Novelist V. S. Holmes is here today chatting about the new epic fantasy, Blood and Mercy.
V. S. Holmes is an international bestselling author. They created the REFORGED series and the NEL BENTLY BOOKS. Smoke and Rain, the first book in their fantasy quartet, won New Apple Literary's Excellence in Independent Publishing Award in 2015. In addition, they have published short fiction in several anthologies.
When not writing, they work as a contract archaeologist throughout the northeastern U.S. They live in a Tiny House with their spouse, a fellow archaeologist, their not-so-tiny dog, and own too many books for such a small abode. As a disabled and queer human, they work as an advocate and educator for representation in SFF worlds.
Welcome, V. S. Please tell us about your current release.
Blood and Mercy is the final book in my Reforged series and follows Rih, a Deaf soldier-turned-rebel-general and Keplan, a broody, queer, teenage god. While Rih juggles life in a foriegn country and marriage to a man she condemned, Keplan struggles with addiction, visions, and murder.
You can check out the description below!
Saving the world may have doomed them all
Keplan reels in the wake of grief and guilt at the blood on his hands. Outside the city walls, however, winter grows fiercer and droughts longer. Alea reforged the fractured world twenty years before--so why is it withering before his eyes? Then, just as he masters being a monarch, a prophet arrives spouting scripture about a One True God. Keplan’s own mother killed the last gods, yet this one matches his description perfectly--and its wrath is about to fall upon Athrolan.
Isolated within the same cold, marble walls as Athrolan’s murderous king, Rih struggles to plot her rebellion leagues away from everything she has ever known. With an unexpected ally, she may have finally found a way to the Mirikin Hetmir--until tragedy strikes. With religious fanatics at their walls, blight in their fields, and a king floundering from addiction, Athrolan spirals out of control.
Now Rih must choose between a mad king’s life and her own revolution.
What inspired you to write this book?
Fantasy is filled with farmboys who become heroes and princesses, and I chose to subvert those tropes. This is the finale of a series that focuses on broken heroes and terrible choices, a theme I wanted to keep in this installment. I also explored the political machinations behind war and whether the end justifies horrifying means. I began this book years ago, but while finalizing it for publication I realized there were familiar notes of rebellion, climate change (though this one has divine roots), and corrupt governments, both openly so and secretive.
With Rih I wanted to show a stubborn and dedicated woman, surrounded by as many--if not more--enemies than friends as she navigates a world she cannot hear. With Keplan, I delved into concepts of sexuality and gender with a mind that hears too much.
Link to an excerpt from Blood and Mercy: https://vsholmes.com/news/weve-got-a-release-date
What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m a multi-project author, so I’ve got a few in the works! I’m drafting Heretics, the fourth book in my lesbian archaeologists in space series, the Nel Bently Books, which take place in the shared Starsedge scienc fiction universe.
I’m also outlining my next fantasy, Dagger’s Dance, the first in an all-new series set in the Blood of Titans world.
Lastly, I’m sandboxing a third unrelated project which I’m not at liberty to share just yet, but it promises to be dark, complicated, and utterly delightful!
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always written, but I first began taking it seriously in a professional manner in university (partially as an escape as well as in retaliation against my narrow-minded creative writing professor) and dove into the querying world in 2013.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I do write full time, though I also have a seasonal day-job as a contract archaeologist. This means I travel a lot during the summer and fall, writing early in the morning and after we finish off our hotel parking lot drinks in the evening. Most of my winter months are spent writing as the ground is too frozen for consistent digging. My schedule is unpredictable, but I find incredible inspiration in the people and places I encounter!
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Brooding and psychological characters who we’re never certain are actually good. Also, I cannot write scenes in chronological order, despite heavily outlining!
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An astronaut/ astrophysicist like Ellie Arroway or evolutionary biologist/paleontologist. Also, a dragon.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
If you’re interested in checking out my work for free, you can snag a copy of Disciples, a Nel Bently short prequel or The Tempest, a fantasy survival story and glimpse at the Blood of Titan’s world from an entirely new perspective!
The Tempest: Frigid waters, monstrous leviathans, and seven other heirs lie between her and the crown. https://vsholmes.com/tempest.html
Disciples: Can Lin save their lives when she’s forbidden to get involved?
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Thanks for joining me today.