Smoke & Summons Author Interview & Give Away!
Charlie was also kind enough to answer my Take 10 questions. And she is offering a hardcover book and an audio book to two lucky winners in the US only. And I'm offering one paperback book to an international winner. See the Rafflecopter form below!
Here's my cover quote: Once this story gets going, the action—Just. Doesn’t. Stop. By the time you reach the end, you’re breathless.
The cover blurb: As a human vessel for an ancient spirit, Sandis lives no ordinary life. At the command of her master, she can be transformed against her will into his weapon—a raging monster summoned to do his bidding. Unlike other vessels, Sandis can host extremely powerful spirits, but hosting such creatures can be fatal. To stay alive, she must run. And in a city fueled by smoke and corruption, she finds a surprising ally.
A cunning thief for hire, Rone owns a rare device that grants him immortality for one minute every day—a unique advantage that will come in handy in Sandis’s fight for freedom. But Sandis’s master knows how powerful she is. He’s determined to get her back, and he has the manpower to find her, wherever she runs.
Now, to outwit her pursuers, Sandis must put all her trust in Rone and his immortal device. For her master has summoned more than mere men to hunt her down…
Take 10 with Charlie N. Holmberg:
1.) I know this is a standard question, but I’m always so curious. How did you come up with such an unique idea for SMOKE & SUMMONS?
My editor and agent were pressuring me two summers ago to write another trilogy—I’ve always considered myself a standalone writer. The Paper Magician series was a fluke. So I sat down while on vacation in California and tried to come up with a BIG story. I stole bits and pieces from past novels/other ideas and eventually came up with the Numina trilogy. Ultimately I’m glad for the pressure, because I don’t think this story would have happened without it!
2.) The world has a fascinating magic system with magicians being able to summon powerful spirits. Can you explain how it works?
Thank you! That half of the magic system was inspired by the summons in Final Fantasy, which I used to play with my sisters. I loved the summons in those games, and I thought, “What if when you brought down, say, Ifrit, it took over your body instead of just showing up?”
So the gist is this. From what we know in book one, an eligible person (virginal, “open spirit”, etc.) must be branded with a strip of Noscon letters, in gold, down her back. After that, she (or he) can host numina, which are spiritual demons that live in the Ethereal Plane. Different vessels have different strengths, and stronger vessels can hold stronger numina.
Hosting is incredibly painful, and the vessel has no memory of being possessed. They’re unconscious for 12-18 hours afterward.
This magic system is unraveled further in books two and three. I’m excited for readers to learn its secrets!
3.) Why fantasy? Is there something special about fantasy that draws you to write in the field?
I like writing about things that I can’t experience in real life. I’m fascinated by the possibility of creation. In fantasy, you can break rules and be utterly creative in so many ways. I like exploring the depths of the imagination!
4.) What do you find most interesting about Sandis and Rone?
That’s a hard question to answer! They both have interesting histories and magic. I created them as a sort of Venn diagram—they view themselves, their surroundings, and their circumstances in different ways, and yet they have a few fundamental similarities that make their relationship work. I enjoyed being able to show the same thing through their different lenses, and show how their influences help each other change and grow. Fundamentally, beneath it all, they’re both motivated by a strong sense of family.
5.) Did you have to do any special research for this book? What did you learn that you didn't know before?
Every book requires some sort of special research. Another reason I like writing fantasy is because I can make up a lot. I had to research guns for this one (and had a reader check a few scenes for me). At one point I had to look up sewer systems to make sure I had plausible landscaping. ;)
6.) How did you become a writer? Is this what you saw yourself growing up to be? Or did it take you by surprise?
I did plan to be a writer, actually. For a while I thought it would be cool to be a voice actor, but when I learned I couldn’t go to college for it (this is when I believed a 4-year university was the only plausible career path), I focused on writing. I got interested in it when I was 13, and I think I decided in high school I wanted it to be my career. I’d been writing a lot of fan fiction by this time, as well as a smattering of originals I never finished.
7.) Do you have a writing routine? Talk process for a moment, how do the words get on the page?
I do. I write every morning (when I’m smart) while my husband takes care of the kids. Sometimes, every now and then, I get a second wind in the evenings. I can’t write in the afternoons. My brain shuts off!
I have no special secrets. I sit down at my computer, I type words in a linear and chronological order, then I have lunch and be a mom for the rest of the day.
8.) Office? Closet? Corner of the living room? Do you have a set place to write? A favorite?
I have a hot mess office. It’s in the basement and stuffed full of junk and furniture while we remodel the basement. It’s a little sad. But it works!
9.) What else do you enjoy doing besides writing? Interests? Hobbies?
So I always tell people the reason I publish so many books is because I don’t do much else. And that’s pretty honest. My brain is always in a book of some sort. Writing is my joy. When I’m not writing, I’m being mom to my two kids. I do enjoy baking (namely eating the baking) and I’m somewhat musical (in that I don’t practice as much as I should). I used to compose a lot, but that died off quite a bit after I got married 8.5 years ago. I did, however, compose a simple song that’s going into the back of my next standalone, The Will and the Wilds.
10.) What are you writing now? What's coming out next?
10.) What are you writing now? What's coming out next?
I’m working on edits for the first book in a duology I hope to sell called Spellbreaker, which is in the same vein as The Paper Magician. I’m also working on edits for The Will and the Wilds, my above-mentioned standalone. It’s a romantic fantasy heavy on the romance, more a la Followed by Frost. All of the Numina novels have their major edits done and are lined up for release this year!
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