Fantasy Novel: People of the Sword

Neil O’Donnell

PEOPLE OF THE SWORD combines myth, history, and conquest with music, sorcery and a touch of romance to impart the struggles of two vastly different cultures suddenly dependent on one another for survival. Confronted by a common enemy, the wizard Crarnock, the druids and knights of Tropal realize that only through cooperation can they defeat Crarnock’s goblin army. The journey will test the resolve of both peoples as they realize that their collective bias and misunderstandings are as much a threat as Crarnock himself.

Neil O\O’Donnell is an anthropologist and life-long resident of Western New York. After years of studying changes to Native American and European societies through contact, he incorporated his discoveries into journal articles and short fiction pieces. His intent is to relay his professional discoveries to a wider audience through the world of historical fiction…PEOPLE OF THE SWORD is the culmination of these efforts.

Click below for the interview: age group is you book geared towards?
I geared my novel towards adults and adolescents.

Into which genre would you say your book falls?

It’s a fantasy-genre novel.

Tell us a little about your book?
The book follows a band of druids and knights who put aside their respective differences in order to give Humanity a chance to survive.

What is your favourite scene in your book? Can we have a snippet?
My favorite scene is when the power embedded in Sir Harrison’s sword first materializes:

Grabbing the scabbard with his left hand, Harrison forced the hilt downward making it easier to withdraw the blade fully from his ancestral scabbard. The knight firmly grasped the hilt, and a chorus of voices suddenly called forth from seemingly everywhere. Time seemingly stood still while Harrison tried to isolate and comprehend what the voices were saying. The words, uttered in a number of foreign dialects, suddenly seemed to cry out in unison, and Harrison surprisingly understood their meaning; they encouraged him on. The knight captain ripped the blade from the scabbard in response to the chorus and was immediately enveloped by a brilliant light that emanated forth from the blade; it was as if the sun had breached the grey clouds above and rested on the hill. For a moment, the light mystified Harrison. He was overcome with a wave a nausea that quickly became replaced by a feeling of warmth. The sensation preceded a surge of energy that more than replaced the strength Harrison expended during the melee. A passing thought of the knight’s approaching enemies snapped him back to reality. The knight charged forward.

The lead Formeri came no closer, uncertain of what to make of the light that surrounded the knight. Harrison saw the Formeri hesitate and cringe as the knight readied his sword. Seeing the creature’s hesitation, Harrison decided to advance and take out as many as possible. As the resolute knight made his advance, he felt driven by an outside presence. Shaking off such thoughts, Harrison engaged the now retreating Formeri. The knight sliced down on his enemy, not even aware of any defensive or offensive maneuvers it made. The blade effortlessly cut through the creature’s body, rending it in half with the first swing. Without a moment’s thought, Harrison pushed onward. Each Formeri he met fell just as quickly to the blade. The knight was soon splattered with the blood of his victims as he cleared a path back towards the banshee’s dais. Beyaga watched the knight approach, realizing that it would be better to meet the awakened force there rather than away from her place of power.

“Hell’s Bane will not save you from me, boy,” Beyaga cursed as Harrison moved within twenty feet of her. The banshee let loose a terrifying wail, aimed at the knight captain. While several of the surrounding Formeri fell in an instant to the cry, neither the sword nor its wielder was affected. From Harrison’s vantage point, he felt as if he encountered a storm front as the power of Beyaga’s cry engaged the sword’s sphere of power; the light never wavered but rather seemed to consume the voice surrounding it. Harrison added his own voice to the mix.

“ALMIGHTY FATHER!” he cried; the sword’s light intensified.

“You can not curse that which is mine,” a voice cried in Beyaga’s mind as the knight approached. A second, more desperate death cry failed, even as the knight now stood before her. Harrison, acting on instinct, raised the now shimmering blade high over his right shoulder, the hilt itself clearing his metal-shielded shoulder. The knight sliced the sword down and outward towards the aged banshee. Harrison’s sword met flesh and bone and passed through with little resistance, ending Beyaga’s existence. The now lifeless corpse fell into a heap before the captain, blood and entrails spilling out through one long gash that extended from the banshee’s upper chest to her lower torso. Beyaga’s body began pulsating violently, and after several seconds, the remains disintegrated into dust before the knight. The sword’s glow diminished to a pale white light as if contented.

Have your characters or writing been inspired by friends/ family or by real-life experiences?
The characters, for the most part, emulate family and friends.

Can you sum the book up in one sentence?
To survive, Humanity must learn to forgive and accept.
Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
Sir Harrison is my favorite as he lives life believing that every man, woman and child is worthy of respect, regardless of the individual’s background.
Which comes first for you – characters or plot?
Characters come first. You’re not ready to embark on an adventure until you have a solid support cast.

Who is your publisher and where are your books available? Are there e-books and hard copies available?
My publisher is A-Argus; books are available through Barnes & Noble,, and My book is available in both paperback and e-book formats.

Do you have an agent, or have you gone alone?
I went without an agent, because I was not about to make suggested changes. I would definitely work with my publisher in the future as the company has been receptive to my input and provided solid support throughout the entire process.

What marketing have you been doing to help sales?
My marketing has included some signings and readings, along with using Twitter, Facebook and MySpace to connect with readers. I’ve also done interviews for area newspapers.

Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer?
I always start with paper and pen. For fiction, I also always have to make a map first.

What do you draw inspiration from?
My family and friends. My Celtic heritage is also a source of inspiration for my stories/characters.

Do you set yourself goals when you sit down to write such as word count?
I don’t usually set word count goals. Instead, I work to complete a given scene I thought about earlier in the day.

What drives you to choose the career of being a writer?
I’ve been writing stories since I was a kid; I’ve always been a writer.

What are you working on now that you can talk about?

I am working on a sequel to PEOPLE OF THE SWORD. Chapters for the sequel, VLARA’S SONG’ will be posted on my blog as they are completed. The events in this next book occur 400 years after those in PEOPLE OF THE SWORD. I am also completing an anthology of related short stories, one of which (more of a novella) is an immediate sequel to my first novel.

What is your writing process like?
There is a lot of background that goes into my stories. I develop background stories for every character while I outline the major events (into, climax and conclusion) of the story. Then, through the writing, I adapt the story based on how I perceive the characters would realistically handle a given situation.

Do you belong to a critique group?
 I belong to the “Critters’ writing group.

How long does it take you to write a book?

 Have your written other books (give titles)? It depends on the subject. I started PEOPLE OF THE SWORD in 1984 when I was 13; it was published in 2009. However, since I was also working on the outline to an entire series, seven other related books are coming along a lot quicker. The first sequel, RISE OF THE CELTS, is on pace to be finished in the next six months. I have also written several non-fiction works, which are already in the hands of my publisher. Those books took a matter of weeks to write.

What mistakes do you see new writers make?
Writers need to handle criticism. Not everyone is going to like what we’ve written. I found it funny that even publishers and agents are quite varied in their likes/dislikes. One publisher would give positive feedback about a scene that a previous publisher was critical of. If someone doesn’t like your work, consider his/her comments critically (maybe they’ve pointed out something that needs adjustment) and move on.

As for feedback from publishers from agents and publishers, treat their feedback the same way. Many bestselling authors had work rejected by multiple publishers and agents before making finding a publisher. Everyone has different tastes, it’s as simple as that. PEOPLE OF THE SWORD was rejected by 13 publishers before I received offers from three different publishers in twenty-four hours (yep, that was a crazy day). Keep writing and submitting, and don’t let rejection get you down.

What advice would you give aspiring authors?

Keep writing and always carry a notepad and pencil with you.

What is your website and/or blog where readers can learn more?

Twitter: Neil_ODonnell

Facebook: Neil O’Donnell


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