Swords & sorcery: Aaron R. Allen on ‘Origin: The Nameless Celestial’ (Q&A)

Today, I’m in the company of the fantastical Aaron R. Allen.

Aaron is the author of Origin: The Nameless Celestial (Melange Books)—the first in a trilogy. An online professor and part-time elementary teacher, he developed his passion for writing at a young age and then entered the world of academia. The spark for his first novel was ignited as he pursed his bachelor’s degree, and sustained him through grad school. Aaron makes his home in Arizona with his two children.

AaronRAllen Headshot

Praise for Origin: The Nameless Celestial:

“Finally, a tome centering on the rare character: one with which we can all relate. A soul battling his own moral compass while trying to defeat evil. Even with an early death vision (no spoiler here), action-filled battle sequences, intrigue, questionable alliances, and powerful beings who voluntarily hold their own power in check to ensure the survival of principles, we experience edge-of-the-seat thrills while waiting for ‘the other shoe to drop.’”—Amazon reviewer Edward Roberts

“Aaron R Allen has an excellent grasp of the English language and uses his talent to make the reader feel welcome in the fantasy setting. Well written, fascinating, richly detailed and highly entertaining Origin: The Nameless Celestial should be on your reading list!”—Amazon reviewer Sharon Lynn

From the publisher:

An elite forces ranger must keep his dark secret at bay to unravel the mystery of a nameless evil.

Chief Ranger Cahan Devlin is no ordinary human. A dark corruption is growing inside him, clawing against the walls of his sanity. This force influences his every action, and the lines between ally and enemy are constantly blurred. Of course, it doesn’t help that the defeat of a nameless evil rests on his unstable shoulders.

After a routine mission, Cahan captures a loose-tongued demon half-breed. The prisoner implicates conspirators within the government who are colluding with demon insurgents from a foreign land. Their goal is to destabilize the Republic of Protos, her wards, and human colonies—in an effort to reseat a king upon the throne. Unbeknownst to the conspirators, their foreign allies wish to awaken a great evil, a clan of off-worlders who were previously driven from the planet before recorded history by a celestial being.

As Cahan quests to unravel the mystery of the evil off-worlders, he must diffuse the ticking time bomb that he has become—because at any moment he may murder the ally standing by his side.

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Now, Aaron slays readers with a behind-the-scenes look at his sorcery …

John Valeri: What inspired the idea for Origin: The Nameless Celestial – and how did your background in education enhance the creative process?

Aaron R. Allen: I have a great love for the genre—books, games, shows and movies. I wanted the reader to feel as if he/she has been transported into an RPG.

I started writing this as a screenplay. After a time, I realized that the story felt like a book. About 80 pages into it, I shifted gears. The psychological aspect was just not coming through as strongly in the original format.

My educational background really helped me during the revision process. It took me about 10 months to write the book. I revised for about 4 years. I had so much to learn.

JV: Your protagonist, Cahan Devlin, is battling internal and external forces. How do these complexities make for a well-developed character – and in what ways do you hope that readers might relate to his struggles?

ARA: We’ve all dealt with anger, depression and loss. We also choose to deal with these things in different ways. We ultimately try to make the best decisions we can and are often faced with bad choice number 1 and bad choice number 2.  I really wanted to deal with intrinsic and extrinsic influences/motivators. I find it interesting that these motivators are continually at odds. This is touched on throughout the novel. Cahan’s allies don’t really know him and he is in a constant state of anxiety because of it. He doesn’t want them to learn his secrets. He feels they would turn on him in a heartbeat.

JV: While the book is considered fantasy, it defies some conventions of the genre. What is your history with such stories – and how did this inform your ability to pay homage while offering fresh twists on familiar themes?

ARA: I wanted the book to be different. Some fantasy stories seem to revolve around a king and his kingdom. I wanted to write a fantasy story about a time after kings—a time when democracy was starting to spread. I did a lot of historical research, especially the revolutionary war. However, I did pay homage to some fantasy writers. I used some Finnish words in the story. That language is a favorite of Tolkien’s. I’m also a Patrick Rothfuss fan.  I don’t know if that came through or not. Unlike most fantasy novels, humans are a minority in this world. Of course, there are swords and sorcery.

JV: Fiction can be a powerful lens through which to view reality. How do you see this work as relevant to the times – and what is the role of imagination in making sense out of the seemingly senseless?

ARA: I did a lot of research on the Middle East. A part of the world is based on that region. Certain events in the world mirror what is current going on with terrorism.

I also think we, as a society, are losing the spirit of individualism. I wanted to write a book that speaks to objectivism and the weaknesses in collectivism.

JV: This is the first in a trilogy. What are the challenges of writing book one – and how do you strive to achieve a story that satisfies as a standalone but also entices readers to want to revisit the series?

ARA: World building is always a challenge. You want to flesh out the world but still keep the reader interested. The forthcoming book runs at a very brisk pace because I didn’t need to do as much of it.

Each book in the series has its own beginning, middle and end, but contributes to the overall arc of the trilogy.  As far as revisiting, readers will definitely want to do that. There are so many little Easter eggs and clues that will come to you if you go through it again (after reading them all the way through). All three novels were outlined from the beginning. Many, many things are foreshadowed in the first book (villains, secrets, etc.).

JV: Leave is with a teaser: What comes next?

ARA: I am currently doing my final pass for the sequel. It will be in my editor’s hands very soon. It will answer many questions; even things you didn’t know were questions. It incorporates more science fictions elements than the first book. It will also involve a dragon!

***

With thanks to Aaron R. Allen for his generosity of time and thought and to Catherine Arthur, Publicist at Catchy PR, for putting us in touch.

 

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