Toward the end of August, Tellest had the opportunity to promote the debut works of one Galemine Gremn, a dedicated storyteller who, it’s clear, is putting his all into his stories and his world. Since then, we’ve had the chance to get to know him better and learn the values of his insights and what we might expect from him in the future. Read on to learn more about Galemine Gremn.
Tellest: Greetings Galemine! Before we initially spoke, you went on about the breadth of things that you were anticipating for your world, so I know your time must be dear to you. With that in mind, I want to thank you for giving up some of that precious commodity. I’m excited to draw back the curtain and show people what you’ve got planned, and hope we show them how devoted you are to your world!
Galemine Gremn: Thank you, Michael. Let me start by saying I am incredibly grateful for your time, as well. You have already hit the nail on the head on that which is most important; that most precious commodity: one’s time. I am always appreciative of the time one is willing to give. A person’s time is quite honestly, the greatest gift imaginable. What more could one ask for, but true, undivided attention? So rare. It is a fast-paced world we live in, full of instant gratification and choices galore. It can be a miracle to have even 5 minutes of one’s time. I tend to look inward, and ask myself to slow down, to give my time to others, if not just because I know just how much I appreciate, and rely, on the time of others to make my dreams a reality. I believe it was Epictetus who said that the reason we have two ears and one mouth is so we can listen twice as often as we speak. And here I am, we just started, and I am already rambling. Please, continue.
T: See, it’s already been a notable experience. I’m going to remember that quote for the rest of my life, now. But we could wax poetic for quite a while. Let’s rein it back in and talk about you and your work.
Longtime readers of this article series will know that I like to start off my interviews with a seemingly simplistic question that can often carry a lot of depth. What brought you onto this path of creation? What inspired you to create your stories and your world?
GG: Yes, there is depth to this question. I have always tried to simplify this seemingly complicated life into two choices – create or spend your time in another’s creation. We are creative beings, and as I see it, if I am left with just the two choices, then I have little choice in the matter; I create. As for the book – Life, itself, inspired my novel. As a writer yourself, you know we can only write about what we know about and for better or worse, I have been rather cognitive of myself and my perceived limitations. As an artist, I struggled with finding my place in the world, and recognizing what path to take, let alone recognizing any path at all. In essence, this is what Daylen of Brunhylde is about. The obstacle I faced, the obstacle that we all face, was the path and the inspiration.
T: Daylen of Brunhylde, the first book of a trilogy and a Tale of FéLorën, manages to balance a lot of things incredibly well. The story starts off in a gentle place, full of hope and whimsy. That isn’t to say that bits and pieces aren’t there throughout, but you end up on the other side a bit more solemn. Yet that darkness is still framed in light. How did you find a way to maintain that balance, even if it begins to shift?
GG: Daylen sacrifices much in this novel. He is pushed, both physically and mentally, and those closest to him also end up, let’s just say, in situations that are not preferred as a result of life situations that are not in their control. The balance comes from knowing that awareness of the light is only possible because we know the dark. Joy is only possible because we experience sadness, peace is only possible once you understand suffering. The “framing of light” that you speak of stems from understanding that it is through the darkness that one finds the light. So, logic would tell us that we should welcome the darkness, welcome the events that we would perceive as unfortunate, because it is only through conflict that we can grow. And with this awareness, one has the power to not be consumed by the darkness they travel through. In the end, it is all light, because it all benefits growth. Our perception of good, bad, right and wrong all exists within the light. It is in this awareness that Daylen finds the strength and the courage to navigate his life, despite the outcome of the world around him, despite his own failings. We are truly defined by our pursuits and our actions, not the outcome.
T: Daylen, and obviously his author, are insightful and philosophical, but of course not all the characters within the book can or should be. As someone who embraces the intellectual side of things, what is it like trying to perceive life from the eyes of someone who doesn’t see it through that lens?
GG: It is incredibly enjoyable. The most exciting character in any novel, or movie, is hardly ever the protagonist. The joy of world building is living in the shoes of villains or deeply flawed individuals. It is exhilarating to spend time in the mind of one who misbehaves, seems to destroy every good thing that comes their way or can’t do what is best for themselves or others. It’s the fun of role play. The best drama comes from these darker aspects of the human psyche, in those perfectly flawed individuals that are really the ones responsible for creating all the excitement. It is important to realize though, that these side characters are all truly aspects of oneself, so, as different as they seem, they are connected to Daylen, as much a part of him as anything else. The beauty of Daylen’s progression is that he learns to recognize himself in others and becomes aware of that deeper connection he shares with even the worst that society has to offer.
T: When you set out to write about Daylen, did you know at the time that it was going to be a trilogy? When you realized how much work you were putting into the world, did any of those plans feel like they might change?
GG: The original idea was to write what will now be the prequel. Oddly, I knew I had to start in the middle, with Daylen, because you start by looking within and Daylen of Brunhylde is most definitely a journey within. Daylen’s growth was my growth, and paved the way for the next step, a dive into the external world, headfirst. One of the beautiful paradoxes of life is when you discover yourself you know it is not about yourself, but the collective. The world does not need a hero, and we have enough stories about them. No, our world troubles, the real ones, both politically, environmentally, are far greater than any one person can solve – and certainly not possible through force or might. So, the prequel transcends the Self and will tell the story of the community, a collective of all races and kingdoms coming together. I was unable to write this story until I first understood myself. It was not until finishing Daylen’s journey that I realized what was needed and it was also then that I realized there was more story to tell – hence, the birth of a sequel.
T: As you grew to learn yourself, and your main character, was there a call to learn from other folks in your life, and try to capture their philosophies or inner workings as well? Or is the goal for right now to further expand the view from Daylen or those closest to him to teach the next lessons?
GG: All that I know I can say I learned from others. Whether family, friends, or the ancient philosophers. Everyone, both living and passed, is teaching us how to be better. They are reinforcing things we believe in, teaching us something we have never considered, or they are reminding us how not to be. Each character in FéLorën is familiar to me of people I know and just as in life, I would like to think that Daylen is not the only one with a message, not the only one who has something to teach. It feels at times that all these characters are teaching me! I will go ahead and share that one of my original thoughts for the sequel, early on that is, was to start the book with Daylen being murdered. To just move on from him. I would not share this if this was still my intent, but it should be a good indication that I am not too attached to Daylen, as a vehicle. All form passes, but the beauty is that creation is all around us and in everything and form comes and goes. It’s an inherently good thing because it is natural. Who knows who will be the vessel for teaching lessons down the road? For now, there is more for Daylen to discover and for others to hopefully gain from him, as well. Maybe, down the road, it will be the perceived villains who will turn out to be the ones with the most to teach and the most to give. There is a hero in all of us, even in those we least expect it from.
T: Who would you say is the character that resonates most with you, whether it is because you enjoy writing about them, or you think they carry the best or most profound message?
GG: Wow, well, this is a bit difficult for me to answer. All these characters are like children to me, and so it is hard to consciously choose a favorite. I think I will just use this opportunity to explain a bit about Zantigar. He is the wizard that Daylen is searching for, the teacher that a wizard typically plays in a hero’s journey motif. He is an old veteran of war, who has done some incredible things, but he has also done some truly terrifying and horrific things. Despite his knowledge and experience, he is jaded by the world in which he lives in and makes for an unlikely and challenging teacher for Daylen to learn from. He is complex, far from perfect, and in this way, he is relatable and was fascinating for me to get to know and to understand. He has qualities of my bi-polar and manic father, of whom I am estranged from, and getting to know Zantigar has been quite healing for me, and has helped me make sense of relationships and the people that are in our lives, for better or worse.
T: As I mentioned in that opening comment, you’ve got immense plans for your world. During our opening conversations, you mentioned that you’re working on maps, history and lore, culture, timelines, a soundtrack, and maybe even a board game down the line. And to top it off, you illustrate for your book and your world as well. How do you find the time to do it all?
GG: It comes back to my opening comment about creating or living vicariously through another’s creation. I had to slow down, turn off the noise. I had to find acceptance and abundance in silence. I had to stop relying on the external world for my happiness and to have trust in myself. The key is not concerning yourself with the outcome. Opinions of others, fears of failure, dissolve immediately. It’s easy to trust in yourself when the outcome stops being important! Trust instead in your pursuit, it is all that truly matters. Much like Daylen realizes. Suddenly, in stillness, my inner self had so much to say, so much it wanted to express and to create. Not to be a broken record, but we are creative beings, we have no choice in this. So, you might as well enjoy the journey, and lucky us, I think we can all universally find wealth in creation. I’m not speaking of monetary wealth, but wealth in realizing what we are, our full potential. You would be surprised how much time there is in a day, in a life, once you get busy living. As with all other challenges, the mind is the greatest enemy. It is imperative to remove it from the equation and the rest follows. Here is another paradox for you – when you stop thinking, you finally can hear yourself think! As for the physical time to tackle all that I find on my plate, there are all sorts of things outside our control that cause delays in our best laid plans, the key is to shift the energy to another project while you wait for opportunity to present itself. Again, the pursuit is all that matters. Seneca says, “Well-being is realized by small steps, but it is no small thing.” If others reading this are struggling to feel inspired, don’t wait. Just take small steps. Any step. Be kind to yourself along the way and your own pursuit, your own action will spawn inspiration.
T: Piggybacking off the last question, what kind of tools do you use to try and make sense of and catalog all the inner workings of your world?
GG: Notes. Lots and lots of notes. And I am old school in this regard. Pen and paper, those composition notebooks with the black and white patterned covers, I have tons of them. And post-it notes, they are everywhere. Not so sure that is a good thing, actually. All kidding aside, in terms of the craft of writing, maintaining the integrity of the world is paramount, so I understand the question. Seemingly insignificant details should not be contradicted if you want your unbelievable world to be believable. That is why I am, for the most part, writing both the prequel and sequel at the same time. This is a good way to keep consistency and the ability to have over arching story elements connect with each other across the timeline. It’s a very rewarding outcome for me, and ultimately the readers, to be able to connect each story into a larger cohesive narrative. I can’t wait to share it with the world.
T: With both of those books being undertaken at the same time, there’s likely to be a bit of a gap between Daylen and the next release. Do you have any idea of the time frame you’re working with? Any good news for readers who might be eager to jump into the next tale once they’ve torn through your debut?
GG: This is at the forefront of my mind every day, the need to bring these books to their conclusion in a timely fashion. I am making a personal promise not to keep anyone, including myself, waiting too terribly long. Despite working on both at once, the primary focus is the prequel. We will step away from Daylen for awhile and I will take the reader back in time, about 200 years, to a time that will explain, in greater detail, the world that Daylen was born into. There will be some related tie ins to keep those eager to know what happens next (chronologically) pleased, and the details of the world which will present themselves during the prequel will add incredible depth and significance. Just know the events of the past will enrich the story of Daylen when we pick up where we left off. There is plenty of references to the past in this current book, so I hope readers will appreciate the opportunity to go back and see the events unfold for themselves. Characters will be familiar to them and an inevitable, catastrophic event that readers of Daylen of Brunhylde will already know about should, I hope, be fueled with the anticipation from the foreshadowing. I know I am excited. I cannot control the events of the future, but being in control of my pursuits I can say my goal is to have a completed prequel in 6-8 months and I have no intention to let myself down.
T: There is obviously a lot of philosophy and pursuit of knowledge that goes into your debut, and with fantasy, there happens to be a sort of “set in stone” role that we can use to explore those kinds of things. With sagely and scholarly pursuits, wizards fit the bill and can help readers and creators to explore greater questions. Have you been interested in other genres outside of fantasy to also explore those considerations?
GG: Yes, for sure. FéLorën is inspired by my childhood. Fantasy provided the opportunity to explore complex, real emotional situations that were hard for me to explain any other way. Now that I am older, it is much easier to envision conveying these concepts in a modern, more traditional fictional setting. I often think about not just a change of genre, but a change in writing style. Something more existential by design, something in a dry style, if you will, something that omits fancy description (that fits fantasy so well), and boils down to just the actions of characters with the silence between those actions for a reader to apply their own emotional response to them. So, I have been equally inspired by non-fantasy authors, such as Earnest Hemmingway, the raw passion and poetry of Charles Bukowski, or the stark and striking writing of Albert Camus’ “The Stranger.” A project that explores concepts that these legendary authors have mastered seems very enticing, if not just to pay homage and appreciation for their contributions to literature. It is a side to me that is rarely exposed, so I am glad to have a chance to share inspiration from places other than Fantasy. However, I am drawn to FéLorën, time and again, and this is the real passion of my pursuits.
T: When it comes to your talents surrounding Daylen of Brunhylde, the two that jump out in front are your writing prowess, and your illustrative aptitude. Which of these two skills did you hone first, and did one help to improve the other?
GG: I always have seen myself as an artist first. At an early age I had a natural gift for drawing and better than average hand-eye coordination. It was not until I was older that I realized that what I called artistic talent was more of an emotional sensitivity. This led to the realization that art was not limited to the canvas, but it applied to everything I did, all that I am. This, I believe, is true for all of us. We are all artists, creating the world we live in through our perception of it. Like I said, we are creative beings by nature and how we live, the choices we make, our judgements, our pursuits, it is all art. It is all expression.
T: Outside of those two pursuits, your illustrations, and your writing, you’re also pursuing other things for your world. In that introductory paragraph of the interview, I mentioned soundtracks and board games. That’s certainly not something every author does, but it’s an awesome way of further immersing readers and fans into your world. What made you decide to dive into that, and how would you say the conceptualizing is going?
GG: I have grown up playing board games and roleplaying games, they are an important aspect of my childhood and some of my fondest memories growing up. The desire to world build was never perceived as unique to storytelling, alone. Art, music, games, these are all closely related and tied together in my mind. When the magical system became apparent in my writing, it was a natural next step to think how a board game could leverage these principles and would make for a fun experience. The thought of a new generation of people playing a game that takes place in a world that I have discovered, with the chance that it could leave lasting memories for them, this was a concept that was too intriguing to ignore. I am not a musician, though, and I have family help with the musical side of things. I do provide my directorial input, though. The music is ambient by design, with a little dungeon synth influence. The music, just like the words, is intended to immerse the listener and take them even deeper. So far it is proving to be a great thing to accompany the book as it is read, due to its subtle, ambient design. While I am not the musician, the music is as genuine to the world as the words I write to describe it. It has my seal of approval, in other words. I am very excited to share it once it has finished the editing process. Expect at least three tracks to be available very soon, completely for free. Family is also helpful in the board game design. I am quite proud of my creative, artistic household. So, lucky for me and anyone interested, these things will develop alongside me as I continue to tell my stories and illustrate them. In fact, one of the things I am most excited about when it comes to my writing journey is the people I hope to meet along the way. No person is an island, they say, and whether it is those around me who taught me or inspired me, or those that I have yet to meet, none of this would have been possible without them and the future is only possible with their continued support and growth. I am looking forward to any and all opportunities.
T: When you revealed that you were working on your book and your world, what kind of response did you receive? Were people surprised by the undertaking, or was it something that they had already accepted as a foregone conclusion?
GG: The response has depended on the setting and the context. Friends closest to me have known me from an early age as living in my imaginary world, creating stories. The only surprise response from them has been their ecstatic support and appreciation for me finally producing works that can exist beyond my mind. There are also acquaintances and friends that exist outside of my inner circle, if you will, and there was definitely a sense of shock and surprise when they discovered this other side to me, a side that I had for so long reserved to those who were nearest and dearest to me. Shyness is a common “familiar” to an introvert such as myself and it has taken time to open up, to recognize that everyone is near and dear to me.
T: There are three planned books in your first trilogy, but do you see yourself expanding the world beyond that trio once you wrap everything up?
GG: You are causing me to smile, now. Yes, I do. I would not have said that a couple years ago, but as I dive deeper into the world building and create the kingdoms and the history of this incredibly fascinating world that I am discovering, I can’t help but hear the stories of so many other characters who have yet to find a voice. It turns out that Daylen of Brunhylde is but a small, but not insignificant, corner of this world. I am reminded of a story I once heard about a Zen master who travelled to the top of a mighty, tall mountain. When he finally descended, a student of his was anxiously waiting to learn and was quick to inquire as to what he saw from the top of the mountain. To which the Zen master simply replied, “more mountains.”
And so it is. There is no end, just more mountains. And how blessed are we that this is so?!
T: With so much on the horizon—mountains or otherwise—there are bound to be people who want to see what you’re up to. You’re working on a website, but where are some other places that fans could find out more about you?
GG: Well, as a result of my need for stillness and silence in my life, I am actually new to social media (and the like) and intentionally keep to myself, for the most part. I will say I have become quite fond of Instagram and the tool that it can be to build community. It is a great way to receive encouragement and provide it to other artists. Supporting others is very important to me. I am also on Twitter and Facebook, but I am not very active there. Those are set up more as a courtesy to those who prefer them, and I will respond to any message, regardless of the source. There is, of course, the website. It is more than just a way to reach me, it is designed to be a portal into FéLorën, a chance to uncover all kinds of information on the cultures, kingdoms, history, magic, and geographical information. When it is running on all cylinders, I will probably prefer it as the main source for anything and everything going on, and Instagram will only be used to advertise what is new to the site. It will continually be updated with more and more information as time goes on. As an added benefit, purchases of my book from the site will come signed with a personalized message, and some freebies, and those that want to support my endeavors could be a great help by picking up whatever prints I have or merch that becomes available over time. Honestly though, the shopping aspect is not on the top of my mind at the moment, but I do think it will be a nice touch for those who appreciate the work. More importantly, I encourage people to come and see it to learn more about FéLorën. I will have a blog there, as well. The best outcome would be to meet people interested in helping make this dream a reality. Game designers, writers, artists, I would love to collaborate with you all. Did I mention I thought of making a graphic novel? Oh, and there is the audiobook I am recording, that will incorporate music along the lines of a radio drama, but much more simple, just sound effects and ambience. Oh bother, there is just too much to do, and I couldn’t be more thrilled about it.
T: Well, with that in mind, this would probably be a good place to sign off. You and I could like banter back and forth for a while, but this has already been one of the lengthiest and richest interviews I’ve had in some time.
Galemine, is there anything else that you’d like to say to your readers?
GG: Yes, Michael, I agree that we could continue talking for quite some time. I hope we are afforded the chance to do so down the road. We have now, inexplicably, entered each other’s lives and I am grateful for it. Just as I am grateful for your time, and the time of your audience. To take it full circle, a person’s time is the greatest gift imaginable, and I am humbled and filled with gratitude for you providing this opportunity and to those who have taken the time to read this. Truly, coming from an author who has made it his duty to express aspects of the human condition through written word, I appreciate it greater than words can convey.
T: I’d like to thank Galemine Gremn for taking the time to sit and regale Tellest and its readers with some of the behind the scenes and “inside the mind” events that helped shape his writing and the world of FéLorën. While he is hard at work on both the prequel and the sequel to Daylen of Brunhylde, it is that first book that really sets the pace for his world, and it is not to be missed. Tellest will be your eyes and ears to Gremn’s releases, whether it’s a new book, an audiobook, or a board game, so stay tuned. In the meantime, be sure to check out Daylen of Brunhylde: A Tale of FéLorën on Amazon today. And if you’re looking to find out more from the world of FéLorën, check out Gremn’s Instagram. And, as of September 5th, Galemine Gremn was able to bring FéLorën to life in even greater ways, as the FéLorën website is now online. Check it out when you get a chance, as it shows you the lore of the world, beautiful art, and insight into the author!