Friday, September 20, 2013

Off To a Magical Land... That I Cannot Pronounce

Ahoy thar all ye scurvy bilge rats!

In honor of it bein' the week of "National Talk Like a Pirate Day," (Sep. 19), I plan on celebratin' in the traditional manner. Yes indeed, I'm gonna join a bunch of scallawags on an old creakin' ship and sing sea shanties as we raid other sailing vessels for their bounty... in the nearest irrigation ditch?

You know, it's hard being a pirate in a land-locked relatively rainless city. I think the closest I could get to true piracy is roving around in an Oldsmobile Cutlass while I shake one of those tiny swords that come in drinks at restaurants menacingly at all of the gang bangers in Escalades. Or maybe I'll just stay at home with a book.

Anyways, that's neither here nor there or even under there.  This week I have the good fortune to have interviewed the two coauthors of the book "A Quest of Undoing: A Tale From the Land of Ononokin," John Logsdon and Christopher Young!

"A Quest of Undoing: A Tale from the Land of Ononokin" is a fantastic read for anyone looking for something on the lighter side of fantasy. Funny, inventive and not laboriously detailed, this is a read that will have you smiling and chuckling the entire way through.

The book successfully parodies other fantasy and adventure staples, such as "Lord of the Rings," while maintaining it's own plot. Set in a rather distinct world, with bizarre characters and an interesting quest, "A Quest of Undoing" sets itself apart from many other works in its genre. 

Overall, this was an enjoyable book that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys any form of fantasy and making unashamed fun of other works.

And here is what our two authors have to say for themselves: 

> What inspired you to start writing?

Chris: I find stories running through my head all the time and since nobody ever listens to me when I talk, I figured writing them out would be the most beneficial means of sharing them. Some of my early influences were Tanith Lee, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and Harry Harrison.

The desire to do comedic writing came from Harry Harrison’s “Stainless Steel Rat” and also the “Myth Adventure” books by Robert Asprin. My true writing adventure started in high school when I would sit down with a pencil and piece of paper and words would pour out faster than I could write them.

John: That’s easy: reading Isaac Asimov. “Robots of Dawn” opened the door for me at the right time when I was a teenager. I haven’t been able to stop writing since then. I didn’t actually get into reading fantasy until “The Lord of the Rings” movies and “Harry Potter” as well. Until those, I was mostly a science fiction kind-o-guy. Comedic writing came to me simply because I’m a goofball. I tried to write serious stories, but after about 20 pages I always end up falling back into something odd. I can’t help myself. It’s nearly impossible for me to stay serious for more than a few minutes at a time.

>Where did you come up with such creative names, like “Whizzfiddle” and “Muppy?”

Chris: Talk to my co-author. He’s the names guy.

John: I have always had the ability to come up with tons of names. I don’t know why this is. Maybe it’s because I don’t worry too much about correctness. As a demonstration, here are a couple of quick names that I’ll come up with right now: Hembly Steknish, Princess Ladalia Yemooth, and Zort Qwet (King of the Orcs). I guess now I’ll have to include those three in an upcoming story! And, it turns out that the king of the orcs is gonna be named Zort Qwet. Who knew?

Specifically on Whizzfiddle, there is a backstory on that. His real name was “Lenny Flepp,” and it looked like he was going to be stuck with that name for all eternity until he had his first ale. That’s when he learned that he was a wizard because alcohol turned out to be his power source. Not wanting to be known as Master Wizard Lenny Flepp, he sought out a better name. 

At first, he just went with “Xebdigon” because it sounded strong to him. But one night, after a particularly heavy bout of drinking, he ended up using a bard’s violin as a urinal. The bard, none too happy with this, yelled, “Hey, you, don’t whizz on my fiddle!” and the people started calling him “Whizzfiddle.”

>Your antagonist, Treneth, has quite the abrasive personality. Did you base Treneth off of someone you knew in real life?

John: Treneth is an amalgamation of a number of our bosses that we’ve had in the past. This doesn’t include all of my bosses, of course, as I quite liked some of them (like when I was self-employed, for example), but just a few of the more egotistical ones.

>Judging by all the other fantasy books that you parody in your own work, you have read quite a bit of fantasy yourself. What do you most enjoy about the fantasy genre?

Chris: That it provides an enormous landscape of ways to make fun of it. There is so much material to draw from for comedy. Seriously, though, I love the freedom that fantasy provides. Being able to build a world from scratch that has no inherent limitations is a lot of fun. The trick is to be careful to not break your own rules.

John: I enjoy fantasy because it’s loosely based on reality. There are heroes and villains that are beyond the realm of possibility, there are creative beasties, and there magical wonders to delight and entertain the mind.

From a writing standpoint, though, I would have to agree with Chris. World-building is a blast. Character creation can be flamboyant and a bit wacky. Readers get that. They actually like characters and places that are a somewhat over-the-top. That’s what makes it all so much fun.

> In your book, the world is split into the Upperworld and the Underworld. Which would you prefer to live in?

John: Upperworld, but I would visit the Underworld often. This means that I would have to be a wizard, since inter-dimensional travel would otherwise require me to be royalty and I’m far too goofy to be royalty.

Chris: Underworld, because I am a slave to technology. Also, I find the people in the Underworld more interesting and open-minded, especially in Dakmenhem. However, I wouldn’t mind dating some of the princesses in the Upperworld.

>The world you have set your story in is called Ononokin, how in the heavens do you pronounce that?
John: Oh-no-no-kin. Like, imagine you have just finished a book that is set in a fantasy world that you created, but, because you’re not very bright, you forgot to come up with a name for this world. So you say, aloud, “Oh no!” Next, you say, “Oh, no, no, no…” And then you think to yourself, well, it’s a medieval world, so everyone there is “kin.” So you slap those together and you come with, “Oh, no, no, kin!” That, sadly, is a true story.  
Chris: See, now I didn’t know that story. I thought “Ononokin” was to sound like “Oh, no, not again.”

>If you had to choose between being stuck in a room with an annoyed Cher for eternity or being attacked by three thousand crack-crazed gerbils, which would you choose?

Chris: I would have to take the room with Cher, since she’s at least not attacking me.
John: I fail to see the difference between the two, but I also have always failed to see a difference between Cher and Paul Stanley from the band Kiss. We are sure that its Cher and not Paul Stanley, right? Anyway, I guess I’d have to flip a coin, which would likely land me in a room for eternity with Chris and Cher.

If "A Quest of Undoing" is book sounds like something that you would like to add to your physical library or your Kindle stash you can check it out here.

As always, you can follow my perilous, sea-faring (or puddle-faring, whatever) adventures on Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter.


  1. Thanks so much for interviewing us for your awesome blog. We had a lot of fun with this and it made us think about things differently! Plus, you got me to name the king of the orcs in this interview, and that's saying something. :)

    Thanks again, Allison, and best of luck in your writing adventure.


  2. John and Chris: A great interview. Congrats to you both and a lot of success is headed your way. Good job.