Saturday, September 5, 2015

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Paul E. Horsman, Light Fantasy Adventure Author

Paul E. Horsman, Author
The Shadow of Revenant
International Dutch author Paul E. Horsman writes light fantasy adventure stories for teens 15+ years old. He creates characters of  “a diverse cast and both female and male heroes” and claims his villains are all “disliked heartily.” He believes that the key word to attract teenage readers is ‘adventure.’ His The Shadow of the Revenaunt includes two books: RHIDAUNA (Book 1) and ZIHAEN (Book 2).

Although Dutch, Horsmsan prefers to write in English. He lives in Roosendaal, a town on the Dutch-Belgian border. A full-time writer, he is currently working on several new books and also plans to soon republish the third Revenaunt-book, Ordelanden. When he’s not writing, he enjoys playing computer games.

Q: Why do you write in the fantasy genre? What traits do you believe are most important for this genre? Do you believe fantasy is a superior genre to reach teenage readers?

Paul E. Horsman: Fantasy is for me the medium to express myself best in. I’ve always been interested in history, mythology, folklore and foreign lands, and here I can mix them into new patterns. I am not of the Tolkien school (though I love the books very much), and I am certainly not a dark and gritty writer. I have been told my stories have a distinct RPG feel to them. I have played many computer games, from Baldur’s Gate up to World of Warcraft, so I suppose that style stuck on me. I like to describe them as light fantasy adventure.

I think it is important to be both original and recognizable, especially for teenagers. Now the first two Revenaunt books were also the first two I wrote, so they are more in the traditional line than my later novels like ‘Lioness of Kell’. Still, like all my books, they have a diverse cast and both female and male heroes.

Q: The Shadow of the Revenaunt includes two books: RHIDAUNA and ZIHAEN. Do any of these names signify anything? If so, what? Or did you just want to create interesting-sounding names?

Paul E. Horsman: When I thought of titles for my book series, I wanted something short. The subtitle The Shadow of the Revenaunt is long enough. I settled for the names of the countries most important in the story. For Book 1, that is Rhidauna, the homeland of my hero Ghyll and his foster brother Olle. Rhidauna is a kingdom comparable to the Dutch/German lands and the Yanthe River where the story begins is a bigger version of the Rhine, with mountains and castles.

For Book 2, I chose Zihaen, the scene of the story finale. Zihaen is a steppe land; endless grass intersected by rivers, populated by nomads. Of the mighty civilization that once flourished here, only ruins are left.

Q: In stories of castles, sorcerers, monstrous firebirds and black-clad golems, how important is ‘credibility?’ How do you draw the teenage reader into an unreal world? Are there rules that need to be followed? What will lose their interest?

Paul E. Horsman:  To my mind, credibility is always important, and certainly for fantasy. Everything I imagine must have a logical explanation. This doesn’t need to be scientifically correct, but it must be both believable and consistent.

I think the characters are the main anchor. When the reader can identify with them and their actions, the rest, like magic and monsters, will be accepted as a matter of course.

The key word of interest to a teenager would be ‘adventure’. To keep them reading, my books are very fast-paced, and there is a lot of action in them. Their Dutch rating is for ages 15+.

Q: How did you envision your “world building” for The Shadow of the Revenaunt? Did you create the world first and then follow with your characters?

Paul E. Horsman:  With ‘Revenaunt’ the world developed as I wrote. I do a lot of research while writing, and I note down everything to stay consistent. In that I am a typical pantser (writing by the seat of my pants), instead of a plotter.

Q: What makes your readers engage with your characters? Do they look for heroes? Do they favor villains? What makes a good villain? Are their good “creatures” and bad “creatures?”

Paul E. Horsman: I have a lot of characters in my stories. Now I have noticed readers don’t all relate with the same heroes. Some like Ghyll best, others run away with Olle, his foster brother, or with the young mage Bo. Many people like my female characters (Uwella in Book 1, Kerianna in Book 2).

My villains are disliked heartily, but then they are really nasty types. The goals of their organization are very destructive, and my villains are all of the egoistical, conscienceless kind – by definition are the heroes and villains of Revenaunt good and bad. Now my heroes are not shiningly perfect; they have flaws, uncertainties and shortcomings like everyone else. The villains are ruthless, overconfident and arrogant, and not meant to be likeable.

Q: How helpful is humor to develop your characters or story? Can you make jokes in a fantasy world?

Paul E. Horsman:  Humor is a necessary ingredient (unless you are writing a certain famous dark  fantasy series of course!). There is a lot of wordplay and lighthearted banter in my dialogues.

Q: Do you write your fantasy stories solely to entertain and absorb teenagers in books? Or do you also try to deliver a message or two?

Paul E. Horsman:  The main thing all my books have in common, is equality. I have male and female heroes, gay heroes and heroes of color. It is not meant as a message per se, but it is a basic part of my worlds.  

Q: Having lived in the Netherlands for a year, I am well aware of the language ability of the Dutch. However, I’m curious if as a Dutch-born author you find it difficult to write stories in English?

Paul E. Horsman:  Actually, I prefer writing in English to Dutch. The difficulty is not so much in the language, as in the cultural differences, especially when I am writing about POC, gender and cultures. With readers in other countries there sometimes are differences in historical backgrounds that make it easier to unintentionally offend. I have several beta readers in both US and UK, but even so the risk remains.  

Q:  What’s next?

Paul E. Horsman:  The third Revenaunt-book, Ordelanden, will be republished soon. It was completely rewritten, and extended from 75.000 to 111.000 words, with more story, more characters and a lot more adventure.

I am working on several new titles. Grimoires, a parallel story to Ordelanden, telling the adventures of the mage Bo Lusindral and his hunt for the Revenaunt’s spell books. Also Broomrider, a standalone sequel to Lioness of Kell twenty-five years later, when the earlier heroes’ children fight a powerful undead mage.

Q: Tell us about Paul E. Horsman. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Paul E. Horsman:  Well, I’m the least interesting part of all this... I’ve been in education until mid-2012 – working with immigrants and refugees, teaching them Dutch and preparing them for naturalization. My job became privatized, what made me too expensive. I have been out of work since then. I’m single and three years away from retirement. Now I spend my days as a full-time writer. My health isn’t optimal, so I don’t go out much anymore and when not writing, or researching, I am playing computer games.

About Paul E. Horsman

Paul E. Horsman (1952) is a Dutch and International Fantasy Author. Born in the sleepy garden village of Bussum, The Netherlands, he now lives in Roosendaal, a town on the Dutch-Belgian border.

He has been a soldier, a salesman, a scoutmaster and from 1995 till his school closed in 2012 a teacher of Dutch as a Second Language and Integration to refugees from all over the globe.

Being unemployed and economically overage, yet still some years away from retirement, he is a full-time writer of epic light fantasy adventures. His books are both published in the Netherlands, and internationally.


The night before his Coming-of-Age, Ghyll and his two friends escape their castle on a clandestine boar hunt that will forever change their lives. The hunt proves a disaster, and with one of them badly wounded, they return just in time to see their island castle destroyed by macabre warriors from a dragon boat, and by flocks of fire-breathing birds. Ghyll's eighteenth birthday turns into a nightmare as they flee into the night.

Now begins an epic journey to find out who is trying to kill them – and most importantly, why?
Fortunately, they can count on the help of new friends, including a sometimes overly enthusiastic fire mage, an inexperienced paladin and a young beastmistress who is also a ferocious mountain lioness. It soon becomes clear that not one but several sorcerers want to kill them. Are those blackrobes really followers of a terrible, long-forgotten organization?


And whose cold hand reaches across the boundaries of space and time to crush weakened Rhidauna?
How did his parents and brothers die? Where their deaths really accidents, or were they killed? These questions young Ghyll Hardingraud must answer before he can ascend Rhidauna's throne.

Ghyll’s search for the truth leads him and his Companions on a journey back to the past as he slowly unravels a dark conspiracy.

Once crowned, the young King Ghyll still has to finish the mission his dead uncle imposed on him. The journey takes him and his trusted friends through inhospitable lands and dangerous swamps to the endless steppes of Zihaen, looking for the Voice from the West. He discovers he isn't the only one. His vindictive enemy pursues him, aided by undead forces.


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