I’m delighted to be taking part in the tour today for debut novel, Mask of the Gods by Karen Furk which has been organised by Rachel’s Random Resources.
Karen Furk is in my hot seat chatting to us about her inspiration for Mask of the Gods, scenes that were hard and enjoyable to write and more.
Soul Demons live off the souls of the living.
When Haydan’s home world is invaded by a soul demon seeking an item shrouded in myth and legend, his father evicts him and sends him to safety. His chosen one and warrior should provide reassurance and sanctuary, but neither appears to be working very well. Just when he thinks matters cannot get any worse his scheming grandmother arrives. She has her own plans that appear to involve him, none of which bodes well.
Diego feels confident he has the soul demon under control. Overlooking his devious mother’s involvement, he fails to appreciate that he is not only storm rider elder, but also an elven prince and certain debts are about to become due.
Lavinia worries about her grandson, but also who she left behind in the elven realm a long time ago. Tallin thinks she abandoned him and he is livid. She has everything under control, including Tallin…at least that is what she thinks.
They all need to learn afresh who to trust. With a soul demon on the rampage, an unleashed, angry and betrayed elven king and a long-forgotten mask surfacing, what could possibly go wrong?
The past is about to catch up with all of them. Nothing is going to go as planned because the mask and the gods have other ideas.
Mask of the Gods is available to purchase in digital and paperback formats.
Welcome to Jera’s Jamboree.
Please summarise The Mask of the Gods in 20 words or less.
The Mask of the Gods is an ancient artefact that has never worked as it’s supposed to. Nothing has changed.
What was the idea/inspiration for your novel?
I started writing back in 2012 after a bout of serious depression. At the time, I had no idea what I was doing and made a load of first-time writer mistakes like head hopping, loads of description, long waffly chapters etc. I was quite sensible about the draft because I knew it needed work and I wasn’t rushing to release it. I did a lot of research into getting a manuscript published and started to think hard about how to develop and improve the draft. This time gave me chance to get to know all my characters really well.
In 2015, I had hit a wall with the first books but I had an idea for an adventure for my main character involving his grandparents. I wanted them to be different and I wanted them to have been driven apart by circumstances beyond their control so there was a big source of conflict. I was also taken with the idea of a magical artefact surfacing and a portal. For National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWrimo) I started writing and that’s where the adventure called Mask of the Gods began.
Lavinia, Haydan’s grandmother is loosely based on my own grandmother who passed away when I was six weeks into writing this book. The rest of it is based on years of research into my characters and their world and a few initial sparks of ideas that just snowballed.
In 2016, the first draft went to beta readers and I commissioned the cover. In 2017, I found my editor and the book went through three rounds of edits and a proofread. Early in 2018 it went for formatting.
I’ve always been serious about my career as an author and wanted to create a debut novel that looked as good on the inside as the cover on the outside. I think after years of hard work, I’ve achieved that dream although the journey is far from over.
Going through this process has given me newfound confidence in my abilities. Book two, Mask of Deception will hopefully be released later in 2019 and I’ve re-written the first books I started in 2012 so they are also on the way in a new and much improved form.
If you could choose to be one of your characters Karen, who would you be?
I’m tempted to say Haydan (he was the point where I started my writing journey) or Diego (Haydan’s father – even my kids think he’s cool) or the whirling dervishes (just because they’re hysterical) but I’m going to say Isaac. He’s the only human in the books, but I know what I have planned for him and it’s worth sticking around for.
What scene did you enjoy writing the most?
The opening scene because it sets the tone for the book and gives an immediate sense (I hope) that this story isn’t going to be like any other you have read before. I pride myself on having written something fresh and unique that I hope is going to delight my readers, so expect the unexpected.
… and the hardest to write?
I can’t give too much away without a plot spoiler, but there’s a scene towards the end of the book that had one of my beta readers in floods of tears. It was difficult to write because it was quite dark and whilst I don’t have a problem with writing dark scenes, a lot of this story has focused on lighter themes and topics.
Did you do any research for your book? What resources did you use?
The beauty of writing fantasy is I can make it up as I go along and create what I like. The book starts in Scotland and that was based on some holidays I have spent up there. I also researched the fairy pools to make sure they worked for the adventure I had planned. I actually visited them in the summer of 2018 which was quite special, as they were even more spectacular than I expected them to be.
I’ve also put together some Pinterest boards for my books which I use as a visual reference when I need to. I usually think of an idea first then search on Pinterest for a few ideas that fit with it. Sometimes I’ll see something on Pinterest that inspires me and I’ll incorporate elements of what I have seen into the story I’m drafting.
Do you have a theme for your book covers? Who designs them Karen?
So far, the theme for the Mask books each centre around a magical object.
The first book showcases the mask itself. I have something rather special planned for the second mask book, but I’m not giving away details here just yet as my plans may have to change.
My Brother-in-Law is an internationally renowned illustrator and artist. His artwork is always stunning, so I was understandably desperate for him to design my covers and since I married his brother he has no choice (ha ha!) Joking aside, he was my first choice and fortunately he agreed to help me out. I have some great conversations with him about the designs and he’s even contributed a few really cool ideas for the mask that surface in the second book.
I would love for him to design all of my other covers, but he was quiet work wise in 2017, so he now has a permanent job that reduces the amount of time he can dedicate to his own freelance work. I’m hopeful he may yet come to work on the next cover. Consistency of the covers is a really big deal to me, but I’m obviously restricted now with his limited availability. I remain optimistic that he will find time to start working on the next cover for me soon, otherwise I will have to start the search for someone as good as he is and that won’t be easy!
Do you have a most creative time of day?
I can write at any time of the day and have been known to write in a range of locations from my car, to when I’m waiting for my kids at martial arts training. However, the most productive time of the day is usually either first thing in the morning at about 6am before my crazy kids surface, or at about 3:30 in the afternoon when I have returned from work, fed and watered my children and they’re enjoying an hour on one of their computer games. After a day in work my mind is often buzzing from all the ideas leaping around in there and I’m ready to unleash as many of them as I can onto the page.
Panster or plotter?
I am a definite pantser with the odd smattering of planning. I always have an idea on my beginning, middle and end. I usually know the key things I want to include in the story ie characters, magical objects and plot points, the rest is based on a bit of consideration and a whole load of pantsing as I go.
Finally, can you share with us what inspired you to write?
Having worked for three toxic employers who destroyed my self-confidence I was suffering from serious depression. On holiday in Scotland in the summer of 2012 Haydan appeared in front of me. He walked out from a storm cloud as though he was trying to help me. He didn’t speak, but something about his appearance sent my imagination tumbling into overdrive. Who was he? Where did he come from and more importantly why was he in Scotland? I started writing and haven’t stopped since.
Thank you for being my guest today Karen.
Wishing you success with all your writing projects.
Karen Furk loves fantasy stories. She has done ever since she was a small, lonely child with an over active imagination. She’s particularly fond of stories that are crammed full of magic, mayhem and magical creatures. Karen’s background in marketing laid the foundations for her writing career which began after a serious bout of depression. No longer able to contain her over active imagination, the stories finally flowed onto a page. She aims to surprise and delight with the characters and worlds she creates. She lives in the North West of the UK with her husband, two boys and a hamster called Rufus (Yes, a girl hamster with a boy’s name. Don’t ask, she just embraces the crazy!). Visit her at karenfurk.co.uk
Connect with Karen Furk
Don’t forget to check out the other hosts on tour.
Read all posts in the fantasy genre on Jera’s Jamboree.