Cheryl Landmark is an emerging author based in Northern Ontario. Her fantasy novel Wind and Fire was published in December 2009 by Asylett Press, an American publisher in Virginia. Today she joins us to give a little insight into her work.
A little about you, first: what are your favourite genres to read, and do these coincide with the genres you write?
CL: I live in a small hamlet called Gros Cap on the shore of Lake Superior just west of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada with my husband, Mike, and our canine kid, Misty. As a child, I was constantly writing short stories and poetry and, as I grew older, I started to write full-length novels in many genres. I’ve also always been a voracious reader and my favourite genres are fantasy, mystery, suspense and paranormal. I’ve tried my hand at writing in several of these genres but fantasy is the one that has piqued my interest the most.
Your first novel, Shadows in the Brook, is a tale of surviving amidst Ontario wilderness. How much of the story is based off of your own experiences?
CL: Many years ago, my stepfather had a trapline north of Massey, a little town in Northern Ontario, which is where the novel is set and also where I grew up. I spent many weekends and one whole winter helping out on the trapline, and I loved the challenging lifestyle as well as the beauty and solitude of the remote bush. The actual trapping part didn’t really appeal to me but the outdoor life did. I wanted to write a fictional story that incorporated many of the facets of a fur trapper’s life as well as wolves, which are my favourite wild mammals. Brooke’s adventures are far more challenging and exciting than any I ever faced on my stepfather’s trapline, though!
Shadows in the Brook was self-published — why did you choose that route, and is it something you would do again?
CL: That’s easy! I was tired of getting rejection letters! I tried all the traditional publishing houses, concentrating mainly on those in Canada, and was told repeatedly in polite form letters that it “isn’t quite what we are looking for”. This novel had been a pet project of mine for many, many years and I really wanted to see it published. So, when I found out about a print-on-demand publisher that had started up in a small town not far from Sault Ste. Marie, I decided to go for it. The thrill and satisfaction of seeing all my hard work in print was well-worth the expense. My first printing of 100 books sold out very quickly and I had to go with a second printing of 200, which was very gratifying. That being said, however, I don’t think I would do it again. I love the writing part, but having to market and promote it solely on my own is definitely hard and not as much fun. That’s why I’m extremely grateful to Asylett Press for offering to publish my second book Wind and Fire. They showed me that my writing indeed had merit and was worthy of publication.
Speaking of which, Wind and Fire, is a swords-and-sorcery fantasy following 19-year old Tenya as she searches for her missing mother. Who is your favourite character in the story?
CL: Well, aside from Tenya, of course, who is my heroine, I guess my next favourite character would have to be Sindril. He’s eccentric, loyal, faithful, and proves to be invaluable as Tenya’s sidekick throughout her adventures. And, he has a great sense of humour!
Describe one of the fantastical creatures in Wind and Fire and the powers they possess.
CL: One of the creatures is a Death Rider, a demon who is part of the Demon Master’s hideous army from the Dark Rift. He looks like a gigantic black boulder covered in bristling spines and deformed lumps. His eyes are yellow with vertical black slits and he has spiked teeth in an oversized jaw that juts out from underneath a flattened, bulbous nose; in short, a creature straight out of a nightmare. He is capable of producing balls of deadly green fire that can reduce a person to ashes in seconds.
Which is your favourite passage from Wind and Fire?
“Her eyes filled with tears and her heart brimmed to overflowing with the richness of the emotions flooding her. The forest welcomed her. It folded itself around her in a gentle, protective cocoon as real and comforting as the woolen cloak that had protected her from the bitter cold of the mountaintops. Never before had she felt more secure or loved than she did at that moment.”
What is the nicest thing a reader has ever done or said to you?
CL: The people who know me and have read my books (family, friends, co-workers) have all been very supportive and encouraging in their comments, and that’s wonderful. But, I think the nicest thing that has happened to me so far has been to receive an unexpected email from a total stranger, who told me that she had read “Wind and Fire” and found it to be “fascinating, beautiful, terrifying and triumphant”, and had been drawn in from page one to the very end. I nearly cried when I read the email. It made me feel as though all those long hours of writing and re-writing and re-writing again were well worth it.
What one thing would you like readers to take away from your writing?
CL: I want them to become as lost in my fantasy worlds as I do when I write about them.
To finish off, what about future projects? Is there anything in the pipelines?
CL: I’m currently finishing up another fantasy, which I hope to send off to the publisher shortly, and I’m also working on a humourous dog detective series. In addition, I have two boxes of partially and fully completed manuscripts that I hope to polish up and turn into finished novels some day.
Great, that’s it from me. Any last words?
CL: Thank you so much for having me as your guest, Anna. I really appreciate the opportunity to introduce myself to all the readers out there.
Wind and Fire, is available in paperback format from Asylett Press, Amazon, B&N and Books-A-Million, and in ebook format from Asylett Press and Fictionwise.