This past week we gave the spotlight to Ten Years of Darkness, the prequel stand alone novella to Kristen M. Chambers and Viktor H. Strangewayes’ Dark Fantasy series, the Vaal’bara Historical Society! Our Roadies brought a wide selection of content to this show with reviews and other posts. Now it’s time to bring the show to an end and it’s my pleasure to present you with the encore, including some extra content. Come and learn a bit more about the world of Ten Years of Darkness through our Q&A with Kristen and Viktor!
Kristen Chambers was born in Omaha, NE in 1990, and lived a fairly ordinary life as far as she was concerned. An avid reader from a young age, she dreamed of diving into the pages of her favorite books and escaping into a world of adventure far more exciting than her own boring existence. Little did she know, such a fate had already been decided for her…
Her life guided by an unusual series of events, she eventually found herself thrust into the adventure she had always wished for, though she quickly realized it was nothing like she had imagined as a child. The veil was lifted, and she soon discovered a world of Magic, demons and dark forces beyond her comprehension. She was led to Chicago in 2011, where she would eventually meet, among others, Viktor Strangewayes. Though she didn’t know it at the time, he would become her greatest ally in the years to come.
In the year 2020, with Viktor at her side, she helped to found the Vaal’bara Historical Society, an organization dedicated to unearthing the long-forgotten truth of humanity’s Magical past. By telling her own story, and experiencing countless others through the use of the Temploscope, she hopes to guide humanity toward a better future, and prevent the terrible fate that awaits them.
Kristen Chambers was just an average girl.
Kristen tossed her pencil down. “Great, now they’ll think this is another angsty teenage vampire novel.” She rose and left the room, returning shortly thereafter with a blackened, crooked quill pen. Silently she cradled it in her hands for a moment before sitting down. In truth, she hated to use it. Its nib was distorted, and it left splotches of oily black on whatever it touched. But her hesitation went beyond the physical, bringing forth a sense of regret and guilt. Yet she knew the quill remained a part of her, even after its power had long been expended.
Pressing the instrument to the page, she started again.
Laurence, by his own admission, was a failure. An aspiring magician by trade, he had spent his days attempting to recreate something he knew in his heart must exist, but for some reason did not. His life was miserable, and he knew he would never amount to anything. In that regard, Kristen and Laurence had something in common, even though they had never met – or so they thought. Together, they both stood on the face of a coin, forever tumbling through time, unable to gain their bearings, always ignorant of what existed on the other side.
However, after the appearance of a dangerous stranger, their lives began to change, and many things that once seemed impossible, quite suddenly became all too real. Before long, powerful artifacts were being hunted down, demons had clashed with plague-bearing bats, and the remnants of races long since buried had crawled up to the surface. Their lives had taken a turn in a direction neither could have predicted, and one they were certainly not prepared for.
With potential horrors looming on the horizon, and access to Magical resources having been intentionally obstructed, many questions still remain: Have they chosen to support the right factions? Are their goals worth more than those they are fighting against? And worst of all, have they gone through this entire process before?From the group who founded the Vaal’bara Historical Society, Ten Years of Darkness takes place in an unsettling time before many events transpired, yet is simultaneously affected by their outcome. It follows characters both new and familiar, bringing as yet untold details to light while also exploring others from a unique perspective. Those seeking to learn the true mission of the Society may very well choose to start here, while other heroes who have already traveled the timeways at their side will find many clues to further their journey as they look toward the future.
Click on the blog name to read their full review or other content!
FEBRUARY 3RD–THE WELCOMING
Westveil Publishing – review
“Overall this is a great book, it definitely makes me want to put the other five on my TBR, and I would recommend it to pretty much any SFF reader out there. Fantastic concept, fun character, great introduction to this world and series. Just watch out for those time-travelling bats!”
booksandbites – review
“This was a very entertaining novel, prequel to the rest of the Vaal’Bara Historical Society novels. I definitely look forward to reading the rest of the series, I’m entirely invested now! The causes of large spread illness among humans was a brilliant creation, and the ending had me in absolute belly laughs! Clever!!! (No spoilers here!) I highly recommend to anyone who’s read Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, or Duckett & Dyer: Dicks for Hire by G.M. Nair as they all share the multiple universe theory.”
Beneath A Thousand Skies – review
“Overall, this was a highly entertaining read with some much-needed humour, and it has left me wanting to dive into the rest of the series. I’m also really curious to see how this book will appear after I’ve read the rest of the series, especially with the note at the beginning saying it can either be read first or at the very end. I would recommend for anyone looking for a fun, page-turning read with excellent characters.”
S.D. McKinley – review
“Now the flip side of this is we are given plenty of room to appreciate the premise of the book being that reality is more than meets the eye, exploring the concept of worlds interacting with our own in ways we cannot presently understand. Then, we are presented an option to decipher importance of specifics on our own – as a feat of imagination and grasp for something more than simply what is presented in front of our face, in the writings. I absolutely loved those magical touches including naming demons after elusive cartoon characters that I personally grew up with via media, thus inciting a correlation previously not thought about, ending in personal amusement.“
Welcome to the Asylum, Kristen and Viktor! Take a seat by the fire, have a glass of beverage of your choice and tell me something about yourself!
Viktor looks around, taking notice that he has arrived in an actual abandoned asylum, and the fire is, in fact, an old burning mattress.
“Ah, yes.” Viktor places a half empty bottle of Yoo-Hoo on top of an old exam table, disturbing an encrusted layer of dust. “It’s good to be back in my natural element.”
But in all seriousness, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. We are both rather solitary people, and it probably goes a long way to say Covid hasn’t affected our social life at all, so it’s nice to… uh, socialize, as humans say.
Most people who read Ten Years would likely be interested to know that there is a lot of truth in it. Many of the people, places, and events are closer to reality than some might believe at first glance. Even the “Super Bowl” conversation part way through the book is pretty accurate. I truly did become a writer through a seizure that stimulated a reoccurring dream, and drastically adjusted some of my interests and personality traits, one of them being reading, which I strongly disliked six years ago.
Kristen appears amidst a flurry of parchment and empty Funyuns bags, incredibly confused as to why she’s here, but eager to talk about the books and the Historical Society.
I’m the co-author of Ten Years of Darkness – alongside the lovely and talented Mr. Strangewayes – editor of the Vaal’bara Historical Society series, and Curator of the Vaal’bara Historical Society. When I’m not peering through time and space via the Temploscope, archiving ancient documents in our vast library, or fighting alongside demons and Lumynar for the fate of humanity, you can find me curled up with a good book elegantly drinking coffee, or awkwardly hunched over a board game like an intensely focused gargoyle.
What inspires your writing? Do you listen to music, stare into the fire, listen to the whispering of the wind, make deals with the Devil?
Kristen: Fortunately my process doesn’t require special reagents, incantations, or soul-binding contracts – just a cup of good coffee and a quiet place to work. I close my eyes, visualize the scene I’m working on, and let the story unfold before me; I just document what I see. And, of course, a little tavern music from World of Warcraft doesn’t hurt.
Viktor: I think I may be an unusual writer. While out jogging, or reading, or attempting to be a normal person, my mind often wanders, and I begin to daydream. Often I don’t have an agenda in my writing, nor do I know how my novels will end. It’s very close to improvisation. My characters are left to choose what comes naturally to them. Many times I have been surprised or concerned by something that has occurred because I genuinely hadn’t expected it, and I’m not certain it’s going to work out for those involved. I’d say it’s their story and not mine, but that’s not entirely true anymore. You might say this world is far more real to me than reality itself.
Describe an asylum set in the world of your book, Ten Years of Darkness!
Viktor: This may be a spoiler, but there actually is a point in Ten Years when a character is locked away, in a fashion, through the use of Magic separating them in an isolated phase of reality. There might not be medication or doctors, but this character is held against their will with little to no hope of ever escaping. I would imagine, as time goes on, their mental fortitude will be tested in many ways.
Kristen: Retail. Whether it’s the customers or fellow employees, working in retail (or really any customer-service based industry) can feel a bit like a madhouse after a while. And, when you’re working in an industry involving knives and axes, you see some… characters, to put it nicely.
Your MC is locked in an asylum. What did he/she do to end up there?
Kristen: Well, talking to a floating quill which requires blood to glean the truth seems like a one-way ticket to an asylum. Unfortunately said quill is invisible to the average human, so there’s no convincing your way out of it.
Viktor: For this purpose I’m going to say Laurence in the main character, although there is another. Anyone who has read our past five volumes would certainly attest, he is a prime candidate for being locked away due to the knowledge he insists he possesses. Someone who loops backward and forward through time, adjusting events at a whim, while also confronting (and possibly even harming) other versions of themselves after convincing them to aid him, or subverting his doppelganger’s goals, would likely look completely insane to the average person. That being said, after everything he’s gone through, it might do him some good to spend a while in a padded room (just don’t tell him I said that).
Which fictional character (it can be one of yours) and/or author would you like to live with in an asylum and why?
Kristen: This is a tough one, as there are so many people (real or otherwise) that would prove excellent at either helping me to stave off the madness, or embrace it wholeheartedly. However, I would probably choose Latahr’ia from Volume Four of our series, The Breath of Those Forgotten. She’s already had plenty of experience going mad, and would make an entertaining and fascinating companion through the process. Although, I’m not sure how long she would last outside of the Enchanted Grove…
Viktor: First of all, I’d have to question this person as to why they are in there with me. I always interview my roommates. I’d obviously tell them I was wrongly convicted, though. No one can learn my secrets! *makes a shifty-eyed expression* But I’d probably choose Wenton Graefs, a pivotal character appearing in the other Volumes of our series. He doesn’t appear in Ten Years, but he is the last of a clairvoyant rodent race called Gnill’var. Over a thousand years old, he has traveled a vast number of years from the past to the present time in order to aid us. I think Jack described him as a cross of Master Splinter and Dumbledore, which is pretty accurate in my opinion. Wizened, talented in the Magical arts, with a great sense of humor and a hint of tragedy – I think it would be a while before he ran out of stories to occupy our time together. And who knows what he has buried in all those pockets!
While you are locked in here for eternity, we will allow you one book – what would you choose?
Viktor: *Pauses in scratching his new novel into the walls of his cell* Oh, a book that’s already been written, you say? Aside from the obvious choice of How to Pass Yourself Off as a Normal Person and Walk Out the Front Door of an Asylum Without Attracting Any Attention by Hugh Mann, I’d probably choose something that allows you to create your own mental adventures. The D&D Dungeon Master’s guide might be a good choice. For a traditional story, I’d try to find something I could read over and over again without getting stale. Alba (an epic ‘choose your own adventure’ book we just backed on Kickstarter) might prove to be a great choice.
Kristen: It’s incredibly tough to choose just one among our ever-growing collection (almost 700 now!), but I think I’d bring Vagabonding in America: The People’s Guide to the USA by Ed Buryn. It’s an unconventional choice, considering my usual affinity for fantasy and sci fi, but it holds a special place in my heart. I picked it up at a used book store shortly before moving into my van, after selling most of the books I’d been collecting since childhood to pay the bills, and it brought me a lot of joy while going through an… unusual period of my life. I think the familiar comfort of its yellowed pages and worn binding would stave off the madness for a while, and when I do eventually go crazy, I’ll be able to appreciate the bonkers artwork made by Buryn himself.
Well then, we hope you’ll enjoy your stay in the Asylum! Any last words? *locks door*
Kristen: *Sits down to read her book and hears a sickening crunch beneath her. She looks down in horror as she sees her reading glasses, irreparably bent and broken.* That’s not fair… That’s not fair at all! There was time now!
Viktor: *Glances around at all the invisible characters he’s been surreptitiously whispering to for the entire interview* No, I think we’ll all be just fine in here…a Rafflecopter giveaway
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