QSFer Lou Hoffman is stopping by to talk about her latest book, Wraith Queen’s Veil:
Hello! I’m Lou Hoffmann, author of The Sun Child Chronicles series, and I’m happy to be here on QSF today celebrating today’s release of book two, Wraith Queen’s Veil from Harmony Ink Press. (Thanks, Scott and QSFers, for inviting me!) I’m of course going to talk about my book, today, but I also get to touch on three of my other favorite topics: humans, magic, and mayhem.
Thing is, anytime you combine the first two, you get the third, right? I mean, look at the Hobbitt and that pesky ring, or Arthur’s crazy life after he pulled that sword out of the stone. The literature is chalk full of proof of this simple formula, yet we’re still stuck with a certain amount of unpredictability. As both humans and magic are capricious by nature, I suppose we should expect some unreliable outcomes when we mix the two, but wow, sometimes it gets really wild.
As authors, we try to control that, at least a little, by making sure our magical worlds have a system, rules by which the workings must be done, and outside of which the magic simply will not work. Or so it’s supposed to go, according to the good guys in our magical worlds. But there’s always some Bozo…
Uh oh, tangent alert. I just discovered Bozo is in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, and yes, it means exactly what you would expect it to mean.
…there’s always some Bozo who figures out a way to break the rules. Sometimes, that’s the hero, or the person on the hero’s side, but more often, it’s the villain. If you think authors are in complete control of their villainous characters, let me assure you, some of us are not (me for instance).
I mean, let’s look at book one of the Sun Child Chronicles, Key of Behliseth. There’s a person in there known as Isa, the Witch-Mortaine. She’s evil. Worse than. Everything you’ve ever thought of as horrifying—that’s her. And she likes it, right up until it uses her up and she becomes both something less and something far more than human.
The thing is, the system of magic (and science as well) in this alternate universe doesn’t allow people like her to bring their superhuman influences (which she thinks of as the god Mahl) to a world in which they did not originate.
But yeah, she does it anyway.
Let me describe for you the mayhem she creates in California…
—briefly and non-specifically, though, because I’d much rather you found out the details by reading the book, which just happens to be on sale 35% off at Harmony Ink Press with coupon code SUNCHILD2—
…by breaking this basic rule. This is through the unbelieving eye of Lucy, our 15-year-old hero, just a tiny piece of what’s going on when things first start to go really bad. (Tiny excerpt from that book, in other words.)
He saw faces roiling in the storm. Rotting, red-eyed things writhed in anguish, remains of things that were once alive. Caustic, nuclear eyes glowed in the faces of other creatures, things that had surely never been anything but the monstrous, fanged beings Lucky saw around him. Blue light snaked in under the door, and inside it Lucky saw the shape of a hooded, demon-eyed serpent.
I’ve got two things to say about that. One, yes, I think that seems rather like mayhem. Two, yuck.
It’s true, though, the protagonists in our stories are often just as unruly as the ‘bad guys.’ That can end up in great big “oops” situations. For instance, when Frodo (although not quite human) puts the ring on during the fight at Weathertop. Truly. On the other hand, sometimes it creates a whole different kind of mayhem—that wonderful mayhem I mentioned in the title.
In The Sun Child Chronicles universe, magic (of any import) is supposed to require training. That’s the way the system works. But look at this thing that happens—just one of the smallest things—when Lucky manages to sidestep that rule! (Again, just a little clip from Key of Behliseth.)
The wizard stood alone, sinking at the knees as if about to fall. His voice was low and rough and gravelly. “I need to reset the wards,” he said, wobbling. “I could use some support.”
In shock, Lucky came near the wizard and saw him unimaginably old, frail, and thin, with parchment skin and blood pumping blue through tortuous veins at his temples. Lucky feared for himself and for Thurlock. But more than that, he wanted to help. With every sense he searched, wanting to find some small thing to give back to this man who had—in protecting him—so obviously given too much.
He started to say, “There’s nothing I can do,” but pain flared in his skull, and he realized those words would have been a lie.
He took a long, slow breath, cornering some wild, neglected thing inside himself, and knowing suddenly that it had always been there, waiting to be tamed. At first he didn’t recognize his own voice, so deep, so near that of a man. “I wish,” he began, but he didn’t know how to finish. This wish would make a difference. What should it be?
Finally, he said, “Safe.”
Thurlock lifted his crinkled face and smiled, surprised. “Well,” he said, “it’s done, then. Isn’t it?”
And as the tale continues, the magic and the mayhem both grow more horrible and more wonderful, and of course, it has costs. For instance, just the little thing above, Lucky’s little wish? Here’s what happened next:
Lucky barely heard. As he’d spoken his wish, a fist of heat had formed at his solar plexus, then unfurled and pulsed out with his words, leaving him hollow, sick, and dizzy.
“Han,” he croaked, and the warrior’s stalwart hands caught him. Swirling stars, then silent dark, then nothing.
And the things Lucky does in Key of Behliseth have even bigger consequences as the story unfolds in Wraith Queen’s Veil. Or… that may be unfair, for hasn’t this very war between unseen forces been raging for over a thousand years, and isn’t it about to turn into a battle for the world in which Lucky was born, the world where his destiny lies, the world called Behlis Ethra?
Oh yes, and while we’re on the subject of book two it’s on sale 35% off too—the same coupon code, SUNCHILD2. Get either or both, at Harmony Ink Press.
Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway! Four winners, multiple entries allowed. Easy as pie. (Easier, because pie is not really easy.)
Thank you QSF, and thank you readers! I love comments and contact from readers, so please do if the (magical) spirit moves you. Here’s a link to a post with the rest of the stops on my tour. I’d love to see you there.
When Lucky arrives in Ethra, the world of his birth and destiny, he expects a joyful reunion, but the first thing he notices when he reaches the Sisterhold—his home—is something false behind his mother’s smile. In a matter of weeks, the Sisterhold becomes agitated with worries and war plans. People he trusts—like the wizard Thurlock—frequently can’t be found. His mother seems angry, especially with Lucky. Even Han Shieth, the warrior uncle he has come to rely on and love above all others, maintains a sullen silence toward him.
When Lucky’s resentment builds to the breaking point, his bad decisions put him and his friends, L’Aria and Zhevi, in unthinkable danger. Han arrives to help, but he can’t claim invulnerability to the hazards and evils that threaten at every turn. Events launch Lucky, alone, on a quest for he knows not what, but every step brings him closer to his identity and full strength. Self-knowledge, trust, and strength lead to smarter choices, but even his best efforts might not render his world truly safe, now or for the future.
Sun Child Chronicles Book Two
Lou Hoffmann has carried on her love affair with books for decades, yet she hasn’t even made a dent in the list of books she’d love to read—at least partly because the list keeps growing. She reads factual things—books about physics and history and fractal chaos, but when she wants truth, she looks for it in quality fiction. She loves all sorts of wonderful things: music and silence, laughter and tears, youth and age, sunshine and storms, forests and fields, flora and fauna, rivers and seas. Even good movies and popcorn! Those things help her breathe, and everyone she knows helps her write. (Special mention goes to (1) George the Lady Cat and (2) readers.) Proud to be a bisexual, biracial woman, Lou considers every person a treasure not to be taken for granted. In her life, she’s seen the world’s willingness to embrace differences change, change back, and change again in dozens of ways, but she has great hope for the world the youth of today will create. She writes for readers who find themselves anywhere on the spectrums of age and gender, aiming to create characters that live not only in their stories, but always in your imagination and your heart