Rules are written to be broken, or a guest post from SM Beiko (and a giveaway)


the brilliant dark

The Brilliant Dark (The Realms of Ancient, Book 3)

By: SM Beiko

Publisher: ECW Press

Publication Date: September 24th, 2019

The highly anticipated final installment in Beiko’s thrilling YA fantasy trilogy

It’s been seven years since the Denziens, an unseen people with elemental powers, were unmasked, and seven years since Roan Harken and Eli Rathgar disappeared into the Brilliant Dark.

Marked by Darklings and Death alike, Saskia is a mechanically minded Mundane, raised by Barton and Phae on daring stories about Roan Harken. But the world Roan left behind is in turmoil. The Darklings now hang in the sky as a threatening black moon, and with the order-maintaining Elemental Task Guard looking to get rid of all Denziens before they rebel, Saskia’s only option is to go into the Brilliant Dark and bring Roan back.

But nothing is ever that simple.

The Brilliant Dark is the final, thrilling chapter in this series about gods, monsters, and the people who must decide if they’re willing to pay the ultimate price to protect the family they found . . . in a world that may not be worthy of saving.

Rules Are Written to be Broken – Guest Blog by S.M. Beiko

The thing about working as a writer in a genre like science fiction or fantasy is that you often have to rebuild. Certainly you can be building from scratch, but often you’re basing your setting, at least, off of some part of reality as the cornerstone, so that your reader can relate to it immediately, and so you have something solid to guide you.

World building at its core is about rules—setting them, making your characters conform to them, basing their decisions off them…and, sometimes, breaking them. After all, you are the architect, but sometimes the rules you’ve written can throw up dead ends that prohibit you from moving forward with your grand design.

The Realms of Ancient is my first trilogy, written start to finish, in an immersive world with very complex rules, creatures, multi-levelled realms, mythologies, and the unfortunate people who have to jump through all the hoops I laid out. Some characters are well-versed in the rules because they grew up with them (like Eli Rathgar); others are completely unaware of them and are doing the best they can when they’re dumped in their laps (Roan Harken…poor Roan.) Having your side characters have a mix of these know-a-little-know-a-lot perspectives helps the others along. Even the people who know all the rules can benefit from the perspective of those who don’t know them all, because we solve problems differently based on our varied life experiencea. I found this helped me quite a bit when I’d ended up writing myself into a corner. Roan is usually my battering ram against problems; she just shrugs and rushes in. We all need a Roan.

Some rules I built The Realms of Ancient on are the basic mythology and a rule of fives. I started from the basis of the pagan pentagram, and the five elements attached to it. The idea that this mythology is built on five disparate elements that are conjoined—part of a whole—but managed by mortal folks who can’t get along and are unable to see the benefits of unity.

And, that these five parts are governed by a Narrative—an ‘overarcing plan’—that the five parts have to see through no matter what, because it’s a divine plan, and those are never faulty, right?

I really like playing with this idea that even the divine are fallible. My one rule was that there’s a lot of powerful creatures and people with powers all over the place, but they aren’t Absolute. Not even the gods governing each of the five Families. Certainly not the protagonist, and not the people with these powers. Everyone has to have a limit. Otherwise, there are no stakes or conflict, and the story could pretty much conclude with everyone using their unstoppable powers and lacking-nuance good intentions to defeat the bad guy. I never wanted the villains to be 100% villainous, or the good guys to make all the best decisions and get away with them. Everyone in this trilogy, god and mortal, gets held accountable for their actions at some point.

I played with lots of tropes as well that, while I’m very fond of reading YA as a genre, I find often just get played out to the same results. Chosen one orphan. Egotistical know-it-all antagonists. Pre-destiny. Heroes who can do no wrong, even when they’re really wrong. And a save-everything-hail-Mary-happy-ending from a higher power when things are at their most dire.

I wanted to write a story that had all of these things—tropes and rules that many stories rely on—then turn them over and shake them really hard until an unexpected outcome came out.

In the end, writers set out rules so that, if and when they break them, there’s something new that can be remade from the wreckage. I find that’s the most interesting part of writing. Making rules, realizing there are no rules, and reinventing again and again. Basically, we write the rules as the framework, and then we break them to create the finished house.

We are also very fond of extended metaphors.

S.M. Beiko is an eclectic writer and artist based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She also works as a freelance editor, illustrator, graphic designer, and consultant in the trade book and comic publishing industries in Canada and the U.S. Her first novel, The Lake and the Library, was nominated for the Manitoba Book Award for Best First Book as well as the 2014 Aurora Award.
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Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us. The author image, info, giveaway and more were provided by ECW Press.

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