Welcome to Realm Explorers! In this weekly series, we visit a variety of unique worlds created by talented science fiction and fantasy authors. Enjoy your travels! And don’t forget to read to the bottom of the post to find out more about each author and see how to purchase the featured book.
Author’s name: Kyle Robert Shultz
Brief summary of the story:
It’s not the people in this town you have to watch out for.
It’s the buildings.
Monster hunter and part-time centaur Todd Crane didn’t ask to be sheriff of Deadwood. For one thing, he’s never had an easy time staying on the right side of the law. For another, he’s too busy trying to find a dangerous sorcerer who nearly destroyed the United States of Neverica.
But some men—and centaurs—have greatness thrust upon them. Not only is Todd the reluctant defender of the peace in Deadwood, he’s the only one who can thwart the schemes of a powerful magical entity manipulating the town from the shadows.
And when Todd’s past comes back to haunt him, the stakes get a lot more personal for him and his friends.
Heroes will fall. Secrets will be revealed. Everything is about to change.
Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:
The Afterverse, the alternate reality in which all my stories are set, is a world where every myth, legend, fairy tale, and classic story is a real historical event. These stories have all converged to form a timeline not unlike our own in many ways…except that magic and monsters are real. The United States of Neverica, the country where Deadwood takes place, is a land built upon American folklore.
If we were to visit Neverica as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?
The city of Neveryork is a sight to behold…an alternative version of 1890’s New York full of magic and magical creatures. This is one of Neverica’s primary tourist destinations. However, Deadwood takes place on the frontier, where only the bravest or most foolish of adventurers dare to go. It is beautiful despite the danger, though. The Grand Chasm, formed by a magical catastrophe in pre-history, is a breathtaking sight…a massive, rippling, iridescent rift in space-time at the bottom of an enormous canyon. Just make sure you don’t fall over the edge, or you may never stop falling.
What dangers should we avoid in Neverica?
There’s no shortage of dangers on the frontier. Keep your eyes peeled for rattlegriffs (think gryphons, only with rattlesnake mixed in along with the lion and eagle portions). Roving packs of wulvers (werewolves, essentially) are always on the hunt, especially when the moon gets full. Unscrupulous potion-sellers represent a different kind of danger…mainly to your wallet, but possibly to your life if the potion doesn’t work in an emergency or has a very different effect than what was advertised.
Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in Neverica?
Most of the food is the same as what you might have found in our world during the time of the wild, wild west, despite the large populations of fantasy creatures. People generally avoid eating foods made from their meat due to the high risk of magical aftereffects. That said, roc eggs are fairly safe to eat, since the roc is just a very large bird that is not found in our world but which has no inherently magical qualities. Just make sure the eggs come from domesticated rocs. Wild rocs have an uncanny ability to track down whoever trifled with their eggs and exact vengeance.
What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in Neverica?
Most weapons used in Neverica are magical in nature. Potions are commonly employed in combat, either by directly applying them to one’s opponent or by charming a weapon with them to give it magical properties. The latter method is used to craft magical revolvers which have inexhaustible ammunition and whose bullets cause a variety of magical effects depending on which chamber is lined up with the barrel. Some bullets freeze the target, while others set it on fire, transform it in some way, and so on.
What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to Neverica?
Horses are commonplace, though creatures with hooves of their own, like centaurs (as well as creatures with wings), don’t need them. Some humans possess magic rings which allow them to shapeshift into centaurs to travel faster. Pegasi are occasionally used for transport, but they’re very difficult to capture and domesticate, so this is not common.
What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in Neverica that we don’t see on Earth?
Representatives of practically every mythical race have emigrated to Neverica from the Old World. You’re likely to encounter centaurs, fauns, satyrs, dryads, elves, and even dragons. Sasquatches are an offshoot of the orc species native to Neverica. Gorgons are less common, and usually quite dangerous, but there is a significant population of them in the country. Magical plants with mythological origins can also be found, but should be avoided by those without experience in handling them. Narcissus flowers, for example, can afflict a person with dangerous level of self-aggrandizement. Syrinx plants play a mesmerizing melody when the wind blows across them, but it’s intended to lure unsuspecting victims into marshes, where the mud entraps them and the plants feed upon their life essence.
What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people in Neverica? If there is magic, please give some examples of what it involves or how it’s used.
Aside from combat, magic is also used for a variety of everyday tasks and chores in Neverica. Farming, for example, is often aided by dispersing potions across the fields to nurture the plants and to protect them from weather and insects. Scarecrows are fully mobile golems who walk around the fields chasing away pests. Cattlemen also use magic in their work, generally by hiring creatures with helpful powers. Centaurs are particularly good at herding cattle, especially since they have telekinetic powers in addition to their speed and agility.
Is there any advanced or unusual technology in Neverica? If you haven’t described it already, please give some examples.
In addition to weapons, there are various other types of magic-powered technology in Neverica. Most farm machinery is fueled by magic. Telephones and automobiles use magic as well, but as of the early 1890’s, they have yet to gain popularity outside the cities. The telegraph is fairly common on the frontier, and works by binding a lightning elemental to a transmitter. The elemental is not exactly sentient, but is still prone to violent outbursts, so only the most experienced operators can safely use telegraph machines.
Tell us about any sports, games, or activities that are available for entertainment in Neverica.
Racing is extremely popular, and usually involves centaurs, gryphons, and occasionally dragons. Poker is a common pastime, but in the more unsavory districts of Neverica, you will find people playing Bruja, a more magical variation on gambling. The cards used for this have supernatural powers, and more abstract things than money are gambled away—for example, years of a person’s life, or talents, or memories. This game is outlawed across most of the country. A safer diversion is the good old-fashioned game of horseshoes. Just don’t play against centaurs; they’ll beat you every time.
Are the days of the week and months of the year the same in Neverica as on Earth? What holidays or special events are celebrated regularly there?
The calendar is essentially the same as our own. Independence Day is one of the most popular holidays, and involves impressive displays of fireworks provided by dragons. Christmas is somewhat different in Neverica due to the fact that Santa Claus makes no secret of his existence in this particular country. He does, however, remain tight-lipped about precisely how he manages to be in thousands of places at once. He is also quite adamant about people remembering that the holiday does not revolve around either him or the gifts he brings.
Is there a particular religion practiced in Neverica? Please describe what it involves.
Christianity is the primary religion in Neverica, and the version observed here is surprisingly similar to the Christianity of our world. There is also a dangerous cult known as Mirabilism, made up of fanatical worshipers of magic itself who embrace chaos for chaos’ sake.
What is the political or government structure in Neverica? Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she?
Neverica is a federal republic, like America, led by a president. The current president is an elf named Edward Whisperleaf, who is a popular and well-respected figure. However, rumors persist in some quarters that he made bargains with dangerous magical entities in order to ensure his rise to power.
Are there any other unique cultural practices that we should be aware of if we visit Neverica?
In a general sense, magic and monsters are considered to be perfectly “normal” in Neverica, so betraying surprise at such things may get you a few strange looks. Regardless of what bizarre or remarkable things happen, try to remain calm.
Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?
I currently live in southern Idaho, so a lot of the scenery descriptions are described by what I see out my window—rolling desert landscapes, dramatic canyon vistas, etc. The easygoing and patriotic Idahoan culture has influenced the atmosphere of my stories in the Neverican setting as well.
What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?
None. Though my Christian beliefs aren’t hidden in my works by any means (and particularly not in Deadwood), I steer away from anything overtly controversial.
I started writing stories in my early teens and never stopped. My first published book, and the first Afterverse book, was The Beast of Talesend, released in early 2017. Since then, I’ve continued to build on the characters, storylines, and world introduced in that novel through sequels and spinoffs. My passion is telling stories which entertain without offending or preaching, and which families can enjoy together.
Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your book(s)? Please include links.
All of my books are exclusive to Amazon. You can find a full list of them, organized by series, on my website. If you want to get a free sample of my work, you can download short stories by joining my email list. My most recent book, Deadwood, can be purchased here.
Where can readers connect with you online?
I’m most active on my Facebook page and on Instagram. These are the best places on social media to interact with me. I’m also on Twitter. I don’t spend a lot of time on that platform, but it’s a good place to keep up with my announcements. I also have a blog where I post updates on my work and articles about writing and creativity.
I hope you all enjoyed the trip to Neverica. Questions about the world or the book? Ask them in the comments and the author will get back to you!
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-Annie Douglass Lima