Violating Your Expectations

By Peter Orullian

I love this phrase: “violating your expectations.” The fact that I do probably discloses way too much about who I am, but there you go. I first heard “VYE” in a 500 level Shakespeare course I had in college. The bard knew a thing or two about it. You have your mind or heart set on something, and “Ker-pow!” it don’t go the way you hoped or thought it would.

For good or ill, this has carried over into my fiction. As I got rolling on The Vault of Heaven series, I thought a lot about how I would make it different and new. If you get reductive on storylines, there aren’t many out there. That, and I’ve read so many books by authors whose efforts to be different wind up sounding, ironically, very contrived. They just feel like they’re working too hard to be different.

So, one of the things I did was take a close look at the conventions of fantasy fiction: the stuff I liked, the stuff I liked less. And I decided that the best way to evolve some of these tropes into new terrain was to establish them up front in my story. In other words, I decided I wanted to violate your expectations. It’s kind of blasé to say, “things aren’t what they seem,” when talking about one’s book. So, I’ll just caution readers about their expectations of where the story is going, ‘cause you know, you could get hurt.

Beyond all that, some things you might not expect: music in The Vault of Heaven—there’s a music magic system, and it gets kind of dark; and the notion of human trafficking, which, in a somewhat disturbing way, feeds several of the story lines so naturally. And choice. I love exploring the choices my characters make, how they arrive at the decisions, what consequences will result. And more than anything, I love putting them in impossible situations, where there simply is no good or right choice, but they are nonetheless forced to choose. This, as much as anything else, proves to be the leap point for violating your expectations, since what you might expect my characters to decide . . . well, you know.

But then, here’s the deal: most of us love surprises. And at the end of it, having your expectations violated amounts to much the same thing. So with any luck at all, you’re gonna dig The Unremembered, since I’m going to carefully lead you down a path, and early on you may recognize a few of the signposts, but pretty soon—if I’ve done my job—you won’t know where you are, and then, “ker-pow!”

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Read two short stories set in the same universe on Tor.com:

Sacrifice of the First Sheason

By Peter Orullian

Illustration by Kekai Kotaki

Palamon was part of the collective that formed the world, made its mountains, its people, its rules. When the fledgling world is threatened, only he will do whatever it takes to save it. Read the story >>

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The Great Defense of Layosah

By Peter Orullian

Illustration by Kekai Kotaki

Layosah has lost five sons and her husband to her kingdom’s endless wars; all she has left is an infant daughter and a dangerous idea. Read the story >>

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[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1F72X091aw]

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Peter Orullian is the debut epic fantasy author of The Unremembered (0-7653-2571-3 / $$27.99), the first novel in “The Vault of Heaven” out from Tor Books on April 12, 2011. He is also the author of two short stories set in the same universe, “Sacrifice of the First Sheason” and “The Great Defense of Layosah,” freely available on Tor.com. More information including a series of webisodes can be found on his website, Orullian.com.

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From the Tor/Forge April newsletter. Sign up to receive our newsletter via email.

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More from our March newsletter:

Tor Books announces the second of their monthly Twitter chat series!

Calling all Tweetgeeks: debut authors Peter Orullian, Beth Bernobich, and Rhiannon Frater talk about publishing their first novels in the second #Torchat this Wednesday, 3/16 at 4 PM EST

New York, NY – Monday, March 14, 2011 – Tor Books is excited to announce the second #TorChat, the new sf/f genre-themed, hour-long chat series hosted on Twitter. Guest authors will join fans in a lively, informative and entertaining discussions of all that’s hot in genre fiction (140 characters at a time) from 4 to 5 PM Eastern on the third Wednesday of every month. Each #TorChat will revolve around a different genre topic of interest, with new guest authors and exclusive fan giveaways from @Torbooks.

This Wednesday’s chat is about debut authors. Not just the question everyone wants to know (how did you get published?!) but also questions specific to debut novels in genre writing. Special guest authors Peter Orullian (@PeterOrullian), Beth Bernobich (@beth_bernobich), and Rhiannon Frater (@rhiannonfrater) will chat with fans on why they chose genre fiction, how they got published, and what comes after the contract.

The chat will be introduced and (loosely) moderated by Tor publicist Cassie Ammerman (@leanoir), with giveaways of advance copies of upcoming releases from @TorBooks following the 4 PM chat.

Our Author guests:

Peter Orullian has worked in marketing at Xbox for nearly a decade, most recently leading the Music and Entertainment marketing strategy for Xbox LIVE, and has toured as a featured vocalist internationally at major music festivals. He has published several short stories. The Unremembered is his first novel. He lives in Seattle. www.orullian.com

Beth Bernobich comes from a family of story tellers, artists, and engineers. She juggles her time between working with computer software, writing, family, and karate. Her short stories have appeared publications such as Asimov’s, Interzone, Postscripts, Strange Horizons, and Sex in the System. She lives with her husband and son in Connecticut. Passion Play is her first novel. http://www.beth-bernobich.com

Rhiannon Frater is the author of The First Days: As the World Dies and two sequels, Fighting to Survive and Siege, all originally self-published and soon to be published by Tor. She and her husband live in Austin, Texas. http://rhiannonfrater.blogspot.com/

Giveaway: The Unremembered by Peter Orullian

Enter for a chance to win an ARC on Goodreads!

About The Unremembered: The gods, makers of worlds, seek to create balance—between matter and energy; and between mortals who strive toward the transcendent, and the natural perils they must tame or overcome. But one of the gods fashions a world filled with hellish creatures far too powerful to allow balance; he is condemned to live for eternity with his most hateful creations in that world’s distant Bourne, restrained by a magical veil kept vital by the power of song.

Millennia pass, awareness of the hidden danger fades to legend, and both song and veil weaken. And the most remote cities are laid waste by fell, nightmarish troops escaped from the Bourne. Some people dismiss the attacks as mere rumor. Instead of standing against the real threat, they persecute those with the knowledge, magic and power to fight these abominations, denying the inevitability of war and annihilation. And the evil from the Bourne swells….

The troubles of the world seem far from the Hollows where Tahn Junell struggles to remember his lost childhood and to understand words he feels compelled to utter each time he draws his bow. Trouble arrives when two strangers—an enigmatic man wearing the sigil of the feared Order of Sheason and a beautiful woman of the legendary Far—come, to take Tahn, his sister and his two best friends on a dangerous, secret journey.

Tahn knows neither why nor where they will go. He knows only that terrible forces have been unleashed upon mankind and he has been called to stand up and face that which most daunts him—his own forgotten secrets and the darkness that would destroy him and his world.

Enter for a chance to win here!

(Ends March 4) Open to US and Canada only.

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More giveaways:

Cradle of the Scar Webisode

Check out part one of a six-part webisode series set in Peter Orullian’s world, The Vault of Heaven. Book 1, The Unremembered goes on sale 4/13.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1F72X091aw]

To find out more about this gorgeously illustrated project and the lands of Aeshau Vaal visit the author’s website.