Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Guest Post: Lou Anders

Today on Winterhaven Books I am so thrilled to have Lou Anders with us!  After finishing Nightborn, I found I was very curious about the elves Mr.Anders had created.  When I was offered the chance to pick a topic for him to answer I jumped at the chance and decided to involve his elves!  Here's what I asked...
Which group of Elves would you belong to, the Shadow Elves or the Oak Elves and why?
His answer is one of my favorites ever!  Take a look!

Would You Rather Be a Hammer or a Nail?

When Winter Haven Books asked me “Which group of elves would you belong to, the Dark Elves or the Wood Elves and why?”, I confess the first thing that came to mind is the Dr. Seuss book Would You Rather Be a Bullfrog? Writing as Theo. LeSieg, this is the book in which the good doctor asks the all-important question “Would you rather be a hammer or a nail?” Easily enough answered, but he goes on to ask about dogs and cats, smelly cheese, igloos and tents, and things get murky. And murky is how I feel now, having to choose between dark elves and wood elves. Well, to paraphrase Doctor Seuss, it’s time for us to think about important things like that.

On the vast continent of Katernia, in which the Thrones & Bones novels Frostborn and Nightborn are set, there are actually five major groups of elves. We meet two of them in Nightborn—the Svartálfar, the “dark elves” who live beneath the mountains of the icy land of Norrøngard, and the Wuduælfen, the “wood elves” who live in the forests and cities of the country of Nelenia (and elsewhere).
The dark elves are pale, with skin the color of a mushroom, but have dark hair and dark eyes. They don’t care for sunlight but they can see in pitch black. Right now, their city of Deep Shadow is run by a sort of secret police organization called the Underhand, a Gestapo-like organization that claims to have the people’s best interest at heart, but really, doesn’t have much heart at all. Deep Shadow is a pretty repressive place to live, and if you aren’t in the Underhand you aren’t having fun. But Deep Shadow does have some things going for it. It’s not a patriarchy. Unlike the human Norrønir, the men and women dark elves share equally in positions of power and authority.

One of the dark elves we meet in Nightborn is named Desstra. She’s a young student in training to join the Underhand. She’s very good at fighting with her darts, gas and sticky bombs, spider silk, and other tricks and traps. She’s one of my favorite creations, and I can see how being a dark elf ninja assassin like her would have its appeal. Also, I do have a deep and abiding love of caves, thanks to Adam West. On the one hand, choosing a dark elf could be cool, as long as you were the right dark elf.

On the other hand, the average wood elf generally has a better life. They are (obviously) wood dwellers, in such places as Fairshadow, a major city in the Blackfire Forest . They also live in the human-built cities of Nelenia, with a fairly large population residing in the city of Castlebriar. Unlike the sallow-skinned Svartálfar, the Wuduælfen complexion and hair mirrors the color of trees, ranging from a golden oak to rich mahagony and dark ebony. They drink in taverns, play songs, and live a much freer existence than their distant cousins.

As a child, I grew up spending long hours alone in the ravine behind our house. I would descend into it every day after school and stay until (and sometimes past) sunset, making up imaginary adventures as I explored the creek and the rocks and the trees. I might have started out as a kindred spirit to the Wuduælfen. But if you think this is sounding like a fairly straight forward “dark elf bad, wood elf good” split, you’d be hasty in that judgment. Because things in Katernia are a tad more ambiguous. At least where some wood elves are concerned.

Choosing between wood elves and dark elves isn’t easy, especially since I know what happens to them in Nightborn. Doctor Seuss knows it’s hard to make these kinds of choices. He tells us in Would You Rather Be a Bullfrog? that he couldn’t even decide between being a dog or a cat. So maybe I can be forgiven when I say I don’t have to decide. As the author of Thrones & Bones, I actually get to be a little bit of all of the characters! And in reading Thrones & Bones, so do you.

About the Author:
Lou Anders drew on a recent visit to Norway along with his adventures traveling across Europe in his teens and twenties to write Frostborn and Nightborn, combining those experiences with his love of globe-trotting adventure fiction and games (both tabletop and role- playing) However, he has yet to ride a wyvern. With the addition of characters Desstra and Tanthal, Anders hopes that his second book in the Thrones and Bones series will continue to appeal to boys and girls equally. Anders is the recipient of a Hugo Award for editing and a Chesley Award for art direction. He has published over five hundred articles and stories on science fiction and fantasy television and literature. A prolific speaker, Anders regularly attends writing conventions around the country. He and his family reside in Birmingham, Alabama. You can visit Anders online at and, on Facebook, on Tumblr, and on Twitter at @ThronesandBones and @LouAnders.

Frostborn (Thrones & Bones, #1) Nightborn (Thrones and Bones, #2)


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