6 Apr 2015

Tangle of Thornes by Lorel Clayton

When Eva's brother is murdered in a city of rude elves and matriarchal dwarves where humans have no rights, she is forced to investigate the crime herself. What she discovers brings her up against a powerful slave-trading cartel, dark gods, and—worst of all—her twin sister. Both her family and the elven authorities want her hushed. She has no money and no magic of her own with which to combat them, but she does have an illegally-freed slave, a senile nanny, and an ex-almost-boyfriend on her side. Even when she nearly loses her job and almost loses her head in a sword fight on the same night, she isn’t deterred. It’s when the nanny goes missing that she really starts to worry. Femme fatale turns hard-boiled investigator in this first Eva Thorne novel. Set in a fantasy world where magic and machines can't stand against the God of Death, humans are on the run from the god's invasion. Highcrowne is the only refuge, but that means living in the Outskirts of an ancient city ruled by Avian mages, indifferent dwarves, and elves who'd prefer to see humans as their slaves. It's worst for Eva's people, Solhans, because they were the ones who summoned the Dead God into the world. No one wants her kind in Highcrowne and there are plenty who would be happy to see her brother dead. There are too many motives and not enough time to unravel them, because other people are dying … and Eva is fast running out of vacation time.
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Hi Lorel! Can you tell us a little about your latest book?
When Eva’s brother is murdered, she’s forced to investigate the crime herself. It’s no easy task in a city of rude elves and matriarchal dwarves where humans have no rights. All she has is an illegally-freed slave, a senile nanny, and an ex-almost-boyfriend on her side. Even when she nearly loses her job and her head in a sword fight on the same night, she isn’t deterred. It’s when the nanny goes missing that she really starts to worry....
I hope that blurb captures a bit of the humor of the book. It’s essentially a mystery in a fantasy setting, with a few other elements thrown in to make it fresh and unexpected. It has a very serious background plot, which you might find in high fantasy. The God of Death has been summoned into the world by some of Eva’s people who were seeking power, and now the god is on the loose and conquering one human nation after another. That’s why Eva's family has taken refuge in Highcrowne, a city ruled by a triad of races--elves, dwarves and Avians--and the elves especially resent the influx of human refugees. Eva sets out to discover who murdered her brother, but gets embroiled in far greater machinations than she ever expected. 

What inspired you to write it?
We decided to write something that was simply fun. I love the “Garret PI” series of books by Glen Cook. They're like nothing else I've encountered, and I wanted to read a brand new version of my own. The Eva and Garret books have a similar premise-- hard-boiled detective in a fantasy setting--but we’ve added the twist of femme fatale turned detective and have created a new, rich world of our own imagining. Eva's story just flowed out, almost effortlessly. I knew it was an odd blend of genres, so I decided to self-publish and hope we find a few other people out there who love it.

Note: I'll sometimes say "we", because my husband and I co-write. Everything from idea brainstorming to plotting and editing is done together. He's dyslexic, but an avid reader thanks to audiobooks. He's full of funny, imaginative ideas, and I do the day to day word-smithing, so you can blame typos and grammatical errors on me. 

How did you come up with the idea for the cover?
We wanted a cover that focused on the main character, because Eva is the heart of the story, but we also needed to show a bit of her world. The city is a character of its own, so we looked for an image that would suggest the snowy, mountainous city of Highcrowne. It's not perfect, but it gives you an idea. The skulls were used to hint at the murder mystery at the story's core, as well as the God of Death element. Finally, we needed green magic to indicate the fantasy nature of the story. I like a cover that gives a true sense of the book.

If it was made into a movie, who would you like to play the main characters?
I think Eva Green would make a perfect Eva Thorne. She's a great femme fatale and has that exotic accent, which I picture Eva having because of her foreign background. I think Josh Holloway could be Conrad, if clean-shaven and golden blonde. Duane could be played by a green-eyed Gerard Butler. Erick would need to be Daniel Day Lewis. Of course, all but Erick would have to be a bit younger!

Is it part of a series or is it a stand-alone novel?
It's a series. We have about 4 or 5 books planned for it, but it could continue.

Where is the novel set and why did you choose to set it there?
Highcrowne is a fictional place found in mountainous, cold terrain. It's a huge thriving city with a mixture of fantasy races, conflicting political agendas, laws and law enforcement along with crime. A mystery can thrive on the myriad of characters, motives and settings in a city like that. What's more, I wanted humans, and Eva's people in particular, to be unwelcome refugees, so that there is constant threat and conflict with authority. 

What is it about this genre that appeals to you so much?
I love many genres, and fantasy is at the top of the list for its ability to surprise me. Fantasy means anything you can imagine. Science-fiction, paranormal thrillers, steampunk… all are essentially fantasy that has been narrowly categorized and given its own conventions. I played the original Dungeons and Dragons game as a child, and I still remember the main note from the creator, Gary Gygax, saying this was just a guide, and the game was really all about using your imagination to do anything you wanted. I approach a fantasy novel that way. Why does it have to follow boring, predictable genre norms? I decided to blend whatever elements I thought added to the interest of the world and opened up possibilities for story: magic, technology, gods on the loose and more. I also believe that you have an unlimited special effects budget in a book, so don't hold back.

What made you want to become an author?
Love of books. I've been reading avidly as long as I can remember, from Dr. Seuss and Charlotte's web to Agatha Christie, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Heinlein… I wrote my first book in first grade and won the district prize in the Young Author's Conference competition. I was kicked out of the competition in 5th grade because it was too good and they thought my mom had written it. I continued to write during summer breaks at college, and whenever I could after work. It's been tough the last few years with an energetic toddler and a new career to deal with, but I can't stop writing. It's something I need to do and makes me feel fulfilled. Publishing is just a bonus, but it completes the loop. Knowing someone else has read my book and shared my world, makes all that effort feel even more worthwhile. And maybe someone else will be inspired to write because of it.

How do you come up with character names?
Every word has a sound to it, like "susurration" or "sticky" that often fits the meaning. I approach names in the same way, thinking who the character is and what name sounds "fit" that person. I also try to make sure they're not too difficult to read.

Name one of your all-time favourite books?
I love too many. But I'll say "Metropolitan" by Walter Jon Williams. It's sort of a science fiction, sort of a fantasy and like nothing else I've ever read. It is a unique world, unique system of magic and has a main character you can identify with from buying her daily lottery ticket to taking advantage of a rare find at work to improve her station in life. It has grand story and close in, personal character moments. It's also an interesting style of writing, difficult to get your head around at first, but it captues the oddness of the world and the feeling of living there.

Who, or what, inspires you?
My husband and co-writer, Clayton, inspires me. He is brimming over with ideas, and so funny. We've been married 25 years, and he still continues to excite and interest me. He counsels me through difficult patches where I don't believe in myself, and he pushes me to do more with my writing and not waste my "gift" as he calls it. He can't read or write, and when I see how much he'd love to do what I can I do se eit as a precious gift not to be wasted.

Where is your favourite place to write?
I would love to have a comfortable writing desk, surrounded by bookshelves, with a big bay window looking out on the ocean. In reality, I have a dark, cluttered nook in one corner of the living room. I've trained myself to write anywhere, anyplace, anytime, and ignore distractions. I sometimes write at the café of my Mazda dealership when my car is being serviced or scribble notes on the notepad I carry everywhere in my purse while I'm waiting for a train or for the dentist.

What is your favourite movie that was based on a book?
Harry Potter. Once again--simply fun!

Name two of your favourite authors.
Walter Jon Williams and Robert Heinlein.

Tell us a random fact about yourself.
I'm one quarter Cherokee.

Who would play you in the movie about your life?
Still from the lovely TV show Cedar Cove
Andie MacDowell.

Tell us an interesting fact about where you live.
Sydney is 12,087 km from Los Angeles or about or a 15 hour and 29 minute flight across open ocean. Needless to say, I don't get home to Idaho very often.

What are your (writing) plans for the future?
I'm currently writing the second Eva Thorne Novel. We plan to write two more, and then go back and re-write a three book epic fantasy, which has been reviewed by a professional editor. We may then do a science fiction (yet to be written) or a young adult paranormal thriller (already written but in need of major editing). We'll be busy!

Tell us one thing that's on your bucket list.
I'd like to see the Grand Canyon and the Pyramids. I've already done just about everything else on my list.

Favourite myth / fairytale?
I love the story of Isis and Osiris in Egyptian mythology. When Osiris was assassinated by his brother, his wife, Isis, resurrected him and raised him up to be ruler of the dead. She then conceived a son, Horus, and stole the name of the sun god, Ra, in order to gain his words of power and enable Horus to take Ra's place as supreme deity. The story has love, ambition and a strong female lead!

Who/What did you want to be when you were a kid?
An archeologist.

Lorel and Clayton were both born and raised in the Western United States and were teen sweethearts, brought together by a fierce love of books and hormones, of course. They traveled to Australia in 1997 and never left, finding the sunshine and beaches of “Oz” too irresistible. Lorel has a PhD in Pathology and once upon a time did cancer research before turning to marketing. Clayton has a Master's Degree in Visual Art and prefers Expressionist painting in acrylics but has recently tackled digital painting, mostly because there’s a hyperactive three-year-old boy running around the house (their gorgeous son, in case you were wondering if that’s normal). Despite having been married for twenty-five years, they are still madly in love and still writing! As writing partners, they meld logic and creativity, as well as genres. Fantasy, science-fiction, mystery, horror, steampunk, thriller, romance, and the classics—they read them all, and if they can mix them they will.
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1 comment:

Hiya! Thanks so much for stopping by the Fiction Dreams site. If you have the time, I'd love to hear from you so please do leave a comment :D xx