An Interview with Jeff Blackmer

 

I’ve been wanting to do this for a while now, and finally, the time has come! I will be posting a series of interviews, mostly from authors, but also from musicians, composers, artists, poets…and more!

 

And, today, to kick it all off, I have the great honour to welcome the writer, Jeff Blackmer, to my website. I first ‘met’ him on the Harper Collins website, Authonomy, where we’d both uploaded sections of our manuscripts. There, I had the pleasure of reading parts of his first novel, Draegnstoen. Since then, I have been honoured enough to read his novel, Gears of Uriel, which was recently published by Thorstruck Press, and I really look forward to reading Tyrian.

 

 10373147 474583879353075 1244261310928299717 o

 

Annia: Where do you get most of your inspiration from?

Jeff: A number of different sources, but primarily from dreams. There seems, for me, to be two different types of dreams. The crazy ones feel like my subconscious is just tossing things together without rhyme or reason: Those are so outlandish, they’re laughable. And they quickly fade. But the ones that stay with me, or I wake up from, or sometimes experience as lucid dreams; that’s where much of the inspiration comes from.

 

Annia: Is there something you do, like a hobby or an activity, which isn’t related to writing or reading, but which inspires you in your writing, nonetheless?

Jeff: I find that music inspires my writing, and movies often do as well. But I read an article recently that said we have a part of our brain that sorts things out for us, it looks for patterns and relationships. For most people, that part of the brain kicks in while we are sleeping. But writers and other creative people always have that part of the brain engaged, awake or asleep. And so, seemingly random things often give me those ‘aha’ moments. The fun part is that it’s always a surprise.


Annia: What genre do you usually write in and why are you drawn to that genre?

Jeff: I was supposed to be a Science Fiction Writer! That’s almost all I read when I was a kid and I love Science Fiction movies. But other things interfered. I’ve always loved maps and in high school, out of the blue, came an interest in history. I became interested in the "gaps" of history, the missing pieces of the puzzle of which we knew very little, and I discovered I loved thinking in terms of possible events that could have taken place in those hazy gaps. And that led me to historical fiction. But I wasn't interested in the recent past. I was drawn to times and places at least a thousand years old. An element of fantasy seemed to fit in those old stories, and so I suppose you could say my preferred genre has been historical fiction/fantasy.

 

Annia: Could you tell us a little bit about the books you’ve published?

Jeff: My first published novel was Draegnstoen. This happened because I was interested in a few seemingly unrelated things: the purposes of Stonehenge, the almost universal dragon myth, the Roman occupation of Britain, discovering that Old King Cole was an actual historical figure and becoming fascinated with Boudicca, the ancient warrior queen of a British tribe. All of those pieces somehow came together to make a great adventure, the story of a descendent of Boudicca finally rallying the northern tribes of Britain, with help from the Picts, for one last battle to expel Rome from Britain.

 

This story was reviewed by the Harper Collins website, Authonomy. They gave it a good review and promised to consider it for publication. On the strength of that review, I was able to sign with a literary agent. Unfortunately, she had a lot of personal issues going on and so things progressed very, very slowly as far as finding a publisher. She said the book needed a sequel, which made me laugh. But my brother told me the same thing – it needs a sequel. I had not planned for one and felt there were no threads of the story I could expand on. However, while waiting for her to get a publisher, I found a thread in the story I could build on. So, while I waited, I wrote Highland King.

 

Highland King is the story of Coel’s sister, who has married into the Pictish royal family of Caledonia. A brief recap of that story: Doncann (nephew of Coel from Draegnstoen) is a young Pictish prince. Swept up in the politics and murderous infighting of claimants to his grandfather’s throne, he is falsely accused of murder and exiled to the north. Often fighting for his life, he is protected by the magic of women, mentored by a Celtic demigod and shown how his fate is part of the collective future of his people. He learns that he is the promised Highland King, the one who is to reunite the broken kingdom, save the land from an invading army and learn the secret of the Stone of Destiny. It’s another work of historical fiction, with elements of folklore and mythology to fill out the story.

 

My most recently published novel is Gears of Uriel. This is also a work of historical fiction/fantasy with some added spiritual elements. My publisher, Thorstruck Press, calls it Metaphysical Spiritual Fantasy, a genre title which has a wonderful sound to it, but one I hadn’t heard of before!

 

This story came about because of an article I read about the Antikythera Mechanism, a brass machine made of gears, found in a shipwreck off the coast of the island of Antikythera, Greece. It is unique because it was built over 2100 years ago, and yet accurately shows the movements of the known planets around the sun. It contradicts the religious belief (held for around 1500 years) that the earth was the center of all things. In Gears of Uriel, a young man is inspired in a vision to build this device. The main theme of the novel is that great truths are available to us all and religious dogma and doctrine is often a hindrance to spiritual growth and a search for the truth. The story spans a period of about 500 years and tells of the trials of the builder’s descendants and everything they went through to guard this truth.

 

Annia: What are you working on now?

Jeff: Right now I am working on Tyrian, a sequel to Gears of Uriel. This one spans a period of almost 700 years, but has one central character, named Atrox. He’s an anti-hero with a very long journey ahead of him, both of travel and spiritual growth

 

I am also working on editing an old short story called Zeara ga mouche for inclusion in an anthology by Thorstruck Press. This will probably come out in January.

 

Finally a Science Fiction Story!!

 

Annia: Can you tell us a little bit about your own journey and experience with religion and spirituality?

Jeff: As I was wrapping up work on Highland King, I’d done a lot of research in a wide variety of different areas. I began looking deeper into the doctrines taught by my own religion. My goal has always been a search for truth, and I felt if my religious beliefs were based on truth, digging deeper could only strengthen them. Alas, I found this was not the case. I saw the beliefs I’d held onto for such a long time were based on fear and control and were discouraging me from finding truth that would make me truly grow. I finally came to the point where I could see I had to leave if I was truly going to be happy and fulfilled. People were angry, sad and frustrated that I’d left. Many people who I’d thought were friends stopped speaking to me. It was difficult, but it was worth it. I’ve embarked on my own individual spiritual journey. It’s much more peaceful and filled with love and inspiration. Gears of Uriel is actually a metaphor for that journey.

 

Annia: How long does it take you to write a novel, from the first initial idea, to the final draft?

Jeff: Well, the answer to that one is all over the place! Draegnstoen took four to five years, probably because I’d never written a novel before, and no one can really teach you everything about how to do this crazy thing called writing a novel. Beyond acquiring a certain level of writing ability, there are many more pieces that you must learn on your own.

 

Highland King took less than a year, and I was amazed. It just flowed. Gears of Uriel took over two years, I think because a lot of it had to do with religious research I was doing. I’m hoping Tyrian will be done before next August, less than a year after Gears of Uriel was published!

 

Annia: What’s the most important thing you’ve learnt (and that has helped shape your life) through writing?

Jeff: I would have to say it would be that we must not be lazy about learning. When we entrust others to tell us what is true and what is not, we are learning things they want us to know. And that can be repressive. At the very least, even if their purposes are benign, we are seeing the world through their eyes. Although it requires far more effort, we must never stop learning for ourselves. It often requires sifting through multiple sources to find the truth. And best of all, by being willing to embrace truth wherever you find it, you surrender your pride. At that point the journey becomes a spiritual one, filled with inspiration.

 

Thank you for inviting me to do this interview, Annia! It’s been fun and made me do some thinking! And that’s always a good thing.

 

Annia: Thank you, Jeff, for some great insights into your writing and the way you think and work. It’s been a real pleasure!

 

If you are interested in reading some of Jeff’s work – and I highly recommend it – please visit his webpage:

https://darkagefiction.wordpress.com/

Or his Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/Blackmerwriting?fref=ts

Or his Twitter page:

https://twitter.com/Jeff_Blackmer

And here are some links to Jeff’s books:

 

 

Draegnstoen:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Draegnstoen-Jeff-Blackmer-ebook/dp/B005GL5UF8/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1414959937&sr=1-1&keywords=draegnstoen

 

http://www.amazon.com/Draegnstoen-Jeff-Blackmer-ebook/dp/B005GL5UF8/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1414960096&sr=1-1&keywords=Draegnstoen

 

 

Highland King:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Highland-King-People-Wall-Book-ebook/dp/B0064IT7KQ/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1414959904&sr=1-5&keywords=highland+king

 

http://www.amazon.com/Highland-King-People-Wall-Book-ebook/dp/B0064IT7KQ/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1414960068&sr=1-4&keywords=highland+king

 

 

GOU

Gears of Uriel:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gears-Uriel-Jeffrey-Blackmer/dp/0992935547/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1414959990&sr=1-1&keywords=gears+of+uriel

 

http://www.amazon.com/Gears-Uriel-Jeffrey-Blackmer/dp/0992935547/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1414960114&sr=1-1&keywords=Gears+of+Uriel

 

 

 

 

Add comment


Security code
Refresh