Jim Aikin: Author
Ah, good. You're here. Please, have a seat. No, not there — that chair has a wobbly leg. Yes, that one is very comfortable. Would you care for a cup of tea?
As you've probably noticed, this is not a typical author website. It suits me, but it's not fancy, and not quite professional-looking, is it? I coded it myself, you see, by hand. But you don't care about that. You're here about my books. I can see that gleam in your eye.
Yes, the books. There they are! Over the last couple of years I've written a series of four fantasy novels. I'm now in the process of uploading them to the usual online retailers, and I'm hoping a few people will enjoy reading them. The four of them together tell one continuous story — an epic, if you like, though they're not the usual sort of fantasy epic. At least I hope they're not. I'd be rather ashamed of them if they were. Hundreds and probably thousands of epic fantasy novels have been published over the past few years by eager authors, and most of them are absolute rubbish. I hope not to see mine lumped together with them, but I know that's a forlorn hope.
Yes, that's me. My hair is longer now. I had a professional take a publicity photo of me last year. It's quite slick, and for that reason I concluded I don't like it. What you're looking at is a selfie. I took it with an iPad.
But about the books. I'm not entirely happy with the title of The Rainbow Tree, because "rainbow" isn't a made-up word, but I couldn't think of anything that I liked better. I'm starting with downloadable ebooks, but I expect paperbacks will follow before very long.
You would? That's easily enough arranged. Please — download the first few chapters of The Leafstone Shield and give them a read.
What sets my story apart from the glut, I hope, is that it's broader in scope, and not quite so grim. Reading on Amazon the descriptions of dozens of fantasy novels (I don't have the time or patience to read the complete books), I sense a ponderous seriousness in the genre that is both pervasive and grating. The primary emotion that many fantasy authors seem to want to evoke is fear. In reading book descriptions, one regularly encounters such phrases as, "pursued by the dark minions of an ancient enemy," "his men were slaughtered," "war looming," "entangled in webs of deceit," "hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds," "the brutal consequences," "the threat to the kingdom mounts," and "one slip may spell doom not only for [the heroine], but for her world as well."
These are all actual quotes. It's quite horrible, isn't it? I do hope some of the stories have more to offer than the quotes would suggest. Perhaps the authors feel they have no choice but to emphasize the things they've been assured readers want.
I could describe my own books in similar terms. I could mention a ruined land or the iron fist of the oppressor. I could mention the people who are eaten by dragons, an evil wizard's despicable plans for his daughters, or the impossible odds the heroine faces in her quest. All that would be true. But if my story offered nothing beyond that, you would be right to avoid reading it, and I would certainly advise you accordingly.
What else? I'm so glad you asked! To start with, there's a large cast of colorful characters. I'm quite fond of them; if I weren't, there would have been no point in writing the story. As my heroine sets out on her quest, she's accompanied by (in no particular order) a rather spoiled and irresponsible rich girl who is on the run from a truly awful arranged marriage, the rich girl's straight-laced governess, a thief, an ogre, an arrogant and unreliable concert pianist, a half-breed demon, an outlaw wizard, a not-very-bright ghost, and her best friend, who is a remarkable magical being but doesn't know it yet.
There are flashes of humor in the story. There's hope, and friendship, and even a little romance. Also danger, madness, and political intrigue. Maybe here and there a scrap of decent writing. Also railroad trains, magically powered flying machines, telegraph offices, firearms, horseless carriages, texting, and nocturnal creatures that can suck your soul out through your eyeballs. Also an officious and annoying station master, a wise but old and crippled blind woman, a half-breed elf girl with a hawk for a familiar, a statue that talks and occasionally walks, sprites, imps, elves, priests, atheists, an ox-tender who happens to be the emperor (but don't get your hopes up), and a very fat and very successful purchaser of surreptitiously acquired valuables.
Too much information? Sorry. Other than that, I suppose it's really just standard-issue fantasy.
Questions? Comments? Lavish praise? Faint praise? Advice I'd be wise to heed?Email me at email@example.com.