by BC Powell
Publication date: October 4th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult, Science Fiction
Synopsis:Chase was twelve the first time he arrived in a strange land where dark, ominous clouds never move, ancient trees violently spring to life during Darkness, and people seem to live without emotion. Doctors tell him they’re hallucinations, but he knows his visits are real. She’s there-Sash-and she’s more real than anyone he’s ever known.
His visits stop but, as years pass, the memories haunt Chase. Without warning, the young man suddenly finds himself again in a world called Krymzyn. Arriving during Darkness, he’s rescued from death by the extraordinary, beautiful but terrifying young woman he first met when he was twelve.
When Chase is thrust into the war of balance against vile creatures who threaten all who live there, Sash helps him understand his purpose in Krymzyn. A dark secret from the beginning of time reveals he might be able to stay there forever. To prove he belongs in Krymzyn and be with the only woman he can ever love, Chase will have to risk his own life in the ultimate battle.
Two golden-haired figures, a man and a woman holding spears in their hands, walk up the hill towards us. Two children—one an adorable girl with straight jet-black hair framing her round face, maybe twelve or thirteen, and a handsome boy, ten or eleven, stocky, with curly black hair—suddenly dart past the adults. Sash turns to see what I’m looking at.
“Keepers,” Sash says, “with two of our children.”
The Keepers stop halfway up the crimson hill, but the children keep sprinting towards us. The girl’s stride is long and sleek, her speed stunning as she races up the grassy slope. Her face reminds me of my sister at that age as I get a closer look. The boy is wilder, with less control in his young gait, although it’s strong and steady. Fierce determination flows from their amber eyes.
“I thought everyone spends Communal alone,” I say.
“Not the children,” Sash replies.
They stop a few feet in front of us and both quickly bow. Sash nods her head, and I smile to them. They stare at me with a mixture of curiosity and distrust.
“The Teller is well balanced,” Sash says to the children. “There’s no need for fear.”
“In my world,” I say, “I compete in something we call cross-country, a race of speed across hills. Both of you would be champions.”
“Champions?” the girl asks after the word dissipates.
“Winners of the race,” I answer. “Those who finish first.”
“I believe Chase the Teller is praising your speed,” Sash explains.
“Yes,” I say, smiling. “That’s exactly what Chase the Teller is doing.”
Both kids bow to me in obvious gratitude, glance at one another, and suddenly fling their bodies to the ground. They cross their arms over their chests, stiffen their legs, and roll away down the hill. I’m surprised by the lack of smiles on their faces or laughter filling the air, just the continued look of determination. It’s a test to them, not a whimsy as it would be on Earth.
The girl is the first to reach a flat area partially down the side of the steep hill. She leaps to her feet and bolts towards the Keepers with no stagger at all from dizziness. The boy sprawls onto the flat ground, catching himself with fingers dug into the grass just before he slides off the ledge to another steep part of the hill. He pulls himself forward, springs into a crouch, narrows his eyes, and sprints after the girl. When both children reach the Keepers, the four walk down the hill away from us.
“I believe Tela, the girl,” Sash says to me, “will be a Traveler when her purpose is revealed. She has great speed and a strong mind.”
“Traveler?” I ask.
“Travelers are the fastest of all in Krymzyn. They take things across the Delta and travel between the Delta and the Mount.”
“What about the boy?”
“He’s quite brave,” she answers. “Cavu is a bit reckless, but he already demonstrates mature respect for our trees. He has a tremendous desire to protect the Delta. I believe he’ll be a Watcher, although I don’t know for certain yet.”
I study Sash’s face and eyes. “Do you know things before they happen?” I ask, pretty sure I already know the answer to the question.
“Some things,” she says. When she looks down at the bottom of the hill again, a shadow of sadness falls over her face. “I’m shown visions. They’re like glimpses from waking dreams. While Tela rolled down the hill, I saw streaks of blue in her hair—the color of a Traveler. I know when Darkness is near. I can feel it inside me. Sometimes, I see something directly in front of me that will soon happen as though it’s happening in that instant, and I can change the outcome before it actually occurs.”
“Do other people here see these things?”
“No,” she says, shaking her head. “Only me.”
“Is it hard on you?” I ask, reacting to the pain evident on her face.
Turning her face to me, she seems surprised by my question. “You’re the only person to ever ask me that.”
“I don’t mean to be nosy—too personal,” I say.
“I don’t mind,” she replies. “It feels right to talk to you about these things.”
Excerpt2“Murkovin!” a roaring male voice echoes through the hills.
Rain plummets from the sky, blackened storm clouds churn in place, and my eyes try to adjust to Darkness. I spin to the shout behind me, immediately knowing I’m on the same hill as I’d been when I was twelve. There’s not a doubt in my mind.
Needles race up my spine when I see the shirtless creature crouched at the base of the hill. Tall with black veins bulging from ghostly white skin, the beast of a man scans the terrain. Wearing only black leathery pants, firm ridges of muscle lining his stomach and chest, he wildly swings a metal spear in one hand.
His head snaps to me. Long black hair twined with white whips across his face while his empty hand slashes the air in front of him. When his eyes touch mine, shadowy sockets flare blood red. The brute charges up the hill at me.
I lurch the other way and sprint into the meadow below. A torrent of rain slams against my skin as deafening creaks pierce the air. I see the flailing tree in front of me and try to stop, but my bare feet slip across the slick wet grass.
A glowing red limb lashes at me, slams into my chest, and hurls me to the ground. As the branch smashes into me again, I jerk my hands up in defense. Blood instantly spurts from gashes torn into my face, neck, and arms. Rolling across the grass, I frantically try to get out of its reach.
When I stop a few feet away, landing flat on my back, I stare straight up. A monstrous bough high above flexes into a fisted hand. I try to jump to my feet but a blur scoops me from the ground. As we speed away from the tree, silky wisps of black and scarlet brush across my face. A thunderous slam vibrates from behind us, the wooden fist pounding into the ground where, a moment earlier, my body would have been.
Into the valley we race until we’re outside the range of groping limbs. After we slide to a stop, I’m gently set on the grass. I look up to see the girl I met when I was twelve standing over me—the girl called Sash.
Her thin arms are barbed with muscular detail as she tightly grasps her spear. Metallic points, steel spikes sticking out the top of a pack slung over her shoulder, flash from behind her head. She peers down at me through radiant amber eyes.
“Are you injured?” she growls, silver raindrops beading down her hair.
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AUTHOR BIO:Powell has a diverse background, having held several creative positions in the entertainment industry, including executive roles at ABC-TV and Technicolor. In recent years, he's authored several non-fiction works, primarily educational books and training programs for trading the financial markets. He dual majored in journalism and philosophy at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas.
Writing fiction has been his lifelong passion and goal. "Krymzyn" is his first published novel and represents, in his words, "finally finding the story I want to tell with characters that are able to bring that story to life." He's an avid reader and lists Ernest Hemingway, Frank L. Herbert, Stephen King, Jane Austen, and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. as his favorite authors.
Brad, as he prefers to go by in personal communication, lives with his longtime girlfriend, three sons from a previous marriage, and their rescue dog and cat. He enjoys hiking, ocean kayaking, spending time at Southern California beaches, movies, and reading.
BC Powell InterviewWhere did the idea for “Krymzyn” come from?I was working on another fantasy novel I’ll eventually finish after I complete this series. I often look at photos to describe characters as I write, so I was browsing pictures on the Internet. I stumbled across a photo that really hit me in the pit of my stomach and made me ask the question, “What would make a person have that expression on their face?” It was a close-up of a young woman who looked sad but angry at the same time, incredibly lonely, and either terrified or terrifying—I couldn’t figure out which. As I tried to imagine the emotions behind that facial expression, the world of Krymzyn came together in my mind. I quickly knew who the characters were, their struggles and triumphs, and immediately put the other manuscript aside and started writing. As the story evolved, my reaction was, “This is the story I always wanted to tell,” which is the most incredible feeling a writer can have.
What comes first for you: story or character?Characters, without a doubt. I think so much of the story evolves naturally by knowing your characters in depth. Their reactions to different situations have to be consistent with who they are, and future events develop out of that. I don’t really do more than a general outline of key events in the story before I sit and write, but I do know everything there is to know about the characters and their lives. This allows the story to flow spontaneously because of who they are and progress because of how they react not only to the events in the story, but to one another. Nothing is more important to me than the emotional attachment I hope the reader feels for the characters, so the characters’ emotions are always integral to the story.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?Every minor detail in the world of Krymzyn had to eventually come together in a coherent manner so that the world and people there have valid reasons to be the way they are. There are several events, both on Earth and in Krymzyn, that will come back in later books of the series, so I had to track all of those and make sure I didn’t unknowingly leave a “gotcha” that messes me up in a later book. It was a bit of a logistical nightmare for both me and my editor, Mickey Reed, who did a great job of paying attention to these details.
You have a truly striking cover. Who was the designer and how did you choose that person?I saw the portfolio of a UK-based designer named Ravven on Deviant Art and instantly fell in love with her work. I wanted this cover to have a surreal feeling with certain aspects of fantasy, but at the same time, evoke enough realism that it didn’t appear adolescent. Ravven’s covers have amazing detail while always maintaining a central point of focus that really draws me in. As we started on the cover, I quickly learned that Ravven is fantastic to work with and immerses herself in the project. She just completed the cover for the second book and it blew me away. http://www.ravven.com for those interested in her work.
What would you say sets this novel apart from others in the genre?I really believe the story is fresh and something we haven’t seen before, partially because the world is unlike any other. There are certainly elements of familiarity, but in the end, the world itself is unique. That allows the story, conflict, and character arcs to evolve in a way that is new and different. Challenges the characters face are sometimes inherent to Krymzyn because of the way the world is, while other struggles are more universal. I honestly think both the story and the world are unlike anything readers have experienced before, and that will become even more evident in future books.
What do readers who continue with the series have to look forward to?I’ll try to answer that without giving away too much or spoiling the first book. The big unanswered question is, “Why was our protagonist taken to Krymzyn in the first place?” Throughout the series, that question will gradually be answered in a way I don’t think readers have ever seen or could even imagine. There’s a huge twist about two-thirds of the way through the series that, I hope, is just kind of mind-boggling and explains why everything has happened the way it has. We’ll also see a much more in-depth look at the antagonist and what drives his actions as well as an expansion of the world of Krymzyn. Not only what the world encompasses, but what the world really is and why it exists. And, of course, we’ll see a much more intimate look at the true depth of the love and connection between our heroine and hero.
Building a Strange, New WorldBuilding the world of Krymzyn was one of the most exciting but also more challenging aspects of writing this novel. Not challenging because I don’t know the world inside and out. I spent countless hours wandering through Krymzyn, getting to know every detail of the landscape and every person living there.
The real challenge is showing the reader the world in a way that they see what the protagonist Chase sees and feels what he feels while being there without bogging the reader down in too much detail. My nature is to be highly organized, take things one step at a time, and I’m extremely detail oriented (translation, I have mild OCD). That’s not a joke. I get up from bed at least three times every night to check that the front door is still locked.
In my first draft of this novel, I began by building the world of Krymzyn and then told the story. That’s fine in early drafts, but It doesn’t work in the end. In fact, it’s just boring to the reader and I’d risk losing them by the second chapter.
I had to slash and burn over ten thousand “world building” words between drafts two and three that did little for the story. I next had to complete quite a bit of restructuring, incorporating important aspects of the world directly into the storytelling. While I wanted to know the exact number of blades of grass in every meadow, the precise dimensions of Sash’s cavern, and where every tree and plant was located on the two-hundred-square-mile Delta of Krymzyn, that really wasn’t needed for the reader. Anything that didn’t further the story and characters or was just extraneous detail really had to be cut from the manuscript.
Strangely, the first aspect to the world I created in Krymzyn had nothing to do with its physical characteristics. I started by defining the emotional spectrum of the people who live there. The seemingly narrow range of emotion in the people of Krymzyn is really critical to the story.
After the emotional range of the people in Krymzyn was established, I could then move on to the physical characteristics of the world. These may appear relatively random early in the story, but they prove to all have a very good reason to be the way they are. A fantasy world can’t just be different from the world we live in for the sake of being different. The world needs to evolve through the course of the story into something cohesive with valid reasons to be the way it is.
When we finally reach the protagonist’s moment of enlightenment in the novel, the “gotcha moment,” everything should come together in a sudden, complete understanding by the reader. This was confirmed by beta readers and my wonderful editor, Mickey Reed, when they all had the same reaction to that moment in the book: “It all makes total sense now!”
In the final manuscript, twenty-five percent of the actual world building is done in the prologue of the novel, all through Sash’s “Ritual of Purpose.” There’s very little excess description, just what’s needed to set the scene, further the action, and get a very good sense of who Sash is as a person.
Another twenty-five percent is done in just a few paragraphs during Chase’s first visit, when he initially meets Sash, learns a little about why he’s there, and finds out what happens when “Darkness” falls. I tried very hard to never “tell” the reader about the world, attempting to always “show” through action.
By the end of chapter two, my goal is that the reader not only is hooked on the story and characters, but also has a very good sense of what the world looks like, how people behave there, and, more importantly, how it feels to be in Krymzyn. The rest of the world building occurs gradually throughout the story, in small doses when needed.
As the series progresses, the world will be expanded. We’ll learn more about the Barrens and the Infinite Expanse. The Serquatine we meet in the first book will be prominently featured in book two, and new creatures will be introduced as we meet the other Guardians of the gateways. The world will continue to develop in ensuing books until we learn exactly what Krymzyn is and discover why the world and creatures exist the way they do. Most of all, we’ll understand why Chase and Sash were brought together in this world.
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