Local Author Spotlight

Spotlight on Rich Feitelberg: January/February 2018

Rich Feitelberg
Rich Feitelberg is a poet and novelist, author of the fantasy series, the Aglaril Cycle. He also has four short story collections and a collection of poetry available at fine booksellers worldwide.
            Rich is an avid map collector, and student of popular culture. Going up on a steady diet of comic books, science fiction, and fairy tales of all kinds, Rich soon began weaving his own tales at a young age. These activities continue to this day, as Rich is working on the next installment of the Aglaril Cycle, and writing more poems and short stories for your enjoyment.
            Rich is a member of the New England Horror Writers, New England Speculative Writers, A Small Gang of Authors, and the Association of Rhode Island Authors.

Find Rich's work at the Sharon Public Library!
1. You mention in your bio that you’re an avid map collector. What drew you into that hobby? Do you seek out maps from a specific place and/or time period, or are you more of an equal opportunity map collector?
            Maps speak to me for some reason. Perhaps it is the random shapes, I can’t say. These days I love old maps as they are a reflection of the view the mapmaker had of the world. Maps of the ancient world, for example, look nothing like the real world but speak volumes about how the people of the time saw the world in which they lived. Then as my interest in writing grew, I saw that maps and fantasy stories were linked so I began creating my own for my world.
            I think I prefer old maps now or maps of other worlds, like Mars or Middle Earth.
2. What are some of the most interesting maps you have in your collection right now?
            Well, from the Atlas of World History, I have a 12th century medieval view of the world, which places Constantinople at the center of the world and does not show Africa at all. From the Atlas of Imaginary Places, I have maps of Oz, Middle Earth, Pern, and other invented worlds. And for stories set in the 1920s, I have an atlas from that time so I can get place names correct.
3. When did you first start writing stories?
            Sometimes I think I was born writing stories. The truth is, I began around 12 or 13. I stopped in college as I had no time, except for my writing classes. I was writing more poetry then. But in the late nineties, I wrote a first draft of my fantasy series which I picked up again in 2009. I’ve been writing steadily ever since and began writing short stories in 2012. Now I have four collections of stories, a collection of poetry, and five books to my fantasy series. More projects are planned as time permits.
4. What can you tell us about your fantasy series, the Aglaril Cycle?
            The Aglaril Cycle is an epic fantasy series, a heroic fantasy with an invented world, in the tradition of Tolkien, Robert Jordan, and George R.R. Martin. The Aglaril are seven magic gems that were lost and are now needed to fulfill a prophecy which will eliminate invaders from the human capital and allow the human monarchy to be reestablished. The characters in the story are very much like you and I with real problems and issues; as such, readers find them easy to relate to—at least that’s what my readers tell me.
5. I know this is a little like asking a parent whether they have a favorite child, but—do you have a favorite character from the Aglaril Cycle?
            No, I don’t. You have it right; it is very much like asking a parent whether they have a favorite child. I can’t name a favorite character or book I’ve written. I love them all.
6. You said that you strive to make your characters feel real and relatable; do you draw from real life experiences, places, people, or events when you write? Or do you feel there is a more universal way of writing realistically that spans all different kinds of people, even those living in a fantasy world?
            Actually, it is a bit of both. I do draw from my experiences—every writer does—but there is a universal element to being human so my characters have to face issues we all face. My 15-year-old character, Daniel, must learn about being an adult, the wizard lost track of his wife and son in an invasion of their city. He must now deal with this reality. The two characters who fall in love with each other have relationship issues and must deal with racial issues, as one is an elf. I think you see from my examples what I am talking about. These are universal human things regardless of time and culture.
7. Have you ever drawn on a specific place to inform a setting in your books?
            There are many places I’ve drawn from: an old store I visited, the house I grew up in as a child, a public square I walked through. These are scattered through the books and disguised fairly well.
8. Are there any books or authors that you feel have influenced your work?
            Sure. Tolkien, Robert Jordan, and Katherine Kurtz, to name three.
9. Do you prefer to read any specific format (hardback versus paperback, print versus audio, standard books versus ebooks)? What about for your own writing?
            The format I prefer depends on whether I want a physical book or not. Often I want both and if I get the ebook version I may also want the audio version if there is one. For my work, I collect all versions as I’m in charge of quality control and that’s the only way to be sure the reader’s experience is a good one.
5 Books Rich Recommends
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Deryni Rising by Katherine Kurtz
The Three of Swords by Fritz Leiber
Annals of Witch World by Andre Norton
Gormenghast series by Mervyn Peake