Taylor Caley spent his time following the works of great authors and studying various cultures and religions while living and working in the Appalachian Mountains. He is currently working toward a degree in the creative arts. Taylor resides near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where he is writing the next novel in his series.
Well, we’re here to talk about your series “Ice Cold,” so let’s get right to it. Please give our readers a brief description of each of your books.
A: Glad to! First, I’d like to reference a few important bits of information: Ice Cold is the opening to a series far larger and grander, a series known as The Aeon Chronologies – a large-scale sci-fi/fantasy universe that it is divided into three distinct parts; the First, Second, and Third Chronologies. Each contains a diverse variety of stories working together with one another to contribute to the grand plot, which I am indescribably proud to share with you all in the years to come!
Down to the main point, Ice Cold is a pair of contemporary fantasy and adventure novels, and the beginning of the First Chronology. They are part of a trilogy of two-part stories – Ice Cold, Burning Hearts, and Raging Souls, and together they form the Trials of the Last Disciple.
The first book in this series is Ice Cold – Part One: The Dark Zone. It reinvents the age-old tale of a brave culture fighting to defend their homeland from outsiders who seek to take it from them, and brings it to modern ages and settings. Ice Cold spans across a two-year timeframe from 2010-2012, and is set deep in the Adirondacks of northern New York, in a territory known as the Dark Zone. The natives of such territories, however, refer to it by another name: Ravenna, and it is here this culture of Native American descent has dwelled completely separate from the American government for over two hundred years, that is until a malevolent force of civilians from the Outside gathers in secret to invade the Dark Zone and take these lands for themselves. In this start to the heartfelt series, you’ll follow the paths of many diverse characters, such as the young Outsider, Alex Lee, who befriends the people of Ravenna in their darkest hour, the brave and beautiful Rowan, desperate to fight and willing to die for the people she loves, and the invaders who stain the reputations of all Outsiders with evil as they push relentlessly to conquer the Dark Zone over the course of five long years. For the Ravennites, it will take everything they have just to survive.
Ice Cold – Part Two: Winter’s Bane brings us to the epic climax of the war between the brave and passionate Ravennites, and the bloodthirsty Outsiders whom they have named the Domineers. For over a year, war has been waged across the Dark Zone, and just when Alex Lee thought he had grown acclimated to these mountains and these people, it seems there is more to the culture of their ancestors than meets the eye – much more. Alex has never been a firm believer in religion, but as the war drags into the dead of another harsh winter, he faces a terrifying trial beyond anything he has ever experienced before. The end of this bitter conflict between Ravennite and Domineer may or may not be in sight, but in this action-packed sequel it just might become clear that there are far greater forces encircling the lives of our main heroes. Where will their paths lead them? Only time will tell!
What’s the target audience for your books?
A: The target audience for Ice Cold is easily that of teens and young adults, with no significant direction to gender, although readers of all ages have expressed their enjoyment of these books. There are many reasons for targeting this sort of audience. I spent the entire course of my teenage years developing these stories of mine, and I’ve come to recognize the teen and young adult audiences to be the most desiring of new fantasy and sci-fi entertainment. Likewise, when I realized how much my series continued to grow and evolve through development, eventually being molded into the universe I christened the Aeon Chronologies, I wanted to open the first of my novels to young adult audiences, because if I can captivate their insatiable, young minds early, then I hope to give them a magnificent and original sci-fi/fantasy world that they can follow for the rest of their lives!
How did you come up with the premise for your “Ice Cold” series?
A: I have always been fascinated by the pages of history and such tales of a brave few prepared to risk everything to defend their homes. I often wondered how a concept like this might play out in the world today. After having lived in the beautiful Appalachians, I realized how much bigger the world seems when you’re in the mountains, and I thought to myself, “How much could really happen in the mountains without the rest of the world even noticing?” This has been the general premise of the story of Ice Cold; an entire civilization kept secret by Outside government, while also raising questions in the reader’s mind of a political nature, such as why the government, which has supposedly shielded the existence of a separate culture, would allow such bloodshed to be wrought upon them.
What kind of research, if any, did you do while writing your books?
A: The center of my research has been around the cultures and religions of the various Native American tribes in the Appalachian territories. Combining this research with the evolving premises of my fantasy universe, I created a new indigenous tribe known as the Seluitah. This lost Native American culture is the ancestor tribe of the Ravennite civilization. Much of their history has been lost to the Ravennites, but it is clear that they see the Seluitah to have been much more mysterious than their sister tribes, and presumably more advanced as the Ravennites claim they had very close relationship to the divine figures recognized in the religious cultures of many Native American tribes.
What was the hardest part of writing your books?
A: Writing fantasy is never an easy endeavor. In fact, I would go so far as to describe it as a suffering I would never wish upon anybody. Although I would not trade my love for writing for anything else, I have experienced the process to be incredibly stressful on my mind. I spent nearly two years writing my first book, combined with the need for sudden revising and the occasional writer’s block. Many times, I would get so engrossed in my writing that I found myself working through the night with burning eyes until the break of dawn. Sometimes I would experience light hallucinations due to exhaustion, often momentarily forgetting which world was real; this one or the ones I have created. Several young fantasy authors I’ve associated with agree that this is not something many writers like to talk about, because the unfortunate truth is it’s a complicated stress only such writers can really understand. This has undoubtedly been the hardest part of writing, but regardless of the mental wear and tear, it has stayed with me as a beautiful memory of the labors of what I’ve always loved to do.
Who did your book cover art? How did you know you found the right artist for your books?
A: I published my first book through Outskirts Press, where I hired a professional artist to design the cover, and I could not have been happier with the result! When it came time to create a cover for my second book, I wanted to explore the talents of other illustrative artists, so I started a contest for artists to submit their own takes on my intended design. One artist gave me a rough design that seemed to be in total contrast to my basic instructions, but I was so surprised and impressed by his reasoning and detail that I was quick to declare him the winner. It was pleasing to see him examining the premise of the story in order to submit the best design.
What’s your favorite science fiction book and movie?
A: Most people are surprised to learn that I was never a fiction junkie in the beginning. As a child, it was a challenge to get me to read even the most rudimentary works of literature. Everyone who knows me now knows the Lord of the Rings to be my favorite fantasy book and movies, but they would be just as shocked to know that I used to despise it with a passion. Of course, this is the perfect reason to never judge a book by its cover. After reading both the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit, and seeing the films, I quickly fell in love with everything about it! It was literary works such as these that sparked my motivation, making me believe it was not enough to simply write a book or two, I wanted to truly own the vast worlds I would create like all great authors before me.
Just curious, if “Ice Cold” were to ever be adapted into a film, who would you want to play the main characters in the movie? Why?
A: That’s a tough question to answer. I think we all dream of having our literary works adapted to the big screen, and as I continue to pursue my degrees in the creative arts, I intend to be a part of adapting my novels to film. So I certainly hope to cross this bridge in time. I’d say it’s a tough question to answer because most of my main characters are young, some as young as fourteen, and their personalities are very distinct, so discovering the acting talents of such fresh blood would be a rewarding challenge.
You’ve got two published works in your series. Do you think you’ve found your writing style or is it still in development?
A: I wouldn’t exactly say my writing style is still in development, but I can certainly see it evolving over time as my works progress. It can be tough trying to figure out if you’ve found your effective writing style in your first book. I’ve received both positive and negative feedback on the style of my first novel (mostly positive), but one of the best things about writing is adapting your style to cover your initial weaknesses and learning how to further captivate the imaginations of a more diverse audience.
What tips would you give to any aspiring writers reading this interview?
A: I once said to whomever aspiring writers may have been listening, “Every artist shares a power; when people witness their work, the power to make them question everything they thought they knew about them. In my opinion, none is more powerful than the writer.” All aspiring writers know the psychedelic sensation of crafting their first fictional worlds and filling them with life, but then they also recognize the struggles that come with it. If I could tell them one thing, it would be to never hold yourselves back or question what it is you’re capable of creating. It always feels like there is only a small window of opportunity to bring about the creation of your fantastic worlds, and if you miss it then you might just spend the rest of your life wondering painfully what might have been. A friend of mine told me once of a novel she was trying to write, meant to reflect the horrors she endured throughout her childhood, but she professed that she was afraid nobody would want to read something so emotionally driven as her work – I told her that sometimes you just have to do what feels right to you, not to anyone else, and if you can yet convince one person of the worthiness of the cause for which you write, then your work was not for nothing. This is what I would say to all aspiring writers struggling with the persistent grip of self-doubt.
In less than 50 words persuade our rereads to pick up a copy of “Ice Cold.”
A: Today, the sci-fi/fantasy audiences are growing as exponentially as the entertainment industry itself, but so is their desire for more – for things they’ve never seen before. I intend to present audiences with vast fantasy worlds they can scarcely imagine! These are the Aeon Chronologies, and this is where everything begins!
What’s next on the horizon for you as an author?
A: Oh, the fun has only just begun! Feedback I’ve received thus far on the second book in my series suggests that my readers enjoyed it as much, if not more, than its predecessor, and it will only get better from there. I have already begun writing the third book in line, Burning Hearts – Part One, and it will be here that the true fantasy nature of my series will slowly begin to be revealed. As my series continues to expand, so are my resources, and I’ll be with my audiences every step of the way.
"My books are a part of a large-scale sci-fi/fantasy collective universe known as the Aeon Chronologies, which consists of various stories and series taking place across interconnect chronological tangents, all contributing to the grand plot. Each part of the story is supported by those preceding it and builds up to all those to come.
The two books I have published right now are the first entries into this grand series. To explain it as accurately as possible, they are part of a trilogy of two-parters (three parts, each consisting of two books - six books total). These first two are titled Ice Cold - Part One: The Dark Zone and Part Two: Winter's Bane, and tell the age old tale of a native culture fighting to defend their homeland from outside invaders. Of course, there's much more detail I can give."
Books can be found on Amazon as well as taylorcaley.com.