Capricorn follows Montague, a vigilante that delivers justice as he sees fit in a dystopian future where crime rules the city. What was your inspiration for this story and how did it develop as you were writing?
Capricorn was based on a poem I wrote in my late teens. The poem was basically Montague’s entire monologue in the first few pages of his introduction when he is describing the city as a cancer.
The character of Capricorn is purity, but with a childlike persona; which, when put into an adult woman, makes her appear to be crazy. Capricorn’s character is loosely based on Kai, who is kind of a strange, childlike girl in the PlayStation 3 game, Heavenly Sword.
I had much of the dialogue previously planned out before writing and I knew how it was going to end. The hard part was trying to make it feel justified. Montague had to find internal resolution and defeat his own demons. That’s why his 7 trials had to take place.
Montague is an intriguing character. I wasn’t able to pin down if he was an anti-hero or a good or bad guy, which was part of his appeal. What morals did you try to capture while developing his character?
Montague is someone who has given up on humanity. Everyone is a villain in his eyes. He abandons his own name in an attempt to forget his former self and become something similar to the angel of death. His job, he gave himself, is to bring some sort of balance back to the world and to do so means killing everyone who is unjust; which seems to be mostly everyone.
The only thing that makes him human is his compassion towards the innocents trapped in this city of violence. He saves a woman from being raped, but when a thief is murdered right in front of him he merely just walks over his dead body. He wants to protect good people, but at the same time believes there are no good people. This conflict puts him in a dark place.
I felt the backdrop of the crime ridden city was vividly developed. What themes did you want to use while creating your backdrop?
The main character of this story is the city itself. It’s tainted, dirty, rundown, and lying in ruins, but it remained this way because no one wanted to fix it. If you mixed the city in “The Book of Eli” and the city in “Judge Dredd” you would get the city in Capricorn. It’s a criminal’s paradise. It was never mentioned in the story, but you can almost imagine the sky being permanently overcast; it’s a type of hell and only Montague is fighting against it.
What is the next book that you are working on and when can your fans expect it out?
I’m a world builder. I put a lot of time into crafting the landscapes and populating them with life and a history. Even before I begin writing a story I come up with names of places and things or animals and peoples. That’s where I am now; writing pages and pages of notes which will eventually become appendices. They are developed mostly for me so I can keep track of everything; adding them into the book for the fans is just a byproduct of my writing process.
In the aftermath of a civil war the city is in ruins and without order. Montague administers his idea of justice with his black steel sword until he discovers Capricorn. He becomes drawn to her and vows to protect her, but this is challenged when a group of thugs kidnap her.
Montague is sent on a determined rescue mission, but in order to succeed he must battle the thugs of the city and their leader. Montague finds himself on a path of seven trials in order to gain entry into Mammon’s domain to save the one he loves.
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In Book II of the Lisen of Solsta series, Tainted takes readers back to the land of Garla and introduces us to the dangerous land of Thristas. What was the inspiration for these fantastically imagined worlds?
Truthfully, I based them on my home of Southern California with the cooler areas to the west of the mountains and the desert to the east. My picture was more of Rome or Greece at the height of their power than of some middle European medieval land, and the white-marble and columned Avaret Keep exemplifies the architectural feel I was looking for. When it came to Thristas, I love the desert. Lisen’s response of awe as she and Korin come through the Pass and she sees Thristas for the first time expresses my feelings about the deserts of California. Most people see deserts as dry, sterile places, but they teem with life–both animal and plant life. My inspiration was to show the breadth and depth of this life and its influence on a people who had lived there for many generations, establishing a culture separate from Garla’s and giving their lives a meaning dependent on no one save themselves.
Lisen develops as a dynamic, heroic character, constantly fighting her surroundings and learning more about herself. How did you tackle character development in this story that is different from book 1?
Lisen is, of course, a work in progress. It is absolutely essential that she struggle to find who she is in this mess that she sees as her life. All bets are off for her. It’s do or die, and as she begins to realize that she cannot win without cheating and that she must win in order to fulfill her mother’s hope for her, she also recognizes that she must find a way to become a person who she isn’t quite yet. I loved exploring her hidden spaces and corners, seeking out the fortitude within her to make it possible for her to do what she does at the end of the book. And when the degree of her ferocity came to me one day driving home from the grocery store in the guise of that moment when she cuts off her braids and then tells Nalin she never was a hermit, I knew I’d found the Lisen she needed to find on her journey.
There is a holiday in this story called Evenday/Evennight. How did you come up with this idea and develop it in your story?
You will note that in Garla, they call it Evenday because they live and work under the light of the sun. On the other hand, the Thristans call it Evennight because the center of their lives, the time conducive to productivity, is in the dark, away from the searing heat of that very light the Garlans worship. This day on earth is called the vernal equinox, and I saw the Thristans as being closer to nature and therefore more likely to attach a more spiritual importance to it than the Garlans. Hence their centering of an entire ritual around it, while the Garlans celebrate it more casually. A lot of the Thristan culture revolves around something akin to the nature-centered cultures of our own world, including Wicca.
Where does the third book in the Lisen of Solsta series take readers?
Two major questions remain. What happens to Korin and the special “package” he carries away from Lisen and Avaret at the end of Tainted? And what the heck are they going to do about the unstoppable Lorain? Lisen has seen Thristas for herself and is apparently the first Empir to have done so, and that alone puts her in a unique position in her dealings with Thristas as their “Protector.” I think, however, that the most fascinating aspect that opened itself up to me for inquiry was how the miracle of child-bearing might affect a man. I explored and hopefully resolved the questions and conflicts raised by the events in the first two books by digging deeper into both Garlan and Thristan culture and by opening up the possibilities for redemption for Lisen but only if she can accept the fact that as Empir she has responsibilities that sometimes require desperate and even cruel measures to fulfill them.
“In Fractured, Lisen Holt, Valley girl, beach lover, learned she doesn’t belong on Earth. Re-adapting to Garla, the place of her birth, proved difficult, but the greater challenge was learning that she is the Heir-Empir and must confront her brother for the throne. Witnessing her only friend’s murder, defending her own life with forbidden power, and succumbing to possession by her friend’s soul left Lisen fractured, with little hope she’d ever recover.
The story grows darker in Tainted with Lisen and her guardian companion, Korin, traveling to the great desert of Thristas. They hope to find safety in the anonymity of the barren wilderness, out of the range of Garlan spies. There, Lisen learns the ways of Thristas and its fierce people who view Garla’s Empir as a tyrant. In an effort to prove their sincerity, Lisen and Korin participate in the Farii, the spring fertility ritual which changes everything for Lisen. She returns to Garla with a brilliant but damning plan that she believes will ensure her victory against her brother.”
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In Book II of the Lisen of Solsta series, Tainted by D. Hart St. Martin takes the reader back to the land of Garla and also introduces us to the dangerous land of Thristas. After overcoming a harrowing event, Lisen must develop her strength in order to fulfill her destiny: to become the Empir of Garla. With the loyal Captain Rosarel at her side, Lisen hides away in the desert lands of Thristas, growing in ways she’d never imagined. Tainted by dark impulses that threaten to destroy her, Lisen must ultimately decide which promises she’ll break and which promises she’ll keep.
After reading Fractured, the first book in the Lisen of Solsta series, I was pretty psyched to read Tainted. The book begins where the first one left off—Lisen of Solsta, the heroine of the story, is recovering from almost succumbing to madness beyond the point of no return. Once she’s fully recovered, she continues her trek with Captain Korin Rosarel to Avaret in order to face her brother, Ariel Ilazer, who is currently ruling as Empir.
In a decision to keep her safe, Korin takes Lisen to Thristas, a desert land with a unique way of life. Under the guise of two former Guards in love, they discover that Lisen must commit to cultural rituals that threaten to change their relationship. I’m always a sucker for romantic subplots in fantasy novels, and this twist creates a romantic tension that continues to develop throughout the novel, morphing into a love triangle once Nalin’s feelings become revealed.
Even with the romantic subplot, Lisen develops as a dynamic, heroic character, constantly fighting her surroundings and learning more about herself. St. Martin does an excellent job with maintaining strong values in Lisen— overcoming gender norms, Lisen fights off forces that try to weaken her, and she continually quips sassy, sarcastic remarks. It’s fun to watch Lisen adapt to different environments, especially once she discovers her true purpose in life. Even while Korin and Lisen continue with combat training, Lisen has her own plans, as she secretly trains her mind and develops her necropathic powers.
What excited me most about this sequel was how intricately St. Martin wove the other characters into the plot. My favorite example of this is in a chapter about “Evenday/Evennight,” a holiday in the land of Garla and Thristas. Ariel and Lorain, his soon-to-be spouse and the mother of his unborn child, have a drastically different Evennight than the other characters— especially Korin and Lisen, who experience Farii, a Thristan fertility ritual. Through taking various characters’ perspectives, St. Martin creates unique vantage points for the reader during such a heightened moment in the plot. There’s a few characters that I wished were featured more often, such as Bala and Titus, but I wouldn’t be surprised if those characters play a bigger role in the third book.
After weaving multiple characters’ perspectives throughout the novel, the final chapters, filled with fast-paced action and a few plot twists, bring all the characters’ paths together in a masterful way. Ending with a cliffhanger regarding the fates of Korin and Lisen, I can’t wait to see what happens next in the final book of the trilogy.
Pages: 350 | ASIN: B00GCYAYVS
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