A question and answer session with Sequim author Bob Rhodes

Released earlier this fall, "The Marked One," by Sequim resident Bob Rhodes is a fantasy novel set upon a frozen world of jewels.

The book is the first in a two-part series. The second half, and Rhode's fourth book, titled "The Hand of Annaber," is expected to publish in early 2009. In conjunction with the novel, Rhodes created a Web site blog,, to inspire authors. On the site he shares personal writing experiences and lessons learned while developing and publishing three books.

A question and answer session with the author gives readers a sneak preview into Rhodes' most recent project:

Where does your inspiration come from?

When I was a child, I lived on a farm in the country and there were no other children nearby, so my constant companions were books. In the summer, my mother would drive me to the library twice a week. I would pick out six books on each visit, sometimes reading as many as two a day. When I entered college, I decided to major in literature. My writing is a natural outgrowth of my love of books.

Describe about your latest novel.

"The Marked One" is the first of a two-part fantasy novel series set upon a medieval world - a sunless world that is very different from our own. The story revolves around a young man's thwarted efforts to keep an oath to his father and the lengths he will go to keep this promise. Pella's oath sets in motion his rise from obscurity to power and is set against the backdrop of a society torn by prejudice and religious warfare. It is a story about love, betrayal, success and failure and the consequences of each of these. The novel is also part mystery. There are a number of "riddles" contained within the story that foreshadow the dangers facing Pella's world, as well as the actions required to save his civilization.

How did you come up with the idea for the book?

The novel has its origins in religious conflict. I wanted to explore the concept of two diametrically opposed faiths that were born of the same legendary event. I also wanted to incorporate my appreciation of precious stones and all things geological.

What are you most pleased with about the novel?

One of my readers, who also happens to be a writer, once told me that my characters in this novel are "deliciously flawed." I was thrilled by his comment. All of my major characters have blind spots or flaws that make them both real and wonderfully human. These characters struggle, not just with the destructive forces being unleashed upon their world but also with their personal weaknesses and failings.

Are there authors who have influenced your work?

I am a devoted fan of fantasy authors J.V. Jones, Lois McMaster Bujold, George R.R. Martin and Robert Jordan. Traditional fiction authors I like are Lee Child, Dean Koontz and Robert Crais. These authors often incorporate highly interesting, nontraditional characters in their novels - a quality I like and try to emulate.

What was the hardest part about writing the novel?

The first challenge was to create a society that revolves around two competing religions. I spent a lot of time developing the faiths, their tenets and tried to reflect the characters' passions about their beliefs throughout the book. Since the novel is also part mystery, it was definitely a challenge to weave the numerous puzzles posed by the riddles into the novel's various plot lines.

Any words of wisdom for aspiring authors?

You bet! Write every day if you can. If you can't write on a particular day, then read. Lastly, never give up the dream.

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