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 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 http://www.christopherhoare.ca/ to learn much more, and download the free novella “Gisel Matah and the Slave Ship”. You can find his blog at http://trailowner.blogspot.com/
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.