Goddess of Limbo by Lea Falls #giveaway

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Goddess of Limbo (The Forgotten Splinters Chronicles Book 1) by Lea Falls

Genre: Dark Epic Fantasy

Free will is a relic of the past. Souls have a prewritten path to heaven. If they miss it, they are doomed to roam the lost realm of limbo as splinters of their former selves or worse—as demons.

Their only hope is the reaper Alames, whose own soul shattered when her celestial lover, Balthos, usurped their creators to make them gods. In her absence, he builds a pantheon of monsters and tricks the mortals, whom he blames for his grief, into worshiping him. But when a new generation defies Balthos’s law, Alames’s splinters appear among them.

Brilliant physicist Ally longs for progress and innovation, but the Council controlling her nation strips the “Mad Princess” of power. Pregnant and uncertain, the unrivaled Captain Se’azana abandons her career for the false promises of love. The starving serf Richard makes a deal with a Fae demon to save his son. And teenage rebel Vana trades her guitar for a blade when faced with ruthless nobility.

When worlds tear and hearts break, will they defy the gods’ narrative to create a brighter future or will they obey the lies preached and doom their soul forever?

For fans of THE STORMLIGHT ARCHIVE and THE PRIORY OF THE ORANGE TREE comes an epic rollercoaster ride of demons, rebellion, and dark magic.

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Lea Falls is a writer, actor, and passionate lover of stories. Equally drawn to page and stage, she’s written plays, screenplays, poetry, short stories, and two novels, and has acted in numerous short films, plays, and improv shows. She earned her BFA in Acting at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and attended the Yale Writers Workshop. After a brief call and response with Londontown, she now lives in NYC with her wife, two cats, and a slither of skyline that never fails to inspire her. There, she spends her days murmuring lines over a keyboard or a script.

GODDESS OF LIMBO is her debut novel. Her short story EMILY’S HEIRS will appear in Hansen House’s ELIXIR: STORIES OF HOPE AND HEALING (AN LGBTQ+ SFF ANTHOLOGY), set to release in January 2022.

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Meet Author Lea Falls

Author Interview w/ Lea Falls!

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?

My head has always been full of stories. I feel like I process the world through storytelling. As a kid, I used to sit in front of this beautiful porcelain doll my grandma owned. It was bigger than me back then. I just sat there for hours, thinking up stories about her, and honestly, I don’t think that ever really changed. My heart always belonged to stories and performing. As a teenager, I joined my first acting group. I loved being on stage, but I also wanted to tell my own tales, so I channeled my 2009 vampire craze into writing a play about a lone hunter at a vampire banquet, where they recounted the ways they influenced history. We performed it at our local theatre and it was so much fun. Later in college, when I studied acting, improv theatre changed the way I look at stories. My friend and I founded a long-form improv group and we performed full-length plays that were made up on the spot. It taught me what elements any good story needed and how to feel when a scene is working or requires a change. In an improv group, everyone has a specialty, and I was the “fixer”, the one that ran on stage when the story was getting off track or details weren’t connecting properly. I became really good at spotting plotholes and adding the right kinds of conflict to keep us going. I don’t think I’d be the writer I am today without improv.

What is something unique/quirky about you?

I absolutely adore lemons. I need lemon juice on most savory things I eat and I love drinking it straight without diluting it. I’ve even infected my wife with this quirk. Now she’s the one who eats a bite of dinner and says “Needs more lemon”.

What are some of your pet peeves?

 I feel like this is more of a full-grown elephant peeve, but I can’t stand people talking during movies or TV shows. It’s okay if they do that on their own, but if I’m there, please please please, pause the dang film! The moment two people talk at once, I just can’t hear anything anymore and it overwhelms me immediately. I also have a slight snob streak, so I tend to be the “Respect the art!!” type.

Where were you born/grew up at?

 I was born in the Rhineland of Germany, an hour away from Cologne. It’s a beautiful area with fortresses and mountains. When I brought my wife there two decades later, she loved it for its fairytale-esque nature.

Then, right before I turned ten, we moved to the North Sea. Our house was just a thirty-minute walk from the water, which was lovely, although I didnÄt go as often as I wished I had. Both places were small towns, and while they have their perks, I was very eager to explore the big city, when I moved to San Francisco at eighteen. I’m a city lady at heart!

If you knew you’d die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?

I’m not that scared of dying, to be honest. I have so many plans, so it’d be quite frustrating not to be able to execute them, but I wouldn’t want to try to squeeze them all in one day. I’m most scared of what I’d leave behind. So I would choose to spend the day with my wife, maybe in a favorite cafe of ours, writing a lot of letters to my loved ones, something they can hold on to. Then, when I felt like I’ve written an adequate amount, I’d want to briefly outline as many of my book ideas as possible and hand all of those over to my wife. She obviously wouldn’t have to write them all, but she’s a fantastic writer, and this way at least some of my stories would still get birthed. Then, at the end of the day, I’d like to dress up in an extravagant gown and see a Broadway show.

What kind of world ruler would you be?

 A stressed one. I have no interest in going into politics. I don’t think I could handle disagreements over things that are so obvious to me, and I don’t know how I’d deal with the slow speed of change, especially when people’s livelihoods are at stake. I have so much respect for people like Cori Bush and AOC, who throw themselves into the fight every single day, but I don’t think my temperament could handle it.

If I were, however, a world leader, I’d want to establish some kind of compassion/self-reflection/anti-propaganda course or test for everyone in my cabinet, and I’d want my advisors to be as diverse as possible, because that’s what democracy should be about, in opinion. It should represent everyone. I’d also start by having a reckoning with our history because reflecting on where we’ve come from, the mistakes we’ve made, the darkness we don’t want to repeat is an important part of self-growth and I believe it’s required for societal growth as well. So I do have a lot of ideas on what I’d want to implement, but I’m not confident I could convince people to listen. I’m better suited for the arts.

What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?

This is How You Lose the Time War, A Little Princess, Fragile Wings, Les Miserables, Into the Drowning Deep, The Gilded Ones, Less, Kindred (in no particular order except for the first one)

What book do you think everyone should read?

 Kindred!! Octavia Butler’s writing is fantastic, gripping, and so important. It’s such a great exploration of how the time you live in shapes you.

How long have you been writing?

I wrote my first short story in elementary school, but I barely remember it. Apparently, it was about an elvish princess trying to get rid of a wall, or something like that? Clearly, that was my character Ally Verdain in the making! At age 11, I wrote my first screenplay and I remember absolutely loving it. It felt wonderful to get lost in the storytelling. In it, a princess gets swapped at birth and grows up with a sweet peasant family until the truth is revealed. Then she fights to reclaim her throne. I’m proud of the story, though I did think that if you want to write a dramatic scene, you just have to use a lot of exclamation marks!!!!

Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?

Usually, two characters come to me first. I’m very relationship-oriented when I write. It doesn’t have to be romantic–my current project is about platonic love–but there’s always some strong connection that draws me to a story. After that, characters come to me while writing. So far, my first drafts have been very messy and explorative. But I usually sense when a newly appeared character is going to hijack the story. In my current project, a guy walked in, spoke once, and I immediately knew he’d be important. I hadn’t planned for a specific love interest but that’s exactly what he is now. It’s an exciting part of the journey to discover who you’ll meet along the way.

What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?

 That depends on the project, but I usually research as I go. GODDESS OF LIMBO took a lot of research–everything from names to cultures to idiosyncrasies of a specific time period. When I’m on a roll with a scene, I usually write “BLOB” or “insert description here” and then come back to it. But sometimes it’s too vital an aspect of the chapter, so I end up researching details every few lines. It can be a bit cumbersome but it often leads me down really interesting paths. Then there’s another kind of research that I do outside of the writing process. No matter what story I’m working on, I’m always trying to learn more about writing diversity, about people and what makes them tick, about harmful tropes we keep including into stories. I’m by no means perfect, but I think it’s important to keep widening your worldview if you want to improve your stories.

Do you see writing as a career?

Yes, absolutely, I see myself as an actor/writer, though I had to put the acting part on hold for a bit due to the pandemic and chronic illness. I’m also hoping to get into audiobook narration next year. I took some classes on it in college and am excited to narrate GODDESS OF LIMBO once I have the right equipment. I have very ambitious goals for my writing career and am ultimately hoping to work as a hybrid author, both traditionally and independently published.

What do you think about the current publishing market?

Oof, it’s complicated! I think it’s wonderful that indie publishing is becoming more and more of a feasible option. It allows for more freedom and diversity in publishing. At the same time, it’s a lot of work, and I think long-term I’d prefer to spend more time writing than handling the business aspects of it. The traditional publishing market is, however, slightly broken. So many traditionally published authors aren’t earning a living wage off their books and while not one specific area is to blame, there has to be a better way than artists not making money off their art. We can do better than that! I also think there’s an unfair focus on social media when it comes to publishing as well. Everyone tells authors they have to build their author platform and yes, it is much easier for writers with huge platforms to become bestsellers, but other forms of marketing are equally if not more important. As a bit of an introvert who struggles with social media, it can feel like you’re doomed from the getgo. But the more research I do, the less that seems true. So there’s a lot of misinformation out there, both in the indie and the traditional market. Overall though, I’m happy that more books than ever are being published and read. That is wonderful for the world.

What are you passionate about these days?

Accessibility. As terrible as the pandemic is, it’s shown us the many possibilities on how to make everything more accessible to disabled and chronically ill folks. I hope we will carry these realizations forward and not try to return to a less accessible world once some of us can go back to “normalcy”. I, myself, have learned a lot on how to make content more inclusive in the past year, but also know there’s still so much to learn. It’s exciting to see that platforms are slowly catching up–subtitles are becoming more available, and work from home is an option for many. It’s also a subject dear to the heart for both my wife and me. She’s narcoleptic, which she handles well when accommodations are given. A few extra five-minute breaks are all it takes, but she’d gotten laid off for it before when she’d been doing stellar work, and it’s just not fair. I have several conditions that require accommodations as well, and oh my goodness, does proper care make a difference! For example, nowadays everything is so digital, but because of chronic migraines, I can’t look at screens for too long. There are red filters for which I’m incredibly grateful for, but still, it’s not enough. A few months ago, however, I bought a Neo2 Alphasmart electronic typewriter from… I don’t know, the 90s? And it’s amazing! I’m writing my response currently on it because there is no blue light involved. It has completely changed my life as a writer, and it seems so easy. If we were able to make electronic devices like this thirty years ago, why can’t we do it now? I’m hopeful that one day there’ll be screens using this kind of technology.

I’m passionate about this topic because the more we educate ourselves and each other, the more everyone can be included. An inclusive society enriches us all.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

The must-have answer, of course, is reading. For years, I only did it sporadically, but this year, I’ve finally been able to squeeze daily reading back into my schedule. Apart from that, I love Dungeons & Dragons, and tabletop RPG games in general. My wife and I are currently running a two-person gay pirate adventure game and that’s a lot of fun. My character started out as a cook, but she quickly learned how to kick booty. My friends and I are also big fans of playing Among us. I used to be a lousy alien impostor, but I’m finally getting better. My best friend can still tell immediately if I’m the impostor. He says my voice changes. It’s hopeless. I just gotta murder him quickly!

Describe yourself in 5 words or less!

I hate limited word counts… that’s five words, right? Okay, okay, I’ll give it an honest try. Ambitious, bubbly, curious storyteller dork. There we go 🙂

Do you have a favorite movie?

One of my absolute favorites is “Cloud Atlas”, and I don’t think it’s surprising if you look at my preferred way of telling stories. This movie is almost spiritual to me! I love how the characters’ lives of different ages are all interconnected and affect each other. I get goosebumps just thinking about it and the score is so beautiful! It’s also very romantic, and I love a good star-crossed sweethearts story.

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

 I don’t know if it counts as a full pilgrimage, but my wife and I loved walking through London when we lived there, and most of the characters and plotlines of GODDESS OF LIMBO were birthed on those walks. The old architecture was perfect for envisioning grand fantasy tales. There is one building in particular near Waterloo station that has a lovely round tower with a circular room on the highest floor. We called that one our “Bored Reginald” tower, because the jester, and loved one of a protagonist, lives in a similar tower room in the palace. I still go on long walks to kickstart my imagination.

What inspired you to write this book?

GODDESS OF LIMBO guided me out of a tough time. I’ll always be grateful for the spark of inspiration that led to where I am now.

I’ve always been an actor/writer, but I focused on acting first. After I finished college, I ended up in a difficult financial spot, couldn’t get any roles because of my accent, and struggled with chronic illness. I felt completely creatively depleted. That’s when my wife started a Dungeons & Dragons game for my friends and me. I fell in love with both my character and her love interest. The storytelling of the game rekindled my imagination and I ended up writing “fanfiction” about my character and her girlfriend. My wife and I created a whole canon outside of the game and kept adding characters to it. We basically came up with a world of our own and played improv scenes set in it every evening after work. Every bathroom break at work turned into me typing out little scenes for the characters and before I knew it, we’d created an epic, intricate fantasy world. Then, when I was sick one day, I decided to write the origin story of my character’s dad. That is now chapter five of GODDESS OF LIMBO. I dove into the love interest’s mother–Ally–next, and suddenly the parents became the true story.

The first draft barely resembles the book now. My Dungeons & Dragons character and her love interest will only be children in the overall series. In the end, it wasn’t their story.

It took me five months to realize that what I was writing might become a book, and another year to truly commit to becoming an author.

I’ve always wanted to be an author, but I thought I couldn’t pursue it until I was in my fifties. I thought I had to establish my acting career first. Writing one book seemed like an impossible journey to me. Now I don’ want to stop. I love this series, but I’m excited about all the other stories I plan to tell as well. I was so lost when the first inspiration for GODDESS OF LIMBO came to me. I don’t want to know where I’d be if I hadn’t followed it.

What can we expect from you in the future?

The Forgotten Splinters Chronicles is currently planned as a five-book series, although the next part will be a prequel novella that takes place right after the prologue. It’s still in the drafting phase, but I’d like it to stand on its own, so people can read it before or after GODDESS OF LIMBO.

In terms of other novels–I have about thirty-five stories on my “to be written” pile right now and it’s steadily growing. While I really enjoy writing fantasy, I’d like to branch out into other genres as well. One of my current projects is a contemporary coming-of-age story about two queer runaway kids growing up on the streets of San Francisco. It’s in the second draft stage now. After that, I’m not sure which one I’ll choose from my idea pile. The close contesters are a space mermaid Sci-Fi, an underwater fantasy romance, and a pirate adventure. 2022, however, will be dedicated entirely to GODDESS OF LIMBO’s sequel. I’ve already written a few chapters for it..

Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in GODDESS OF LIMBO?

I have a large cast of characters as their stories are all interconnected, so when people ask me to talk about my protagonist, I’m tempted to give a dozen ted talks. But seeing as occasional restrain is a virtue, let’s just touch on three of the main ones.

Ally, or the elvish Princess Alexandra Verdain, has endured many hardships–the Council stripping her power exiled her grandmothers, her mother died during Ally’s mysterious birth and her father disappeared when she was ten, she was married off as a child to a ruthless magic-bearer, and her nation ridicules and infantilizes her because of her schizoaffective disorder. Despite all that, she’s brilliant, snarky, endlessly curious, and undeterred once she’s set her mind on something. She’s had a long-term affair with her court jester and cares about Elfentum’s future, even if it doesn’t care about her.

Captain Subira Se’azana is still trying to understand who she truly is. She grew up in a noble family in Fi’Teri, deeply religious and set to advance in court, but she ran away to Virisunder as a child and became the mentee of Ally’s grandmother who runs a military academy. When we meet Subira, she’s on the cusp of change–in a war declared lost that she’s determined to win, pregnant and in love with a man who only noticed her after she saved his life, and torn between the military career that gives her purpose and dreams of becoming a dancer and having a loving family, unlike the one she came from. She’s a serious person with a sharp-edged wit, strong on the battlefield but uncertain in her private life.

And lastly, let’s talk about Vana Ackerman. She’s a feisty farm girl that lived through famines and wars and is sick of her town’s ruthless nobility. Even as a six-year-old, she talks about revolution, and by the time she’s sixteen, she’s known around town for her rebel band The Spirit and the Enforcer. The Spirit is her best friend Jules and when we met her, they’ve just broken up, because she’s realized she’s gay. Nevertheless, they plan to take down their nation together. Unfortunately, the beautiful teenage daughter of the local duke gets in their way. Vana has a big heart and a strong sense of justice, but she tends to jump the gun and hasn’t fully understood what the reality of revolution entails.

Where did you come up with the names in the story?

 I came up with character names in three different ways. Some were named by my wife, back when we first explored their storylines in D&D and improv scenes. My favorite of those is Vana, because it’s not actually a real name, but she thought it was and I loved it, so we’ve kept it. Other names were inspired by real people in history. General Makeda, Ally’s grandmother and principal of the most prestigious military academy, was named after an Ethiopian queen. She’s from Fi’Teri, which is loosely inspired by Ethiopian culture. The last and most common way I found names was by searching baby name suggestions from cultures most closely aligned to the fictional nation the character is from. Sachihiro, for example, is a Mayan name meaning “broad happiness”. He’s from Tribu La’am, which is inspired by Mesoamerica.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

Writing GODDESS OF LIMBO has been an incredible journey. There are so many moments I treasure from the first four-day mini-vacation I took to focus on writing to the coffee-fueled everyday hustle of finishing the second draft on a deadline. It truly taught me how to write a book, how to become an author, and how to wholeheartedly embrace my imagination.

One of the aspects I’ve enjoyed the most from the very beginning was the jester’s tricks and his dialogue. He always has a turn of phrase or a silly pun on his lips, and despite his overall tragic character, he’s a joy to write.

I also love Martín’s chapters, because his internal monologues are the funniest to write. They’re less fun to edit because I need to delete a lot of his profanity.

Every POV character has its own perks though. Ally’s chapters always require me to pull up “Physics for kids” sites to try and understand the way she’s thinking, so progress is slow, but I also love it because her perception of life differs from mine. Sachihiro, on the other hand, perceives things similarly to me (even though his personality is very different from mine) so his thoughts tend to flow nicely. I love writing Subira for the fierce fight scenes, and Vana for her big ideas and grand speeches on justice. So really, every character has its own perks and I shall dearly miss writing the ones that didn’t survive the first book…

How did you come up with the title of your first novel?

Coming up with the title GODDESS OF LIMBO was a long and chaotic journey. It’s funny, because nowadays I don’t struggle with titles at all. I already have the sequel name and am really excited to share it.

But for the longest time, GODDESS OF LIMBO was just “The Frieda Kilburn Saga”. Frieda Kilburn was the D&D character that inspired everything. For some odd reason, I named her Frieda after Friedrich Nietzche–something about her moral view of the world? I have no idea! And Kilburn after the London neighborhood my train passed through on the way to work. She briefly appears in GODDESS OF LIMBO, but it’s no longer her story. Nevertheless, I kept the name until the first draft was done and I had to come up with something better to submit it for a workshop. Limbo, the realm of lost things, had already become an important part of the story, so I named it “Whispers from limbo”. Half a year later, I decided it wasn’t snappy enough, so I changed it to “Limbo calls”. A demon plot that becomes important in the sequel played a much bigger part in the initial drafts, so I thought it might fit. I still didn’t love it. When I finished the full rewrite, I realized that despite the interweaving narratives, at its core, it’s the story of the goddess Alames–Goddess of Limbo.

My wife and I have an inside joke that Alames isn’t actually the goddess of limbo and it’s referring to a different goddess, but you’ll have to read the book to decide that for your own…

Who designed your book covers?

Franzi Haase from coverdungeon.com, @coverdungeonrabbit on Instagram! I’m so grateful I found her. She was a joy to work with and took my vague ideas to create this gorgeous cover. It’s exactly how I wanted it to be! I can’t wait to work with her again for future covers. Picking a cover artist was one of the scariest parts of the publishing process. So scary, that for a while I considered designing it myself, but I couldn’t do it justice. Then I saw Franzi’s work on Instagram and fell in love with it!

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Yes, I absolutely would. Writing is such an intimate reflection of our insides and even though I’m deeply proud of this book, I have grown a lot since finishing the final draft and there are a few nuances I wish I’d put more thought into. I want to be clear, I don’t regret anything. If I wouldn’t love my book wholeheartedly, I wouldn’t be putting it out there. Honestly, I don’t think I could, because it’s scary enough to send it to hundreds of reviewers, promising them they’ll enjoy it, when truly, you have no idea. Every time I reread GODDESS OF LIMBO, it makes me incredibly happy. But it also deals with a lot of sensitive topics and there’s one nuance, in particular, I wish I could add. I have a lot of different cultures in this book, but there’s one subculture that we’ve only met one character from and that character is a darker shade of morally grey. From the beginning, I’ve planned to introduce a place full of those people in the third book, and most of them will be positive, good-hearted characters. But they aren’t in this book… So every now and then I get a small panic attack over potentially implying something I hadn’t intended. That’s probably a common issue among epic fantasy writers who juggle so many cultures, especially if diversity and representation are important to them. They’re vital to me. But we live in a society full of marginalization and I personally am constantly unlearning the subconscious biases I grew up with. I think as we evolve as people, our writing will become better and better. Even though I wish every book I write could be 100% perfect in my eyes, I realize that will never be possible, and that’s okay.

If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?

This is a fun question for me and I’m going to be shameless about it. I’m an actor as well as a writer. I have a degree in film acting and so does my wife. I absolutely want to play Alames. Get the blue stage makeup–I’m ready! My wife wants to play the magical engineer Zazil and I think she’d be great at it. My best friend Nick also needs to play a role but we’re not certain which one yet. Maybe the casting director gets to have a say after all.

As to more known actors–I think Cara Delevigne would make a great Ally, especially after seeing her in Carnival Row, and I’d be honored if the amazing Lupita Nyong’o would play Subira. I’d also love for the actors’ identities to line up with the characters’ to a certain degree. Martín, for example, would have to be played by a Latino trans man, or I’d be upset. I would definitely want to make sure there’s no whitewashing happening either. So to conclude, I have a lot of opinions on acting 😉

What is your favorite part of this book and why?

This is a tricky question. So many moments are dear to me and then there are the ones I strongly connect with personal memories of writing them.

One of my favorite chapters is the Hard Rime River chapter. I love the setting, and it caught me completely off guard when I wrote it. The way it came together changed the whole trajectory of the book. I got so excited about the chapter that when I first presented it to my beta readers, they had no idea what was going on. I’ve rewritten it several times since and learned that me loving a part probably means I skipped the “make sure your readers get what’s happening” aspect. I tend to get lost in those moments.

My favorite part, truly, is the ending though. I’m so happy with how it all turned out. Writing beginnings is tough for me but I love stringing everything together. The moment everything fully connects feels so special. It makes me excited for the sequel because those connections have already been established now.

As to character journeys, I’m the proudest of Richard’s. Admittedly, it’s the one I’m most nervous about too because it deals with several delicate and painful topics, but I think it ends in a beautifully cathartic place. He has, perhaps, the most character development throughout the first book.

Finally, there are about four jokes I absolutely adore. When I find something funny, it never fails to crack me up. My wife still sends me a silly gif from two years ago and I can’t stop laughing at it. So those four jokes are absolutely wonderful to return to.

If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?

Oh goodness, most of them! But I also feel like I already have. I know so much about them, have spent hours imagining details that will never make it into the books. Character work is my favorite part, both in acting and writing. In our daily life, we always have some sort of mask on. Even when you’re very close with someone, you won’t know their thoughts, won’t know how they see life. All of that is possible when getting to know a character. They’re all flawed, yet I’m incredibly protective of all of them because I feel like I understand them better than I understand most real people. I need to note here that I’m talking about the point of view characters, not the villains. I do not under any circumstances want to spend a day with Prince Josef.

But if I could choose one of them to manifest into reality for a day, I’d probably want to do an improv show with the court jester Bored Reginald. He’s a grand illusionist and could whip up a fantastic set. I think our creative visions would align pretty well and rehearsing with him would be a blast. If I get more than one day, we’ll go on tour!

Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

 I’m leaning toward the second one, but I feel like characters have such a mind of their own, they come out of some idea cloud. That’s probably an eccentric view on it, but itÄs how I experience it every time I write. Elizabeth Gilbert talks about book ideas like they’re these spirits of muses that come to writers, insisting to be born. I like that idea. I also think stories reflect paths our collective unconscious has taken. Sure, it’s all fiction, but in a way, it’s also all true. We find ourselves in characters, in their struggles, their lessons. I wouldn’t claim all that magic stems from my imagination alone.

I definitely don’t base characters off of people I know. I admit, I took inspiration for the physical description of two villains from people I knew, but that’s it. My best friend insists he sees a lot of Ally in me, but I can’t even do simple math and am much more of a pacifist than she is, so I don’t see it.

Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?

They absolutely hijack the story. I wouldn’t even call it hijacking. They’re the ones steering the train, owning the railroad, creating the schedule. I just hop on and see where we’re going. I might think we’re cruising through Scotland only to look out the window and find myself in a jungle.

An example of that is my character, Robert. In the early drafts, when I was just learning the story, he was a royal guard, and that’s it. In the first real draft, I gave him a love interest and a whole unrelated side quest. Then, in my big rewrite, he talked to Ally for the first time and their chemistry was irresistible. It was entirely unexpected and changed everything. Suddenly he became a new romantic interest for Ally, and without spoiling anything, the ending couldn’t have happened if it weren’t for Robert’s change of direction. The whole series changed because of his influence and I’m glad for it.

Have you written any other books that are not published?

Yes! My short story EMILY’S HEIRS will be published in Hansen House Books’ queer SFF anthology ELIXIR: Stories of Hope and Healing in January 2022. I’m very excited to be part of this incredible project! My story is about a lesbian autistic girl and her intersex best friend breaking into a futuristic fertility clinic to stop irreversible eugenics.

I’m also working on a contemporary coming-of-age story called A FEW SPOTS PAST THE SUN about two queer runaway foster kids growing up on the streets of San Francisco. The first draft is written, but it’s an incredibly rough mess, so I’m working my way through that right now. My plan is to become a hybrid author, so I’m hoping to traditionally publish that story.

If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?

I was staring at this question blankly and decided to ask my wife. She said “blood”, which was unhelpful. Let me see… daffodils, old parchment, and cinnamon. There we go!

What did you edit out of this book?

About two other books worth! Ally’s firstborn daughter, Josefine, who she wasn’t allowed to care for or even see much, had five whole chapters. She only appears briefly in one Ally chapter now. Richard also had a second son named Elvor, who truly was just an unpleasant fellow. I didn’t even enjoy writing him that much, but he was part of the very first idea dump, so he got three chapters of questionable content in the first draft. I deleted his character completely in the rewrite. Dillon, Ally’s first personal guard, had a huge arc as well, and so did the jester’s assistant Cleo. Both of them disappeared almost completely. Vana was originally an adult and married to a duchess named Marella. They fought Josefine, riding a demon, together on a grand battlefield. It was epic and also utter nonsense in the context of the actual story. The goddess Alames used to appear to Zazil in a strange vision and declare her the chosen one for a minor subplot. I had just finished a venti vanilla latte and thought it was my best writing ever! I’m going to post the original outline on my Patreon soon. It’s hilarious to me how little it has to do with GODDESS OF LIMBO’s actual plot.

Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why? I would absolutely love to take a class from the authors of THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE THE TIME WAR. Amal et-Mohtar and Max Gladestone’s storytelling moved me more than I thought possible. They told a grand epic within the pages of a novella. I’m absolutely in awe of their talent and would love to write a story like that someday. My imagination tends to think in epic spans as well, hence I started with a five-book epic fantasy series. But to condense that grand of a picture into the pure essence of it– Amazing! I’d love to learn how to do that. 

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