What inspired you to become an author?
I didn’t set out to write The Creator’s Eye with any intention of being an author. I just had a story to tell, and it is one that I have been thinking about ever since I was six years old. But the more I write, the more stories I have to tell. The Creator’s Eye is a trilogy starting with Mover of Fate, but I already have other projects I would like to develop afterward.
How did you come up with the title for your latest book?
The subtitle, Mover of Fate, stems from the personal struggles of the protagonist, Michael. In the series, people called Movers have the ability to manipulate matter with their mind. Michael finds himself at the crux of a cosmic battle for power and he must make tough choices that pit his reason and intuition against each other. Pinned down by a looming prophecy and the insidious manipulations of friend and family, he often struggles for a sense of control over his destiny.
Do you title the book first or wait until after it’s complete?
Although I had a working title ever since I was six years old, I new I would eventually have to ditch it. I didn’t figure out what to call it until I was filling out the copyright information for the first draft!
I’m a painter, too, and it likewise takes me a long time after completing a work before I can figure out the right title. I have even gone back to a painting, crossed out the old title on the back, and scribbled on a new one in darker marker. It is hard to contain so many thoughts and themes in just a few words!
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There is a lot going on thematically in the Creator’s Eye, but at its heart, it depicts a mythical battle between light and dark, or more precisely, the thin, confusing, permeable grey line between them. The characters are pitted against hard choices, sometimes without any clear answers. I went through a lot of personal struggles during the writing of this book. There were moments in which reason or long held beliefs could not guide me, and the only light in the dark was my intuition. I see that reflected in a lot of my characters’ struggles.
Is the book, characters, or any scenes based on a true life experience, someone you know, or events in your own life?
The scene in the first chapter where Michael and his friends climbed Roak Rock and casually banter about college life could easily have been my friends and I taking a midnight hike to Eagle Rock in Topanga Canyon, but no one I know is specifically one character. I needed my characters to think and act a certain way in order to progress their story, so I borrowed liberally when needed and invented the rest.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi was a big help in writing The Creator’s Eye. Before I read it, all I had managed to accomplish on my book were several false starts. The Windup Girl helped me realize that my story had to be told through multiple viewpoints and the plots and themes needed to be incorporated into the action and not divulged in long expository histories.
What book are you reading now?
I’ve been on a Christopher Moore kick lately, having just finished Fool and Sacre Bleu. Both fun, witty re-imagining of historical figures and tales. I particularly enjoyed Fool for its main character Pocket, who bares a slight resemblance to my irreverent character Grant. I will definitely pick up the sequel, The Serpent of Venice.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I am feverishly editing the next installment of Mover of Fate, due to come out this Fall. The universe gets much bigger in this novel as Michael flees his homeland. He and his enemies are confronted by an ancient power that pushes them to extremes, and Michael discovers a disturbing secret about his family that shocks him to his core.
Do you have to travel much to do research for your books?
I travel extensively, not specifically for research, but everything I do has the potential to become story fodder. I most of all love nature and visiting ancient ruins. Most recently I backpacked the stunning Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu which crosses over a snowcapped Andean pass, descends through cloud forest and jungle, then follows the Amazon headwaters up towards the Incan city. I do make reference to some sites in my books, but most of all I want to capture the feeling of a place or the challenges my characters face as they endure their adventures.
Who designed the cover of your latest book?
I painted and designed the first edition, along with all the illustrations, but I am lucky to have a talented artist, animator, and Buzzfeed fellow named Caroline Miller as my girlfriend. She digitally redesigned the cover to give it a more realistic and luminous pop. She also worked on the cover for Book II which I plan to reveal very soon.
The Creator’s Eye: Mover of Fate, Part I
The Creator’s Eye
Genre: Science Fiction/ Fantasy
Date of Publication: November 26, 2014
Number of pages: 270
Word Count: 58,401
Cover Artist: R.N. Feldman and Caroline Miller
On a hidden archipelago, people known as Movers manipulate matter with their minds while strange Folds in space transform the landscape into wondrous and often deadly anomalies.
When a young Mover named Michael Edwards discovers that he is descended from a long line of beings who can not only Move matter, but actually Create it, he finds himself at the center of a cosmic struggle for power.
Manipulated by friends, family, and an ominous prophecy, he allies himself with a host of strange creatures and characters as he fights to become Mover of his own destiny.
Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/o8-NsFjl7dA
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Available at Amazon
CHAPTER I DISCOVERY DAY
Michael took a deep breath as he watched another seizure wrack his mother’s body. It was a small one, but he dutifully laid her on the floor just in case it became violent. He stood nearby as she twisted and shivered. He had to remind himself not to interfere— to let the attack run its course. The seizures always caught him by surprise, but the procedure to deal with them had become almost banal— lay her on the floor, make sure she didn’t hit her head, then wait until it was over.
After a few moments, she lay still and stared vacantly at the ceiling. Michael helped her sit up. He wrapped an arm around her waist and lifted her to a chair at the dining table. Her wiry brown hair tickled his ear. It was the same color and curliness as his, but no amount of combing seemed to keep it in place anymore. He could barely recognize his own face in her sallow cheeks and sunken eyes. He looked more like his father anyway, with his golden skin, green eyes, and broad shoulders. His mother, meanwhile, had grown thin and frail, but when he lifted her up, her limp body felt as heavy as a sack of wet dough.
“Are you okay?” Michael asked as he arranged her in her chair. Her dull, dark eyes stared ahead blankly.
“Mom, do you want to eat?” he asked, although he didn’t actually expect a reply. It had been years since she had articulated a full sentence, but he didn’t like treating her like a vegetable. Once in a while she was lucid enough to grunt a response, but this time, she did not even move.
“I’m going to make dinner now,” Michael told her, tentatively leaving her, hoping she would not fall or have another seizure the moment he turned away.
He went to the kitchen sink where he had only just finished washing the vegetables when he had been interrupted by her collapse. He sliced the sweet, white ghost carrots— a summertime favorite of his town— into big chunks and put them in a pot with the other vegetables. He covered them with stock and turned up the heat on the stove. The pilot clicked a few times, but there was no whoosh of flames springing to life. Michael grumbled at the malfunctioning burner as he set the pot aside and lifted the enameled stove lid. The firebox was out. The small carton of rocks that usually glowed red with potential heat were instead an ashen grey.
Michael had boiled some water for tea that morning, so he knew that they should be working. Usually when they died, they went out slowly, becoming weaker over the course of a few days, but these had just inexplicably lost their oomph. He wondered if he had accidentally spilled something on them. Regardless, he would have to light them, but he didn’t hunt for matches. Instead, he took it as a chance to practice his Moving.
He set the kitchen timer for five minutes, rolled up his sleeves and pointed his finger at the small cluster of stones. He stared at them, or actually focused his eyes on an imaginary point beyond them. He would make them catch fire. According to the books his uncle Sefu gave him, he should not hope, need, want, or pray for the fire to manifest. He had to imagine it was already there. Anything less merely affirmed his lack of will. It was a small nuance, but made all the difference.
Michael focused his thoughts like a beam of sunlight, pushing all foggy doubt out of his mind that what he was doing was impossible. His mind wandered occasionally, but he kept bringing it back to its goal, to the reality that he required— that there was already fire in the firebox. His concentration reached a frenzied tension and his vision blurred.
Unable to hold his thoughts anymore, Michael relaxed his stare. His vision re-focused and to his satisfied surprise, a small spray of sparks issued from his fingertip. It surrounded and warmed the firestones. Without stopping his Moving, he checked the kitchen timer. Two minutes had elapsed. It was not a personal record, but Michael acknowledged that there was at least merit in consistency.
The dull stones crackled, catching fire on their own. Michael ceased his Moving, lowered the stove top, and replaced the soup on the revived flame. While waiting for it to boil, he chopped garlic and parsley. Even though his mother was about as responsive as the firebox was a moment ago, he did his best to make her meals taste good. He hoped that a well-cared for meal was somehow healing or imperceptibly uplifting to her spirit.
Michael added some herbs and salt, and when the vegetables had softened, he turned off the flame and crushed the whole concoction with a sturdy slotted spoon. It was kind of a shame to mash it up, but lengthy chewing was beyond his mother’s ability.
“Here you go,” he said, serving her a bowl. “Eat it while it’s hot.”
At first it seemed she hadn’t heard, but a ghost of awareness flitted across her face. She dipped a spoon into the beige puree and after a slow moment, dragged it to her lips. Michael watched her mechanically eat for a while. He listened to the clumsy clink of the metal spoon against her teeth and the sloppy glug of her throat. Once he was sure that she was underway, he got up to wash the dishes and perhaps find a moment to pour himself a bowl. But before he took a step, he heard the rustling of packs at the front door. His father was home.
Michael hurriedly opened the door for him. His father was still rifling through his pocket for his keys. “Ah, thanks!” his dad, Simon, smiled through crow’s feet and a thick salt and pepper beard.
Michael took his father’s bags.
His dad stepped into their living room, shutting the door behind him. “So?” he asked as he peeled off his coat and slung it over the sofa. “Is your mom okay?”
Michael described her recent seizure and added with measured assurance, “I think she’s fine now.”
“Was that the only one?” his dad asked, but did not sound particularly concerned. “No, she had a series of them a couple hours after you left. She’s been mostly
absent since then. I had to stay around the house the past couple of days keeping an eye on her.”
His dad nodded aloofly and patted his belly, which along with a slope to his shoulders, had grown more pronounced since his wife took ill. He strode over to the stove and ladled himself a bowl of soup. “Is this all there is?” he asked disappointedly.
“Um,” Michael began, a little frustrated by his father’s dissatisfaction, “I think there’s some phoenix in the ice box from last night,” he suggested.
Phoenixes were a fiery-colored, long-plumed fowl commonly raised in the region, but lacked any of the powers of resurrection borne by their mythological namesake.
Michael’s father wrinkled his nose at the prospect of cold bird and glumly muttered, “I’ll stick with the soup.”
Michael tried not to make a face and instead asked how his trip was. “Interesting,” Simon began as he took a seat at the far side of the table away from
his wife. “This was an exciting one.”
Michael’s father worked as an assessor for the government’s environmental insurance agency. Arimbol, the island chain on which they lived, was full of unexplained natural phenomena colloquially called folds. They were places where nature and physics would bend. Most folds were so subtle that unless you were paying close attention you could pass through them without notice, but others were beautiful, miraculous places.
Michael had heard of some where water flowed uphill, optics went awry, or wind burst from the ground with the force of a hurricane. There were also folds that were quite dangerous, that could make you sick, crazy, or even kill you. Most folds were relatively small though, only affecting an area the size of his living room, while the largest engulfed the entire Arimbolean archipelago.
Michael had never had the chance to travel, so loved to hear stories whenever his dad returned from one of his many trips. He had seen more of Arimbol than anyone else in their village, so knew a great deal about its flora and fauna, most of which existed nowhere else on Earth. Some were widespread across the islands and were even farmed. Besides the phoenix and summer ghost carrots, their town of New Canaan was particularly famous for the blue wine squeezed from coastal cobalt grapes grown on the surrounding hillsides. East of Canaan, towards Alexandria, was miles of black wheat.
While the hills around Canaan were called the Blue Mountains, that area was sometimes referred to as the Burnt Plains.
Some plants and animals were less widespread. They were so specifically adapted that they might inhabit a single pool of water. His father had told him about the white thorn fish that clung to the slippery rocks of a single stream north of Urgench, or the roaks, the giant birds that nested on the tallest peaks of the Morningstar Buttes. Michael’s father told him that they were so large that they could easily carry off hesats— the shaggy, one-horned buffalos that grazed on the southern grasslands.
Michael was anxious for his father’s story. He sat down with him, keeping an eye on his mother to make sure she was still eating. “So what did you see?” he urged.
“Well, a few days ago, a farmer in Skarra claimed that a long chasm had opened in the ground and green fire just shot out of it, destroying a huge swath of his crops. But when I arrived, the fields were burned, but there was no sign of a fold. For all I knew the farmer had lit the fields on fire himself while burning leaves. But upon closer inspection, there was a series of cracks running down the center of his land. It looked like the ground had unzipped like a pair of trousers.” He gave a sharp snort then slurped back a spoonful of the thick stew. “Hmm, needs salt,” he said, reaching for the shaker across the table before going on. “I told the farmer, ‘Look, I can fill a report out, but there’s nothing indicating that a fold did this. For all I know, you just got drunk and did something foolish.’”
“The guy looked offended and exclaimed, ‘It’s happened more than once! Just stick around tonight and you’ll see!’” Michael’s father sighed. “I didn’t particularly want to stay there any longer than I had to, but he seemed sure of his tale. Plus, in my job, I’ve seen stranger things than fire shooting out of the ground, so I agreed to spend the evening there. He and his wife were hospitable and offered me dinner, but I couldn’t take it, of course. Regulations, you know. I fortunately had the sandwich you packed for me.”
Michael nodded, glad his cooking had been of some use.
“I waited there until midnight, but nothing happened, so I got up to leave. The farmer begged me to stay just a little bit longer, but I was tired from the trip and wanted to go back to the inn. Just as we stepped out onto his front porch, I noticed a green glow coming from the field. We stood there watching as the ground began to hiss and jets of green fire streamed from the earth. It followed the jagged slit I had seen earlier, but it cracked wider. The crops around it caught fire, and the line jutted quickly across the field. It ran straight for their house.”
“What did you do?” Michael asked, leaning in.
“We were dumbfounded at first. I mean, we just sat there with our jaws hanging open like a thirsty hesat. It was probably only a couple of seconds, but the fire moved quickly. I got my wits about me and yelled at the farmer and his wife to get inside and go out the back.”
Folds rarely appeared in places people had inhabited for a long time. Usually his father was called in to examine some place that people had wandered into while traveling. It was his job to categorize and map them, and to file claims for people if they were injured or lost property, but this was unusual that he had to rescue people himself.
“I ran out into the field and the damn farmer followed me. There was an irrigation ditch running nearby. I quickly Moved the ground with blasts of energy until I carved a trench running to the fissure. The water flowed through it and made the flames die down a little, but the ground was still cracking and burning and running for the house. So, the farmer and I built up a huge mound of dirt to bury the rift.”
“For a moment, it seemed like we stopped it, but then it just shot straight through the mound. A few seconds later, the farmer’s entire house was gone— just burned to ashes. The fold finally stopped just short of the tree line at the end of their property.”
“Was his family okay?”
“No one got hurt, but it’s a hell of a mess for the agency. We don't know if the land will be safe to live on, or even their neighbor's land for that matter. I’m going to have to go back with a crew and run a bunch of tests on it. For now, the farmer and his neighbors are staying with friends, but we're going to have to find somewhere permanent for them. It’s going to cost the crown a lot of money.”
“What a mess!” Michael added.
“But we'll solve it,” His dad said confidently as he got up to drop his bowl into the sink. “I’ll probably have to go back there next week. Are you okay with watching your mom again so soon?”
“Sure,” said Michael, his willingness buoyed by his father’s heroism. “But I was wondering if you could do me a favor tonight? My friends have been back from college for the past few days and I haven't had a chance to see them, plus tonight are the Discovery Day fireworks.”
Michael’s father sighed and rubbed his temples. Michael could feel the refusal coming on.
“It’s been a long couple of days, son. I could really use a night to relax…”
“But I haven’t seen them in almost a year!” Michael implored. It had been a while since he had used such an insistent tone with his father, but his friends were back for summer from the Moving Academy in Alexandria and he was dying to catch up with them.
His dad grimaced, “Alright, just come back in time to help me get your mom upstairs.”
Michael was elated. He thanked his father and set about finishing his chores so he could hurry to see them.
About the Author:
Mover of Fate is the first novel in The Creator’s Eye series by author and artist R.N. Feldman. Feldman lives and works in Los Angeles, CA where he teaches at Otis College of Art and Design and spends as much time hiking through the local mountains as he can. Art, metaphysics, useless scientific trivia, and extensive backpacking treks throughout the world have all been major influences in his work.
Follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/thecreatorseye
You can also see his latest paintings on www.RoniFeldmanFineArt.com