Christopher Lee is the independent author of Nemeton and Bard Song. Outside of his gig as an author, he is an avid history buff, amateur mythologist, bardic poet, Holistic Life Coach, Reiki Master/Teacher, Mindfulness Practitioner, and keeper of the old ways.
Christopher lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife and two ultra-spirited cats.
Christopher, thank you for agreeing to this interview. As a Holistic Life Coach, Reiki Master/Teacher, and a Mindfulness Practitioner, I can only imagine the unique life you have lived. How has your journey and the lessons you have learned impacted your storytelling?
It is my pleasure to interview for such a wonderful hub of fantastical bookery (I know its not a word, but it is now), I’d first like to thank you (Josh) and Lilian whom I admire greatly, for having me here. Beyond being an author, which is one of my many true passions my life has led me to work in a variety of fields from sales, to freelance, to construction…as a chef, a driver, an arborist, you name it I’ve probably done it. In all of these varied stops along the way, I learned one crucial truth, and that is that people no matter the walk of life are in desperate need of healing, of understanding themselves, and of accepting the beauty that is their life. That is was led me to work in the fields of storytelling, Life Coaching, Reiki, and Mindfulness. With that being said, I use these three very powerful frameworks to help people better understand who they truly are, and as a huge added bonus, I get to be a student of the human spirit and the human mind, which is thrilling in itself. But where this really becomes an asset is in my writing, because as we all know writing a fully fledged character, a believable character, writers have to have a keen eye for human character, behavior, and all the wonderful emotions we experience. Many of my characters are drawn directly from real life encounters or are the recycled fragments of my subconscious mind when I am dreaming, which of course is drawn from my waking encounters. I highly encourage all writers and even readers to pay close attention to the power of observation in your waking life, because I promise that if you do, you will be far more astute in creating characters and even more important in not only surviving this wild ride of life but in addition, you may also end up enjoying it!
I know you are not only an avid history buff but also a mythology enthusiast. Do you have a favorite mythos? How do you incorporate the old belief systems into your writing?
Oh dear, what a magnificent question! History is my mistress who lives on one bookshelf, and mythology is my girlfriend who lives permanently on the other bookshelves in my office. As for a favorite mythos, I am particularly drawn to Celtic Mythology and it drives much of my personal spirituality; however, it would be dishonest to say that I have favorite solely because I am a student of all of them. I read mythology voraciously from every culture I can get my hands on because when you truly look at mythology you are not just looking at old stories, you are looking at the quintessential human tale. I am influenced heavily by Nordic, Egyptian, Greek, Yoruba, Lakota, Hopi, Navajo, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and Aboriginal mythos, but I would like to state that although these seem distinct I believe this to be a misnomer, because what is the one thing all of these cultures have in common? They are human, and as such the stories are not bound to a singular culture, in truth they are each a diversely colored mirror of each and every cultural mythos. With that being said, the old beliefs, old ways, old traditions whichever you choose to call them are particularly important in my writing, because I hope to bring magic back into the lives of readers by way of showing them the mystery, the wonder, the awe of what our world used to be, can be, and honestly still is.
Nemeton is the first in the Hallowed Veil Series which I plan to continue until my fingers fall off, I consider it my flagship series. It is the first, but certainly not the beginning of the tale. Set around 3000 BCE, Nemeton takes readers on a fantastic voyage through the antediluvian world, meaning pre-flood mythos for those not well versed in ancient history or mythology. The story centers around four young characters coming to grips with their place in the complex political weave of ancient society. A fragile peace has held for thousands of years between the worlds of man and the Fae under the iron-rule of the Nemeton, the clandestine circle of ageless druids charged with keeping the law of the Great Goddess. When the High Priestess of the Great Goddess receives a vision, calling for the ancient Rite of Conclave, the fragile peace is disturbed, for as the law dictates the Conclave shall bring forth all nations to bear their greatest champions in trials of stone, blood, and spirit whereby only one will rise and become the next Derwyddon, or Druid of the Nemeton.
I wrote Nemeton to explore a question I have desperately wanted an answer to my entire life, and that single question was what happened to the world of magic and mythos? I wanted to know what happened, what did man do to warrant the proverbial boot from the Garden of Eden so to speak. In the process of writing the novel and working on its subsequent sequels, I found that my own exploration of this key theme might aid modern readers by helping to take their minds outside of the very black and white blinders that we wear today, and show them that mostly we operate in the gray areas, that nothing is precisely as it seems and that all no matter how good or bad have a story, a motive, a heart that yearns for a return to spirit, peace, and love.
I read an earlier interview where you spoke about the challenges of writing a female character. As you work on the sequel to this book, Inquest, are there certain aspects you are considering building upon or changing?
Writing a female character is exceptionally hard as a male, and I still don’t think I’ve done the best that I can for my heavily female cast in Nemeton. Writing from the perspective of a female requires me to step into my own feminine spirit and I must say it is wonderfully therapeutic. In regards to Inquest, I hope to tap further into this creative well and not only provide readers with some insight into the unique dance between the masculine and the feminine that exists within us all. In large part, the Hallowed Veil Series explores the creation of the divide between the masculine and the feminine under the lens of mythology, and their eventual reunion into the unified empower spirit.
The cover of Nemeton is killer. It is rare that I speak to an author who has the skill to create their own book cover. Could you tell us about the imagery and meaning behind the artwork?
Thank you, I am humbled by the compliment, it was an incredible experience to craft my own cover. I highly recommend it, at least in the conceptual stages before handing it off to a graphic designer or artist, if not just for the experience. As for the imagery and meaning behind the artwork, I wanted to convey the feelings of conflict, initiation, and bondage. At first glance, those seem to be heavy themes for a first book, but I wanted to portray the character which I largely view as the catalyst to the story since I do not fancy having a single main character. The character depicted is Samsara, a Seraephym or an angel in Hebraic Mythology, with her distinct cimmerian wings. Above her are the eyes of the Great Goddess, whom many in the story view as a tyrant or unloving and cruel deity. In the background, I have a greenfield littered with the bones of our ancient past, juxtaposed with the fire and brimstone attitude of Samsara and the youthful revolution that is directly opposed to the older static regime. Ultimately I wanted to show a changing of the guard in terms of who would be directing the future of the world of the Hallowed Veil Series.
We have seen the continued rise of independent authors in the book industry. For yourself, what has been the most difficult aspect of being self-published? What would you tell other authors who are facing the same struggle?
Marketing and building a steady readership have been the primary struggle. Although Nemeton has enjoyed a fair bit of success when it launched a year ago, sales have dipped off, and the reason is I haven’t truly put in the work. The key to this business is consistency in your writing, your marketing, your production, etc. Building a schedule that is near bulletproof should be your first step, guard your writing time, and become as efficient as you can in your process so you can free up time to market yourself and your books. As you can see, I am aware of all the steps and can coach other authors, but the old adage remains, those who give advice are often the worst at taking their own.
What can we expect from you in 2019?
In 2019, I hope to release a barrage of new series, though whether or not I actually get them all done is another story altogether. I’ve been running a serial over on Channillo, called Westward, which is an alternate history take on the Civil War centering on four main characters, including the headman Major Enoch Clarke, a gunman for the Union Army’s Department of Supernatural Occurrences. It is a bit like X-Files meets the Magnificent Seven.
I’ve also been cranking away at another new project that exemplifies my love of mythology. It is called Pantheon, I released it as a serial last year on my Patreon, to guage interest and beta comments, before bringing back to production. Pantheon is a mythological re-telling of the mythical cycles of four of the primary European pantheons, Nordic, Celtic, Greek, and Egyptian. The four Pantheons are pitted against each other in a race for the Celestial Throne, the seat of mankind’s worship, all in the distant future against the backdrop of a Science Fantasy Space Rock Opera, as one beta reader called it.
On January 1st, the Writing Bloc a group of indie writers launched their first indie produced, by authors for authors and readers anthology, called ESCAPE!. If you are an indie writer who is seeking community, support, and all the things lacking the indie writer world, head on over to www.writingbloc.com and see how you can get involved. In the anthology, I shared a story which I hope to become a series in itself. It is called the Gilded Tower, wherein a waerloga named Gwydion, a warlock is released from the parole of the magical prison called Perdition. As he reintegrates back into society he is challenged by the dark call of his former sins that take the form of a lustful succubus named Lilith. Gwydion must learn to control his urges and prove to the Torr, the tower of mages and their guardians the Lokkr, that he is indeed reformed and not a danger to the world of mankind. Even though I have plans to make this short into a series, I doubt it will be released anytime soon, but if you fancy a great set of 20 short stories check out ESCAPE! on Amazon!
Finally, I am waist deep in the planning phase of Nemeton’s sequel Inquest. Although I am pumped and 100% full steam ahead on this worldbuilding phase, I cannot promise a release date yet as I am pretty jam-packed on the other fronts listed above. Inquest is going to most likely be twice the length of Nemeton and it is going to blow the top off of the structure presented in Nemeton as the world goes metaphorically speaking, THERMONUCLEAR between the realms of man and the Fae. If not in 2019, I foresee a 2020 release, with the potential for a 3rd Edition Nemeton release alongside it, with about a hundred pages of new material, art, goodies, cutscenes, backstory, worldbuilding, etc that probably should have been released in the 2nd Edition…my bad… Free copies of the 3rd Edition to any who have bought the 2nd Edition, to make up for it!
It has been a pleasure, Christopher! Please tell us where fans can find you online or in the upcoming year at events.
Well, currently www.christopherleeauthor.com is undergoing a rebuild, so for the time being please access me at www.writingbloc.com and @ChristLeeEich on Twitter. I look forward to interacting with you!