Interview with George Straatman

1. What are the inspirations and influences that drove you to write Journey through the Land of Shades?
The primary influence and inspiration for the Journey series springs from my loves of the tales of King Arthur and his knights of the round table. To my mind, this cycle of stories, in its many incarnations, is the foundation upon which all western fantasy is constructed. As I began to develop the story line for this first novel, it was my intention to pay homage to the myth and legend that is King Arthur. This is by no means a retelling of those great legends…rather; it is an elaboration on the concept of some of the pivotal characters in the original tale. In the first novel of this series, the weaving of the Arthurian lore into the fabric of the story is so subtle that it may go unnoticed even by the most devoted of Arthur fans.
2. What is the central theme of this novel?
The extended teaser I’ve written to accompany my book release probably is the most effective way of summarizing the central premise of this novel…
Islena Doraux was an extraordinary woman living an ordinary life. Daughter of the Tempest…this vague yet indelible memory whispered at the edges of her consciousness; echoes of lives lived that were the stuff of legend in a dozen worlds. Compelled by an insatiable desire for dominion, an ancient nemesis would reach across the boundaries of our reality and draw Islena into an antiquated world in search of the Proclamations of omnipotence and compel her on a Journey through the Land of Shades.
Daughter of the Tempest…Champion of Light…Mother of Iniquity; these three ascendant souls stand as sides of an equilateral triangle that has spun endlessly through the eternal river of time...the physical manifestations of a conflict that has been fought at different junctures through the history of a thousand worlds…a thousands realities. With each tragic resolution these three adversaries are set adrift in the current of time until the inevitable moment of confluence when they will fight their battle again. In our world, beyond the veil of legend and myth, they were known as Arthur, Guinevere and Morgana. In an antiquated world, where time seems frozen and progress is measured in centuries, these three will come together yet again to resume the struggle for apotheosis…and should the Mother of Iniquity stand at the apex of the triangle when the final blow is struck, the flow of time will stop and her darkness will extinguish all hope…every flower of salvation and light.
Journey through the Land of Shades recounts the latest incarnation of this recurring conflict between these three pivotal ascendant beings…essentially, these three figures represent the personification of good and evil and the balancing factor of ambivalence. It is Islena Doraux (Daughter of the Tempest) who is the living embodiment of ambivalence and it is upon the hinge of her actions that the central conflict of this story will be resolved.
3. As of yet, do you have a clear notion of how many volumes this series will run?
This novel is the first of what I anticipate will eventually turn out to be a six book series…dividing into two distinct, but connected tales. The first three novels will deal with Islena Doraux’s epic quest, while the final volume will be a sequel that takes place some seven years after the conclusion of Islena’s tale.
4. Who is Islena Doraux? How is she unique? Islena has a rather unusual passion…how was this integral in developing her character within the context of the story?
Islena is an intricate, complex woman…though there are times in the story when she seems brutally intransigent. She is a woman of strength and unflinching determination, who thrives on challenge, but whose refusal to compromise makes her seem cold and inaccessible on occasion. There is a duality to her nature of which she is only obliquely aware as the first novel begins. She has only vague inklings regarding the existence of this duality, but the truth of her exact nature is revealed in small increments during the course of her arduous journey through the antiquated world. Islena has a rather unique passion and vocation and my decision to portray her in this light is my one grudging nod to realism…In the course of this novel, Islena is forced to flee hundreds of leagues through harsh terrain in the face of unrelenting enemies, enduring food deprivation and even physical abuse and extreme duress…something a woman without Doraux’s specific physical credentials simply would not have possessed the wherewithal to survive. I can say that Islena Doraux has been the most difficult character I’ve ever created…perhaps this can be attributed to her conflicted nature. Whatever the reason, Islena has certainly presented some interesting challenges from the creative perspective, but her character has still be a pleasure to create and develop.
5. What is it about the Fantasy genre that compels you as an author?
From my perspective, the fantasy genre is simply the most beautiful and creatively unencumbered form of fiction to be had. It is the true blank canvas of creative writing…one that allows a writer’s unfettered imagination to run rampant. Fantasy imposes no constraint and allows the author to construct their own cultures and legends, myths and religions. All of the precepts that exist in other forms of fiction can be dispensed with in the fantasy universe and as a writer, I find this incredibly liberating. Science fiction also offers this sense of unconstrained creativity, but there is something about the inculcation of technology into a story that, for me at least, lends a certain cynicism to the genre. Fantasy is more whimsical…more capricious…and it is this that I am drawn to.
6. Who is George Straatman?
I’m just a very average fellow who has always held writing in high regard. I loved to read and studied the craft of writing by analyzing what made some of my favourite authors so effective. To some extent, I have tried to incorporate these ingredients into my own product, while developing the integrity of my own voice. I have a passion for the beauty and creative freedom of the fantasy genre and I still love the unnerving edginess that well crafted horror can evoke when it is treated with the respect and gravitas it deserves. So, basically I’m just an average guy who has a love for the potential of the imagination to enrich our lives.
7. Who are some of the fantasy authors you admire?
I have a deep respect for anyone who takes up the pen and labors to create fantasy worlds and characters to inhabit their creations. Some of my personal favorites are Steven Erikson, George RR Martin, Brandon Sanderson and Robert Jordan. Add to this, anyone who writes about the legend of Arthur and his knights…I’m always looking for new fantasy authors to fill my creative down time.
Are there any specific qualities that characterize your approach to creative fiction…and are those qualities reflected in Tales of Lorio and Issidris?
I think that there are two primary characteristics that have fueled the creative engine of all of my novels thus far, and they were never more in evidence than they are in this particular story. Firstly, female characters have driven each and every novel I’ve ever released to date. I suppose that this might be a reflection of my own personal attempt to garner some understanding of the many nuances of the female psyche…or perhaps it is my fascination with the idea of creating worlds in which it is women who set the destination and chart the course for reaching it. This story focuses primarily on the complex and enduring relationship between the novella’s two protagonists, Lorio and Issidris, who embark on a rambling thirty year odyssey across the vast fantasy world I first created in the Journey through the Land of Shades series. Though these are characters taken from that epic work of dark fantasy, I have staked my hope on the belief that I have crafted a story that stands alone, while piquing the interest of those who might then wish to explore these two extraordinary women’s roots. The second engine that drives my creative force is the mantra that genres of fiction are merely tapestries…backgrounds against which genuinely good stories unfurl. Every story of any value is ultimately one of human interaction…with its infinite complexities and variations. It is in a story’s humanity that, I believe, a reader finds the ingredient necessary to empathize with the tale being told…with its characters’ pain and jubilation. I could have written this exact story against any number of different backdrops, but I chose this genre because it is the one from which I derive the most creative satisfaction.
1. What was your objective when you set out to write Tales of Lorio and Issidris: A parting of Ways?
My first objective was to write a sequel to the Journey through the Land of Shades fantasy series that would tell a poignant tale of two of that series’ characters some years after its conclusion. This is my tenth offering for public consumption…and far and away, the shortest work I’ve penned to date. I have a rather eclectic writing style and this novella, so I hoped and surmised, would serve as an excellent introduction to the other, significantly longer titles in my collection…a good jumping in point, as it were.
What are the central themes that are woven into this story’s tapestry?
Tales of Lorio and Issidris probably springs from the natural inclination of older people (and older writers, such as I’ve become) to assume a more reflective perspective on seeing the world. I wanted to explore the many facets that come with forming a deep and enduring bond of companionship with another living being…to explore the commonalities, both joyous and tragic, that bind hearts over the course of a long life shared together. I especially wanted to examine the emotionally poignant inevitability…that moment when the bond is sundered by death, leaving one alone to pick up the pieces of their suddenly empty life and attempt to fill the vast vacuum left by the other’s departure. For those familiar with the Journey series, they will know that Lorio is an immortal, while the indomitable Issidris is a mere mortal…adding another facet of inevitability to the end that awaits the pair at the conclusion of this tale. Other themes in the novel revolve around intransigence and the inability to change…even to our own detriment, and the self-absorption that prevents us from perceiving the significant changes in those with whom we have tied our fates. Naturally, any tale set in this particular time of patriarchal domination would be woefully lacking if it did not address the pall of repression and misogyny under which most women existed in a time comparable to our dark ages. I have come to think of this story as a sort of emotional barometer…a means of judging a reader’s faculty for empathy. For those who have experienced the enduring bond described in this tale, Lorio and Issidris’ often tragic, yet somehow beautiful story should resonate long after the final page has been turned…if I’ve managed to achieve the balance I set out to strike when I picked up my pen (yes, I am an anachronism…pen, paper and all) to write the first words of this story. Nonetheless, for all of its aspirations to tell a story rife with humanity, this is still a tale rooted firmly in the soil of the fantasy genre and delivers all of the enticing elements that those who love fantasy…as ardently as I do…have come to expect. I’ll conclude by saying that I am very pleased with the two stars of this tale…especially Lorio, who I have come to consider to be one of my finest creations…and I hope that I have recounted their story in a way that does justice to the incredible life they lived together.
Published 2018-01-25.
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Books by This Author

Tales of Lorio and Issidris: A Parting of Ways
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 61,190. Language: English. Published: January 5, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
Over the course of thirty years, Lorio and Issidris Il’s improbable friendship carried them to every far-flung corner of the Antiquated World on a rambling adventure that would galvanize bonds that would make them inseparable. Together, they would experience pain and poignancy, joy and camaraderie, but all stories must see an end…and the tale of Lorio and Issidris would prove no exception.
A Fallible Goddess and The Enduring Sorrow (Journey Book 4)
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 393,640. Language: English. Published: March 7, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
After a cycle of recurring violence that has stained the soil of endless worlds, Islena stands on the cusp of omnipotence. She accepts her role to ascend and become not a god, but the god, but is beset by indecision when confronted by paths that flow in opposite directions. Plagued by dark ambition and those who would manipulate her for personal gain, she must choose which path to embrace.
The Final Converging: An Immortal Heart Asunder
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 286,300. Language: English. Published: November 11, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Horror » General
After escaping the apocalypse, Elizabeth finds peace, but as those who populate her life die, she is faced with eternal isolation. In a Greek village, Elizabeth finds sanctuary, but in a future where privacy is lost, she is drawn into a deadly snare by a dying madman desperate to defy mortality. She turns to Cynara for aid and a dark twist of circumstances brings their tale to a tragic end.
The Chains of Capitulation (Journey Book 3)
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 236,260. Language: English. Published: July 21, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
‘I will forewarn you, when the last of these shadows has been swept away to reveal the brutal reality of your existence, all that awaits you is the embrace of bitter despair.’ Myrhia to Islena Doraux. After surviving the harrowing trek through the Land of Shades and locating the legendary king, Islena’s burgeoning hope is crushed by the truth of her own insurmountable inner darkness.
Circle of the Witch
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 378,280. Language: English. Published: May 2, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Horror » General
(5.00 from 1 review)
After a controversial shooting ends Raymond Saddler’s LAPD career, he accepts a sheriff’s position in the small town of Quinsett, believing that the isolated and sedate town will be the ideal place to rebuild his shattered life. Instead, he discovers a long-harbored secret, a dormant evil and an adversary, who may well be history’s greatest villain…or most tortured and aggrieved victim.
Abjection along the Road to Apotheosis Journey book 2
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 164,510. Language: English. Published: July 4, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
(5.00 from 1 review)
Pursued by an inexorable enemy and the crushing weight of inescapable destiny, Islena Doraux finds sanctuary in the West, carrying a dying world’s slim hopes on her shoulders. Myrhia’s relentless evil will not be denied and Islena is forced to flee to the fabled Land of Shades in search of a legendary king. Yet to gain the path to epiphany, she must suffer abjection along the road to apotheosis.
Journey through the Land of Shades
Price: Free! Words: 217,220. Language: English. Published: July 13, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
(5.00 from 1 review)
Islena was an extraordinary woman living an ordinary life. Daughter of the Tempest…a memory whispered at the edges of her consciousness; echoes of lives that were lore in a dozen worlds. Driven by mad lust for dominion, an ancient foe rends the borders of reality to draw Islena into an antiquated world in search of the Icons of omnipotence compelling her on a Journey through the Land of Shades.
The Converging: Closures in Blood
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 227,340. Language: English. Published: April 8, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Horror » General
(5.00 from 4 reviews)
After destroying Cynara, Elizabeth Simpson returns home in search of the one man she’s ever loved and absolution for sins committed under the demon’s thrall. Reviled by Heaven and hell and pursued across a dying America by zealots and satanic assassins, she turns to a sworn enemy…a dark mistress who is her one hope of eluding her relentless pursuers and finding closure and redemption.
The Converging: Mark of the Demon
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 228,490. Language: English. Published: November 29, 2009. Categories: Fiction » Horror » General
(5.00 from 5 reviews)
After laying waste to the town of Semelar, The Demon Cynara Saravic returns to her ancestral homeland of Romania with Elizabeth Simpson firmly in tow. The ancient soil howls with the screams of Cynara’s past victims. In answer to those cries their descendants come together and as Cynara prepares to meet their challenge, she discovers her two greatest enemies; love and her own conflicted nature.
The Converging
Price: Free! Words: 185,980. Language: English. Published: November 17, 2009. Categories: Fiction » Horror » General
(5.00 from 8 reviews)
The Converging recounts the tale of ethereal Romanian demon Cynara Saravic who after building her legend as Satan’s most prolific reaper of souls, decides she must have a soul, not for the dark father, but her own companionship. Her search for a perfect light reflection of her own darkness leads her to a small Washington town where she spins an insidious web of terror while claiming her prize.