Blog Take-Over: B.I Woolet on the inspiration behind their World of Arcas series.

I’m absolutely delighted to hand over my blog today to B.I Woolet, authors of The Hunter, The Bear and the Seventh Sister (HBSS). I fell in love with the world they built instantly and I was intrigued to find out where their inspiration came from.

But first, here’s the low-down on HBSS:

hunter
Title: The Hunter, The Bear and the Seventh Sister
Author: B.I Woolet
Details: E-Book, Paperback
Publication Date: January 28th 2014, by ArcasArts

When a beautiful and powerful stranger throws Jackson into the world of Arcas, his predictable midwestern life instantly vanishes into an all-consuming adventure.

The last kingdoms of Arcas possess enduring youth, beauty, and wealth but have slowly crumbled under the weight of endless apathy and a painful past.

The rising evil of Gurges Ater now threatens to reopen the ancient kingdom pillars created long ago as passageways between Earth and Arcas. With access to both worlds, Gurges Ater will quickly conquer the weak kingdoms and establish his own throne.

Can Jackson along with a paranoid bear, a lone hunter, and the surviving seventh sister work together to protect both Earth and Arcas?

Or will the unlikely heroes allow their own fears, pain, and past to paralyze them as Gurges Ater opens the pillars and claims the throne?

Leave your own world behind, dive through the shimmering portal, and join Jackson to discover the beauty, danger, and adventure awaiting you in the World of Arcas!
Read my review here.

Thanks Lipsyy for letting us take over your blog today! 🙂

Fantasy and Sci-Fi adventures…

have always been an enjoyable part of our life. Like many others, we grew up escaping to the worlds of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien. We loved to “journey” to other worlds but never thought that we would actually create one. Many readers have asked us about our inspiration behind The Hunter, the Bear, and the Seventh Sister, so today we hope to give you some of the inside scoop on our journey through the fantastical world of Arcas.

The idea of writing a fantasy story did not start on the side of a glorious mountain or before a marvelous sunset descending upon the crashing ocean. The World of Arcas was born during… a baby shower. I (Benji, the “B” in B. I. Woolet) was by sitting by the fire on one cold November evening in 2011. Actually, I was hiding a bit from the whole awkward feelings about being a man at a baby shower that wasn’t for my wife or for my baby. So, I sat alone in the back room, enjoying the warmth of the fire and looking out at the snow covered ground. Perhaps I secretly wished to be transported away, so I wouldn’t feel so out of place. “What would happen if I transported to another world?” I thought, staring at the flaming logs and breathing in their smoky incense. Thus, the dawn of a new world, the breath of new characters, and the rumors of a new adventure in the World of Arcas were all conceived during a baby shower.

The backbone of The World of Arcas Series is the union of astronomical science and fantasy. When we first started writing HBSS, the links to objects in the celestial universe weren’t totally formed yet. As fate would have it though, about the same time as the genesis of HBSS, my wife and I got interested in astronomy. As beginning stargazers, we started by learning the constellations and how to star hop. Once we recognized individual stars and the various characters in the night sky, we could use our telescope to find cool deep space objects.

orionDuring the day, we were creating a fantasy world. At night, we were gazing at the stars. As we searched the dark sky one night, the powerful figure of Orion—the hunter—almost demanded to enter the story. We knew there were already stories about Orion from various cultures throughout human history, but those stories seemed so removed from our world, so distant. It was time for the stars to come to life for a new generation. After all, the constellations do not just belong to the ancient world; they belong to those of us who are breathing, and seeing, and enjoying them right now. They needed a new story for a new age.

Now, of course, we didn’t get rid of the old legends all together. We did what most people do while forming a creative work: borrowed, altered, and added. Otava (which comes from the Finnish name for the constellation) is the great bear Ursa Major. However, in American culture, many people don’t even know it’s a bear; we usually think of it merely as the big dipper (which makes up the back half of the bear). Hence, we made our bear into a culinary enthusiast! And we also added a few jokes about Otava’s “big dipper.” But there are also many new and interesting aspects of the bear that we added to make him a loveable, powerful, and quirky character!

Ok—beware! I’m about to get super geeky on you now!

Another example of mashing together science with fantasy is found in the chapter “The Ring and the Lyre.” My “go-to” constellation is Lyra when I stargaze. I first use a trick my uncle taught me to test my optics out on the “double-double” (a set of two double stars in Lyra that you can “split” with the telescope). Then, I immediately look for the famous Ring Nebula (M57). It’s an amazing nebula, and I wanted something special for it. For the musical fans out there, the idea formed out of something similar to the dream sequence in Oklahoma.

ringWe turned the stringed Lyre into a magical instrument. So when Sulafat (Gamae Lyrae – the second brightest star in Lyra) plays the lyre, a cloudy magical ring appears that is reminiscent of the Ring Nebula: Upon reaching the bank, the cloud formed a ring swarming round and round, displaying blues and greens in the center along with golds and reds on the outside. The colors were vibrant yet muted by the white haze. A beautifully haunting tune quietly radiated through the ringed cloud.

There are so many other amazing star connections to be discovered as you journey with The Hunter, the Bear, and the Seventh Sister! Don’t get me started on the epic Horsehead Nebula in Orion, our inspiration for the warhorse Alnitak. Or the gravitational modeling involved in creating a planet within a trinary star system.

But don’t worry! Even if you are not into astronomy, you can enter the World of Arcas and enjoy the ride in complete bliss without worrying about star names or constellations or nebulas. It’s a fun adventure story for the whole family to enjoy. The backbone of Arcas may be the celestial universe, but the life of Arcas radiates through its memorable characters and on-going action.

HBSS was a two-year writing project and all this science stuff is great, but it doesn’t reveal our greatest inspiration. We were fortunate enough to receive continual encouragement from close friends and family to follow our dream and finish this first book. Every day at the gym, one of my closest friends asked (consistently for two years!) how the book was coming along. Now folks…that is real inspiration. Friendship.

Meet the Authors

b.i
B. I. Woolet (Benji & Ila Woolet) is the author of The Hunter, the Bear, and the Seventh Sister, the first book from the World of Arcas series. Benji studied Music Composition leading to a Bachelor’s in Music, and Ila studied English leading to a BS in Education. When they aren’t working, writing, or chasing their three little girls around, they are active in their local community and church. The couple enjoys creating lyrical and literary arts, playing music together, and exploring nature. They are happily married and live in Indiana.

Links
Website: World of Arcas
Facebook
Twitter
Find the book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBookstore, and Goodreads.

Image Credits:
The Ring Nebula: The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2002/28/image/d/

Orion: images adapted with the courtesy and written permission of IAU and Sky and Telescope Magazine.

3 Vamps, 1 Stone: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

345627 St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger…

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.

What surprised me most about this book was that it surprised me.

I’d been meaning to start this series ever since it came out in 2007 (woah, has it really been that long?), so I figured I knew what it was going to be about. I expected another fluffy teen vamp read. Which it kind of was. I expected a cross between Twilight and Gossip Girl. Which it also kinda was. But what I didn’t expect was that it would be heavy on mythology and be a unique take on Vampire Lore. That, was a pleasant surprise.

Let me try to explain, more for myself than anything. There are three different kinds of vampires in Mead’s series. Rose is Dhampir, non-royal but strong and whose mission in life is to train as a guardian to protect the Moroi, the weaker of the vampires who have their own royal family. Dhampir’s and Moroi exist together in relative peace although the Dhampir’s that do not train as guardians are often seen as scum. These two breeds of vamps are living, mortal vampires. The Strogoi however, are not. And they’re the bad guys who prey on the moroi (especially the royalty) hence the need for guardians.

It’s pretty ridiculous but it works. I enjoyed the dynamic between Rose and Lissa, who by the way have a psychic bond, and the sexual tension between them was pretty transparent. Hot though, obviously. I liked the whole getting bitten by a vampire is addictive, but dirty thing. In fact we are pretty much bombarded with both actual rules and social suicide rules that these vamps must abide by in order to stay respected. That rang pretty true in a school setting.

Overall, I was impressed by the complexity of Vampire Academy as I was expecting more of a throw-away story, but it was also that complexity that dragged it down sometimes. I felt like this book was just an introduction to a much bigger story (which it obviously is considering how many books there have been) that throws too many ideas around too soon. But I still really enjoyed it.

I look forward to seeing what happens with Dimitri (Rose’s hot Russian Mentor) and Rose’s doomed love story.

I’m obviously going to get hooked.

unicorn rating 4

Disclosure?: Nope, Oh Chrys sent it to me as part of her Bookish Christmas Bookswap 🙂
Title: Vampire Academy (#1)
Author: Richelle Mead
Details: Paperback, 332 pages
Publication Date: August 16th 2007 by Razorbill
My Rating: 4/5

The Hunter, The Bear and The Seventh Sister by B.I Woolet

hunterWhen a beautiful and powerful stranger throws Jackson into the world of Arcas, his predictable midwestern life instantly vanishes into an all-consuming adventure.

The last kingdoms of Arcas possess enduring youth, beauty, and wealth but have slowly crumbled under the weight of endless apathy and a painful past.

The rising evil of Gurges Ater now threatens to reopen the ancient kingdom pillars created long ago as passageways between Earth and Arcas. With access to both worlds, Gurges Ater will quickly conquer the weak kingdoms and establish his own throne.

Can Jackson along with a paranoid bear, a lone hunter, and the surviving seventh sister work together to protect both Earth and Arcas?

Or will the unlikely heroes allow their own fears, pain, and past to paralyze them as Gurges Ater opens the pillars and claims the throne?

Leave your own world behind, dive through the shimmering portal, and join Jackson to discover the beauty, danger, and adventure awaiting you in the World of Arcas!

The Hunter, The Bear and The Seventh Sister is like an amalgamation of all my favourite childhood reads.

The way Jackson is transported into the World of Arcas with its three suns and rich history, and put on a quest to save both Arcas and Earth from the evil of Gurges Ater reminded me of both The Neverending Story and Narnia.

Then, throughout his quest, Jackson meets is a plethora of witty, magical and down-right bizarre characters like Otava, the paranoid yet loveable talking bear, the Hunter who guides him, centaurs, winged beasts, Unicorns (yay!) and not forgetting Cygnus, the angel-like being who put Jackson on his quest in the first place – all 100% reminiscent of Narnia with some splashes of The Book of Lost Things, and Alice in Wonderland in there too. Some of these characters help Jackson along the way, and some are sent to stop him.

I absolutely loved that this book was so action-packed from the beginning, the very first chapter showcases the scale of imagination that has gone into the story and it just gets better and better. I did get a bit lost from time to time, as they were between Pillars, but the writing, and inventive landscapes bought my attention back quickly.

I especially fell in love when Jackson & co reached the castle:

The castle looked as if it were under siege by the jungle around it. Moss crawled up the stone walls; vines twirled around the towering conical spirals. Untrimmed multi-coloured roses sprang wildly from the outer garden […] the inside of the castle displayed a complete contrast to the bright colours, encompassing greens, and lively disorder of the jungle outside. The world became a mirror: floor tiles, walls hangings, and chandeliers; nearly every part of the inner palace reflected back on itself”

MAGICAL!

It is here we also meet Queen Cassiopeia, with her “rainbow-colored hair…intricately woven around the diamond crown, not a strand out of place.” and “clusters of tiny, shiny ornaments sparkled off her bare arms and the sides of her eyes like stars”. Seriously guys, the descriptions really blew me away.

The Hunter, The Bear and the Seventh Sister is an epic journey, and one I couldn’t put down. I wanted to rush through it to find out if Jackson completed his quest, and if he found his way back to earth (no spoilers here, do not fret), but I do think at times there was too much going on, and I felt like the plot lost its focus slightly in parts. But that being said, this is such an enjoyable read, and one I can imagine being much loved by children and families in the same way that I still love the Narnia books.

Roll on the next book, I say!

unicorn rating 4

Disclosure: I received a copy from the Author/Publisher in exchange for an HONEST review.
Title: The Hunter, The Bear and the Seventh Sister
Author: B.I Woolet
Details: E-Book, Paperback
Publication Date: January 28th 2014, by ArcasArts
My Rating: 4/5