THE NECROMANCER'S APPRENTICE
Though Jyximus Faire lives in a crumbling tenement in the Underground City, he escapes the squalor daily to attend lessons in magic and sorcery at the prestigious Academy in the City Above.
But the pace isn’t fast enough for Jyx. He wants to learn everything—and he wants to learn it now. Then the dread necromancer general Eufame Delsenza sets her sights on Jyx; she needs a new apprentice, and Jyx fits the bill. When she tasks him with helping to prepare royal mummies for an all-important procession, he realises this might be a chance of a lifetime.
Will Jyx’s impatience lead to him taking his education into his own inexperienced hands, and can a necromancer’s apprentice really learn to raise the dead—and control them?
What was your initial inspiration for this story?
I’d just watched The Sorcerer’s Apprentice with Nicholas Cage and I suddenly thought “Wouldn’t it be cool to do that with a necromancer instead?” Then I sat down and started working out how that could possibly work. It might be a retelling of an existing story but The Sorcerer’s Apprentice with Mickey Mouse was a retelling of a poem by Goethe! Besides, authors often borrow narrative patterns, but then populate them with their own characters, and come up with new environments for them. After all, Star Wars is essentially The Searchers in space.
What was the hardest part of the book to write, again without giving too much away?
I think it was actually the section when Jyx first arrives at the House of the Long Dead. So we’ve spent the first part of the book with him at home in the Underground City, then at school at the Academy in the City Above, and then we move to the House where he begins his apprenticeship. It’s a real change of location, and there was a great temptation to just throw descriptions and details at the reader so the House was as ‘real’ to them as it was to me, but it’s more important to drop details where they’re relevant, instead of bombarding people at once.
How long have you been writing and how did you get your start in publishing?
It sounds clichéd to say it but I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I did a creative writing course when I was sixteen that gave me a few pointers but it was only really when I was 21 that I started reading books about creative writing, and started writing short stories. I was 25 when I first got a story published online, and a couple of years later I discovered the Friday flash community through Twitter. It was through posting work on my blog that I ended up getting involved in a couple of anthologies, and on the back of those stories I got an email from an indie publisher asking me to write what ended up being my first published title, The Guns of Retribution. It’s all about getting yourself out there.
Tell us a little about your writing process. Are you a pantser or a plotter, and if you’re a plotter what method works best for you?
I’m halfway between the two. I’ve tried just making it up as I go along but I find I wander off the point quite easily, but if I write too rigid an outline I lose interest, as if writing the outline makes me feel like I’ve already told the story and therefore don’t need to actually write it. If I write a loose enough outline that lets me know the major ‘landmarks’ of the plot then I can pants it during the writing process, using these landmarks as signposts from one point to the next. It stops me getting bogged down in irrelevant digressions but it allows me enough freedom to muck about with the story.
What draws you to your genre?
I think The Necromancer’s Apprentice has elements of fantasy and elements of horror, and I think both of them are extremely important. They allow for escapism, yes, and that’s often why they’re looked down on in literary circles, but they also allow you to explore universal themes in a more metaphorical way. Horror explores the darker side of life, and not necessarily in the existential way you might find in a literary tale. Fantasy and horror hold a mirror up to life; they let you peek down the rabbit hole. Plus they’re a lot of fun to write!
Do you need silence while you write or do you listen to music? If you listen to music, what were you listening to while writing this book?
It depends what mood I’m in but I do like to have music on if possible. For this book, I listened to a lot of Nile due to their Egyptian influences, and a lot of movie soundtracks, particularly for The Mummy and The Mummy Returns. I’m not overly keen on listening to music with lyrics as it can be a bit distracting, so I prefer music that’s going to create an atmosphere or a mood.
Do you put much of yourself into your characters? When you do, does that make it easier or harder to write them?
I think writers inevitably put something of themselves into their characters – after all, we know ourselves better than others. That said, we might make a conscious effort to include elements from other characters that we’re familiar with from other fiction or media. I think if you put a lot of yourself into a character then it’s easy to turn them into an idealized version of yourself, which is just dull to read, and it’s harder to do something negative to them. At the same time, you don’t want that character to do anything wrong in case you think it will reflect badly on you. I try to make sure I don’t use too much of myself so I’ve got more freedom in what the characters do, otherwise they’d all just behave in the same way.
Any projects on the horizon for readers to look for?
I’m hoping to write some more short stories in this universe, and there’s at least a serial planned, but I also want to write the sequel. I’m not done with these characters yet! On top of that, I’d like to finish writing the sequel to my novella, The Guns of Retribution – I’m only about 2000 words from the finish line.
Icy Sedgwick was born in the North East of England, and lives and works in Newcastle. She has been writing with a view to doing so professionally for over ten years, and has had several stories included in anthologies, including Short Stack and Bloody Parchment: The Root Cellar & Other Stories.
She spends her non-writing time working on a PhD in Film Studies, considering the use of set design in contemporary horror. Icy had her first book, a pulp Western named The Guns of Retribution, published in 2011, and her horror fantasy, The Necromancer’s Apprentice, was released in March 2014.
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