The Valley of Decision
by Shannon McDermott
The main character, Keiran the Captain of the Hosts. To even attempt what he did, a person would have to be either very desperate or very confident of his own abilities. Keiran is the second, and he has an extreme self-assurance, and sometimes conceit, that I enjoyed using. He’s also bold, another fun characteristic for a writer to work with. And because he is a very able man, and has reason to be confident, his occasional conceit adds texture to his character and makes him more interesting.
(2) I have seven little sisters.
(3) I like sweet potatoes baked or boiled, with butter or with sugar, made into fries and made into pies. But I cannot stand them canned.
Pretty much. I was eight when I first decided (and declared) my ambition to write a book. Of course, it was years later when this desire to write took on the adult dimension of “This is what I want to do with my life, this is how I want to earn my living”.
When I take my scenes, written longhand in my notebook, and transcribe them into the computer, revising and polishing as I go. It’s easier than the initial writing, and I finish with a feeling of satisfaction. The scene is done! Until my editor gets her hands on it, anyway.
The title comes from a Bible verse found in the Book of Joel: “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!” For the names, I established this pattern: of Gaelic origin, unusual enough that the names would not be common in our own world, but not too unusual. I avoided names like Ruairidh because it just looks too foreign. Who would care to guess how to pronounce it? So I ended with names like Torradan and Artek and Belenus – different, but easy enough.
The Lord of the Rings, much as it pains me to admit it. In those books, Sauron had legions of human slaves whose only purpose in the story was to fight the good guys (and get beaten). It’s not that Tolkien was heartless in his use of these characters – remember Sam witnessing one of them being killed and sadly wondering what his name was and if he even wanted to fight – but I came to think how good it would have been if Sauron’s slaves had staged a revolt. Why should all the heroes come from the free nations fighting Sauron? Why not from the enslaved nations oppressed by him?
If there is one message in The Valley of Decision, it’s that we all have choices to make, and we can’t escape it. Not making the choice is itself a choice. My principal character, Keiran, faces the ultimate choice: Rebellion or obedience, God’s way or his? But all the characters have to choose, and their choices mean risk and sacrifice and (sometimes) reward – just as our choices do.
Long ago, the great father Athair led the first Alamiri up into the Rhugarch Pass. They were men of his clan, relatives loyal and strong. When they scaled the mountain to the Rhugarch Gap, they stopped for the night.
The men settled down to their rest; the fire sank into embers; the watchman grew drowsy. And a soft, soft pattering murmured into the camp.
I hope that whenever someone finishes one of my books, they feel like they’ve been on a journey and it has ended well. Every story is about a character’s struggle for something, and I hope my readers will be able to feel that in my stories and be encouraged.
Chocolaty. Hands-down, 100%, all the time.
Get out of the house or stay at home?
Stay at home.
Winter or summer?
Can I pick spring or fall? I’ll go with summer.
Paperback, 416 pages
May 31st 2014 by SALT Christian Press
Where the Black Mountains pierce the sky, they divide the south from the north, Alamir from the kingdom of Belenus. Belenus, the undying master of the north, commanded Keiran – the Captain of the Hosts – to conquer Alamir. But the Captain is deep in conspiracy, and he has his own plans.
The Valley of Decision is a fantasy novel, a saga of slavery, freedom, and choices.
She was born to Wisconsin, expatriates in California, grew up on the East Coast, and now lives in the Midwest. Her principal hobbies are politics, history, novels, and coffee.