Clarity The Divine Potentials Book 1 by Ethan Stein Genre: Epic Fantasy
High Priestess Daena Vulatanne has spent more than a decade preparing to lead the Holy Order of the Water Goddess Anahita. The safety of the isolated community of women has always been paramount, but the arrival of a strange messenger forces her to question if their exposure is worth risking her role as the future leader.
Asha’s presence in the village threatens the secrecy the women have fought to maintain. While he carries a message for Daena’s people, he also holds the key to a rogue Order member’s lifelong ambition: revenge for the destruction of her brethren.
The purity and innocence Daena thought she knew soon gives way to evil and corruption. In a tumultuous time of deception, magic, and adventure, she must sacrifice something dear to her: her ideals, her devotion, or her life.
Asha eagerly rushed toward the road, reaching the rear bathhouse door as it swung open. He jumped aside as the muscular woman he fought earlier exited. She was clothed this time in a blue sleeveless tunic and armband with a towel around her neck. Her eyes narrowed immediately. “What are you doing here?”
In reply, he darted toward the main road. His footing disappeared, and he crashed to the ground before being roughly flipped over with his hands pinned beneath him. The woman knelt on his chest, her face a mask of rage highlighted in shadows.
“I should kill you,” she said, “but the holy mother has decreed a more suitable punishment, one I will have no small amount of pleasure administering.”
“What might that be?” he said.
“Mutilation. And since you won’t be seeing your face again, a few more broken bones won’t make much of a difference.” Grinning, she slammed a fist into his face.
Everything went dark.
Ethan Stein was born in Buffalo, NY, where he developed a love for writing at an early age. While the beginnings were rather gory and incomplete, it was the start of something important.
In college, Ethan developed a far greater love and understanding of writing, even taking a few courses on how to be a better writer. It was there that he also began to develop the world of Mahrahspand, which was the foundation of his Divine Potentials Series.
His wife and two kids have been very supportive in his quest to further flesh out his fantasy world, and are eager to discover all that he has to offer.
Something about myself and how I became writer
Not sure about others, but I actually started out hating writing. I found it to be a chore. I particularly remember rebelling against my assignments at school and my parents demand that I write something.
Then when I was in 7th grade, I was tasked with writing, I forget what, but I decided to write a scary story. It was pure horror – people dying, blood and guts everywhere – and people liked it. It wasn’t Shakespeare by any stretch of the imagination, but it was the first time I found enjoyment in writing. I wrote a couple more horror pieces, but then my mom told me if I didn’t write something non-gory she wouldn’t read my stories anymore. So I wrote a story about a lost puppy name Spaghetti and his attempts to find his way home. I once tried to find that story but it was long gone from my home computer (this was back during the Apple IIe days).
And as the years passed and I became more proficient in writing, I found it easier and more enjoyable to write. Now I write far more than a few simple paragraphs even for a guest post like this.
Where were you born/grew up?
I was born in upstate New York in the suburbs, as unassuming and uninteresting as can be. When we first moved to the area it was mostly woods with a few houses, so my friends and I were able to explore large swaths of forest. As a I grew older, it was torn down for housing, which was sad because it meant less opportunity for adventure.
I feel like the world has become more concerned with safety (especially with the pandemic now), which has stilted children’s exploration capabilities. It was fine back when I was a kid to be out for hours and time without telling my parents where I was going. They were sure I would return. Now there is the fear of abductions and sex offenders and similar dangers, and I refuse to let my children out beyond the neighborhood block.
Also, they spend a majority of their time on technology devices making it less likely for them to explore outside. I’m grateful for technological improvements but at the same time I feel like it has impacted the extent and depth of childhood. Kids are just growing up way too fast.
How do you find time to write as a parent?
I don’t. When they were first born, it was easy because all my kids did was sleep. And now that they’re getting older, it is becoming a little easier because they can mostly entertain themselves. Unfortunately, that entertainment usually involves iPads and video games and I fear the anti-social behavior that will develop. So I have to give up the opportunity to write and instead focus on them. This is especially true with my son who needs a little more help with focusing than my daughter who is older. On top of that, all of their activities like Piano and Karate are online with the pandemic, making it even more important for me to be there to help them remain focused. It’s ironic, but I’m more involved with them stuck at home, then I had been when I was shlepping them to the actual location for their activities. And despite me not going anywhere, I still feel exhausted. Writing is simply a luxury now I simply do not have. Maybe once the world starts moving again it’ll be easier, but for now, the kids come first.
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
I am a diehard anime fan, and as a fantasy writer, I write with the view that my entire series can be made into an anime. I feel like that would be the epitome of achievement, were I to see my characters moving on screen. That being said, I feel like movies are too short a medium. I still remember how one of my favorite novels — Michael Crichton's Timeline — was absolutely bastardized on the big screen. They simply removed far too much to make it enjoyable. I couldn’t stand the thought of that happening to any of my novels. So I’d be more inclined to have it be a series, preferably animated, then as a feature-length film. Maybe a limited series at the least.
What inspired you to write this book?
This book is actually version 12 of the original manuscript. The original manuscript was over 115K words long and while it still had all of the same characters, there was no depth or substance to any of them. My earlier readers actually despised Daena (the main character) for her lack of growth. I am grateful that I wasn’t actually able to publish that first version because it forced me to go back and figure out how to make it more marketable (not only length-wise but character-wise as well). I split it into two stories and worked on the first half over and over again, giving Daena more depth with each pass and also making the story darker and real, until finally ending up with the version I published. You would be amazed to see the Daena’s transformation from that original story; I’m certain she wouldn’t recognize herself.
Do I have any “side stories”?
Yes. The ones I’ve written so far center around Asha Vahishtya, who is the main protagonist in the series, but not in each individual book in the series, which certain around specific characters that come in contact with him. The plot is either what Asha is up to between Divine Potential books (like how he got from Iburdeen to Keskt) or something related to his backstory, and are released a little ways before the main story it is associated with. I have ideas for other side stories but these are the main ones so far.
How did you come up with the title?
“Clarity” is the name of one of the seven Divine Potentials, which are abilities that embody the powers of specific Mahrahspand Gods or Goddesses. Clarity embodies Aspen, the Goddess of Devotion and Pure Thought. Those with the Clarity ability are able to articulate and convey messages full of meaning and depth with relative ease. Many become public speakers in one fashion or another. Furthermore, they can construct definitive arguments and have a higher likelihood of swaying the minds of those spoken to. They are also capable of better understanding situations and how to respond to them (although this is not innate and must be worked at). Finally, those with this ability tend to be devoted to a higher cause, be it moral or immoral, and will focus all their intention and drive (and often their physical resources) on achieving that purpose.
The other six Divine Potentials are: FarSight, Remedy, Fluency, Permanence, Transcendence, and Justice. Each of the books in the series will focus on someone that has gained that ability.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
I wholeheartedly believe that my characters are living the story and I am simply recording events as they happen. I am no more in control of my story than a horseback rider is on a mountain trail: sure you have reigns and you can pull this way and that, but if the horse doesn’t want to go in the direction you tell it then you ain’t going that way. There have been times where I wanted my characters in the story to act a particular way, but when I attempted to write them into that situation, I either couldn’t figure out how to get them there or the result felt forced. There’s nothing more frustrating than writing a page worth of material only to realize that it is completely counter to how the character is known to behave. When that does happen, I reluctantly scrape those passages because I know it’ll be a better story if I let the character organically control where the story is going.
What is your favorite part of this book and why?
My favorite part of about Clarity is the bumblefruit. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.
Have you written any other books that are not published?
The Divine Potentials series is slated to be 8 books. I have written four books so far in the series and am working on publishing one per year. Clarity is available now, FarSight is available for pre-order, Remedy will be available sometime next year, and Fluency: Awakening the year after that. I had to split Fluency into two parts because it was simply too long in its original format and I wanted to let the characters tell the story without being limited by time.
Follow the tourHEREfor special content and a giveaway!