Author Beth Bernobich is a fantasy novelist known for her River of Souls novels and more recently, The Time Roads. She now seeks to celebrate The River of Souls trilogy by kickstarting a coda story for it, Nocturnall.
The author graciously consented to answer a few questions about the River of Souls novels and her Kickstarter for Nocturnall.
Paul Weimer: For those readers unfamiliar with you, who is Beth Bernobich?
Beth Bernobich: I’m an author of fantasy, science fiction, and alternate history. I have five novels published, and my short stories have appeared in places such as Asimov’s, Interzone, Strange Horizons, and Tor.com.
I’m also a voracious reader. I love SF/F, of course, but I also read mysteries, romance, literary, and historical fiction. Jane Austen is my hero.
And I’m definitely a geek of the software variety. I began in the field back in the 1980s out of curiosity, and these days I’m doing web development. (C#, MVC, .NET, JQuery, and a few other acronyms)
PW: Your kickstarter for Nocturnall is for a coda for your River of Souls Trilogy (Passion Play, Queen’s Hunt, Allegiance). Tell us a a bit about the series
BB: The River of Souls trilogy is an epic fantasy set in a world with magic and multiple lives. That’s the general tagline. More specifically, the story is about a young woman named Ilse Zhalina who flees marriage with a cruel and abusive man. Her flight lands her on the doorstep of Lord Raul Kosenmark, once a councilor to the old king, and now exiled from court. But as Ilse discovers, Kosenmark continues to influence the kingdom’s politics through a shadow court of friends and allies. War between the kingdoms is looming, and Kosenmark wants to prevent that. But there are old enemies from court and, as Ilse learns, old conflicts from previous lifetimes. In the end, she must make a dangerous journey that echoes one she attempted years and lives before.
PW: The use of reincarnated lives in novels as a major plot element is an uncommon one (Katherine Kerr and Steven Brust come to mind). Why use that structure in the River of Souls series?
BB:It was a question of what if? What if characters had a second chance, multiple chances, to revisit old mistakes? What if these chances came in different lifetimes? Then there’s the matter of fate and free will. What if both were in play? Someone might have the freedom to choose, but their nature draws them back to the same situation time after time.
PW: I detect some notes of Sherwood Smith in your epic fantasy and your fantasy in general. Who else were your models and heroes in creating the world of River of Souls?
BB: To be honest, I wasn’t using any particular author (or authors) when I wrote these books. However, I do have a number of authors I used as inspiration reading. Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman’s The Fall of the Kings has such exquisite prose and a lovely complexity of characters. Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin series contains both the grand sweep of history and the intensely personal stories of its main characters. Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series isn’t afraid to hurt the characters–deeply at times–but there’s also the possibility of healing and redemption.
PW: The magic in your universe uses an seemingly invented language. How did you construct it?
BB:The language is actually Middle High German, with just a few tweaks. I was a German major in college and one of my loves is the history of languages. I decided that using Middle High German as my starting point would give me a plausible language structure and vocabulary, and it would carry with it a sense of antiquity. Plus it gave me an excuse for buying another dictionary.
PW: Nocturnall is set 35 years after the series. What prompted you to zoom out so far after the series end. Why *this* story?
BB: Allegiance ended on a high note. My characters achieved everything they’d been working toward, not only in this lifetime, but for the past several centuries of lifetimes. I wanted that moment to stand alone.
I also wanted my characters to grow old and settled. I wanted them to have children, children grown and launched into lives and pursuits of their own. Thirty-five years gives me all that, with the ability for my characters to look both backward and forward.
As for this particular story, I wanted to write about a turning point both for Ilse and Raul and the land they govern.
PW: You’ve written two other stories in this universe (River of Souls and Thief of War). Are there other stories in this universe left to tell?
BB: Yes, definitely. In the “written but needs revisions” category, I have a short story set a three or four years after Allegiance. I also have a novel called Edge of the Empire, set 500 years before the trilogy and with the same characters in their previous lifetime. (You can even find references to that lifetime in Queen’s Hunt.) Beyond that, I would love to explore the aftermath of Allegiance in the other two kingdoms, and there are several secondary characters from the trilogy who deserve their own stories.
PW: What else would you like to tell our readers about Nocturnall, its Kickstarter and your work in general?
BB: Nocturnall is my celebration of the books, and I want to make its publication something special–custom cover art, a limited print edition, possibly interior illustrations. I can’t say much more without spoiling the plot, but I believe that fans of the books will love this coda to the trilogy.