Today I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Karen Furk’s fabulous work of fantasy The Mask of the Gods. I hope you enjoy the guest post as much as I did, as it’s always intriguing to catch a glimpse of the creative process!
Soul Demons live off the souls of the living.
When Haydan’s home world is invaded by a soul demon seeking an item shrouded in myth and legend, his father evicts him and sends him to safety. His chosen one and warrior should provide reassurance and sanctuary, but neither appears to be working very well. Just when he thinks matters cannot get any worse his scheming grandmother arrives. She has her own plans that appear to involve him, none of which bodes well.
Diego feels confident he has the soul demon under control. Overlooking his devious mother’s involvement, he fails to appreciate that he is not only storm rider elder, but also an elven prince and certain debts are about to become due.
Lavinia worries about her grandson, but also who she left behind in the elven realm a long time ago. Tallin thinks she abandoned him and he is livid. She has everything under control, including Tallin…at least that is what she thinks.
They all need to learn afresh who to trust. With a soul demon on the rampage, an unleashed, angry and betrayed elven king and a long-forgotten mask surfacing, what could possibly go wrong?
The past is about to catch up with all of them. Nothing is going to go as planned because the mask and the gods have other ideas.
Everything you Need to Know About Masks
The History of Masks
A mask is an object that is usually worn to cover or conceal the face for entertainment, protection, performance or disguise. They have connections to ceremonial, tribal, ritual and practical purposes and have been around for centuries.
A quick Google search suggests that masks originate from medieval latin, Italian, French and even Arabic languages. In Asia masks have been common place for centuries. The oldest mask in the world is a stone mask dating from Neolithic times to approx. 7000 BC. Masks from the Carnival of Venice date back to 1162AD. The word only reached the English language in the 1530’s.
Masks can also hold sinister connotations. Obscuring the face adds to the anonymity of wearing them and gives an ominous, menacing quality to their use. Films like Scream and V for Vendetta used masks for this purpose. Even superheroes hide behind them, Batman, Spiderman and Deadpool being the first that immediately spring to mind.
A mask can be symbolic or protective and sometimes it’s merely figurative. In modern culture, we often talk about the mask coming off, or removing the mask. In other words, unveiling our true meaning, purpose or desires.
So, what was the inspiration for Mask of the Gods?
It started with a few ideas. The story of Haydan’s grandparents. An off world adventure. A search for a powerful object.
I’ve always found masks to be fascinating. I actually have two venetian looking masks decorating my Christmas tree each year. Everyone comments on them and says how pretty and unusual they are. I’m not sure at which point the powerful object became a mask, but once the thought was there to use a mask, it stuck. As the story unfolds you get a sense of the power of the Mask of the Gods which has never worked as it’s supposed to. It possesses those who wear it, learning about them and their vulnerabilities. This proves a real challenge for some of my characters to come to terms with. I liked the idea of that adding to the power the mask holds over those who try to wield it for their own gain.
I also liked the idea of concealed identities and hidden agendas and this comes out over the course of the book as well. In the second book, Mask of Deception, due out later in 2019, I had some fun with this concept. Tallin, my elven king enjoys games. Nothing in his realm really behaves itself, so he is constantly challenged. The mask is very much at home in Tallin’s realm because of that.
The Mask of the Gods book cover design process
The design of the book cover started with a Pinterest search for masks. I picked my favourites and passed them to my illustrator, along with a couple of descriptions of the mask and its appearance from the book. Since my illustrator is also my brother-in-law (yes, I know, how lucky am I?) we also had a good chat about it over a brew and I talked him through the parts of the masks I had selected that I really liked. This included the shape of the eyes and the design covering the mask itself.
The first pencil drawings arrived back and looked amazing. My illustrator freestyled the initial sketches and designed them in sections that could be built up to create the full mask. This leant itself to the creation of an animated gif of the mask which you can see here [https://www.karenfurk.co.uk/books/mask-of-the-gods/].
Once that phase was complete and agreed, the effects, layers, colours and shading were added. I ended up with two or three different colour variations of the mask and chose the one you now see on the cover, the blue, silver and turquoise design with the blue stone sparkling prominently on the forehead. It’s a real show stopper in pride of place on the front cover and immediately gives a visual reference as to what the mask looks like.
The glow around the mask is significant as well. It’s a powerful object. In the book, there are frequently plumes of green mist cascading from the back of it, but for the cover the white glowing light illuminates it and lifts it up from the cover, making it look 3D.
The mask remains a key part of the Mask of the Gods book which will continue throughout the Mask book series. Book two in the series, Mask of Deception will be releasing later in 2019. In the meantime, welcome to the first book in the series, Mask of the Gods…
Karen Furk loves fantasy stories. She has done ever since she was a small, lonely child with an over active imagination. She’s particularly fond of stories that are crammed full of magic, mayhem and magical creatures. Karen’s background in marketing laid the foundations for her writing career which began after a serious bout of depression. No longer able to contain her over active imagination, the stories finally flowed onto a page. She aims to surprise and delight with the characters and worlds she creates. She lives in the North West of the UK with her husband, two boys and a hamster called Rufus (Yes, a girl hamster with a boy’s name. Don’t ask, she just embraces the crazy!). Visit her at karenfurk.co.uk or find her on social media and say hello – she’s on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest under the user name karenfurkauthor.
Social Media Links
Many thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to join in this blog tour.