William C. Tracy is joining us today with his novella Tuning the Symphony. Here’s the publisher’s description:
Change one note and the universe changes with the Symphony.
One apprentice will become a full majus today. The other will wait months for another suitable challenger. Rilan Ayama is skilled in using her song to change the Grand Symphony of the universe, but her opponent, Vethis, is crafty, and not above a little simple bribery. Though Rilan is counting on the support of her closest friend Origon, he remains absent. She has only a cryptic note saying important matters of his family take precedence, and he needs her help. The mystery pulls Rilan’s attention away from the most important test of her life.
Maji create portals between the far flung planets of the Great Assembly of Species, but many places still remain out of easy reach. A search for Origon’s brother leads Rilan and her friend across the wilds of one of the ten homeworlds. There, Rilan’s fledgling skills are pushed to their limits as they investigate a secret that could bring down all six houses of the maji.
What’s William’s favorite bit?
WILLIAM C. TRACY
I’ll get right to the point. I love the potential of Tuning the Symphony. Oh, there are a lot of little moments in the story I adore, from bears in fancy hats, to a magical sparring match, to walls higher than you can see, to a few surprises I won’t spoil. But my favorite bit is being able to lay this universe before you. Don’t get me wrong, I love the characters, too. Rilan and Origon will feature in at least five other works that are partially written or bouncing around in my brain. But that’s the point. This story can spiral off into so many more possibilities. I have been writing in this universe for about twenty years now, from the first noodlings when I was a teenager. This novella, the first published, is actually a story I started wondering about when writing a longer work: what was Rilan and Origon’s first adventure?
So I explored the idea, and had a lot of fun rolling back the characters I was familiar with to when Rilan was just beginning her career. The chance to strip out a lot of her confidence and roughen up the edges smoothed by time made her almost a new character. Origon is less changed in this novella, because he’s a bit older than Rilan, but the dynamic between them is raw here, more fragile and quite different than in later times.
Then my mind began to wander off on different paths. How does this society—made of ten planets hopelessly separated by vast swaths of space, yet tied to each other economically and physically by magical portals—deal with interspecies attraction? You’ll see a few hints of that question in Tuning the Symphony, but I also have plans for a story between star (heh) crossed lovers. Next, there is that pesky question of how these worlds interact with each other politically. Do they war? Can they, when they only touch through person-sized portals? I have two shorter stories coming out later this year, dealing with parts of that question from both the maji’s point of view, as well as from the regular inhabitants making up the Great Assembly of Species.
Oh, and that longer work I mentioned? It ties in bits and pieces of all these ideas, and gives me a chance to explore the larger, universe-endangering questions. I hope to put that novel out sometime next year. It features Rilan and Origon, older and wiser, as well as some of the other characters later on in life. And since I already know what’s coming, I could write my own little jokes and foreshadowing in this novella that no one will get until the later works come out…
I have always loved huge series that happen in different times and places, where friendly faces pop up all over. Stories like Moorcock’s Eternal Champion Saga, Feist’s Riftwar Cycle, Sanderson’s Cosmere, Niven’s Known Space, and Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga. Comic books have been doing this for ages, and I’m in awe of the fantastic connected stories taking place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Even one of the main questions this story addresses got me thinking of another story I plan to write. Here is a quote from later in the book, discussing how the six houses of the maji work:
“You’ve never heard of someone belonging to three houses, have you?” Rilan asked. It was a silly question. Everyone knew the answer.
But Origon took it seriously, pacing through shavings on the forest floor. “There are schools of thought among the houses—especially with those who are members of more than one—postulating why there are to be maji who can hear two Symphonies. There has never been any recorded case where a majus has heard more than two. The prevailing thought is to be that the strain on the mind is too great. Those who would hear more than two aspects of the Grand Symphony die before they are born.”
Visions of secret societies and meetings in the dark flitted through Rilan’s imagination. She was only beginning her path to become a majus, and there were still many secrets to unlock in the houses.
Those secret societies and dark meetings begged me to be realized. It’s further down the stack of stories in my head, but not too far, especially because it will feature one of my favorite characters when he was a lot younger. The potential for more adventures, cool characters, and intriguing ideas means my favorite bit of Tuning the Symphony is being able to continue writing about all those other awesome concepts hiding in the background of this story.
Tuning the Symphony is available in book form from Amazon US, Barnes & Noble, and the author’s website. It is also available as an ebook from Kindle, Smashwords, and Kobo. You can follow the author on Goodreads.
William C. Tracy is a North Carolina native and a lifelong fan of science fiction and fantasy. In no particular order, he is a mechanical engineer for a large construction equipment company, a Wado-Ryu Karate instructor, a video and board gamer, a gardener, a reader, and a writer. In his spare time, he wrangles three cats and somewhere between one and six guinea pigs, and his wife wrangles him (not an easy task). Both of them both enjoy putting their pets in cute little costumes and then taking pictures of them repeatedly.