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The Latest In Cutting Edge Fantasy

When most people think of medieval fantasy, they think swords and sorcery. Today, E. C. Ambrose brings a new look at what you can do with a blade in Elisha Mancer, coming February 7th from DAW Books is Book 4 in the Dark Apostle series, a historical fantasy series about medieval surgery.

Elaine Isaac

Elaine Isaac as medieval surgeon

Interesting topic! How much research do you do and where do you get your information?

The Dark Apostle series was born entirely from research I was doing for a scene in another book. I needed to know a little more about medieval surgery, so I started with some general resources, then started looking up as many primary sources as I could get my hands on—like the works of Galen, and Guy de Chauliac’s Chirurgia Magna. When I had about eight reference books on my shelf, I realized that was a little excessive for a single scene—and I knew I had another novel on my hands! There’s a bibliography on my website.

In addition to medical texts, I also researched period ideas about magic and witchcraft, the legal code of 14th century England, the history of Jews during the period, and many other things. I usually start with general works, then look at the footnotes and bibliography to find the kind of specific details and expert understanding that is most useful. And, whenever I can, I attend the International Medieval Congress in Kalamazoo to learn the latest information about history.

Wow! That’s some impressive research. Is writing your only job, or do you have another? Does it impact your story?

In addition to writing, I work part-time as an adventure guide. During the summer, I get paid for kayaking, hiking and rock-climbing, and in the winter, I teach in the climbing gym. Writing is a very sedentary and lonely occupation, but my adventure work gets me out, in the moment, focusing on my students and campers, doing very physical things. It also exposed me to Wilderness First Aid Training, which I am glad to say I have used more in my books than I have in real life!

Good to know you’re prepared! Are you a panster or a plotter? How does that impact your work?

This is the series that made me a plotter. I was offered a 5-book contract based on how much they loved the first volume—I had already written the other 4 books, but they didn’t feel the other books lived up to the promise of the first. So I had to develop a new series outline based on Elisha Barber, and the best parts of the other volumes. I went through a detailed process of brainstorming, showing the new outline to the editors, and being given feedback, until I crafted a direction that excited the whole team. Now, I can’t imagine just “pantsing” a book the way I used to. I start out with a solid plot in mind. It always ends up shifting around, building in new directions, especially as I flesh out the characters shown only by name or role in the outline.

About Elisha Mancer

elisha-mancer-front-coverAt the age of nine, Elisha witnessed the execution of a witch, watching as she transformed into an angel in the flames of the stake, a miracle no one else seemed to believe. Resolving never again to let an angel die, Elisha becomes a barber-surgeon, the lowest category of medical practitioner in fourteenth century England.

Now, it’s autumn, 1347. . .terror stalks Europe as necromancers conspire to topple kings, corrupt an empire and undermine the Holy Church itself.

Armed with a healer’s skill and a witch’s art, Elisha hurries to warn the Holy Roman Emperor and discover how to stop the mancers’ plans. A one-eyed priest, a seductive traitor, a stern rabbi, a merchant of bones—how can he tell friend from foe when he no longer recognizes himself? Every blow Elisha strikes draws him toward the wrong side of the battle. When the enemy retaliates in blood, he fights to keep his humanity lest he be consumed by the spreading darkness and become. . .Elisha Mancer

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About the Author –

Elaine Isaac

Elaine Isaac

C. Ambrose writes “The Dark Apostle” historical fantasy series about medieval surgery, which began with Elisha Barber (DAW, 2013), continuing with Elisha Magus, Elisha Rex. Elisha Mancer and final volume Elisha Demon forthcoming in 2018). As Elaine Isaak, she is also the author of The Singer’s Crown and its sequels. Her writing how-to articles have appeared in The Writer magazine and on-line. A three-time instructor at the Odyssey Speculative Fiction workshop, she has led workshops across the country on topics like “Crafting Character from the Inside Out” and “10 Mistakes I’ve Made in my Writing Career so that You Don’t Have to.” Elaine dropped out of art school to found her own business.   A former professional costumer and soft sculpture creator, Elaine now works as a part-time adventure guide. No matter what name she uses, you do NOT want to be her hero.

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