It’s time for another Rave Reviews Book Club Spotlight Author!
C. S. Boyack has a new book out called The Cock of the South. This is his first attempt at writing fantasy. It involves a group of conquered peoples banding together to ensure they have a place in the world. It is set in a Greco-Roman environment, rife with everything fans of those stories might expect.
Let’s turn this post over to him.
The main character in The Cock of the South is a lost member of the Southern Dwarves. He was taken as an infant, by a young officer as a trophy of war. Raised as Paulus Atrius by humans, the townsfolk all call him Cobby. A cob is a short coupled horse.
Cobby grows up as a Remsian citizen. He is a local merchant, and is talented with his hands. He makes timepieces and blows glass into beautiful hourglasses. When the peaceful coastal city is raided, the locals lash out at him as a member of the ruling family.
Cobby is a great character to explore this strange world through. He really doesn’t know much more than his sheltered life has shown him. Readers get to learn about the nation of Remus and the Southern Dwarves along with Cobby.
There are other fantastic creatures out there, and Cobby soon becomes acquainted with them. He learns that Remus views them as little more than an amusement for their use, or abuse as the case may be.
They are all worth money, some for the horns on their heads, others as entertainment in the arena, and still others as bed slaves. They live like refugees and are on constant watch.
Cobby knows more about Remsian society than the others. He is kind of a reluctant hero. He’s not a great fighter, and gets hurt frequently. He has the ability to make good friends though, and there is safety in numbers.
I had a great time writing The Cock of the South, and I hope everyone will give it a chance.
How writers go about producing a story is always an interesting topic. I love reading about the process of others. Rather than just lurk, I decided to talk about my own machinations as I wrote The Cock of the South.
I keep quick notes in an app on my phone. These are just a line or two to remind me of stray thoughts. When I keep dwelling on an idea I take out a notebook and fountain pen and expand the idea a bit. If it really sticks with me I start a storyboard.
This is my first fantasy story. Being true to the genre was important to me. I actually did mountains of research into mythology to spark my imagination. I didn’t want to rewrite one of those tales, so I stole bits and pieces to weave into my stories. I made small piles of index cards. These didn’t all get used, but I like to have notes to refresh my imagination.
It was equally important to me that I was true to the setting. Ancient Rome and Greek mythology are something readers are used to, and I wanted to use this to ground the story. I find that building fences with plot and setting serve as a governor to my imagination. The imagination flows and focuses in a different direction. My storyboard was covered with sticky notes to include more marble columns and bath houses at one point.
When it comes to characters I try to be a bit different. Hercules might be the best hero, but what if someone less qualified had to solve all the problems? I found a lost member of the Southern Dwarves who was raised by humans. His dwarven heritage has been hidden from him, and he lives as a short broad human. Because of his physical makeup the people around him nicknamed him Cobby.
I also wanted the freedom to vary some of the historical parts of the story. I stewed on this for a long time, but in fantasy the world ought to be different. It was a delicate balance to preserve the setting and believably change some elements. I dug deep into mythology and decided that Remus killed Romulus. Rome never got built and the nation of Remus took its place. This allowed me to modify weapons, change trade routes, and still keep some familiarity in the story.
I always try to challenge myself to try something new with each story. This isn’t obvious to the reader, but it’s important for my growth. In The Cock of the South I wanted to use fairytale structure. This is a great way of telling a story, but casual readers might not pick up on everything.
Since this post is likely to be read by as many authors as readers here are some things I included. Cobby is the outsider of three brothers. Each brother represents one facet of the father. Cobby will have to master all three of these elements before he can succeed. There is a scene involving magical gifts from a friend. If you pay very careful attention, there are even seven dwarves together on one adventure. I included more elements, but this is a blog post and you’ll have to watch for others as you read the story.
I love this story, but readers will be the ultimate judge. I hope you’ll give The Cock of the South a chance. I had a great time writing it, and hope you’ll enjoy reading it.
You can follow Craig at the following places:
His blog – Entertaining Stories
Pick up a copy of The Cock of the South
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