Risingshadow has the honour of publishing a guest post by Anton Strout.

Anton Strout is the author of two fantasy series: The Spell Mason Chronicles and the Simon Canderous series. His latest novel, Stonecast (The Spellmason Chronicles, Book 2), was published in September 2013. His short stories have been published in several anthologies.

Click here to visit the author's official website.

Risingshadow Guest Post by Anton Strout

One of the standard questions I get on panels at Comic Con or wherever I’m asked to speak about writing is how and why do I write what I write?  When I go back to my childhood home in the Berkshires I get the same question from my grandparents.  They have no idea how I come up with the tales that made up my first series (the Simon Canderous paranormal detective series) or my latest, the alchemy, magic and gargoyle-tastic Spellmason Chronicles.

And the truth is, I don’t know how the hell I come up with all of it a lot of the time either.  That’s the fun thing about inspiration:  it's an amalgam of ideas drawn from hundreds of random sources that have made up my entire life.

At the heart of Alchemystic and Stonecast—books one and two of The Spellmason Chronicles—is the concept of... wait for it... Spellmasonry.  In modern Manhattan, the arcane is all but forgotten, but the familial ability to manipulate stone in the form of gargoyles and golems is something Alexandra Belarus discovers as a part of that legacy.

My obsession with animated stone goes waaaay back to my early childhood… probably when I read the Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook around the time I turned ten.  Within those rule filled pages were stone golems, medusas, gargoyles, the spell Flesh to Stone... see?  My brain was already full of rocks from a young age!  Magic and stone were quickly a part of my life.

I also consumed a lot of cartoons, although Disney’s Gargoyles didn’t debut until I was twenty-four, but since I was a Star Trek geek, I watched it because Riker and Troi both did voices on it.  At that point my fascination with gargoyles had begun to creep even further forward.

Then Joss Whedon happened. Specifically, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  As a child Douglas Adams and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy had me wanting to incorporate humor into my science fiction and fantasy, but it wasn’t until Buffy that I saw the type of modern humor and horror blended together by a master storyteller. Those episodes, I realized, were exactly the style and tone of the tales I wanted to be telling.

Inspired, all my dabbling with writing kicked into high gear, and my psychometric detective Simon Canderous was born—Dead to Me, Deader Still, Dead Matter and Dead Waters.  That’s were I first cut my teeth telling paranormal tales, but at the conclusion of book four, Ace Books asked, “What else ya got, kid?”

I had been so caught up in getting those first four books out, I hadn’t really considered it.  I suddenly had to give it serious consideration.  I had no idea.

At first.

Around writing my first series I had also done a dozen or so short stories for various anthologies.  One of them was simply called “Stanis” and told the short take of a girl who discovers the family gargoyle who has watched over them for centuries.  I realized that in forming the entry point of the short story, I had a lot of still untold parts of the tale I wanted to explore. So I pitched The Spellmason Chronicles, and Ace, bastions of wisdom that they are, decided they wanted it from me.

It’s got a lot of what I love in it: magic, alchemy, gargoyles, golems, pole arm wielding dancer/paladins... even a Dungeons & Dragon nerd. If any of these are of interest to you as a reader, I welcome you to come and check out my series.

Perhaps you’ll discover something that sparks a bit of inspiration in you.  Or just enjoy gargoyles making with the smashy-smashy.


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