An Oasis in the Wasteland
I am honored to have my first guest post by the brilliant and amazing Selah J. Tay-Song.
Like most Northwest days in October, it rained. October 2013, when I met Selah, was no different. We both were at a brewery where she was selling books — outside no less — and I was sipping beer. I picked up her novel, read the back synopsis and just knew I had happened upon a beautiful connection. And, I was right! There are so many reasons I adore Selah. She really has the best laugh, a rather witty sense of humor, she is a kind and attentive listener, and she is an incredibly talented epic fantasy writer. I could gush about Selah all day. Instead, I’ll share pictures from the 2014 Chanticleer Author’s Conference back in September.
Yeah, we’re nerds. Adorable ones, though, right? *grins comically*
Today, I celebrate Selah’s achievement: the publication of her second novel in the award winning Dreams of QaiMaj series. SO EXCITED!!!
Without further ado, I give you Selah J. Tay-Song. And…ahem…just for the record, Selah, I found your wasteland riveting. Love. Your. World.
One of my favorite things about Jesikah Sundin’s LEGACY is the lushness of her settings. When you look at the front page of this site, with the falling leaves and the beckoning forest lane, it’s a place you want to be swept away to. Who wouldn’t want to spend hours exploring the many regions of the Biodomes?
The settings in my Dreams of QaiMaj series are quite the opposite. In a land still recovering from a three-thousand year old apocalyptic event, the settings are stark, sparse, barren. The caves of Sholaen are teeming with life, but scarcity is a large theme underground. Khell is an arctic wasteland, but it is a paradise compared to the deadland that is most of QaiMaj, or the sprawling ruins of SoJing.
So why would a reader want to spend hours in these harsh settings? And why am I, as a writer, drawn to them?
When I was conceiving the idea for this series, I was also rereading The Secret Garden. Rereading it as an adult, I was struck by the symbolism of the secret garden as an oasis for the children in the stark moors of England, and a refuge from the tragedy that marred the main character’s childhood.
I knew that I wanted to incorporate this idea of an oasis of life and a refuge from tragedy into Dreams of QaiMaj. But first I had to imagine the tragic wasteland surrounding the oasis. It was from that imagining that the settings for the series germinated.
Even though they aren’t exactly a place you’d want to vacation, the post-apocalyptic landscapes of Qaimaj reflect the modern societal wasteland, where people are looking for an oasis of meaning and a refuge from the tragedy surrounding us.
Like a lot of people in the real world who can’t imagine something better than the emptiness they are confronted with in their daily lives, many of the characters in my series don’t have the iota of hope that knowing about the oasis provides. To them, the wasteland is the new normal. Survival is their mode of operation.
While I love being cruel to my characters, I want my readers to know there’s a ray of hope in this dark world. This is why I introduce Gairde, the last refuge on QaiMaj, in the prologue of Dream of a City of Ruin. It will take time, but during the course of the series, the characters will be presented with hope, and the readers will be able to walk the grounds of Gairde in all its lush greenery.
Given the current popularity of post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction, I don’t think any of us, readers or writers, are alone in being drawn to the strong symbolism of the wasteland. While we yearn for the oasis, we know it’s a long, difficult journey through the wasteland to get there.
There’s also a certain kind of beauty in the bones of the land, the remains of the destruction on QaiMaj. The dust may be choking, but the sunsets are gorgeous. SoJing’s crumbling buildings are almost like pieces of art designed by unfathomable amounts of time. The silence of the empty landscape is compelling, it’s danger exciting. Desolation can be as sweepingly epic as diversity.
So join me today, and together we’ll take the first steps onto the surface of QaiMaj, our first steps in our journey through the wasteland, toward the lush oasis that awaits these weary travelers.
Selah J Tay-Song is living proof that if you persevere, you’ll catch your dreams. She decided to be an author at the age of six. It took her 25 years to learn how to write a book. Today she is the author of the award-winning Dreams of QaiMaj series, described as magical, poetic and engrossing. When she’s not writing epic fantasy, Selah blogs about everything she wished she knew before she wrote her first book. When she’s not writing, Selah is stalking the urban river otters that live near her home in the Pacific Northwest.
Follow Selah on the interwebs:
Check out Selah’s latest book, Dream of a City of Ruin, available March 20th, 2015! LOOK at that BEAUTIFUL cover! Simply stunning…
The tale of QaiMaj continues in this gripping sequel to Dream of a Vast Blue Cavern:
War simmering for three thousand years is poised to explode on the surface of QaiMaj. The outcome might free the scattered survivors of an ancient disaster from tyranny, or destroy them forever.
Torn from familiar caverns in the midst of her own war, stranded in the icy lands of Khell, Queen Stasia of Iskalon knows nothing of the conflicts shaping QaiMaj. Her only guides are legends told by a Khell Healer and her own prophetic Dreams of her people suffering in a dark, ruined city. Unwillingly allied with the man who destroyed everything she holds dear, struggling to define her identity in the face of so much loss, stalked and assailed by death-hungry Dhuciri, Stasia sets out across the vast wastelands of QaiMaj to reach the city of her Dreams.
But Svardark, the ruling dynasty on QaiMaj, already knows she has surfaced, and they will stop at nothing to find her in . . .
Dream of a City of Ruin
Dreams of QaiMaj Book II