Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Guest Author: Philip Brown

The Origins of Light Runner

First of all, I’d like to thank Jenai and her wonderful blog for inviting me as a guest.

When I began writing Light Runner several years ago, the first scene I created was one that ended up on the cutting room floor. Call it, “Dara meets Vadoma 1.0.” 

Vadoma is an elderly Tarot card reader who lives in the apartment right below Dara’s. In Dara’s mind, she’s just a mean old lady who hates skateboarding teens. However, Vadoma comes to Dara’s aid when Dara injures her knee in a skateboarding accident. The scene I wrote (and cut) was one in which Vadoma does a one card Tarot reading for Dara. Dara turns over one card and Vadoma interprets it in the context of the moment. It turns out to be the Temperance card. In the particular deck I was using as a basis for this scene, the card shows a winged girl standing next to a river pouring water from one cup into another, like she’s trying to even out the liquid portions. It symbolizes moderation and balance. It also represents lack of prejudice, and Dara has certainly stereotyped Vadoma as a judgmental grey-haired lady.

Vadoma looks from the Tarot card to Dara’s injured knee and says, “You must learn balance.” I liked the scene, but had to part with it when I couldn’t find a way to make it serve the plot. However, I wrote a longer Tarot scene for Vadoma and Dara, in which the three cards she turns over carry a great deal of foreboding.

This scene rang true for my own life. I, too, was a rebel who had to learn balance. And I found that the ones I learned from the best were older people—Vadomas or the male equivalent—who came into my life. I wasn’t very good at heeding advice from my own parents. But when life counsel was offered by a kind person who was gentle and old enough to bear some of life’s scars, I accepted it. It seemed like an older wise man or woman always stepped into my life when I was most in need of support and guidance.

The main concept for Light Runner—an armband that can heal wounds—came to me after I’d already worked on the book for at least two years. It had gone through several drafts and I’d workshopped it with a writing group. However, I knew the story lacked something essential. It started out as a YA mystery/thriller, not a fantasy, but something kept tugging me in the direction of fantasy, a genre I’ve always loved. I resisted the pull, but finally had to let go and allow something fantastic enter the story, let it become what it could be. Putting a healing armband in the hands of a teenage girl changed everything. It opened the story up to a whole new range of possibilities that weren’t there when it was grounded solely in the mystery genre. 

I’ve got some background in astrology. Vedic astrology (which originated in India, but has become increasingly popular in the West) prescribes gems for healing or warding off the malefic influences of the planets. Dara’s healing armband—the Jyotisha—came out of that, although the one I created in the book has powers far beyond what one might expect from healing gems.

* * *

Light Runner 
by Philip Brown

Sixteen-year-old Dara Adengard would rather read graphic novels than do her homework and prefers the freedom of skateboarding to the restrictions of life with her military father. Stung by the recent death of her mother, Dara conceals her mom’s picture under a square of grip tape on her skateboard. But no matter how much Dara tries to keep a foothold on the past, she can’t ride away from her own destiny.

One evening, she discovers a silver and gold armlet with mysterious powers in the shadowy water of the swimming pool. Forged from an ancient meteorite metal, it possesses the power to heal or wound. When Dara holds it, it emits a light that seems to have been ignited by a star’s ray. Moments later, she is stunned to find that someone’s broken into her apartment, her father has vanished, and a dead body lies sprawled in the courtyard.

Evading the police, Dara escapes on a perilous quest for her father, begins to uncover her mother’s hidden past, and starts to realize the shocking truth about herself.

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About the author: 

Philip Brown, YA contemporary fantasy author, is motivated by the power of words to change lives. He teaches high school and is inspired by his students, many of whom struggle to overcome difficult social and personal issues. “The classroom,” he says, “is a place filled with brilliant and amazing stories.”

Before he began writing fiction, Philip wrote a couple of astrology books. Cosmic Trends was published by Llewellyn Worldwide in 2006 and was a finalist for the Coalition of Visionary Resources Award. His widely read AstroFutureTrends blog was turned into the book, On the Cusp: Astrological Reflections from the Threshold.

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