22 Nov 2015

Sevara: Dawn of Hope by Damian Wampler

Hi Damian! Can you tell us a little about your latest book, Sevara: Dawn of Hope?
Imagine a future so distant it looks like our past. There’s no trace of our civilization, and the world has reverted to using simple technology to form countless small empires. This is the world of Sevara, born in an empire where all girls are raised in orphanages to be trained and sold off as servant wives. But Sevara is strong willed and refuses to be exploited, and ends up out on the streets in a quest to save her fellow orphans. The book is about the limits of human cruelty and compassion, and about how simple acts of kindness make ordinary people into heroes. There are also fantasy elements – a group of shapeshifting immortals protect Sevara when she’s in the most danger.

What inspired you to write it?
I first wrote a graphic novel about Sevara, a goddess who battles evil throughout the ages. But this goddess was once a mortal, raised in an orphanage and forged in the streets of a steampunk-like world. I only had a few flashbacks to her mortal life however, and I wanted readers to be able to understand her whole origin and character, so I wrote the Sevara novel while my artists were drawing the art for the graphic novel.

How did you come up with the idea for the cover?
Luckily, I was producing a graphic novel at the exact same time, and there are about eleven pages of art that show scenes from the novel. I picked the most dramatic moment – when Sevara is deciding if she should join the group of immortals that protects earth.

If it was made into a movie, who would you like to play the main characters?
Good question! Jennifer Lawrence is of course fantastic, she portrays strength and vulnerability at the same time. She would make a great Sevara. The immortal that watches over Sevara is Alta, and she could be played by Kate Blanchett or Angela Bassett. There’s an evil politician, and while I was writing the book I pictured the late Christopher Lee playing that role, but now maybe Vincent Cassel would work. The son of the evil politician is a young man who is easily overcome by his emotion, in contrast with Sevara who tends to burry her feelings. I don’t know who would play this young guy, please read the book and let me know!

Is it part of a series or is it a stand-alone novel?
While the story is complete, I hope to continue the story if people like the first one.

Where is the novel set and why did you choose to set it there?
The novel is set in the city of Plexus in the distant future. The technology ranges to what we had from 1800s – 1950’s. There are no gas engines like we have today; cars are all pulled along by ropes that are attached to a giant central hub that powers the whole city. Windmills and water wheels power everything. Metal is scarce, most things are made out of wood and stone. I wanted to create a world where getting from place to place was a challenge, and information and power could all be controlled by the government.

What is it about this genre that appeals to you so much?
I like building new worlds. Everything in the novel comes out of my imagination. I had to invent ways to send letters and deliver newspapers, and think up how to power tanks and airplanes. It was so much fun. The immortals are thousands of years old and have powers that come from a long-lost bio-technology. It is a world where anything can happen.

What made you want to become an author?

I never wanted to become an author, but I have ideas in my head and they just have to come out. I have ideas for dozens of other novels and graphic novels, and I will have to put them on paper some day or else I’ll go crazy.

How do you come up with character names?

I wanted names that were simple and easy to remember, but not associated with anything from our world. The names tend to reflect the character. Lief is emotional, he gets blown around like a leaf in the wind. Fib is a bad guy, fat bald and ugly. Alta is the most noble and almost godlike, so her name is similar to the world altar. The most powerful politicians in Plexus are elite noblemen, so I gave him the last name of Paris to bring up the image of French aristocracy. And there’s a very spoiled rich girl who I named Victoria, which always reminds me of fine China and jewels from the Victorian era.

Do you struggle to come up with book titles? Do they come before, during or after you've written your book?

The subtitle of the book is “Dawn of Hope” and I had to struggle with that. I came up with that last because I figured I’d probably continue the series and so each book will have a different subtitle. I wanted a title that reflected the idea that this was the beginning of the story, and that Sevara would rise up.

Name one of your all-time favourite books?
There are so many! But Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse is still my all time favorite, I re-read it every few years.

Who, or what, inspires you?

I travel a lot. In the past fifteen years I’ve lived in six different counties and visited many more than that. The politics and social systems always influence me, so you’ll see that my novel is packed with ideas. The characters are based on family and friends who are very close to me.

Where is your favourite place to write?
I like to have a nice large table in a well lit room facing a window.

What is your favourite movie that was based on a book?

Last of the Mohicans is the best movie adaptation of a book and literally my favorite movie of all time. The second best is The Hunt for Red October, also in my top list if favorite movies ever.

Name two of your favourite authors.

Graham Greene and Kurt Vonnegut.

Tell us a random fact about yourself.
I’m adopted.

Who would play you in the movie about your life?
Denzel Washington, people say I look like him.

Tell us an interesting fact about where you live.
I live in the Republic of Georgia right now, which has some of the best art and fashion in Europe right now, and great food!

What are your (writing) plans for the future?
I want to see how my first novel and graphic novel are received and then we’ll see what happens.

Tell us one thing that's on your bucket list.
Visit the pyramids of Egypt.

Favourite myth / fairytale?
I love ancient Greek and Egyptian mythology, and so the Odyssey of Homer is maybe my favorite. I like the tales of Alexander the Great and the Trojan war, which are legends mixed with myth.

Who/What did you want to be when you were a kid?
I wanted to be a pilot, and still do!

Damian is a lifelong documentary photographer who originally hails from Newark, Delaware. Damian earned a bachelor’s degree in English and Anthropology from Boston University and boarded a place bound for Kyrgyzstan shortly after, where he taught English for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer. Later, he earned a Master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Russian, Eastern Europe and Central Asian Studies, and returned to the Kyrgyz republic as a Fulbright researcher. He returned to the United States to study digital photography at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He also wrote and produced a full-length play which premiered June, 2009. Damian is the writer and creator of the Sevara graphic novel. He is currently a Foreign Service Officer in the U.S. State Department, and lives most of his days overseas with his wife, son, and toy poodle.
More information from http://www.sevarawillrise.com or the book's Facebook page.

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