Today, please welcome Jim Bernheimer, author of the Spirals of Destiny series and father of two young girls, as he gives us a look at how he decided to write a book about unicorns and young women. Here’s Jim…
I’d like to thank Charlee for allowing me to visit with you fine people today. At book conventions, people often take a look at the unicorn and the young woman on the cover of Spirals of Destiny Book One: Rider and then look at the guy behind the table with a curious gaze and ask what caused me to want to write a series such as this.
Most of the answer can be linked to the Harry Potter series.
I came out of the wonderful world of fanfiction and I cut my teeth on characters from that universe. When I sat down to write my own epic fantasy series, I thought back to the Harry Potter fans. Looking at the release parties, I saw that the crowds who came out for the releases seemed to be skewed more toward females ages thirteen and up.
“Jim,” I thought. “You really ought to write a book appealing to that segment.”
After that, I considered what females from thirteen on up like and what I came up with was a mixture of Black Beauty and Lord of the Rings. Spirals of Destiny is the story of two main characters, Kayleigh Reese and the unicorn she bonds with, Majherri. In fact, the odd numbered chapters are from Majherri’s point of view while the even chapters are from Kayleigh’s. The alternating viewpoints give a sense of how the other character sees their partner. Rider and Unicorn communicate on an empathic level. Unicorns can understand the human language, but (as Majherri would say) the unicorn language is far too complicated for a human to grasp.
When it came to Kayleigh, I wanted to step out of my element of writing a snarky male character (Mike Ross from my Dead Eye series) and the idea of writing a believable and heroic teenaged female would challenge me as an author.
Kayleigh is the classic fish out of water story. She bonds with Majherri by accident at age sixteen where most unicorn riders find their mounts at age thirteen. In my universe bonding isn’t the frolicking in the meadows kind of thing, it’s the “you’ve been drafted to serve in the High-King’s elite cavalry” kind of thing. She has to step out of her small village life and travel to the largest city on the Blessed Continent to the Battle Maiden Academy. The younger riders are suspicious of her and one of her instructors has a grudge against Kayleigh’s unicorn.
A Battle Maiden learns to wield elemental magic and utilize the strength of their bond to become the greatest warrior they can be. They are the High-King’s peacekeepers, ambassadors, and when necessary his special forces. I wanted a departure from what people would expect from a story featuring a unicorn and a young woman and hopefully that’s what readers will see when they read the story.
Majherri is the only unicorn known to have ever survived the wasting – the loss of a rider. Danella Lynch was his first rider. He’s the broken hero, one proud and vain, but now brought low and trying to rise once more. His sister, T’rsa, is Meghan Lynch’s unicorn and Danella’s sister lays the blame for Danella’s loss squarely on his back. Until he met Kayleigh, he’d been ready to give up, but now with a new rider and a chance at redemption, he’s ready to start living once more.
Unicorns have their own culture and society apart from the women who ride them. I didn’t want to do a random “insert fantasy creature in story and go.” I didn’t want werewolves, vampires, or even dragons. I wanted something that hasn’t been done to death, resurrected and done some more.
My long range plans for the series include a total of five books (maybe a sixth depending on how long the plot arcs evolve). By the end of the year, I’m hoping to start on Book Three: Champion after I finish the projects I’m working on right now.
Thanks again to Charlee for hosting me today and I hope you’ll give my humble keystrokes a chance.
About the Books
Forget everything you thought you knew about unicorns and maidens…
A unicorn is not supposed to survive the death of its rider, but Majherri did. Now he is a pariah, mistrusted by the Greater Herd. To reclaim his lost honor and status, he will entrust the remnants of his life to a new human female while unraveling the mystery of his continued existence. Kayleigh Reese is not Battle Maiden material. She’s three years older than any other recruit and has enjoyed a peaceful, nomadic life working with her artist mother. The rigors of joining the High-King’s elite unicorn cavalry are clearly not for her. Now, with a bond to Majherri, she must overcome her mother’s disapproval, the ire of her commanding officer and fellow trainees, and, most importantly, the secrets of her unicorn’s past if she is to become a legendary warrior. To prevail, they must quickly come together as a team and unlock the powerful and dangerous magic inside them.
Forget everything you thought you knew about maidens and unicorns…
A mysterious force has separated Kayleigh Reese and her battle unicorn, Majherri, who now find themselves on opposite sides of a war, each fighting to survive without the other. For Majherri, the unicorn is now controlled by his deranged first rider, and must find a way to free her mind in the hopes of bringing the woman back to the light. Majherri is forced to pick and choose his battles, both physical and mental, if he is to succeed. Along the way, he will have to become stronger than he has ever been to prevent the madness that threatens to consume him.
Meanwhile, Kayleigh, the young sorceress, struggles with an uneasy relationship with her new unicorn. Finding their missing comrades and escaping the ever-expanding warzone are her goals, but forces are already aligning against her. Secrets from her past come to light and force her to reexamine everything she knew about her life. Fighting for her life, she must master her powers and be willing to fight for her freedom against her enemies and even those she once trusted.
Jim lives in Chesapeake, Virginia with his wife Kim, and daughters Laura and Marissa. By day, he works as a Systems Administrator on a government contract and runs his own side Information Technology consulting firm, EJB Networking. Blessed (or cursed depending on your point of view) with an overactive imagination, Jim has long been a fan of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Seeking to put that imagination to use, he has started to write his own orginal works in hopes of making his mark on the literary world.
Jim’s literary influences include well known writers such as Robert Heinlein, Edgar Allen Poe, J.R.R Tolkien, and the not so well-known C.T. Westcott.