Rise of the Firebird – The Last One

FirebirdFinal-FJM_Mid_Res_1000x1500You would have seen every where that Rise of the Firebird is the last book in The Firebird Fairytales. I want to reassure you, this isn’t one of those random ‘I’m tired of writing the series’ things. It’s a ‘I had finished the writing the whole trilogy two years ago’ thing. It’s always been one complete story with each book starting directly after the last. It’s why Book 1 feels a bit like a prologue, Book 2 a Middling and now Book 3 be prepared for an Ending.

To give you a bit of history the third book was a bitch to write. I originally had a whole different book planned out, I had nearly 40k words written. Then I rewrote book 1 &2 and scrapped 35k of book 3. It didn’t want to work. At the end of 2012 I was a wreck. I had gone through a really bad break up, was made redundant, moved states and was in a job I couldn’t make work for love or money.

Mentally, physically and spiritually I hit the wall so fucking hard I had to spend the subsequent 6 months scraping my shit back together to make an Amy shaped person again.

For the first time in my life I couldn’t write.

Not to put a too fine a point on it but have you met a writer when they can’t write? It’s frustration and madness personified. It’s a wailing shit bag chaos incarnate monster face.

In other words, I didn’t ever think Book 3 was going to be finished…like ever.

In June 2013 things started to change. I changed jobs, met my Future Partner (Hi honey) and met Anna (yeah, that Anna). She was really great at harassing me until I started writing again. We brainstormed a lot at the local Swedish café over huge coffees, waffles and Karelia Pirrika. Asgeirr released an album and he and Sibelius provided the soundtrack to finish writing Rise of the Firebird. For those that wonder, no – my character Asgeirr was already written by the time the musician arrived in my life although I took it as a sign that I was on the right track.

I finished writing The End on a plane somewhere between Cairns and Melbourne the following June. When I landed Future Partner had a bottle of Finlandia waiting – can you see why I fell in love with him?

I went to Finland in late August and gathered mountainous notes to add an extra layer of awesome to Rise and ended up with enough for a completely other story (I’m about 30k words into that one). Yep. I want to go back to Finland.

Back to the actual story. People who’ve read the second book know that things have not been left well for our fearless warriors and many have been cross (sorry Fox) about the casualties’ of war.

Rise is a big book (100 pages more on the others) and there is much that goes down. You will hopefully get all the answers you have been scratching your head over and muttering ‘why have you created a massive plot hole here woman!’ (spoilers-plot device, not plot hole)  and little pieces will suddenly start falling into place. That’s what I’m hoping for anyway. You will meet some new and mythological faces, a pack of volk krovi, two gods, two wizards…and the list continues. I’ve added an updated character list in the back but be careful not to give yourself spoilers. I’ve tried to make sure you all get a bit of clarity and closure by the end (DON’T EVEN THINK OF READING THE LAST PAGE *squints*), there are a lot of character arcs so I’ve done my best. Some I’ve left intentionally hazy as yes, I do have spin off books planned even though they will not be Firebird Fairytales.

There is going to be a digital box set :

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(Damn…Don’t they look so pretty together? you can order it here)

The good news is I’ve also transferred the paperbacks to new publishers so they can be printed in a lot more countries (they have a house in Melbourne Aussie Readers) which means that shipping won’t cost more than the book due to exchange rates.

I’ve also got a thing going on with Kylie Chan and Queenie Chan’s BentoNet site that I will give you an update on when things are up and running. Keep your eye out, it’s going to be awesome.

Once Rise has been out for a month and people have read it I’ll put a blog up about some of the mythologies and folk tales I refer to in it. There’s a lot more Finnish shenanigans going on so I need to nerd out about that.

It’s going to be out this weekend to coincide with my 30th birthday. 3 is my lucky number and being book 3 I couldn’t help myself. Also it’s like a present to me (it makes sense in writer logic).

As always, I hope you enjoy it and feel free to ask me questions on Twitter or Facebook about it.

 

The Blessing of Dark Things

Twitter can be the unexpected giver of delightful gifts and random connections. A fortnight ago I saw a photo shared by Laini Taylor of a parcel she’d received containing a copy of Dark Things by urban fantasy writer Sukanya Venkatraghavan. I read the back cover of the photo and thought ‘Gosh, that sounds like my cup of tea.’

Oh how little I knew what I was about to discover:

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Somewhere on Prithvi, a mortal survives a supernatural attack. In the dark realm of Atala, an evil goddess prepares to do the unspeakable. And a Yakshi finds herself at the heart of an other-worldly storm.

Ardra has only known life as a Yakshi, designed to seduce and kill men after drawing out their deepest, darkest secrets for her evil mistress Hera, queen of the forsaken realm of Atala. Then, on one strange blood moon night, her victim, Dwai, survives, and her world spins out of control. Now Ardra must escape the wrath of Hera, who is plotting the unthinkable, ready to throw the universe into chaos.

To stop Her, Ardra must find answers to questions she hasn’t dared to ask before. What is the significance of the blood moon? Do Gandharvas and Apsaras exist or are they as much a myth as the sky city of Aakasha? Who is the mysterious Dara and what makes Dwai impervious to her powers?

Combining fantasy with the rich tapestry of folklore, Dark Things is a strange fairytale wrought of intrigue and enchantment, of shadows and secrets, of evil and those who battle it.

For starters I know surprisingly little about Indian mythology and this book ties in a lot of different myth tales. My ignorance of the root stories added to my intense enjoyment of the reading. As you all know myths and folk tales are my passion so to be able to be drawn into something so new was a continuous source of wonder.

I’ve started talking (argh fan girling) Sukanya on Twitter who much to my delight has become my spirit guide of book recommendations and an advice giver on where to start wading into the rich and varied world of Indian folklore. Its opening up new worlds and ideas for me which my story teller heart is feeding off like a Yakshi on a secret (see what I did there).

Alright, back to Dark Things.

Those of us who read a lot of paranormal fiction know there is an ocean of succubus books out there. To set the record straight this story is on a whole different level. It’s not simply a book about a succubus who rebels against her maker, or falls in love with a human, or fights to stop a terrible tyrant. It’s a story thats focal point is stories and the power of secrets.

A concept that really spoke to me in the story is that of the Untellable Secret- something that if spoken the hearer and the teller are never the same again. As someone who has carried the burden of such a thing I know the gravity of the secret that binds Ardra, Dara, Hera and other characters together. Some secrets leave a stain, they shape who and what we are and what we become. Once told they are like a drop in the ocean and you can’t stop the ripple effect they have. It is also a story of memories of things lost but not forgotten. I’ve got strong memories linked to frangipani flowers so this symbol within the story also really spoke to me and helped set the scene.

As I read Sukanya’s words I felt like someone with a kindred spirit was telling me a story over tea (black, strong and floral). “Listen up Know it All,” Sukanya says to me,”I’m going to tell you something that you’ve never heard before so be quiet, pay attention and try and keep up.” It’s presumptuous of me, I know, but all I could think was; Finally, here is someone who really gets it, who believes in the power of storytelling and the old tales, who will understand what I’m trying really hard to do…we want to write the new myths. The kind of stories that tease the back of your imagination because they feel like they are a story you once knew and have forgotten. They aren’t the kind of stories where everyone gets out alive, where the lovers are always triumphant or the heroes don’t pay a massive price for being a hero.

There is a deep melancholy sense of loss in Dark Things…all the characters feel it on some level. They don’t want to be the heroes but they are the only ones that can be.

After I finished reading it I knew I was going to suffer from the worst book hangover. I cleaned the house as cleaning is when I work out the messy problems in my brain. I’m melancholy. I’m undone. I’m hardcore in love with a Gandharva. I fear for the next book I pick up because I know that whatever it is I’m going to be disappointed. It’s not it’s fault.

I don’t think I’m writing this review very well because I know I haven’t finished processing. I know there are things I’ve missed and I’m going to have to re-read it again in a few months time so I can appreciate the finer flourishes. It’s hard to find an urban fantasy book with such complex storytelling.

Okay, I’m going, but I’m going to leave you with my favourite paragraph of the book, from an enchanted Forest of Fireflies:

“A story is only as true as you believe it to be,” said Dara. “A myth is only as wondrous as the imagination of the people who pass it down through the ages. I don’t know if the story of the sun, moon and stars is true. I don’t know if the stars were once cold, in a time before time was even born; I don’t know if the Sun pines for the Old Moon, my mother. But I know this – the universe is full of strange,beautiful stories, some untellable, some forgotten, and some written in a language that nobody can read, not even the Gods. These stories exist because the universe does, and the universe blazes on because these stories keep it alive. You and me, are the stories. We live and so does the universe. One does not exist without the other.” 

Defending YA: My Recommendations Round 1

Recently I stumbled across an article (one of many out there on the topic) about YA Fiction and why, as an adult I should be embarrassed about reading it. I’m not going to lie, I got rather ranty about it on my Facebook page. Maybe it’s because recently I decided to rewrite the first book I ever wrote, Eastern Gods and Western Wars. I started it when I was about 1 6 and finished by 19. I was a young adult when I wrote it and so I’ve tried to keep that voice but clean it up so it’s readable. I was surprised to find I still love the story and the characters. I also wrote it because YA wasn’t what it is now when I was a teenager (late 90’s, early 00’s) and while I know books out there had to exist in the genre, I couldn’t find them. So I wrote my own.

  1. I believe in reading whatever the fuck you like whether its YA, literature, fiction or fantasy tenticle porn- I don’t care- as long as you’re reading something it counts, and you shouldn’t listen to any loud mouth who wishes to push their opinions and shame you out on your choices.
  2. I’ve read some amazing YA in the last year, stuff I desperately wish was around when I was a teen, and so I’m ready to step up and defend the genre.

Instead of Hulking out and picking the article, and that opinion in general, to pieces and peeing on the remains, I’ve decided to meet the negative with a positive and offer up the best YA I’ve read in the last year or so in a series of blogs over the next few weeks. I’ll try and keep it spoiler free but be warned, I’m talking about series’ in whole as well as stand alones.

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Laini Taylor – Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy

‘Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well.’

BAM! How’s that for an opening?

Okay, first off is Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy. To give you a bit of back ground I hadnt read any YA in a while when I picked this one up. I had looked at the first book on and off until I caved in and bought it and damn, aren’t I glad I did.

This series is about Karou, a beautiful blue haired girl that is raised by creatures from another land, Elsewhere, who deal in teeth and magic. At the beginning of the series she balances art school in Prague and working for Brimstone. Enter a pissed off angel Akiva and Karou’s life gets turned upside down with repressed memories, intense love and bloody action thrown into the mix.

Ancient battles between Angels and Chimaera, other worlds, resurrection magic. Hell, this series has everything I love going for it. It spans across two worlds as Akiva and Karou try to honour their own people, each other, and try and bring about an impossible peace. It’s Romeo and Juliet but in a fresh, unconventional and non-sappy sort of way. If you’re looking for Twilight, this isn’t for you.

The thing I loved the most about this series is the relationships and the chemistry of the characters. Karou is raised as a human and her interactions between her  and her human best friend Zuzanna as well as the object of her affection Mik (first date recorded beautiful, hilariously, in short story Night of Cake and Puppets). Their conversations are so real, funny and warm, its no surprise most of the reviews you read comment on them.

The series goes through some big themes and if you are a fan of urban- fairytales/ Pans Labyrinth/ epic fantasy seriously give it a go. It is ‘older’ YA, the flashy genre name New Adult would be appropriate here, with characters out of high school. Laini Taylor is an amazing writer, I was often stunned by the beauty of some of her sentences, perfectly executed. My particular favourite paragraph from Book 1 reads as follows:

“It wasn’t like in the story books. No witches lurked at crossroads disguised as crones, waiting to reward travellers who shared their bread. Genies didn’t burst from lamps, and talking fish didn’t bargain for their lives. In all the world, there was only one place humans could get wishes: Brimstone’s shop.”

Laini sets scenes with a strong voice imbuing magic in around you in a fairy tale of angels and monsters. It’s something I wish I had written because its so damn good. I went though this series one after the other, I couldn’t stop myself. It’s complex story telling, things aren’t magically neatened up and she’s not afraid to pull her characters through some serious shit.

If it sounds like your thing, give it a go, you won’t regret it. Find her here

DOSAB

Free Books Promotions

*Promotion Announcement*

‘Cry of the Firebird’ will be be on a Free Books Promo in all countries on 26th-28th of November.

‘The Eagle Key’ will be on a Free Books Promo in all countries on 26th of November.