Author Interview: Kieth Merrill

Today I’m delighted to welcome to my blog Kieth Merrill, author of The Immortal Crown. I’m currently in the middle of reading it and am loving it thus far. If you haven’t already, be sure to enter my giveaway to win a copy!


Q— Tell us a bit about yourself.

OK, Brace yourself. 

I am a writer, director and producer of motion pictures, and more recently, the author of novels.

I was nominated for an Academy Award for my film, Amazon and won the Oscar for my film, THE GREAT AMERICAN COWBOY. I have created several feature films, television projects, include numerous landmark and award winning productions.

With the development of the Grand Canyon IMAX Theater and film project, I introduced a new concept that became known as “destination cinema”. The film, GRAND CANYON – THE HIDDEN SECRETS is currently listed as one of the 25 most successful independent films in history and the first film to be inducted into the IMAX Hall of Fame.  

My “destination film” projects are a unique combination of documentary and dramatic narrative, driven by story and spectacular as a result of authentic recreations of history on the giant screen. My IMAX docudramas include the Grand Canyon IMAX Theater at the South rim of the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls IMAX theater, Canada, IMAX at River Center, San Antonio, Texas featuring ALAMO – THE PRICE OF FREEDOM, a large screen dramatic recreation of the battle of The Alamo–and a large screen film POLYNESIAN ODYSSEY for Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii.  

My debut novel, Evolution of Thomas Hall, received solid reviews and good success. 

The Immortal Crown, Book I in the epic fantasy series, Saga of Kings hit books stores in May of this year. Book 2,Lord of Vengeance, is in editing.

I served in the US Army and I sat for several years as a member of the Board of Trustees of Southern Virginia University, and served as the past president of the Brigham Young University Alumni Association. I was honored with BYU’s Distinguished Alumni Award. I am active in church, community and family. 

My greatest success is my amazing marriage to my college sweetheart, Dagny Johnson of Piedmont, California. We have been married 52 years. We have 8 children and 37 Grandchildren.  I grew up on a farm, I’m a cowboy at heart and I love country music. Dagny and I live in the Sierra Foothills of California’s gold country.

Q — Tell us about your novel The Saga of Kings: The Immortal Crown. What was your inspiration for the novel?

As a writer and director of motion pictures, I’ve learned there are two ways to answer questions in an interview. 

One is the clever sound bite. 

The other is the always more complicated truth. 

Let’s skip the clever sound bite and tell the truth.

It started with the core of the idea itself. Not a story per se’ but a context. An archaic history, written sometime around 2200 BC with the classic elements of epic fiction. The fight between good and evil, the struggle for power, treachery, betrayals, battles, seduction and murder. The rise and fall of kings and  kingdoms, and in the midst of it — drum roll please — reference to mysterious stones that shined in the dark. The stories of such stones, the Pyrophilus, are legendary and found throughout the ancient history of the world and were reportedly possessed by  such legendary characters as Gilgamesh, such historical luminaries as Noah Solomon and Alexander the Great. 

But the shining stones of the archaic writings that were the spark of inspiration for The Immortal Crown were different and added a fascinating dimension to the legends of Pyrophilus. The stones in this story were made luminous by touch of the finger of God.

That single idea triggered my imagination and sent me in search of the story that took me to the Kingdom of Kandelaar. It was there I discovered the quest and conflict for the 13 shining stones — which as epic fantasy would have it — are endowed with the power of renewal, immortality and endless life.

Q — Who of the three main protagonists do you think readers will root for?

Readers will tend to root for the characters in whom they find a goodly portion of themselves, thus readers will root for different characters, but in the end, I believe most readers will feel the way I do — as expressed by the following Q&A.

Q — Who is your favorite?

I would have to say Qhuin is my favorite character, EXCEPT when I’m not with him. Curiously and I think many readers will feel the same way, I often find my affections shift and I favor the character I’m with or who suddenly does something brave and brilliant, even when he or she is not one of the three protagonists. 

I not only favor, but I love Meesha when she feeds the men abandoned by the prince. I love Tonguelessone when she has the courage to defy Drakkor. I love Nimra when he saves Erin Qhuin. I think readers are the same. I try to write every character so we favor and adore them when we are with them — or loathe them with a passion if they’re antagonists. 

Q — What books do you like to read? 

One has to acknowledge the chasm between fiction and non-fiction when citing “favorite books and authors”. 

My favorites tend to be the ones I am reading at the moment. I am always on the lookout for new authors and bounce back and forth from fiction to non-fiction with no particular pattern. A few of the classics deserve to be on the list of course, but it has been SO long since I curled up with J.R.R. Tolkien, James Fenimore Cooper or Charles Dickens I hope they’ll forgive me for leaving them off the list

NON FICTION:

There are a few books I keep close at hand.  

  • Story by Robert McKee
  • An Exaltation of Larks by James Lipton
  • Against the Idols of the Age – The Essays of David Stove edited by Roger Kimball
  • Fingerprints of the Gods by Graham Hancock
  • As a Man Thinketh by James Allen
  • Scripture

FICTION:

Now I reveal my low brow enjoyment and escape into pulp fiction and confess I’m one of the readers who keep these guys on the New York Times Best Seller list for week after week.

I’ve listed authors rather than books because once I find one I like I buy all of their books and read everything they’ve written. My wife is a voracious reader also, she loves books and has collected a huge library of hardback fiction. One Click purchasing at Amazon is a blessing and a curse.

  • Lee Childs
  • Brad Thor
  • Vince Flynn
  • Daniel Silva
  • Dean Koontz
  • Clive Cussler
  • Robert McCammon
  • I’ve read Gone South, three times and want to make it into a movie.
  • Dan Brown
  • George R. R. Martin, A grateful nod of course for his 25 year masterwork, A Song of Ice and Fire 
  • Oh and of course, The Evolution of Thomas Hall, a truly excellent novel which I have read many times.

On my reading list for the year ahead.

  • The Last Mile by David Baldacci – Currently reading
  • The Twelfth Imam by Joel Rosenberg – Currently reading
  • The Heavenly Table by Donald Ray Pollock
  • Playing to the Edge by Michael V. Hayden
  • Increase in Learning by David Bednar
  • The One Thing by Gary Keller

…and when I wander through Barnes and Noble those unknown treasures that are yet to be added.

Q — What do you like to do outside of writing?

Play tennis. Go to movies. Teach Sunday School. Speak to youth. Write in my personal journal. Read, read, read. Sketch. Shoot guns. Take photographs, and hang out with my grandkids. At the moment my big ‘outside adventure’ is building an outrageous tree house for my grandkids.

About the Book

immortal crownA thousand years ago, the Navigator possessed thirteen stones touched by Oum’ilah, the God of gods. Over time, these power-ful stones of light were scattered and a prophecy arose declaring that a “child of no man” would gather them again, and he would be given immortality and reign forever as god and king of Kandelaar.

Now, in an age of chaos, the time has come for the prophecy to be fulfilled. Light and darkness have each chosen a champion to claim the legendary stones: The sorceress of the cult of she-dragon has chosen Drakkor, a warrior and mercenary who travels with bandits and a corrupt stone of darkness.

The Oracle of Oum’ilah has placed his faith in Ashar, a young postulant who is unsure the stones of light even exist.

Meanwhile, miles away, a slave named Ereon Qhuin dreams of freedom. Abandoned at birth, his only possession is a strange stone that he believes is the key to his destiny and freedom.

A mercenary, a postulant, and a slave—which one is truly the child of prophecy? Who will wear the immortal crown?

Comments make me happy! Please feel free to leave a reply.

2 comments

  1. I really enjoyed Book 1 of the Immortal Crown but I am most anxious to read the next Book & get some resolution. When will Book 2 be available. By the way, I really thought the audio reader was fabulous. I have never heard a better one.