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Now for my Interview with Robert (Bob) Carey
Me: Tell us about yourself
Robert: I am a history teacher who lives, in the foothills of the Berkshires. I have had a skill for writing since a very young age. I’m an avid reader of history, especially of the medieval time, both fiction and non, a passion that dates back to my years at the University of Massachusetts, where I created my own major: The History of Western Literature. My other hobbies, generally involve the outdoors, and being connected to nature: kayaking, fishing, gardening, maple-syruping, growing Christmas trees, looking for ginseng and wild mushrooms.
Me: Tell us about your new book?
Robert: The Song of Freyer is a modern take on the medieval hero-epics of old, such as The Song of Roland, Beowulf, and El Cid. The book combines the historical context of the 5th and 6th century, with the myths and superstitions of that same sage. In this setting, my hero is set in a world of chaos and lawlessness, trying to organize a just society of opportunity for people that have never known it. His love interest is a smart and challenging foreigner who brings with her the enlightenment and guidance of a fallen empire. The book is reaching its first anniversary this month, and I am in the process of writing the sequel.
Me: When you write, does your real life spill over into your book at any time?
Robert: As someone who has had a multitude of different jobs, experiences, and hobbies. I am always surprised when an experience in my past assists me in my writing. Whether, it’s my experience in wrestling and jujitsu when writing about fight-scenes, or my experiences surf-casting down at Cape Cod when writing about dark-age knights at the beach, I am always surprised when I am able to put myself into that medieval setting. The fun about thinking about the distant past is comparing it to your modern experiences, and determining how people lived, had fun, and persevered. Personal experiences bind you with the past and it’s that shared human experience stuff, which is what really draws me to write historic fiction.
Me: Do you think about a book of yours, being made into a movie, or not when writing?
Robert: It might be a hackneyed expression, but I usually imagine things as a movie. I’m in full control of the cinematography, and I do my best to paint the scene in words the best I can. Do I fantasize whether or not it would be a good movie? No. Do I fantasize about selling enough books that I could write comfortably full time? Yes.
Me: When naming your characters, do you give any thought to the actual meaning?
Robert: Absolutely, The Song of Freyer has names that come from Nordic, Latin, Saxon, and biblical sources. The name Freyer, comes from the two Nordic gods Freyr, and Freia. These two siblings were generally responsible for fertility and good harvests, and the notion of rebirth after a long period of death and depravation is a major theme of the book. For people well-versed in Nordic mythology, I think they will have a deeper appreciation for this book.
Me: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Robert: Tough choice. Probably Bernard Cornwell. I appreciate the volume and the quality of his work. As someone who juggles a full-time job, a multitude of hobbies, and writing and marketing his own book, when it comes to writing I definitely need to use my time wisely.
Me: Do you have any tips for our readers that might dream of writing?
Robert: Whatever you do, make it unique. Do some research on the publishing world, and what potential publishers are looking for in terms of word-length and marketability. That being said, don’t be confined by I, and brace yourself for the wonderful world of self-publishing.
Me: Tell us anything you want?
Robert: My book is available on Amazon (hopefully coming to Nook and Ipad soon). Thanks to the good people at Silver Street Binding it’s available in soft and hard cover. And of course in ebook as well.
You can also check out my Facebook page for updates on The Song of Freyer series, and also get fun updates on my various outdoor adventures with my dog and wife in the wildernesses of Massachusetts.
Chapter 1: The Omen of Crows
The wind knocked tall rye crowns against each other. In the vast fields the grain grew alongside untended weeds in the rich dark soils of a fertile land. The rye stalks were to be used for thatching, and before they were to be chopped the weeds had to be cleared so the farmer could make a better cut.
As he worked, he listened for sounds that disturbed the quiet land he had inherited. Even the smallest odd rustle would perk his ears to stand up and scan the crowns. As he looked south above the tallest husks he could see across the lands his hands had sown. His eyes saw a vast sea of fluctuating shades of amber and brown grain that swayed and rattled in the gentle waves of wind. It was a fertile sea that stretched over rolling fields confined only by the shady boundaries of the wilderness, interspersed by small islands of trees, and hemmed in on the eastern end by a wide river. On this day, the river moved slowly, and showed the clouds their gray reflection as its waters moved south slowly towards the sea.
Behind him were the walls of a castle which, though cracked, stood high and strong. The castle was perched upon a steep cliff which dropped directly down to the river. A bridge spanned the mighty river and linked the eastern gate of the great castle with the far bank of the river.
On the western side of the great walls of the castle was an open field that to the farmer’s recollection a plough had never scratched. Beyond this fallow field was a village of vacant homes. There were over a hundred of them, and all but one were in different states of neglect. On some the roofs had caved in, and on others the poles and wattle had become the homes for bugs and vermin. When it rained worms and mice descended from the earthen roofs, and were free to fall and crawl on the ground below. In the small gardens outside these homes neglected gardens of carrots, cucumbers, garlic, and onions, freely competed with the fast growing weeds for living space. In the streets of this desolate village a dead fog hung that carried the smell of strong decay which the wind could not push.
The strong and weary farmer propped himself on his pitchfork, and searched for a clean piece of cloth to wipe his brow. He looked west for signs of the sun, but the thick clouds concealed it, and once the farmer was done scanning the quiet world he returned to his task of weeding. The weeds had been allowed to grow high, and their numbers seemed as infinite as the rye that grew alongside them, but the farmer worked on hoping to clear the small plot before he was forced to quit.
Two crows cawed as they flew over him. Their sudden shrieks chilled the farmer in his sweat-drenched tunic, and for a fast instant he thought the cries were some winged apparitions descending upon him. The farmer looked up and saw that if he so wished he could have swiped the steel black birds out of the sky with his fork, but the two birds, draped in dark feathers, appeared to take no interest in the farmer. They drifted east over the river, and then slowly turned north towards the mountains in their search for food. The farmer knew that such strange signs could indicate an awful presence, but his eyes assured him that he was alone, and free to do his work among the vacant land.
The shrouded sun was setting somewhere behind the threatening clouds, and the farmer knew he’d have to stop soon. He dug his pitchfork into the pile of weeds he’d picked, and walked to a clearing on which one side was a ditch. The ditch was shallow, and thirty paces around its edge. At the bottom of this hole was a black mat of rotten plants, and millions of small white flies.
The ditch had once been a well before it had caved in. When he was a boy the farmer remembered when sacrifices were burned in it to the fertility gods. The villagers partook in the solemn spring ceremony, and added many fine gifts to the sacrificial fires. But now the ditch was a hole, and for the farmer’s purpose he saw it fit only to throw in weeds and any garbage he might encounter.
The farmer turned away from the ditch to gather more weeds when he paused. A faint eerie and unknown sound crept to his ears. The farmer put his hands to his ears to make them larger. It was unlike a sound belonging to crows or wind blown crops. It was a crunch and rustle that he had yet to hear during his many quiet months. The farmer stood up straight and tall and scanned over the rye crowns. Seeing nothing he knelt down. His eyes looked down around through the maze of grain, but still he saw nothing.
The farmer continued his work, pretending not to notice the strange little noise, which was now accompanied by a hissing and a low groan. His muscles were tired, but he did not struggle to remain on guard. His body slumped as he shoveled weeds onto his fork, as the hissing and groaning grew louder and more bizarre. And though the sound was apparent and real, its origin remained concealed to the farmer’s eyes until the corner of his eye picked up the source of the noise. From the shadows of the unweeded stalks of rye a pale bloodied faced lunged out towards him led by two curled slender arms with clawed hands that reached out towards the farmer’s back.
The creature had the form of a man, though his thin and terrifying frame did not look like it had room for a human soul. So grotesque was this thing that the farmer felt it was a walking corpse bedeviled by a curse. He wore only soiled rags that were draped over his shoulders, the muddy tatters of which ended at his thighs. Blood spurted from his mouth and washed down his face in currents that stained his white disheveled beard.
The farmer retreated from the presence of this charging corpse. “Back, devil!” the farmer yelled, and lifted his wooden fork towards the derelict’s chest. The demented thing retorted with garbled screams, cries hissing with blood, and the disturbed laughter of an ill mind.
He charged towards the farmer’s sharp prongs of wood; the hard spikes pinned the rags against the derelict’s chest, and the points sunk slowly past the skin. The wound was the cause of a great source of laughter from this creature, and a large unnatural smile came to his face revealing four gnarled teeth lodged in his black-speckled gums.
The derelict man pushed against the prongs, and the farmer gave a slight push back, as the farmer slowly pushed the crazed man out into the clearing where the ditch was found. It was here where the farmer could have a good look at his opponent, and determine the best way to deal with him.
The naked legs of this horrible figure shook awkwardly in the mud, and were no wider than the handle of the farmer’s fork. The farmer stood stout with his fork firm against the derelict’s chest. With caution, he stopped to gaze into the eyes of this frail monster, for the farmer wondered if there was a presence of a soul within this bony shell of flesh. But the derelict’s eyes were hidden behind the shadows and black rings that cradled his brow. So dark were the crevices, that the farmer would have guessed this thing to have no eyes at all had he not witnessed a flickering of a strange savage glee.
But for all his horrible features, the farmer could not help but feel sympathy, for at some point in time in some other village, this man could have been friendly and wise. He may have spent summer days spinning tales of olden days to children on his knee, and he might have been good company to all who knew him. But like these memories, he had passed on. The body that remained carried out a demon’s work. Driven by savage times to commit savage deeds, there was no telling what this body had done before arriving in the field.
“I’ll help your body find peace old man, but may your demons find none,” the farmer said.
The words enraged the creature, and the demon’s body lunged towards the farmer, but again he held his fork firmly, and the prongs were plunged deeper into the chest. He drooled out fresh blood, wheezed, coughed, and shook, trying with an unsettling fury to turn the fork aside.
But the farmer’s strength was not close to failing him, and the demon’s energy waned with every struggling second. His wobbly knees sank lower and lower to the ground, and finally he fell down giving the farmer the chance to remove the forks, and blood oozed out slowly. The demon picked himself up uneasily before the farmer seized the opportunity to finish him. The demon gave another angry lunge and gurgled scream. The farmer hit him over the head with the fork, and the derelict’s face slammed into the mud. Before the derelict knew what had occurred, a mighty kick from the farmer’s leg sent him into a ditch alongside the weeds and flies.