Born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Darren grew up as most Winnipeggers do—surviving bone-chilling winters and mosquito-infested summers. Looking back now, he wouldn’t change a thing.
Darren attributes his passion for reading to his mother, who handed him his first fantasy fiction paperback at age twelve and told him that ‘he’d like it’; and his passion for writing to his father, who spent countless hours with him in front of a clunky word processor and told him that ‘he’d get it’. Turns out, some twenty-five years later, they were right.
Darren lives in Vancouver, British Columbia with his wife Laura, their son Nolan and their dog Gallagher. When he isn’t writing, Darren enjoys hiking with his young family, playing tennis when he can get a game in, and catching up on his reading when everyone else in the house has gone to sleep.
I was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba (Canada) in 1974. And, like other Winnipeggers, I grew up learning to deal with bone-chilling winters and mosquito-infested summers. Looking back now, I’d have it no other way.
Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada) has been my home since 2000. It’s a beautiful city, nestled in between the mountains and the ocean, and I count myself fortunate for being able to live here with my wife Laura, our son Nolan and our dog Gallagher. Outside of writing, I enjoy trail running, tennis (when I can find the time and a partner to hit with) and reading (after everyone else in the house has gone to sleep).
2. When did you start writing, and why?
The first rumblings I felt about writing my own stuff came shortly after reading The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks. I was about twelve at the time and remember it well—my mother had recently come home from the local mall in Winnipeg and dropped a paperback on my bed with some really cool artwork on the cover. I didn’t know what fantasy fiction was, but believe me, I sure as h#$# wanted to know what Elfstones were! It was my first literary introduction (outside of playing Dungeons & Dragons with friends… all fantasy writers did at some point, right?) to mystical creatures, magical weapons, strange worlds and even stranger races. I devoured it. And when I was done, I remember thinking how cool it would be if I could one day write something that took people to another place like the way I had been. So that’s what I did—I wrote. Mind you, like many authors I know, life “got in the way” and unfortunately my writing stepped aside to let that happen. Fast-forward twenty-four years since Elfstones found its way to my room, and that’s when I decided—seriously—to reacquaint myself with the craft. Three years later, The Cloudstone Key was born (the child of a great deal of planning and forethought). For those that pick up The Cloudstone Key, it is my sincere hope that they will be transported away to that mystical place—that place which enables the suspension of disbelief and drops them into a far away land and all that comes with it.
3. Introduce us to some of your characters.
Meet my protagonist, Karsen Morgate. Karsen is 17 years old (going on 18), a shade under six feet tall with (ear length) sandy brown hair and green eyes. He is the second child of Gavin Morgate—his sister Elysse, went missing/ran away when Karsen was eight years old. Karsen is unsure of the direction he wants to take his life—pressure to follow in his father’s footsteps as head of Aystin’ mining Guild. His true passion, though, is to get out of Aystin and to explore the vast world in which he lives, but has yet to experience. If I was to describe Karsen’s character in just a few words, I’d use: Curious. Sensitive. Determined. Cognizant. Clever. Proud.
4. "Welcome To My Worlds": Tell us a little about the world of your latest book or series.
The Rithhek Cage Trilogy is set in the world of Tholann, a land rich in history and conflict. About 500 years have passed on the continent before the reader meets Karsen Morgate on page one of The Cloudstone Key. During that time, “a lot happened,” not the least of which involved nine species of dragons, an ancient race of industrious humanoids known as the Rithhek, a group of agate-wielding magic users known as Adepts, and a conflict that drove a spike into everything. When the reader meets Karsen at the beginning of The Cloudstone Key, the weight of Tholann’s history looms over him, although he doesn’t yet know what that means; but he wants to—if he can. Using the six-word framework again, I’d describe Tholann as: Expansive. Strained. Diverse. Untamed. Mysterious. Treacherous.
5. How much of your characters are based on your traits or someone you know personally?
In my mind, it’s hard to write something fictional and not pour your emotions and experiences into your characters. In my writing, I try hard to have my characters come to life on the page and to do that, I draw on the five senses as well as my own life experiences. Translating this into The Cloudstone Key, there are elements of Karsen’s character loosely related to my own life; a capital ‘L’ on loosely. I, too left home at a relatively early age, but I wasn’t forced to, nor was I running from a murder case. To twist your question around a bit, though, I’ve channeled more personal experiences directly into my world-building. Especially through the map of Tholann. A lot of care went into crafting it (and the history behind it) and every element is emotionally tied to something or someone close to me.
6. What is your latest book or series? Any forthcoming books?
My “latest” book is the first book in The Rithhek Cage Trilogy: The Cloudstone Key. I’m about two-thirds of the way through the first draft of the second book in Trilogy—The Peregrine Prophecy—and will be releasing it in November 2013.
7. A fun fact you would like your readers to know about you or your book.
One of the coolest things I’m finding about being an author and having access to the power of social media is the speed and ease in which you can test ideas with your friends, family and readers. In fact, the title—The Peregrine Prophecy–was one of four choices that I tested on Facebook and Twitter. It won the day.
In the remote mining village of Aystin, Karsen Morgate secretly longs to explore the world outside the town walls; but instead dutifully spends his nights protecting the precious Cloudstone tiles--mined by his father, and engraved with mystical symbols and lore by the reclusive Adept Noxyn. When his half-brother, Petr, commits a gruesome crime, Karsen is forced to flee his home, carrying with him a tile depicting a unique artifact--the Ennae--entrusted to his care by the Adept himself. Alone, ailing, and on the run, Karsen must find help, find his way, and decipher the true meaning of the Ennae. For he soon realizes that he is being pursued by the dark brotherhood of the Shroud, and that he has somehow become an unwilling pawn in an ancient conflict.
The Shroud is stirring.
The world of Tholann is in danger.
And young Karsen Morgate is in the middle of it.
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