Last October, amidst a week-long deluge of rain, a local book fair was organised by author. Colin Parsons. The weather proved, to the authors’ despair, to keep much of the bulk of the crowds away. It proved to be, however, to my own fortitude, as it meant I had unlimited time to chat to every author showcasing their work, that day.
One such author was Anthony Lavisher. His kingdom fantasy Storm trilogy promised to deliver high action and political intrigue, set in the rich, fantastical lands of the Four Vales. I was sold. On both the author and his work.
Nine months later and the trilogy has become one of my favourite series, to date.
It is a rare and wonderful thing for a book lover to get the chance to meet the author of one of their favourite pieces of writing. It is even more extraordinary when they get the opportunity to interview them. So, come meet Anthony Lavisher and dive into the psyche of a master fantasy writer.
“Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It's a way of understanding it.” . . First 5 star rating of 2017 goes to Shadows of a Storm by Anthony Lavisher . . #book #bibliophile #bookstagram #bookstagramfeature #bookishfeatures #igbooks #igreads #instabook #instareads #bookdragon #booknerd #booknerdigan #bookworm #bookgeek #bookgram #booklove #booklover #booklion #booklife #bookish #fandom #currentlyreading #currentread #amreading #bookpic #bookporn #bookphoto #bookphotography #booksoutside #booksoutofdoors
If you had to describe your style of writing using three other authors’ styles, who would you say your work emulates?
I discovered the Fantasy genre whilst at Primary School. A friend of mine invited me to his house after school to play a Fighting Fantasy Game Book called ‘Caverns of the Snow Witch’ by Steve Jackson & Ian Livingstone. For anyone not familiar with these books, they were/still are choose-your-own-path adventure books, where you get to decide how the story evolves.
From there, I discovered the works of J.R.R Tolkien – his craft, his tales, his incredible world-building painted vivid pictures in my young mind, influencing me in more ways than I could ever truly appreciate.
I discovered and devoured anything fantasy after that, and although there are many, my second author I would choose would be Terry Brooks, for his original Shannara Trilogy. I had just started doing a paper-round and I bought ‘The Sword of Shannara‘ with my first ever wage.
Again, in the same vein as ‘The Lord of the Rings‘, his adventures, his realm, his characters added the colour to my imagination and I would, for the next decade, eagerly await his annual offerings.
And finally, without a doubt, the author who has had the most influence on me, gave me the greatest inspiration to become a writer, myself, was (in my humble opinion) the King of heroic fantasy, David Gemmell. I cannot put into words how David, who sadly died in 2006, inspired me. I will simply say, if you do not already know of his work, do not feel the same way as me, then you should try his first novel ‘Legend‘.
What is it that drew you to writing of the otherworldly?
I’m a bit of a day-dreamer, I always have been – slipping off to another realm when I should have been out playing with my mates, was supposed to be paying attention to the teacher. Even at primary school, I was scribbling stories about Star Wars, or the Romans, or anywhere that was not where I was supposed to be.
Growing up in 70’s/80’s, I loved the old Robin Hood films with Errol Flynn, anything medieval that had Tony Curtis in, or any film that starred Kirk Douglas or Harrison Ford. It’s the escapism I love, the ability to find yourself someplace else, see and experience things you would not normally see.
What prompted you to write your high fantasy Storm trilogy, in particular?
In my teens, I discovered Dungeons & Dragons, the fantasy role-playing game. As the years went by, I found my imagination helped me to flesh out my characters in great detail, imagine what they looked like and the lives, the adventures they were leading. As I got older, their back stories became more detailed and my hunger to tell further stories began to grow. When David Gemmell passed away in 2006, I decided that as there would be no further tales from this great writer, it was time to tell the adventures I would love to read, myself.
Your Storm trilogy has intriguing book titles. What do they tell the reader about the stories they are about to uncover?
The first book ‘Whispers of a Storm‘, hints at the conversation one of my main characters, Khadazin, overhears – of the dangerous political ramifications and the storm of treachery that is growing, threatening to destroy the peace of the realm. ‘Shadows of a Storm‘, book two, reveals to the reader more of the dark plots and the danger that is spreading across the Four Vales, dragging more innocents into the story. The finale, ‘Vengeance of a Storm‘, is so-named as all of those embroiled in the adventure, all of their tales, their trials and tribulations, come together, hopefully for the reader, in a thrilling conclusion.
Your trilogy is set in the mystical Four Vales. Does the region have a real-world alternative that it was based from, or is the setting all purely imaginative?
My research for the novel came from Medieval Britain and that period certainly influenced my idea of what the Four Vales might look, feel and smell like. I love the outdoors, enjoy walking and everything I have seen on my travels, be it trekking through the Brecon Beacons, or strolling through the Forest of Dean, has helped to fashion, hopefully, a realistic, believable world for the reader.
Lindisfarne Castle, in Northumberland, for example, gave me great inspiration for how the monastery in ‘Shadows of a Storm’ might have looked like..
If you were to become a character in the trilogy and you were dressing for the day, what would your wardrobe look like?
Right now, Dannii, I would be pulling on my leather breeches and boots, wrapping the strapping tightly about the boots for the rigorous day ahead. A dark, studded leather jerkin, with matching wrist guards would protect my upper body, as would the sword, belted at my waist. A neck scarf may well help to protect my identity and, similarly, the long hooded cloak would help to add to the mystery. It may well prove to be an interesting, dangerous day.
If you had to live in any fictional realm, other than your own, where would you choose?
It would have to be Professor Tolkien’s realm, Middle Earth. With so many amazing locations, so many untold tales and adventures still to be had, I would choose there. I think living near Bree would suit me quite nicely.
Political intrigue haunts much of the trilogy’s narrative. Can your book be seen as a social commentary on our current times?
I think that is the beauty of the fantasy genre, which I feel is sometimes looked upon as genre not to be taken seriously. Someone said it better than me, before, but we can learn a lot about our own lives, from within the pages of a fantasy novel. I would like to think that my own tales do indeed reflect this also, as many of the people found within suffering from the ambitions of politicians, are persecuted for who they are, what they believe in and where they come from.
Can we expect any more from the Storm trilogy characters in the future?
They will always be there in the back of mind, shouting (or braying) at me for more adventures, demanding that I return to the Four Vales. We shall have to wait and see. I have hinted in the trilogy of a possible return, one day, so perhaps we may. There are many stories still to be told…
And lastly, for a bit of fun, describe your personality as a colour.
Anyone reading the trilogy will be able to tell that I love the outdoors, so my favourite colour is green. As for my personality, I think I would have to say that is shifts, like the colours of the season.
In spring, I am invigorated with the fresh, bright colours of new life, eager for the writing year ahead. In Summer, my colours are the strong, fieriness of the fabulous Welsh Summer. Autumn, my favourite season, I am the warm, burnt colours left from summer, satisfied with my efforts and ready to curl up for what is to follow.
Nothing prepares me for winter and the starkness of my colours, the cold blues and frosted whites that I feel. It’s a shame I cannot hibernate, as I am not a fan of the cold.