The Merlin Chronicles "Revelations" steps out of the author’s shadow and into the spotlight; the next big Fantasy read is here. Black Caviar Book Club caught up with Daniel Diehl for a “No Bars Held” interview. A character all in himself, this was one opportunity we couldn’t pass by.
Four Questions, One Author!
Psymon H: "Daniel,
you have over twenty non-fiction books translated into ten foreign languages;
Why the switch to the Fantasy genre and The Merlin Chronicles Revelations?"
DD: "I didn't have 20 nonfiction books and 170 hours of documentary television to my credit when I wrote 'Revelations: book one of The Merlin Chronicles'.
I actually wrote it in 2005. While I really enjoy nonfiction, dealing with actual events limits the author's scope because every detail of the story is already established by the facts and historical record.
It still allows the writer to exercise their story telling ability but prevents them from weaving even the smallest story line of their own and I really wanted an opportunity to take my characters along undiscovered paths.
Why I chose this particular story is a complete mystery. All I know is that one afternoon my dog and I were walking through the Great North Forest in County Durham and the entire story outline and the first 3 or 4 complete chapters started running through my head like a movie. Truthfully, it became so disorienting that I had to sit down; I think the dog thought I was ill. It was an amazing experience and unlike any I have had before or since - possibly Merlin's magic was involved.
When the book was finished - about 6 months later - I began shopping it around to publishers and agents. Unfortunately neither of my publishers handle fiction and every other publisher I took it to insisted that nonfiction writers could not possibly write fiction. It took me 7 years to find a publisher who was interested in the book and during that time I kept writing nonfiction but also continued to write more fiction...but I am not going to talk about them here. I will, however, say that there are at least 2 more books in The Merlin Chronicles series."
Psymon H: "Forced into an uneasy alliance, Jason and Merlin are sucked into a web of deceit, intrigue, and murder in a race to outwit and outrun Merlin’s ancient nemesis: what makes these two characters stand out in a crowd?"
DD: "The thing that makes Merlin stand out is the simple fact that he is Merlin. I once had someone tell me that Merlin was just a rip-off of Gandalf and I had to remind them that Merlin came about 1,300 years before Tolkien created Gandalf.
In truth, the whole wizardly mythos began with Merlin and he has remained the mold for all successive wizards for more than a thousand years. And like anyone who has been doing the same thing for 16 centuries Merlin finds old habits hard to break.
Although Jason manages to trim Merlin's hair and beard and dress him in a tweed suit it is inevitable that only a few days later the old man has reverted to wearing his coarse grey gown and goat-skin waistcoat. This alone will make him stand out almost anywhere.
Jason, of course, is a different matter. He is not a fantasy hero; in truth, like most of us, he is not any kind of a hero. At one point in the story I refer to him as looking cool and languid on the outside but being a tight little knot on the inside. Like most of us Jason is a completely average, slightly socially awkward, university student - a fact that makes his encounter with Merlin all the more bizarre and unbelievable.
I purposely made Jason a bit older than most of the lead characters in Urban Fantasy stories so that adults, as well as younger people, could more easily identify with him. If Jason stands out in any crowd it is only because he is rather tall, slim and blond - beyond that he, like most of us, is virtually anonymous."
Psymon H: "Can you give our readers an interesting fact about the author Daniel Diehl?"
DD: "As an historian who has written a load of nonfiction I always keep my work - even my fantasy - as firmly based in history and fact as possible, and I have maintained that standard throughout 'Revelations: book one of The Merlin Chronicles'.
Just because a story is a complete fabrication doesn't mean that it should lack a good foundation in fact. It is so much more fun when the reader's reaction to some fantastical situation is "Wow, that could really happen" - don't you think?"
Psymon H: "The Black Caviar Book Club loved the significance of the 12.12.12 release date, what sets book one “REVELATIONS” apart from the many on the bookshelf?"
DD: "I have found two distinct trends that have been taking place in fantasy novels that I tried hard to avoid in 'Revelations: book one of The Merlin Chronicles'. First is the trend that the hero/heroine is a teenager.
This is great if it is a story geared specifically toward young adults, but there is a huge fantasy audience who are a bit older and want their lead characters to be a bit more mature.
I also believe that younger adults will connect with Jason because they long to reach the point in life where they are on their own and out in the world looking for new and exciting adventures - this is exactly the place Jason is in his life - it is just that, in this case, he gets a lot more than he has bargained for.
The other trend which I purposely rejected was the tendency for fantasy stories to take themselves far too seriously. If I want depressingly serious I will listen to the news. This is fantasy and should be a total escape from the ugliness of reality. Consequently I insisted on bringing a level of playfulness to the story even when Jason and Merlin are in dangerous situations.
Savvy readers will see dozens of movie references, crafty puns and other bits of playfulness that I have woven through the story like a small, hardly noticeable thread that keeps things from becoming too depressing even in the most frightening situations."
Psymon H: "I would like to thank you Daniel for taking the time to engage with the Black Caviar Book Club and wish you the very best in you endeavors."
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