Thomas Kane is a new author to me. He writes fantasy which is one of my favorite genres.
I grew up in the woods of Maine. While in college, I began writing supplements for role-playing games, and I spent the early 1990s doing that full-time. Selected publications include GURPS Egypt, GURPS Espionage, GURPS China and the Shadowrun adventure Ivy and Chrome. I also had the opportunity to write Cyberpunk and Ars Magica adventures for Atlas Game – I’m especially happy with The Osiris Chip and Trial By Fire.
In 1995, I took an opportunity to go to graduate school in England. I stayed to lecture in international relations and strategic studies at the University of Hull. Much of my work focused on both ancient and modern China. My academic career also gave me the chance to travel around Europe, with a few trips to Asia as well. Twenty years later, I have returned to Maine, and to writing fantasy.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m a fantasy author who is lucky enough to live on a wooded hilltop in a place that could exist in one of my stories. Indeed, when the power goes out, my place becomes more like a medieval fantasy world than I would like.
When did you know you wanted to be an author?
Early! The idea crystalized for me at age 11 when one of my teachers read The Lord of the Rings aloud in class. I remember reflecting on the question “what do you want to be when you grow up” and feeling a clear sense that writing was something I actually wanted to do.
What genres do you like to read? Are these the same genres you write in?
I read widely! Most of my writing is fantasy, and I do indeed read that. I just finished Sarah Katz’s novel The Messenger from the Mountain, which is set in Greece just after WWI. It’s largely realistic, but includes appearances by gods and creatures from classical Greek mythology. I recommend it!
Is your book for adults, young adults or children?
I wrote it for adults, but the main character is eleven. A couple of readers have wanted to share the book with their children, and I am delighted about that. I do warn people that the book contains small amounts of bad language, along with a fight scene and a drinking scene. Personally, I think most children could handle it, but I want parents to be aware before making a decision.
What is your current release or project?
The Witches of Crannock Dale, which is the first book in a series titled Mara of the League.
Tell us about the key characters
The main character is Mara Bennett, a smart and introspective elven-year old. When the grown-ups around her don’t seem to be solving problems, she’s not afraid to take matters into her own hands. She is often joined by her little brother Jason.
What is your blurb or synopsis of the book?
When an enemy army threatens eleven-year old Mara’s home, she makes up her mind to save her family, one way or another. But when the knights protecting her village arrest her favorite aunt for witchcraft, she discovers that the difference between friend and foe may not be as obvious as she once thought.
This is a story of war and espionage, set in a low fantasy world. It is also about a child getting to know her mother and father in a new way.
Share an excerpt
Chapter One: Metasmart
A week and two days before my twelfth birthday, the church bell rang.
Up until then, it had seemed like a normal day. Mamma had told me to practice my arithmetic. At first, I shook my head so hard that my braids flew, but Mamma sighed at me the way she sighs at Pappy. “Mara Elspeth Bennet, just yesterday your Grampy asked me whether you could divide, and I had to tell him no.” After that, I felt really small, so I let her write out some problems on my slate.
I took the slate and two pieces of chalk down Crannock Hill to Grampy’s mill pond and tried to make a start, but I hated division, so what I really did was sit on a big rock and smell the grass and watch the water turn golden in the late afternoon sun. Division doesn’t make sense to me. You have to figure out how many times one number goes into another, and there seems to come a time where you just have to guess. So, I dug the side of my slate with a fingernail and thought about other things.
I thought, mainly, about justice. Most of the girls in Crannock Dale learned their letters and maybe sums and that was enough. I was the only one who had to keep on with numbers, and I didn’t think it was fair. Just because Pappy went to school in Caer City is no reason. Once, I remembered, I said that to Mamma. Mamma told me I had a choice – if I didn’t learn arithmetic, I could grow up to be a farmhand’s wife. When Mamma says you have a choice, she means you don’t.
Another time, I complained about numbers to Pappy. He told me that the reason why I had to study things other children didn’t was that I was smart. I said I wished I was smart enough to get out of studying arithmetic. He said that would be metasmart. I think that’s a word he made up, but I like it.
Anyway, while I was thinking about those things, the bell donged. And it was Nurnsday. My first thought was to be glad, because it wasn’t division, and maybe there would be some excitement.
The bell was supposed to ring on Yisday. First, the people in Minton Pass were supposed to ring their bell, and when we heard it, we were supposed to ring ours. Then the people in Merryhock and Glenet Bridge were supposed to hear us, and they were supposed to ring their bells to warn the villages farther down the valley. That was how we practiced spreading the alarm, so that we would know how to call for help if the Pure Men of Waan attacked.
Once, when Pappy and Mamma and I were having dinner with Grampy, I said that if I was Queen of Waan, I would invade on a Yisday, so that when the bells rang, people would think it was just for practice. Everyone laughed, even my grandfather, as if it was a joke. I laughed too, because I was pleased to have the grownups listening to me, but I thought I really would.
Now I wouldn’t, because now I know that queens aren’t important in Waan. No one told me that. I found out for myself. My uncle Tate bought a broadsheet pamphlet about Waanish depravities. It was full of words which I’m not supposed to say, but he forgot and left it on a chair when my mamma took me to his house for a visit.
While the grownups were talking, I read the parts of the broadsheet that were facing up. That’s how I learned that kings in Waan have lots of wives, and that they keep them locked up. They also have concubines and catamites, who count for even less. So, now I would never be on their side.
After the bell rang, there were a few minutes in which nothing seemed to have changed. The paddlewheel was still splashing around in the stream and the same growling noise was still coming from inside the mill. Then I heard another faint chime. This one came from the hills behind me. That meant the Minton bell was ringing after ours, and that the alarm was spreading from south to north. And we never practiced like that, because Waan was north of us.
That was when I realized that something real was happening. And that was when I got scared.
Do you have a favorite scene?
Without giving too much away, it involves a very, very naughty cat.
What advice would you give a beginner?
Write the story you want to write, and don’t let people browbeat you with overbearing advice.
Social media links:
Blog link www.thomasmkane.com
Purchasing links https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07XWXP1X2/