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Their True Purpose

Rowan Staeffler
Rowan Staeffler Author Interview

Swords Of Deception follows a woman on a mission to track down a rogue council member but her journey reveals dark secrets about the Council of Witches. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

To show at what length people go to hide their true purpose and misuse of power.

Ellemar is a character that was fun to follow and well developed. What were some challenges you felt were important to defining her character in the story?

To find the right timing when Ellemar loses herself in her anger and how she learned throughout the story to be more reasonable. Then finding the right moments how Ason patiently tries to help her, making it as believable as possible. Because Ellemar mostly relies on him but he wants her to think for herself. Stepping only in if she loses herself in her anger again.

With beta readers and my editor, it took us a while until everyone was happy with the outcome. So lots of changes had to be made, leading to some frustrating moments.

What were some sources that informed the development of the world and lore in your book?

The world I have created in my Black Eyed Witch series was still fresh. So it made it easy to write it with a different story, powers and characters.

This is book one in your Sword of Deception series. What can readers expect in book two?

That Ellemar will be mentally challenged. That’s all I will say as otherwise it will spoil a big moment betas and my editor didn’t see coming. One beta said she cried during that scene.

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Three years ago, rogue council member Celeana Maar massacred all the students at the Witches Academy and left Ellemar Vancel for dead. Now, still haunted by that day, Ellemar seeks to track Celeana down and settle the score.

But her mission is nearly halted before it even begins because the Council of Witches prohibits members from killing, even if justified. Given the gravity of Celeana’s crime, the Council bends this rule and approves Ellemar’s mission.

Searching for Celeana takes Ellemar to a royal ship, a Forgotten Forest, and a secret island. Along the journey, she begins hearing stories that suggest Celeana’s horrendous act may actually have been justified. Is Ellemar chasing the wrong enemy? Has the Council been harboring secrets from its members? Getting the answers right is critical. The peace of the entire kingdom is at stake.

The Heath Cousins and the Ruby Lantern

Heath Cousins and The Ruby Lantern by Eileen Hobbs is an enchanting adventure tale where we are taken into a whimsical land with the main character Addie. B, a bright and imaginative child who with the help of a moonstone ring can translate other languages. Addie and her mother head out to do some shopping, during their adventure Addie spots an opening into another world, which she had visited before. In this world there is a garden of choice which leads them to Ambra, the main part of this other world. Addie enlists the help of her cousins, then they head off on a whirlwind adventure where they solve problems and discover clues that cause them to be riddled with curiosities and ensure many more visits to the garden of choice in the future.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this imaginative adventure novel by author Eileen Hobbs. This is a classic adventure story that took me back to my own childhood and filled with me the same sense of wonder that I had back then. Overall, I found the characters to be charming and a joy to follow through this adventure. I liked the author’s voice and enchanting atmosphere that she effortlessly creates in this novel.

While I heartily enjoyed the story, I felt that the child sometimes felt older than their age, hopping on planes and running off on their own. But how else would you find yourself into and out of these compelling adventures.

Heath Cousins and The Ruby Lantern is a book I can see myself reading as a child, curled up at night with a night light, reading until I fall asleep. This is a well crafted and fun sword and sorcery story that will appeal to anyone looking for a timeless children’s fantasy story.

Pages: 166 | ASIN: B08XTST3MZ

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Swords Of Deception

Swords Of Deception: A Sword Of Deception Novel by [Rowan Staeffler, Rowan Staeffler]

Swords of Deception by Rowan Staeffler is a gripping fantasy novel revolving around Ellemar Vancel, who has been living her life as a hostage for almost three years, with permission to move only within the boundaries of the city. Her crime? She practiced her powers without supervision. One black day three years ago, rogue council member Celeana Maar wreaked havoc in the Witches Academy, and after a severe tussle, left Ellemar Vancel deeply wounded and deformed. Ellemar carries the painful memory of this traumatic incident to this date and wishes to find Celeana to take revenge on her. However, her mission is interrupted by the Council. The Council of Witches holds that a member cannot kill anyone. The novel begins with Ason informing her that the Council has finally granted her wish, and she can undertake her mission to track down Celeana. 

Swords of Deception is the first book in A Sword of Deception Novel series, and the story is to be continued in Book 2, Swords of Revelation. This dark fantasy novel si short but potent. With little room to spare the chapters are succinct and the story is relentlessly propelled forward through a series of wild turns and electrifying revelations. 

Within this adventurous story is an emotionally invigorating relationship between Ellemar and Ason which is subtle yet deep and provides ample dramatic punctuations to this action filled story. The work carries a light sensual undertone, especially towards the ending, without being too graphic. 

Swords of Deception has a unique plot with crisp prose that will appeal to fans of The Witcher. This is a thrilling dark fantasy novel that will appeal to both young adult and adult readers who are interested in a sword and sorcery story that knows how to deliver a well defined and entertaining hero’s journey. 

Pages: 227 | ASIN: B097Q4VK1T

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Mysteries and Magic

Charlene McIver
Charlene McIver Author Interview

The Mysterious Pool follows a group of friends who uncover secrets in an hold house that send them on a wild adventure. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

As a child I’ve always loved reading stories on mysteries and magic as most children do, and as did my late son, Leigh. So he is foremost in this adventure with his friends.

I enjoyed how authentic the children felt in your story. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Of course, Leigh relates to my late son and the other characters, Tara and Cosmo are losely based around his real life friends. The persona of the characters are carried over from my picture book series, Leigh’s Wheelie Adventures. Aimed for the younger reader, these little stories carry an important message on how life in a wheelchair can have its challenges.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Apart from keeping “The Mysterious Pool” fun, adventureous and enlighting, it carries an important message thoroughout the story – to instil confidence in children, particularly for those with limited mobility. I hope this is achieved after reading the story and they come away with a positive outlook and an appetite to learn more.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

Book 2 in “Leigh’s Wheelie Adventures” will be out this year (2021). Again it will carry an important message.
There will be three books in this series, each covering different aspects wheelchair users have overcoming a particular problem.

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The Mysterious Pool is an enchanting magical story filled with mystery, fantasy and humor for all children (6-10 years) and for the young at heart.

Join Leigh and his fifth-grade school friends, Tara and Cosmo as they visit a mysterious house in the woods.
What treasures are revealed that will shock and astound them, and inadvertently uncover a hidden family secret?
Leigh doesn’t let his wheelchair hold him back from exploring with his friends, and as the events unfold, he experiences an amazing encounter that will leave him wondering and open his mind to new ideas.

If you love animals, exploring caves and magic, then you’ll love The Mysterious Pool.
A Leigh and Friends Adventure story.

The Ranatanland Tales

The Ranatanland Tales by [Lloyd Chiasson]

Books transport us to other times and places, but none of us have quite the same experience as Gus. Thanks to his grandfather’s extraordinary storytelling abilities, Gus finds himself in a magical place called Ranatanland. When Gus finds himself swept into the land of the Poppingras and Sassafras, he can’t believe what he sees. The story read by his grandfather centers around Joey Perch and Willie G Soon and their day of adventure in a most astonishing land. They have a first day of school unlike any other imaginable. The most amazing thing about their big day? It hasn’t even happened yet!

The Ranatanland Tales, by Lloyd Chiasson, Jr., is a fascinating tale of magic, mystery, and adventure. Multiple stories within a story, it is one of my favorite styles of writing for young readers. Gus and his family await a hurricane while listening to a grandfather’s amazing tale. Chiasson does a fabulous job setting up the fantasy portion of his book. From the very first paragraphs, I was greeted with shades of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Chiasson’s work goes far beyond the dynamic, but the feeling is definitely there.

From an encounter with a dragon who doesn’t breathe fire but does read their thoughts to eating brightly colored clover with the flavors of the finest sweets, Joey and Wille G, their trek leads them through some enchanted lands on the way to discover the secret of Holiday Stream. Young readers will be drawn quickly into the first story; the mystical beings who inhabit Ranatanland are simply captivating. The human emotions given Chiasson’s characters only serve to make grandfather’s tales all the more appealing and relatable.

One of the most endearing aspects of Chiasson’s writing is Gus’s reactions to the stories his grandfather reads. He is a child swept up in the sheer power of imagination, and his excitement and love of a good story is almost palpable. Gus and his grandparents’ narrative is every bit as engaging as the fantasy element of Rantanaland.

Young readers looking for a fantasy steeped in unique characters and amusing storylines wrapped neatly in the story-within-a-story packaging will find Chiasson’s work right up their alley. There exist in Chiasson’s tales bits of wisdom and advice shared throughout the characters’ adventures. Young readers will appreciate the gentle way in which these life lessons are revealed.

Pages: 119 | ASIN: B08SRDLV7G

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The Mysterious Pool

The Mysterious Pool by [Charlene McIver, Zoe Saunders]

The Mysterious Pool by Charlene McIver is a beautifully illustrated and charismatic children’s book that is sure to be beloved by any child who reads it. The characters are all lively and maintain the silliness and wonder that children often relate to. Furthermore, the inclusion of a disabled character inspired by the author’s son teaches kids to accept everyone and adults will appreciate the memory of such a brave individual. The story begins when Leigh, Tara, and Cosmo find that a previously undisturbed area is being developed which could bring harm to the organisms living there, but one of their ancestors from long ago fashioned an elixir that could save the day if they can decode a mysterious set of symbols and find it.

This is a great book for kids because it is both entertaining and educational. While kids can experience the adventure of the three children as though they are in the middle of the actions, they also learn an important lesson about environmentalism and the importance of a balanced ecosystem. The whole theme of the book relates to human effects on the environment and how kids can learn to respect Mother Earth and their surroundings. The adventure is fast moving and has lots of quirky elements but is not too mature or grotesque for children. It also has a lot of humorous moments to bring a smile or laugh to a kid such as when Cosmo starts barking.

The Mysterious Pool is a wonderful children’s book that captures the literal way children may communicate and the boundlessness of their imagination in the way they see their world. The book is full of both whimsy and pieces of wisdom that children can carry into their further education, and possibly it might spark an interest in them just as it did in the characters of the book. The story is super cute with talking animals and neat illustrations and details such as the pictures of the symbols. This is such an adorable and inspiring book that any child will surely love and I highly recommend it.

Pages: 82 | ASIN: B097DVV1MY

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The Black Hallows Book 1

Tom Adams
Tom G.H. Adams Author Interview

Cradle of Darkness immerses readers in an epic fantasy story where mighty kingdoms plunge into a deadly war. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The concept came from a ‘Kickstarter’ project a friend of Andy’s was working on. The idea was to produce 30mm metal characters for role playing games. Without digressing further, Andy was asked to name and write the pen pictures of some characters and a synopsis for a possible rpg.

It had always been intended to get an experienced author to write a spin-off novel but as the project developed the background story emerged prior to Tom being involved. Ultimately, Tom was introduced to the project, liked the concept, and so a working relationship evolved.

In terms of the storyline itself, Andy already had the embryo of an idea. He’d been interested in a number of works regarding the Corsican tradition of the mazzeri or dream hunters and was applying the concept into a gaming scenario. This expanded as Tom and Andy worked through plot ideas. Andy also came up with the basic concept of the Black Hallows, together with the four factions that live in an area of land called The Imperious Crescent.
Eventually, all the ideas were placed on index cards and a plot line emerged after much mixing and editing. It was then that Tom came into his own and fleshed out the scenes according to his writing style and produced the first draft

Tayem is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Initially, Andy needed a lead character for the ‘Dragon Rider’ faction of the Black Hallows miniature series. So, it started with a simple character sketch. Tayem was to be queen of an ancient people whose society was based on a matriarchal/female-centric concept. Her physical features were: Blonde hair, tall, muscular. Her personality one of aloofness, often looking down on people with an air of disdain. She is a natural leader, but young and impetuous, tending to act before she thinks. Andy saw her initially as as a Bodicea or Mary Queen of Scots kind of character.
Tayem has had to sacrifice a lot to establish her position as a young queen. Her father was the only controlling influence in her life, yet he died young and she was crowned in her early twenties. There are some unique insights into her defining moments in the story, Conclave of Cannibals, which can be downloaded free from the Bookfunnel link below.

Her inciting incident occurs when she decides to allow the Black Hallows into her mind during the first chapter of Cradle of Darkness. Her motivation is to receive power that (she thinks) will enable her to shake off the oppressive rule of the dominant Cuscosians. However, things go very wrong when it is revealed that the Black Hallows cannot be controlled, and drags its hosts down into an abyss of chaos.Tayem’s character changes as she realises that she must accept help from her friends, take responsibility for some tough decisions, and ultimately free herself from the controlling influence of the Black Hallows.

Interestingly, the image for Tayem on the book cover is Tom’s daughter, Charlotte, who had a Dragon Rider costume and weapons specially made for her as part of an official photo-shoot.

I enjoyed the fantasy world built in this novel. What were some sources that informed the development of the world?

Apart from the Dreamworld concept already mentioned, the Black Hallows itself is an interesting one, largely originated by Andy. A ‘Black Hallow’ is a negative deviant of a ‘Hallow’ — an energy source derived from aethereal outpourings that occur every three hundred years. These are generated by the interaction between tectonic ruptures in the continental crust of the planet Varchal and a change in the proximity of the planet’s binary suns. This power imbalance distorts normality and fuels chaotic, disordered behaviour.

The idea came from exploring the impact of the seasons on our mood and energy levels…much in the same way seasonal affective disorder can impact on a life…. Combine this with reading some of the material about the Keplar-47 star system and the starting point for our narrative was born!

As regards the Imperious Crescent and the wider world of Varchal, the geography and history of all these aspects was painstakingly mapped out over many months and meetings (and cups of coffee!) You can see a map of the lands and locations found in the book below (attached in email if you want to use it.)

This is book one in The Black Hallows series. What can readers expect in book two?

Black Hallows 2: Destiny of Queens is due for publication on 19th July. The promotional blurb is as follows:

The Black Hallows is on the rise once more. Its existing conduits may have been eliminated but new vessels have opened up to its malign influence.

In the Blasted Lands, a creature born from the fusion of a fyre guardian and a giant insectoid makes its lair in ancient chambers where the sacred agnarim dragon eggs incubate.

The former Queen of Cuscosa lives on in the body of her faithful blue-skin thrall, waiting for a transformation fuelled by the Hallows.

A remnant of Kaldorans appoints a new leader willing to embrace the power that will re-instate them as an irrepressible force in the north.

And there is another power stirring in the marshlands of the east — an insidious and mysterious overlord known as ‘The One’. He seeks to recruit an assassin from each dominant race, intent on attacking the kingdoms from within.

Such is the cauldron of intrigue stirred up amongst the peoples of Varchal, yet the Black Hallows does not care. It thrives on chaos, and anything that promotes the destabilisation of the Imperious Crescent will serve its ends.

Meanwhile, Tayem Fyreglance has abdicated the Dragonian throne. Her sister rules in her place. She imagined she might recover in the land of the Gigantes, protected from the ravages of the Hallows. That is until a call comes from the Dreamworld, urging her to once more seek out the queen of dragons, Agathon. Their fates become intertwined with upheavals in the Blasted Lands, and ultimately, the machinations of the Black Hallows itself.

In this, the second novel in the Black Hallows trilogy, four queens tread the path of destiny, all hurtling towards a conclusion they may not survive.

Image
Kingdoms of the Imperious Crescent Map

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A cataract of evil has fallen over the planet Varchal as its orbit enters the influence of Sol-Ar, stirring up tectonic upheavals called Black Hallows. As malignant rains fall on the Imperious Crescent, those who access these sites are transformed into shadows of shame.

Accession to the Donnephon throne at the age of eighteen has thrust monumental responsibility on Tayem Fyreglance, Queen of the Dragon Riders. Yet there is a greater burden to bear. Her people labour under the yoke of a cruel Cuscosian Empire, and now they threaten the noble lineage of dragons. Tempted by the dark magical power of the Black Hallows, Tayem seeks to rise up against the House of Cuscosa. Her adversary — Etezora, Queen of Cuscosia — has already taken in the purple effervescence of Hallows power herself, and used it to deal death on those who stand against her.

As this confrontation builds, the subterranean Kaldorans and pacifist Gigantes are drawn into the storm, one race influenced by mischievous intent, the other by a mysterious Dream World. With the Hallows now on the ascendant it becomes clear there can be no winners save the Hallows itself — and if it prevails then only chaos will remain.

Immerse yourself in a tale of epic fantasy, where kingdoms plummet toward a war fuelled by avarice, greed and the lust for power.

Cradle of Darkness is the first novel in a series that chronicles the reign of the Black Hallows.

Black Hallows: Cradle of Darkness

Black Hallows: Cradle of Darkness (The Black Hallows Book 1) by [Tom G.H. Adams, Andrew Naisbitt]

Spurred by the desire to free her people from the Cuscosians’ tyranny, Tayem, queen of the Dragon riders, embraces the Black Hallows, an energy source that bestows great strength but at a high cost. Queen of Cuscosia, Etezora, also drinks from the same energy source to use its power to crush the Dragon riders and expand her kingdom.

The mischievous Kaldorans secretly stoke the flames of conflict between the other two kingdoms, and war ensues. Tayem and her people have the dragons on their side, but Etezora has a sorcerer who wields a secret weapon that can destroy the fearsome beasts. Will the crazed Etezora and her vicious ally be stopped, or will Tayem lose her kingdom?

Black Hallows, Cradle of Darkness is a riveting epic fantasy novel steeped in a unique mythology that is meticulously developed. Authors Tom G.H. Adams and Andrew Naisbitt combine magic, dragons, and an intriguing plot to create uniquely compelling story that is relentlessly entertaining.

The duo presents an eloquently constructed work. The careful detail with which the authors paint the different groups makes the story easy to get lost in. Anyone who’s delved into the world of fiction knows that one commonly repeated rule to writing is “show, don’t tell.” But there’s also such a thing as giving too much detail. Our authors strike a good balance between obeying the “show, don’t tell” rule and giving readers the freedom to fill in some gaps with their imaginations.

I also love how the authors sow the seeds of betrayal in so many hearts. Every hunter in the book also seems like the hunted. It’s a feast of hidden agendas, conspiracies, and counter-conspiracies. But even with the widespread plotting and scheming, we have sprinkles of loyalists; a feature that makes the story believable.

It’s great to see protagonists prevail or watch antagonists fall but what makes a story’s ending worthwhile is how we arrive at it. The authors give the main characters relatable, but perilous, journeys to redemption. Some dangled on the cusp of repentance but succumbed to the evil within, while others suppressed their internal demons and changed course. This alluring tapestry of characters and their passionate desires reminds me of the complex tangle of conniving characters woven throughout R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones.

Black Hallows, Cradle of Darkness is a bulky book, but a breezy read thanks to the sharp writing talent of the author duo. They throw you right into the thick of things, thus creating a story that grips you instantly and moves along briskly. With an expansive story and enthralling characters, there is plenty to enjoy in this epic sword and sorcery adventure.

Pages: 458 | ASIN: B07X43M28J

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