I’d like to share a secret. Ten years ago when my fantasy romance trilogy Shadow Through Time was first published, I was convinced I wasn’t a fantasy author’s bootlace. I had no wizards, no spells, no goblins or elves in my books. In fact, the sepia world of Ennae, linked to our own by the Sacred Pool, didn’t even have animals or insects. Sure, the champions in the story did have magic in their blood. They could open the portal between the worlds and use their power to heal. Among other oddities there was sentient water, a forest that responded to sexual stimuli and a race of cliffdwellers with cloven hooves. But there was little of the sort of ‘magic’ and magical creatures popular in Harry Potter and Raymond E. Feist books.
Amazingly, publishers loved this ‘point of difference’, and the series was universally praised for its originality, as well as for the scorching-hot heroes and their feisty heroines. Doubleday Book Club made the series their ‘Editors Choice’ and said, “Cusack throws up surprise after surprise – guaranteeing you will be picking the up the next book, almost before you have finished the first. This is addictive storytelling.” Readers loved the series, and a decade after its print release with Simon & Schuster, the Shadow Through Time trilogy has recently been re-released as ebooks with Pan Macmillan’s digital imprint Momentum Books.
Still no goblins, but I’ve come to terms with that, and have discovered that there’s a different sort of magic at work when you create fantasy worlds ― the sort that’s at work inside the writer.
As a bit of background, I’ve been a vegetarian for thirty years. I never imagined that would influence my work, so when my heroine Khatrene left our world and stepped into the sepia world of Ennae, I was as surprised as she was it had no animals or insects. There were only people and plants. As a seat-of-the-pants writer I don’t question what I’m channelling. I just get on with the business of transcribing it into the clearest form I can. So I wrote the books and they sold. It wasn’t until the first book of the series Destiny of The Light was released that a girlfriend of mine pointed out the obvious: every brawny warrior hero I’d created came from a world where there was nothing to eat but plants. They were all vegetarian!
As it turned out, I’m not the only female reader who thought that vegetarian warriors were a fabulous fantasy, and now that the series is available Internationally as ebooks they’re growing in popularity. If you’d like to win an ebook copy of the first novel of the series, Destiny of the Light, just drop a comment below and share your favourite vegetarian dish with us. My current fave is potato and leek pie – delish!