My name is Daniel Stride, and I’m the newest member of this little publishing family (newest and probably most distant – as a New Zealander, I’m literally on the other side of the world). Literature in general, and speculative fiction in particular, has always been an interest of mine – my favourite authors include J.R.R. Tolkien, Mervyn Peake, Clark Ashton Smith, and Stephen Donaldson – so I am both honoured and excited that Inspired Quill has decided to take me up on my first novel, Wise Phuul, which I had been working on since 2007.
In the mundane world, I am in the process of getting admitted to the bar (before you ask, that’s bar in the legal sense, not the alcohol sense), which may or may not explain the reflexive deference to precedent among the inhabitants of the novel. Or at least partly explain it – the Viiminian Empire is inherently an odd place, what with the entire socio-economic-political structure being built around the art (or science) of Necromancy.
Falling (broadly) within the steampunk-flavoured section of the fantasy genre, Wise Phuul started with a premise, namely a world where raising the dead is a universal ability – and I then ran with that premise, in the tradition of science-fiction. What I aimed for was an exploration of both the society itself and the character of its inhabitants. My protagonist, a lowly librarian named Teltö Phuul, regards the undead as no more unusual a sight than a bicycle (I imagine he’d probably be downright confused by Game of Thrones). But, don’t worry, he well and truly gets taken out of his comfort zone; the book is about his literal and metaphorical journey, and Teltö on the last page is a very different creature from Teltö on the first page.
I think some of my other interests worm their way into the story too. One of my hobbies is medieval re-enactment – I am a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism. More specifically, I’m interested in Old Norse poetic forms, so while the setting of Wise Phuul is emphatically not medieval (I may be a Tolkien nut, but faux medieval Europe has been done to death in the genre), you see at least one example of skaldic verse, in English. I’m also a bit of a Finnophile, which manifests itself in some of the naming conventions. Kuolla is the Finnish verb ‘to die’, and one of its forms is kuoli, so calling the capital of a Necromantic Empire Kuolinako seemed appropriate.
I hadn’t previously read an Inspired Quill book – I pretty sure there aren’t any currently stocked in the Dunedin Public Library – but having done a bit of background research, and possessing a functioning social conscience, I am very enthusiastic about being part of a social enterprise. In the cut-throat world of publishing, I think it is genuinely awesome that a firm is dedicated to giving back to the wider community.
Roll on 2016!