1. What attracted you to writing when you were a teenager?
I have always been an avid reader. I also have a vivid imagination. It was inevitable for me to attempt putting a story together.
The first time I sat down in front of a computer to start Knightfall at the age of 17, I did so because I was bored. I needed something to fill my time. My cousin had told me about this story he intended to write and I found that very cool. So I decided to try it myself. It was a mediocre attempt, since I was still young and easily distracted.
The next year, I took a Creative Writing class. It was my senior year in high school. Even though I had put my story aside, writing was still something that interested me. That class showed me I actually had some talent with the written word. Future will tell just how much talent, but it gave me the confidence I needed to make the attempt.
That class also showed me to strive to be an novelist instead of a poet or journalist. I found that out writing my final assignment for the class. We had to write something, anything, as long as it was at least 5,000 words. Before I knew it, I had doubled that word count. The story I submitted topped 13,000 words and would have been longer if I would have had more time. I was quite disappointed with its conclusion because I had to rush to meet the deadline. I could have easily added another 2,000 words and had a suitable denouement.
When my life finally aligned itself in my twenties, that urge to write Knightfall assailed me again. I needed to see if I could pull off getting 80,000 words down on paper (or hard drive, as it were).
2. How did you settle on the fantasy genre. What do you like about it?
Dragons and magic have intrigued me since as far as I can remember. Fantasy is also my mother’s favorite genre, so the material has been available to me throughout my life. I remember going to the library when I was a kid almost on a weekly basis. I would always grab one of those “Choose Your Adventure”books—you know the ones that direct you to a certain page after you make a choice, the ones with the warning at the beginning to “not read this book from start to finish”. I then progressed to the traditional books and was forced to share them with my mom.
During my teens, video games became the big thing and my mother and I naturally found ourselves drawn to RPG games (yes, mom spent as much time playing as we did). Knights battling dragons became the focus.
In high school I was introduce to paper and pen role playing games. I would say my first fantasy stories came about then when I DMed a few adventures. The store-bought ones were too expensive (well, they were in the volume I wanted to buy them) so I came up with the story lines myself.
This whole upbringing made the transition into novel writing quite fluid. It was simply natural to continue coming up with fantasy stories.
3. Where did the idea for your novel Knightfall come from?
This is a question I never want to answer. The fact is I don’t have the slightest clue where my ideas come from. I don’t even remember what my initial thought was when I was 17, but I’m sure it was nothing like the end product. If I remember correctly, Knightfallis nowhere near the original title of the novel.
I imagine my ideas for any of my stories come from the same place every ordinary idea comes from. I don’t sit down at the park or in front of my computer and actively try to come up with something to write. I get inspired while doing something else, or when I’m lying in bed waiting for sleep to finally take me. I stow away those ideas for future works. I have a few premises saved on my hard drive, waiting to be tackled.
4. Tell me a little about the story of Knightfall.
Knightfall is an epic fantasy tale that takes readers along on an amazing journey. It takes place in Rond Thora, the greatest kingdom in Kagendur.
A mysterious mage has a plan. He corrupts a knight and sets into motion a series of events that free an ancient evil and destroy a kingdom.
A thousand years later, a druidess named Ravenna suffers nightmares showing her atrocities that must not come to pass. She must embark on a journey to find the meaning of the dreams and what she must do to prevent their realization.
Along the way, Ravenna meets a few more characters, each of which has been affected by the aforementioned knight, who is now an undead creature called a daemon knight. The daemon knight seeks to perform a ritual to end its eternal suffering, but even it doesn’t know the scope of its actions.
Ravenna must find a way to avert what could be the destruction of everything mortals’ know. To do that, she must first find herself, for she has the key to the world’s salvation. If she cannot cope with the truth of who she really is, there is no hope—for anyone.
5. I see you come from Ontario, Canada, and your name sounds French. Do you also speak and write in French?
French is my native tongue. I did all my schooling in French, save the few months in college. I still use it every day because I live in a community whose population is mostly French.
I have also been surrounded by English my entire life. All the movies, TV shows and books I liked growing up are in English. There were a few exceptions, but not enough to compete with the English editions. For this reason, I think, the English written word comes more naturally to me. I struggle much more when trying to write in French.
I don’t foresee myself ever writing in French, unless I find the time to translate my books. But there is a character in one of my WIP that is French-Canadian, complete with all the mannerisms and slang. That will probably the closest I’ll ever get to writing in French.
6. Give me some background to yourself.
I am a father of four, living in the same small community where I spent most of my life. I am enjoying my second marriage.
When it comes to writing, there isn’t much to tell. I thought my life would go in a different direction, so I went to college to study Electronics Engineering. I was a teen and, like so many naive youths, jumped before looking. I soon found this was not the field I wanted to be in, so I left school. I have since gone through many jobs and still do the grudging work to pay the bills. I regret not pursuing an education in English Literature, but I don’t let that stop me from writing. This is my passion and I plan on giving it my all.
Who knows, I might eventually go back to school, just to see what I missed back then. I’m sure it can’t hurt my writing career.
7. Do you have a certain writing routine and time (for example, sit down every morning, play classical music)?
When I wrote Knightfall, it had to be done first thing in the morning. If I found myself unable to start the day with writing, I always found it harder to get the creative juices flowing. I would find myself going onto the next task I had set for myself that day instead of sitting down to type. When I finally pushed myself onto the couch and placed my laptop on my lap, the words fluttered away from me much more frequently.
Now I find my routine completely turned around. I work nights and find my mind works better when I get home after work. I stay up till the wee hours of the morning writing or editing.
Whenever I do write, there must be music in the background. I prefer heavy metal and hard rock, but it doesn’t usually matter what is playing, as long as it’s not country. If I’m writing a high tension scene, like a battle, then my needs are a bit more specific. I need the driving beat of drums to get the blood pumping. So even though I can listen to most anything, my play list consists mostly of heavy stuff.
8. How many words would you write in an average session?
My usual goal is at least 1,000 words and that takes between an hour and a half to two hours to write. I have had bad days where I can only reach 500, but those are still better than those weeks where I can’t manage to sit down and even try to write. I have managed a few 2,000-word days to make up for those. I can remember this one particular day while writing Knightfall where the words kept pouring out of me. I wrote for nearly eight hours, with a meal break and a few shorter ones strewn here and there. I topped 5,000 words that session, most of which stayed in the final draft.
9. What plans do you have for upcoming books?
I am currently working on a trilogy that will tell the story of Raftennon, one of the secondary characters in Knightfall.This epic fantasy series will follow the spellcaster as he first discovers magic to his final confrontation with the mage who put all the trouble in motion inKnightfall.
Another work-in-progress is something much more to my wife’s liking. She’s not a fantasy buff. She much prefers paranormal romances and true crime novels. I haven’t done too much work on it, so there is not much to tell (since I never know where my stories will go until I actually write them). All I can say is it is set in my hometown and, in this reality, vampires have always been real. The main character will meet one of these creatures of the night, and, well, we’ll just have to see. This series is targeted for an adult audience. My wife likes explicit sex scenes and I aim to please.
There are also a few stories I would like to tackle in the Kagendur world. I mention a bit of history in Knightfalland would like to elaborate on those. None of these have been started, or even brainstormed yet, however.
I also have ideas on another fantasy series set in a new realm. These are also vague impressions in need of a lot of fleshing out.
To say the least, I plan on writing for quite some time to come.
10. Provide links to where people can buy your book, and any other links, such as blogs, websites.
Knightfall can be purchased through many online retailers. I’m certain I haven’t found them all, but here are the major ones:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Knightfall-ebook/dp/B005Y6S7WI/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&m=AZC9TZ4UC9CFC&qid=1334260906&sr=8-1 (This is the link for the e-book on the US site, but the paperback version can be easily found on that page. The e-book is also available on all of Amazon’s affiliate sites and the paperback can be found on most of them as well.)
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/knightfall-marc-labelle/1013068034
The Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/Knightfall-Marc-Labelle/9781609118594
I can be found online at the following sites:
My author site: http://www.marclabelle.com
11. Finally, provide an excerpt from your book Knighfall.
The first chapter can be found on my author site and on both my author page and the Knightfallpage on Facebook. But I think your readers deserve something different.
So here is an excerpt taken a little further into the book, never before seen online.
Trial of the Damned
The Magistrate stepped in front of the Council of Light and took a parchment out of the case nestled under his arm. Although the man did not preside over cases of this stature, he was still a part of the proceedings. His duties became “presenter of the evidence,” instead of “passer of the sentence.”
“Sir Hambrik Aldaberran, you are hereby charged with—”
“I don’t really care what your charges are.” The knight was talking to the legal ofﬁ cial, but his eyes remained locked on the Lord King.
The monarch rose from his throne and pointed an angry finger at the man in the box.“You will not bring chaos to these proceedings, Aldaberran! You will conform to the law, to the code of honor you pledged your life to when you were knighted!” His voice resounded off the white, stone walls of the throne room.
“I will no longer conform to your will, my ‘lord’.” Hambrik’s tone remained calm, almost ominous. His gaze did not waver, even as the Lord King’s anger radiated from his regal form. “I will no longer take orders from a whelp that hasn’t even seen battle. I will no longer pledge allegiance to a man who has risen to power with words alone. I renounce you, Pavlin. I am no longer your lackey to command.”
The Lord King stormed to the accused’s box and raised his hand, ready to strike, something no other ruler had ever done in the history of the kingdom. Then again, this whole situation had never occurred, either. But before the monarch would actually strike the knight, he regained his composure and started to walk back to his throne.
Once there, the Lord King turned to Aldaberran and, without consulting the Council, rendered his verdict. “Hambrik Aldaberran, for the heinous murder of Ellanni Iallina, you are hereby condemned to death by hanging. The sentence will be carried out at sunrise tomorrow, at the Bloodstone Gallows.” Everyone in the throne room gasped in surprise, save for the King and the accused, who continued to glare at each other.
The Bloodstone Gallows were situated in a rear courtyard of the Radiant Castle, away from the everyday traffic of the keep. The wooden gibbet was constructed beside a huge boulder, which was stained red with blood. The damned would come to the stone to be flogged before whatever crowd would come to the courtyard. The man was whipped severely until he repented for his crime. When he did, the criminal suffered the last stage of his sentence, a normal death by hanging.
In the event the convicted would stand fast and defiant, the whip would be put away at midday. The damned would then go to the Gallows, where the hanging would still take place. What made this place ghastly was the platform holding up the criminal. Instead of opening up like a trap door, sending the condemned plummeting to his death, the platform would slowly descend toward the ground. This would prolong the strangling, and the demise, of the condemned.
This place was reserved for the perpetrators of the most heinous crimes in the kingdom. No knight had ever been sent here before, which was the reason for the shock in the throne room. The punishment, however, did fit the crime; and even one of the Lord King’s most loyal servants was not above the law.
The monarch continued to stare at the disgraced knight, his disdain for him growing with every moment. “Take him away,” he ordered.
* * *
A loud thud resonated in the small room as Sedrill slammed one of his many grimoires closed. Every fiber in his being was telling him time was growing short, but he still could not pinpoint what his fear was exactly. There was a certain energy in the air. The mage had to find what that energy was before he could devise some way to counteract it.
All morning, books were taken from numerous shelves, leafed through, and then discarded. Somewhere in these tomes was the answer. Suddenly, the spellcaster placed an ancient text on his lavish oaken desk and sat at his chair. His brow furrowed as his slight finger followed his eyes; he read a passage as ancient as the known world.
Blood of Innocence
A Chosen One will come forth
A Soul it will cost
From precious metal
Tarnish will spawn
An ancient Evil
Will once again dawn
Sedrill read over the words a second time, the worry on his face growing with every moment of thought. The mage then came out of his grave contemplation and scampered to a set of shelves on the far wall of the room. He reached for the topmost shelf and retrieved a crystal ball, placing it on the book. He returned to his chair and passed his right hand over the glass orb. Gray mist swirled inside the mystic object. The old mage peered into the depths of the haze, his brow furrowing even deeper, until he jumped out of his seat, causing the chair to fall onto its back.
Sedrill frantically rummaged through his cabinet of spell components and hurriedly assembled a few on a small table. Once everything he needed had been placed within easy reach, he closed his eyes and concentrated on the Lord King.
* * *
Beware, my Lord; he has been chosen. He is protected.
The Lord King looked around the throne room, expecting to see his trusted adviser standing right beside him. Of course, the man was not there. The words came from his head. Maybe the mage was putting them there through one of his many mysterious spells, but the man was no doubt still in his chambers dealing with whatever business he had claimed needed to be attended to right away.
Two of the Crystal Guard made their way to the Shoulder of the Dragon and opened the back railing of the accused’s box. Aldaberran did not move, his gaze still fixed on the monarch. One of the guards reached out to grab the condemned man and coax him, drag him out if he had to. The soldier’s eyes, behind the decorative, visored helmet worn by the King’s personal guard, widened as Hambrik suddenly turned around, grabbed the man’s short sword, and thrust it through the unprotected area under his armpit.
The prisoner then turned on the other stunned warrior. This Crystal Guard had the presence of mind to draw his own weapon. He even had time to swing it toward the sky, in hopes of ending the battle with a swift slice of the criminal’s stomach. Hambrik saw this maneuver coming as soon as it was thought up. He took a step back and stretched out his hands. The guard’s sword sliced rope instead of flesh, freeing the dishonored knight in the process. The maneuver was not as accurate as Hambrik would have liked, though. The loyal soldier still managed to catch some flesh with his swing. A few drops of the knight’s blood fell to the quartz platform as he drove the guard back with a swift kick in his gut.
A low rumble droned in the distance as Hambrik overpowered his adversary. He soon managed to pry the man’s sword out of his hands. After a few quick twirls in the expert’s hand, he plunged the blade into the guard’s neck, ending his life. Most of the Council stood in shock, appalled at the first blood to ever be drawn in the throne room. The others who managed to react included a cleric, who started praying for the souls of the fallen warriors; a mage, who rummaged in his robes; and the Lord King, who called for reinforcements.
Hambrik retrieved the second guard’s weapon and turned toward the rear of the silver dragon. His gaze once again fixed on the monarch, who still proudly stood in front of his throne. Bloodlust filled the former knight’s eyes as he started to advance toward the crescent of the Council.
Derrik suddenly launched out of his chair and charged his former colleague in arms. The young knight reached his target quickly enough, but the more experienced Aldaberran easily evaded the first punch and immediately ended the struggle. The young Derrik slumped forward, his head coming to rest on Hambrik’s shoulder. His eyes slowly glazed over, a long exhalation escaping his mouth. Then the witness fell back, lifeless, the short sword impaled in an upward angle just below his rib cage.
Though a knight, Derrik had never seen battle, and now never would. His life, not yet tainted by the evils of war, seeped onto the dragon’s shoulder in a growing pool of crimson, and the earth shuddered once more, with greater force this time—unmistakable.
* * *
A flash came from the orb on the spellcaster’s desk as he was about to start his incantation. Sedrill quickly left the small table, and the components lying on it, to go to the crystal ball. He peered intently at the images forming in the swirling mists inside the crystal to witness the latest actions in the throne room.
“The honorable soul is lost. The innocent has bled. The Evil must not rise!”
The mage returned to the other table and started to handle the items laid upon it, whispering strange words as he went. Then the old man suddenly vanished.
* * *
Hambrik left Derrik lying in the pool of blood and resumed his advance on the Lord King. The tremble in the ground gradually turned into an all out earthquake. Falling stone rumbled nearby, but Hambrik took no notice. The former knight quickened his pace and managed to get to within an arm’s length of the Lord King.
A curtain of light suddenly appeared to the throne’s right and out of thin air walked Sedrill. “Get back!” shouted the spellcaster to the convict.
Hambrik did not get the chance to react, as the other mage on the council finished his own incantation and sent a stream of blue light crashing into the condemned man’s chest.
“No!” Sedrill reached out to grab Hambrik, but the former knight flew backward from the impact of the beam. The other spellcaster immediately dissipated his attack, quite confused. He turned to the astounded cleric and emphatically informed him that the spell was not meant to throw him back like that.
Hambrik’s chest continued to shine, but the blue light turned a deep crimson and expanded to cover his whole body. Then, as he crashed onto the quartz platform, the structure cracked down the middle, sending everyone standing on it tumbling down either side of the dragon.
Hambrik teetered on the beast’s back for a moment before following the council to the floor. In that brief moment, the silver under him completely tarnished. The blemish then quickly spread over the immense body of the creature. When its entire form was finally tainted, lids flew open to reveal crimson eyes filled with rage. The statue the Lord King had presided over turned out to be a real dragon after all!
The beast shrieked toward the gods in the heavens and took flight. Crashing through the landscape painted on the ceiling, the monster soared over the keep, and the city surrounding it, casting ominous shadows on all its residents. “Karrinalda has been set free,” was all Sedrill could manage to whisper. “Gods have pity on our souls.”
The monster sent forth its destructive breath. Thick mist spewed from its maw, as hot as the sun, searing all that was in its path. The little that managed to survive the massive heat found itself covered in the hot liquid, which happened to be more corrosive than the strongest acid known to the world. Soon, nothing was left of Crystalmyre, and the Radiant Castle was reduced to a smoldering pit of ash. No one survived what the surrounding realms would call the Fall of the Silver Kingdom.