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Interview of Brian R. Hill, Author of "The Shintae"
With us today is Brian Hill from Yorkshire, England. We are pleased that he was able to talk to us about his latest novel “The Shintei”. Welcome to Reader View Brian.
Irene: Tell us the synopsis of your fantasy novel, “The Shinte.”
Brian: The novel is a story of two races, good versus evil. It tells the story of Kaér and Angharad, the protagonists of the story, and their adventures through the Kanten Mountains in search of The Shintai. They face the threat of the enemy leader Sartay, a man caught between evil, all-out war and the forces of nature, which sometimes threaten their existence. Only one race can survive, but which one?
Irene: What’s so important about finding The Shinta?
Brian: Shinta is a stone, but one that possesses almost unimaginable magical powers. How these are exploited ultimately depends on the user’s wishes. While one person would use it as a weapon of war, another might use its power to build or heal. The stone itself is neither good nor evil, the choice depends on the person who controls it. So, with The Shintai under enemy control, Kaér and Angharad must reclaim it to ensure the survival of their own country.
Irene: What inspired you to write it?
Brian: Walking my dog through the local woods sparked an idea, originally for a short story. Over the months of that spring and summer, I expanded the story line and, still in my imagination, the paths winding through the forest took on greater significance and the area became the forest of my hero’s homeland, the Marae. In late summer, after another walk through the leafy glades, I returned home to find a typewriter with a blank page for someone to fill. This inspired me to take my idea a step further. Sitting down, I ambitiously typed ‘Chapter I’, and Shinta was born.
Irene: I find it interesting that you mention a typewriter. (Laughs) Do you actually use a typewriter?
Brian: (laughs) No! Not now, although it has served its purpose well for many years. The first typewriter I used for serious writing was an old manual portable, which I exchanged for an electric one a few years later. Luxury! No more heavy pounding on the keyboard! Then someone invented the wonderful and kind PC and word processing software and I never looked back.
Irene: Readers claim that your explanations of the setting as well as the plot are very vivid. Tell us, as a storyteller, how you achieve this.
Brian: Putting myself in the minds of my characters and trying to see things the way they see them. Imagining the landscape and situation from their perspective rather than my own. My characters, I’ve found, tend to take on a life of their own and don’t always follow the original plan for them. The plot has to adjust as their personalities develop and make their actions believable.
Irene: As a writer, how do you put yourself in the mind of your character? Tell us about your process.
Brian: A little Mozart or Chopin in the background always helps. I try to imagine the setting they’re in – a setting often created from the places I’ve visited, and that allows me to bring it to life in my mind. From there I introduce the characters and start writing from their point of view. Before introducing a new category, especially if revisiting a character who has been out of the story for a while, I re-read their previous entries to familiarize myself with their characteristics.
Irene: How much research did you have to do to write all the adventures throughout the book?
Brian: A certain amount of research was done on weapons, habitat, clothing, and some natural features. The story is set in a distant past, but uses a combination of Anglo-Saxon, Dark Ages, and Medieval features to create the fictional setting of the novel.
Irene: Where did you get all your information?
Brian: The library and of course the internet. Both are excellent resources for writers.
Irene: How much came from your own imagination?
Brian: Most of the novel came from my own imagination. It is not based on any real events or people, although Sartai’s origin is probably from a combination of various dictators of the 60s and 70s.
Irene: And, that dictator…?
Brian: Pol Pot and Idi Amin were the main two.
Irene: Idi Amin had multiple wives, suffered from venereal disease and let his people down. Which character is portrayed in “The Shintae” after Idi Amin and why?
Brian: Sarta is that character. It may well be that he was venereal disease but that aspect of his life does not enter into this particular story. Sarta however is obsessed with power and as a person for whom inhuman acts are a part of his daily life, he is ready to seize control and withhold whatever the cost or suffering to others. These are common connections between Sarta and Amin. Both are quite happy to sacrifice their people on the high altar of their personal ambitions.
Irene: Did you create parts of the story based on your own experiences or imagination?
Brian: Just from my own experience as far as rural areas go. The story began in my own imagination and daydreams, but once the characters took shape and form it was more about them than me.
Irene: Where do you live in the UK?
Brian: I live in Yorkshire, an area with some of the most beautiful scenery in England. The Yorkshire Dales, in particular, are my personal favourites. They have a wonderful mix of gently undulating land, rugged mountains and glacial valleys. Gushing streams, waterfalls, turbulent streams and wide slow-moving rivers abound while dark open moors abound. You can find peace and quiet in many secluded areas where you can walk all day and hardly see anyone else.
The county is steeped in history, the walled city of York with Roman roads and medieval buildings on one side while abbeys, castles and ruins of all descriptions abound elsewhere. Yorkshire has a rugged North Sea coastline, with its historic fishing ports, such as Staithes, snaking down from the north. The wonderful harbor of Whitby, proud of its famous abbey and links to Captain Cook and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, is a place in particular that I visit most years.
Irene: In addition to the thrill of reading your book, readers come away with a message that transforms their own lives. Talk about the message you want readers to come away with.
Brian: The novel is about people and how they deal with the obstacles life throws their way. Coward and Anghard never gave up; They found a way around their problems, their moments of self-doubt and carried on. Ultimately, they need to believe in themselves and believe in their abilities to succeed.
Irene: Uninhibited life will paralyze us. How do Cowards and Angharad overcome their self-doubt and overcome them?
Brian: Persistence. Giving up is never an option for them, so much is at stake. They learn from the past and their previous mistakes but live in the present and look to the future.
Irene: Yet, many times the obstacles in life are created by our own doing with the main obstacle being fear. Did your characters exhibit fear and how were they able to overcome it?
Brian: As the story unfolds, the main characters are all seasoned preachers and learn to cope with their own personal fears. Marains have concerns for their homeland but by actively working towards their goals and supporting each other, they overcome these concerns and sometimes self-doubt. Cantons mask their fear with aggression and bullying.
Irene: Is there a sequel to ‘The Shinta’?
Brian: There are no specific plans for a sequel to “The Shintae” at this point, although it is something I will consider in the future. A second novel is taking shape at the moment and I hope to finish it by the end of the year.
Irene: Thank you very much Brian. Is there anything else our readers would like to know about you or your book?
Brian: Thank you Irene for giving me the opportunity to speak with you, it has been most enjoyable. More details about “The Shintae” can be found on my website at http://www.theshintae.com.
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