own world, but not too unusual. I avoided names like Ruairidh because it just looks too foreign. Who would care to guess how to pronounce it? So I ended with names like Torradan and Artek and Belenus – different, but easy enough.



I made exceptions to the pattern of Gaelic names. The names of the Northmen were Norse in origin, and Kobuld – the Trow blacksmith – was named after the Kobold, a race in German folklore who were said to live in mines and be expert metalworkers. Sometimes I tweaked the Gaelic names a bit. I had trouble naming Jarmith, the Alamiri held captive by the Captain in Belenus’ kingdom; “Jarmin” - a Gaelic name meaning a German, and therefore a foreigner – finally seemed most appropriate. I didn’t quite like it, though, so I decided to change it to either Jarmith or Jarmik – you know which one won out.



For the place-names, I sometimes used old Gaelic place-names, sometimes actual Gaelic words (for example, the Glahs Forest: glahs is simply the Gaelic word for “green”). Occasionally I mixed together English words into one. Hence the far-north country is called “the Coldlands”. Probably the place-name with the oddest origin is Ataroth, which was in real life an obscure Amorite city conquered by Moses and the Israelites.



Anyway, I had fun with the naming. Thanks for letting me go on about it.


  • What was the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

When I began planning The Valley of Decision, I researched into folklore and fairy tales. And I realized how the old stories defied our neat, modern categories. The trolls were not necessarily ugly, the elves weren’t necessarily beautiful, and none of them were safe. “Everything about them,” Yeats once wrote of the faeries, “is capricious, including their size.” In the folk tales, faeries were magical tricksters, dangerous neighbors, unpredictable, mischievous, malicious. Humans were, rightfully, wary and even fearful of them. It was so different from Tolkien’s noble, beautiful Elves.





Tour-Wide Giveaway


- Grand Prize: $25 Amazon gift card and ebooks of The Valley of Decision and The Sunrise Windows (open INT)

- 2 print copies of The Valley of Decision (US only)








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