Sunday, February 20, 2022

Interview with J. Steven Lamperti, author of The Tales of Liamec featuring exclusive map reveal


It gives the Speculative Fiction Showcase great pleasure to interview J. Steven Lamperti, author of The Tales of Liamec.

You have written a series of fantasy novels called The Tales of Liamec. Where is Liamec and does it have a historical link with this world?

The Tales of Liamec are set in medieval times. Somewhere around 1300 or so. Liamec is a small European kingdom, initially established years before the time of the books by a wandering tribe of Greeks.  Closer to the time of the books, it was occupied, settled, and/or invaded by a group of English-speaking nobles and their followers.  I envision Liamec as being somewhere near where Brittany is on the coast of France. The Tales of Liamec are set in a fantasy version of our own world, in which magic is real. Still, most of the rest of the world outside of Liamec looks similar to what our world looked like at that time.

In creating the world of Liamec, did you invent a system of magic or discover it as you wrote?

The magic system in Liamec has evolved or grown with each book. However, even in the first book, Moon & Shadow, it was pretty similar to what it looks like as I am working on the fifth and sixth.  I think both the word invent and the word discover could apply.

Each of the first four books has a different protagonist. Why did you choose that form and how has it worked for you?

My intent, initially, was to make each book be able to be read independently. I think I succeeded with this idea up until about book three. Moon & Shadow, The Wolf’s Tooth, and By the Sea can each be read alone. Twilight’s Fall, the most recent book, depends on some events in both The Wolf’s Tooth and By the Sea. It can still be read alone, but it benefits from reading the others first.

In fact, even though I made an effort to make each book stand-alone, I believe that the reader will enjoy them even more if they read them together.

The two new books I am currently working on depart from this idea. Sun & Dream and Death & Dragon are direct sequels to Moon & Shadow, turning it into the first book in a trilogy.

Book 1 of the series, Moon & Shadow, deals with a villager called Sebastian who pulls the moon down from the sky. That’s a striking image. Tell us about Sebastian and the inspiration for the tale.

The inspiration for both Moon & Shadow, and through that, the entire series, was a full moon on the horizon when I was walking the dog one evening. The moon was so bright and looked so close that the image of a young man reaching up and pulling it down from the sky came to me. Writing that scene was the first step in writing Moon & Shadow.

Not just wizards and mages but gods from Ancient Greece appear in the stories. Why did you choose these gods and how does their world intersect with that of the mortals?

The Greek gods entered Liamec through the sea. When I was brainstorming the ideas that would lead to By the Sea, I knew I had to have the god of the sea in the story. My image for the god of the sea came to me from Mary Renault's book The Bull from the Sea, though I think I made him my own while writing my own book. Once Poseidon, then Hades, Selena, Helios, and Koalemos.

All four books refer to coming of age. How important is this to the stories?

When I first started writing, I had no intent to make ‘coming of age’ a theme in The Tales of Liamec. It was only later that I realized that it was already there without my consciously adding it. Each of the stories, and in fact the stories that I have planned as well, has to do with a formative period in a young person’s life. It seems that these are the stories my brain wants to tell.

Book 2, The Wolf’s Tooth, centres on a boy adopted by a wolf pack. Tell us something about Twee and his adventures.

The Wolf’s Tooth tells the story of Twee as he grows from a bumbling baby boy into a young man. In between, he has all sorts of adventures and misadventures, including meeting the love of his life. His story has many episodes, from being enslaved and forced to work as a blacksmith’s apprentice to living with a band of outlaws to being captured and locked in a dungeon by the kingdom’s ruler. Each of them helps form part of the character of the man the bumbling baby from the story’s beginning is to become.

The protagonist of Book 3, By the Sea, is a girl who lives in the village of Chelle, where the people worship the god Poseidon. Who is Annabelle and what can you tell us about Llyr, the enigmatic nobleman who enters her life and that of her village?

By the Sea is set in the little coastal fishing village Chelle by the Sea. Annabelle grew up in Chelle, and until the events of the story, the edges of the town, and the sea, were the limits of her horizons. When a handsome young stranger rides into town, asking about her, no one in the fishing village has any idea what is coming.

Llyr is handsome, rich, and powerful, but Annabelle is not impressed. Then he reveals one more secret about who he is, and she has no choice but to pay attention.

How do you visualise the places you describe? Are there any special locations you have visited?

My concepts of some places in the Tales of Liamec start with a single idea. The village of Chelle by the Sea, the setting of By the Sea, started with the image of grey cliffs looming over a coastal fishing town. The City of Grisput, a place where part of the action in The Wolf’s Tooth, and future stories, takes place, was shaped by the image of the upper and lower cities.  The King’s Seat, a castle setting in both The Wolf’s Tooth and Twilight’s Fall, is described by an almost endless panorama of gables, turrets, parapets, and towers. That one was inspired, partly, by Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast stories.

The fourth book, and the last so far, is Twilight's Fall, about King Twilight and his young companions. Tell us about the plot that threatens the King’s throne, and the journey home faced by him and his young companions.

In Twilight’s Fall, the young king Twilight, fairly recently crowned, is touring remote areas of his kingdom when he is told of a gathering revolt. Forces inimical to his kingdom are gathering near his capital city. Completely surprised by this report, he starts to rush home. On the trip back, his party is ambushed, and the king barely survives.

Who are Alea, Blaine, and Corentin, and how do they help the king?

Alea, Blaine, and Corentin are the companions who help Twilight make his way back to his capital city after surviving the ambush at the beginning of Twilight’s Fall. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses and helps the king in different ways.

As is the nature of the Tales of Liamec, I have interspersed connections with the other books in the series. Corentin was an important character in By the Sea.

You are working on a fifth book in the series, due to be published later this year. What can you tell us about this latest instalment?

The fifth book in the Tales of Liamec series will be titled Sun & Dream. It will be closely followed by the sixth, Death & Dragon. There’s a bit to tell about these two books, but I will try to be brief. Sun & Dream and Death & Dragon are direct sequels to Moon & Shadow, the first book in the Tales of Liamec. Close readers of Moon & Shadow will have noticed that it hints at more to tell. In fact, while I was writing Moon & Shadow, I had it in the back of my head that it was the first book in a trilogy. Well, now it is.

The trilogy will be titled The Channeler Trilogy.  It continues the story of Sebastian, the Knight of Moon & Shadow, and his adoptive niece Anise. Though, to follow the coming of age motif, Anise rises to center stage above her uncle.

Are these stories evocative of a particular medieval or legendary past such as Arthurian Legend or Celtic Myth?

Several influences helped shape Liamec. While I was writing, I always had thoughts of Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea books in my mind. I was also inspired by Neil Gaiman’s Starlight.  The first scene in Sun & Dream was inspired by Taran, the pig-keeper chasing after his charges in the beginning of Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain.

As far as Celtic Myth, some of that will be emerging in Sun & Dream.  Names of many characters are taken from Celtic lore. There are also some characters coming up who were influenced by my research into Pictish history.

With the books being set in the 1300s, the characters may have encountered Arthurian stories themselves. I plan to explore this in the upcoming book The Ill-formed Knight.

What started your interest in heroic fantasy, myth and legend?

I’ve been reading fantasy and science fiction stories since I was very small. These kinds of stories and legends have always been an inspiration to me. I also found the ‘real’ world versions fascinating. King Arthur, Robin Hood, Greek myth, all of these helped form my interests.

Will there be further books in the series? What can your readers expect?

I have many future stories in mind. In addition to the two that are just about to come out, I have three or four more titles and outlines. The Pirates of Meara, Sunshine over Hero, The Ill-formed Knight, and a short story called The Maid of the Mill are all in the pipeline.


About J. Steven Lamperti:

J. Steven Lamperti is working on the Tales of Liamec, an award-winning series of fantasy novels. So far, books in the series have won a red ribbon from the Wishing Shelf Book awards, a Royal Dragonfly and a Purple Dragonfly Book award, and a five-star medal from the Reader’s Favorite website. By the Sea was a finalist in the 2021 Best Book Awards. The BookLife Prize website described The Wolf’s Tooth as “A gripping read that is hard to put down.” 

Mr. Lamperti is a former application developer who has abandoned the world of bits and bytes for a career in writing. He and his wife live in California near their three daughters.

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