Let’s look today at Whispers From the Depths, a new fantasy from my friend C.W. Briar!
And first, I gotta just take a moment to appreciate that cover. Water magic, anyone?
Joyful and blessed are Voice-bearers, for the Heavens have set them apart.
As Whisperers gifted with the Voice, Betka and her people are enslaved. Only they can control the dangerous spirits that haunt the waters, but they are forced to serve under cruel taskmasters. Betka has little hope of freedom from her service or her own bitterness.
They toil for the goodness of others.
A powerful water spirit terrorizes the castle where Betka’s sister is serving. Betka is assigned to the crew sailing to face the foe, and she fears for the only family she has left.
Rage is found nowhere in them.
In the beleaguered, flooded castle, a new threat awaits—a magic more powerful and horrifying than anything they have ever seen. Loyalties will be tested, and enemies will become desperate allies.
Betka is their only hope of escape—if she can subdue the wrath that endangers them all.
She who wields the waters for revenge drowns herself tenfold.
Let’s sit down and chat a bit with C.W. himself about the book.
Describe the world of Whispers From The Depths
The story began with Beowulf and its Viking culture. That’s not to say it’s all horned helmets and singing rabbits (wait, that’s Bugs Bunny), but the warrior-centric society is there. There’s also quite a bit of Old Testament Judea mixed into the design.
In this world, Whisperers that used to be the priests and priestesses. Their main responsibility was keeping the people safe from water spirits. Now, however, the Whisperers are slaves of the ruling class. This is the only life the main character, Betka, has known.
The Whisperers can control water with their Voice, but it can’t be used to harm others. If they do, the Whisperer suffers as well. That struggle is central to Betka’s struggles and the Whisperer teachings.
Who are the main characters?
There’s Betka, of course? Her main goal is finding a way to escape her captors, that is until she hears her sister’s life is in danger. There’s also Asi, who’s another Whisperer. She’s more devoted to their teachings about caring for others.
Then there are the warriors who range from indifferent to outright hostile toward Betka’s people. Captain Rorlen is the face of that hate. Several of his men are nearly as bad. And then there’s Kuros, who’s devoted to the captain but also quick to defuse tense situations with humor.
All of them come face-to-face with the threat that attacked Betka’s sister’s village. Spirits in this world … let’s just say they could kill you in a hundred terrible ways with the water from a kiddie pool.
Finally, there’s Betka’s grandfather, who appears in a few chapters. His story adds to the full perspective of the story.
What inspired the book?
I wanted to scare people, and my critique group chastised me.
Whispers From The Depths began as a short story idea, but it grew into a full novel thanks to my critique group’s advice. From the beginning, I wanted a story with three things: (1) a terrifying clash of water magic, (2) characters and relationships straining through a truly awful situation, and (3) an exploration of how we can love enemies.
We regularly hear that love conquers evil. You’ve got hippies telling us to “make love, not war.” In Christianity and other religions, we’re reminded of the power of love and kindness. But how, exactly, does love overcome an enemy that wants to hate and hurt you? That was central to the story.
What do you mean that you “wanted to scare people”? Is this a horror story?
In a lot of ways, yes. It’s a mature story, but one that’s suitable for teens who like stories with a bit of grit. I read a lot of horror, and that kind of suspense is there, but I’m not disemboweling people on every page in excruciating details. I aimed for dark and scary, and death is never far away, but I believe dark fantasy is a more accurate description. Along with the terror, there’s also lots of wonder, action, and magic.
It’s a story that hits hard like a tsunami and doesn’t leave a lot of room for coming up for a breath. The horror level is in that valley between fantasy and horror, kind of like Jurassic Park and Stranger Things. Creepy enough for horror fans, but not so creepy that regular genre folks can’t enjoy it.
What else do you have on your plate?
I hope to have at least early drafts of two more novels done this year. One is a gothic horror/comedy/mystery. Fans of Gideon and Rose from my short story Ghoul will have something to cheer about.
I also have two short stories coming out in anthologies this year. Possibly more, depending on the final selections from some other anthologies.
If you want to stay in the loop on what I’m working on, follow me on social media or sign up for emails from my website. I promise you won’t get lots of spam. I’m way too lazy to write regular emails.
C.W. Briar writes fantasy that’s dark but hopeful, filled with wonder and humor along with the suspense and creepiness. His favorite stories are the ones that make him both smile and perch on the edge of his seat. By day, he works as a systems engineer, testing or even riding on trains, airplanes, and helicopters. At night, when not writing, he prepares fancy dinners and shows off his awesome corgis. He’s a graduate of Binghamton University and lives in Upstate NY with his wife, three kids, and secret stashes of chocolate.
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