Friday, July 27, 2012

Interview and Spotlight on Irina Lopatina Author of White Raven: Sword of Northern Ancestors

White Raven: Sword of Northern Ancestors
By Irina Lopatina

Genre: Fantasy

The fate of Areya rests with the lost sword Urart. Will White Raven retrieve it before it's too late?

In the kingdom of Areya, humans, animals, and the magical creatures that inhabit the Eternal Forest have long coexisted peacefully, but now something is horribly wrong. A terrifying stream of monstrous creatures has begun to emerge from the secret depths of the earth, terrorizing all of Areya's native inhabitants. From the tiny, wise drevalyankas to the bellicose cave-dwelling gnomes to the devious kikimoras who gather roots and herbs in the marsh, everyone is in danger.

With the aid of Urart, the magical sword that has been passed down from the time of the ancient northern ancestors, Grand Duke Vlady can offer temporary protection to his people. But Prince Vraigo, Vlady's nephew, who is endowed with magical power himself, understands that the source of the evil monsters must be found if there's any hope of survival. Along with a motley crew of his forest-dwelling friends, Vraigo sets off on a perilous quest in search of the koschei, the powerful, corrupt Archmagus whose mission is the destruction not just of Areya, but of the entire world.

As if this weren't bad enough, Urart disappears from the duke's stronghold. Without it, Areya is doomed, and only Vraigo, the White Raven, can possibly get the sword back. This journey requires Vraigo to use all of his keen wits and magical abilities, as well as to ally himself to dangerous creatures like yagas and werewolves, natural enemies of man, and precipitates the young prince into the most bewildering, complex challenge he has faced yet: life in the twenty-first century.

About the Author:

Irina Lopatina lives and works in Siberia, Russia, but her homeland has an even more wonderful and exotic name: Altai. It is a unique place where old Altai Mountains rise high up to the sky, centuries-old forests stretch out as in ages past, and mighty Siberian rivers flow along the plains. Altai is one of the few places in the world where huge, densely populated cities coexist with pristine wild places. Moreover, this is an area of the earliest human civilizations, through which the great migration of people from eastern lands to Europe once took place.
While studying at the Altai State University, Irina devoted much attention to the past of her native land. As a student, she went to the archaeological sites of ancient settlements located on the mountain plateau, where it was only possible to arrive on foot. She remembers moments when it was quite easy to imagine how the ancient people had lived, what creatures neighbored them, and what adventures took place in these vast spaces. Irina needed take only a small leap from there to White Raven, his friends, and his enemies who were ready to begin a journey through the Eternal Forest of Areya.
 Of course, it would have been much more difficult for her to create her stories if Irina had not been inspired early on by the works of many excellent fantasy and science fiction writers such as J.R. Tolkien and Ursula Le Guin, the Russian authors Nick Perumov and Svyatoslav Loginov, as well as the wonderfully charming Russian fairy tales where a brave prince, his faithful grey wolf and the evil koschei always live. And so it happens that Irina's novels are the stories of a distant, semi-fantastic land which, who knows, may still exist next door to us.

Let's Take A Moment to Speak with this Intriguing Author

What inspired you to write your first book?

    I read a lot of historical chronicles. I don’t know if you have ever thought about it, but the past of mankind was very trying. Even if we would not talk about the ongoing attempts of a person to defend his/her rights and place in life, there were continuous struggles from the very beginning of mankind’s history––struggles against hunger, diseases and natural disasters. Also, there always were numerous wars with neighbors. No wonder that people always dreamed about a certain “magic wand,” about a force capable of solving their problems without any delay––to feed and to clothe them, to heal, to give a perfect weapon against enemies. So, in my White Raven novel I wanted to create such ideal conditions for the heroes, to give them the “magic veil” and abilities for magic, which seemingly makes life easier for the inhabitants of the ancient state of Areya.

Is there a message in your novel that you want the readers to grasp?
    Now about the message: the readers of the book will be able to see how “easy” the life of the magically gifted characters actually is. No, the people don’t starve, but there are packs of various evil monsters, which (what a surprise!) also use magic and constantly attack the people. The “magic solution” of difficulties of life suddenly found a very troublesome underside. But even in this situation, people are still people; they immediately joined in the fight against evil monsters, because it’s their instinct. Man is “forged” in fights; it’s his natural state, which prevents his muscles (physical and psychological) from atrophy. The main thing is to choose the right side and always move in the right direction. It is very important what you stand up for in your life.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
    In general, the characters of the book are collective images of many real people who have ever lived on the earth. Therefore, they behave accordingly. The heroes perform brave deeds for the common good, the villains are ready to annihilate the world for their own selfish interests, and various evil “small fries” play small dirty tricks.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
    For me, the most challenging part is to sit and write the text on paper. Constant thirst for new experiences doesn’t let simply sit down from the beginning. Therefore, images, stories and characters are formed in my head while I rush off somewhere. But then I need to slow down myself, to sit at the computer, and to polish the book. That is really difficult.
Do you have to travel much concerning your books?
    When I work, I don’t travel; otherwise the process will stretch out like chewing gum and won’t bring any tangible results. Nevertheless, travel is my favorite pastime, and all that I have ever seen, heard or felt is reflected in my books one way or another.
Who designed the covers?
There is a great artist working with me. His name is Igor Adasikov. He paints on canvases – portraits, landscapes, and scenery, which adorn many homes in our city. Fortunately for me, he was carried away by White Raven and wanted to create visual images for it. Igor created not only the cover of the book, but he also drew all the human and mystical characters, environment, and even a map of Areya that all the readers can see.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
    It didn’t require a special sequence of presentation from me when I just told stories to my friends. But the printed text doesn’t allow what is possible in a live conversation. I don’t have the right to give the readers only bits of my imagination. So, I had to learn to follow the internal logic of my own story without lagging behind or jumping ahead.
Do you have a song that you'd consider the theme for your novel?
    There is a great poem by the genius Russian poet A.Pushkin. This poem constantly spun in my head when I worked on the novel.
There’re marvels there: the wood-spite roams,
Midst branches shines the rusalkas’ tail;
There are the strangest creatures’ traces
On the mysterious paths and moors;
There stands a hut on hen’s legs, hairless,
Without windows and doors

There a brave prince, in a fight, shortest,
Makes to surrender a king, dread;
There, to men’s views, a wizard, worthless,
O’er woods and seas, through clouds, aired,
Carries a warrior on his beard…

A princess pines away in prison,
And a wolf serves her without treason;
A mortar, with a witch in it,
Walks as if having somewhat feet;
There’s King Koschei, o’er his gold withered…

By citing this passage here, I would like to emphasize how tightly White Raven is related to the mythological tradition in Russian literature.

Thanks so much for visiting with the Seraphine Muse today. I wish you the best of luck with White Raven and look forward to seeing more of your work in the future.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much, KaSonndra, for the opportunity to talk to your readers.

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