Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Last Grand Master: Interview and Giveaway

I’m always thrilled to find fellow writers of high fantasy. So naturally when I read a review of a high fantasy novel The Last Grand Master, about a young wizard who must join forces with a great warrior and the queen of the unicorns to defeat a terrible evil, I pounced on the book. If you're like me and love high adventure and sweet, funny gay romance, it's a wonderful read.

Also, Andy will be giving away a copy of the ebook to one of the people who comments on this post, so FREE BOOK! At the end of this post, just leave your email address (necessary to contact you if you win and get the book to you) and your answer to a simple question:

"Name a favorite character from a fantasy book you've read and what makes them memorable to you."

On with the interview!

1.  One thing I love about the Last Grand Master is that it’s chock full of unicorns, wizards, imperiled kingdoms and other staples of the high fantasy genre. What led you to write about chosen ones, magic, and adventure?

I think the first book I remember reading – not read, but I can remember anything about other than school books – was the Lord of the Rings.  For years after that, all I read was fantasy, the occasional Sci-fi and the odd sports related book. I think I've had my own story in my head ever since. 

The Last Grand Master sort of evolved from a scene that has since been discarded. But I think as any writer will tell you, the story took on a life of it's own. I know it's so clichéd that people say – it wrote itself – but most scenes were just 'there' in my head waiting to get out.  Others took some work. I bet most people will be able to figure out the ones that 'wrote themselves' and the ones I had to 'write.'

2.  I understand this is the first book in a series. How many books do you foresee and in what directions will the story go?

Hmm, I've mentioned this elsewhere, but the story is about 2 million words long and not quite done.  After the self-edit/rewrite, that 2 million will probably end up about 700k or so That means this could be as many as 6 or 7 books, but it could be a lot shorter, depends on what the publisher wants, the readers will buy and how much I really want to flesh this out. 

There are three main continents on Nendor, plus the very large Island Kingdom of Dumbarten, I envision the books taking us around the entire world as Farrell gathers allies and unites the followers of the Six for another all out war to decide who will Rule Nendor.  Book two will take us to Dumbarten and the Order of Kel.  Book three will take place mainly on the continent of Loudria. IF I take this as far as I want to – 7 books, I'll go to Erd in one of the books.  That part isn't totally necessary, and it would take most of an entire book to bring us to Erd and what I envision there, so it depends on so many factors. 

Book two will introduce other elements, the Temples will start to have more input, the gods a bit more active and we'll learn of new weapons Farrell will be able to use. I also intend to do a lot more with the Peregrines, especially Farrell's adoptive brothers as the story moves on.  There will be a lot more magic, new kingdoms, new players.  At some point I need to get Meglar more directly involved, but not just yet. 

As I said, I've written two million words so there is a LOT of history I can flesh out.  My idea was always to present the entire world, not just a small corner of it. I'm just not sure the readers will stay with me that long. 

3.  Okay, let’s say you’ve met a writer who is brand spanking new to writing fantasy. She wants to get a better sense of the genre and requests a reading list. Which writers and books would you tell her to read?

Wow, there are just so many I'd like to mention. My favorites are Tolkien – of course – Stephen Donaldson, David Eddings, Ursula Le Guin, Anne McCaffrey and Mercedes Lackey.  I'm a character person, meaning the characters have to grab me or I lose interest in the plot.  I think Lackey and Eddings did a great job of spending time making us care about the characters.  Ursula Le Guin had this vibrant unique world. Stephen Donaldson's magic was amazing and frustrating at the same time, unlike Eddings where magic was almost a science.  McCaffrey's Pern was unforgettable. To me, these are must reads for what a writer needs to do to keep the readers interested.

Another series that isn't very talked about that I still remember to this day – and that is the mark of great writing – is the Riddle Master of Hed, by Patricia McKillip.  I loved this when I first read it and I can still remember parts of the books and I haven't read them in decades – Iff of the unpronounceable name, the High One, the endless tower, the children with the stars on their foreheads, spending time as a tree to escape the bad guy. I mean that's brilliant writing if people remember it for decades after they put it down. 

4.  M/M is one of the fastest growing—neck and neck with BDSM—genre in publishing. How do you feel about having your books defined as M/M?

I don't know.  I like it in the sense that I think it's great that heroes can be gay or in a male/male relationship.  Lackey's books taught me that. But I don't think of The Champion of the Gods as M/M as much as Fantasy with M/M main characters.  Miceral and Farrell are together, and their romance is part of the book, but it's just one aspect of them and their involvement in the story. There are no coming out scenes, no homophobic problems, no fear of rejection if people learn your gay type problems.  So I don't know that I'd define it as M/M.  On the other hand, the main characters are both men and in love.  Theirs is the only relationship that gets any focus during most of the story.

That doesn't really answer the question.  I'm glad it's defined as M/M, but I'm a bit concerned it is a limiting factor when their relationship is – in my mind – only a small part of the story.

5.  Travel feeds the soul and I’m always on the hunt for interesting places to go. How about telling me one place you’ve been to that you think should be on my list—and one place in the world that you would really love to visit someday?

Where I'd want to go is easier to answer so I'll go there first. New Zealand. Hands down.  My co-author in (Un)Masked is from Wellington, NZ and (Un)Masked is set there.  I've never visited, but I feel like I've been after writing the book.  Add to that the images from LOTR and that is my dream place.  Sadly with a 16 month old, I'm not sure we're going to be going any time soon.  Not sure I'm up for 30 hours of travel with a child.  But never say never.

I'm not the world's most extensive travel.  I tend to like quiet, do nothing but relax, kinds of vacations. I'm not big on taking a vacation that I need a vacation to recover from. A jammed packed, sight seeing vacation is so not my thing. The two places I've been to that stick out are; Cadiz in Spain and Bath in England.  They're both small cities that have such history and I love the 'old' places. I like visiting places that were hundred's of years old before any city in the United States existed. I also like the local feel of these places. You can walk to more places, there are more local stores that Wal-marts, those are my kind of towns and I found both of these places to fit me.

6.  I’m visually-oriented, so I’m dying to ask about your book cover. Who is the artist?  I find the creation of cover art to be one of “fun” parts of being published. How was it for you?

Paul Richmond did the cover for The Last Grand Master and yeah I’m biased, but I think he is amazing.  I gave him this really vague idea of what I wanted and he came back with something pretty close to what you see.  The background changed a bit, but not the look of the characters.  As an aside, a good friend and co-worker bought the book when I was in her office. She took one looked at the cover and said Farrell looks like me. I don't see the resemblance, and it would an amazing coincidence if it were true since I've never met Paul.  But I laughed, so I figured I'd share that I guess I look a bit like Farrell.

Watching the cover go from concept in my head to a drawing, to a rough painting, to the end result was pretty amazing. I love art and I find those with artist talent to be amazing. I guess a small part of me is envious and watching it come to life made me feel a bit – a tiny bit – like I helped created it.

7.  Writing is a solitary, often frustrating, and woefully underpaid profession. That said, a lot of people want to do it, probably because being a writer is considered sexy, smart, and fun. Have you told anyone in your private life that you write? And how do they react?

Everyone knows.  At work my supervisor sent out an email telling folks I had a book published – I can't because it would be too close to using government property for personal gain. But where from me it would be like an attempt to sell a book, from her it was something interesting about her co-worker.  The reaction from co-workers and colleagues ranges from surprised but really happy, to shocked that I have anything close to a creative side.  But everyone thinks it's pretty cool. 

8.  Promotion and marketing increasingly takes up a good chunk of any writer’s time. Most would rather be writing the next novel. What are you learning about promotion and how do you feel about doing it?

Ah yes, the dreaded promotion and marketing question.  Who knew you had to market your book after you wrote it, right?  I mean, most of the books I read, I found at the bookstore. I'd browse the aisles, read the blurbs and think about buying it. Now there are so many books out there, that it's hard to get 'shelf' space. 

I hate doing it, for many reasons. One I feel like I'm bugging folks. Do my friends really need me to hit them up several times with the 'news' my new book is out?  The other part of that is the idea of building a social network.  It feels a bit like Amway. You remember those people who'd strike up a conversation with you, seem friendly, then want to discuss an 'exciting business opportunity.'  Well, building a social network just to sell a book feels weird.  Building a fan base is one thing, but befriending folks so you can try to hawk your book to them never sits right with me so I'm bad at it.

The other part of this equation is, after reading and researching for months, I'm still clueless as to what works and what doesn't. We all know the concept – get your book in front of more people and hope your book appeals to them. Then hope they tell others and the 'they'll tell two people and so on and so' multiplying effect takes over. I think that is equal parts luck as it is about time and effort so there is an element of futility and...

So yeah I hate the marketing aspect. It feels intrusive in a way and I'm always wondering if it is really having that much of an effect because I'm not doing it correctly.  That makes it a very frustrating aspect of the book writing process.


9.  What is a movie or TV show that you watched just recently and really enjoyed?

Does the Super Bowl count?  I mean – Ravens!!!  Sorry, but those of us from Maryland are rightly proud of not just the team, but the state of Maryland for voting for marriage equality and Brendon Ayanbadejo of the Ravens for his unflagging support of equality. 

So, back to your question.  I rarely watch TV that isn't a sports show and sadly, since 'lil q – our daughter was born – Mike and I haven't made it to a movie.  We watch them now and then on pay. He watches TV more than I do, but really – as you know from when your kids were young – who has that much spare time? 

I did watch the Walking Dead – it was interesting and I liked it, but I'm dying to see the new episodes. Everyone at work wants me to watch the New Normal because Mike and I used a surrogate and I used to tell folks stories about it that made them laugh. But I've not really had the time – sorry, very boring I know.

10.  Where can your readers stalk you?

Uff – is this where I mention I have dogs and a shotgun – oh wait, that's for when my daughter brings home her first date. 

My website is very much a work in progress, but www.andrewqgordon.com is where I post.  Twitter is really original - @andrewqgordon and wow – image this, my email – andrewqgordon@gmail.com.  Go figure, no one else wanted the name. 

Blurb:

In a war that shook the earth, the Six gods of Nendor defeated their brother Neldin, god of evil. For the three thousand years since, Nendor and the Seven Kingdoms have known peace and prosperity.
But then a new wizard unleashes the power of Neldin. Meglar, wizard king of Zargon, uses dark magic to create an army of creatures to carry out his master's will.
One by one, the sovereign realms fall. Soon the only wizard who can stop Meglar is Grand Master Farrell, the Prince of Haven, the hidden home of refugees. An untried wizard, Farrell carries a secret that could hold the key to defeating Meglar—or it could destroy the world.
While helping Nerti, queen of the unicorns, Farrell saves Miceral, an immortal muchari warrior the Six have chosen to be Farrell's mate. But Farrell approaches love with caution, and before he can decide how to proceed, Meglar invades a neighboring kingdom. Farrell and Miceral find themselves in the middle of the battle. Farrell pushes himself to the limit as he and Miceral fight not only to stop Meglar but for their very survival.
Buy at:
Dreamspinner Press: The Last Grand Master.
Barnes & Noble: The Last Grand Master

Excerpt:

It took the pair several minutes to wade through the throng of well-wishers. When they reached the central staging area, Farrell scowled as he scanned the stage.

“Didn’t Horgon tell the organizers we wanted all newly-joineds to meet us here?”

Miceral’s smile faded when he looked around. “I heard him dictate the request.”
Searching for the festival organizer, Farrell readied a searching spell when he noticed the official at the head of a large group of confused couples.

“Guess that answers that,” Miceral whispered in his ear.

After an obligatory first dance with the other couples, Miceral led Farrell to a long table set aside for them. Swimming through the sea of well-wishers, Farrell let out a sigh of relief when they reached the far corner of the hall.

“Farrell?” He turned when he heard his name, scanning the crowd for the speaker.

Miceral pointed to their left, just as Ostert and Lillian made their way through the crowd.

“Congratulations on entering the ranks of the joined.” Ostert clapped Miceral on the back while Farrell gave Lillian a hug. Reaching for Ostert’s hand, Farrell stepped back.

“A dress tunic and no sword?” Farrell smirked. “You even wore your uniform when we came to dinner. I didn’t know you owned anything else.”

Lillian rolled her eyes and shook her head. “If you only knew the effort it took to get him to wear this today.”

Miceral reached out to hug her. “You only have yourself to blame for the monster you created.”

She nodded. “I know. You remind me every time I complain. If I hadn’t let him wear the uniform to our union ceremony, he wouldn’t think it’s acceptable everywhere.”

“At the risk of upsetting you,” Farrell pulled out a chair for Lillian, “I think he looks rather handsome in the uniform.”

“Thank you.” Ostert gave his wife an exaggerated nod. “But I still don’t find you attractive, Farrell.”

Farrell laughed, remembering their conversation when they first met. “That’s a good thing, since you’re about to become a father soon. I would hate to have your lovely wife vexed at me.”

“Hey.” Miceral poked him on the upper arm. “You should be concerned about your new life partner. Telling other men you think they’re handsome on our union day is not the best idea.”

Realizing the mistake he’d made, Farrell couldn’t think of a good comeback. He must have looked as confused as he felt because Miceral pulled him closer for a long kiss.

“Do that some more and I won’t even notice other men exist.” Farrell leaned in for another kiss before he let Miceral step back.

“Were we that bad?” Ostert asked his wife.

“We? No, we weren’t, but you were worse.” She smiled at him.

 “Me?”

“Oh, yes.” Farrell pointed at his friend. “For days after the ceremony you wore a smile as wide as your face.”

“So how’s the baby?” Miceral asked.

Ostert’s face broke into a grin. “The healers say he’s doing great.”

Farrell turned to Lillian. “He? I thought you said you didn’t want to know the sex.”

She let out her breath and turned to her husband. “I didn’t, but I agreed to find out if he agreed to dress properly for today.”

Miceral laughed. “I think she played you.”

Turning from his wife to Miceral, Ostert looked deflated. “Really?”

Putting an arm around his friend, Miceral shook his head. “If she really didn’t want to know, do you think she would have bargained just to get you in a tunic? She obviously didn’t mind finding out, but used it to get you do something she knew you’d resist.”

“Miceral!” Lillian’s eyes narrowed as she fixed her stare on him. “You’re not supposed to tell him my secrets.”

Gently taking her hand in his, Miceral brought it to his lips for a brief kiss. “My apologies, Lillian. Ostert is like a younger brother to me. Someone has to teach him what to expect.”

In the process of taking a sip of wine, Farrell sprayed the red liquid all over the table when he coughed. When he recovered, he waved his hand to clean up the mess. “You’re teaching him the ways of women? Where did you come by this knowledge?”

Turning Ostert away from Farrell, Miceral glared at his partner for a moment. “Don’t mind him. Just remember to ask me next time.”   
   

I think that's a good note on which to say "Thank you," to Andrew and remind everyone that he's giving away a copy of his funny and magic-filled book to one of the commenters on this post. Just leave an email address so he knows where to send it... and an answer to this question:

"Name a favorite character from a fantasy book you've read and what makes them memorable to you."

Andrew will hold the drawing on Wednesday, February 13th. 

28 comments:

  1. I absolutely loved the Riddlemaster of Hed, and read it obsessively as a teen. So, Deth is my most memorable fantasy character. I also admired Aunt Pol in The Belgariad. And Jon Snow, even thought I've never seen the television version of A Game of Thrones. I really enjoy epic fantasy!

    brendurbanist at gmail dot com

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    1. Urb - Wow - Deth and Aunt Pol - yeah two great characters. And exactly what I mean by memorable. Thanks for reading and for the comment


      AQG

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  2. My favourite fantasy character is Drizzt Do'Urden from R.A Salvatore's books. I love the way his race in the books are classed as bad guys, how when you see a dark elf, they are cruel, so cruel, you rarely ever live to tell the tale, yet Drizzt only kills to protect himself and his friends. He is a master of the blade and can rarely be bested. He is also sweet and compassionate. At the beginning of his story he saves a moon elf child who later tries to kill him. To save her sanity and belief in the world, he is prepared to let her. To this day, he is, has been and will always be my favourite hero.

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  3. Ps, my email address is Buni.69@hotmail.com. Mine is the comment about Drizzt do'Urden

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    1. Regine -

      Interesting. I remember seeing these books and wanting to read them, but never did. Might need to give it a new look just to find out what made you remember Drizzt so well. Thanks for stopping by and good luck.

      AQG

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  4. I have a few Alfred from the Hound and Falcon series I found them in a thrift store read them once and somehow lost them but 10 years later still remember them. Margaret Alton form the Darkover series started my love of fantasy and sci-fi. Dale from the Harvest series is just amazing and I can't get enough of him and hid fun bunch lol. I'm goin to have to publish as anonymous because I can't remember my past word but if I get it my name is KDaniel22

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  5. KD - This is why Tali suggested a question - the answers are great, a snap shot into what readers find/found interesting. Thanks for reading and commenting - if you want to be entered in the drawing, can you reply to me with your email address?

    Thanks again - AQG

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    1. KDaniel22@aol.com thanks fingers crossed.

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  6. I love all of Anne McCaffrey's books. My favorite character (s) is Jaxom and Ruth his dragon.

    gisu29(at)gmail(dot)com

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  7. Gigi,

    Yeah, I do too. I was sorry to hear she passed away. she was really quite imaginative.

    Good luck with the drawing.

    Andy

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  8. Since I've already read Andrew's book, I can tell everyone that you're in for a treat.

    Oh, and I loved all thecharcters in David Eddings' "The Belgariad". Two of my other favorites are Alec and Seregil from Lynn Flewelling's Nightrunnerseries.

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    1. Thanks Kat - :) I thought Edding's characters were so memorable because of the humor they he injected into so many of them.

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  9. Your book sounds fabulous, Andy, and I'd love to read it. Like Chris, I loved Alec and Seregil, although I've only read the first book in the Nightrunner series. And I'm only on the second book in the Fire and Ice and haven't watched it yet, but I loved Eddard, but right now I'm trying not to get attached to anyone because GRR Martin is ruthless. Grrrr!

    Great blog! If you're interested, I'd love to have you as a guest at my blog. Feel free to email me!

    Julie
    shelley_runyon@yahoo.com

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    1. Julie,

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I think you might be the first person I've come across who'll admit they're scared to like a character for fear they'll be killed off. Thanks for the offer, I'll email you later tonight.

      AQG

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  10. My favorites would have to be Fitz Chivalry Farseer from Robin Hobb's Farseer trilogy and Mattrim Cauton in Robert Jordan's The Wheel Of Time series. Fitz is a Royal bastard, the royal assassins and the catalyst through which the white Prophet is trying to save the Six Duchies. It's a mix of court intrigue, secret assassin missions,romance, forged ones (think some sort of living zombie) all mixed into one. And Mat( The Wheel Of Time) is the childhood friend of the Dragon reborn, who got roped into the fight of the last battle. He is snarky, cocky, rebellious. He is also a Taviren and warps the pattern of faith around himself making him the luckiest person in the world (which he uses primarily for gambling!) and an accidental hero. He is by far the funniest character of the whole series.
    Kym kreepymee666@hotmail.com

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    1. Kym,

      That is what I'm talking about when I say memorable characters - you remember all that. That's great writing.

      Good luck with the drawing.

      AQG

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  11. Favourite character: Scarlet from 'Scarlet and the White Wolf' by Kirby Crow.
    I love that he's small, but in no way weak. It never becomes silly that he endures so well. He's noble and sweet and just perfect, imo.

    corieltauviqueen (at) yahoo.co.uk

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    1. Sue,

      Never read that one, so I'll have to add it to my list. Thanks for stopping by and good luck.

      AQG

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  12. Harry Potter because he learned to be a good person

    bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  13. Although I wasn't a huge fan of the HP series, I think Harry was a likable/lovable character who will be remembered with the rest of fantasy's 'legends'

    Thanks for stopping by.

    AQG

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  14. Hmm... my favorite character. I have so many, but the most enduring would be Sam from Lord of the Rings. He's loyal, brave, and sensible, which is just as important as being smart or gifted. He never doubts who or what he is, even if he sometimes mistakenly thinks he's not good enough. Sam may be a hobbit, but he's completely, endearingly human.

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  15. As a fan of LOTR, I can't say Sam was every my favorite, but I think part of that is I didn't care for the Sam in the movie version. That said, I can see this as a favorite, what's not to love.

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  16. I suppose I ought to answer my own question, just to be fair - and no I can't win the contest :P

    There are obviously so many to choose from, but I think if I have to pick one, I'd pick Ged the Wizard of Earth Sea. He gained the power he wanted then turned away to live a simple life despite what he could have been.

    Cheating a bit, I'll pull another unnamed favorite - Pelman - from Robert Don Hughes - Pelman the Power Shaper, I mean talking houses, two headed dragons, and wizards. I still love how one of the wizards died when they took their 'other' shape which was a bee and their opponent squash them between their hands. But Pelman was willing to die to save the world - just like the good hero should. :)

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  17. Probably my favorite fantasy book was the first fantasy series I picked up, Raymond Feist's Riftwar Saga. I was backpacking in Australia and was given the first one in the series and all through my trek I traded and swapped the books I had for other ones in the series with fellow travelers or in hostel book trades. This was my first time reading a fantasy book and I loved them from the first page I read. My favorite character was James the young thief in Silverthorn. As a thief and street urchin he was given the chance by Arutha to be something he only dreamed of being.
    My email is eventingmom2@gmail.com and I look forward to reading The Last Grand Master.

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  18. Pam,
    Sorry I missed this, but it did make it into the drawing, which is about to happen in a minute. I loved the Riftwar Saga, but like a lot of fantasy books, the later ones got more and more fantastic and seemed to need bigger and bigger enemies that in time turned me off. But I agreed that the first set was awesome.

    AQG

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  19. The winner of the eBook give away was Julie Lynn Hayes.

    I recorded everyone who submitted an email address on a list in order of you replied. I then used Randomizer.org to pick 1 number from that list. Julie was the winner.

    Thank you to everyone who participated and who stopped by Tali's site. I'd also like to thank Tali for letting me hold this give away on her site.

    AQG

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    1. My pleasure, Andy. And I'm certain Julie will enjoy your book, too. :D

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  20. I liked the Harry Potter series and have many favorite characters. Severus Snape was one of my favorites because he had this hidden side we didn't know about until the very end.

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