Life is good for David Conner. He has a great job, plenty of money, and he’s just met the woman of his dreams. But his dreams turn into nightmares when he finds himself on Lucasia—a magical world of shapeshifters, dragons, faeries, and other creatures of myth—where he is the key to victory in a struggle between opposing forces: one sworn to save the world, the other intent on its destruction.
If he is to survive, David must learn the rules of this strange new world, master its powerful magic forces, and decide who is friend and who is foe.
But is David the world’s savior . . . or the cause of its ruin?
Mik Wilkens has done a lot of different things in her life, all of them creative. She’s been an illustrator, trophy designer, graphic artist, programmer, multimedia developer, webmaster, and author. She loves science as well as science fiction, fantasy, and other speculative fiction. She’s a rabid Joss Whedon fan, she’s crazy about greyhounds, and she collects moose. Mik participates in Renaissance faires throughout the southwest United States promoting adoption of retired racing greyhounds with Greyhounds of Fairhaven, a non-profit organization she founded several years ago. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, with her husband, a pack of retired racing greyhounds, and an ancient, three-legged demon in a cat suit.
Click below for the interview:
What inspired you to write The Silver Cage?
My inspiration was twofold. One of my favorite fantasy authors is Katherine Kurtz. Her novels inspired me to try writing books of my own. They also taught me the importance of having a logical magic system in a fantasy story. Rather than just having some intangible force called “magic,” there needs to be a source of the power and some kind of rules that the characters have to follow to use that power. That idea was one of the driving forces behind The Silver Cage.
The other inspiration was my desire to write a modern fairy tale that could be enjoyed by adults whether they were fans of fantasy fiction or not. By ‘fairy tale,’ I don’t mean the traditional, short folk tales written for children. Instead, I use the term as defined by Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien in his essay ‘On Fairy-Stories.’ Tolkien said that fairy tales are not stories about fairies or other fantastic creatures; rather they are about the interaction between humans and such beings. David Conner, a sensible, modern-day businessman, is the human that interacts with the fantastic creatures in The Silver Cage.
Give us a short, sharp synopsis.
The Silver Cage is a fantasy novel about David Conner, a down-to-earth guy who has everything going for him: he’s got a great job, he has plenty of money, and he’s just met Jennasara, quite literally the woman of his dreams. But David’s world is turned upside-down when he finds himself on Lucasia, a world where magic is a force of nature and creatures of myth are real. To save Jennasara, David must learn the ways of the strange world he finds himself on, master its magic, and decide who is his friend and who is his enemy.
Was there a character you struggled with?
I’m not sure “struggle” is the right word, but writing about the character Riak was definitely a unique experience. He wasn’t in my first concept of the book or even in the first part of the first draft. I was several chapters into the novel when he walked into my head and said, “Hey, I’m supposed to be in this story.” So I had to go back and add him in several places. Good thing I did, too, because he became a pivotal part of the story.
Is Riak one of the bad guys?
Riak is a creature called a Child of Sytan. He’s part human and part dragon. He’s basically a very sexy guy with wings. When he’s first introduced, he’s definitely one of the “bad” guys. However, whether or not he’s “good” or “bad” by the end of the book is something readers will have to discover for themselves.
How many unpublished books do you have lurking under your bed?
If by “lurking” you mean books that will never see the light of day, I really only have one partial novel that I’ll probably never finish. However, I do have several novels and novellas that I’m currently working on getting published.
How did you find your publisher?
Finding my publisher was actually something of a fluke. I got an e-mail from my sister about a new digital publisher, LazyDay Publishing, that would be launching at the end of 2010. She was thinking about submitting something and wanted to know what I thought about them. I did some research and then, basically on a whim, I submitted The Silver Cage. A couple of months later, I got an e-mail saying that LazyDay had accepted it for publication as one of their debut novels.
Would you recommend them?
LazyDay takes care of getting the cover art, ISBNs, and other technical aspects of getting an e-book ready to publish, and they make the book available through major third-party distributors such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. They also help create book trailers, and they even have a professional musician to write the music for them.
What’s the best/worst part of being a writer?
I’m horribly anal about everything being perfect, so my editing sessions can get a little crazy. I’m rarely happy unless I’m 100% positive that every comma is in the correct place, every word I’ve used is perfect for what I’m trying to say, and every sentence is structured just right. Because of that, deciding that a piece is finished and ready for submission can take a ridiculously long time.
Do you use an editorial service?
No, I do all the editing myself. That might not be the best idea for a lot of authors, but I’ve done quite a bit of professional editing in my life, so I feel confident enough to edit my own work.
What is the most productive time of the day for you to write?
My productivity isn’t based on time of day. Rather, it’s based on my mood. When I’m in a writing mood, I carry around a pad of paper everywhere I go and write every chance I get. Fortunately, I have a very tolerant husband who doesn’t mind me writing when we go out to dinner or go for a drive. When the writing mood strikes, I write. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is.
Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer?
I write most of my first drafts by hand. I have favorite pads and favorite pens, but anything will do in a pinch. I’m currently dealing with an neurological issue with my hands that makes it uncomfortable for me to write or type, so I’m experimenting with speech-to-text software. If I can’t get the first drafts of my stories to go straight from my imagination to my mouth, at least I’ll be able to enter the handwritten first draft into the computer simply by talking.
The book cover, and your photo features a dog. Is it safe to say that you like dogs? Do they appear in the novel?
The “dog” on the cover of The Silver Cage is actually a wolf. Wolves and wolf shapeshifters figure prominently in the novel. I like all kinds of animals, particularly dogs; my favorite breed of dog is the greyhound. The dog in my photo is my greyhound Peaches. I’ve been owned by greyhounds for over sixteen years now, and am very involved in promoting adoption of retired racing greyhounds. I’m currently writing a fantasy novel “starring” greyhounds: I’m going to donate the proceeds from the sales of the book to greyhound adoption groups. You can read the drafts of the first four chapters of the novel at:
What/who do you draw inspiration from?
I’m inspired by pretty much anything and everything. It could be something I see, something I read, just some passing thought. Sometimes my muse will just toss a scene out at me and I have to figure out what to do with it. That’s how The Silver Cage started. My muse showed me a scene of a young boy sitting by a spring in a forest. I knew the spring was magic and could be used to access other worlds. Based on that, I came up with the idea for the story.
Do you set yourself goals when you sit down to write such as word count?
Not usually. Sometimes I’ll tell myself I have to finish this scene or this chapter before I can do something else, but usually I just write until I’m out of ideas for that session.
What are you working on now that you can talk about?
I’m working on several books right now. I’m almost finished with the sequel to The Silver Cage. It’s called The Golden Drake, and it pretty much starts right where The Silver Cage ends. I’m also almost done writing another fantasy novel called The Greyhounds of Aeravon, which is the first book in a series of novels I plan to use to raise money to support the adoption of retired racing greyhounds. I’m also working on a science fiction trilogy. All three of the books in the trilogy are finished in rough draft form. I’m doing the final edits on the first book, and then I’ll start on the other two. Finally, I’ve recently completed and submitted a science fiction novella called Esora, which is a follow-up story to another science fiction novella I have coming out in 2011 called The Price of Conquest.
How do/did you deal with rejection letters?
My first rejection letter was dated December 7, 1990. I was lucky in that it wasn’t a form rejection letter; it was actually typewritten on letterhead, addressed me by name, referenced my manuscript by the title, and was signed by a real person. For a rejection letter, that was pretty heartening. I’ve received quite a few others since then, both personalized and form letters. I’ve gotten used to them to the point that I just check them to see if there’s any suggestions or comments about the piece I submitted, then I open the spreadsheet I use to keep track of all of my submissions, mark that one off, and then get back to work.
Do you have a critique partner?
I’ve been a member of several online critique groups over the years and some of them have been a lot of help, but I’ve never had a specific critique partner for all of my writing.
The wolves surrounded him. One leaped past his horse’s flashing hooves, its fangs slashing at the animal’s throat. Two more sprang in from the sides; one snapped at the horse’s neck, and the other flew straight for David.
Terrified, he started to throw himself over the horse’s far side, but the animal reared again. He grabbed handfuls of mane and saddle and hung on. The wolf crashed into the horse’s shoulder, and its jaws snapped shut inches from David’s knee.
The wolves behind the horse tore at its flanks and back legs. With a scream, the animal started to go down.
Desperate to avoid being crushed, David threw himself clear. He landed hard on his right shoulder and back, and the air whooshed from his chest in a painful, explosive gasp. Once his lungs unlocked, he took a tentative breath to check for broken ribs or other damage and tried to ignore the horse’s terrified screams and desperate thrashings as the wolves completed their kill.
He would be next.
He forced himself to his knees just as a monstrous black wolf crashed through the bushes beside him. It knocked him to the ground and spun to face him. Slitted yellow eyes glowered above huge, slavering fangs.
This can’t be happening, David’s mind told him, coldly logical despite the horrifying sights and sounds that surrounded him. There are no wolves. There is no horse, no cabin. It’s a dream.
The black wolf leaped.
“No!” He raised his arms in a vain attempt to stop the huge creature’s charge.
I’m at home, in bed with Jenna. It’s just a bad dream.
The wolf’s jaws closed on his right forearm, and he yelled again, a wordless scream of agony and disbelief as his mind exploded with pain.
(Links to where you can buy The Silver Cage are under the “BUY” link at TheSilverCage.com.)