Showing posts with label Arrival. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Arrival. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

RAST by Christopher Hoare

Please welcome a wonderful writer and a great friend, Christopher Hoare, author of the Iskander adventures of Gisel Matah. His latest novel RAST has just been released. Also, anyone who leaves a comment at Christopher's blog stops during the tour will be entered in a contest to win one of two copies of Rast that he's giving away.

The Hand that Rocks the Cradle ...

I’m sure you know the ending of that old saw “...Rules the World.” Not so indisputable is the truth and the sincerity of the saying. Were women always the secret guidance of the world through their sons? Were they ever?

In my later writing career, the aspect that most energizes me is that of portraying women as the strong, social lynchpins that they had been in my life. I had seen what my fellow men had accomplished and what they had sacrificed themselves for – I lost a father and two uncles in WWII, and was raised by my widowed mother. I saw firsthand how little we counted in society’s reckoning: there was the allotment – a wartime garden patch provided to everyone by the local council – and taken away from us when a man returned from war service. I have no doubt he deserved consideration, but did that entail depriving the weakest?

My Iskander series of alternate world adventures has a strong – some say reckless and bloodthirsty – female protagonist. Gisel Matah is drafted into her people’s security service, where she proves to be the most capable officer they have. In consequence, she is assigned a string of dangerous assignments that no man can handle. She has a reputation for devious stratagems, and sometimes they are aimed at her own superior officers. Yes, her adventures are a bit over the top, but they are my tribute to the real life women who have fought their own impossible fights ... and in a man’s world, often lost them.

My mother always said that selling produce from her allotment had been the beginning of her bank account. Never one to sit and mope at her loss, she started another money making venture. She bought a hut – today it might have been graced with the name chalet, it may have even been disguised as one – but ours was a plain old wooden hut. It had three rooms, one where people could cook and eat, and two where they had room to sleep. In wartime there were few facilities for people to take vacations despite the need for respite. Mother’s hut was in a field just a half mile from one of the nicest beaches in Devon, and she had a steady stream of summer visitors willing to put up with its lack of amenities to rent it for a vacation away from bombing raids.

In my fantasy Rast, Jady is the Prince’s sweetheart; they have been together since they were children and have grown to be certain in their hearts that they belong together. But society, and the needs of Rast, are against them. Prince Egon must marry a princess sent from the east, who has the magic lineage to bear him a magic-capable heir – something Jady lacks the lineage to do. When his father falters under the assault of wayward magic, Prince Egon must take up the ruling mantle, and one of the first tasks he has is to send Jady away to find a husband. She goes east to meet the princess sent to replace her with duty and anger both warring in her heart. Which emotion will win – but isn’t it always the woman’s place to accept the sacrifices?

Mother and I wound up living in the old hut for a couple of years after the war. It was still in demand as a vacation site – as were the hundred or so other huts that existed in those fields for the same purpose – but we liked to be on our own. The cottage mother rented was also the home of a couple who had been bombed out during the war and were billeted on us. The law, which was quick to find a refuge for the needy, was lax in providing the directive that told people to go out and find their own homes when war was over. Mother felt the Adams family – yes, a real one – had taken over her home. We liked the hut – its lack of insulation, its outside biffy, its oil lamps and battery radio; its outside water supply, and even the way winter gales could threaten to blow it off its foundation – but the local council was horrified that people were living in those ‘huts’ permanently. With great regard for the health and welfare for the poor, they took away the permits allowing the occupation and cleared everyone out. We just went home to the cottage and to the Adams family, but mother was faced with the loss of the money she’d put into the hut.

(Now, a kind word for my own sex; men of the ‘old’ school. I’ll slip it in here so no one notices. Good old Colonel York who lived in the village up the hill from our rented cottage took his responsibilities as leader of the community seriously. Seeing a war widow faced with a serious loss, he bought the hut from her and had it moved into his own front garden to act as a garden shed. I remember cycling from our later residence once when I was older and peering into the Colonel’s property to see our old hut. It was hideous and dominated the pretty English garden like a toad in a flower bed – it had taken a great deal of fortitude for the old man to take such a charge to his bosom.)

Today, it seems at last that women are approaching that equality so long denied. While the male sex is busily chasing money and power, inventing derivatives and bailing out their crooked friends, women are speaking up for the real things in life. They are leaving the masculine version of power to the corrupted and staking out their own claims to those things they most value and care about: love, intimacy, connection, belonging, creativity, self-expression, aliveness, meaning, purpose, contribution and a brighter future for generations to come. While women in Islamic countries are sometimes seen as deprived, there must be something in the hand that rocks the cradle after all, because those are the very things that both men and women want from the Arab Awakening of 2011. This awakening will not end with the Arab world; already the victims of political entitlement in America are standing against dictatorial lawmakers. While men are grubbing in the dirt for their ill-gotten fortunes women are excelling in education and knowledge, preparing to be the leaders of our future generations. It will be a very welcome change.

Christopher Hoare lives with his wife, Shirley, and two shelter dogs, Coco and Emmie, in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. As a lad he lived, breathed, and dreamed aeroplanes, won a place at RAE Farnborough learning to engineer them, but found the reality didn’t fit the dream. Did a stint in the army and then away to Libya to join the oil circus. Flying objects only appear as tools when they now appear in his writing.

His stories never take place next door to the lives most people live; the less charitable find similarity in characters who tend to be stubborn, independent, and contrarian. Perhaps there’s a connection between the worlds he portrays in fiction, and his working life in oil exploration in the Libyan Desert, the Canadian Arctic, and the mountains and forests of Western Canada.

He has written stories set in Anglo-Saxon Britain, in modern industrial projects, in the alternate world of Gaia, and the fantasy world of Rast. Sometimes known to satirize jobs and organizations he knows. Likes to write central characters who are smart, beautiful, and dangerous women who lead their male counterparts to fulfill dangerous duties they'd rather avoid. Gisel Matah in the Iskander series is perhaps the most Bond-like of these, but Jady in Rast can match her in many aspects. 

Visit his website at to learn much more, and download the free novella “Gisel Matah and the Slave Ship”. You can find his blog at

In Rast, magic is not a convenient parlour trick, it’s a deadly force that takes no prisoners. Those who must wield it are doomed, for it never ceases to work within the mind and nerves until it destroys its master.

And now, the time of the interregnum is here; the reigning sorcerer king, the Drogar of Rast, is struggling for a last grasp on magic power while his heir, Prince Egon, must take up the deadly mantle. Egon is fearful but courageous in his duty. Not one peril threatens Rast, but many.

While he struggles to tame the magic to his command the mechanistic Offrang adventurers arrive to seize the land for their empire. The Offrangs don’t just disbelieve in magic, they treat any attempt to discuss it with withering scorn. Then, when the Drogar falters, the North Folk sweep out in their multitudes to cover the land of Rast at the behest of their depraved Casket of Scrolls. Deepning too, a creature of earth magic in its mountain pools, stirs to gain power enough to conquer Rast.

The Prince’s sweetheart Jady does her best to support him, but she is not strong enough in the power of the lineage to bear him a magic wielding heir. She sets out to meet the caravansi of the cousin princess who is sent to be his consort with duty and anger both warring in her mind. The crisis will reveal surprising enemies, surprising friends, and as the Drogar tells Jady, “Even a Drogar may not see a future not yet determined.” While Egon goes west to spy on the Offrangs and Jady makes her way east, the oracle provided by the Pythian that lives in a cavern beneath the palace reveals, “You have no high point to see the scattered threads but must trust to those who grasp them.”

Everyone, enemy and friend, has a part to play in the preservation of Rast.

Monday, March 14, 2011

From Brat to Hero

ARRIVAL Iskander: Book Three
Fantasy, Paperback: 356 pages
Publisher: Double Dragon Publishing (2008)
ISBN-13: 978-1554046201

Not often does an author allow you a glimpse into the life of a series' protagonist prior to the novels. While you might wonder what s/he was like as a teenager, you can only guess what events shaped them into the adult they are in the books. That's why when I heard author Christopher Hoare's heroine Gisel Matah, of Deadly Enterprise and Wildcat's Victory was the sixteen year old "starship brat" in his third novel ARRIVAL, I couldn't resist -- I had to read the book.

ARRIVAL is the story of the dramatic events of the starship Iskander ending up on the wrong planet in the wrong world. Though there are plenty of mishaps and woes, it's fun to see just how much trouble Iskander's unofficial translator can get herself into. Not all the misadventures are of Gisel's doing. But take one feisty teenager, add attitude, rebellion, and a mouth that never stops, and you've got one exceptionally entertaining fantasy. 

Gisel's parents are recently divorced (seems Matah Senior can't keep his hands off young proteges), and Gisel suspects she's aboard because her father hopes to repair their estranged relationship. Only Gisel may never see her mother again because finding their way back to Earth  seems unlikely. If that isn't enough, she's subjected to an overbearing father, a recluse brother, and more chauvinists than most women meet in a lifetime. And that's only the beginning.

ARRIVAL has a huge cast of characters: engineers, scientists, knights, lords, ladies, earls, and a king and an emperor. What makes this books and the series so exceptionally well done isn't just the epic adventures of these fascinating characters, but the story of how Gisel rises from a lowly fitness instructor to a courageous, intelligent, and formidable agent. In ARRIVAL Gisel may start off as a brat, but by the end, she is anything but.

I highly recommend this novel and definitely books one and two in the Iskander Series. 

Christopher Hoare's Fantasy novel Rast is out in ebook through MuseItUp Publishing February 28th, 2011.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dogs are Good Teachers by CHRISTOPHER HOARE

My guest today is Christopher Hoare, author of the Iskander Series: Deadly Enterprise, The Wildcat's Victory, and Arrival. Chris lives with his wife, Shirley, and two shelter dogs, Coco and Emmie, in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. Although, Chris and I live only a day's drive apart, have never met, but we've worked together for over 10 years. Chris is a colleague and a friend. Please welcome him, and leave a comment if you can. We writers live a solitary life, and hearing from readers is a joy unmeasured.

That solitary life might be another reason we love our animals so much.

Dogs are good teachers ...

... they live in the moment; but that doesn’t make them calm, Zen introspectives. They react to every moment fully and never hide their feelings.

Our two dogs came to us from the local humane society shelter. Coco, a border collie blue heeler cross was first. She acted as surrogate mom to a whole succession of puppies that my wife fostered and house trained so that they would become more adoptable. She accepted their rough treatment, biting her ears, crawling over her, and all the other mischief puppies get into with great patience and acceptance.

The last of the foster puppies was Emmie, the runt of a litter born in the shelter, of no determinate breed, with one lazy eye that responds to light but cannot close down to protect against strong glare. She also has a delicate stomach and is given to timidity and freaking out – to thunderstorms, rifle shots, and even the lid of their food cooking pot when I offer her a lick. At first, she was frightened of me – would not let me feed her or go to the outside door with me. She was too timid to find a new family home, so she stayed with us. She also has a jealous streak, which meant we couldn’t take in foster puppies any more.

The one time my wife tried her out for a trial adoption with another family she freaked out within the first two hours when the man tried to take her outside on leash – broke her collar clasp and ran away. This was in a February while she had a shaved belly from her spaying operation. It took us four days to recover her. We had help from the local radio station and from everyone who reported seeing her at various locations. When we went to check out the ruined mine buildings at the edge of town the owners of her sister, also one of Shirl’s foster pups, came along to see if she’d come to her litter mate. No luck, she was too frightened to come out of hiding.

I borrowed a fox trap from Fish and Wildlife and set it in one of the mine buildings, baited with puppy kibble. I checked it two hours later and found her inside. I thought it best not to try to get her out myself, I called Shirl and waited for her to arrive. When we let her out of the trap she went to Shirl and the two of them went into the back of the Explorer and both cried.

I’m reminded of this because I finally found a good home for my brother in law’s golden retriever the other Saturday. I was told about someone near to where I walk the dogs about a couple who had lost a pet to old age a few days previous. I went and knocked on the door, asked if they’d like to see her and left about a half hour later with only two dogs again. These people are real animal lovers, with one other dog, four house cats and numerous others in the barn - they live in a wooded acreage beside a river and take the dogs for two walks a day. Susie is now in dog paradise.

So are ours. This three was definitely a crowd – the dynamics never worked. Coco has always been alpha dog, and the two year old 70 pound puppy was beginning to challenge the old lady’s seniority. Well, Susie is nearer 60 pounds now with a strict diet and lots of exercise, but her very presence was stressful to the others. Emmie played with her, but with less and less enthusiasm as time went on. The games were terribly one sided with Emmie outweighed about two to one. Our Explorer lost most of its cargo space to a great monster that took up all the space behind the seats (with 3 dogs on the back seat they squabbled over space) and stomped all over anything placed there.

Since Susie left, I’m able to take our dogs for walks in the countryside around the community – which was hard to do when I couldn’t manage three dogs on leash. Susie had been eyeing cattle with a view to chasing them, although she did come to the whistle, but there are fewer chances to offend where she is now. And now Coco will come in more readily when called to the back door. With her bad leg, it’s getting too cold for her to stay out long, but she was clearly reluctant to come inside while Susie was there.

An overweight puppy that sometimes forgets to ‘go’ in the right place and uses its excess weight as a battering ram to claim too much space in the house is no pleasure to have around. People who like Golden Retrievers must have better ones than my brother in law bought. The Goldie down the road that sometimes goes for walks with us is a far nicer dog. I really hope Susie fits in well in her new home, because it’s not her fault her first owner was incompetent to train her or that her disposition was at odds with the original residents here.

Both dogs and humans have noticed a big improvement in ambiance since Saturday. Coco and Emmie play gently together. Both dogs can visit Shirl as she sits in her chair and enjoy an uninterrupted back scratch. Yes, the dogs are much more relaxed at home now – they clearly have feelings too.