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I used to say that I grew up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, when, in truth, I only started growing older there. After nineteen years I left to go to college and, for the most part, spent the next twenty years aging somewhere else—New Jersey, Florida, Panama Canal Zone, Massachusetts, and Georgia. Then I returned to Tuscaloosa and continued the maturation process for another twenty-six years. In 2015 my wife and I moved to Vero Beach, Florida, where I hope to continue growing older for a good long time.
The locations I’ve lived in have had more influence on my mystery novels (the Needed Killing Series) than on the fantasies (Song of Narne). The town of Shelbyville in the NKS is based in large part on Tuscaloosa with some wrinkles from other locations thrown in to keep things interesting—and keep the inhabitants guessing. That’s not to say that the places I’ve been aren’t reflected in the fantasies—but most of the geography of Narne is imaginary
While growing older, I’ve tried my hand at a number of jobs—newspaper collator, darkroom technician, farmhand, factory worker, sailor, salesman, underwriter, account executive, accountant, systems administrator, information specialist--and professional writer. As an author I find that those earlier experiences contribute to what happens in my novels—again more in the not-as-fictional mysteries than in the fantasies. There’s just not enough magic in the real world
Interestingly, the event that crystallized my decision to start writing full-time is one that I haven’t used in any of my novels. The tornado that ripped through Tuscaloosa on April 27, 2011, destroying an eighth of the town—including the back half of my house—hasn’t made it into any of my novels. Shelbyville and Narne have both been spared.
On the other hand, the support, encouragement, and editorial assistance my wife provides have been part of every novel since the beginning.
I hope you enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoy writing them.
For more information about my writing, visit my website billfittsauthor.com.
on Dec. 28, 2016 :
This book is a lot of fun! I agree with the detailed description of an earlier reviewer but want to emphasize that reading this book takes you on an exciting, magical adventure. Five stars from me!
(reviewed 38 days after purchase)
on Dec. 15, 2016 :
This is the first book in the Song of Narne fantasy series, intended for young adults, but entirely suitable for not-so-young adults as well.
The necessary elements of classic fantasy are present — a perilous quest in a land of mountains and plains, an old, dangerous city, a lost empire, an ancient library, a wandering people who hold a tradition of prophecy, an artifact of power. And characters of all kinds — soldiers, thieves, assassins, merchants, magicians both good and evil. And cats. Cats are more than incidentals in these stories; they take an active role in furthering the plot.
The story centres around the young mage Kenrad and his faithful companion, reformed thief Blumgar the Fat. Kenrad must contend with a tragic loss in his childhood, and the development of powers he neither fully understands nor controls. He carries an artifact of power which is, unbeknownst to him, sought by an evil magician. Blumgar is always at Kenrad’s side to protect him from dangers and to ground him in the earthy matters of life — food and drink, companionship and humour.
Three over-arching elements become evident as one reads — the peril of magic, the Song of Narne, and a mental discipline necessary to those who seek knowledge and understanding. Magic isn’t simple or easy in these books; it is elusive, perhaps damaged, and feared by most. The Song of Narne emanates from nature, and when perceived and interpreted by skilled women called Listeners, it may reveal the future. The Listeners employ a meditation technique called Omeras to connect with the Song.
The principal characters, and many of the secondary ones, are fully developed, realistic and memorable. Their interactions are conveyed in lively dialogue, often presenting essential information about the world they inhabit and its history. It’s easy to feel at home in this world, and engaged with its peoples. Ordinary, non-magical activities of trade and commerce, travel and camping, strategy and the use of arms are worked into the plot in ways that are interesting and informative.
Fitts carefully crafts each scene to introduce settings, situations and groups of characters, moving from place to place, but clearly building up a mosaic which becomes increasingly complex and interesting. The reader is never at risk of losing track of the plot threads or becoming confused.
The author has supplied an extensive glossary of characters, places and concepts. In the best fantasy tradition, there is a map of the lands in which the books take place, but I found it a little hard to read the place names on my e-reader. Displayed on a computer screen, it was perfectly legible. A direct link to the map in the table of contents would help a reader easily find it when needed. (A colour version of the map is available on the author’s website).
Fans of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis will enjoy this books and hope for more.
(reviewed 23 days after purchase)