Tuesday 6 May 2014

Guest Post & Giveaway - Dark Tidings by Ken Magee

Dark Tidings
Author: Ken Magee
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Ragged Cover Publishing
Pages: 312
Language: English
Format: Print & eBook

Book Description:
What happens when ancient magic meets the internet? One thing is certain, modern life will never be the same again.

A thousand years ago, a young thief, Tung, and a disgraced wizard, Madrick, are thrust together in an executioner’s dungeon. In the darkness, Madrick reveals an incredible secret about a legendary spell. The great spell helps them escape their prison cell... and eventually their century.

Catapulted into the present day, their lives collide with Michael, a computer hacker who plans to destroy the world’s largest bank. But sinister people are tracking their every move and they will stop at nothing to steal their spell.

Dark Tidings is book one of the spellbinding Dark Tidings trilogy.

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Guest Post - World Building

Some fantasy writers have to work incredibly hard to build a mystical world for their characters to inhabit. There are so many questions to answer. What colour is the sky? How many moons are visible? Is there vegetation and what about gravity and air? There is so much detail we take for granted in our ‘normal’ world. We know about night and day, and how long a day lasts. We know about history and how our world came to be the way it is. We understand descriptions of architecture, culture, fashion, religion, crime and punishment, weapons and war, currency, food, how long people live and, naturally, language.

Of course, not all of this needs to be considered when building a new world, but the author needs to know enough about his imagined habitat to ensure everything around his characters remains consistent. And indeed, his characters personalities, aims and ambitions will all be shaped by the environment in which they live.
Authors of contemporary, historical or urban fantasy have a much easier time, or do they? I thought it might be interesting to jot down a few of the things I do to draw the reader into the story and make them believe that magic is real and it’s all around them. And by the way, it is.

The story in Dark Tidings, the first book in my ‘ancient magic meets the Internet’ trilogy, began in medieval times, an age when magic dominated society. Let’s have a quick look at just a couple of the ways I built the illusion of the medieval world. Using the Internet, I researched the relevant years and made sure the buildings, customs, clothes and foods pretty much reflected the period… that really wasn’t too difficult.

I have plenty of scenes which reflect life a thousand years ago. There is poverty, most of the food is rubbish, ordinary people suffer arbitrary imprisonment, torture is commonplace and rich folk (like the barons and earls) have all the power. Actually, not much has changed if you think about it.

On top of that, the story is peppered with real events, like the battle of Hastings or the problem with the Vikings. I think introducing things, with which people are familiar, adds to the believability and once again helps blur the reader’s perception of what’s real and what isn’t. The blurrier the line between fact and fiction, the more credible the whole story becomes.

The characters’ names are important too. I want them to either sound right or be right for the period. And if I can use the name to build a little amusing anecdote, that’s a bonus. Let me take Courtney as the example. I was surprised to discover it was a popular medieval name. It’s derived from the nickname for a person with a snub nose, from the old French ‘court nez’… court (short) and nez (nose). It was also the nickname of a hero from a medieval story… an axe took off the tip of his nose in a battle. Now’s there’s a little story which needed to be told. Interesting, true and fun.

As a side note, I have a particular dislike of names which are difficult to say, they slow my reading each time I encounter them. Some Sci-Fi authors are particularly prone to this. Come on guys, I don’t need to learn how to pronounce Xyegraroxivert to believe he’s from another planet.

One thing I decided not to do in my thousand year old world was make my characters use medieval language. A few reviewers commented about that, but I’m happy with my decision. The vocabulary was extremely limited back then and I felt that restricting myself would detract from the storytelling without really adding to the authenticity of the setting. For example, how many people know that the word ‘money’ wasn’t used until about 1250? Does using that word really destroy the image I’m building? I don’t think so.

Through the use of magic, my characters get transported to the twenty-first century and that’s where the main part of the story takes place. The travellers do get confused by modern terminology, customs and of course, technology. I think that’s enough to keep the reader believing they’ve travelled a thousand years across time. And, of course, some of the misunderstandings are very funny.

Once the story had moved into the modern era, the challenge for me as a writer was to make the reader believe that magic and dark conspiracies really do exist all around us. One technique I used was to interlace little sub-plots which suggested that some of the phenomena we think we can explain with science are in fact a result of magic or the action of supernatural powers e.g. global warming, the expanding universe, weather forecasting and evolution. I think this helps blur the line between fact and fiction. So much so, that I now believe half the things I made up… which isn’t going to help me if I’m ever asked to write an article for a science journal.

Oh, my computer’s reminding me about my next appointment. The magic of technology!

Thanks for reading this and please leave a comment or get in touch if you have any

About the Author
Most folk believe that technology rules their lives. They’re wrong. Dark conspiracies and ancient magic actually dominate this world. My one mission in life is to open people’s eyes to that fact.

I hide behind the pretence that I write fiction to ensure I don't attract unwelcome attention; deadly attention.

My name is Ken Magee and I tell people I write contemporary fantasies which blend adventure and humour with technology and magic. My books live under the tagline ‘ancient magic meets the Internet’. Dark Tidings, The Black Conspiracy and A Darker Shade of Black make up the trilogy.

Here’s the rest of my cover story...

I worked for many years in the computer industry in a wide variety of roles including programming, systems analysis and sales. In the middle of it all, I served in the Naval Reserve for five years... which was hard work, but fun. In 2010, I decided to make time to finish the book I’d started many years earlier (writing not reading). I would have finished it sooner, but life got in the way. It’s finished now (the book, not life), but I don’t think any of the original story survived the process.

I love reading, writing and words. I also have a keen interest in music, technology, movies, travel and the Internet.

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5 Kindle or PDF editions of Dark Tidings up for grabs.

Ends May 26th (midnight GMT).

Open internationally.

Contest is void where prohibited. Entrants must be 13 or else have parent or guardian’s permission to enter. Winners will be notified via email and will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be selected. The winner will be posted on this page after the winner responds. Winning entries will be verified for authenticity.


  1. Star Trek universe I would like to escape to. Thanks for the giveaway.

  2. I'd love to escape to Middle Earth, Narnia or Pandora.