The book shown on the left is by A.R. Silverberry. Click on the cover to order.
This interview was conducted by Chris Phillips on May 4, 2010.
As is the case with many fantasy books, is there
a sequel coming?
I began writing Wyndano's Cloak in 2004, and finished it in early 2009. At
that point, I swore I was done with it. But an idea came to me that was
irresistible, so I've started plotting out a sequel. In fact, I have the
seeds for a third and final volume. I completed a draft of a prequel in
2003. A part of me would love to rework that, but there are so many other
stories clamoring to be written, I don't know when it will happen.
Why did you choose Jen as the main character? Why not Bit?
The story refused to be confined to one heroine. I needed a larger canvas
and wider palette to tell the tale, which I see as having an ensemble of
heroines. Giving Bit more of the focus, or limiting Jen's role, would have
left much of the story untold.
Were your characters developed from real people you knew?
My wife teases me that I'm all the characters in my stories! There's a good
dose of truth to that, but I draw the line at my villain. Pet and Miss
Drath leaped out fully developed. I just knew their every move. I'm certain
they're real, but fortunately, there isn't much of a legal system in
Aerdem, so there's no chance of getting sued. The other characters are
amalgams of several people, their speech patterns, gestures, appearance,
whatever I can steal. I'm influenced by everything. I walk around with a
small notepad in my pocket, and take constant notes. If something strikes
me, I ask myself where I might use it. If not the current story, then
Is there an explanation why magic is so erratic and/or impossible in
I'm going to tread lightly on this question, because it might lead to some
spoilers. There are two worlds in the novel. In Jen's world, magic is known
to exist, but is maybe not so common or accessible to everyone. Aerdem's
royal mage, Yalp, has some level of mastery, but at several critical points
in the story, he struggles to make his magic work. His enchantments require
joy and humor, but he's feeling distraught and anxious, so he can't get
things to flow. In contrast to Jen and Yalp's world is the Plain World, a
place very much like 1880's rural America. Magic is not known to exist
there, and the people are bereft of dreams, fantasies, and vision. It would
take powerful magic to cast a spell under those circumstances! But there's
another answer to your question. The magic in the book is a subtle magic,
and perhaps a fragile magic.
Within the plot dynamic, the cloak is mentioned and the cloak is the
title of the book, but who or what is Wyndano and why was the cloak so
important but not used much? Perhaps instead of a sequel a prequel,
In the middle drafts of the novel, I experimented with developing more back
story and use of the cloak. It just didn't work for me. I think part of
what annoyed me with this track is that it veered the story toward Jen
training to master the cloak. I wasn't drawn to tell that story. More
important, I came to realize that the apprentice-to-master story didn't fit
the central metaphor of the book. Jen's father tells her several things
about the cloak. First, you have to grow into it. Second, it only reflects
something deep inside you. Third, the cloak is dangerous. In fact, Jen
almost died using it. Her father sent the cloak out of Aerdem to keep it
away from her. That might not be spelled out, but it's strongly hinted. So
Jen doesn't really have a chance to practice with the cloak, even though
she wants to. But if you have to grow into the cloak, it's not something
she can practice. If it only reflects something deep inside, then the magic
is not something outside she has to master, it's an inner magic to be
trusted and harnessed. The trials of the story are a kind of pressure
cooker for Jen's internal development. She has to develop and grow, or
perish knowing all she loves and holds dear will perish, too.
Wyndano's story will be told in the sequel. This is all I'll reveal: He's a
wizard who created the cloak a good thousand years before the events
described in the novel; the cloak is capable of more than Jen knows.
Where did you get the central idea for the plants?
The plenderil? They remind me of the hillsides painted with poppies that
bloom each spring. The other plants in the book are also drawn from or
inspired by plants in my native California.
Is there another story about the previous struggle between the kingdoms?
That prequel is a lost orphan in my dresser drawer. But it gave me a lot of
characters and back story! The story recounts how Jen found her family, and
sets some of the stage for Wyndano's Cloak. The struggle between Jen's
parents and Naryfel started before Jen was born. She learns that part of
the tale at the end of the prequel.
Other than the idea of an inferior or slave race, why did you choose
Bluebacks? Is there more of a story there?
I love the color blue. I just had to use it as symbol. The Bluebacks are
master artists, musicians, and craftsmen. Blue seemed to suggest that
ethereal realm of creativity.
Why do you choose to work under a pen name and yet give all your real
information in the back fly leaf?
I hope the name A. R. Silverberry communicates that the story is a fantasy.
More so than Peter Adler, anyway, which could be any genre! My wife didn't
want me to put my real name on the flap. She thought it broke the spell. I
probably would have gone along with her, but as you know, I'm a practicing
psychologist. I had a nagging feeling that the licensing board wouldn't
want me to say A. R. Silverberry was a psychologist. A
Is there a specific significance to the pen name, because I didn't see
it mentioned in the book?
None except that it's become my writing identity. I worried about how to do
my signature, but when I did my first book signing, it flowed quite
naturally, like I'd been signing it that way all my life!
Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! It's been a pleasure, and I look forward to reading more books by you in the future!
Wyndano's Cloak captured the following awards:
2010 National Indie Excellence Awards!
Winner, Children's Cover Design
Finalist, Young Adult Fiction
2010 International Book Awards
Award-Winning Finalist in the Young Adult Fiction category
Award-Winning Finalist in the Best Interior Design category
Read Our Review of Wyndano's Cloak by A.R. Silverberry
Visit A.R. Silverberry's Website