Prince Ivan, A. Wolfe & A Firebird by Eric Alan Westfall : Blog Tour, Excerpt, Giveaway, Author Inte
What do you get when you combine a greedy Great Tsar, his two cheating, bullying older sons, his youngest esser (shh! no saying that aloud) son, stolen gold apples, a Firebird quest, A. Wolfe who has the power t’assume a pleasing shape, a magickal sandstorm, as well as two bands and a full Symphony of Gipsumies?
A rollicking, roisterous Russian Fairy Tale, with vigorous esser activities in tents, halls, bedrooms and alcoves, with and without the assistance of PSTs. Plus princely parades, a duel over Gus, new lyrics to an old drinking song, and the possibility of bits of blood, gobs of gore or moments of mayhem. As required by CORA (the Code of RFT Authors), should these occur, your author will give you timely warning.
Ah. Still not ready to part with your kopek-equivalent? Consider the fun you’ll have reading chapters like:
“To Kvetch, Or Not To Kvetch? A Reader’s Choice”
“Ivan Has A Close Encounter Of The F-Word Kind”
“Second Direction Questers vs. The Caliph’s Sayer Of Sooths”
“Will Sasha Succeed In Seducing Prince Ivan?”
“Bad Prince Ivan! No Touch Cage!”
“A Travel Pause For Gratuitous Sex In The Tent—Which Does Not Advance The Plot—At The Insistence Of The Characters”
“A Necessary Interlude To Consider The Age-Old Questing Question: What The [Expletive Of Your Choice, Dear Reader] Do We Do Next?”
If you buy it and try it, you’ll like it, or so says your most talen...er...humble author.
p.s. If Karrie Jax and I have covered you and blurbed you to buy, look for “Dear Reader, Along The Way, Did You Happen To See The Allusion To Olivier?” in the TOC. It’s a spot-the-allusions chance at gift cards of $25, $15, or $10.
166,000 words of story fun and frolic, plus a 2160-word teaser from another MM fairytale: The Tinderbox
Release Date: 7/September/2020
Publisher: Eric Alan Westfall
Cover Artist: Karrie Jax
Genres: fairy tale, fantasy, MM(M), Russian fairy tale
Pairings: MM, possibly MMM
LGBTQ+ Identities: Gay
Keywords/Categories: Russian fairy tale, fantasy, magic, magick, shifter, fairy tale, gay, queer, LGBTQ, fairy tale
Well, unfortunately, given the way Eric talks, we only had time for two questions.
Have you ever written a line, paragraph, or passage, and thought, “Darn, that’s pretty amazing, even if I do say so myself”? What was it?
Answering this question on a tour back in 2018 for no way out, I said:
“To be honest—as all interviewees always are, right?—I have too much ego to have a single “Oh, wow! I done good!” (deliberate, not an oops) moment in anything I write. I enjoy playing with words and phrases, tweaking them until they are, as I so often say, a Goldilocks ‘just right.’”
My answer back then was the chapter titles, because I had so much fun writing them. Previously, I either had no titles, or the titles consisted of the date, time, and place the chapter events were occurring.
I have to say that here, too, the chapter titles were even more fun to write. You can see some samples in the blurb that goes with this interview. Indeed, an author friend with whom I shared the complete set of titles pre-publication said they told a story in and of themselves.
But I also had great fun elsewhere in IWF. Here’s one I particularly like:
One of the main characters is singing a few lines from a song in the famous Gipsumy play, Kiss Me, Katerina!, music by the great Koloff Portrofsky:
Where is the life that late I bore?
Unsullied, pure. I’m pure no more.
Where is the fun I never had?
All round me now. While being bad.
I also decided I wanted to some particularly “Russian” swearing. So there are number of “Baba Yagas” (not to be confused with her younger and prettier sister, Baba Gaga, patroness of performing artists and Gipsumies), scattered throughout. Some examples:
“Why the Baba Yaga throttle you didn’t you just say so?”
It was near enough to flat as makes no Baba Yaga never mind.
“Then what the may a beyond angry, outraged Baba Yaga visit you and stay for a month went wrong?”
True. In a had Baba Yaga whacked him in the head with her pestle and addled his brains? kind of a way.
A. Wolfe has the power t’assume a “what the Baba Yaga drop her mobile mortar on your head from a great height are you talking about?” look. He gave Miki a good one.
What in Baba Yaga’s nose, warts and all, are you doing?
What the May Baba Yaga shove me in her oven and turn the flames up high, just happened?
Oh. There’s also the famous song about Baba Yaga’s lye soap, good for everything around your place. Pots, pans, dirty dishes, hands, face. Though the song says if you use it for your ears you might not hear a word in years.
Q: Who designed your cover art? What was the process like, from beginning to end, coming up with the design?
I love answering this question.
Sometimes I work with an artist who will create an original painting. For example, Roberto Quintero for two of the Another England books: Mr. Felcher’s Grand Emporium, or, The Adventures of a Pair of Spares in the Fine Art of Gentlemanly Portraiture (No. 2) and no way out (No. 3). That process involves describing what the men look like, how they interact with each other, and the artist coming up with a sketch, and us working together for the sketch-tweaks that will allow him to paint. no way out was from a key scene in the book, while Grand Emporium was purely Roberto’s design, and so perfect it called for a new chapter based on it.
Other times I will work with designers who use stock photos, combined with their own artistry in placement, colors, tones, fonts, etc.—with “etc.” indicating all the many things I don’t know about using photos this way—to create the cover.
This time around, I was privileged to once again work with Karrie Jax. I first met Karrie when she came to the GRL conference in 2016 (my one and only conference participation) and gave me a color print of what I now know would be considered a “meme” from one of my books. I was flabbergasted, awed by the quality, and amazed at her generosity in doing that for me.
She designed several covers for me after that, and on 12/9/19 I gave her a “heads up” that a story about a prince named Ivan, a wolf, a firebird and a golden apple might be coming up. Between then and 12/15 I miraculously added 11,500 words to the original 3200(ish) from 2017, and told Karrie that day that Prince Ivan, A Wolfe & A Firebird would definitely be the next project.
In my infinite artistic wisdom <gag! choke! cough! ahem!> I thought the extremely complex intricacies of traditional Russian art about Ivan and the firebird would make the perfect cover, with just title and author added. So I sent a link to a Google page with several scores of those images. Wondered, too, if she would be able to find any that would be affordable.
The true artistic wisdom and talent—Karrie’s, of course, not mine—then came into play. On December 17, 2019, she sent me a “first draft.” I was more than happy to let her know she’d nailed it, and on 12/18 she sent me the final versions. I went on typing away and made an interesting discovery, so I sent her an email on 12/27/19, saying:
I recently discovered that the magickal wolfe has a name: Aleksander. He's a relative of the famous story-character T. Wolfe, he of the four legs, fur and fangs, who starred in a pivotal plot point in the Tinderbox tale, when he told our hero Charlie, “You. Can't. Go. Home. Again.”
It seemed discourteous not to address Aleksander properly. So the title is: Prince Ivan, A. Wolfe, & A Firebird.
The next day it was done.
Thus endeth the true tale of how this cover came about.
IVAN PUTS HIS HORSE AT RISK, AND MEETS A. WOLFE
“A wolf who talks,” Ivan said, his voice all full of surprise.
“I am not a wolf, Prince Ivan, I am A. Wolfe.”
Ivan lifted an eyebrow, in his long-perfected “inquiring princes want to know what you mean” mode, while wondering what effect it might have on such an enormous beast. Well, not a beast, exactly, since it could talk.
No reaction, except the bright gold eyes—so like one of his father’s apples, well-polished after plucking, or the gold circles in the Firebird’s tail—stared back, unblinking.
Since his eyebrow inquiry failed to a verbal response, it was Ivan’s turn to talk. Politeness had worked with the Firebird, when used in place of “I am royal, hear me roar” arrogance, and might be best for Ivan’s well-being in the current situation, conversing with a wolf, the top of whose head was above Gus’ shoulder.
“‘A wolf who talks,’” yes. My exact words, Sir Wolf.”
The wolf opened his mouth. Wide. No mere flash this time. Ivan was fully fanged. As they had only just met, he could not tell whether he was being fang-grinned for a reason he could not fathom, or fierce-fanged to frighten him. If it was the latter, there was a glimmer of starting-to-work happening.
But the wolf’s voice was neither fierce nor fun-filled when he hid most of his fangs and talked again. His tone was a goblet of great size, filled not just to the brim but overflowing—with more coming from somewhere so the over kept on flowing—with...patience. The kind of patience you use for, with, and on, those who are not very bright. Indeed, those who are so dim that if their brains were used to provide light for reading at night they’d be as effective as an inch-tall stub of a quarter-inch wide candle, set in a candlestick in the bowels of a cavern on the far side of a mountain range five-and-a-half eighths of a continent away.
“When you bathe, do you clean your ears, Prince Ivan?” [See above for how he said it.]
A sigh was heard.
Ivan wished he’d brought along a sigh that big, but then, since it was a large wolf letting it loose, accompanied by, Ivan was almost sure, a hint of a scent of pasta, pesto, garlic and butter, Ivan might not have been able to use it with the same effect. The sigh might almost have been designed to complement the show-patience-to-the-afflicted voice.
“Do. You. Clean—”
“I heard you the first time, Sir Wolf. I just don’t understa—”
It was the wolf’s turn to interrupt. “It’s clear you don’t understand, young prince. I was trying to ascertain whether your inability to understand plain Russian was based on a physical defect—stuffed ears, whether unclean or for another reason, bad hearing, something of that sort—and if not, on some mental lack which in theory requires me to be considerate and gentle.”
There was a tiny pause, so infinitesimal Ivan would have had no chance to get a syllable of a word in edgewise, sidewise, upwise, or downwise, even had he tried. “You do understand kindness and gentleness are not traits associated with a wolf, and especially not A. Wolfe?”
At the end of this series of insults, the Great Tsar would have raged, calling on his ever-present Imperial Guards to “Rid me of this wolf!”
Anatol would have ranted about the presumptuousness of peasants who did not know or stay in their proper place, probably forgetting who had just offended his sense of propriety.
Vlad would have grabbed his sword, and whether from horseback, or following a grandiose leap to the ground which displayed his awesome athleticism for the admiration of any viewers lurking in the vicinity—it was his policy to always act as if he was being viewed with admiration—would have started hewing and hacking away.
In part because Ivan suspected the outcome would have been the same with all three of those scenes—dead soldiers, dead royal family, likely including bystander youngest prince—Ivan chose the fourth door...and laughed.
He couldn’t say why he saw—thought he saw—a twinkle of humor in the great golden eyes. But he must have been right, because the wolf didn’t leap up, all howling, growling and slavering, and drag him off Gus before doing the devouring which would logically follow offending laughter.
Ivan forced a halt to his own humor. With gasps interrupting his initial words, he said, “My apologies, Sir Wolf. I was not laughing at you. It was an image in my head of my family’s reactions to your words, and yours to theirs. However, with all the respect to which you are entitled, which seems to be at least a reasonable amount”—Ivan was willing to be reasonable, but not obsequious—“I have no mental or physical defect which interferes with my hearing or my understanding. Perhaps the, ah, flaw lies in your explanation of what you mean? Or, you might consider, the lack of one?”
Ivan gave the wolf a princely grin of satisfaction with his response.
Wolfe gave the prince back a wolfeish huff. “I’ll entertain the possibility you might be right, if you’ll entertain the possibility you are not listening as well as you should.”
“Very well. Repeat after me, ‘A wolf is not the same as A. Wolfe.’”
“A wolf is not the same as a wolf.”
Wolfe sighed again. He apparently had an inexhaustible supply, in a wide range of sizes.
“A wolf is an animal, Prince Ivan. It resembles me, but is far smaller, roams the forest, howls from time to time for various reasons, and at times for no reason at all. Perhaps because it doesn’t reason. I am a wolfe—with an ‘e’ at the end. Which means I have magickal skills. My name is: A...full stop...Wolfe.”
Ivan grinned again. “Your first name is Afullstop? What an unusual name. Not Russian, is it?”
“No. Not an ‘uh’ sound, but a long a-sound, which rhym... You’re teasing.”
Ivan learned another lesson in wolfe-prince relations. A wolf-with-an-e-at-the-end could grin, without his fangs looking all fearsome.
Ivan widened his own grin. “I am. So what does long-A stand for?”
“A handsome name for a handsome wolf-with-an-e.”
Ivan paused. He shouldn’t, he really shouldn’t, but he decided he would, anyway. “Sir Wolfe, now that I know your name is A. Wolfe, and since we are being so precise with our pronunciations, are you really quite certain I shouldn’t call you ‘A. Wolfie?’ To be sure the final ‘e’ gets its just and proper due?”
Ah. So that’s what a Wolfeish glare looked like with a fillip of fang.
Eric is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour.
Eric is an American Midwesterner, and as Lady Glenhaven might say, “He’s old enough to have sailed with Noah.” In the real world he writes for a living, with those who would claim what he writes is fiction. His partner of thirty years—who died unexpectedly in 1995—enthusiastically encouraged him to try to get his writing published (mostly poetry back then, plus some short stories), but he didn’t have the guts to do so until 2013. At this point he’s not sure which was officially first, The Song, or Like a Mountain, Waiting.
Starting then, he’s published 13 novels and novellas, 1 poetry collection, 2 short story collections, and 3 short stories. God willin’ and the crick don’t rise, 2020 will also see The Tinderbox out and about. But since real life is, as we all know, a pain in the (anatomical site of your choice)...no guarantees.
Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/Eric-Alan-Westfall-1045476662268838/
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