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Why did I write ‘Quarterling’?

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You may or may not know that The Comyenti Series, from which ‘Quarterling’ is a part of being a spin-off novel, is a fantasy series that as a whole is really close to my heart. It always has been, more so than all my other books. Being a huge animal lover, vegan, and empath myself writing about an alien humanoid species, who are all mind-speaking empaths, and have all these amazing animal abilities, but with their own weaknesses comes almost natural to me. That probably shouldn’t come as a surprise for those that know me. Especially since most of my life I have almost felt like an alien on this world myself! Being sensitive to noise, bright lights, strong smells, fainting in crowds, wanting different things in life than others my age, reading different books, being vegan, and lesbian! I am also quite a private person, so I guess not many people know much about me at all, hence why I started this newsletter in the first place.

But, I digress. All of the main characters certainly feel like different parts of me I wanted to explore. Especially Sula Comyenti who started it all in book 1: Call Off the Search’ which was originally called ‘Small Sacrifice’, and who has been with me from the start shaping the story and series with me, always insisted in getting heard. For a writer it is almost impossible not to listen to those voices in your head! They won’t leave you alone until you write their stories down. No, you are not insane, you are a writer. That is our excuse, at least.
Still, I just love writing every book that is either part of the series or a spin-off story such as Quarterling is, so I really don’t mind. Besides, Sula is always great company.It became clear to me though that after writing the first two books the characters had much more to say and to do before I started writing book three. I knew I just couldn’t fit it all in without losing the main thread of the book and for the readers to lose the plot. These characters, once an adult, deserved each their own story, their own novel. And that is what I am doing. That is the plan at least. Sula has five children so they all get their own book, some even more than one. There are three so far and a fourth is in the making!

There is ‘Chained Freedom’ (Free download here: https://www.amazon.com/Chained-Freedom-Comyenti-Natasja-Hellenthal-ebook/dp/B00IK4OWXE/ ) in which Fay had a brief appearance, but she was only really a side-character like in book 1 and 2, not a main one. So she kept insisting on telling her own story! Her voice grew stronger and louder. I had already told Aigle’s story in ‘City of Dreams’, or at least one of his stories, and I felt it was time for Sula’s first born Fay to really tell hers.
Beside it being a coming of age story and one of unrequited love, and just about being young leaving home for the first time, I have been toying with the idea of writing some of my own experiences down. The things I have witnessed whilst living in Norway, Wales, and the South of France especially have always stayed with me. The animal cruelty and accidents whilst I was out hiking mostly. I wanted to share these experiences with my readers and what better way than through a story? They say, write what you know, and that is what I have always done. I have changed the facts around slightly as in my case I was mostly too late, but not always. Once I did save a nearly drowned sheep from a freezing, roaring river, and one bird out of a football net, but found another sheep dead with her head stuck in a fence and other sheep washed ashore. These images never left me. The rat I saved two years ago still lives with me as I couldn’t find a surrogate mother. Fay reminds me slightly of myself when I was seventeen. Full of big ideas, hopes and dreams, and that life isn’t always how we plan it to be. Love isn’t either. It can come in various forms and may not be what we imagined it to be.
Fay started to tell me her story from the time she left home. It was easy to let her live some of my own experiences and see what she would have done, with or without her super powers. And how I would wish I had those powers often! But then again, she is restricted in some ways. How? Well, you will just have to read the story. 

Speaking of superpowers though, especially a female superhero, saving animals, not people this time, was needed, desperately I felt. I have researched but only found one or two other books with a vegan superhero, but they were all for children… Why, I wonder are animals always associated with children or children’s stories? Don’t adults love animals? Do we outgrow them and their cuteness? Don’t we want to read about their happy ending? Adults love their pets, but often can’t extend it to other animals. Most don’t want to think about the suffering, the exploited animals, at least not enough to want to save them. Vegans do. Luckily. Thus a story was born. Fay was going to be a superhero for the animals with an older audience, okay young adults more precisely as she herself is only seventeen when the story starts, but still, it’s a start. I do hope to reach a broad audience with Fay’s story. That is why there are many more subjects thrown in: coming of age, parents, adventure, romance and a touch of magic.

Well, I won’t ramble on too much as this should just be a little post about what made me want to write ‘Quarterling’. Whilst writing I did try to have an audience in mind. I can imagine other vegans want a hero they can relate to or look up to, so it is for them to have a story to feel at home in without too much violence or visual content. But is still is a story about animal activism and what we can all do, or can’t and about hoping to change people, but how? And if we can, should we and to what ends? There are many questions of a deeper nature. Of right and wrong, of grey areas, and that even if we have certain powers there are even more powerful forces at work we cannot always control, and we find ourselves powerless. It’s a story of wanting to save the world, of change both in and outside of us, of being different and finding our way in the world, of acceptance, of having responsibilities and what it means to be an adult. And I also hope to reach those hearts that haven’t quite made compassionate choices yet. For those who say they love animals. Who knows what changes they will make? One can always hope.

Read more about my inspiration and need for wanting to write this story in the Afterword in ‘Quarterling’now ready for pre-order here: 

Share the link on your social media to share the love, thanks (:

Excerpt

‘Fay, there is no need to lie to me, you know. I have observed you and seen what you can do. You are clearly not from Bhan. If you were, your kind would have surely taken over from the humans.’
‘Why would you say that and what exactly have you see me doing? Wait, it’s from around the time of the market day I have sensed your presence, isn’t it? What did you see me do?’
‘Enough to know that you act as if these animals are your responsibility, but they are not.’
Fay’s eyes widened and she was numb for a moment as if shocked to hear that. ‘Then whose? If it wasn’t for me they would all still be suffering or dead by now!’
‘It’s not for you to decide, to interfere.’
‘What? So, you’re saying that if you see an injustice done to another soul, or an injured creature, you walk away from it? What if it had been members of your own kind caged in that market?’
‘We’ve never been captured,’ Zemandu answered calmly, unaffected.
‘Perhaps you should be so you know what it’s like.’
‘And you do?’
‘Even if I didn’t I would still care. It’s called having a heart. Besides, all of us carry the painful memories of our ancestors in us. It’s enough for us to feel empathy for other species, because we were treated not too dissimilarly. My kind were trapped, not for food, but as curiosities, and when humans couldn’t get what they wanted from us, killed. We were seen as a threat and menace to humanity, not allowed to live side by side with them like you are.’
‘You can fly, you are immensely strong, you can make fires like I can, and you can communicate with all these anima—’ ‘Argh,’ Fay grunted. She had seen all that? How had she let this happen?
‘No need to be shy or worried. I won’t tell anybody. There is always one dominant species on any planet. What, you didn’t think this was the only habitable planet in the entire universe, did you?’

 

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Interview on me and my latest book

Check out my latest interview here on this blog: Lynnlawler

Enjoy! (:

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NEW COVERS COMYENTI SERIES BOOK 1 AND 2!

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CALL OFF THE SEARCH: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HIRTFZE

CHILDREN OF THE SUN: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00N2U9GE6

BOOK 3, CONTROLLER OF THE SENSES: COMING WINTER 2015!

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Author Grill Weekend!!!

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I will be on the author grill this coming weekend: May 2nd and 3rd!!! Location: The Lesbian Book Readers Club (on facebook). Get your questions ready and poke me (keep it clean please)! (:

I will also be holding giveaways and contests to test your knowledge of my books. Prizes include free pdf’s of Call Off The Search and The Queen’s Curse. And for the lucky winner a signed paperback of The Queen’s Curse, 4th edition (UK only)! Go here to join:

https://m.facebook.com/groups/557114481075268?refid=17&ref=m_notif&notif_t=like&_ft_=top_level_post_id.768846779897593

See you soon!

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EJ Nate’s blog post on The Comyenti Series

I’m featured on EJ Nate’s blog today with The Comyenti Series: http://ejnate.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/call-of-search-amazing-book-by-natasja.html
http://ejnate.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/children-of-sun-by-natasja-hellenthal.html

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NEW FANTASY RELEASE! CITY OF DREAMS ~FREE this weekend ONLY~

‘CITY OF DREAMS’, available in all formats will be FREE this thanksgiving weekend only.
Share it with your friends and don’t forget to leave me a review, thanks (:

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“Have you ever wondered where stories come from? Where are paintings, sculptures and poetry, prose born? In the artist’s subconscious mind? Dreams? How come some writers and painters roughly have the same idea and come up with similar creations, even though they’ve never read or seen anything by the other or communicated it in any way? Is there such a thing as a ‘Well of Art’ that all artists drink from to be inspired? And if so, how is this accomplished? Whilst asleep? Dreaming? Where is art born?”

Aigle Comyenti is travelling home to be on time for his sister’s wedding. Whilst travelling he hears the last notes of an enchanting tune and makes a sudden decision. He MUST have that song.
The musician however, on her way to an art festival to perform, not only teaches Aigle the melody, but also steals his trusty pendant: the coppery piece given to him by his real father. The jewellery, worthless to the girl, is immensely valuable to the boy and his vanishing kind; the empathetic comyentis. For it is not only the last reminder of his mysterious people but could also be the very key to their unknown past and origin…

The handsome young traveller has no other choice than to follow the girl, but where she is going, Aigle is reluctant to set foot; it is a city crammed with the comyentis’ number one enemy: humans. A place where danger for discovery lies high. What Aigle finds next within the walls of the city of Traumermoure is beyond what he could ever have dreamed up. Not only is the girl he followed there, Mallory, been put into a deep sleep from which she cannot wake, but the city’s visitors may face the same fate…

Can Aigle, who has powers beyond men’s understanding, be concerned? Will he risk everything that is at stake for one human girl he hardly knows
To wake Mallory up, he has to enter her dreams…

One click here to get it now: http://hyperurl.co/gjzqlx?IQid=vevo

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The Origin of Evil and Writing in Grey

 

We live in a world built on absolutes. Right and wrong. Win or lose. Polarised views. Religious, racial and political divides.

But what if life is not that simple? What if the world is not that straightforward?

We explain everything what we see and what happens in definite terms. Right or wrong? Good or bad? What if it’s possible to be just a little bit right and just a little bit wrong? What if life is not a matter of right or wrong, winning or losing? Not black and white? What if life is actually played out in grey areas? What if it is time for stories to reflect this?

How are right and wrong defined?

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In religion, ethics and philosophy, “good and evil” is a common dichotomy. It is the concept of all human desires, behaviours and values. A dualistic spectrum-wherein in one direction is life and continuity (good), and in the other there is death and destruction (evil).

Good is a sense of having the right desirable quality.

Likewise, most religious and philosophical interpretations agree that evil behaviour itself is an aberration; one that defies any understanding, save that the path of evil is one of confusion and excessive selfish desire (greed).

It is the differentiation of intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are “good” (or right) and “bad” (or wrong).

Religious and philosophical views both tend to agree that goodness is built-in to human nature and is ultimately based on the natural love, bonding and affection that people grow to feel for other people and creatures alike.

We can argue about what sorts of things are good, but we all know what love is, or feel the loss of it when we don’t.

Morality ultimately comes down to sympathy and fellow feelings for others. That is something we share with other intelligent ‘higher’ species, which have a conscious.

But it seems that we are the only species that understand when we do wrong when we do, or to better put it; know when we do wrong and still do it. That is what separates us, I believe. What makes us human.

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 Is darkness just less light?

“Why do men kill?” “Because they can.” Quote from ‘Call Off The Search’.

We all are the sum of our experiences; we are what we get fed with from an early age. We become what we know. We learn and live by example. Is that true?

Like in nature, if an animal does not receive any form of love, physical contact, a warm start in life, and example in how to behave socially, they can’t recognize nor give love.

It seems that love is the key.

Deprivation of love and affection in a child leads to insecurity, a lack of, or very low, self-esteem, and it won’t know how to deal with attention and will seek it out somehow later on in life, as if to fill a void to compensate. Some children that were abused will as an adult even choose an abusive or violent partner, for that is all they have ever known. Another theory is that they want to be in control because it was taken away from them in an early life. Sadly, some will even start to abuse their own children. They often have a twisted sense of right and wrong. They have never received honest love and can therefore not give from their heart. And thus the cycle will continue…

Someone’s background is crucial if we want to understand certain behaviour. For me as an author it is very important to investigate this subject. I do this in every story I write. The very reasons as to why things happen to a person and the people around them: what makes a protagonist tick, but also how did they get where they are in life? What is their history and how does it impact them?

Our stories simply cannot be black and white any longer. If we want to portray believable characters they will just have to be imperfect. Grey. For no one can be the manifestation of goodness, not even in a story. Not only would it come across as very unprofessional (or boring to say the least), but it would also be very unrealistic, unless you limit yourself to writing fairy-tales.

But even modern fairy-tales have changed their course. It is a hopeful change and a proof that people are starting to understand that every bad thing usually has a good reason.

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Take for example the ‘Star Wars’ series by George Lucas that explores the background of Darth Father and how he became evil. And what about the book (and musical) ‘Wicked’, by Gregory Maguire, that explains the history of the Wicked Witch of the West, and the fact she didn’t die?

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For isn’t that usually the case; that the wrongdoer dies at the end? What else are we suppose to do with them? The audience wasn’t ready for anything else in the seventies, but we are now.

Just like in all fairy-tales the audience wanted, or expected, a gratifying end with ‘Star Wars’ and ‘The Wizard Of Oz’. But as time went on we grew ready for, not only the questions, but also the answers.

Even more interesting is the movie ‘Maleficent’, a Disney retelling of Snow-white, in whereby the story not only focuses on the why and how “the evil stepmother” became evil. This story does more. It is the opposite of what we are so used to reading in stories like these: the “evil” one does not die in the end, but changes back from evil to being good! That seems to be something new entirely!

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“I believe that everybody deserves a second chance.”  ‘City of Dreams’

In fairy-tales and High Fantasy, good and evil are represented very clearly, more than in any other genre. Especially Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of The Rings’. The elves, dwarves, men and hobbits are on the good side, the orcs are clearly on the dark side. However, there is one character that is different: Gollum. Gollum’s desire for the Ring is not his fault. The Ring caused him to have a split personality in the first place. Under centuries of the Ring’s influence, Gollum had come to love and despise the Ring, just as he loved and hated himself. Throughout the story, Gollum was torn between his lust for the ring and his desire to be free of it. Gollum wants the ring, but Smeagol doesn’t. In ‘The Two Towers’, Smeagol says that he hates Gollum and wants him to go away.

So no, not evil. Just disturbed.

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For is evil not just good tortured by his own hunger and thirst? Are we not all black and white inside? Or rather… grey?

Was that the start of a new change in literature, I wonder?

With my own writing I hope to add to that change. I especially have tried to do so with ‘The Queen’s Curse’ and the “villain” Sempervirens. This sorceress has had a disturbing upbringing which led to her evil ways. In fact, it appears that she is the one that hurts the most.

Someone’s abusive background should never be an excuse for wrong-doing, but an explanation. Can Sempervirens change her evil ways to become good?

Doesn’t change ultimately comes from within?

“I love the girl you once were and the woman you were supposed to be. Not what they made you to be. I do not believe this is all you. You were not responsible what happened to the girl, but the woman you are today can still change, if you just let go of that negative side of yours. Then you can at least start to love yourself…finally.” ‘The Queen’s Curse’

We all know deep down that we love seeing good prevail to give us hope. To feel better and safe again. To make us feel we are not alone perhaps, and give us courage and inner strength.

Justice, revenge, redemption are things we all need to see happening, and if not in real life then let it be in a story. We do what we can in our own little ways and find purpose and meaning, to make a difference, saving the planet by recycling, reducing waste, being kind to animals and each other. Isn’t that good enough?

I write because I want to do more.

My writing acknowledges that there is indeed evil in the world, but there is also good in each and every one of us, and that we can all help each other find it.

And hopefully in the process, when people read my books I will touch some hearts and minds.

 

Books by Natasja Hellenthal

The Queen’s Curse (lgbt Fantasy)  http://smarturl.it/thequeenscurse?IQid=qr

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Chained Freedom (Paranormal Fantasy) http://smarturl.it/ChainedFreedomNH

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Call Off The Search, Comyenti Series #1 http://smarturl.it/calloffthesearch?IQid=qr

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Children Of The Sun, Comyenti Series #2 http://smarturl.it/cots2

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The Comyenti Series Book Bundle, Volume 1 and 2 (Supernatural lgbt Fantasy) http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00P1F2TMG

City of Dreams (Fantasy novella, coming 27th of November)

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Sky Whisperers (YA Dystopian lgbt Fantasy, coming March 2015)

Social media:

My author page: http://www.amazon.com/Natasja-Hellenthal/e/B00CMNVPX4/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

My facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/authorNatasjaHellenthal

My facebook group (Speculative Fiction Book Club): https://www.facebook.com/groups/568952729881225/

My website: https://natasjahellenthal.wordpress.com/

Twitter: @natasjahellenth

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