Welcome to Dawn’s Reading Nook, Tal. Please let my cabana boys/girls get you a drink and make yourself at home. Comfortable? Great…now let’s get down to business.
Q: What do you consider to be the key elements of a great story?
Characters and character development, plot, world-building, pace, language . . . There are so many elements, and they all must work together seamlessly for a story to be truly great. That's what makes good writing so hard, IMO.
Q: Could you tell us a little about how you develop your characters? Who has been your favorite character to write? The most challenging?
Teregryn Eve is my favorite character in this story, and also the most challenging to write. He's the POV character, so everything I wrote was cycled through the filters of his world-view, which is rather . . . unique, shall I say, and I'll leave it at that. J
Teregryn believes himself to be very rational and down-to-earth, but inside, he's a very emotional figure. It's been a fine line to walk, balancing these two sides of him. Add to that the fact he's a warlock, and his magical perceptions of our world are hard to convey, and you'll see why he's been a handful.
Q: What is your favorite way to relax after a hard day working and writing?
A quick game of Assassin's Creed. There's nothing like shadowing people over rooftops and then swooping down for the kill. Works all the agitation right out of my system. J
(Quick note to followers: I do not randomly murder people. I fight to save the world. Honest!)
Q: What is the one era you would love to go visit and why?
As a child I grew up with my head in Camelot, so I'd love to visit that place. (Hush, it did too exist.) Of course, being a woman I'd be next to useless there unless I was a sorceress, which I'm not. Maybe I could pull a Mulan on them and join the round table as a knight?
Q: What is one historical figure you would love to chat with and why?
I have to admit, historical characters are not my forte. I would probably like to chat with some religion founders and ask them if they had any clue how disastrous their ideas would become in the hands of mankind over the generations, and how many terrible things would be done in their name. I think most of them would be appalled.
Q: Please tell us about your latest release. What inspired it?
I wanted to do a dark-ish fantasy story that explores many of my favorite themes: the multiple aspects of truth, betrayal, and true love. Can you betray someone out of love? Is betrayal always what you perceive it to be? These are the questions that drive Teregryn along, even though he doesn't know it. Throw in some elves and an advanced magic system inspired by my Computer Science studies at the time, and you end up with All My Crimes.
Q: What genres and authors would we find you reading when taking a break from your own writing?
I usually read fantasy and light science fiction. My favorite author is Lois McMaster Bujold, and in particular her Vor series and her Sharing Knife series. I'm also a big fan of Orson Scott Card, George R. R. Martin, and Michael Scott Rohan. Epic stories, complex characters, and meaningful journeys: these are the things that get to me.
Q: What do you hope readers take with them, after reading one of your stories? What do you hope they feel, or learn?
I hope readers have a long hmmmmmm moment after reading one of my stories. I always aim for that lingering feeling of just being affected, being touched. If I've managed to evoke emotion in a reader, I've done my job.
Q: If you could describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
Zany, ardent, dreamful.
(I love this question!)
Q: What is the strangest source of writing inspiration you’ve ever had?
Dreams. I sometimes dream up an entire novel or short story, and I know it's happening even as I dream it. As soon as I wake up I try to cling to as many pieces of the story as I can. Sometimes I find out it makes no real sense, alas. But on rare occasions, I dream up a good story and manage to capture it outside the dream. Talk about working in your sleep!
Q: What is the most ridiculous thing that you have thought about doing to any of your characters but never did?
Actually, as soon as I read this question I flashed onto a whipped-cream war between Teregryn, Gidden, and the queen, complete with literal cherry bombs—and you're right, there's no chance I'll ever do that, alas. J
Q: Want to tell us about any projects you are working on?
I'm working on a prequel for All My Crimes, tentatively called Time of Innocence. It explores how Teregryn and Gidden got together as more than subject and king. I'm also working on a new webcomic with a most talented artist. I've got so many things planned, and so little time to do them all . . .
Q: Anything else you want to add?
Thanks to everyone who's following my tour! I'm having a great time, and I hope you are, too. If you have any questions about me, All My Crimes, or life in general, please leave a comment below.
Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed it.
Thanks for being my guest at Dawn’s Reading Nook. May you have many sales and wonderful reviews for your books.
Thanks for having me, Dawn, and thanks to everyone who's reading! Here's your chance to win a $50 Amazon.com gift card. Just email me your answer to the question below. The winner will be announced by email at the end of the tour.
Question: Who is Darius? Email your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org for your chance to win. The more questions you answer, the greater your chances, so be sure to visit all stops of this tour. Good luck!
All My Crimes by Tal Valante
Betrayal cuts deep. Love cuts even deeper
The war with the elves is over. But for Teregryn Eve, the human king’s former right-hand man, another nightmare is about to begin.
It’s taken Teregryn two years to recover his health and magic in the aftermath of the war. He’d rather retire from the world of men, but an assassination threat and a malevolent ghost force him on a quest to save the king who no longer wants him. The elves are dead to the last, so who’s the mysterious assassin? And why has his king—who was once so much more to him—forsaken him?
The answers may lie in Teregryn’s mind, but those memories are locked beyond his reach. As a web of lies and love unfolds around him, Teregryn must fight the past and present in a desperate bid for the future. Can he save everything he loves, or will the sum of his crimes drag him under first?
I hover in the dark stairway, between the calmness of the second floor and the merry riot of the common room, clinging to these last seconds of anonymous freedom. The abandoned hall above tempts me. I want no part of the revelry, and the townspeople—if they recognize me—will not want me among them.
And yet, it’s the anniversary of the king’s victory they’re celebrating. I owe him a toast, at least.
My magic tingles and coils under my skin as I take the last steps and enter the common room. The revelry breaks upon me like waves upon a rock: music, the stomping feet of dancers, laughter and calls, roast meat and drinks. I skirt around the room and settle down at a corner table, away from it all.
“Port,” I say to the serving girl.
She returns with a glass and a lingering stare that makes my spine prickle. But she turns away to a company of three who clamor for her attention, and pays me no more heed.
It is ten minutes to midnight.
The tavern door opens, and in walks a giant of a man. My stare snaps to him as he brushes snow from his furs and pulls down his wolverine hood. The lamplight blazes off his bald pate and gold nose ring.
I straighten up with a jolt of recognition.
The giant weaves his way to the counter. Judging by his walk, he is either avoiding invisible columns or already deep in his cups. I shake my head when he orders a pint of shroom beer. That’s Rorrik, all right; only he will drink that foul slime.
He turns from the counter with his tankard and scans the room. My lips curl in anticipation of his surprise when he finds me, and his name teeters on the end of my tongue. But his eyes skim over me without pause. I sink back into my chair as he makes for an empty seat across the room.
On impulse I take the Third Sight. At once, light becomes music, a symphony so poignant it makes my heart hitch. The hearth is bellowing a bold aria, and all around me, a choir of candles answers in a softer voice. This is the music that plays on people’s eyes, the music that evokes pictures in their minds.
I reach out and tweak the music that washes over Rorrik. For Rorrik and for him alone, a green fireball seems to sail through the air and plunge straight into his tankard.
He still has the sense of mind—and the swiftness of reflex—to hurl the cup away and stagger back, shielding his face against the inevitable explosion. Which never comes. I make the illusionary fireball bob peacefully in the pool of spilled drink, and after a moment, I banish it completely. Rorrik curses and whirls around.
This time his stare rakes the room with feral intensity. When he notices me, his anger dissolves into confusion, which melts into glee.
“Teregryn Eve!” he booms. “I’ll be jiggered!”
Read a larger excerpt or purchase All My Crimes here.