Monday, 17 February 2014

Guest Post with Michelle Frost, author of the First Light series

First Light (First Light #1)
Released: 1 December 2008
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: CreateSpace
Buy Me: Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble
At the Other End:
The story of First Light takes place on a world called Sindorus, the inhabitants are human in appearance; their level of culture and technology could be comparable to late 19th century Earth.
The north is ruled over by a brutal dictatorship that faces only mild opposition from the southerner based rebels. Life is difficult under Northerner rule. Colour is considered evil and owning a coloured item is a criminal offence, as well as a mortal sin. Southerners and the secretive Lakelanders are considered racially inferior and women have few legal rights.
The three main characters are all Northerners: IDRITH, a monk doomed to a life following a religion he hates, AZTAR, an ambitious Za-Har officer and DAEN, Aztar's betrothed. These three each hold a piece to a puzzle that involves not only the history of their planet’s culture and spiritual beliefs, but also the solution to their devastating ecological problems.
Idrith finds a secret room at the monastery that contains a broken coloured-glass window. There is writing on the window, but only a few lines remain intact. Fearful words about the Colours of the Light being sacred. Over time he realises that this window was the original chapel window, he's afraid but curious. Does Harmion, the Lakelander holy man who visits regularly, have the answers to his questions?
Daen grew up in the north, where women have no control over their lives. As the only child of a widower, she was allowed to grow up unrestricted and far better educated than normal. She is an artist with a terminally ill father, who needs constant expensive treatment. Their farm estate faces bankruptcy, due to the ongoing severe droughts. Her art dealer introduces her to a mysterious Lakelander named Harmion. He offers her a dangerous solution to their financial problems. Creating and selling illegal coloured artwork. What is the meaning behind the ancient poem she finds within the box of coloured paints, that Harmion sends her? What are the “Blessings of the Light”?
Aztar’s army promotion comes with a heavy burden. A very serious problem threatens the security of the entire Northern regime. The most valuable resource of the planet is a plant-based material. This substance is degrading and for decades crop yields have been mysteriously falling. Aztar is forced to work side-by-side with a Southerner scientist, to try and find a solution. At first he is horrified at the insult of having to work with this man, but as they learn more about each other, he is equally horrified to realise he is beginning to consider this Southern stranger, a friend. Can he cope with all this and the added stress of the secret he’s kept hidden since childhood? Can his new friend’s strange Lakelander Holy Man help him find peace?
Only when a catastrophic event leaves the three with no option but to face their worst fears, can the plan to bring the puzzle pieces together be set in motion.
Author Bio...
Michelle Frost was born in Africa, where the stars hang so low and bright in the night sky you feel you could reach up and touch them. She now lives in North-East Scotland where she's discovered the very different magic of midsummer nights where the sky is never dark enough to see the stars at all. Michelle has written two books, several award winning short stories and poems, a newspaper advice column (for a year) and far too many blog posts. She is a proud member of Blogblast for Peace and the Visionary Fiction Alliance.
Find Michelle:
Goodreads  |  Email  |  Blog

I've Got It Covered
When my book, First Light, was originally published the publisher/printer chose the cover and I hated it. I'm one of those bookworms who picks books off shelves because of the cover art and who gets really annoyed if the people on the cover don't match the characters in the story. So the first thing I did, when I found myself stuck with a horrible cover, was design some bookmarks and slides for a book promo video that did match what I had in my imagination. Finding photos I could work with, for my lead characters was tricky, since the story takes place on another world where culture, fashions and genetics are not the same as our own. I used the female lead character, Daen, for my bookmarks.

Daen's face is a hybrid of two women, with a few "tweaks" to get her eye colour just right. I knew a photographer whose daughter had the same wild tangled red-brown hair and I another who had the perfect face in his portfolio.

The men were harder to match. If I found someone with the perfect smile or eyes he'd be the wrong hair colour or bearded or wearing glasses. Since Aztar's a military officer and Idrith's a monk there was the added headache of finding clothing that works. I used a Steampunk friend's photos a lot for Aztar's clothing.

Last year, I was able to finally redo the cover of First Light. I knew straight away it had to have Daen's face on the cover, but I redid the colours of the sky to blend in with some other artwork I'd been working on for the city of Ocren. It's supposed to be a dark and gloomy city, set on hills above the sea. The city is actually made up of severely chopped and photo-shopped portions of Edinburgh.

The book cover style I picked is slightly Steampunk, since it fits the society of the planet - pre modern technology, but not by much. The jacket cover is in shades of grey, since the Northerner dictatorship of the Za-Har forbids the use of colour. I used one or the YouTube slides, of Idrith, for the back cover.

~ Michelle 


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