Inspiration for The Phoenix Project

Inspiration for The Phoenix Project

The Phoenix Project is a story that is very close to my heart. I had the original idea in 2002 and it has slowly grown with the input of a variety of influences and inspirations.

Raven Kennedy: Raven began as the villain, Vincent, in my first novel “Dead End” (an idea which never came to fruition). The plot didn’t work, but I adored his character so I kept him and developed him as the antagonist in the fantasy world of ‘The Light and Shadow Chronicles’ (You may have met him in A Chronicle of Chaos or The Shield of Soren).

I loved the character so much that I took the idea of him and developed it in another direction—into the dark and depressed Raven in my next novel, The Phoenix Project.

Having worked with Raven for so long, I am very emotionally attached to him. Even though he is fictional, I feel that he is a part of my heart and soul. Hence this tattoo:

D.M. Cain profile picture - Raven tattoo

Raven also features as a major character in The Light and Shadow Chronicles. I don’t think I will ever write a book that doesn’t have Raven in it in some way. He is my muse and my access to my creativity.

The decline of religion: Religion plays an important role in my life, which is unusual, as I am agnostic. I feel that faith is beautiful and special. I, sadly, am not lucky enough to have it myself, but I don’t understand why people blame religion for the world’s problems. I wanted to portray a world which was clearly worse for the decline of religion in an attempt to show the benefits of faith.

Salverford prison: I travelled a lot whilst I was writing The Phoenix Project and many of the places that I visited helped to fuel my imagination and give depth to my work. On a trip to Rome, I visited the Colosseum and was inspired by the ancient building. The exhibits on gladiators gave me a deeper understanding of the life of a person forced to fight to the death. I was able to pick out certain details and use them in The Phoenix Project – such as the type of food gladiators were given to eat.

I also spent some time in Krakow, Poland, and visited Aushwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. I’ll never forget the horror of the place, particularly Block 11, the torture and incarceration block. The long, thin cell which Raven passes in the Ruby Tower dungeons comes directly from a cell I saw at Auschwitz-Birkenau. The descriptions of smoke billowing from small chimneys also come from things I saw at Auschwitz.Terror Haza Budapest underground prison cells

 

The place which gave me the most inspiration for Salverford, especially the underground cellars of Ruby Tower and the dark room, was the Terror Haza Museum in Budapest. This museum is the old offices of the Soviet Union Stasi and, later, The Nazi party’s Gestapo. Underneath the building, in the cold, dark cellars, is a grim and depressing dungeon of tiny, damp cells and a crushing sense of futility. I crept inside one of the waist-high cells and sat in pitch darkness and felt despair crowding in on me. This is where the ‘dark room’ was born.

 

The Colosseum:

I love the city of Rome. I’ve visited three times and have loved it more every time! Setting the finale in Rome fitted in well with the religion theme and gave the novel a focus, but I also enjoyed writing about a place I loved so dearly. The Colosseum was a great place for Raven to end up as an ironic safe place.

As I was coming close to finishing ‘The Phoenix Project’, I was preparing myself to write the epilogue about Rome. My incredibly thoughtful husband surprised and delighted me by treating me to a holiday in Rome for Valentine’s day in 2010. It meant that I was able to write that final chapter in Rome itself.

Rome Colosseum

 

Get your copy of The Phoenix Project here


RELATED LINKS:

The Phoenix Project

THE PHOENIX PROJECT by DM Cain – my review no.51

My editing process

 

 

How was The Phoenix Project inspired by D.M. Cain’s love of geek culture?

How was The Phoenix Project inspired by my love of games, film and books?

Science fiction, fantasy and general geek culture have always been a huge part of my life. Growing up it was Star Wars, Marvel, anime series such as Death Note, and a fixation with the Final Fantasy game series. As an adult, I am slowly working my way through the great sci-fi and dystopian films and books of our time, and finding an immense love of all things fantasy (especially those which include immersive world-building such as Game of Thrones).

When my debut novel, The Phoenix Project, was recently I decided to delve into the themes and ideas within the book to see which of these geek influences made their mark upon my writing.

  • My protagonist, Raven, always started out as a Cloud Strife/Squall Leonheart lone-wolf type character. Headstrong, independent, steadfastly avoiding others in favour of skulking around alone. He makes no effort to befriend others, preferring his own morose company. Cloud was (and is) my all-time love. Roll on the FFVII remake <3! (Check out my Final Fantasy Pinterest board for lots of cool images)

Squall Leonheart and Cloud Strife

  • Isn’t there always something exciting, though undoubtedly disturbing, about a high-pressure, adrenaline-fuelled fight to the death? Maybe it was my obsession with computer games as a child that led me to use this concept for my first novel. Tekken was my personal favourite beat ‘em up and what really appealed to me about these games was the fact that each character had their individual strengths and special moves, but at the end of the day, the power was really in the hands of external forces (call it fate, destiny or some kind of deity).

Tekken 2 screenshot

  • One of my favourite elements to any type of game is the ‘boss battle’. That peculiar mixture of apprehension and anxiety that accompanies stepping into a fight you probably won’t emerge from (the first time I walked into the final fight with Sephiroth and One Winged Angel started playing I swear my heart stopped for a moment!). That buzz was something I hoped to communicate in The Phoenix Project when Raven is forced to battle some of the near-invincible superstars of the death matches.

One winged angel Cloud and Sephiroth

  • There is also an element of Battle Royale, The Hunger Games and The Running Man to this novel, though I like to think my book is perhaps more psychological (and a wee bit disturbing!)

Battle Royale

  • I can also see the very strong influence of dystopia in my books – Room 101 from George Orwell’s ‘1984’ inspired one section of the book, then there’s the oppressive feel to games such as Bioshock Infinite, Far Cry, Lost Odyssey etc.

1984 George Orwel

All of these influences have shaped who I am as a person, and as such, have helped me to write a book that is very dear to my heart. If you enjoy the same type of things that I have mentioned within this post, why not check out The Phoenix Project and maybe you’ll see something of yourself in it too.

dystopian thriller psychological novel
The Phoenix Project – a psychological dystopian thriller by D.M. Cain

This post was originally featured on the blog of author Wendy J Scott:

http://www.wendyjscott.com/my-blog/introducing-the-phoenix-project-by-dmcain


RELATED LINKS:

The 12 best dystopian movies – by D.M. Cain

Why I’m becoming disillusioned with the Oscars – a guest post by Alex Tipler

The Light and Shadow Chronicles – a unique immersive fantasy world

Is this the most adorable and geeky thing you’ve ever seen?

 

 

Enough about me – tell me about YOU!

Hello fans of D.M. Cain! I’m writing to you today to ask you a few questions. I don’t want this to be a blog where I just talk at you – I want a two-way dialogue! So, tell me a bit about yourself.

Who are you? What are you interested in? What are your favourite books, movies, TV shows? (This isn’t a trick or a ploy of some sort – I genuinely want to get to know you!)

Is there anything I can do to help you? Would you like recommendations of other books similar to mine? Want to know how I got my books published? Would you like writing or editing tips? Want to discuss worldbuilding and extended universes? Or maybe you just want to know who I think would win in a fight between Deadpool and Black Panther.So-how-can-I-help-you

Whatever it is, no matter how big or small, drop me a line. Ask a question, tell me a fact, let me know about you, ask for help – anything!

I look forward to hearing from you! (simply reply to this post, fill in a contact form, or drop me a message on Facebook or Twitter)


RELATED LINKS:

About D.M. Cain

Contact

How I boosted my mailing list subscribers from 96 to 973 in a few days

My editing process

My editing process by D.M. Cain

My editing process is a long and tiring one, but strangely I wholeheartedly enjoy parts of it (especially the early stages.)

I initially write my books using two methods. I spend a few hours a week sitting in cafes or restaurants with my trusty notebook, where I will hand-write sections of my story. It’s a bit old-school, I know, but there’s something special about cutting off from technology and getting back to basics with good old pen and paper. I often find that this is when my creativity truly blossoms.

The Shield of Soren The Light and Shadow Chronicles DM Cain handwritten
A handwritten page of The Shield of Soren

The other way that I write large sections of my novels is through #Writestorm sessions. These are amazing short power bursts of writing that I complete with other author friends, during which we race to write as many words as possible within a given time. The work I produce in these sessions is often quite rough and needs heavy editing, but this process allows me to get a large number of words down quickly.

editing paper amediting DM Cain

So, after my initial draft is written, my first edit begins. I wouldn’t dream of letting a real editor even glance at an early version, so instead I print it out and edit it myself on paper. Again, doing the work on real paper somehow allows me to see errors more easily and not get distracted by the screen flickering and e-mail notifications popping up.(Turns out I’m not the only one who thinks editing on paper is the way forward)

This is when I do my initial line editing changes, including picking up the ridiculous typos that I’ve made during writestorms!

I also try to pick myself up on the errors that I know I am prone to making: Starting every sentence with a proper noun or pronoun (I’m terrible for that…), lots of ‘looking’, passive voice, unnecessary detail.

Once my line editing is complete, I do the whole thing again. I start from the beginning and edit it through for overall plot consistency and to check it fits in with the timeline of my greater series (when editing my fantasy books). I tend to make errors to do with times of day, weather, etc and need to check for those. Sometimes I need to add new chapters or take out unnecessary chapters to improve the overall plot structure.

Then, when I’m happy with my version, it goes to my editor – the amazing Pam Elise Harris. No matter how well I think I’ve edited it, she will still tear it to shreds! I pull my hair out, fret over things, lose sleep through anxiety, then finally actually sit down and make the changes. It is ALWAYS 100% better after the changes she has suggested. She does 2 or 3 passes over it and then, when we’re both happy with it, it goes to the proofreader.

Sophie Thomas – another amazing member of my team – reads it through, picks up anything we’ve missed and points out anything glaring that we have forgotten about, or been too close to the book to see. Then it’s finally ready!


Related Articles:

Dos and Don’ts of running a book stall

#Writestorm – a concept that changed my entire philosophy about writing

 

 

Coalville Writes literary festival

Coalville Writes Literary Festival

This Saturday I will be appearing alongside Stewart Bint at the Pop-Up book fair as part of the Coalville Writes literary festival in Leicestershire (10.30am – 4.30pm) Why not pop along and see us? You can buy signed books, get some free goodies and enter a competition to win something cool (prize yet to be decided!)

authors writers Coalville Writes

Related Links:

My first radio interview!

D.M. Cain’s Books

 

My first radio interview!

Last Saturday I was lucky enough to be interviewed on Radio Leicester by the wonderful Emma Boydell. Having heard my recent segment about Marvel’s latest movie, Black Panther, I was invited to feature on the show to talk about my writing.

Emma was particularly interested in the epic fantasy world I have created and how my series works.

You can catch this 20-minute interview (with a few song breaks!) here

fantasy author writer DM Cain epic immersive fantasy fiction worldbuilding radio interview
Fantasy author D.M. Cain and Radio Leicester presenter Emma Boydell

Related links:

The Light and Shadow Chronicles – a unique immersive fantasy world

The Shield of Soren

A Chronicle of Chaos

New fantasy titles coming this year!

Excerpt from upcoming ‘The Shield of Soren’

The Light and Shadow Chronicles – a unique immersive fantasy world

Why are the Light and Shadow Chronicles unique?

My immersive fantasy novels A Chronicle of Chaos and The Shield of Soren are part of a dark, epic series called The Light and Shadow Chronicles. This series features warriors, epic battles, angels, demons, magic and people with incredible powers.

The Shield of Soren and A Chronicle of Chaos D.M. Cain epic immersive fantasy fiction
The Light and Shadow Chronicles – an epic fantasy series

So what makes it any different from countless other fantasy series? Read on to find out…

The world of the Light and Shadow Chronicles is in a state of eternal turmoil. Alcherys and Meraxor have been at war for thousands of years, trapped in a stalemate that is manipulated by forces greater than any of the characters realise. In order to emerge victorious, each army must recruit greater forces to fight for them—angels, demons, armies of the underworld and magical creatures.

Each of the books in the series focuses on a significant character and their role within the eternal war. Every story lays a building block for the epic finale but the books are written out of order. One story may feature a character in his adulthood, the next is set before he is born, the next after his death. Putting the order of events together is up to the reader.

The reader may choose their own journey through the saga. If they feel connected to a certain character, they can follow that individual’s story first. And if they join the series after book 5 is released, there is no need to read books one through four first.

So the series truly is individual, and a reader may navigate it as they see fit. So, with new books being released all the time, the choice is up to you. Catch up on A Chronicle of Chaos and The Shield of Soren first or read them afterwards. It will make no difference to the understanding of the series as a whole.

And if you fall in love with the series, you won’t have long to wait – more stories are on their way!


Related articles:

The Shield of Soren

A Chronicle of Chaos

New fantasy titles coming this year!

Which Light and Shadow Chronicle characters will we see in The Shield of Soren?

Excerpt from upcoming ‘The Shield of Soren’

Soren, Genesis and Origin on their way!

Wondering What The Shield On My Book Cover Means? Find Out!

The Light and Shadow Chronicles symbol no. 1 – Children of Light

The Light and Shadow Chronicles symbol no. 2 – Demons

The Light and Shadow Chronicles symbol no. 3 – Nightfall

The Light and Shadow Chronicles symbol no. 4 – Angels

The Light and Shadow Chronicles symbol no. 5 -Avalanche

The Light and Shadow Chronicles symbol no. 6 -Brotherhood of Shadow

The Light and Shadow Chronicles symbol no. 7 – D.U.S.K.

 

 

New fantasy titles coming this year!

So, I’ve been out of the loop for a while now (thanks to my gorgeous new arrival <3) but I am pleased to say that this year I am back with two new titles in the Light and Shadow Chronicles series!

Two novellas – ‘Genesis of Light’ and ‘Origin of Shadow’ will be released in 2018 and I will begin edits on the recently completed full length novel ‘The Sins of Silas’. How exciting!

Instagram poster 1.jpg

Brand new fast-paced fantasy

My brand new epic fantasy novel The Shield of Soren has just gone live on Amazon!

Grab your copy here

What an amazing journey the author leads you on! With remarkable characters, a sensational and catchy story line, and a captivating ending, you won’t want the story to end.  Amazon reader

The characters are superbly written. Amazon reader.

This is a great fast-paced fantasy with very memorable characters. Amazon reader.

Soren postcard front 2