Magic of Solstice Fantasy Writers’ Blog-Lee Dunning!

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Today, it’s my privilege to introduce fantasy author Lee Dunning. Lee was a good sport and decided to answer my questions about writing. Read more below!

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Me: Tell us about yourself. Where you’re from, etc.?
Lee: I’ve lived in about nine different states, but most recently I’ve wasted away in Arizona. The Pacific Northwest is still my favorite part of the country, so I plan to relocate there within a year or so.

I love animals, and when I have the finances I contribute to some of my favorite causes, like the Save the Manatee Club. I share my home with five cats. They make me laugh several times a day—when they’re not driving me mad. Three of the little buggers were adopted from the Siamese Rescue of Southern California.

I’ve always loved to write and draw. My artsy inclinations don’t make for practical finances however, so for the past 20 plus years I’ve worked in IT. About two years ago I went back to school to study accounting (I’m sick of IT). I just graduated with my new education in May of this year. Now I have to find work again. Boo!

Me: What is your most recent project? Tell us a little bit about it.
Lee: I just finished the second draft to my story ‘Exile’s Gamble’. It’s the sequel to ‘Exile’s Redemption’, part of the ‘Chronicles of Shadow’ series. It takes off pretty much right where the first book ended. It sees a lot of changes for the original characters, and introduces some new characters. We get closer to knowing who is behind the original attack on Second Home, K’hul discovers some terrible information, Raven embarks on a crazy quest to bolster the elven army, and W’rath continues to drive everyone crazy.

Me: Did you choose writing or did writing choose you?
Lee: Hmm, probably a little of both. I’ve always liked reading, and storytelling games like D&D, so the two make for a logical launch point for me to explore my own stories. My strongest subject in school was always English, I actually enjoyed writing assignments, so stepping up to novel writings didn’t take much prodding.

Me: What do you find so appealing about writing fantasy?
Lee: I like not being tied down to the mundane world. I like spending my time with crazy, obnoxious elves. I like exploring the possibilities beyond science.

Me: What authors make you want to be a better writer?
Lee: Argh, there are way too many. Joe Abercrombie, Martha Wells, and Steven Erickson are probably the folks I hold most in awe. Reading one of their books is sure to give me feelings of inadequacy.

Me: Do you have any traditional fantasy tropes that you like to use?
Lee: Uh, like elves? Yeah, I like my classic fantasy races, though I do try to give them a bit more personality than I’m used to seeing. I like to mix things up a bit. W’rath’s strange mixture of educated fop and brutal warrior is an example of this. Stone the Unicorn from the first book strayed from the classic beautiful unicorn by making him into a lecturing bore with enough arrogance to make an elf look humble.

Me: Do you have any weird writing rituals?
Lee: I doubt any of my rituals are particularly weird. For example, I like to put together music mixes for each of my characters and play them as I write scenes using them. However, I doubt very much I’m unique in this area. Music has long brought artists of all flavors inspiration.

Me: What inspires your world building?
Lee: Necessity. I’m much more interested in characters and what makes them tick than in throwing myself into the development of a world. The characters have to live someplace, though, and terrain is important in terms of lifestyle, combat, and interaction, so I have to take some pains to create my world. In ‘Exile’s Redemption’ much of the conflict is derived from the fact that Teresland is wood poor and King Oblund would like very much to get his hands on the Wood Elves’ forest.
And for the sake of character development, I cannot ignore the ‘world’. W’rath would have grown up as a very different person if he hadn’t lived in a hostile environment his entire life. A great deal of the personality issues he has with the elves of First Home derive from the fact that they’ve lead such easy lives for several thousand years. They’re not used to fighting anymore, while W’rath sees all non-elves as threats.

Lee’s Bio:
Not entirely sure why you’re reading this, my books are far more entertaining, but since you’ve bothered to pop over I suppose I ought to have the decency to tell you a little about myself.

I’ve done many things over the years, including daring the horrors of IT for over 24 years. At the moment I’m reinventing myself (i.e. retraining) as an accountant. I know, that sounds terribly dull, but it is a profession in demand pretty much everywhere, so I can live where I wish and not have to worry about keeping a roof over my head. Of course, there is more to me than that. I’ve worked with digital art since 2004, and have gotten to the point I am able to occasionally sell said art (sometimes to myself – see my cover). Photoshop is heavily involved in that area as well.

Oh, and yes, I write. It’s nearly a given these days, isn’t it?

As of July 26th, 2014, I am officially a published author, with my book, “Exile’s Redemption” available at Amazon in Kindle and Trade Paperback formats. I’m working on the sequel, and hope to have it out before folks have forgotten what happened in the first book.

I live with five cats, four Siamese and one horrified orange tabby. I live in the desert but hope to relocate to the Pacific Northwest after I finish my current studies

Exiles Redemption Cover

Learn more about Lee’s book, Exile’s Gamble:
The demon possessed army of King Oblund has been crushed but at great cost. The people of Teresland, betrayed by their king, face a winter without leadership, manpower or food. The elves, unwilling regents of this devastated human kingdom, struggle with understanding a people foreign and hostile toward them.
Now, the demons which destroyed Second Home have scented the vulnerability of Teresland and set out to draw the elves into more conflict. Conflict which they cannot ignore but are ill-prepared to face. With Lord W’rath trapped within his own mind, comatose, the elves must prepare for battle without his strength.
Raven, restless to prove herself, decides on a reckless plan, one which could either provide the elves with a new weapon, or doom her and W’rath both.

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Excerpt from Exile’s Gamble!

W’rath laughed and snarled and taunted. He wheeled in a spiral of death, splattering demon entrails, burst eyes and glittering fangs across the gray walls of the castle, painting them in hues of carnage. A bubble of pulsating magic encapsulated him and he teleported free, appearing behind the demon responsible for the spell. Shadow’s Edge separated its spine from its legs, and then its head from its neck. Its head tumbled away, rolling over and over, surprise flashing by with each rotation, the last emotion to mold its features before it died.
A few lesser creatures skittered by the psion. He didn’t pursue. Seconds later blue and white light flared and the stench of things burning tickled at W’rath’s nostrils. He nodded in satisfaction. Lady Swiftbrook did indeed know her way around a proper lightning spell.
He ducked to the side as a sword sliced through the space he’d just occupied. The grey devil snarled in frustration as the psion slipped out of its reach. Two more joined it and W’rath raised his arm. Their blades bounced off of the invisible shield he’d conjured the instant he jumped ahead of the other elves. He gritted his teeth as the power of their blows vibrated up his arm. Time to even the odds.
Kill your companions, W’rath ordered the first devil. Most couldn’t compel a creature to go against their allies, but few could resist the Shadow Elf’s crushing will. Without so much as a shake of its head, the devil disemboweled the fiend next to it. The third devil hissed, and worked its blade to defend against the first devil. W’rath slipped to its side and hamstrung it. His new pet finished it off. Come along and defend me.
It stepped ahead of W’rath, its tail swishing as if it had a mind of its own. Hmmm. “On second thought,” W’rath said, “I mistrust that tail of yours.” He struck, and flicked blood off Shadow’s Edge as he skirted around the devil’s corpse.
He rode the shadows and stepped from a niche before what had once been the double doors leading to the throne room. Corpses clogged the hall. A half dozen elven soldiers lay in heaps, most dismembered in some manner, one completely turned inside out. Empty pieces of armor suggested others, now eaten, or dissolved or reanimated, had met their ends here. Something had shattered the doors leading into the throne room. Shards of wood littered the floor and the dead. More debris probably spread in the room beyond, but W’rath couldn’t tell. A translucent membrane draped over the gaping wound left in the wall when the doors blew apart. It pulsated with malignant life.
“What sort of foul beastie are you?” W’rath muttered.
As if in answer it flowed from the opening to the floor and leaked into the shadows of the fallen warriors. Too late W’rath understood what he faced. Faster than thought his shadow came alive, and oozed up from the floor to wrap itself around him. It didn’t matter how powerful his psionics, W’rath couldn’t teleport free of his own shadow.
With a malevolent chuckle it cut off all light, all warmth—all hope.

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