At school I was a huge fan of English, and I went on to do an English Literature and Language degree at university. One of the things we did was read a novel or poem and then work out the themes, the deeper meaning and what we thought the author really meant (which they probably didn’t mean at all but, you know, we had to write something halfway intelligent in our essays!).
So, in the spirit of a number of English lessons I vividly remember where we dissected Lord of the Flies by William Golding until there was absolutely nothing left of the story, here I ‘go deep’ on seven themes in my second novel.
In my second epic fantasy novel, Violya (In the Heart of the Mountains #2), we learn more about the nation of Troglo and the Trogrs, or cave creatures. The Trogrs are desperate, as for years their fertility has been in trouble, with a slow decline in the birth of females and then a drop off altogether, with only male babies being conceived and born.
This concept of fertility evolving or failing is an interesting one to think about – what would we do? What would happen if suddenly the fertility rate dropped off, or only male or female babies were being born, or if only a select few were fertile? For the survival of the race, would we force fertile people to procreate? Would we have to find other animals or alien lifeforms close to humans to attempt to breed with? Would we turn to cloning ourselves to keep the race going? Desperate times call for desperate measures… how far would we go?
Much of the action in my In the Heart of the Mountains trilogy is set in a country called Peqkya and its capital Riaow. It’s surrounded by a belt of mountains called the Meliok Mountains.
The inspiration for Peqkya has come from my world travels and specifically the amazing mountains I’ve been fortunate to visit and trek. Below I round up some of the locations and experiences that have helped me bring my world to life in Melokai (Book One) and Violya (Book Two).
At the time of the novel Violya, the warrior Violya is twenty years old. Born in Riaow, the capital of Peqkya, she grew up in a pen where she met her best friend Emmya. As with every Peqkian, V does not know who her parents are, as Peqkian custom dictates ‘No baby will ever know it’s parents and no parents will ever know their baby’.
Violya, or V, showed excellence in warrior training from an early age. However, although she worked hard to cultivate her talent, she was crippled with self-doubt. As a child, she grew very tall very quickly and suffered from bullying which knocked her confidence. As a teenager she would sneak out of the warrior barracks and into a place in the bamboo forest just outside of Riaow. There she would self-harm in an attempt to quiet the voices in her head that told her she was no good.
For those of you who have read Melokai (In the Heart of the Mountains #1) and would like a refresher on what happens before diving into Violya (In the Heart of the Mountains #2), then this short synopsis is for you!
**WARNING**: this includes EVERY spoiler about the story in Melokai, so only read it if you’re happy to find out exactly what happens, and the ending, of the first book.
This synopsis is included in the ebook of Violya (In the Heart of the Mountains #2), but not in the paperback.
“Cockfaces,” the warrior Violya hissed as the enemy’s ramshackle camp came into view.
In the dead of night, lit only by the camp’s pathetic fires that spat and sizzled against the heavy snowfall, a small, deadly force of one hundred Peqkian warriors and one hundred Jute fighters silently climbed down the mountain slope.
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