Had she lived when the power of music could still summon typhoons and rout armies, perhaps Cathay’s imperial court would see the awkward, gangly princess as more than a singing fool. With alliances to build and ambitious lords to placate, they care more about her marriage prospects than her unique abilities.
Only the handsome Prince Hardeep, a foreign martial mystic, recognizes her potential. Convinced Kaiya will rediscover the legendary but perilous art of invoking magic through music, he suggests her voice, not her marriage, might better serve the realm.
When members of the emperor’s elite spy clan– Kaiya’s childhood friend and his half-elf sidekick (or maybe he’s her sidekick?)– discover mere discontent boiling over into full-scale rebellion, Kaiya must choose. Obediently wedding the depraved ringleader means giving up her music. Confronting him with the growing power of her voice could kill her.
In the Christmas of 2010, while cleaning out childhood junk from his mom’s house, he came across his old Dungeons and Dragons campaign world. Before relegating the binder of maps and notes to the trash where it belonged, he decided to peek back and see what his 13-year old self had created.
He couldn’t help but laugh at the silly ideas that had crossed his teenage brain. Rivers flowed uphill. Empires produced resources out of thin air. However, a few interesting premises had potential.
For the next six days, he redesigned his world, taking into account things he’d learned over the last 25 years. Advanced stuff like gravity, evolution, and supply and demand.
On the seventh day, he rested. Looking at his glorious creation, he was hit by the realization that he’d never play D&D again.
A month later, the second event occurred: three weeks of major snowstorms. Stuck indoors for days at a time, he used his skills as a professional technical writer and pumped out a 120k word novel set in this world… only to find out that fiction writing and technical writing were two different beasts.
He set off to study the craft, and learned advanced ideas like characterization, point of view and tension. After revising the first book, he wrote a prequel. After the prequel, he wrote a sequel. And finally, he wrote the prequel to the prequel: the Dragon Scale Lute.
- What is on your nightstand?
A lamp, clock, prayer beads to the God of Conquest Tivar… wait, you mean books, right? At this moment, Jacquelyn Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart and Weina Dai Randel’s Moon in the Palace.
- What author would you totally fan?
They would have to be alive right? Because otherwise, that would be really creepy. I would have to go with George RR Martin. I so want to know which Song of Ice and Fire fan theories are true.
- What makes you cringe?
Skinny jeans on men, man-buns, selfies, the list goes on. I’m not judgmental, no!
- Do you obsessively plot out each point or just go with the flow?
I obsessively plot out at the start, but then as I am writing, I end up making course changes. Sometimes, characters don’t want to go along with the script. I know it sounds like a snobby author platitude, but as I write the characters, I get to know them better, and it gets to the point where they just wouldn’t do or think of something I had planned.
- Is there a word you love to use?
It has changed over time, from Inconceivable to Safe-word, among others. These days, it’s backdoor-penetration. Since I write fantasy, I rarely have a chance to use this word.