Here’s the seventh stop on our Afrofuturistic journey, CAROLE MCDONNELL and her fantasy novel, THE CONSTANT TOWER! Check out the blurb, audiobook excerpt, and interview below!
The Constant Tower
Sickly fifteen year old Prince Psal, the son of the nature-blessed warrior-king Nahas, should have been named Crown Prince of all Wheel Clan lands. A priest-physician like his friend Ephan, Psal lacks a warrior’s heart, yet he desires to earn Nahas’s respect and become a clan chief. If he cannot do this, he must escape his clan altogether. But his love for Cassia, the daughter of his father’s enemy, and his own weaknesses work against him.
When war comes, Psal defends Ktwala and her daughter Mahari, wronged by Nahas, and speaks out against the atrocities his clan commits, further jeopardizing his future. And now the mysterious towers that keep humans safe from the Creator’s ancient curse are rebelling. A prophecy exists-not that Psal believes such matters-of three great ones who will find the Constant Tower and break the power of the third moon. Could Psal, Ephan, and Mahari be those great ones? Psal must risk losing his father’s respect to find his destiny, and with his friends face the dangers of the unmaking night to find the Constant Tower and save all of humanity.
Excerpt from “The Constant Tower”
Awesome Interview from Carole McDonnell
So, your second book has come out? Your first was Wind Follower, right? But. . .five years between your novels?
Yeah, I really am the queen of procrastination. Watching way too many videos on youtube, or playing solitaire. However, I often do some creative procrastination. So I managed to get some good stories written during that time.
And were those stories published?
Most of them, yes. Here and there. In some very good and prestigious anthologies, and in smaller indie collections. I collected some of them and put them in a short story collection, Spirit Fruit: Collected Speculative Fiction by Carole McDonnell.
And they’re mostly speculative fiction?
Pretty much. With all my concerns. Race. Religion. Politics. Feminism. Fantasy. Steamfunk. Science fiction. Fairytales. Ghost stories.
You mentioned religion and race. Those matters concern you a lot? Do you think that might put off some people? Especially Christianity. And even with racial issues. Don’t people read fantasy to escape the political stuff in the world?
My answer to the first question is that people often think they will be put off by my stories but when they finally sit down to read them they find the stories pretty inclusive. I’m pretty ambassadorial in my writing. White folks don’t feel distanced, and non-religious people don’t feel put off either. I guess if you really have an intense dislike of Christians or Black people you might find a reason to find something hateful in my stories. One reviewer on Amazon seemed to do just that. But most people see the stories as very accessible. The second answer is that people read fantasy for all kinds of reason and political or not they like seeing themselves reflected in the stories.
Your new novel is The Constant Tower? What’s it about?
It’s about a world where humans have no permanent dwelling. IF they are caught alone in the night outside of a dwelling, they are flung by the night to disparate parts of planet. In order to stay together, they live in longhouses..and these longhouses are called clans. In addition, there are towers that are somewhat sentient which gives them some power to steer their own course to their homelands. The towers are still somewhat a mystery and the scientists of those clans — called “studiers of worlds”– are still discovering how the towers work. But the ultimate goal is to find a way to be able to stay rooted to one place. Some clans are more technologically advanced with their tower lore, some not. And there are people who were caught outside at night and who lost their home tower or home longhouse and awake every morning in a different place. That’s the background. The story is about a young lame (and very petulant) prince, a war between two of the larger clans, and a prophecy about the time of the end of towers.
Wow, sounds interesting. How did you come up with the idea for The Constant Tower?
I dreamed of such a world. And the characters kept coming to me so I had to write it after a while.
Yes, it’s fantasy. Epic fantasy. Kings, battles, daggers, chieftains, men controlling women’s lives. All that.
Men controlling women’s lives? So, is that one of the themes?
One of them, yes. But I hope it’s not in your face feminist like that. The largest theme is infighting, how there are battles in the world against great enemies and yet people in certain groups often are fighting against each other. It’s also about how the weak, the disabled, the powerless are often treated. The clan my main male character lives in is a very eugenicist warrior clan. But the hero is a lame prince with polio. Of course they don’t call it polio but that’s what it is.
You often write about warfare. Why? Because it’s epic fantasy and epic fantasy always contains wars and warriors?
Well, maybe that’s part of it. But if you look at my stories, although war is all around, I generally don’t get into describing battles. Partly because I find battle scenes hard to write but mostly it’s that they don’t interest me. I seem to always write about people on the outskirts of war, the collateral damage, people who aren’t warriors but who are somehow involved in war.
Your first book Wind Follower received much critical praise but didn’t sell many copies. Why?
I was a first time author then, and I am published by Wildside which is a small publisher. In addition, there is an element of readership in fantasy who don’t think books by women, minorities, or Christians are really good novels. It’s still around. The warfare this year in the SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America) about nominating of minorities and women was really horrendous. Also Wind Follower was more overtly Christian. The Constant Tower isn’t like that.
Buy “The Constant Tower” and Carole’s Other Works!
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About Carole McDonnell
Carole McDonnell holds a BA degree in Literature from SUNY Purchase and has spent most of her years surrounded by things literary. Her writings appear in various anthologies including So Long Been Dreaming: Post-colonialism in science fiction; the anthology, Fantastic Visions III; Jigsaw Nation; Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology; Life Spices from Seasoned Sistahs: writings by mature women of color; Fantastic Stories of the Imagination; and the Steamfunk!anthology.
She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband, two sons, and their pets. Her novels – The Constant Tower and Wind Follower, were published by Wildside Books. Her other works include My Life as an Onion and The Boy Next Door From Far Away , Seeds of Bible Study: How NOT to Study the Bible. Her collection of short stories, Spirit Fruit: Collected Speculative Fiction, is available on kindle.
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