The minotaurs have kept Ayla and Deetra's people in chains for 200 years. With nothing left to live for, and a death sentence in her womb, Ayla trades her soul for a chance to break the curse which holds her people in slavery. Armed only with her faith, she and Deetra start a revolution, and bring about the return of the Goddess of Darkness.
The woman’s lips curved up in a smile but no lines formed in her cheeks. She looked like a living statue, and not one bit like her mother.
“Who are you?” Ayla asked.
The stranger leaned over Ayla, resting her palms on the altar. Her voice took on a hollow yet resonant quality. Her breath suffused the air with a heady fragrance like scented oils.
“I am the dark corner that hides those in need. The eternal ruler of the Abyss.”
“You’re a God?”
“I was once their Queen.”
“Am I dead?”
The Goddess kissed Ayla on the forehead with cold lips. “You are at His doorstep.”
“Where’s my mom?”
“The dead cannot hear your pleas. I have come in her stead, my child.”
Ayla never believed in the Gods. And if they did exist, she wanted nothing to do with any who would leave their people in chains.
“I’m not your child.”
The woman grabbed Ayla under the jaw, fingers digging into her cheeks. Her icy eyes remained impassive but her voice lowered threateningly.
“You are the daughter of Steelhorn, the grandson of Tor, who is my son. I am not just your mother, but the mother of every woman born from a breeding cabin.” The Night Goddess let go of Ayla’s jaw. The closest brazier’s flame shone blue in the Her black tresses. “I have waded through the River of Dreams to answer your call, and this is how you thank me?”
“I'm dreaming?” Ayla asked.
What should readers expect when they pick up your book?
Readers should expect an emotional experience. It starts off in Ayla’s darkest moment. But don't give up on her and you wont regret it. Ayla really transforms in this book and the reader joins her through the journey. She is faced with difficult decisions every step of the way, and some of them are shocking. But it is her resolve and courage that gets her through this story and I think the reader will enjoy that.
What was the hardest part to write in this book?
The combat scenes. How much detail is enough? How much is too much? In the end though, I think I did pretty well with them.
Which character is your favourite and why?
Deetra is my favorite. Her undying loyalty to Ayla is her greatest attribute. Everyone should have a friend who is so dedicated to them. Her willingness to do whatever it takes to protect Ayla demonstrates her love. I think loyalty and her indomitable nature make her a truly admiriable character.
What are you working on next?
I’m working on the next volume in the series, Exorcism of Light. The outline took me over a month to create and I’ve written parts of chapters already. I think it will change a bit as I go along, but overall, I have a solid direction for the next part of our characters’ journey.
Tell us about the cover and the inspiration for it.
A good cover makes a promise, and I tried to make sure it did that while touching on major themes of the book. A lot of people don’t notice the shadow of the horns over the entire picture, which is meant to foreshadow the dream that Ayla has in Chapter Two and symbolize the looming threat of the minotaurs. The cover features the three most important characters the book, (all women) and was designed by Aleksandra Klepacka. Ayla has a hand over her belly as a nod to her pregnancy, looking scared and sad. The goddess is shown protecting Ayla, and Deetra stands apart from them, looking concerned for her friend.
What’s something unusual or fun that most people don’t know about you?
I am bipolar. Most people would avoid mentioning their mental illness, but it is who I am. My creative process can be fueled by mania or depression, and I used both to write the story. I won’t shy away from the potentially negative label of mental illness, but instead, embrace it. It’s my superpower, especially for writing. Some people might need a gallon of coffee or drugs to stay awake for three days – for me, it just takes a good dose of mania.
What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
Outline your stories. A good outline is like a writing partner. You need something to keep you on track, and your outline can do that. It’s easy to write 20 chapters, each of them sounding like their own short story, but the outline keeps your ideas cohesive and helps you plan where you’re going and stay on that track.
Anything else you might want to add?
Come visit me on my blog, facebook and twitter!!!
My deep and abiding love of fantasy began when I was six when I first saw the 1981 film Dragonslayer on VHS with my father. He loved fantasy movies too, but didn’t have the courage to be a dork about it like I did. That movie was a gateway drug that led me straight to the hard stuff - CS Lewis. I was far too young for such potency but by the time I was ten I had read the whole series. That’s when I found my first Dungeons and Dragons group. When I started playing, my friends and I used pre-made campaign settings and published adventures, but I quickly grew restless with their limitations and trite story lines. I needed my own persistent world: something adaptable to my whim and that no one else owned.
Back in my day, there was no internet, so I took out every book about castles and medieval history from the school library and read them in Math class (I'm still terrible at math as a result). I came up with an entire world and brand new history. I read books on cartography and hand drew maps of my new world. I created a cosmology, a hierarchy of gods, and the tenets of their religions. I read the Dungeon Master's guide a dozen times, and every fantasy novel I could get my hands on.
Then, one day, I sat down and told my friends, "Hey guys, wanna try my story instead?"
Even 15 years after the original D&D campaigns ended, former players tell me that they share our incredible stories with their children. I'm honored to say that most of those players still have their original character sheets 16-20 years later, and a couple have even named their children after them.
Now, I'm 39 years old and a loving father of 2 girls, and I still play those games on occasion. My passion has evolved into putting those ideas and amazing stories on paper for the whole world to enjoy. My first novel took me and co-author DC Fergerson 10 years to write and topped out at 180,000 words. Being too long and too complex, I finally ended the project and took its lessons to heart.
I learned that Dungeons & Dragons did not translate well into a novel. D&D made for great times, but also for some meandering plot lines, pointless encounters, and poor character motivations. No matter how memorable some of the moments were, if I wanted anyone to read my story, I needed to learn a lot more about writing.
I threw myself into being a full time student of novel crafting. I read every book on writing by Dwight Swain I could find. I paid Chuck Sambuchino (Editor for Writer's Digest) to critique and edit my older work. I took James Patterson's Masterclass, went to college, and joined online writing communities. All the while, I read my favorite fantasy novels again, only this time with a mental highlighter. I reworked my stories, outlined them, and decided to start from the beginning.
Many, many years later, I am in the final edit and proofreading stage of Dark Communion, the first installment of the Shadowalker Chronicles. My role as a father of two girls heavily influenced the characters I’d known for over 20 years, shaping them into women that my own daughters could respect. My characters took on a depth and quality that brings them off the page and into the minds of readers, because they have become all too real. I was privileged enough to work on two careers at the same time to accomplish this feat - a fun-loving and involved stay-at-home dad, and a full time writer.
CJ Perry will be awarding a $10 and a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to two randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour.