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The Gatekeeper and The Guardian

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Published: 13th October 2015

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ISBN [Print]  9781910711040
ISBN [Epub] 9781910711071


Interview with Carla AchesonAuthor of The Last Gift, who has worked as a reviewer and interviewed best selling authors:

Q. Why have you released this unabridged version?

A. As a first time author I learned many of my writing skills by making mistakes. I remain indebted to several editors who helped me overcome my shortcomings and Book One was the result. However, one thing all editors insist upon is the proviso that 'A book never starts at the beginning'.

I wrestled with this for several years, and was never happy with the result. To me it was a mess, well, until the story proper got going. Then I learned about The Hollywood Script, the device they use in virtually all films, and it begins with about ten percent introduction to the characters and scene. This suited me well and I have used it as the foundation upon which to rebuild this unabridged version.

The book now starts before the beginning and introduces characters that later become important to the plot. It replaces several back-stories and answers questions before readers ask them. I am now more than happy with the book.

Q. This was your first book. What made you want to write it, to become an author?

A. They say everyone has a book in them, and I believe that to be true. Whether it is a book strangers would pay for to read is a different matter. So I went on a steep learning curve, learning how to write. It was not easy, but I made excellent progress.

The second reason was that I liked the Castaway idea, but hated the film starring Tom Hanks, in which even the ending was changed from the book. I set out to write a castaway novel, but being a virgin writer, feedback from friends was at best, lukewarm. I was 'telling', not 'showing'. And it was in first person present tense = never again. It is now in first person past tense, and reads very well.

But things changed when I wrote about the food parcels, and soon after, the transporter. Immediately, the book warped away into science fiction and science fantasy. I had the idea of 'The Ancestors', and was away on an epic journey.

Q. Tell me about the main characters, the ones that appealed to you, the author, most.

A. Number one is Jack. He is a likeable rogue in the modern sense. But when the book begins, he is lost and castaway. He develops as the storyline does. Susan and I argued (playfully) about this, but later she agreed with my character development.

I love Owain, a real man's man. I am proud of Da Phai Nai, as she is a no bullshit woman, and she is usually correct. Her character is one of the most balanced I have written.

But I think n'Gnung is perhaps the best, because he continues to develop and becomes more central to the main plot, and many subplots as the trilogy progresses.

Q. Where is the Island located?

A. It is in the central South Pacific at about longitude 150 West, latitude 25 South. There is a submerged volcano at position -25.085599, -148.345642 that proved suitable. The size was about right were it were poking above water. It featured several smaller crowns as well as a large central caldera, which was perfect.

The reason for non detection by contemporary science, explorers, and satellites was simple, it was hidden by an Ancestral shield. Meaning, what is on current maps, is all we can detect.

Q. What was the most difficult thing about writing a trilogy?

A. Keeping track of continuity, especially when making a major edit. It would ricochet around all three volumes.

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Author Snippets

The phrase, "Beam me up Scotty," is never said in Star Trek. I checked it out. So, no plagiarism there. But I felt the analogy had to be made.

Proposal of Marriage:
Jack does not realise that by offering to build a house for Jien Noi, he has also asked her to marry him. That is why Jinnie gave him her virginity, and explains many of her later actions.

Yoda Speak:
Is universally frowned upon. The Shaman speaks in rhyming riddles of 'olde English', and is fun. Not the same thing. Her speech was incredibly difficult to write, to keep constant, but it draws the reader in to solve her ridiculous riddles.

Under Siege:
This was my third attempt to write the final battle sequence, and it worked admirably. I needed to get inside Gung Loi's head to do so, and these chapters embody some of my best.

Naming Convention:
Virtually all names of the Second are from Cantonese, which the author speaks.

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