Epic sword & sorcery fantasy from UK author D.M. Cain
D.M. Cain is a dystopian and fantasy author working for Creativia Publishing. The Light and Shadow Chronicles series features a range of books which can be read in any order. The series instalments to date include A Chronicle of Chaos and The Shield of Soren. D.M. Cain is currently working on the next novel in the Light and Shadow Chronicles series, The Sins of Silas, as well as two complementary novellas entitled Genesis of Light and Origin of Shadow.
Cain has released one stand-alone novel: The Phoenix Project, a psychological thriller set in a dystopian future. The Phoenix Project was the winner of the 2016 Kindle Book Review Best Sci-Fi novel Award.
D.M. Cain is also a member of the International Thriller Writers and one of the creators and administrators of the online author group #Awethors. Her short story The End was published in Awethology Dark: an anthology by the #Awethors.
Cain lives in Leicestershire, UK with her husband and two young children, and spends her time reading, writing, reviewing and indulging in geek culture (Marvel, GoT, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Final Fantasy).
As a writer of epic fantasy myself, I am endlessly fascinated by the genre. There is something magical about being able to disappear into a world so removed from real life.
So, here is a little background on this amazing genre.
Fantasy storytelling in general follows a basic formula that has been successful for thousands of years. The epic fantasy tradition began with vocal storytelling, where the orators of the past would enthrall and entertain their listeners with tales of magic and gods. These stories would not only entertain, but would educate the next generation, enabling them in turn to pass the stories to their own children.
These epic fantasy vocal tales, though seemingly far-fetched, explored a real human issue. They tied into the quest to solve a world-affecting problem (in many stories this is a dark lord, an evil wizard, a magical device that’s going to destroy everything, a world-ending/shaking event that must be somehow avoided). And in turn, there would always be a hero who could solve the problem, kill the enemy, and bring peace to the world once more.
Myths and legends may have been the origin of this type of storytelling, but the genre has since branched into many subgenres and categories. A quick Google search brings up the following:
I have often pondered whether my series, The Light and Shadow Chronicles, falls under the ‘Epic Fantasy’ or ‘High Fantasy’ genre, but what exactly is the difference between the two?
*The focus is on the scale of the conflict (huge, apocalyptic battles, threats to the very existence of all life etc)
*A large cast of characters – often of a variety of races and/or species
*Magic, or other-worldly powers, are a key part of plot/story/character abilities
*Often takes place in medieval times, with swords, armour and medieval-style castles and towns
*Features a good vs evil story (but this is tending more towards shades of grey in modern epic fantasy)
*Relies on many sub-plots to help advance the story. These often merge in cataclysmic, or epic, ways towards the finale of the story.
*May involve power politics, gods among men, wars, the birth and death of nations, and/or the threat of the end of the world
*Epic fantasy deals with cultures and people that are entirely imagined and not drawn on any myth or legends. The author of epic fantasy creates entirely different kinds of myths and legends and prophecies for their world.
*High fantasy is more about the choices the characters make than the events of the world
*The focus is on the setting itself and the integral worldbuilding NOT the scale of events
*Magic may or may not be involved
*May be focused on the character-building of an event, rather than the event itself – for example, long travelling scenes may help to develop the character rather than advance the storyline
*High fantasy is often inspired by classical mythology, folklore, and fairytales.
What is Sword and Sorcery?
Another sub-genre of fantasy, which my books tend towards, is Sword and Sorcery. This type of fantasy uses a mash-up of all the epic elements of fantasy—magic, supernatural, action, romance, excitement, and escapism.
The atmosphere tends to be darker in this genre. Good and evil still exist, but there is more moral ambiguity and fewer absolutes.
Good examples of Sword and Sorcery Epic Fantasy:
Mistborn – Brandon Sanderson
Stormlight Archive – Brandon Sanderson
Crown of Stones – C.L. Schneider
The Word and The Void – Terry Brooks
The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien
I have been told good things about the following authors, but have yet to read any of their work: Peter V Brett, Robin Hobb, David Eddings, Robert Jordan, Joe Abercrombie, Andrzej Sapkowski, Patrick Rothfuss, Trudi Canavan, Susan Faw, Mark Lawrence, Sarah J Maas
In conclusion, my books contain mystical creatures, heroes of incredible power, large-scale battles and power politics of entirely made-up cultures. Therefore, I market my work as Sword and Sorcery Epic Fantasy.
When my publisher, Next Chapter, contacted me to say a voice actor had been found for the audiobook version of The Phoenix Project, I was apprehensive. After all, how could anybody do justice to the book I had cried and sweated over for 10 years?
But all of that anxiety drifted away as soon as I heard the voice of Sunny Patel. He could not have been more perfect for the role.
So here is an interview with this talented voice actor. I give you Sunny Patel:
Interview with Sunny Patel – Voice Actor for The Phoenix Project Audiobook
What is a day in the life of a voice actor?
It’s still a pretty normal life. The great thing about voice acting is that you are your own boss and I have my own schedule, and I try to be flexible with it. So for example, if I do discipline myself to do voice work between 9-3 everyday, and decide one day I want to meet my friends or play tennis etc that I give it a break and do voice work later in the evening. I don’t take my work too seriously that it takes over my life. Voice acting is meant to be fun and for me it is, so I try to stay relaxed and not ruin my voice by overdoing it. Of course you have to do the things like vocal warm ups and stay hydrated and watch what you eat, but again, I don’t let it suck the fun out of my life and I give myself a bit of a break at times.
What, beyond talent, do you feel one needs to book work and keep working as a voice actor?
Self-belief, persistence and discipline. But I think self belief comes from persistence and discipline, especially for those who aren’t very confident about their abilities. I was sort of like that. It’s important first of all that you find the connections just so you can audition for work. E.g, join ACX, Backstage, Casting Call, voices.com (if you have the money), upwork, or even voice acting facebook groups (where you will occasionally get somebody posting a job).
It’s not getting the jobs that’s important, it’s about getting the chance to audition. Bryan Cranston said in his biography that as an actor the work does not start when you get the part. Your auditions are your job and you should treat it as such. So audition, audition, audition! And don’t worry if you don’t get jobs straightaway. You have to be persistent and keep doing it, and discipline yourself to keep going. My first paid gig took months of auditioning and it’s only now after 5 years of voice acting that I am getting more regular work. My self-belief grew, and I now know I will get paid work. It may not be every week but I know it will come as long as I persist.
What in your life experience was most helpful to you in becoming a voice actor?
Well, I have to be honest, having a deep voice does help a lot. But sometimes having a baritone is not enough. You need skill to be able to voice many characters in an audiobook. To be able to understand what they sound like based on what the author has written about each character is important and it takes skill to execute that. For that you need life experience and to meet people. I have travelled the world, and have had different jobs, and grew up in a multi-cultural place where I heard many languages and people speaking English in different accents.
I was always a people-watcher, so naturally I liked to get to know people. For fun I always mimicked people (I still do), and tried to imitate their body language and their accents. I also used to watch a lot of movies as a kid. When I am voicing characters in audiobook or doing a voice-over commercial, I will just try to sound like a person, whom I know is exactly like the character in the book, or close enough. So travelling and being a people-person has been helpful, but the best part about it was that I wasn’t trying to be a people-person. I just was. Just put your phone down, and go out there and talk to people, or maybe let them talk, and just listen.
Any classes, books or programs you recommend?
In all honesty, I did not read any books about voice acting, but I watched a lot of YouTube videos and I communicate with other voice actors on Facebook. I also have read a lot of articles on it and do listen to other voice actors’ work. So there’s a lot of books that people will recommend, but I choose not to confine myself to the opinions of one or two authors. I like listening to the experiences of a wide variety of seasoned and even amateur voice actors, and it has gotten me far. Social networking has helped but I don’t overdo it. I also try to give my own advice to other struggling voice actors where I can. One thing I would DEFINITELY recommend is taking acting classes. I started doing acting to help with my voice acting, and not only am I better voice actor but I loved my time on the stage, and being an actor is my main goal in life.
How do you handle stress and pressure?
For work stress and pressure, I don’t feel it that much. The voice acting world is a lot friendlier than most professions. Clients can be flexible if you don’t deliver work within a certain amount of time, if you have good reason. So to be honest I have never had much to stress in that department. In terms of dealing with other life stresses, I find sometimes doing my work helps relieve some of the stress and pressure or I just go play tennis, or better yet talk to a friend.
Why did you want a career as a voice over artist?
Voice acting is fun for me, and I was tired of doing work which I found non-creative. So I chose this route. I never thought about being a voice actor. Most people said I had a nice voice, so I thought I would give it a go. I did, and it’s fun. Voice acting for me is creative and storytelling specifically is a tough art. Every voice acting gig you do is you telling a message, and getting people to listen is a tough challenge to master, and I enjoy the challenge.
Is it your only job?
I have another side-hustle. I work in a call centre as market research interviewer, where I now have the luxury of working from home due to Covid lockdowns. Saves me the journey to work, and it also means I can do both my jobs at the same time. Which is incredibly convenient. I also am an actor, so if I get an acting gig, that’s a bonus.
What type of character/genre do you prefer working with?
I have no genre preference. I have done sci-fi, fantasy, spy thrillers, action, memoirs and I am currently working on a book that is an epic fantasy, reminiscent of Lord of the Rings. I prefer to stay open with my genre preferences because I know I am versatile. I would however like to do some children’s stories. As for favoured characters, alpha characters suit me, but I prefer the challenge of being a beta. Or even being a comic sidekick.
How do you feel about doing accents/genders etc?
I was always pretty good with accents, but I have improved in that department. The fact that I have booked work including audiobooks with US, Caribbean, Indian and Middle Eastern, and Scottish has helped. But there is still room for improvement. Genders has been the challenge for me since I have a deep voice. Doing a child’s voice too. I can’t remove the baritone voice for their parts, but there are some tricks that I have seen from my youtube videos or just listening intently to women (and even mimicking them), that has helped me to alter my voice when doing female characters, and I have improved drastically.
Have you ever been asked to voice a character you have truly despised?
Not yet. But that time will come.
What about one you’ve completely fallen in love with?
I wouldn’t say fallen in love with. But I have felt a deep connection to some. My favourite was Mehran in True Lover’s Knot. A very realistic portrayal of an Iranian man, who fled to America after the revolution in his teens, whose hardships and losses were difficult to fathom. But he still remained a kind and caring person after all that. There are people who I have met like that and have read about who really leave you dumbstruck, considering the vast majority people who face such trials end up embittered and angry. They really remind you of how powerfully complex the human spirit is. The body can die, but the ability to be so forgiving and kind despite the incredible cruelty they face is just beyond impossibility. I don’t get inspired easily, but Mehran’s compassion really left me thinking. Mehran’s character was so well written and his adversities and how he overcame them was utterly believable. And I have used his ethos and principles in my own everyday life.
Where do you see your career heading in the next five years?
I don’t focus on a specific vision on the future of my career. Whether that’s five years, or ten or twenty years. Like I wouldn’t say I see my self doing voice overs in a Hollywood Studio, replacing Morgan Freeman as the voice of “Through the Wormhole”, or playing a Pixar character. All I know is that in five years, I will be in a much better position than I am now. If I end up in Hollywood then awesome, if I don’t, then I won’t be disappointed because considering the trajectory of my career in the last 5 years from where I started, I am doing tremendously well, and I can only see myself getting better in the next five years, and most importantly I will be happy and really enjoying my work. And hopefully other people will be enjoying listening to it. I will only keep getting better and one day, I will get a job that I never even imagined I would get. It’s going to happen, and I can feel it. All I have to do is be persistent.
What would be your ideal booking?
Narrating a wildlife doc for the BBC.
If you could narrate any famous classic, which would it be?
Maybe Lord of the Rings I guess. It’s not just an action-packed fantasy, there’s a lot of things going in there that takes you on a journey through the human emotional spectrum. A story of friendship, love, struggle, sacrifice, determination, betrayal, the power struggle between good and evil. Depending on how you look at it, it’s an allegory of tiny little allegories that maybe we can draw some value from to change modern life for the better. It’s a great story, and I would love to give it a go. Plus it has a lot of incredible diverse characters, so I imagine I would have a lot of fun doing it.
Can you share with us what you are currently working on?
I am currently working on a book called “Legends of Agenor”. Some of the characters in there really remind me of Lord of the Rings, but the storyline is of course different, and it’s brilliant. Every character has depth and enough detail for you to feel them around you. The great thing about it is that, unlike Lord of the Rings, this epic fantasy crosses over to the Eastern world, so there are Indian, Persian / Middle Eastern characters, even Caribbean pirates. A truly diverse novel. Which is refreshing as epic fantasies tend to be western-centric.
Interested in booking Sunny Patel for voice over or acting work? You can find out more about his work, and contact him on his website HERE.
I’ve been reading lots and lots (mostly fantasy or crime thrillers) and I’m finding new authors I LOVE. Recently, it’s been Brandon Sanderson and CJ Tudor all the way for me. (If you’re a Brandon fan too, check out theamazing giveaway below!). I’ve set up a new instagram profile where I share the books I’m reading and post reviews.
Lockdown was a stressful time all round for everybody. Trapped in the house, unable to see friends and family, kids going crazier day by day (we haven’t even got a garden so it was hard work entertaining them!). Then I contracted COVID myself and spent a few days ill in bed. Things were just returning to normal when my son then tested positive too. ARGHHHHHH! Luckily, he was fine and had no symptoms at all so everything has returned to normal now.
In other news, I’ve started a new job working in a High School as a special educational needs tutor. I absolutely love it. It’s such a rewarding job and the kids are just great.
I’ve saved the best news till last. Over the lockdown, we took in a little kitten that had been found alone and tattered in the woods. The plan was to nurse her back to health and then sell her on, but we fell head over heels in love with her, so she has now joined our troupe – making it 4 cats in our house!
This project has been riddled with issues from day one and it’s a (very slow) work in progress. I started writing the book, and during the process I undertook numerous writing courses and read books about writing. My writing style changed and so did what I wanted to include in the book. This has meant extensive rewrites and edits. It’s been hard work. My fantastic beta readers have been sending me their comments too, which helps me to fix things along the way. When it is finally finished, it has the potential to be the best of the series. I just don’t know when it’ll be ready!
Things I’m enjoying about it: Spending time with Silas and his buddies is a lot of fun. Silas is an interesting character to write and I love the world-building element to this novel.
Things I’m hating about it: Having to fix problems with the plot and character development and not knowing how to do it believably and ensuring I cover my tracks!
This project, though started after The Sins of Silas was finished, will probably be ready for publication first. Again, I really enjoyed writing this one. As with the earlier instalment in the series, A Chronicle of Chaos, this one features dual points of view. It follows two main characters alongside one another and both are interesting to write, as they are so different to one another. We follow Benedict Thialdor – an ambassador from the Children of Light, sent to live in a completely new location, and Favian – an orphaned boy with an unusual power and a domineering mentor.
Things I’m enjoying about it: The secondary characters are great fun to write in this book. Benedict has an interesting best friend, plus a ‘pet’ who goes everywhere with him (I’m not giving up anymore than that just yet!)
Things I’m not enjoying about it: Not having enough time to power through and immerse myself in the writing process fully. I always do better when I can throw everything into it, and at the moment I’m only getting time here and there to write.
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NaNoWriMo 2020 is officially underway! I haven’t had a fantastic start as I was busy yesterday and unable to write much, but I had a positive first day so I’m 2653 words in. I’m very pleased with the opening chapter which was a lot of fun to write (a demon hunter makes for some fun scenes!)
A little more information about the project:
The novel is called the Ballad of Benedict, which is another story in The Light and Shadow Chronicles. A Chronicle of Chaos featured two protagonists (Chaos and Anathema) and told the story from both points of view. This novel is the same – featuring both Benedict Thialdor (A Children of Light diplomat) and Favian (An orphaned demon hunter).
Benedict’s story is already 45,000 words in but I’ve been on a break from it for a while to work on The Sins of Silas. So my NaNoWriMo project is to write Favian’s side of the story. The Sins of Silas has been getting me down lately, so being able to create something new, and just write to my heart’s content has been like bliss to me.
Whether or not I’ll hit the 50,000 words mark (probably not), I’m having a great time and it’s very good for my soul.
For the past year, I have been slogging away at The Sins of Silas, taking feedback from my completely amazing beta readers and occasionally just wanting to burn the damn thing. I think it has potential, but it is causing me so many issues! Since I began writing it, I have completed courses, and read plenty of books on writing craft. So my style has matured and I learned many things that I just wasn’t doing before. So this book needs a HUGE amount of editing and rewriting. After hacking away at the thing for a year, I am still only on Chapter 13… of 34…
Though I love the story and the characters (especially Silas – he’s a lot of fun to write) I am suffering some major burnout on the book now. It’s time I put it aside and focused on something else, just for a short time, to clear my head, and my nerves.
Which brings me nicely to…
For the month of November, I shall be casting aside The Sins of Silas, and continuing with another work-in-progress, The Ballad of Benedict. This novel has two point of view characters and one of them is halfway completed. The other, I haven’t even begun yet. That storyline shall be my NaNoWriMo project.
For those of you who don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. Writers pledge to write a 50,000 book in just one month.
Terrifying. Insurmountable, some might say.
They’re probably right.
But I managed a 25,000 word camp NaNo project a few years ago (which became my novella Genesis of Light) and I have a lot more free time now between teaching my online students. So I’m just going for it.
A Little About My NaNoWriMo Project
I shall be writing the secondary plot arc of a character named Favian – a demon hunter with a peculiar weapon, and an even more peculiar mentor…
Book: The Ballad of Benedict – a novel in the Light and Shadow Chronicles. Temporary Blurb: In the forests of Thos, Benedict Thialdor – an ambassador with the Children of Light – must uncover myths of old to reclaim a legendary weapon believed to hold the key to defeating Hell’s most dangerous demons.
For the other writers out there, are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? If so, I’d love to hear from you. Support from other authors is the way we all get through this!
Here are some helpful resources for NaNoWriMo and getting that novel finished!
And here’s the exciting news: I am giving away FREE review copies to the first 20 people to request a copy! So, if you’re interested in experiencing this award-winning novel, drop a comment below and you could be in for a chance to receive a free copy.
Kindle Book Review – Winner, Best Science Fiction Novel
In a world that has descended into chaos, Raven Kennedy becomes a part of the Phoenix Project. Across the country, prison inmates fight to the death while the nation cheers them on.
While struggling with his past, Raven faces the prison’s most ruthless killing machines. With the real war raging inside him, Raven fights for redemption.
But can he survive long enough to unravel the anger and regret that shackle him – and find the forgiveness he seeks?
Also available in ebook, paperback and large print from Amazon:
Fantasy novel The Shield of Soren by D.M. Cain is only £0.99/$0.99 for four days: 23rd – 27th August 2020.
Young Soren is the apprentice of legendary warrior, Raven Lennox. At the age of sixteen, Soren is expected to fight in the eternal war against the Brotherhood of Shadow – but he seems to be more interested in mischief than battle.
When one of Soren’s adventures goes off course, he accidentally unleashes a deadly threat. As an age-old prophecy comes to pass, Soren must take a perilous journey deep into enemy territory.
But does he have what it takes to save the realm, or will the Brotherhood destroy everything he loves?
Fantasy novella Genesis of Light by D.M. Cain is FREE for four days: 16th – 20th August.
Warring countries, fantastical creatures, beings of terrible power and journeys of epic scale. The legendary Book of Alcherys tells wild and unimaginable stories. But they are not mere fairy tales. They are true, every word.
Callista Nienna is strong and independent, but nothing could have prepared her for civilisation being brought to a violent end. Now, she is forced to stay alive in a desolate wilderness with only her closest friend for support.
She has two choices: give up and die with the wilting world around her or seize her destiny and make it to the only sanctuary left unscathed. At the end of her journey, something awaits Callista, something both terrifying and unbelievable.
***** WOW! Read the whole book in one sitting. Just couldn’t put it down. Would love to know how you manage to keep coming up with these terrific books. Personally I think this is the best one yet – Anne Harris, Avid Reader
Award-winning psychological thriller The Phoenix Project by D.M. Cain is priced just $0.99 for four days (from 17th July to 21st July).
Winner of the Kindle Book Review Best Sci-Fi Novel of 2016
How can you fight to the death, when you’ve given up on life?
As violence and terrorist attacks become more prevalent, the world descends into chaos. Outraged by the lawlessness, citizens demand a harsher penal system, and the Phoenix Project is born.
In prisons across the country, inmates fight to the death in a weekly bloodbath while the nation cheers them on.
Raven Kennedy, a prisoner who has never forgiven himself for his unspeakable crime, struggles against his own guilt and self-loathing. But even as the real war rages on within himself, Raven is forced to battle some of the prison’s most ruthless killing machines.
Fighting for his life and a chance for redemption, can Raven survive long enough to unravel the anger and regret that shackle him – and find the forgiveness he seeks?
★★★★★ In my humble opinion The Phoenix Project is a masterpiece in every sense of the word. – Stewart Bint, Author
★★★★★ A not-so-gentle reminder to check our own morals, our beliefs and our system of justice. To repeatedly ask ourselves, am I okay with what I see in the mirror? – Lisa Veldkamp, Author
★★★★★ The Phoenix Project is a compelling read, beautifully written in a way that totally captivates your imagination. Dark and sometimes uncomfortable, this book gives a disturbing insight into a postmodern world of anomie and repressive state force. – Amazon Reviewer