Monthly Archives: August 2013

On sale today: THE GARDEN AT THE ROOF OF THE WORLD by W. B. J. Williams

It’s finally here: an enchanting historical fantasy about Maid Gwenaella’s epic quest across medieval Europe and Asia into the heart of Tibet, where she will find the sacred Garden of Eden and save the eldest of the unicorns.

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Buy your own copy today at one of the following links:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1940076005/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1940076005&linkCode=as2&tag=dragopubliblo-20

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EV5AIEI/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00EV5AIEI&linkCode=as2&tag=dragopubliblo-20

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-garden-at-the-roof-of-the-world-w-b-j-williams/1116560421?ean=9781940076003

http://publishing.dragonwell.org/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=65&products_id=10011

TODAY ONLY: e-mail us a poof of purchase at dragonwellpublishing(at)gmail(dot)com to receive a $5.00 gift certificate to the Dragonwell Publishing bookstore. PLUS, this purchase would qualify you for a drawing of a $10 Amazon gift certificate, raffled for each 20 entries.

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W. B. J. Williams, the author of THE GARDEN AT THE ROOF OF THE WORLD, on historical fiction

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There are two kinds of travelers, those who go to a foreign land and expect everyone to be like them, and are disappointed, and those who go hoping to experience different cultures and are rewarded.  The same applies to those who travel in time, and when you read historical fiction, you are traveling in time.  You may discover lands where people show their respect by sticking their tongues out at you, or people who think nothing of selling their children into slavery to save their own lives or careers.  Some of the cultural practices may disgust, others dismay, others entrance.
When writing historical fiction, the author should try to take you back in time and immerse you in the culture of the time.  The author should not flinch from depicting sexual attitudes much more restrictive than our own such as the puritans, or more free and open such as southern France during the era of the court of love.  The author should accurately show the role of religion and ritual in the lives of people.  Historically, people often were very serious about their religious practices, but far from orthodox in following them.  People ate and drank differently.  As an example, often beer and wine was given to children at meals.  There was no expectation of privacy in many historical eras, not even if you were aristocracy.  If you were a medieval aristocrat, your servants slept in the same room as you, which was often the same room in which you conducted the daily business of running the estate.  In the northlands, your warriors would sleep in your mead hall, on the same benches where they’d sat the night before feasting at your table.  To think that they slept chaste is to bring our sexual attitudes into a mead hall of 1400 years go, where they don’t belong.
To write with such detail creates an authentic story, respectful of both time and place.  Such stories hold our imagination.  When reading Hemingway’s depiction of a bull fight or Umberto Ecco’s depiction of a man sitting on the top of a column overlooking Constantinople after the 4th crusade, we feel like we’re there.
Fantasy is more real and more exciting when we have cultures that are richly depicted such those found as the lands of Majipoor, Dhagabad, or Middle Earth.  Fantasy set in a historical epoch should leverage the richness of our past, letting the reader walk with men and women who thought very differently than we do today.
The Garden at the Roof of the World is both historical fiction and a fantasy, partially because I chose to write a story in the 13th century when people would have been shocked to learn that unicorns did not live in the deep wood, and there are no monsters in the depths of the sea.   I choose to try to be authentic in my depiction of those times, and delight those who hope to find in either historical fiction or in fantasy the richness of other cultures, and their values.  Modern readers will certainly find some of the attitudes strange.
However, if I don’t have Prince Jigme of Lo Mantang give the traditional warning of “you’re not a mule, why act like one”, then I’ve missed an opportunity to show some of his culture’s values, even when their not mine.  In writing about segregating the sexes in medieval Baghdad or the tantric rituals of medieval Khajuraho I had to bring characters and readers into places foreign to both, and have the characters act the way people of 800 years ago would have acted.
I also had to write about religious beliefs and mythologies that are foreign to me and my readers.  The medieval attitudes about chastity and virginity are very different from modern beliefs, but if I was to write about traveling with a unicorn, I could not ignore the legends that insisted that you had to be chaste and virgin for a unicorn to be willing to approach you.  To do otherwise would not have been authentic, and would have denied my reader a chance to walk with people who believed in the reality of sea monsters, and the sacred nature of unicorns.
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THE GARDEN AT THE ROOF OF THE WORLD is upcoming from Dragonwell Publishing on August 30. Preorder a copy at http://publishing.dragonwell.org or from major on-line retailers.
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Guest post by W. B. J. Williams: Too serious for a fantasy?

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Too serious for a fantasy?

Award winning author Ellen Kushner created the Interstitial Arts Foundation to provide a means to support struggling authors who write genre fiction.  There are other grant programs for struggling writers, but they usually exclude genre fiction, as if it is not worthy of public support.

So why doesn’t genre fiction get more respect? People are apt to dismiss it as escapist fiction, not on the same level as fine literature.  Especially if the genre is fantasy.

There are some who think fantasy is nothing more than escapism, where buff barbarians with enchanted swords defeat the evil king and liberate the land from oppression, or the chosen one rises up from the dung heap in which he was raised in to destroy the cupcake of doom and become a hero for the ages.  There must be death in the story, but the right people must die and those who survive must find strength anew because of their comrade’s noble sacrifice.

While escapist literature can be found in fantasy, it can be found in every genre including mainstream fiction.  The world is better for it, as sometimes we all need to escape from the rigors of living in the real world for a few hours, and our imaginations are a great place to escape into.  However, there is so much more to fantasy than escapism.  While you will still find your sharp-witted thieves and your magical flights on a dragon’s back, there are deeper matters lurking beyond the swing of a sword.

J.K. Rowling is not shy about exploring the relations between the upper and servant classes in British society in her noted Harry Potter series.  C.S. Lewis and Philip Pullman both explore the nature of divinity from two very different perspectives. Ellen Kushner explores the role of gender in society.  Patricia McKillip takes a long hard look at the unintended consequences of what happens when people impose their utopian vision on society, and Stephen Douglas examines the ideas of messiah and pariah within both modern and traditional society.  These are serious themes, well deserving of respect.  More so because all the authors I’ve mentioned have done so with out allegorical tricks or writing with over bearing message driven prose.  In fact, their stories all share one common thing: they are a fun read and can be read for nothing more than pleasure.

In writing The Garden at the Roof of the World, I’ve not shied away from exploring some very serious themes, some of which are obvious to the casual reader, others less so and require a more careful read.  I’ve done this because I believe that fantasy, in its capacity to expand upon mythology, provides the best medium to delve into the deepest and most important issues that face each of us, within breathtaking stories that stir the heart while lifting the spirit, placing the reader in times and places for which they yearn.  In The Garden at the Roof of the World, I offer you a thrilling adventure that will take you across half the medieval world.  The are things lurking within the novel that I hope will challenge those readers who care to explore them, but there is one thing I hope for all my readers:  Enjoy!

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The Garden at the Roof of the World by W. B. J. Williams is now available for pre-order at http://publishing.dragonwell.org

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THE GARDEN AT THE ROOF OF THE WORLD pre-publication event

Author W. B. J. Williams will make an appearance today at Annie’s Book Stop in Sharon, MA, for a special reading and book signing of pre-publication copies of “The Garden at the Roof of the World”, upcoming on August 30.

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This historical romantic adventure has been a 2009 semifinalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Context, selected into the top 50 out of the 5000 entries in the fiction category.

W. B. J. Williams holds advance degrees in anthropology and archeology and is a scholar of history, religion, and myth. Stop by today to meet him in Sharon, MA, or pre-order a copy of his book on-line at http://publishing.dragonwell.org

TODAY only: the first 10 orders will received copies signed by the author! (please indicate your preference in the comments section when placing the order).

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W. B. J. Williams speaks about his novel THE GARDEN AT THE ROOF OF THE WORLD, upcoming on August 30:

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Meet the newest Dragonwell author W. B. J. Williams and his enchanting debut historical fantasy THE GARDEN AT THE ROOF OF THE WORLD. Here is what the author says about his upcoming book:

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We’ve all been there, making promises to God, if only my beloved gets well, I’ll do anything! The Garden at the Roof of the World is about a young woman, Gwenaella, a convent student in the mid 13th century, who learns that her brother is dying. Fearing the worst, she rushes home, pausing only to help an old woman who is hurt by a stone kicked up by a galloping horse. This old woman tells her if she seeks a unicorn in the dangerous and mysterious Brocéliande forest, she will find the help she seeks for her brother.

To the desperate Gwenaella, this promise seems the answer to her prayer, especially when it is followed by a dream that magically comes to her with the same promise.

Seeking that unicorn sets Gwenaella onto a dangerous quest that will have her travel half way across the known world, forcing her to confront her inner demons, overcome the loss of her betrothed, test the bounds of friendship, and discover the true meaning of love and of sacrifice.

This novel started as a bedtime story for my eldest daughter, of a young woman trying to help the unicorns in their need. As I told her of Gwenaella’s adventures, I realized that unlike other bedtime stories I created, this was a story worth sharing, but it was not to be a children’s story. Anyone traveling with a unicorn would be challenged to remain pure. At best, it would be a journey only a saint could make, and I would be sending perfectly ordinary people to try to return to paradise to save the life of something innocent. Gwenaella, like most of us is a good person, but she is no saint. Gwenaella’s journey is a spiritual journey as well as a physical journey, as she seeks to return to paradise to save something innocent in repayment for her brother’s life.

I am thrilled to be able to share Gwenaella’s story with you.

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The Garden at the Roof of the world is now available for pre-order in our bookstore http://publishing.dragonwell.org

W. B. J. Williams will be reading and signing his books at Annie’s Book Stop in Sharon, MA on August 17, 2013.

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Interview with W. B. J. Williams, the author of THE GARDEN AT THE ROOF OF THE WORLD

In preparation for the upcoming release of “The Garden at the Roof of the World” W. B. J. Williams talks about himself and his enchanting first novel, a romantic adventure in a historical 13 century setting that reconciles faith, friendship, and love in a quest to the Garden of Eden by maid Gwenaella and the unicorn Britomar.

 

Read the interview and get familiar with the author and his work at:

 

http://lilybyrne.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/writer-wednesday-interview-with-walter-williams/

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