Tag Archives: YA

Cover Reveal: Ashley Nixon’s CANNON

I’m excited to unveil the third and final cover in my CUTLASS TRILOGY.

 If you haven’t had a chance to check out the first two books in my Trilogy, here they are:

CUTLASS

Cutlass AmazonNotorious pirate Barren Reed has one thing on his mind: Revenge against the man who killed his father. So kidnapping his enemy’s fiancé seems a perfect plan…until he actually does it.

Larkin Lee is more than a pretty face and fiancé to a powerful man. Her fierce personality is enough to make any pirate want to push her overboard.

But when the King of the Orient comes to Barren with a task—to find the Bloodstone, a powerful gem thought only to exist in legend, Barren sees another opportunity to destroy his enemy. Together, Barren, Larkin and a crew of pirates set off to find the stone, only to discover it caused the death of Barren’s own mother and Larkin’s, too. As his strongest allies turn into his greatest enemies, and the life of the girl he kidnapped becomes more important than he ever dreamed, Barren’s quest for revenge becomes a fight to save the Orient.

AMAZON


FLINTLOCK

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Barren Reed hopes to protect the Orient from his tyrant uncle, but his plans to make the King’s life a living hell aren’t supported by the Elders of the pirate community. As it stands, Barren has earned the Elders’ disdain for his carelessness, and they threaten him into exile if he makes one more mistake.

Barren’s not the only one feeling the Elders’ wrath—they don’t trust Larkin either. Worse, Barren can’t comprehend Larkin’s wish to have a relationship with her father, and the secrets she’s forced to keep create a tension that may pull them apart forever.

When the Pirates of Silver Crest begin to die, bullets laced with dark magic are to blame. With more and more of these weapons infiltrating the Underground, discovering who’s behind the dissemination is no easy feat. As fear and tension mount among the people of the Orient, Barren and his crew find themselves in a race against time to stop the spread of dark magic before the world of Mariana spirals into collapse.

AMAZON

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Last but not least, if you haven’t read CUTLASS or FLINTLOCK, please to not read the blurb for CANNON.

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CannonPoster-2

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Blurb:


The king is dead, the Network is destroyed, and Barren Reed has been exiled by the Elders of Silver Crest. To make matters worse, the black spot–a curse of dark magic–continues to devour him. It’s true purpose is still unknown, but one thing is certain: It will corrupt Barren in the worst way.

With her greatest secret revealed, Larkin Lee flees Maris. Accused of slaying the king, there’s only one place to go–Silver Crest. But Barren isn’t happy to see her, and their reunion leaves more questions unanswered, including whether they have a future together.

As Datherious rises in power, Barren and Larkin must work together to find the fifth Relic to complete the King’s Gold and prevent Datherious from obtaining control over dark magic, but the black spot has other ideas, and the closer they get to finding the final Relic, the more corrupt Barren becomes. Larkin finds herself in a head to head battle with the only man she’s ever loved and the reality is harsh–only one can walk away alive.

ADD ON GOODREADS!

Alight, that’s all done!

Let me know what you think!


AshleyNixonAuthorPhoto

Ashley was born and raised in Oklahoma, where the wind really does sweep down the plains, and horses and carriages aren’t used as much as she’d like. When she’s not writing (haha, like that EVER happens!), she’s probably working out or pretending she’s Sherlock Holmes. Her obsession with writing began after reading the Lord of the Rings in the eighth grade. Since then, she’s loved everything Fantasy–resulting in an unhealthy obsession with the ‘geek’ tab on Pinterest, where all things awesome go. Type your paragraph here.

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Ashley’s Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

tuomdTitle: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

Author: Michelle Hodkin

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Genre: YA Paranormal/Fantasy

Pages: 480

Synopsis: Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.
She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.
There is.
She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.
She’s wrong.
After Mara survives the traumatizing accident at the old asylum, it makes sense that she has issues. She lost her best friend, her boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s sister, and as if that weren’t enough to cope with, her family moves to a new state in order to give her a fresh start. But that fresh start is quickly filled with hallucinations—or are they premonitions?—and then corpses, and the boundary between reality and nightmare is wavering. At school, there’s Noah, a devastatingly handsome charmer who seems determined to help Mara piece together what’s real, what’s imagined—and what’s very, very dangerous.

Review:

I asked my co-worker to recommend a book that had supernatural elements, featured a girl in High School, and a romance. She suggested THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER.

I fell in love.

THIS BOOK. I don’t even know where to start. I’ll just begin with Mara.

After Mara wakes up in the hospital, she learners her best friend, Rachel, her ex-boyfriend, Jude and another girl named Claire were killed when a building collapsed. Mara doesn’t initially remember what happens, but she’s haunted by visions and terrible nightmares. After the incident, she and her family move to Florida where she starts at a new school. There, Mara struggles with PTSD. She also meets the infamous Noah Shaw.

My co-worker gave this comparison of Noah Shaw: He’s Spike from Buffy. He’s even British. There are stereotypes of the male love interest in YA: Noah is a bad boy, he’s rich beyond belief, has an absent parent/parents, BUT, no matter Mara’s crazy (or what she believes is crazy) he sticks with her. He’s how she breaks the surface after drowning (nice cover reference, huh). They’re a beautiful and tragic couple and I love them.

I have to say that I also admired Mara’s brothers. They were hilarious, they were also supportive of Mara…almost in an I-can’t-believe-you’re-sibligins kind of way. Meaning, they NEVER fought. I don’t think Mara could take much fighting. She already didn’t get along with her physiologist mother, fighting with anyone else in her family would have broken her.

Now, let’s discuss plot. We are working with an unreliable narrator which means I never knew if Mara was telling the truth or not, and just when I thought I knew exactly what was happening, I didn’t. You still won’t see the ending coming, even if you’ve believed it at some point while reading the book.

I loved the subtle splash of supernatural in this book, I loved Noah Shaw, and I loved Mara Dyer. On to read the rest! 5 stars!

5star

Author’s Couch: Q&A with Kelley Lynn

I first met Kelley Lynn shortly after we discovered we were both WI authors and shortly before I read her FRACTION OF STONE debut. Since then, she’s hit her publishing stride with the rest of the Fraction series, as well as a number of successful titles in contemporary YA. We snagged a few moments of her time to talk about the Fraction series in particular!

-Nicole

Fraction of StoneSynopsis

Wind tunnels, torrential rains and earthquakes tear apart Casden. The cause of the world’s imbalance is unknown, but the mounting occurrences suggest there’s little time before life ceases to exist.

Rydan Gale and Akara Nazreth are the only humans with the ability to wield magic. The tattoo on their necks and the discovery of an ancient book explaining the importance of a blue stone, dictate they are the key to the world’s survival.

But the greatest obstacle for saving mankind isn’t the natural disasters, extreme betrayals and magic-fearing men hunting them.

It’s that Akara doesn’t believe the world is worth saving.

 

Q&A

  1. What’s the story behind the story? Tell us a little about where you got the idea for your book.

The Fraction Series started on a plane. Which isn’t that surprising since I travel a lot for my day job so I’m on planes all the time. It was NaNoWriMo 2011 and I was working on a different book (a contemporary boy POV about baseball. I have genre commitment issues.) Anyways…I was halfway through that book and wasn’t into it anymore, so I asked myself what I wanted to write. Akara, one of the two main characters in the Fraction Series, popped into my head. This broken, used, defeated girl who is one of two people in the whole world who has magic. The first draft of FRACTION OF STONE was finished ten days later.

BFF: Wow, 10 days?! I’m jealous! But, seriously, Akara is a fantastic character and your opening chapter sucks in readers in an instant!

  1. What’s your personal favorite part about the story? A character you loved writing, a scene that gives you shivers in all the best ways, etc.

I have a hard time picking “favorites” as a general life issue. Haha. But… let’s see. I really love Tristan. He’s one of the main secondary characters whose been holed up in a decrepit village all his life with no one but his grandmother. He’s covered in tattoos (because what else do you do if you’re by yourself?) and really funny. He manages to still be the optimist even the world is trying everything in its power to change that mindset.

  1. What do you hope readers take away from your story?

That even when the whole world is against you, all it takes is one person to make going through all that crap worth it.

BFF: What a great lesson and perspective! 

  1. Who/what are some of your favorite authors or books? Can you share how they’ve inspired you?

Ah! Favorites again! (Kidding, kidding). Well, I was influenced by Laini Taylor’s DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE when I wrote FRACTION OF STONE. I had just read it, and it has such beautiful prose, wonderful world building. I also love Harry Potter and The Wheel of Time Series and Sword of Truth.

BFF: Have you been looking at my bookshelf lately?! We seem to share the same title-love.

  1. What is most likely to draw you in to a book?

I have to be drawn in within the first two chapters. If I’m invested in the characters, want to know about them and their journey, I’m in.

  1. Tell us a little about your publishing journey.

I started writing in July of 2011. Since that time, I have finished around 13 manuscripts. FRACTION OF STONE was my first published work. By the end of 2015, all four books in the Fraction Series saga will have been released. I also have two novels through Bloomsbury Spark, ROAD TO SOMEWHERE (YA Contemp) and ONE WISH AWAY (YA Science Fiction).  And another YA Contemp will be released through Tulip Romance in November 2015.

  1. What’s next on your plate?

I have two series that are dying to be written (we’ll see which one is talking louder when it comes time). I’ve also got some work with my agent that we’re on submission with.

BFF: Lots of excellent things happening for you! Can’t wait to see your next projects. But, first, on to the fun stuff!

Favorite dragon: Saphira
Favorite Shakespeare: Hamlet (I memorized a monologue from it once)
Favorite fantasy food: Mist Mead (It’s the booze in the Fraction Series)

BFF: Props for naming your own booze creation! Have a Mist Mead on us. Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by the Author’s Couch!

Kelly LynnMore About Kelley

Eventually the day came when the voices in Kelley Lynn’s head were more insistent than her engineering professor’s. So instead of turning to her Thermodynamics book, Kelley brought up a blank page on her computer and wrote. Somewhere along the way, she became a Young Adult author.

Kelley’s enjoyed working with Bloomsbury Spark (ROAD TO SOMEWHERE and ONE WISH AWAY) and Tulip Romance (STAGE KISSED, Nov. 2015). As well as publishing work on her own. Feel free to hang out with Kelley at her Facebook Page or see what she’s tweeting about. (@KelleyLynn1) She loves to get feedback on her work through authorkelleylynn@gmail.com.

More About FRACTION OF STONE

 

RADIANT: Nicole’s Review

RadiantTitle: RADIANT

Author: Karina Sumner-Smith

Publisher: Talos

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 400

Synopsis: Xhea has no magic. Born without the power that everyone else takes for granted, Xhea is an outcast—no way to earn a living, buy food, or change the life that fate has dealt her. Yet she has a unique talent: the ability to see ghosts and the tethers that bind them to the living world, which she uses to scratch out a bare existence in the ruins beneath the City’s floating Towers.

When a rich City man comes to her with a young woman’s ghost tethered to his chest, Xhea has no idea that this ghost will change everything. The ghost, Shai, is a Radiant, a rare person who generates so much power that the Towers use it to fuel their magic, heedless of the pain such use causes. Shai’s home Tower is desperate to get the ghost back and force her into a body—any body—so that it can regain its position, while the Tower’s rivals seek the ghost to use her magic for their own ends. Caught between a multitude of enemies and desperate to save Shai, Xhea thinks herself powerless—until a strange magic wakes within her. Magic dark and slow, like rising smoke, like seeping oil. A magic whose very touch brings death.

Review:

Karina Sumner-Smith’s debut novel is an edgy tale of friendship and the dark economies of magic. She twists traditional fantasy elements in utterly unique ways and creates an overall enjoyable read.

Xhea lives on the rough streets of the Lower City, below the floating towers of the City where those with innate magic trade and horde power in a cutthroat game of houses. Without her own magic (aka currency), Xhea’s left alone to face night-wandering zombies and the ever-present threat of starvation. Her single source of income is her strange ability to interact with ghosts.

When a city man approaches her, desperate to hand her the tether (think spiritual anchor) for Shai—the ghost girl he’s carrying—Xhea’s all too happy to accept his magical payment. But the payoff leads to more than a temporary high, and as she unravels Shai’s story, Xhea finds herself drawn into a friendship and adventure fraught with city politics, magical intrigue and danger.

RADIANT’s worldbuilding incorporates a lot of potentially dynamic elements. It’s no doubt a dystopian society, but it begins in far enough beyond the era of destruction that it doesn’t feel like your typical dystopian. The Lower City mirrors a fallen New York or London, while the City hovers above it in an impressive collection of floating spires. A great example of worldbuilding elegance is Sumner-Smith’s “elevators,” discs opened and powered by magic that carry individual users from the Lower City to the towers. Simple, yet sophisticated!

She also has an interesting interpretation of the “dark underside” of magic. It’s one of the things that caught my attention most while reading.

  • Magic as a class system: This has been done in a number of ways in previous books, but Sumner-Smith is adept at making it feel exclusive and privileged in RADIANT—partly because she ties magical ability so closely to her world’s economy and payment. Xhea, who doesn’t possess innate magic, isn’t looked on as simply poor (like she might be in other variations of magical class systems); in RADIANT’s society, she seems more like a leper, completely ostracized without any real ability to get ahead in the world.
  • Magic as payment and fuel: Again, while other books might house magic in certain coins or gems for payment, Sumner-Smith takes it a step further and internalizes it as a life-force, similar to the way time works in the movie IN TIME. Each person has a certain store of magic built up inside them, and they can pay or gain against that. This, rather than hard currency, is the fuel and power of RADIANT’s society. So, when Xhea gets a “payment,” it’s actually a physical transfusion of magic from her customer to her. Very cool!
  • Magical highs, overdoses and detox: Xhea is a fascinating character, in part, because she’s a stereotypically “bad” street kid. She smokes, she’s addicted to magic almost like a drug, and she craves payment for the “high” it brings her. When she’s paid, the magic enables her to see in color instead of the gray spectrum she naturally sees, and it fills what she calls her “emptiness.” It’s unsettling and compelling all at once, and makes for a very powerful introduction to this character and what she’s faced in her young life. Later, we also see her come down off a scary magical high reminiscent of a detox. I like that Sumner-Smith grafted these grittier concepts together with our more traditional views of magic. It felt entirely fresh!
  • Magic as illness: We also see a dark, disturbing side of magic in Shai’s circumstances. She possesses such a font of magic, her home tower uses her to run not only its facilities, but its economy and trading power as well. No matter the physical toll to Shai herself. Almost like a human battery. As if that’s not enough, Sumner-Smith shows us twin consequences of that model: magic working as a machine to falsely sustain the body while draining away true life, and magic as something very close to euthanasia.

While the darkness of the subject matter didn’t make this a particularly happy read, I appreciated Sumner-Smith’s skill in flipping traditional concepts the way she did.

The book is broken into three parts, and the first and last have high-emotion endings.

One of the repeated talking points for RADIANT is its focus on the female friendship between Xhea and Shai. I’ll give it kudos for this, since it’s something I’d like to see more of in SFF, and the friendship definitely drives Xhea’s actions. However, I found it touching more so because it’s Xhea’s ONLY friendship, than because it’s particularly strong  or unique.

Xhea as a character left me torn. She opens strong and there are continual layers to her backstory, which keep her intriguing as an anti-hero (which I like in contrast to a lot of the perky heroes these days), but at times she skews a little too moody or gets stuck on something that doesn’t seem important to the plot. The girl is not the wisest decision-maker!

Overall, Sumner-Smith creates a nice mix. Her short story experience shines through in her turns of phrase and atmospheric descriptions, and she captures the mood quickly in a scene. I wanted to feel a deeper connection among each plot element. While it was all interesting, I didn’t get a good sense of history or why certain things happened the way they did. The same goes for character introductions. It’s the first in a series, though, so I’m guessing she’ll weave it together more strongly in future books.

RADIANT leaves a lot of unanswered questions that will pull readers into the rest of the series!

4 Stars

4star

-Nicole

Find it on Amazon.

Review initially posted on Fantasy Faction.

Fandom Friday: The 100

The100The 100 – Ah! This show. Where do I start? I love so many things about it that the words will probably run together into a seamless, incomprehensible stream of fangirl flailing.

For the uninitiated, the show is about a future human civilization who fled to a space station (the Ark) to escape Earth’s radiation after nuclear war. As the show opens, all of that is several generations in the past—but now, the Ark is running out of oxygen, so humanity’s leadership decides to send 100 teen delinquents to the ground to see if Earth is survivable. Not only is it, but the 100 aren’t the only ones there! The human race has splintered into 3 (maybe 4) groups.

I think what impresses me the most is the unexpected depth of the show, the plot and the writing, week in and week out. I know, I know. You’re thinking, “It’s on the CW,” how deep can it be. Well, you just watch missies and misters! As a writer, I hardcore admire this show’s writers because, man, they are FEARLESS. They throw in twists and character deaths and dark no-win situations like it’s going out of style. It’s not an exaggeration to say there are at least one or two breathless viewer moments each week.

But what keeps me coming back without a doubt are the characters (I’m holding in the fangirl squeeing, guys. It’s hard.). I have never seen so many badass lady characters all in one place before in my life!! Let’s review:

Clarke Griffin – I’ve joked with friends that I would name my daughter after Clarke. It is only partially a joke. This girl is a leader with a capital L. She takes no shit from anyone, tells it like it is, and faces danger and challenge head on to protect those around her, all while managing to keep a sense of vulnerability, fallibility and humanity. Gah, I love her!

Octavia Blake – Octavia’s perhaps the best example of what makes The 100 so different from any other show. On other shows, Octavia would simply be the sexy popular girl, who occasionally shows toughness but mostly needs others around her to do the rescuing. Ha! She may hover in that arena for the pilot episode, but the gal’s got guts and she’s not afraid to use them. She takes risks, fights (No, not just a well-timed punch or two. The scrappy kind of fighting that leaves you bloodied and makes you get up again…and again…and again), and frankly wows just about everyone around her, fellow 100ers and Grounders alike. I also love the relationships she brings to the show—her sister-brother bond with Bellamy is real and tough and so, so strong, and she is probably the most constant and reliable friend for all of her fellow 100ers

Raven Reyes – Raven is the toughest of the tough. She’s a straight arrow and always comes through. A talented mechanic, she builds her own pod to get from the Ark to Earth to join The 100, AND she devises a boatload of other cool weapons and tech from the scanty found items at the dropship camp. Fever, broken heart, paralyzed leg! Nothing can stop this girl!! Even more so than Clarke or Octavia, she’s a scrapper through and through.

Abby Griffin – Clarke’s mom. Doctor on the Ark. The only one who really believes Earth might be livable at the beginning. It’s her idea to send Raven to the ground. She’s smart, tough and (except where her daughter is concerned) pretty darn comfortable backing the play of various 100ers. Her dialogue and sparring with fellow counselor Kane are always filled with awesome tension.

Misc. Grounder Gals – Anya, Lexa or Indra, take your pick. They’re all slightly crazy, pretty brilliant, hard as nails and 100% complete badass. And, let’s just take a minute to talk about the Grounders’ society. The worldbuilding on this show is strong enough to have developed an entire language for this people. That’s something I love in books, but is rarely done to this extent on television. I am in heaven!!

And, then, of course there’s Bellamy. I think it’s some kind of sin that it’s taken me this long to mention him in this post. Let’s just say that if none of the above reasons existed, I’d watch the show for him alone. Not just because, well, um, yeah, but because he has an incredible character arc.

I *get* characters like him and Clarke. They’re my favorite kinds of heroes and heroines whether on page or screen—leaders who understand all too well the price of leadership, but lead anyway because someone has to and they see their responsibility to others as higher than their concern for self. Ah, that is just all kinds of YES! I will follow leaders like that anywhere.

Bellamy starts out as a bit of a jerk who smuggled his way onto the drop ship to look out for his sister, Octavia (Kids are monitored closely on the Ark, so they’re the only set of siblings on the show), and is driven largely by his fear of being discovered. By the end of season 1, with a lot of help from Clarke, he’s transformed into this amazing, confident and kick-ass version of that earlier guy. He does the hard stuff, the things no one else wants to do, but that have to be done, and he has a heart of utter freaking gold.

The other 100ers–Lincoln, Finn, Jasper, Monty and even Murphy–each have their shining moments on the guys’ side. The Jasper and Monty friendship is one of my favorite aspects of the show. And, an aspect I really, really enjoy (and am constantly surprised by given its network) is the fact that the parent / adult storylines often are just as engaging as the 100’s.

Often, especially in YA, adults are relegated to the sidelines or seen more as enemies or obstacles than anything else. But on this show, I’m cheering just as hard for Abby or Kane or Jaha (okay, maybe not as hard for Jaha), as I am for the others. I’ve mentioned Abby already, but I must say Kane’s season 1 character arc was almost as incredible to watch as Bellamy’s. The strength of the character development is more what I’d expect to see from a book than from a TV show. I love it!!

Speaking of which, the show IS based off a book. I haven’t read it yet and—I can’t believe I’m going to say this—but I’m not sure I want to read it. The show has won my heart in a big way, and I’m a little scared to re-imagine those beloved characters on page because I know they won’t be the same.

So, there you have it, my resounding fangirl endorsement for The 100. Go catch the first season on Netflix and, if you’re not already 150% convinced the show will be awesome, go check out Sarah Rees Brennan’s parodies. Priceless!

-Nicole

Author’s Couch: Q&A with Kate Elliott

I grew up loving Kate Elliott’s CROWN OF STARS series and more recently devoured the first book of her SPIRITWALKER trilogy. Elliott crafts characters and worlds with exceptional detail, and we’re excited to talk with her about her latest series, COURT OF FIVES. 

Enjoy!

-Nicole

Court of FivesSynopsis

Jessamy’s life is a balance between acting like an upper class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But at night she can be whoever she wants when she sneaks out to train for The Fives, an intricate, multi-level athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom’s best competitors. Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an unlikely friendship between a girl of mixed race and a Patron boy causes heads to turn. When a scheming lord tears Jes’s family apart, she’ll have to test Kal’s loyalty and risk the vengeance of a powerful clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.

BFF: On her website, Elliott says: “I call this ‘Little Women meet American Ninja Warrior in a setting inspired by Greco-Roman Egypt,’ while the publisher has pitched it as ‘Little Women meets Game of Thrones meets The Hunger Games.'”

Either way, we’re onboard!

Q&A

1. What’s the story behind the story? Tell us a little about where you got the idea for COURT OF FIVES.

First, my spouse is an archaeologist, currently co-director of an excavation at the site of Tell Timai in the Delta region of Egypt. Timai was an important port during the period when first the Greeks (Macedonians) under the Ptolemaic kings and queens ruled and, after them, the Romans. The period has such an interesting dynamic with a dynasty of rulers who came from outside the country that I began to wonder how I would weave a fantasy out of it without setting it directly in historical Egypt.

Second, I wanted to write about what it means to grow up in a country where the indigenous culture has been suppressed, and how the main character slowly learns she has been taught only one way to view her own background.

Third, I love sports; I’ve always played sports, and I particularly love watching girls and women compete today because, when I was a child, sports weren’t seen as “proper” or “natural” for girls and yet I personally wanted nothing more than to play. So I really really wanted to write a story about a girl who is a serious athlete and fierce competitor.

Fourth, and finally, I wanted to write an epic fantasy story that revolves around four sisters and how they figure out how to make a place for themselves in a world with rigid social divisions where they literally don’t legally fit anywhere.

BFF: Wow, I love the mix of history, culture, and competition as your sources of inspiration. And I’m a little jealous of your husband’s archaeology gig!

2. What’s your personal favorite part about the story? A character you loved writing, a scene that gives you shivers in all the best ways, etc.

I love the ending. I wanted to set up a situation that has impact because of what the reader has learned and experienced along the way, and I think (I hope!) I managed that.

King's Dragon3. Jumping back to one of your older books, that final scene with Sanglant in KING’S DRAGON has stuck with me for years! It’s incredibly powerful, and I remember holding my breath leading up to it hoping you hadn’t actually killed my favorite character. Any backstory to share about the writing of that scene?

I guess this technically counts as a spoiler, but since the book was published in 1997 I figure there is some kind of statute of limitations.

As I wrote the “doomed defense” scenario in which soldiers ride to their death in an effort to save civilians, I knew Sanglant wasn’t going to die because of the geas laid on him by his mother. I also knew he was going to go through his own terrible nightmare (just as Liath has suffered hers). So thematically I wanted to create a situation in which two traumatized characters heal each other. However, that thematic element aside, I love the drama implicit in the hierarchy of dog eats dog, in this case literally, and I wanted to show Sanglant as a truly bad-ass fighter even or especially in the most desperate and inescapable circumstances. Strange as it may seem, scenes like that write easily because they are so emotional and so clearly defined.

BFF: You definitely accomplished the bad-ass part! And the thematic emotional depth and healing as well. It’s such a powerful scene (Clearly. It’s stuck with me for close to 15 years!). Anyone for whom that was an actual spoiler – go get your hands on KING’S DRAGON! It’s a great read.

4. What is most likely to draw you in to a book?

Characters whose lives and conflicts I want to follow.

5. What’s next on your plate?

The first volume of my next epic fantasy, BLACK WOLVES, will be published in November. Meanwhile, I am working on final revisions for the next COURT OF FIVES book while outlining the second BLACK WOLVES novel.

BFF: Talk about busy! It’s great to hear you have new series forthcoming. Now for the fun stuff…

Favorite dragon: For biology, I adore the life cycle of Robin Hobb’s dragons. So brilliant conceptually, and with such inherent drama. For character, very hard to choose because there are many. I love Smaug, of course, prototypical as he is of the old implacable dragons of yore. I also love Haku, the shape-changing River Spirit from Hayao Miyazaki’s film Spirited Away.

Favorite Shakespeare: I tend to identify favorite Shakespeare’s by productions rather than plays. This is a hard call because I have seen many great productions of many of the plays but I think I have to tip my hat to a Shakespeare Santa Cruz production of Henry IV Part I that was designed for a contemporary setting, with King Henry to all intents and purposes the dictator of a small nation whose first speech is given with other actors surrounding him with cameras and microphones. Prince Hal made his first entrance dressed as Boy George (for those who remember the 80s), Falstaff was an aging hippie who carried around a five pack of beer by the empty plastic ring, and Hotspur looked–well–hot in camo gear with a rifle slung over his back. The way Shakespeare can be transformed in so many ways always amazes me. My other favorite Shakespeare is Akira Kurosawa’s tragic film RAN, a brutal adaptation of King Lear that has one of the most searing and hopeless endings I have ever experienced in any narrative.

Favorite fantasy food: My favorite fantasy food is always a meal cooked for me by someone else where I don’t have to do the dishes either.

BFF: Ha, great answers all around! Thanks so much for joining us on the Author’s Couch, and best of luck with the COURT OF FIVES launch. 

Kate Elliott author photoMore About Kate

Kate Elliott has been writing stories since she was nine years old, which has led her to believe that writing, like breathing, keeps her alive. She is the author of over twenty science fiction and fantasy novels, including Cold Magic, Spirit Gate, King’s Dragon, Jaran, and her short fiction collection, The Very Best of Kate Elliott. Forthcoming books include YA debut Court of Fives (August) and epic fantasy Black Wolves (October). She lives in Hawaii with her spouse, paddles with outrigger canoe club Ka Māmalahoe, and nurses along an aging schnauzer.

 

More About COURT OF FIVES

Watch for Part 2 of our Kate Elliott interview in the coming weeks, where we talk more details on worldbuilding!