• Featured Novel: 'Destiny Sets' by Karen Fainges

    Karen Faiges' first book of The Shayton Chronicles series, Destiny Sets, is a dark fantasy about a dimensional rift where slaves have escaped their masters when their world was destroyed. They have changed to meet this constantly changing world becoming vampiric and shape-shifters, the only way to survive. They manipulate men, women, each other, entire worlds to meet that goal.

    Years of storytelling and roleplaying have inspired Faiges to write her series that she considers "family fiction". She has crafted multiple worlds for Destiny Sets. The main ones are Shayton and present-day Earth. She describes Shayton as a shard of rock forced into a gap between dimensions. She was developed over years of thinking about how such a world would work, not just the physics, but the social dynamics.

    Interview with Karen Fainges

    You described your work as "Family fiction" and you clarified that it's not suitable for children. Why do you consider 'Destiny Sets' "Family fiction"?

    Actually, it was a reviewer that said that and at first I laughed. But it is true, throughout the series, the one thing that is drawn out is that the sense of family, whether blood family or those that you love as family, is the most important ideal there is. To look after others and to love unconditionally, that is the only long term solution to just about every issue there is. It’s the old golden rule I suppose and Talkar, Lisa and the others live it to the exclusion of all else. It is the only thing that really gives them happiness.

    How are the vampires and shape shifters portrayed in 'Destiny Sets'?

    Shaytonians are vampiric as a way of surviving in a world where starvation was a constant threat. It allowed for fast feeding that left the prey available to be fed on again. One thing Shaytonians despise is waste. Killing prey is considered very wasteful. Their shapeshifting is also in response to the dangerous nature of their home. Constantly changing and heaving from earthquakes, tsunamis, cyclones, hail etc, the ability to adapt quickly was imperative. Those with multiple forms are highly regarded as they survive more readily over a wider range of changes. It is another strange contradiction then, that shapes are limited to those “approved” ie, mer (as in mermaid or merman), bat, wolf, humanoid and humanoid with wings, claws, fangs. To not be able to change, means to be lesser and unlikely to live.

    Why do you think writing about the character Talkar motivated you to write 'Destiny Sets'?

    Talkar allowed me to write from the position of the underdog (no wolf pun intended). As an Australian, battlers are our heroes, and a male that everyone discounted as worthless, or feared as dangerously different, appealed to my sense of ‘kick the corrupt bosses where it hurts”. I must admit too, looking at Shaytonians through the eyes of others showed how many contradictions there was in their society and made me ask why.

    How do you portray themes of survival and slavery?

    Survival is all for the Shaytonian people. It always has a capital S when they say it. Destiny Sets shows that there needs to be more than just Survival, you need to live as well as just survive. Just breathing isn’t enough, you have to have something in your life worth breathing for. Slavery is where that comes to a head. Throughout history in almost every culture on earth, slavery has been practiced, often not under that name. Any time one section of society decides it has to right to tell another section how to live, where to live and that their worth can only be defined in one way, that is the start of slavery.

    Shaytonians escaped slavery, but everywhere you look in their society, they are still enslaved, they just changed masters. Destiny Sets seeks to show what happens when you allow others to tell you how to define yourself and what you have to do to be considered “good”. They have perfect freedom to have sex with anyone over the age of consent that is not married. It is a race that lives on singing, dancing and sex, purely hedonistic. And yet… they still exile those that are mono sexual, whether that is straight or gay. They don’t fight for anyone that is outside the norm, instead, thinking it kinder to kill them. They live under the threat of death every day and actually living… they seem to have lost their way. At least until Talkar shows them what life could really be like

    You said that Molly was a throwaway character. What do you think makes Molly a fan-favorite?

    I think it is different for different people. She is a very strong and positive character, for all that she starts in a role many equate as victim. She never lets her disability (she is in a wheelchair) or her past (an abusive father and dead mother/grandparents) define her or stop her from looking after herself. She does not wait for someone else to rescue her, but fights on her own terms. And yet she is still willing to be vulnerable, to take risks and to love. She is the complete opposite of what Shayton society perceives as strong and yet, it is her that Talkar falls for and admires.

    How are the physics and social dynamics different in Shayton and other worlds of your novel?

    As far as physics are concerned, most worlds shown are Earth normal, or close as Shaytonians only travel to those where they can physically blend in. Suggestion is made that some have other lifeforms that are not humanoid, but Destiny Sets focuses on the humanoid worlds. Shayton Herself is not a world, but merely a piece of one, blown off into a pocket dimension between the worlds, thus allowing interstellar travel even though the Shaytonians despise technology/magic, seeing them as largely the same.

    The social dynamics of the other worlds are not shown to any large extent as they are just places to hunt in/visit and to be honest, Shaytonians are largely arrogant about their superiority and decline to immerse themselves too greatly into the societies they visit. It is one of a number of complete contradictions that typify Shaytonians. They accept amazing restrictions on their own privacy and actions to protect themselves for those outside their home and yet, discount offworlders in the same breath. Shaytonian society is largely matriarchal, females being those still left with abilities after the last enemy attack. Those males still left with powers are largely sidelined. Exceptions exist, but the madness of the King means that most males just avoid the issue completely and stay out of politics regardless of their abilities. Rulers are a meritocracy divided into the main fields of endeavour, Science (mostly medical), Dance (and song), Battle and Politics. A great deal more information is available on
    http://shayton.net/info.htm. The main societal detail to Shaytonian society though, is that it is completely based on survival.

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