22 June, 2014

#SpecialFeature :: #GuestPost - An Abundance of Odd-Ball Characters by Mike Phillips

Now Presenting:
*** SPECIAL FEATURE - June 2014 ***

In ancient times, magical creatures inhabited the earth. They lived on mountaintops, in trees, at the bottom of lakes and rivers. But that was long ago, before the human race declared war on the creatures they feared and hated. Now the enchanted peoples are all but gone. Those few that remain fear being stretched out on an examination table in some secret, governmental facility. The only place they can hide from the ever increasing number of satellites and smart phones is in the World Below. 

Mitch Hardy is going through a hard time in his life. In his early twenties, he was working his way through college when he suffered an accident that left him flat broke and physically deformed. When Mitch decides to make a fresh start in a new town, things start looking up. He finds a place to live, a decent job, good friends. He even meets a nice girl. Unknown to Mitch, his new girlfriend is one of the Elder Race, what some call the Faerie Folk. Mitch doesn’t know that Elizabeth is looking for a father she never knew. The key to finding him is somehow tied up with the mysterious Blade of Caro. Desperate, she steals the Blade from its protector, the despotic ruler of the World Below, the Dragon of Worms, Baron Finkbeiner. When Elizabeth is kidnapped by the Baron, Mitch is pulled into a world or magic and monsters he never imagined.


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An Abundance of Odd-Ball Characters

Hello everyone, and thank you for reading my guest post. My name is Mike Phillips and my new book is The World Below. I was asked to talk a little about the characters in the book, so I thought it might be fun to discuss some of the lesser known weirdoes that make an appearance. An important part of the book is that all the fairy tale creatures of legend still exist, hiding in a place known as the World Below, a sort of refugee camp for those creatures that don’t have enough magic to blend into modern society. As a result, the book is absolutely packed with an abundance of odd-ball characters. 

When our hero, Mitch Hardy, becomes involved with Lady Elizabeth, herself one of the Faerie Folk and a little offbeat, he has no idea what strange people he is bound to meet. The first and most prominent, of course, is Puttygut and the other goblins. After an act of kindness, the goblins adopt Mitch as one of their own. As it turns out, goblins aren’t as all bad as they are made out to be in myth and legend. They are a fun bunch of guys to be around, if they smell bad and behave like fifth grade boys. 

The first creatures Mitch encounters after he meets Puttygut and his crew are the goblin’s mortal enemies, the Ferikrakneh Imps. The Ferikrakneh have been trying to take over the landfill and get rid of the goblins for as long as either can remember. The Imps are tiny little creatures, vaguely human-shaped, but tough. When Mitch accidentally reveals the location of the goblin hideout, the Ferikrakneh are ready to attack. There are so many of the little buggers, that Mitch and the Goblins are soon overwhelmed, and have to resort to drastic measures to escape their wrath.

Later in the story, desperate to find Elizabeth (describing the circumstances surrounding it would be a terrible spoiler) Mitch asks the goblins for help. There are many strange and wondrous creatures in the World Below, but only one that has the information they need. The Mulak is a sorceress and seer of great power. The goblins all fear her, but they know she can be bought. The Mulak has a weakness they can exploit, a serious drug addiction. A case of heroine is her price. After a taste, she tells them what they need to know, changes herself into a spider, and continues her sad decline into oblivion.

Baron Finkbeiner is the despotic ruler of the World Below. His dungeon is filled with all sorts of dangerous creatures. To keep them in line, the guard must be equally as formidable. The Baron’s jailer is just such a person, though you wouldn’t know it by looking at him. The jailer is a squat, funny little man. Like many of the inhabitants of the World Below, the jailer is possessed of unusual powers. When the Baron’s henchman throws a tantrum and obliterates part of the dungeon, we find out that the jailer is nearly invincible to physical attack. His body is homogenous, all made up of the same stuff, like a Gollum of clay. Picking debris from his body, he explains to the henchman the importance of being able to get along with others.

Inside Finkbeiner’s dungeon, there is a creature known only as the Blackness. It has no shape or form. It looks like a cloud of black dust. Though it as no physical body, the creature seems to have all the senses that people do. It can even talk. The Blackness is held in prison by an enchanted collar made of silver. The creature has fallen in love with Lady Elizabeth, and when the Baron’s henchman comes to do her harm, it does everything it can to protect her.

We end this discussion with one of the strangest creatures of all, the Gooch. It is a shape shifting, pan-dimensional being that is drawn to supernatural creatures as a food source. When it can’t get that, any road kill will do. As the Gooch first appears, it takes the form of a mailbox. People with magical ability may be able to see it, but normal humans can’t. The Gooch is so good at hiding itself from the general public that there must be some sort of magical influence involved. Later on the Gooch takes the form of a basketball, and then a garbage dumpster. Characters in the book often have questions about the Gooch, the typical answer to most of those questions being, “no one really knows what that thing is.” As a writer, it’s fun sometimes to leave things up in the air, allow the reader to fill in the gaps, maybe even give yourself some room for the character to play a wider role in future projects. That is my hope for the Gooch. As I write the sequel to The World Below, the Gooch is already making trouble for our hero, Mitch Hardy. That, however, is a story for another time.

Thank you so much for joining me. I hope you check out all the strange characters in The World Below. Please visit me at mikephillipsfantasy.com.

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Mike Phillips grew up on a small farm in West Michigan, living much the way people did at the turn of the century. Whether it was growing fruits and vegetables or raising livestock, Mike learned the value of hard work and responsibility at a young age. 
While his friends spent their summers watching reruns of bad sitcoms, Mike’s father gave him a very special gift. He turned off the television. With what was affectionately referred to as “the idiot box” no longer a distraction, Mike was left to discover the fantastic worlds that only exist in books. When not tending sheep, gardening, building furniture, chopping wood, or just goofing off, Mike spent his time reading. 

With all that hard work at home, Mike was always eager to go to school. He excelled as a student and went on to pursue a career in the sciences. Working as a Safety Engineer in the Insurance Industry, Mike soon became bored with the corporate grind. Writing engaged him like nothing else. After a few novels and numerous short stories, he thought getting published would be a pretty neat idea. And so, here it goes…

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