Seekers: The Winds of Change Seekers Saga Book One by Troy Knowlton - YA Fantasy
Genre: YA Fantasy
An Interview with Troy Knowlton
Welcome to JB’s Bookworms with Brandy Mulder
Tell us about your
Well, Seekers: The Winds of Change is a YA fantasy adventure filled with
fast-paced action, horrifying monsters, and fiery romance. The plot centers
around two artifact-acquiring agents (Seekers) who reside in the dominant
empire (Arga) of the world of Tiarna. The plot kicks into high gear as Tyras
(our primary POV) is returning to Arga after completing his latest mission. As
he does, our other POV, Oren, fends off an assasination attempt on the Seekers’
master, one of the ten rulers of the empire’s oligarchical government. After
this incident, both Seekers are given missions
to complete. Oren is tasked with tracking down the would-be assassin to
find answers as to who was the mastermind behind the attack, and Tyras is
tasked with hunting down an ancient, legendary artifact called the Conduit,
which is somehow tied to everything. Along the way, they’ll meet new friends,
face terrifying challenges, and learn a bit more about themselves and the world
they live in.
my debut novel, and the first of four novels in the “Seekers Saga.”
Writing isn’t easy.
What was the most difficult thing you dealt with when writing
The Winds of Change was the first book I’ve ever written
and also my first real attempt at formal writing, besides school papers,
resumes, etc. As such, I didn’t have a working knowledge of ANY of the nuances
that come with being a writer. My punctuation, sentence structure, grammatical
diversity, and narrative flair were all nonexistent, and needed time/practice
to develop. I was very fortunate to have a coworker whose sister had a master’s
degree in creative writing, so she acted both as a mentor as well as my editor,
filling in the gaps in understanding that came with my having no formal
education in creative writing. For me, the most difficult thing was getting
started. As an honorable mention, the second most difficult thing had to have
been the near dozens of rounds of revision I did, reading through the
manuscript and self editing both before the editing/proofreading phase as well
as after, due to an issue with the interior design changing thousands of words
in the manuscript. Always back up your work, my friends!
Tell us a little bit
about your writing career.
I feel like
the answer to my previous question encapsulates this one.
They say Hind-sight
is 20/20. If you could give advice to the writer you were the first time you
sat down to write, what would it be?
prospective traditionally published authors, don’t be discouraged by the
querying phase. Rejection is a part of the business. Wear it with honor and be
proud of your work. Don’t give up and keep your head up!
prospective self-pub authors, become a master of not only writing, but also all
aspects of the publication/marketing of your novel. Do your research on trim
size, margins, bleed vs no bleed in interior design, different ways to approach
finding a cover designer and what to look for, how to market your novel, how to
find your audience, websites like netgalley, editorial reviews, and so, so much
more. You’ll have to wear a dozen different hats, so become an excellent
writers, I know how easily despair creeps into our minds. Fight it. Keep
pushing forward and enjoy the little wins/moments when they come. We are tellers
of stories, and that’s something to take heart in. Don’t let anyone tell you
that you shouldn’t write. If you love doing something and are passionate enough
to work tirelessly to keep improving, success will follow, be it critical
acclaim or quiet, self-satisfaction. Either way, take the constructive
criticism, but, when the negative influences pour in (and they will), steel
yourself against it by knowing that it’s something we all face. The mere fact
that you’re suffering through it means you’ve entered through that rite of
passage, like a brand. It hurts, but it marks you as a member of our amazing
writing community, and it is amazing, my friends.
What was your most
difficult scene to write?
My most difficult scenes are always the big, “action set
piece” scenes. Despite what reviews/commentary on my novel might present, I’m
always apprehensive of writing action sequences. I can’t adequately articulate
why, other than by saying I’m constantly worried I’m going to botch it and the
tension, danger, or choreography will fall flat. The chapter with the worms (if
you know, you know) in particular gave me fits, though I’m extremely proud of
it, looking back at it now.
Are themes a big part
of your stories, or not so much?
I feel themes are part of every story, to varying degrees.
Themes in my story include: coming of age, exploring animosity between
different groups/societies, dealing with grief, discovering a sense of morality
in a morally gray world, finding what makes you happy, and taking charge of
your own destiny.
What are you working
WIP is book 2 of the “Seeker Saga.” It’s a direct sequel to my debut and takes
place around 4-6 months after the events of the first novel. In it, the stakes
raise, the action intensifies, the emotions burn brighter, and the bonds
between characters get tested. The Winds of Change kick up embers of hate,
which grow into The Fires of Strife.
Is there a release
though the goal is to start the editing process by the beginning of next year.
Who is your favorite
character from your own stories, and why?
I love Tyras. Besides being the protagonist of my novel,
he’s the first character I ever developed. He’s lived in my mind for years now
and is the closest to my own personality, or, at the very least, an idealized
version of my personality. His sense of duty, loyalty to his friends, and
unwavering courage in the face of horrendous physical/emotional trauma endear
him to me greatly.
Most writers were
readers as children. What was your favorite book in grade school?
My father sang it’s praises to me from an early age and boasted that he’d read
it in a single day. I tried to replicate his achievement (unsucessfully) and I
fell in love with the book as well. To this day, whenever I reread the Hobbit,
I think of my dearly departed father and get lost in its pages.
What are your plans
for future projects?
Besides the main quartet of books in the “Seeker Saga,” I
have ideas for two prequel novels, one centered around Yata Suchikara from my
debut, and another that follows an entirely new character, set hundreds of
years before the events of Seekers. I
also have ideas for a few novellas as well, one of them being a prequel novella
featuring many readers’ favorite character, Squall.
Is there anything you
would like to add before we finish?
Nothing, except to say thank you for being a host of my book
tour. As an indie author, stuff like this is extraordinarily important, and you
have my deepest gratitude. Thanks for being awesome!
Thank you. Good luck with Seekers: The Winds of Change, and thank you for being with us today.
Thanks, you as well!
The night sky was like A dark and shifting ocean, pitch-black and ominous. Strong winds kicked up swaths of desert sand into the horizon. The waves of brown earth raged across the heavens with a low roar. The rough weather spewed thousands of coarse, rocky grains that tore into anything standing in their path. It made the inhabitants of the Koterran mining camp miserable. The small encampment sat at the edge of a large rift in the sands, where precious iron and sandstone had already been torn from the earth. Webs of scaffolding hugged the edge of the chasm and stretched deep into the hole below. The tents of the camp were arranged in two circles. A dozen or so constituted the outer circle, and five made up the inner circle, the largest of which housed the spoils of the dig. A robust campfire sat in the center, which shone defiantly against the darkness of the wild night.
Serana sat on a rock at the edge of the campfire’s light and peered off into the distance. She wondered why her father made the decision to send her to this bizarre corner of the kingdom to guard this tiny, insignificant camp. A whole party of knights accompanied her, which seemed unnecessary. There’d been reports of bandits attacking caravans in the area, causing the High Commander to take action. He’d entrusted his daughter with organizing the camp’s protection. On the surface it made sense, but this was a job for regional guards, not Serana and thirty royal knights. Perhaps there’s some other reason, besides bandits. What if there’s a threat too dangerous to reveal, one he wanted to keep secret? The idea both terrified and excited her.
A powerful gust of wind smashed through the circling encampment like an ocean tide crashing against rocky shores. It ripped through the tents and carried enough force to extinguish the fire, shrouding the camp in near-total darkness. Bedlam ensued as miners and knights ran around in that darkness, fumbling like blind infants, trying to find where they had left their torches.
Serana didn’t join in the hysteria. She listened through the commotion, blocking her ears from the miners’ squabbling and sensing outward. She could feel a presence approaching the camp’s edge. She squinted at the outer circle of tents and saw the shape of a figure moving across them, like a predator circling its prey. Her hand reached for the sword at her hip, but she stopped short.
She realized there was a danger in having her weapon drawn, with so many people running around in the dark. In her moment of hesitation, she lost sight of the figure. She shouted a command to her knights: “Gather your bearings and spread out. We aren’t alone!”
Most of the soldiers had already lit their torches and were quick to follow their leader’s command. They began fanning out toward the camp’s edge, swords in hand. Serana scanned back and forth, observing their progress, watching and waiting for one of them to spot the unknown assailant.
A sharp noise cracked through the air, like a tree branch snapping under heavy duress. Serana looked in the direction of the sound and noticed that one of the torches had gone out. She called out to the knight holding it. No response. She ran toward the shadowed area, hand on her sword hilt. She made it halfway to the perimeter when she noticed movement on the roof to her right. Serana instinctively drew her blade and slashed upward as a figure leapt from atop the tent, vaulting over her. Her weapon missed its mark, only managing to cut a small amount of fabric off the edge of the intruder’s cloak. A dark blue scrap of cloth blew off into the wind. That cloth and its color were enough for Serana to understand what kind of enemy she faced. The blue of the material, coupled with the acrobatics, identified the invader as a Seeker of the Argan Empire.
Serana turned around and bolted back toward the campfire, shouting as she ran, “Knights, hurry back to the center of camp; the trespasser is going to the supply tent!” Her soldiers had the tent encircled mere moments after the order had left her mouth. She knew that she had the Seeker cornered. She paused at the tent’s entrance, signaling for two of her most trusted knights to follow behind her. They shuffled to her side, and the three of them entered the tent, swords drawn and ready.
Upon passing the threshold, she saw the Seeker sitting on a pile of sandstone, holding the artifact in his gloved hand. The emerald orb, roughly the size of an apple, glittered in the faint torchlight. It had a perfect round shape and gave off a pulsing green luminescence.
The Seeker ignored Serana, staring at the artifact with curious eyes. He spoke to the Koterrans in a tired and dismissive tone. “Well, I have what I’ve come here for. Let me leave in peace, and there won’t be any trouble. I’ve no quarrel with any of you.”
Serana’s fury boiled out of her. “You’re in no position to be making orders, Seeker! How dare you invade our camp in the middle of the night, like some blue phantom coming to haunt us. That artifact belongs to the Kingdom of Koterra, and I’m not letting you steal it from us. If you want this to end peacefully, you’ll hand it over right now!”
The Seeker turned and looked at the Koterran, his blue eyes perfectly visible even in the night’s darkness. He looks young for a Seeker, she thought. He couldn’t have been much older than her, and she was a couple years shy of her second decade. His pale skin reflected the orange tint of the torch fire, and his messy brown hair poked out from under the blue hood of his cloak. His deep blue eyes shimmered in the flickering firelight, giving off a slight luminescence of their own. The Argan foreigner had a calculated look on his face, as if his mind focused on something far, far away.
A few tense moments passed wherein both parties seemed
to be sizing each other up. The Seeker’s voice broke the silence.
“You know as well as I do that I can’t do that. Under imperial law, all artifacts of the Lost Kingdom must be impounded and sent to the Archive at Arga for safekeeping. I’m doing you a favor, really. Get out of my way and let me do my job!”
“Watch your tone, Argan! You’re far away from your empire, and there are plenty of dungeons in Koterra that I’d be happy to toss you in.” Serana clenched her teeth together, adrenaline mixing with her rage as she squeezed the hilt of her blade.
The Seeker lowered his gaze and shook his head. “Well, I can’t say that I didn’t give you a choice. I would suggest that you duck and cover.”
Serana only had a few seconds to ponder his cryptic words before the explosion knocked everyone off their feet. Debilitating ringing echoed through her ears. It was the last thing she heard before going unconscious. The blast disoriented everyone except the Seeker, who had braced himself for it, knowing that it would arrive at the perfect time. A flurry of sand, broken tents, and rubble showered the poor Koterrans, subduing them. The Seeker found it easy to escape in the chaos, and he made his way through the camp with little resistance. He’d almost reached its edge when the second explosion went off. He hadn’t counted on this, and the surprise rattled him, sending him flying into the dark envelope of the tumultuous night.