The Harbinger Chronicles!
Today we're welcoming Christopher Huntingford to The Happy Book Reviewer. Christopher is the author of the Fantasy series, The Harbinger Chronicles.
In Volume 1, The Harbinger, Kingdom of Alveus is on the verge of a Renaissance, and 18-year-old Alexander Wolfield is in line to the throne… after all his brothers. He longs for more in his life, and to explore the world, and sets out on a quest. This leads him to an ancient people, who turn out to be far more powerful than anyone has imagined.
Tell me how you came up with the idea for The Harbinger.
Huntingford: There is no one path that led me to this. I originally held an idea when I was a senior in high school about doing a very basic fantasy quest with a hero and a villain. Fifteen years later, I jotted down ideas but nothing was working! Everything was too complicated and cumbersome. I had to figure out how to simplify the idea into a workable piece of art. Then one day I sat down and played a video game. It was a simple battle scene with a horde of barbarians taking on a city guarded by about 200 men. I got through it, and said...I have my ending. From there I worked backwards. Who was defending the city, who was their leader? Why was it important?
Then I looked at my own life. I started adding elements of my own family and friend dynamics and built characters and plots that I could easily interweave throughout the story. At last, I had something that I could write from start to finish that wasn't unmanageable.
Was it overwhelming to have to build an entire world that doesn't exist (Alveus), instead of just setting the book somewhere in the real world? Or was it actually more freeing and fun to get to create a world?
Huntingford: It was really freeing to get out of my own criticisms. I could have made it a family in Germany, but then I would have over critiqued it and called shenanigans on myself. So I created my own world, with it's own histories and not having to hold to the rules of research.
So, If world-building wasn’t the most difficult thing about writing The Harbinger, what was?
Huntingford: Being satisfied that I wrote something that people would enjoy! I wrote The Harbinger in approximately four months. I didn't release it for three years. I hated, strong words for strong feelings, the first three chapters. I went back to it every six months trying to buy into it, but I just couldn't. Then one day, it clicked! I went back, rewrote the three chapters, took a deep breath, and let it go.
And what was the most fun part?
Huntingford: I love the evolution of my characters. It's written as a single point-of-view, so you really have to pay attention to the other characters and how they are developing you. As in real life, you never truly know what the other person is thinking. You can guess, and you can read expressions, but you won't truly know until it's time for them to put up or shut up.
I also love the banter between Alexander and his twin Sofia. She is by far, the most sensible character ever.
Past the characters, I am laying a lot of themes throughout the book. It's fun to leave little Easter Eggs here and there for the readers, and see how clever they are.
Originally, I thought this was a Young Adult Fantasy book, but I know that the reviewer from Indie Author Book Reviews who read your book wrote, “A superbly great fantasy novel. Though it's labeled as Young Adult Fantasy, I enjoyed this story thoroughly and I'm nearly 30!” All that great praise aside, did you expect this book to appeal to all ages or mainly teenagers?
Huntingford: I am pleased that I have received feedback from readers aged 13-65 that have absolutely enjoyed the book! I know it might sound arrogant to say that I expected to appeal to all ages, but I truly did. This isn't a fantasy book for fantasy fans only. This is a book about relationships. It's about good and evil, and all the grey that comes with it. There are also puppies and swords. Who doesn't love puppies? That's right, no one is going to refuse liking puppies.
I do like puppies! Volume 2: Retribution, is coming soon. It will follow the guard as they attempt to hunt down those responsible for a death that I’ll not mention here so it doesn’t give away anything from the first book! Did you know that you were writing a series when you started The Harbinger, or was it only after you were part-way into it that you knew you needed to continue on with Alexander Wolfield’s story?
Huntingford: Several characters are colliding this book, so it's not just about the guards out for revenge. There's a lot more to the land and to its mythology that is revealed. Was I planning on a sequel when I started? Absolutely. The ending has already been written in my mind, we'll just have to see how that plays out.
I absolutely love the cover art for Retribution-- the castle, the hound, the armor, and the wind-swept blond hair. Who created this artwork? Did you have an idea in mind, or did your cover designer surprise you?
Huntingford: Gordon Napier, one of the most talented artists, I have ever met brings the illustrations to life. I wanted to have Alexander figured prominently, as well as the others who make the book important. So with that being said, the cover is being changed. I'm sorry, I got a little critical and fussy. I can't help it. It's a wonder I get anything done. The artwork is not going away, it will pop up again!
Oh bummer! Well, as long as this one pops up again somewhere! Speaking of art, one of my favorite things on your website (http://www.harbingerchronicles.com/) is that you have character profiles with gorgeous portraits of each person! Tell me more about the artist, Gordon Napier. I find that his work has some of the attributes of the Pre-Raphaelites.
Huntingford: Gordon, again, is a pleasure to work with. We met on deviantart.com, and I contracted him to do some work. Every work has been extremely impressive. I keep swearing I'm going to marry one of those pictures. They are so real!!!!
If a high school class were reading The Harbinger and Retribution some day, what themes would the teacher hope his/her students picked up on from your books?
Huntingford: Don't do drugs. Just kidding, even though drugs are bad, and teens shouldn't do them. With that being said...to simplify...
Be a good person. That sounds very basic, but it's harder than it sounds. Do the right thing. Stand apart and hold onto your convictions even if that means that you're not going to be part of the cool crowd. Finally, never go back. Always move forward.
Pretty much all writers also love to read. What book have you read that that you wish you had written?
Huntingford: I really wish I wrote the Internet is a Playground by David Thorne. But that would make me pay bills with pictures of spiders, and I don't know if I have the courage to do that.
I wish I wrote Star Wars. I love Star Wars.
But for real...Moby Dick was one of my favorite books growing up. Reading Captain Ahab's descent into madness and the repercussions of taking on a murderous sperm whale was enough to keep me from joining a whaling fleet in 19th century New England!
And since your book is fantasy, if you could be magically sucked into any novel, which would it be? Would you be yourself, or would you take the place of one of the existing characters?
Huntingford: I would join Harry Potter's world. That seems like a lot of fun. I could run around as an underage wizard performing illegal spells outside of Hogwarts! I would be a really great goalie for a Quidditch team.
Can we expect a Volume 3 for The Harbinger Chronicles? Can you give us a hint on what it is about?
Huntingford: There will be a third novel and it is tentatively titled, Accession. It will be geared more to the backrooms of the kingdom, and you will have a front row view as to the political arena in Alveus, as well as, seeing a lot of your characters grow and develop.
Thank you so much for taking the time for an interview!
Huntingford: Thank you for having me!!
***Readers can find more about Christopher Huntingford, his books, and view that gorgeous character art at http://www.harbingerchronicles.com/.***