The Hound At The Gate by Darby Karchut
It is my pleasure to be a part of the blog tour promoting Darby’s newest installment in the Finn MaCullen series. I finished the book a few days ago and I can’t wait to share my thoughts with you in a later post. Now, I’m especially pleased to welcome Darby as a guest on the blog.
Writing the “Real” Fictional Setting
Thank you, Ms. Beverly, for having me visit today, and talk about the writing process.
Hands down, one of the best things about The Adventures of Finn MacCullen is being able to incorporate my beloved Colorado into the story—a place that I am luck-of-the-Irish lucky enough to live in.
Those of you who have read Finn’s adventures know that the stories take place in the city of Colorado Springs (which is called High Springs in my books), Colorado. I get such a kick out of sharing the beauty of this state with my readers via the setting. However, people often ask me why I modified the name.
My answer? I have no idea.
Oh, it might be because I knew I wanted to move neighborhoods and parks and so on around, but really, I could have kept the name, Colorado Springs, and it wouldn’t have diminished or improved the Story.
It is always about the Story. The Story must come first. Everything depends on it.
I can tell you this: I chose Colorado Springs (aka High Springs) for the setting for most of my books because of two factors: the weather and the proximity to wilderness.
The weather: The joke around Colorado Springs is that if you don’t like the weather, wait ten minutes. On a given day, we can have bright blue sky and sunshine, snow, hail, winds, wildfires, and lightning storms. In fact, the Springs is the hail capital of the U.S.A. That variety of extreme weather is a powerful tool. It builds tension in the story and gives the characters another obstacle to overcome.
The wilderness: This city has loads of open space; acres and acres that have been left in their natural state, and filled with trees and boulders and cliffs and foothills and all sort of meandering trails. Perfect places to provide a hunting ground for my heroes while keeping them hidden from human eyes. Plus, all the abandoned mine pits make perfect home for the goblins.
Ms. Beverly also asked me about the challenges of writing about a setting in a familiar place. For me, the greatest challenge was describing everything in a way that someone who doesn’t live here could still image it. I had to strike a balance between describing too much or not enough. I had to remind myself that most of my readers have never seen the Garden of the Gods, or Bear Creek Park, or Ute Valley, or downtown.
In The Hound at the Gate, however, I moved most of the story to a remote valley in the mountains between Leadville and Alma, Colorado. I know this area very well, having hiked and camped and mountain biked all over it.
The more I think about it, the more I realize that my books are, in part, a love letter to Colorado. I cannot image living anywhere else. I can image that it is peopled by immortal Celtic warriors, goblins, shape-shifters, gods and goddess, and even a sorceress or two.
Thank you Darby. As someone who lives in Colorado I think you do an awesome job describing our beautiful state. For those of you who live in High Springs aka Colorado Springs and would like to meet Darby in person, she will be appearing at the Barnes & Noble on Briargate Blvd at 11:00 a.m. on January 17th. She’s as engaging in person as she is in print.
“The Hound at The Gate” was released on January 13th. Here’s a sneak peek:
Amandán burst out of the trees and from behind the tents. They flung themselves at the warriors, gibbering and howling. Demons on recess from Hell. Yellow slobber flew from yellower teeth. “Their heads,” screeched one goblin. “Go for them bleedin’ heads!”
Fighting shoulder-to-shoulder, Gideon and Mac Roth slashed and stabbed at anything and everything with green fur. Goblin dust hung in the air, burning Gideon’s throat as he fought to breathe and chant at the same time. After a few minutes, the need for air won.
Suddenly, a second wave of Amandán shoved the front row right into his face. He staggered, falling to one knee. Before he could rise, a hand grabbed his arm and yanked him up again.
“Taking a rest, are you?” Mac Roth asked as he swung his hatchet in a wide arc to clear a space around them.
“Not at all.” Gideon grunted as he nailed another goblin. “Simply removing a bothersome thorn from my foot,” he yelled over its death shriek.
“You’re wearing workman boots,” Mac Roth pointed out, cleaving a goblin’s arms clean off. Followed by its head.
“’Twas a large thorn.”
Unable to penetrate the Knights’ defense, the nearest goblins danced to one side, seeking easier prey as they screeched and yowled. Grateful for the lull, Gideon spat to clear his mouth. “And how stands the Cú?” he shouted at the Knight on his other side.
“Like a hound at a gate,” O’Donnell shouted back, his blade a bronze blur. Dust and sweat decorated his features like the woad face paint of the Celts of old. A wild grin matched the light of battle in his eyes. “Only this hound bites back. They’re going to be sorry—”
Flung over the heads of the leading Amandán by a couple of its pack members, a suicidal goblin soared through the air like a giant green flying squirrel. Screaming its death cry, it landed on O’Donnell. Knight and Amandán crashed to the ground. A split second later, the beast exploded.
“Denny! Are ye all right?” Gideon reached for the Knight, who was sprawled on his side covered in powder. “Quite a surprising tactic of the beasties, eh?” He grabbed O’Donnell’s shoulder and pulled.
The young Knight flopped over. His eyes were closed as if in sleep. A faint smile still curled the corners of his mouth even as he lay lifeless from the deadly touch of a black-tipped finger. Even as Gideon watched, the knife slid from his friend’s limp hand with a soft tink.
White-hot anger surged through Gideon’s chest. The warp spasm swelled, pushing outward through his limbs and upward into his mouth. It gushed out in a mighty roar.
“Faugh a ballagh!”
Snatching up the fallen Knight’s blade in his free hand, Gideon lowered his head and dove into the mob. He stabbed with an alternating left, right, left, right as if swimming through the bodies, using the point of each blade to pull himself through the sea of Bog-born. A high-pitched whine filled his ears. He plunged deeper into the pack, scattering them with his ferocity.
Are you ready to order your copy? Don’t delay, this is a book (series) you want to put at the top of your reading list.
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-hound-at-the-gate-darby-karchut/1120034762?ean=9781939392480