I’d like to extend a warm welcome to author and editor, Michael Ventrella. One of my short stories, “Grip of Chaos” appears in his new anthology - Tales of Fortannis: A Bard’s Eye View (Double Dragon Publishing, 2011).
I first met Michael at RavenCon in Richmond, Virginia, and have had the pleasure of serving with him on more than one science fiction/fantasy panel.
Michael, would you please introduce yourself.
Hi, everybody! I’m Michael A. Ventrella. My web page is http://www.michaelventrella.com and you can find me on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media fairly easily. I have two fantasy novels published so far that take place in the world of Fortannis – a magical place full of danger and excitement.
ARCH ENEMIES involves a prophecy which states that the Chosen One will seal the magical Arch to prevent the evil gryphons sealed within from being released. The problem is that instead of getting the Chosen One, they get young bard Terin Ostler (who they think is the Chosen One!). Terin has no idea what to do, can’t cast a spell to save his life (literally) and drops heavy swords whenever he gets one.
Terin is just a normal guy. He has no special powers or abilities. Instead of winning by using the Force or super powers or beating the bad guy with a sword until he dies, Terin wins by being clever and figuring out complicated ways to solve the problem.
In the sequel THE AXES OF EVIL, everyone is now convinced that Terin really is the one from the prophecy. Now everyone comes to him with their prophecies, expecting him to solve them. He’s faced with three contradicting ones, as well as an impossible order from his Duke. Of course, he finds a way to solve all of the problems, being the clever lad he is.
The new anthology is called TALES OF FORTANNIS: A BARD’S EYE VIEW. It takes place in the lands of the novels, but with many writers contributing, you can get a different feel for the world. My novels, for instance, are young adult oriented with a bit of humor. Some of the stories in this collection definitely are not!
It has just been released in the ebook format (as of this writing) and the paperback and kindle versions should be available within a few weeks.
Tell us a little about the world of Fortannis and the types of intelligent beings who live there.
In some ways, it is the kind of fantasy world readers are used to: There are dwarves and elves and orcs and so on. But there are a few things that make it different.
First, there is the complicated race of beings known as the biata. They are descended from gryphons, which are intelligent and have the power to change their form and walk among the populace disguised as biata. Therefore, you never quite know whether any biata you meet may secretly be a powerful gryphon in disguise.
Gryphons and biata also have mental abilities – they can go into your mind and plant false memories or otherwise control you. This is a major plot point in ARCH ENEMIES, as a war with a country run by biata and gryphon is fraught with danger—the fellow on the battlefield next to you could be enslaved to them without you even knowing it.
Mind you, to make it even more confusing, they are a race like any other, meaning there are biata who are good and honest and loyal to the crown and there are those who belong to the enemy army. You can’t just look at one and tell.
Secondly, there is no religion in this world. No gods will come down and save your ass, no clerics are fighting among themselves, and no one gets worshipped. You’re responsible for your own failures and successes.
Third, although it (like most high fantasy) is based on a traditional medieval society, Fortannis isn’t a male-dominated world.
What made you decide to edit an anthology of stories set in the world of Fortannis?
In all honesty, I thought it would be a great way to get another book out quicker than I normally would as well as entice readers to try out my novels. Plus I wanted to see what others would make of the world.
Did you have any second thoughts about other people writing about your world?
No, not really, although I did have to reject some stories that were so far out there they wouldn’t fit and I also had to correct some authors who strayed too far from the world as it has already been established.
Did you receive the types of stories you expected to receive?
I received way too many stories that read like the kind of thing a role-playing game player would write about their character history. You know, the “how my character became an adventurer” thing. I didn’t accept any of them.
But of the ones that were accepted, I was fairly pleased and in some cases, quite surprised.
I found writing for “A Bard’s Eye View” a challenge. At the beginning, I didn’t know any of the rules for that story world. What were your biggest challenges when editing the collection?
Saying no to friends who had submitted stories that were not accepted!
There were a few stories as well that were from beginning writers that needed quite a bit of rewriting. I sent a few back with suggestions, and most were returned vastly improved. A few were still rejected even after the changes.
You mentioned that you might put together a second Fortannis anthology. What recommendations do you have for writers who wish to submit stories for your consideration?
It would probably help if you read my novels, especially the first (ARCH ENEMIES) which establishes the world.
Other than that, try to break away from the clichés. Don’t think: “Oh, it’s a fantasy novel, so I need to have heroes with swords fighting monsters.” The setting is a fantasy world, but there are as many different stories that can be told in that world as there are in our world.
One of the stories in this collection, for instance, is about a hobling (a hobbit-like being—don’t want to get sued here) who is trying to steal a recipe for a pie he likes. Another is about a fellow who is trying to pull a scam on the Duke of Ashbury. A third is about some goblin children spying on the humans to figure out what they are doing in a mysterious cave.
While I like a good adventure (and, I should add, my story in the collection falls more into the “adventure” category), I’d like more stories about life in general in this world for the next collection.
I am accepting stories now for the next edition. See my web page at www.michaelaventrella.com/fortannis.php for details.
Well, thank you Michael for stopping by and for all the great information. Best of luck in your literary endeavors. For those who are interested, the link to the Double Dragon website is as follows: http://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com/single.php?ISBN=1-55404-831-1 . To purchase Tales of Fortannis: A Bard’s Eye View on Amazon, go to http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/155404832X.
Warm wishes to all,
Laurel Anne Hill (Author of “Heroes Arise”), http://www.laurelannehill.com