Mortal Heart Cover Fun!

Tuesday, March 18

For those of you who don’t know, the brilliant Kristen over at MyFriendsAreFiction does fabulous Lego recreations of YA covers. For her latest, she’s done one of Mortal Heart!

 

MortalHeartLegoFinal

 

 

It is hard to say just how much I love this! Look at all the detail they went to! It even has a Lego castle and trees! ::swoon::

You should definitely go check out all the Lego covers!

Mortal Heart Cover!

Sunday, March 16

For those of you who didn’t catch the Mortal Heart cover reveal a couple of weeks ago, here it is!

Mortal Heart Cover

 

Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.

But across Brittany, the tides of war are drawing ever nearer, with France pressuring the beleaguered duchess from all sides. Annith’s search for answers threatens to rip open an intricate web of lies and deceit that sit at the heart of the convent she serves. Yet to expose them threatens the very fabric of her existence and risks an unforeseen chance at love, one that she can no longer deny. Annith must carefully pick a path and, gods willing, effect a miracle that will see her country—and her heart—to safety.

For those of you who are super eager, you can pre-order Mortal Heart HERE:

Mortal Heart Update

Sunday, February 9

So first of all, so sorry to have disappeared for so very long. Writing Mortal Heart in thirteen months is probably the single hardest writing thing I have ever done. Sadly, it required me to withdraw from just about every other thing in my life, including socializing (whether through social media or in real life) and sleeping.

The truth is, it was a big book, not just in word count (although it is that—clocking in at nearly 144,000 words!) but in terms of concept. Ever since I first imagined the trilogy, it was the most ambitious of the three His Fair Assassin books. Not only does it return to the political backdrop of Grave Mercy, but it delves more deeply into the mythology of the world I created and thus involved far more world building.

Far, FAR more world building.

In other words, it pretty much kicked my ass on a daily basis.

So the good news is that it is DONE! And it is BIG! And early reader reactions have surpassed my wildest hopes!

The bad news is, it won’t be out until November 4.

I know, I’m sorry. But I reeeeally needed those extra months writing time.

But! In more good news, there WILL be ARCs! I will let you know when I have a date for those.

In the coming months, I will be posting snippets and possible teasers and revealing the cover and playlists and hidden Pinterest boards to whet your appetites.

And now that the book isn’t demanding every single word that my brain produces, I will be posting on my blog (once I get it up and running again) and on Tumblr more often!

Thanks for your patience!

While Dark Triumph is not a true retelling, it does contain echoes of at least two of my favorite fairy tales: “Beauty and the Beast” and “Bluebeard.”

I suppose it’s inevitable to be influenced by “Beauty and the Beast” when one has a hero named Beast. I was drawn to his character in the first book because as a child, one of my greatest early literary disappointments was when the beast turned into a handsome prince at the end of that tale. I was heartbroken and felt I’d been cheated. I had grown attached to that kind, ugly, dear monster and I greatly resented the boring handsome dude who replaced him. So when I was casting around for some of Duval’s companions in arms, I came up with Beast. Like Sybella, he was larger than life and threatened to take over the story in Grave Mercy. That was when I realized he would need his own book. And who better to pair him with than a tortured beauty who also threatened to steal every scene she was in.

Also, I thought the themes touched on in the “Beauty and the Beast” fairy tale worked well for the story I was telling in Dark Triumph—that love can see beyond the external to our true essence. In fact, I think that is what makes a compelling romance; when the hero/heroine is able to see things in the other that no one else can. They recognize our secret hidden selves and respond to that. But there is a strong influence of another fairy tale in Dark Triumph as well. As I researched the history and folklore of Brittany, I discovered that the two historical seeds of one of the most fascinating fairy tales of my childhood—”Bluebeard”—had its roots in ancient Breton history.

The earliest seed for the “Bluebeard” tales can be found in Conomor the Cursed, who had been told that he would be slain by his own son. Consequently, whenever one of his wives became pregnant, he killed her. The second historical basis for Bluebeard occurred only fifty or so years prior to the events in Dark Triumph. Gilles de Reitz had been the Marshal of France and a nobleman who fought alongside Joan d’Arc in the Hundred Years War. But once the war was over and he returned to his holding, he is rumored to have been at the root of over a hundred gruesome child murders, and was tried and hung for those crimes.

“The Tale of Bluebeard” fascinated, even as it horrified me and hinted at a darkness and depravity my seven-year-old mind could only guess at. I was outraged on behalf of the young wife whose only sin was curiosity, and equally outraged that such a blood punishment should await her. And Bluebeard himself gave me nightmares, with his aggressive, bristling blue-black beard and the fleshy lips that were so often portrayed in the accompanying illustrations. I felt there was a warning there, although I was too young to grasp it.

All of those elements were definitely echoing in the recesses of my mind as I wrote Sybella and Beast’s story. Since Sybella’s story was so dark and dealt with many of those very themes I was so disturbed by when younger, it seemed especially important to give her a message of hope as well; that love had the ability to see beyond the façade she presented to the world and recognize her true essence.

As I wrote Dark Triumph, I wanted to be sure and populate the book with some of the colorful characters from the Middle Ages that I had come across in my research, and yet it had to feel organic to the story and not wedged in there.

As Sybella and the wounded knight were racing through the countryside, trying to escape pursuit, I had to do some serious thinking as to who they would actually run in to, and of those people, who would help, who would hinder, and who would turn them in in a heartbeat for a reward. Since they would need to slip into the forest to evade capture, I decided to draw from those who lived in the forests or obtained their livelihood from the woods, and settled upon a group of charcoal burners.

Oddly, it is often the outcasts in society who are most accepting of other outcasts. Their very disenfranchisement sometimes makes them more willing to challenge the status quo or thumb their nose at rigid authority. While charcoal burners were not (probably) true outcasts, they did keep to themselves somewhat, confined by their livelihood to dwelling in forests and tending their charcoal fires rather than living in cities or villages.

In the middle ages, one of the most efficient fuels at the time was charcoal. Coal itself was rare and difficult to mine with their technology, but charcoal could be made through the slow burning of wood, then stopping the process before the wood was fully burned to ash. Charcoal burning was a tricky thing, requiring fairly esoteric knowledge of how to build the fire pits just so, how to pile the wood so it wouldn’t burn too quickly, and how to read the smoke to discern when the charcoal was ready. There were a number of occupational hazards, primarily involving collapsed fire pits and burns. It was also an occupation full of hazard, for a stray spark or ember could start a conflagration in minutes.

As I continued to research charcoal burners, I came across a curious mention of the Carbonnari, a branch of Italian charcoal burners. They started off as a guild, as many medieval trades did, and developed into an organization or brotherhood similar to Freemansons, only with their charcoal burning trade being at the center of their rituals and organizations. While their organization and political involvement was most evident in 19th century Italy, it is believed the groups’ origins began in the middle ages. When I learned they had a French counterpart called the Charbonnerie, I knew I’d found my outcasts.

As a writer, a dozen questions immediately went off in my mind. Who were they? What would compel them to become political and engage themselves in the affairs of the kingdom? How would they make those decisions? And, most importantly in a world populated with patron saints, whom would they worship?

Any deviation from normal church doctrine in the middle ages was rigorously opposed, so it made sense to me that they would worship someone not approved by the church, one of the older gods who’d not make the transition to patron saint.

Dovetailing nicely with this was my personal fascination with the concept of the Black Madonna. There are various theories for the origin of the Black Madonna, whether it was simply the color of Jesus and Mary’s skin before Renaissance artists reimagined them as fair skinned and blonde, or an origin that spoke to possible African roots. There is some speculation that the huge popularity of the cult of the Virgin Mary in the middle ages was a redirecting of earlier earth/mother goddess worship.

But interestingly, over the years I’d also run into mentions of the Black Artemis, rumored to have been worshipped by the Amazons, or Black Demeter, the aspect of the earth goddess when she was in deep mourning for her daughter Persephone. I took all those threads and swirled them around until I had the Dark Matrona, the unsanctioned aspect of Dea Matrona, the former earth goddess now patron saint. I decided that her darkness would be of a more spiritual nature, not unlike the Egyptian god Osiris, for in the Egyptian pantheon, black was not only the color of the underworld, but regeneration as the rich dark silt from the Nile river allowed them to grow their crops each year, and so black was also the color of regeneration, which dovetailed nicely with the book’s themes of finding hope in the darkness.

~ Originally used as part of the Dark Triumph blog tour at jennadoesbooks.com~

On Rivers and Jackhammers

June 24, 2013

I have spent the last two weeks essentially taking a jackhammer to the 1st and 2nd acts of Book Three, trying to not only delete the words I’ve already written, but to erase the wagon ruts those words have created in my mind so I can envision new ones. Which is why, for me, it […]

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One Last Event!

June 17, 2013

I wanted to let you all know I’ll be sneaking in one last event this summer before I remove myself to my writing cave for the duration of Book Three. The coolest part about this event? It will be a joint event WITH LEIGH BARDUGO!! Actually, I will mostly just be serving as her adoring […]

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Finding Our Writerly DNA

June 14, 2013

I’m blogging over on Writer Unboxed today and talking about the benefits of identifying our writerly DNA.   When I deeply love a book as an adult it’s usually because it has managed to rock my world in such a way that I know  it has permanently changed how I look at and approach the […]

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Hello Hello!

May 29, 2013

Hello! I have been a terrible blogger and all around communicator for the last few months. Well, honestly, ever since this new site launched I have been utterly consumed with writing the books, touring, and all around PUBLISHING STUFF and have been very lax about updating things here. Well, that is all about to change! […]

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Hello Seattle!

April 17, 2013

I’ve barely been back from tour long enough to unpack my bags, but now I’m off again to Seattle. I’ll be talking and signing books at THIRD PLACE BOOKS in Lake Forrest from 7-8 p.m. on Thursday, April 18. That’s my only public signing in the Seattle area this time around so I hope to […]

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