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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

YA Author Spotlight Presents...

Thyme in a Flask
Glen Quarry!!!

I'd like to welcome a new author this week - Glen Quarry! He is so new he doesn't even have a photo yet! Anyway, he's here promoting his debut release, Thyme in a Flask. I just love that name, don't you? It's a nice play on words...

The Prologue of this book is enough to hook me in and get me to want to read more. However, because of my current demands of manuscript editing and contest entry judging, I wasn't able to read it all by today, so I opted to set it aside until after my other responsibilities were met because I can tell that once I sit down with this one, I won't want to put it down. After all, I love adventure books!

Are you frustrated because I haven't told you what is meant by play on words? Well, I give you this little, I won't because I don't want to give anything crucial away!

Oh, okay, I'll tell you!

The story begins with the Prologue, which, as most adventure seekers know, provides some important clue into what will happen to the heroes and heroines of the story, what we don't always know is how this clue comes into play or when! That's the fun of the adventure though, isn't it? Anyway, Joanna enters the scene and goes looking for her father, a king. She eventually finds him in his library, but he looks strange to her. Then, in the blink of an eye, he's back to his normal self.

What's so important about this? Well, if we read on to the end of the prologue, we find that, while Joanna doesn't understand this, she found her father just as he returned from...

drum roll please...

"the land of no time"

This has all sorts of fun connotations to it, don't you think? Does it mean that time doesn't exist where he is? Or does it mean that when he goes there, none of the people have "time" to do anything and are always in a hurry? Or do they have "thyme" as the title suggests?

That brings to mind the song by Jim Croce, Time in a Bottle. In looking for a version on youtube, I stumbled upon this very cool version that I do recall seeing when I was very

Notice the flask is his hand...hmmm...I wonder...oh, sorry, my mind wandered as I wondered, wasn't that a Barbara Streisand song? Oh wait, that was, I Wonder as I Wander.

Enough play, let's get to why you're here, the interview. You almost forgot about that, didn't you? Hehe, good thing I didn't! again. Oh wait, did I just write that? I did didn't I. Well, the cat's out of the bag, or should I say thyme is out of the flask! HAHAHAHAHAHA! Yeah, I almost forgot to post this today! it's a good thing Glen kept me on my toes today!

ME: March has a few popular dates to celebrate. Which one are you more apt to celebrate, St. Patrick’s Day, or the First Day of Spring, or both and why?

GLEN: First of all, I want to thank you for allowing me the opportunity to be on your blog, Carrie. It’s been fun to do this!

Since I come from an area where winters can be quite harsh, I always look forward to the first day of spring, although it isn’t always spring-like. I enjoy the greening of the grass and trees, and some of the spring wildflowers that pop up are sensational. My youngest daughter and I often take wildflower walks in the spring and see if we can put names to the early blooms.

ME: Because of its Irish heritage, St. Patrick’s Day is a big party day in Wisconsin (and many other areas) in which everyone gets in on the action from free pub crawl busses to breweries making green beer/spirits and some stores selling green colored/decorated food and sweets. Does anything similar occur in your area? Even if you do not participate, please tell us what activities are going on around you. Anything you feel is unique or especially interesting?

GLEN: St. Patrick’s Day is a nice time to get together with family and friends.
A local Irish restaurant offers corned beef, cabbage and green beer all day on St. Patrick’s day, but I’ve never been there on the holiday.

I was born and raised a Mennonite and drinking and smoking was not looked on kindly. I remember a certain traveling salesman when I was a youngster, and he talked a lot and left several cigarette butts on the ground. Well, my brothers and I thought we’d found a bonanza, and we gathered some of them and found a supposedly secluded place where we could light them and see what they tasted like. Somehow we were found out, and our father was quite put out!

Values you learn in childhood usually stay with you, and for me at least, they did.

ME: Do you like to decorate for spring/St. Pat’s Day or is this the time of the year where your house has a break from special décor?

GLEN: I usually clean the garage in the spring, but that doesn’t quite qualify as decorating. I always hope to bring some spring atmosphere into the house, and I hope that this year brings a little luck o’ the Irish to our home.

ME: Ireland is steeped in myth, legends and lore. Do you have any favorites? Please briefly share them with us (include links to other information for interested readers).

GLEN: There is an old Irish proverb that goes like this: you can put a silk dress on a goat but he is still a goat. I’ve heard a couple of variations of it. This could apply to people too, that no matter how fancy a person dresses his personality is still the same as if he was wearing rags. I try to incorporate these ideas into my writing as well; that our true colors will always win out.

ME: Spring is considered a time of renewal, a time of rebirth. Do you do anything “special” to commemorate this idea such as planting flowers or cleaning out your house? Please share with us your way of celebrating this time of rebirth.

GLEN: We usually plant flowers in front of our house in the spring, and then we’ll head for the local nursery to find pretty potted plants to hang under the deck in the back yard.

One of my favorite spring activities is watching the back yard bird feeders to see when the “summer season” birds show up. The orioles are a particular favorite, and they often nest in one of our trees. The humming birds and blue birds are also exciting. I built a blue bird house for the front yard that has raised one or more nests every spring since I put it there, which is at least eight years. Indeed, some of my best writing occurred as I watched the feathered critters feed.

ME: Magic is often tied into Celtic myths and legends, or at least we like to think it is. Why do you think that is? Why, in your opinion, does Ireland carry so much mystery and magic for the rest of us?

GLEN: Before I began writing, I knew little about Celtic legends or mythical creatures. However, the genre I write in demanded that I acquire at least a cursory knowledge of such things, and as I began to read about them, I became more and more interested.

Celtic legends actually stem from the polytheistic religion of the early Celts (people of Iron Age Europe that spoke the Celtic language). Their Gods, in effect, became these legendary mythical creatures. Irish mythology is among the earliest known of these religions, and as these pagan beliefs were replaced by Christianity, they faded into the realm of mythology.

My own personal belief is that J. R. R. Tolkien preserved much of what we call mythology when he wrote his book of lost tales, a collection of early myths that made up much of the Silmarillion, and eventually became an integral part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

ME: If you could be any mythical or legendary Celtic creature or character, what/who would it be and why?

GLEN: I have always been interested in the mythical folk called fairies, and I would like to be one for a day. Fairies in Irish folklore are often called Daoine maite, or the “good people”. These fairies will usually treat people well unless they are mistreated themselves. Fairies have supernatural abilities and will use them on occasion.

Mythic Celtic Creatures - Wiki listing

In Thyme in a Flask, Soliah was a sprite, which is a type of fairy, and one of her strengths was her ability to find her way through a tangled woods. She was a tiny creature with wings on her back, and she lived in a “tree hole.”

ME: Please tell us some of the favorite/best books you’ve read with Celtic myths/legends or ties in them. (They can be fact or fiction, just be sure to indicate what type of books they are in case our readers might want to check them out.)

GLEN: The Hobbit and ensuing Lord of the Rings Trilogy are some of my favorite reads of all time. These are filled with legendary creatures. Tolkien hoped to fabricate a mythology for England, and he succeeded in inspiring the world.

ME: Now, let’s switch the focus to your writing. What genre is your writing considered to be? Why this genre? What was the draw for you?

GLEN: I write in the fantasy genre because it is where my interest lies. When I go to the book store I’ll head for the fantasy section first. I like the idea that the author can build his own world and create his own rules.

When a person reads fantasy stories, the background has already been created by the author. Writing it, however, can require a very active imagination. I found that the act of creating these worlds was even more enjoyable than reading about them.

Fantasy is the chance to escape for a little while from the harsh realities of the world into a more “magical” place. I find this to be a refreshing challenge as an author, to create characters that people can relate to and want to share their time with.

ME: If you could describe your writing with a word or phrase, what would it be? Please be creative and delve into the core of your writing to tell us what word or phrase you want readers to take with them when they've finished reading your story.

GLEN: I believe my readers can find both humor and mystery in my writing. Lighthearted apprehension might be a good description of it.

I find as a reader that I respond well to humor in stories. It is an important aspect of writing, but very difficult to pull off well in a drama. Since my story is basically an adventure at heart, I actively look for ways to lighten the mood with a well-placed bit of humor.

When a reader has finished my story, I want him or her to feel like they’ve been a part of something exciting, and have been entertained.

ME: Do you prefer magical or human ingenuity for problem solutions? Does that show through in your writing? If so, how?

GLEN: I prefer human ingenuity as a way to solve problems. In my writing, most of the problems solved with magic are confrontations between wizards and others that are blessed with the gift of force-fire. I think that we non-magic folks will respond better to some good, old-fashioned human ingenuity to solve problems in the stories. Magic is the icing on the cake; the cake itself is just the story of how average people overcome great odds.

ME: Who decides what you write about, you or your muse? What kind of influence do you have over your story, or is the muse always the one strumming the harp?

GLEN: When I began writing, I largely let my muse take an idea and run, but I found I got into trouble that way. I usually had to back up and start over with a better thought out plan. I put down a sequence of events dictating the direction of the story that I wanted, and my muse fleshed out the story within those parameters. It’s a friendly partnership between me and my muse.

ME: What was the character or creature that you had the most fun creating and why?

GLEN: I enjoyed creating Samuel, a gentle giant. His character is both fainthearted and courageous; it’s hard to explain how this could be but I think I made it work. It was fun to give him a voice, with deliberately misspelled words to show how he pronounced things in an uncommon manner. In fantasy, it can be a challenge to take a character that is inherently different from humans today and make him relevant to us. Seeing a giant who fears the world but overcomes his fear shows traits that all of us can relate to. We all have to face our fears in life, just like Samuel.

ME: If you had the opportunity to meet just one of your character/creature creations in real life, who would it be and why?

GLEN: The obvious choice here would be Jon, the main character, but he is patterned after me in my younger days, and there is little mystery to me there.

I would really like to meet Joanna. Her story begins when she is very young, and she would be a remarkable and interesting woman to meet. She is a mysterious character, and it plays that way in the story.

I think the challenge for an author is to create characters a reader wants to get to know. Joanna is one of those types because it is hard to initially understand what really makes her tick. You want to meet and appreciate her.

ME: Which of your character/creature creations would you never want to meet under any circumstance and why?

GLEN: I would not want to meet the Searcher at all. At one time, he was a good man, but tragic circumstances changed him utterly. He is a demon with tremendous power, and he is also heartless and without fear. I prefer to view him from behind the book.

ME: Of all the stories you wrote, which was the storyline that you had the most fun fleshing out? Why?

GLEN: I think my favorite story line would be the confrontation between Jon and the Searcher in the way of the gates. Without giving too much away, let’s just say there were several problems I had to solve here, and I believe it turned out well.

I also enjoyed writing the part where Samuel meets the sprite. Samuel is an eight foot tall giant, and Soliah is tiny as a butterfly. Their time together turns out to be a crucial part of the story. That is one part where my muse definitely took over, and I wrote that whole chapter in a couple of hours. That is fast for me, believe it or not. I like the idea of totally different characters interacting and cooperating for the good of the story.

ME: As writers, inspiration comes from everywhere. What, specifically, inspired your latest story, the one we’re promoting here today?

GLEN: I am a dreamer of sorts, and the plot for Thyme in a Flask came in part from ideas that came up while I was doing mundane things, like mowing the grass. There were many changes to the original story as I came to grips with how each scene must interact with the others in timing and influence.

Some writers that I pattern myself after are Tolkien, David Eddings, Terry Brooks and Robert Jordan, and they greatly influenced the way my story progressed.

ME: Now that you know Glen's influences, are you excited to read an excerpt? Well, he's given us a special excerpt! The section with the gentle giant, Samuel!

Thyme in a FlaskBLURB:
There is a parallel universe that exists in the dramatic tale “Thyme in a Flask. The story is of Jon Chandler, a reserved young man, who suddenly finds himself enmeshed in a role which he doesn't understand. It tells of his personal journey to discover a magical flask and destroy it, and the quest takes him far away from home, all the way into this strange, parallel world.

“You’re huge,” said the tiny girl. “How did you ever grow so big?”
“An’ yore leeutle,” said Samuel. “Why’se you so itty bitty?”
“I’m a sprite,” said the girl. “All sprites are little.”
“And I’se Pagranese,” Samuel replied. “We’se all big lak me.”
“Why are you in these woods?” asked the sprite.
“I’se lookin’ fer a mare that was stold.” He brightened. “Hay, d’ju
know whar the lake is?”
She nodded. “I don’t go there because it’s a bad lake.”
“I know it’s bayud,” said Samuel, “but I gotta go thar. That’s whar
the mare is.”
She was puzzled. “What’s a mare?”
“You know, a lookin’ glayuss.”
“Oh, a mirror,” she said. “You talk funny.”
“I done heard that befower.”

Click here to learn more about Glen Quarry or his book, Thyme in a Flask


susan said...

Reading this article and hearing about Glen's book has me singing TIME IN A BOTTLE. Have no idea where that came from either. susan L. Book sounds good.

Sandra Cox said...

Sounds like a great read, Glenn.

Dana Davis said...

Great interview, Glen. Good luck with the new book!

Sheila Deeth said...

Fun interview and fascinating reading.