ABOUT THE AUTHOR
James W. Maertens, Writer, Wizard, and Seeker of Adventure, lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his family and familiar cat, Minerva. He is a Freemason, Druid, gardener, independent scholar, and wandmaker. A scholar of fantasy literature, Dr. Maertens holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Minnesota. Dr. Maertens has published numerous papers and reviews, some of which you will find on this website (bardwood.com) if you look hard enough. His 2011 book Wandlore: The Art of Crafting the Ultimate Magical Tool published under his druidical pen name, Alferian Gwydion MacLir, has been widely received as the seminal study of the wandmaking art. He is founder and Sr. Writer-in-Residence of the Bardic Institute. Dr. Maertens is a best-smelling author and international bon vivant, a steam punk (though not really very "punk"). He loves fencing, reading Neil Gaiman, Terry Prachett, Morgan Llywelyn, Lord Dunsany, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Elinor Brent-Dyer. Also a huge fan of Dr. Who, Star Trek (TOS), Firefly, and The Man from Uncle. Favorite movies include The Assassination Bureau, The Great Race, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, and The Lord of the Rings. And many more too numerous to enumerate. Forced to name a favorite novel, he would probably pick War and Peace or Gone With the Wind, or Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. Or maybe Lord of the Rings or possibly Emma by Jane Austen. Or Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (and the Disney film too). Or Winnie-the-Pooh.
House of Glass has been nominated for the Blueberry Award for Children's Literature, a Wurlitzer Prize for Journalism (though I think the committee didn't know it was fiction at the time) and a Yugo Award for most-promising new fantasy writer of 10,508. James Maertens has read the New York Times Bestseller's List and the New York Times Review of Books for many years.
The Celydon Saga is the culmination of a life's work (or two-thirds of a life anyway) studying magic, the history of magic and witchcraft, literature, fantasy, school stories and all sorts of other things. Pop it into my head and my brain sorts it out and interprets it in terms of my fantasy worlds. And yes, there are others besides the world of Celydon and Emily Glass in the year 10,508 W.R. But even those other storyscapes may intertwine with this world. There is no knowing where your characters might go next when there are rabbit holes all over the place. Emily Glass is not the proverbial "ordinary girl or boy" of fantasy novels. She is pretty amazing from the start, I think. And she does not find out she is the "chosen one" destined by prophecies to save the world from Evil or a Dark Lord, etc. etc. I don't know about you, but I'm really tired of those kind of stories and their binary oppositions. The real world inhabited by kids is not divided into a Dark Side inhabited by evil emperors and rot like that. I don't think we do our kids a favor by talking down to them and creating a phony sort of "children's literature" with "good guys" and "bad guys."
At the same time, I am not big on anti-heroes and post-apocalyptic gloom. Steampunk suffers a bit from that: taking the optimism of the Victorians surrounding steam technology and electricity and then spinning out a world just the same as the one we have: wars, horrors, poverty, doom. I've taken climate change and fast-forwarded past the apocalypse. I don't need to write a story to imagine what that is going to be like and I am not entertained by catastrophe as a setting for a novel. All you have to do is read history to get that. But, regardless, it is there, lurking under the rugs. Emily Glass lives in a world long after The Deluge that changed all the coastlines, made York a strategic seaport, and drowned most of London's business district. Not to mention Manhattan and most other oceanside cities. You don't need to completely submerge a city to ruin it and make people flee inland. The water only needs to be about up to your chin. That's all taken for granted. The world that follows is fun and appealing (at least in Prydein) because the Druids kept everything together through the disaster and rebuilt the social order. Thought industrialism and the age of petroleum did happen and spoil the climate thus destroying itself, the Druids were there all along -- not as nutty neopagans, but as the social and intellectual leaders of Celtic culture. Like the Brahmans in India, the Shinto priests of Japan, or the Taoist priests of China, the Druids based their philosophy and teachings on respect for nature, moderation, subduing one's passions, and using the ability to predict the future to avoid really stupid outcomes such as genocide, suicide, and naturecide.
When I talk about druids to most people they are not sure what I'm saying. Some people have heard of the old druids, especially if they are of Celtic descent and a bit new-agey, or if they've read William Butler Yeats or William Blake. But mostly you can watch their eyes moving around, trying to place "druids" into any sort of context. Why? Because the Romans smashed the Druids in 60 AD. But in the world of Emily Glass that didn't happen. Paulinus was drawn away from the Isle of Mona by the attack of Boudicca, the warrior queen, upon their base in London. Between the Druids and Boudicca Paulinus was smashed and the Romans forced to assimilate to a superior culture: morally and magically superior. An interesting article by Prof. John Griffiths on how this played out in our world can be found here: [x]
My hope is that my readers will go on to study the history of the Celtic peoples and the Native American peoples, and figure out the "real" history so they get the jokes in my fantasy history. It's tweaked and twisted and the deities are real, as are elves and the other denizens of the Otherworlds later Latin authorities decided to erase from our reality. But are they gone? We live in parallel realities all the time, if we could but see it. That's part of what I want to say in my work.