Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Swords of Talera Author Notes

Those of you who have read my short story collections know I always include a section “about the stories.” These are snippets that tell about when the idea came to me, how it was developed, and when it was published. Although I know many readers don’t give a hoot about such things, I’ve always enjoyed reading about stories in this way. My novels, however, don’t have this sort of thing so I thought I’d put some of this up on my blog. Perhaps I’ll have no readers for it, but what the hey, that’s why they call it a personal blog, I guess. Anyway, here’s a bit about the way Swords of Talera came about.

Swords of Talera was my second novel. The first was a western written when I was 17 and it will never see print. Because of events that happened around the time I finished that western, which I wrote about in Write With Fire, I decided writing was not in my future and just gave it up. I couldn’t stay away, though. Seven years after the western, I was in graduate school. Sometimes late at night when I’d finished my research work but couldn’t sleep I would type out sentences and paragraphs of fiction on the computer. By this time I’d read a lot of fantasy fiction, in particular a lot of ERB and REH. The John Carter stories of ERB particularly resonated with me. I’d been making up Sword and Planet type stories for my own amusement for years, and then just said, what the heck, why not write one of them down. I figured it would probably just be for myself, although the thought that it might get published was always in the back of my mind.

I didn’t start the writing immediately, though. First I spent quite a bit of time in the University of Arkansas library doing research. I already had the idea for the world of Talera, but I needed a character. I decided he would be a descendent of a Maclang, the characters from my western. I looked through a bunch of Irish and Scottish names and found the name Ruane. That didn’t sound quite perfect to me, though, so I modified it to Ruenn. I also did a lot of research on sailing vessels, on gas giant planets, and on all manner of creatures and plants that might be twisted around to form the basis of Talera’s biosphere. Only then did I sit down to write.

In fiction, ERB’s Barsoom books were certainly the biggest and earliest influence on Talera, but another major influence was the Dray Prescot books of Alan Burt Akers, who I didn’t know at the time was really a British author named Ken Bulmer. Still other influences included the Llarn books of Gardner Fox, and the early books in the Gor series by John Norman. Although I never liked the slavery aspects of the Gor books, that didn’t figure at all prominently in the first few books and Norman had a dramatic writing style that I did like.

“Swords,” which was originally entitled “Taleran Genesis,” is a linear book full of all the things I loved to read, and still would love if anyone was publishing them. It had alien characters, lots of action, sword fights and desperate rescues. I wrote “Swords” in about 4 months in 1984, although it wasn't submitted for years and was heavily polished in 1988 before I submitted it. Eventually I sent it to Tom and Ginger Johnson in Texas and it was serialized in their magazine. It was very well received by the readers and was voted best piece of original fiction for the year in which it ran. Below are the notes I kept during the initial process of writing the book:

Taleran Genesis? (Book One)  [begun June 15, 84] [1st draft fin [Christmas, 1984]

(Retitled, 6-7-85 Swords of Talera  [3rd draft fin, 6-11-85]

[4th draft started 5-29-88; finished 6-20-88]

Final draft start 7-12-88, fin 7-29-88;  printed 8-1-88:

final polish 9-29-88  Did a minor rewrite 6-30-96 and reformat

starting 3-3-02, doing a final rewrite to bring it up a notch

Went through it one more time in 2004, again trying to bring it up a notch.

The book was finally published as a paperback from Borgo press in summer 2007. It was mildly revised one last time before it was submitted for publication.

And there you have it. If you should have a hankering for such a book, it’s available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Wildside Press. It’s in print, ebook, and audiobook, along with the sequels, Wings Over Talera and Witch of Talera. There are clickable links to Amazon for the books along my right side border of the blog.



Adventuresfantastic said...

It's in the TBR pile. Needs to be moved up.

laughingwolf said...

your talera series, tho highly readable/enjoyable [and i look forward to more], you know i prefer 'cold on the light'... more my kinda yarn ;)

laughingwolf said...

...'cold IN the light', damn sticky fingers....

Charles Gramlich said...

Keith West, hope you enjoy, man.

Laughingwolf, it's kind of a toss up as to whether more people prefer cold in the light to Swords of Talera. I know both have folks who prefer them. I like 'em both of course. :)

Tom Doolan said...

I like this book a lot. I have all three on my Kindle, so I will read them all. :)

And I like this little bit of history too. So, keep this sort of thing up, for sure!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Well, crap - I'm going to download it right now!
And the Barsoom series influenced me as well.

Deka Black said...

Irish heroes seems to be everywhere ;) Is good to know how much you worked on this.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the background on the story, Charles! I was curious when, where, and how it had emerged. You may find it entertaining to note that the first time I ever saw you in person that I recall (though we may not have spoken) was a Howard Days right after you'd published it with Wildside/Borgo ('07?). You had a number of them at the swap meet under the pavilion, as I recall. I remember thinking, "Oh, damn, he's got books published!" and I was immediately intimidated half to death.

sage said...

Interesting history of the book-one day I'm going to have to read one of your longer fiction pieces.

Charles Gramlich said...

Tom, I always want to know why and how writers write their pieces.

Alex, ERB was so prolific and influenced so many writers I know. He could sure tell a story.

Deka,you're right. I wonder why. A record of being adventurous I suppose.

Lisa, I well remember feeling much that way when I was younger and met people who'd published and I hadn't. but it's such a fine line between published and nonpublished. A little luck is the difference in most cases.

Sage, I'm always reading some fiction. I just can't get along without it.

Riot Kitty said...

Cheers! I love reading the backstory about how authors come up with things.

Jon said...

I love this sort of fiction and the first three Talera books are on my bookshelf next to Burroughs, Brackett, Kline, Carter and Norman.

I can't wait for Wraith.
and I hope it's going to be available in paperback. I do have a Kindle, but I still prefer paperbacks if it's something I want to keep.

Cloudia said...

This is actually interesting.

Research for my next one (Romance) introduced me to "Gorean" relationships. Some have really made it a subculture of a subculture.

ALOHA from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral
~ > < } } ( ° > <3

the walking man said...

Audio? Is it you reading them? Sorry man but so far I liked the Westerns best but I have a couple of other genres waiting on me.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Charles, I admire your dedication and perseverance and the fact that you didn't lose hope along the way. These are essential qualities for wannabe writers.

Paul R. McNamee said...

I always enjoy story notes and genesis. David Drake has a lot of notes on his writings, much of which have been culled from various forwards and afterwords and are posted on his webpage.

I enjoy Stephen King's notes in his story collections, too.


Charles Gramlich said...

Riot Kitty, it's a learning experience for me too.

Jon, Wraith should definitely be in print. I'm curious what kind of cover scheme they'll use for the new one, since it's not linked specifically with the trilogy. I've started making notes for Gods of Talera, which will follow after Wraith. Sounds like my stuff is in great company on your shelves. makes me feel like a real writer. :)

Cloudia, I know that for a while it was a pretty big subculture. Don't know much about it really. The slavery aspects of the Gor books were the least interesting to me but the first few were basically just adventure novels.

Mark, no, not me reading them. I don't know the guy who does it but he's good. You can listen to samples at that link. I've got more westerns planned, a series of three related ones. Though I need some time to get to them.

Prashant, sometimes I wonder how I didn't lose hope. Most of the time I just think I'm stubborn. :)

Paul, I remember Harlan Ellison used to do it to and I really liked it.

Chris said...

Love this book.

Ty said...

Thanks, Charles. I always like reading about a writer's inspirations and such.

In fact, at the moment I'm about half way through a particular e-book pertaining to beer drinking, though I think the inspiration here is pretty obvious.

Hmm. But that gives me an idea. What about a travelogue called "Beers of Talera?"

Charles Gramlich said...

Chris, ahh, that secret drug I put in your Abita Amber that time is working to perfection!

Ty, I'm thinking that would definitely be a supplemental volume to the Talera series.

BernardL said...

I enjoyed the Talera series, and look forward to 'Wraith'.

David Cranmer said...

Of course, I have it. And enjoyed learning more about Swords. Thanks, Charles.

Charles Gramlich said...

Bernard, thanks, man.

David, I appreciate it!

Travis Cody said...

It's a great book, and a great series. I've got copies on my shelves, and I'm lined up to reread them as the released date for Wraith gets closer.

Charles Gramlich said...

Travis Cody, I sure do appreciate it. I don't know if I'd keep writing if I didn't think "someone" out there was reading them.

jodi said...

Charles-thanks for sharing your process. Cool on the research!

Charles Gramlich said...

Jodi, research is often quite a lot of fun.