When their god needed a protector, she chose yes.
When prophecies stack up to threaten an arrogant deity, Chariss must choose between the dragon that courts her and the ostracized kings of the Southlands for help. Evil stalks her at every turn and madness creeps over the goddess who guides her. Can an orphan-turned-Protector resist the dark side of her heritage? Or will she sacrifice all to keep her god-charge safe in Choices Meant for Kings?
Good morning, Nigel. Thank you for joining us today. Let’s start with you telling us a bit about Choices Meant for Kings. It is the second book in the epic fantasy story of Amanda Chariss, whom I intend to marry—if I can keep all these ridiculous gods and governors from convincing her otherwise. She and her wizard guardian sought shelter at the Taiman estate, which is mine now that the treasonous, conniving Godric Taiman is dead, but I think we recognize she’s the one sheltering all of us.
All of us. From the army parked on the front lawn to the children hiding in my family’s school, Amanda’s taken on the responsibility of saving us all. Prophecy shows she’s to protect the highest active god of our world. I don’t think I’m at liberty to reveal how He’s related to each of us. She’s accepted that charge. Protecting Rohne distracts her from the danger of the mad sorcerer who’s been chasing her the past sixteen winters and we all lose track of her when she goes to the kings of the Southlands seeking alliances.
To be honest with you, it’s infuriating to me. We have a prophecy in motion that could be resolved if we could just find my brother. Everything’s a mess and people are missing. I need her back at the estate with me.
What made you choose farming for a profession? That takes a little explaining. Godric Taiman, who I hesitate to admit was my father, forbid me to learn how to use the geasa, which is a power the gods breathe into select mortals and semi-mortals. Growing up, I didn’t care one way or the other about the geasa.
I worked in the estate’s fields and stables to stay away from Godric and to stay out of the way of the teachers at our estate’s school. As it turns out, growing up in a school for the geasa’n exposes you to lessons whether you’re trying to learn them or not, so I picked up some guidance.
Overall, though, I learned how to tend our livestock, how to rotate our crops to get abundant food for our family and students. I managed the estate while Godric went off on his hunting parties to ingratiate himself with the governors of the continent, seeking power and prestige we didn’t need. Farming is a good, honest, useful way to earn a living and keep your family alive. If all else fails around us, we’ll have our farm.
Knowing what you know now, if you had it to do over again, would you stick with being a farmer or do something different? I would definitely learn all the skills for farming and animal husbandry, but I’d have gone behind Godric’s back and learned all I could about the geasa as well. I mastered swordsmanship thanks to a couple teachers who were willing to teach me without Godric’s hearing of it.
But learning the art of healing, weaving threads to create a spell to protect someone, building spells you can keep “at the ready” in your mind, and general use of the geasa to defend and protect others has been a slow and arduous process since Amanda arrived. It’s imperative that I learn more and learn faster so I can be of better use in this war. It's imperative.
What is your biggest fear? One of my biggest fears has already come to pass and I’m losing my mind rectifying it. Like I said, everything’s a mess.
Who is your favorite fictional character and why? We don’t have a lot of fictional characters in Onweald society. Our stories, songs and even our plays are based on real people from the past who have done great things. Or at least things that teach a good lesson. I believe the story of Mellada, the queen in the west who died with her ladies in waiting while her men fought a dragon, is only partially based in reality. Mellada might be my favorite fictional character, even though she’s not entirely fictional.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received? My beautiful mother, Kora Rothahn, told me to be honest with Amanda. She told me to bare my soul and tell Amanda who I am and how I feel about her. As always, my mother was right.
Which writer or character[s], from either books or movies, or both, have had a major impact on your writing? When I answered this question during Henry Bakerson’s interview for the Choices Meant for Gods story, I mentioned some of the authors—like Charlotte Bronte—who have influenced my writing. I’d be remiss if I didn’t share what a huge impact music and music theory has on my writing. A couple reviewers have pointed out I sometimes have a lyrical or sing-song style to my writing in this Choices series and I consider that high praise. I love to use parallel structures, repetitive words, and even flat-out rhymes in a paragraph to give the narrative a lilt or a cadence as you read it. Make it flow.
I’ve played around with poetry over the years and managed to win a “best collection” trophy I can display for motivation with my first poetry chapbook released in 2020. That sense of iambic pentameter and sensing where stresses should hit pleases me—sometimes. Other times, I throw all the rules out the window.
Music inspires me while I’m writing. I have playlists for novels and a playlist for the world of Onweald. Many of my characters have theme songs. If I need to type out a scene with Henry in a hurry, you can bet I’ll play Sting’s St. Augustine in Hell and the instrumental I Miss You Kate as I get started. I used to play the violin and the flute, so music is another language I’ve forgotten how to read correctly on the page, but still appreciate and incorporate in my writing.
Tell us a bit about your publisher. How did you hear about them; what influenced you to submit to them; how is the submission process; what is the turn-around time from date of query to date of release? I’d like to mention that I landed contracts with both publishers of the Choices series because of writers’ conferences.
I met Bob Gelinas of ArcheBooks Publishing and pitched Choices Meant for Gods to him at the Naples Press Club annual event. I met Stephen Zimmer at a convention in Ohio—and we were panelists at Archon in St. Louis around that time, too. If I hadn’t attended those conferences, I wouldn’t have made those connections. I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to share Chariss’s story with these professionals in the indie publishing world.
No matter a writer’s position along the publishing track, it’s important to attend these kinds of events not only for the continuing education and ideas you glean there, but also for the networking and friendships you build there. When I met Stephen in 2009, I had no plans to re-shop my trilogy in the future and had no idea he would open an indie press for additional authors. We were just two authors trading books to assist one another with reviews and mentions out there in the world. But that author friendship remained.
You never know when a convention or conference will give you the opportunity to pitch your dream novel to an agent, an editor, a publisher, a reviewer who’s connected to a popular podcast, and so on.
I guess what I’m trying to say with this answer is the “submission process” is varied. It’s smart to make sure you’re taking advantage of all the opportunities to get involved with all the levels. And to stay involved. Because you never know when you might have to start over.
To purchase Choices Meant for Kings, go to:
Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id6450601462